Well, we got up at some ungodly hour of the morning - I was too befogged to remember what hour exactly - and got on a plane in Colorado Springs. No real problems to speak of- plenty of people at check in, flight went smoothly, and so on.
The book du jour was Lady Chatterly's Lover by DH Lawrence. I found myself completelyengrossed until the plane touched down in Dallas. Never noticed that the plane had gotten above 80 degrees inside and that they'd turned the cabin air *off*. Thanks Delta.
One hour and a half layover in DFW, during which Marcia recovered from generally feeling icky due to the heat and bad air in the plane. Then we took off for Orlando on a 767. A humungous plane with 3 rows of seats. Moo. Actually had a decent meal on the plane - a salad with actually good dressing.
Touched down in Orlando, having finished Lady Chatterly's Lover and fallen asleep. Nothing like touching down like a ton of bricks to wake me up. Took care of a minor ticketing glitch with a VERY helpful Delta employee named Peter - who was working flight 1972 who took good care of us. (Note: it turned out later he booked us on the bulkhead row, which caused us some problems, but he still went above and beyond for us.)
Caught the bus to the Wyndham Pallace hotel. It's not a Disney resort per se. It's nicer. We got a 2 room suite (and as Marcia exultantly declared, TWO Potties!).
Came to find out our hotel, as well as many of the ones on Disneyworld proper, is in the throes of a convention, alarm system manufacturers, it looks like. We would have been completely at home crashing their party had we worn Dockers and Polo shirts and claimed to be the software people. Probably could have shmoozed a few free drinks. But we were tired.
Changed clothes and went to one of the in house restaurants, called The Outback. This is not, as we were to find out, to be confused with the Outback Steakhouse. We were monstrously underdressed in shorts and t-shirts. They served us anyway. I had fillet mignon with bernaise sauce and Thai inspired kangaroo meat for an appetizer. Marcia had the smoked salmon tartar appetizer and the sirloin steak with outback butter - which is about half garlic. The food was exquisite, the rolls were 3 dough rolls, the butter stamped into the shape of a kangaroo (insert tasteless kangaroo body part jokes here) excellent meat, a spanacopita like thing of spinach and filo dough that was to die for, baked potato with our choice of toppings, and fresh fried potato chips. Unfortunately we also ordered desert, which, given the quality of everything else we ate there, was a huge letdown. The key lime pie had no flavor - honest to Pete I was tasting the crust more than the filling - and the chocolate in Marcia's "Chocolate Dundee" was gummy. A look at the kitchen suggests the deserts come from someplace else.
Back to the room at only 9:17pm (right now) and it's bedtime.
Oh. Before I forget. Lady Chatterly's lover is a superb book. Yes it is fairly explicit sexually in places, but it's so much more than late Victorian erotica. (In fact you could argue it's early post Victorian, really, as it rather harshly attacks much of the Victorian value system and the over-mechanization that followed.) Constance Chatterly is so much more interesting a character than simply the upper crust woman attracted to the groundskeeper, and Mellors is far more interesting than just a young stud boinking Constance Chatterly. (he's actually about 10 years her senior, and rather timeworn). An interesting book I shall have to re-read and write on more deeply, I think. I am now wondering if Conan Doyle will do as well to keep me riveted on the way home. Anyway, bedtime for me.
Oh god, my feet are on fire.
Okay, they're nowhere close to as bad as they were last time we were here, when I could scarcely walk, but they're pretty beat up just the same. Busy day, spent all day at Epcot.
Started out the morning with a mug of fairly nasty coffee and some lovely pastries we picked up last night in the hotel pastry shop on the way back from dinner. Proceeded from there to catch the bus to Epcot. You can sure tell when you're not on a Disney bus - obviously the cabin air filter hadn't been changed in a year, so no air was circulated at all in the cabin, and the lil' old lady across the isle had clearly bathed in her perfume. *ugh*
But we got there just the same. Checked in for a fastpass on Test Track, then took the fairy across the lagoon to Morroco. From Morocco we walked to Japan, where we had a lovely sushi and tempura brunch. I had California rolls and tamago, which was lovely. Marcia had California rolls, tamago, maguro. The California rolls were delicious, they even had tobiko (flying fish eggs). The tamago was also lovely. Marcia tells me the maguro was a little disappointing in the flavor department, however. The tempura was as good as I've ever had, literally fresh out of the pan, crispy and delicious.
From there we went to France after doing a little unsuccessful shopping in Japan. This, of course, necessitated a trip to the pastry shop. Marcia had a "Marvelous" - "some kind of sponge cake shell filled with a chocolate hazelnut cake ball, with chocolate butter cream and sprinkles on it". It was pretty good, although a little disappointing. I had chocolate mousse, which was yummy - creamy, dark chocolate.
Now sufficiently stuffed, we waddled back to the boat dock in Morocco to take the boat back to Future World and get to our appointment with the Test Track. This is THE way to get into one of the new rides, our wait was 10 minutes, tops, just long enough to see the crash dummies and whatnot in the waiting area outside. The test track vehicles themselves are very much a GM product, pretty, but with shitty ergonomics - literally the only ride in Disney where my ass did not fit comfortably in the seat. It was a hoot, however, 60 miles an hour on a track with no windshield, flung headlong at a "wall" that turns out to be a door of course, opens, and so on. As for realism, well, the spinout didn't feel like any I've done in any of my various cars, but the loop around the high speed track was worth it.
After that, we had just enough time to get my behind to guest services where Dive Quest was meeting. Dive Quest, if you (like me) have never heard of it, is a small, quiet program that lets you go diving in the Living Seas Aquarium. So all 8 of us "shark bait" lined up, ready to go. First we had a briefing, where we were told that, in fact, the sharks are not hand fed by divers so they don't associate divers with food and that, in fact, they're scavengers anyway, so unless we messed with them they weren't going to be interested in us. After that, we headed to the shower rooms to suit up. Oh, one rule. Once you go backstage, and subsequently in the aquarium, you're officially a Disney cast member, so you have to smile and not make any rude gestures or comments. So once we were suited up in our wet suits and booties, they marched us through the Living Seas display, up a staircase, where we were greeted by no less than 4 very perky dive masters (including the videographer), who helped us suit up and get into the water.
The biggest problem I had during all this was they didn't give me enough lead on my belt - about 25 pounds, which is what I normally use in *fresh* water with this wetsuit. To Disney's credit they had not only weight belt that fit, but a bc as well. Fairly generic rental gear, mostly. After some adjustments and nearly loosing a fin (twice, I start to wonder if its strap keeper was working) I got depth control reasonably in hand. It's a hoot waving at people through the windows, peering at them, waving at Marcia through the window, and mugging for photos. Also fun was the diving bell. I didn't see alot of wildlife, unfortunately, since I was busy with the dive itself. This was, after all, my first dive in salt water (and salt water in the eyes is a novel experience, although unlike chlorine, once you blink a few times the burning goes away.) I swam over a huge manta(?) ray, saw one shark (who seemed utterly disinterested) and a few other fish.
After the dive - which ended 4 minutes early for me since I exhausted my air by then - we showered and by the time we were done they had the video edited down and printed up. We watched the parts we were in and exited, of course, at the gift shop. All told a nice dive, beautiful conditions (although some skinnier folk with short sleeved wet suits were a little cold, my custom long sleeved shorty kept me comfortable. Sometimes not fitting into a normal sized wetsuit is a good thing. :) Excellent people running the thing. If I were recommending it I think I'd take the later dive, since the animals seem a little more active and I suspect it's closer to feeding time then.
After the dive I rejoined Marcia for dinner at the Coral Reef, whose windows look in on the living sea's aquarium (where we watched the 5:30 divers play). Marcia had an appetizer of seared scallops with bacon hash, and I had the al legator sausage, both of which were exquisite. Main courses were Marcia: Salmon Nicoise with a kalamatta olive tapenad, boiled and roasted potatoes, small tomatoes, Kalamatta olives, and green beans - the last of which were so very fresh they tasted like the ones I used to eat out of my mother's garden after hosing down. I had a tuna steak, over polenta with sun dried tomatoes. Both entrees were exquisite as well. Deserts were not a disappointment, either, with Marcia's millennium desert - raspberry and champaign sorbet in a shell shaped like the Epcot geodesic dome, and I had the key lime crunch. Both deserts were delicious, although as usual Marcia didn't like the key lime crunch - she doesn't like limes.
After THAT, we waddled to the bus depot, and after another ride on another un-ventilated bus, we were the first stop.
So here I am, about to go wash my wetsuit and swimsuit (and shorts - I've gotten them into something nasty in a stop in the men's room at some point, and they smell.) Note to self: wear cool new dive quest t-shirt tomorrow, maybe.
First of all, "cool" is about the last adjective I should have used for that t-shirt. Being half synthetic, it made me itch, as usual, and was actually quite hot (it's a bit snug). But anyway. Today was our "down" day, when we were supposed to rest, wear our alternate shoes, regain our strength, and generally take it easy. Somehow this mutated into an all day crawl of the mall that is downtown Disney.
We started out with a brunch at Wolfgang Puck's Express. Marcia had a spinach, mushroom, and gorgonzola pizza. I had a grilled chicken sandwich. Both were quite good. We also had a browny, a piece of cheesecake, and a cookies and cream haagen daas bar. Yum. Thus provisioned, we set off.
We stopped first at the Gormet Pantry, buying nothing, but making a note to come back. After that was Team Mickey, where I got a tennis ball the size of a basket ball. There's a useful (but fun) item.
From there it was on to World of Disney, a clothing store the size of any really huge one in any mall, except of course it was all Disney themed. Marcia braved the lines and combat shopping and came away with a nice sweatshirt and some other cool things.
From there we went to the Lego shop. It was disappointing - you'd expect them to have the things you'd need to do the kinds of sculpture you see out front - large boxes of a given type of pieces - but they don't. The catalog is more complete. I did get a pretty good deal on a second RCX - the brains of Lego Mindstorms.
From there we went to Pleasure Island. We stopped at the Suspended Animation store, but that was about it - the island is really mostly open only at night, and the beastly heat would be the reason.
We quickly made for the West Side, where we stopped at 40-thirst street and had smoothies and fed the birds, resulting in a scene reminiscent of the Hitchcock film. From there we went to Guitar World, where I picked up a practice amp built in a cigarette pack, and some instructional videos.
From there we went to the Virgin Records Megastore, and after about 20 minutes of wandering about amongst the screaming teenyboppers, we left and headed for the boat dock, where we caught the ferry back to the Marketplace end of Downtown Disney
We stopped into a couple more stores there, picking up a light dinner at the Gormet Pantry - I had egg salad on a croissant, hummis and crackers, and a piece of key lime cheesecake, and Marcia had chicken salad and a couple large pickles, and something called Chocolate Corruption cake. Which she professed to be positively intoxicating. My dinner was lovely also, although we both discovered we'd forgotten forks, and had to eat the desserts with the coffee stirs in the room, which worked surprisingly well.
Also discovered that the room has Ethernet, and that it works. :) Been on-line tonight, threw out 400+ mail messages.
Wrap the evening up with a short nap, a swim, a sojourn in the hot tub, and now I'm sitting here writing this. A reasonably fun day, although not terribly interesting to read about.
Well, I was too tired to write anything last night, so it's really the eleventh and we're sitting in the hotel lobby killing time waiting for our shuttle to the airport.
Yesterday began with the alarm going off at some ungodly hour of the morning, and we got up, showered, dressed, and headed for Epcot again. Once there we hit the pastry shop in Future world. I had a fruit croissant and a chocolate strawberry shake. Marcia had a bagel with cream cheese and a cafe mocha.
Thus provisioned we headed for "honey I shrunk the audience" and "journey through the imagination." Honey I shrunk the audience is a cute bit of 3d theater combined with puffs of air and spritzes of water, very similar to the Bug's Life film in Animal Kingdom. The 3d works remarkably well, and at times it was all I could do not to bat at things as they came at my face.
The Journey through the imagination was fun, although a little overdone in spots.
From there we went to lunch in England, to the Rose and Crown pub. I had bangers and mash and Marcia had fish and chips. All very good, good service, and I had a drink called a Welsh Dragon which was yummy. A quick plod to France for more pastries was interrupted by a band in Cananada called Off Kilter - bagpipes and electric guitars. They were good enough that I bought their CD. Marcia had a Palmier, and I had a hazelnut chocolate thingie. Both were, as usual, good.
From France we basically made the grand tour, saw the Chinese acrobats, bought a fake orange tree, went on the boat ride in Mexico (which except for being cool and a place to sit down) was a total waste, listened to the Ompah band in Germany, then we went back to the Land and did the ride there twice, once with a good tour guide, once with a bad one. Had a salad wrap and ice cream bars shaped like Mickey's head.
Dinner was the high point of the day though. We'd packed a change of clothes in our backpacks, and once we took the monorail to the Contemporary, changed clothes, and in the words of Alice's restaurant had another meal that couldn't be beat, this time at the California Grill at the top of the Contemporary. Mine started with California rolls, went from there to goat cheese ravioli, and from there to seared tuna with Thai spices. Marcia had more sushi, which she professed to be wonderful, also had the ravioli, and pork tenderloin with creamy polenta, crimini mushrooms with a balsamic reduction. Wonderful, nothing less. I had a chocolate cheesecake wave for desert, Marcia had butterscotch creme broulette which came with an almond biscuitti. While both deserts were heavenly, we were so stuffed by this point neither of us could finish. Caught the Disney bus back to downtown Disney, walked across the street to our hotel, and collapsed.
A Disney experience is something you go to Disney<parkname> for specifically. It's annoying when you don't expect one - see my review of Anime Expo for tales of THAT, but when you go specifically to be taken care of, to kick back and have a vacation, and do things that are different and fun, it's really quite hard to beat Disney. Especially Disney World. I don't think we'll go back for a while - not because we're dissatisfied, but because we'd like to take some other vacations - but if you're looking for a place to really get away from it all, where "it" is real life, and you'd like fine dining while you're there, go to DisneyWorld. You won't be disappointed.