Thursday, August 30, 2012

Happy Belated 40th Birthday WDW! - Oct. 2011, Part 3

Finally, we've reached the big day. Walt Disney World's 40th Anniversary! I had planned to dress 70s retro for the day and brought my biggest flairs for the occasion but in my time away from Florida I'd forgotten how HOT it could be in early October. So the flairs were thrown out in favor of shorts. We reached park for opening and as we walked in we received an awesome special button and park guide for the anniversary.

After that we took our places in front of the castle for the "special presentation" that we were told about. The Magic Kingdom was very crowded so people were everywhere. We got as close as we could to the castle and patiently waited while being squished in between families and retired couples. I took a moment to take a picture of the Castle and the special banner on the front of it. All the evidence of the Halloween Party we'd been to the night before was gone, of course. Disney's very good at changing decorations in one night. They're magic.

Finally, music started from behind us and a parade of characters started which I hadn't been expecting. The Trolley singers started everything off and they were followed by characters that are rarely seen at the Magic Kingdom like The Three Good Fairies who I was totally pumped to see. In the video I have I screech "MERRIWEATHER!" a million times at the top of my lungs (because she's totally my favorite). A whole slew of characters headed toward the stage and took their places while all of us waited to see what would take place after they got there. The President of the Walt Disney World Resort, Meg Crofton, addressed the crowd and used the moment to introduce all of us to this years Disney Parks Ambassadors who were on stage with her. It was quite an amazing moment to see so many characters gathered around such an important Disney executive.

Once this presentation was other Michelle and I joined the crowd headed toward Tomorrowland and on the way we ran into Push! Now, if you're unfamiliar with Push he is the most amazing talking trash can that you will ever meet. Next time you're in the Magic Kingdom head toward Tomorrowland around 10:50 and see if you can find him. He's very popular. While we were walking behind him I captured this short video:

We rode the Carousel of Progress again in honor of Mr. Walt Disney since we both see Walt's influence the most in that attraction and then we headed to the stores nearest to the castle that had the 40th Anniversary Merchandise for the day. By 11 AM almost all the merchandise was gone. Lucky for me I was there when they first put out the 40th Anniversary merchandise back in January and already had a good selection of items at home. After that we decided Magic Kingdom was far too crowded for us and we left for Epcot. Epcot was crowded as well but it felt roomier than Magic Kingdom so we stuck it out and headed for the Patisserie in France where we picked up some delicious breakfast. I got the quiche and the almond pastry. It was the perfect breakfast.

After breakfast we headed to Future World and decided to ride Ellen's Universe of Energy. It had been a while since I'd ridden it and I was pleased to learn that it was even more entertaining than I remembered. I went around saying "Stupid Judy" for the rest of the day. We followed Universe of Energy with my other favorite Future World attraction, Living with the Land Boat Ride. Words cannot describe how much I love this attraction. The smell, the theme, the story, and most importanlty, the Greenhouse. I just adore it and I always will.

We bounced around Epcot for a little while longer and enjoyed what we could of the extremely crowded park before we headed back to the Magic Kingdom for it's extended evening hours due to the Anniversary. We made our way to Fantasyland because we'd discovered on our program that the best time to enjoy Fantasyland was in the late evening after all the family's with children had turned in for the night. We rode Small World and then met our friend Joanna outside of the ride afterward. It had been over a year since we'd seen her so we were both really excited, and thankfully it was just like old times. We rode Pirates and then we took Joanna to Country Bear Jamboree as she'd never experience it's greatness before. We were overly excited during this attraction and cheering and clapping and singing along like Michelle and I hadn't seen it a million times. 
After Country Bears we stopped to eat at Pecos Bills which is one of our favorite Quick Service Places. I love the themeing so much. Next we headed to Big Thunder Mountain which is one of my absolute favorite Disney attractions. While we waited in line I took a few pictures to pass the time and we tried to catch up on each other's lives.

 After Big Thunder, sadly, Joanna had to leave so Michelle and I ventured on to what we knew would be a sad moment for us. The very last time we would ever get to ride Snow White's Scary Adventures. At this point the closing date had been announced and Michelle and I knew we wouldn't be back before it closed so we set out to completely enjoy this ride and say goodbye to one of our favorite classic attractions.

We rode Winnie the Pooh after, which is one of our favorite late night attractions. It's a lot of fun and the perfect ride to be silly on. Once that was done we made our way to the Castle and took pictures. This was our last night at the Magic Kingdom. The following night would be spent at Epcot since we had dinner reservations at The Garden Grill. We took the obligatory late night Castle Photos from the ramps in front of the castle.

Once the night was over we headed back to the hotel for a much needed rest. Sunday would be our last full day in Disney World and we planned to spend all of it at Epcot. We woke up the next morning and got to Epcot in time for opening. We picked up Fastpasses for Soarin' and then we got a quick breakfast at Sunshine Seasons, which for me consisted of a water and a buttered croissant. Once breakfast was done we realized the line for Soarin' wasn't actually that long and just went ahead and got in line. We were in and out in a record time and then we headed to the World Showcase to enjoy the first few hours of Food & Wine before the locals got out of church and stormed the place. We were able to walk right up to every booth that we wanted with no wait. We rode Maelstrom and River del Tiempo at the Norway and Mexico pavillions as we walked around and explored the Food & Wine booths. Once we'd had our fill of Food & Wine we made our way to the Character Spot and quickly got in line to meet the Fab Five.

Mickey and Minnie were lovely. Minnie, per usual, looked very pretty in her red polka dot dress. Pluto was precious and Donald was a flirt. While we waited for the picture with Donald he looped our arms through his and swayed back and forth slightly and then once the camera was ready motioned for us to kiss him on the cheek. Which we promptly did.

The highlight of this session, though, was Goofy. The minute it was our turn with Goofy Michelle rushed him with a hug. Goofy is Michelle's favorite, and they hugged for a very long time. Goofy even motioned for the Character Attendant to leave so he and Michelle could be alone. This long hug was almost immediately followed by this:

Michelle always jokes that Goofy is her boyfriend, well, as it turns out...Goofy thinks so too. We took a picture with all of us and Goofy wrapped his arms around my shoulders as he signed my autograph book. He was absolutely adorable and the highlight of the Character Spot that day. After that we visited my old work location, Towers (near the Friendship Boats that cross the lagoon), and did a little shopping and then impulsively decided to visit Hollywood Studios. We got to the Streets of America just in time for Mulch, Sweat, and Sheers which is another one of Michelle's favorites. And then again impulsively decided to visit The Magic Kingdom again where we arrived as the Celebrate a Dream Come True parade started. We watched it from the second level of the train station. Afterward we boarded the train and rode around to Frontierland where we visited Tom Sawyer Island for old times sake and then rode Splash Mountain for the last time of the trip where I snapped a picture of our ride photo. It's a little blurry but still awesome.

After that we made our way to the Enchanted Tiki Room which has finally been returned to it's original form as imagined by Walt Disney himself. We tried to ride it the previous day but were Evac'd off the ride because one of the hanging plants nearly dropped on top of some guests. So we decided we'd try it one last time since it was one of the things we were the most excited about. This time we got to experience the whole show and it was magical. So much better than "Under New Management". We took a walk through Liberty Square to get a last look at The Liberty Tree which is one of my favorite installments in The Magic Kingdom and then we took one last ride on Carousel of Progress before we made our way back to Frontierland for another ride on Big Thunder Mountain. Big Thunder is one of my all time favorite attractions so I never miss a chance to enjoy it. After that it was back on the train at Frontierland station to make our way out of the park. We rode through the Storybook Circus station but, of course, the construction walls were up and there wasn't much to see at that point in time.

There were still some remnants of Toontown left which brought back good memories of the Judges Tent and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party 2010 for us.

After that we made our way back to Epcot for our dinner reservations at The Garden Grill. I was very excited for this because I'd always wanted to eat at the rotating restaurant that overlooked a scene in one of my favorite attractions, Living with the Land Boatride. It's also character dining and Chip and Dale were involved. During all my time at Disney I'd yet to officially meet Chip and Dale. So, I was pumped. The meal is served family style so the first thing that they brought us was salad and bread. Both were delicious. The rolls were excellent and the butter they used was warm and fresh and served in a little bowl in stead of prepackaged plastic containers. Michelle and I both sprang for the sangria when it was offered. It was also delicious.

When our server brought the main course, the meats (chicken, turkey, and beef), we had our first character experience. Guess who came with our server to follow the delicious smelling food?

He was followed by the whole gang with the exception of Mickey. Pluto loved my SNL shirt that featured Spartan Spirit and even reenacted some of the cheers for us. Which was hilarious. They walked away to the next table and finally, Michelle and I got a good look at the food. They'd brought the sides and entrees together and it all looked delicious. We had multiple servings of everything.

Everything was so good. All three sides and all three meats were definitely worth the price that we paid. Once we'd eaten a bit more we were visited my a very familiar face in a unusual outfit for him.

Mickey was absolutely adorable in his overalls and flannel shirt. He looked like a farmer and that seemed to really fit the feel of the restaurant. Before dessert the gang came back one more time to flirt and the end result was a fight between Pluto and Chip as to who Michelle and I loved more. They busted out some very impressive kung fu for us. It was probably one of my favorite Disney memories ever.

Finally they brought around dessert and it was delicious. Warm apple crumble with vanilla ice cream and then we also had cookies and cream ice cream with some oreo cookies on the side. It was scrumptious and the perfect ending to an outstanding meal.

It was almost time for IllumiNations so Michelle and I paid the bill and made our way out. On the way we noticed there was one last family that Mickey and Pluto were talking to and we saw the most adorable thing. Mickey petting Pluto. It was adorable and so in character that I had to take a picture.

As we reached the exit Chip and Pluto got our attention one last time and proclaimed their love and bickered over us once again. Michelle and I blew them kisses and said a very fond goodnight as we left the Land Pavilion and made our way to the World Showcase. We took our places in Italy for our favorite night time show, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. It was a beautiful spectacular show of lights and lasers and fire and the perfect way to complete a short but wonderful Disney weekend.

The next day our flight is scheduled for the early afternoon and we wake up at around 9 and get ready for the day. We pack up our things and take our suitcases to the luggage service desk where they check and weigh our bags at the Resort instead of the airport and then we got on a bus and head for Downtown Disney. We stop on the way in and let Michelle have one last photo op with Goofy.

We take a slow walk through Arribas Brothers and World of Disney and make a few last minute purchases and then stop to admire the new lego statues that weren't there on our last visit to Downtown Disney.
 After that we head to the Earl of Sandwich for lunch and I have no hesitation in ordering the Holiday sandwich. It's my favorite. Turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce and everything good and wonderful that you will ever eat during the Holiday Season. After that we explore the Days of Christmas Store, Little Miss Matched, and then walk by The Rainforest Cafe to catch the trainers working with the birds.

And then it's back to the resort to wait for our Magical Express bus that will take us back to the airport. Before the trip I'd bought Michelle and I backpacks from the Disney Store and Michelle surprised me by actually carrying hers to the airport. She doesn't normally carry backpacks but this one actually came in handy for her. When we reached the airport Michelle and I made our way through security and then stopped at the Universal Studios store and then the Sea World Store where Michelle bought herself a very large plush manatee that was totally adorable that she named Chester.

And then, sadly, it was time to board the plane and say goodbye to Orlando. 

Michelle and I parted ways in Raleigh. Me for baggage claim and Michelle to wait for her connecting flight. But it was a very memorable trip and a great experience for Michelle and I both. I can't wait to go back this October. This time with my friends Holly and Bethany and my mom. It should be very exciting. More to come on that later, though.

In the meantime, have a magical day! And don't forget to act like a kid every now and then. Life's to short to be an adult all the time.