May 11, 2007: Day One in Disney World

We slept in until nine this morning. We didn’t get to bed until almost three last night and were pretty wired when we finally got to bed so we didn’t get very good sleep. We got up and ordered our luggage so that we could get dressed. We had to pack up the room right away before leaving for the day so that the bell service could hold it for us until our new room is ready this afternoon.

We went down to Boma for breakfast. It was good but just the usual American breakfast buffet fare. Nothing non-traditional or fancy. The vegetarian selection was actually a little lean but they did offer very tasty quinoa which I really like and hope to find back in New Jersey. For meat eaters there was a large selection of meats that would make the buffet a good value.

After breakfast we did some quick shopping at the Animal Kingdom Lodge store and then we headed off to EPCOT where we are going to spend the day. Right as we arrived at EPCOT we realized that our video camera was missing. I had had it with me while shopping at Zawadi at the Animal Kingdom Lodge so we knew that it could not have been missing for long.

I ran back to the bus that had not left yet and confirmed that it was not on the bus. So we quickly caught the first bus back to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and went back to Zawadi to see if the camera had been left there. No one there had seen it though and they directed us to the resort’s front desk. They too had not seen it or had anyone turn in a camcorder. But they did suggest checking with the valet and bell services to see if anyone had come to them.

While we were at the concierge desk we went ahead and made five thirty reservations for Boma for this evening. Then we checked with bell services and luckily they had the camcorder sitting right there on the shelf. It had been found at the bus stop by a guest who had brought it in just a little bit before. 🙂 The concierge said that this happens all of the time.

After our lost camera incident we got back on the bus and returned to EPCOT. We went right to The Sea and did the new “Nemo” themed ride which is actually the entrance to the exhibit. The new “ride” turned out to be nothing more than a really short replay of the movie using actual or similar movie footage. Nothing special at all. But to be fair the “Seabase Alpha” garbage that it replaced was really awful so this is definitely an improvement but still not good by any stretch. We were quite disappointed.

Then it was on to The Land – my favourite part of EPCOT. We went right in and rode the Living with the Land boat ride. We had learned online that there was no longer a guide doing the boat tour but instead just an automated voice which is good and bad. But on our boat ride there was no narration at all and there were a number of people on the ride who had never done it before and thought that the entire attraction was nothing more than a boat ride through some sand and plants. That was disappointing and we felt bad for all of the people who thought that that was all that there was. It was very confusing. We spoke to one of the guys working at the ride and he said that they were having a lot of technical difficulties with the new audio system and that the system that detects if a boat is there or not is failing and sometimes doesn’t turn on the audio. So he put us directly onto the next boat that was leaving without waiting in line for a second and this time the audio worked fine so we were very happy. But unfortunately only us, who have done the trip close to a dozen times, got to do it again the way that it was meant to be and a lot of people got away without getting to know what it was all about.

After The Land we ran over and did Dominica’s favourite Disney attraction – Spaceship Earth which is scheduled to be overhauled soon. Siemens has taken over the sponsorship from AT&T and is looking to get the thing into better shape as it is really showing its age over all of the other EPCOT attractions although it is still one of the best. We are really hoping that they do not remove any of the awesome audio animatronics that still exist in there but instead work on replacing a lot of the cheap parts that were added to “update” the ride over the last fifteen years or so. Those sections really stand out as cheap and out of place on such a classic, quality ride.

We were in the hottest part of the day and felt that we should get back to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and take care of our check-in stuff before dinner. So back to the resort we went. We got back and got moved to our “real” room which is a king room with a bottom floor (the best) view directly on the main Savannah. Up until now we had been pretty unimpressed with the Animal Kingdom Lodge and could not figure out how this was qualifying as a top tier Disney resort hotel but this room convinced us that it should be. The room was much nicer than the other two but the view was really spectacular. The center savannah is really cool and full of awesome animal action. We got some great pics and videos of the animals in the savanna from our balcony. We really love being able to just go out and sit on the balcony and watch the animals eating, resting, running and playing out in their natural habitat. It is a lot of fun and really unique.

We didn’t have much time in our room before we needed to head downstairs to Boma for dinner. Our reservations got messed up as the reservations (we found out later) had been made for Scitt Nukker. That didn’t make it easy for the restaurant to find us especially when (we found out later) they thought that they were trying to look up Scott Mellows!! Wow. But they worked around it and got us in within a few minutes.

The food was awesome, just like we remembered. A few things have changed but not much. The menu appears to be very stable. We ate ourselves sick of course. Our waitress was from Wyoming County with her family living in Bliss of all places!! We really enjoyed ourselves and I got myself a special “Disney anniversary” martini that came with a blue LED lit “ice cube” that I got to keep. That was pretty cool. A nice thing to remember our weekend with.

After dinner we returned to our room, which is super easy because we are staying in the same hotel as the restaurant, and relaxed for about an hour to give us some time to digest all of that food that we had shoved into ourselves. We decided that that was a lot more enjoyable than rushing back to the parks. We just relaxed and watched the animals on the savanna. It was great. Videos to come soon too.

We returned to EPCOT this evening after it had cooled off a little and the sun had gone down and did some more rides. We did Spaceship Earth again – it IS Dominica’s favourite after all. Then we decided to check out Mission: Space. We did the “Green Pass” which is the wussie way to do it without going through the centrifuge. I am sure that with the “Orange Pass” that you actually get a little action but the two things are basically the same but with the one making you dizzy. Our verdict was that this attraction was cheap and lame. It was short and definitely not a quality ride at all. It was very boring and not traditional Disney at all. In fact it felt like a really bad video game that you would never want to pay for. Blah blah blah. It is not worth riding even if there is no line. Just another Disney blunder in the ever spiraling demise of the park. All of the best rides (in this case GE’s Horizons) get ripped out and replaced with something cheap, boring and pathetic.

We tried to go to the Universe of Energy but that was closed so we did Spaceship Earth for a third time as it was close and there was no line. Then it was time to head up to the World Showcase so that we could ride the new Mexico – Gran Fiesta Tour. We got right onto the tour. It is definitely an improvement over the old El Rio del Tiempo ride but in general is really just the same ride with some of the worst bits (that were old, worn on television sets playing videos of things in Mexico) which nice digital projects showing mostly the same clips but now with some Disney characters superimposed over the original film. It is really obvious that they cheaped out and didn’t make new underlying footage because the digital projects show the gorgeous new computer generated footage as crisp, clear, vibrant and bright over old, nasty analogue film. A few of the worst parts were totally replaced but in general it is just the same ride but slightly better. Not impressive at all though.

After that we decided that we were tired of the park for the day so we went to Norway and visited the Stave Church Museum which was closed the last time that we were here so Dominica has never gotten to see it (her family wouldn’t let her go there when they visited in 1992.) That was quite nice. Then we got our almond covered pretzels and headed back to the lodge for a nice, quiet evening.

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