Jennifer's Disney Adventure Report
Dates: 9/30-10/2 (three day trip)
Transportation: Northwest Airlines (from Detroit) and Tiffany Town Car
Resort: Coronado Springs Resort
Parks: Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios, Magic Kingdom, Downtown Disney/Pleasure Island, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon
Restaurants/Eateries: Le Cellier, Wolfgang Puck's, Gifts of Cuisine (food court at Millennium Village), The Missing Link, Flame Tree Barbecue, and Maya Grill
Other: RADP Millennium Village Meet on 10/1/99, pin trading/collecting, start of the Millennium CelebrationUpdated 11/21/03
|Our First Day: Thursday,
September 30, 1999
Believe it or not, I woke at 3:30 am, before the alarm was set to go off. Sleeping before a Disney trip is not one of my strong suits. I used the extra half an hour to do a bit more preparation for our "reconnaissance mission" (research trip) and to double-check that I'd packed everything I needed. By 5:00 am, we were on our way to Detroit Metro Airport (which is conveniently located only 20 minutes away).
Everything went smoothly at check-in with Northwest (we use E-Tickets and can usually get checked in in under ten minutes). We picked up Cinnabons and caffe mochas (our airport ritual) on the way to our gate. We board our plane, it leaves on time (7:00 am), and the trip goes without a hitch. The airline serves their usual banana-cereal-bagel breakfast in-flight and we partake, knowing we won't be eating lunch until later in the day. We touch-down at 9:30 and make our way to baggage. We've been in this airport so many times now that we could virtually do this stuff with our eyes closed. Even so, a smooth flight is a luxury for some, and we're grateful for an easy trip.
As we come down the escalators heading towards baggage claim, Ian of Tiffany Town Car is there to meet us. We pick up the luggage and head towards Disney. Along the way, we chat with Ian and tell him about our plans for our short jaunt. This is our first time meeting Ian, whom we've heard much about through our readers and fellow fans. Now, I have to tell you, I have this thing about not telling people that we write a book about Walt Disney World when we first meet them. I really want to be treated like every other traveler, so I can hear what our readers would hear (even if I've heard it a million times). This time, after about ten minutes, we let Ian in on the fact that we write PassPorter (you can't fool these Tiffany Town Car folks). And to our surprise, he said he'd heard of it and could swear he saw the cover before. So we chatted about PassPorter and the Millennium Celebration until we arrived at the entrance to Coronado Springs at around 10:30. Before we parted company, we gave Ian an autographed copy of PassPorter to read. Ian was a good driver and we would recommend him and Tiffany Town Car to anyone (and we do).
Registration at Coronado Springs went smoothly. Before heading in to actually register, we shuffled luggage items a bit so we had the items we want to carry around the parks (waist packs for each of us, plus a backpack with rain gear and some research materials). Bell services then took our luggage and gave us our luggage claim tickets. Inside, I marveled at the beautiful fountain, tiles, and high ceilings while we waited for a cast member. (We've been here before, but it wasn't on a beautiful September day with the light streaming in through the windows either.)
Looking at the map ahead of time, we'd decided we wanted to request a room in the Cabanas so we'd be close to El Centro (Front Desk, Guest Services, restaurants, etc.) and The Dig Site (the main pool). We usually call CRO ahead of time to request that they note this preference in our reservation, but we hadn't the chance on this trip because of our deadlines. Luckily, we had no problem securing a room in the Cabanas. The cast member who checked us in said we could have a room in 8B, but that it wasn't ready yet (as we expected). So we left our luggage with bell services, picked up a few maps, and headed outside to the bus stop.
The bus to Epcot arrived at the bus stop in short order, and before we knew it they were depositing us at Epcot. As soon as we were in the gates, it became evident that it was a slow day at the park. It was virtually empty, and there were almost as many folks walking around with press badges as there were regular guests. Hey, we're not complaining.
By this point, we were famished. We decided to eat lunch now rather than later, and set our sights on Le Cellier in the Canada pavilion in World Showcase. On the way there, we noticed Millennium Central and the Pin Station kiosk right before the fountain. We also noticed all the press booths lining the walkway towards Canada. We decided to walk a bit further to see if Millennium Village was open, but it was not. Though it was nearly noon by this point, getting a table at Le Cellier without a priority seating was no problem. We should note that the restaurant was busy, however. I ordered the Cheddar Cheese Soup (yum!) and Field Greens with GrilledChicken (also good). We enjoyed Le Cellier and plan to write a review of this restaurant as soon as we find the time. By this point, my lack of sleep and the climate change was catching up with me, so it was good to sit in the air conditioned restaurant.
After lunch, we made a beeline for the Imagination! Pavilion. We'd heard reports that the new Journey Into Your Imagination attraction may open a day early, and we weren't disappointed. The cast member at the door welcomed us in and we walked right on. Well, we loitered a bit in the queue taking notes and such, but we could have walked right on. We ended up riding Journey Into Your Imagination twice. Our impressions? I thought it was spotty in places, good in others, and overall just so-so. Dave liked it more than I, but agreed it was still rough around the edges. We also plan to write a detailed report of this new attraction!
We then stopped at the Pin Station at Millennium Central for a look around. The kiosk is small, but it has plenty of pins and pin accessories. I drooled over the pin binder and decided I had to have one even though I'd made one for myself already. Disney's binder, while much more expensive ($50), was very cool. The binder has fabric pockets for the pins. You open the pocket at the edge, poke the pin through the fabric on the outside of the pocket, fasten the back of the pin on the inside of the pocket, and close the pocket (which has velcro to keep it shut). There are three of these fabric pockets, and you can use the front and back of the pocket to attach pins. In addition to these pockets, there are three mesh, zippered pockets for holding other pins (or items like patches). In the back of the binder are lots more pockets, including one that stays shut with velcro. The binder comes with a shoulder strap and has the WDW 2000 logo embroided on the front. It is about the 8 1/2 x 11 and a few inches thick. I also purchased a pin lanyard, which is a nylon ribbon that you can wear about your neck and to which you can attach pins. The lanyard has Walt Disney World imprinted in the nylon material. I also picked up one of the many millennium pins available. They have a millennium pin for every park, even every resort. And they were all available at Pin Station. That was a little disheartening, since having the pins so available makes collecting less challenging (and thus, less fun), but I was glad to see they had them.
Our original plan called for us to go to Disney-MGM Studios from Epcot, but I was tired and we decided to go back to Coronado Springs first. Upon our return at about 3:30, we found our room ready. We were in room 8581 in Cabana 8B. It was very near a bus stop (#3), right next to a quiet pool, close to The Dig Site, and within easy walking distance of El Centro. Its view wasn't so great (parking lot), but that hardly mattered on a short trip like ours. We highly recommend the Cabanas if you're looking for the best of all worlds at Coronado Springs.
In the room, we took some pictures and then settled in. Since we were ahead of schedule and both very tired, we took an hour out to rest. I hopped in the tub for a cool bath, while Dave took a book out to a hammock on the sand (which he says he loved). I ended up falling asleep afterwards, so Dave decided to go to Disney-MGM Studios without me. I sleepily agreed to meet him at Magic Kingdom at 6:00 in front of City Hall, then promptly fell back asleep.
At 5:00 I managed to drag myself out of the depths of sleep, get dressed, and hop on the bus to Magic Kingdom. Dave and I met up at 6:00 as planned, and realized there wasn't much we needed to do at Magic Kingdom after all. Poor planning, but we were tired, after all. We took the monorail to the Transportation and Ticket Center and transferred to a Downtown Disney bus.
We got off at the West Side bus stop at Downtown Disney and headed towards Pleasure Island and the Adventurers Club. Alas, the Club was closed until 9:00 pm for a private function (must be those darned press events), so we headed to Wolfgang Puck's on the West Side for dinner. They were busy, but we found two seats at the bar and ordered California Rolls, satay, and sushi. It was a nice, impromptu dinner.
The Adventurer's Club was much as it always is, which is part of its charm, of course. We settled in the comfy chairs in the Main Salon to observe the goings-on and order our usual (Long Island Iced Tea for me and Jungle Juice for Dave). We both really, really like the Adventurer's Club. It feels like our home while we're at Disney. We know what to expect at this point (well, most of the time) and we can relax, knowing we don't have to take notes or observe anything we don't feel like observing. Oh, and one of the servers, Ramona, always recognizes us when we arrive. We find this astounding, considering how many people she must see and how relatively infrequently we're there. Nonetheless, it lends to the feeling of home and we always feel welcome. We stayed until about 11:00, after which we decided to head for the room so we could do some work*, relax, and get to sleep early. We had a big day ahead of us, the start of the Millennium Celebration!
Once we'd returned, we decided to take advantage of the World's largest hot tub (the hot tub at The Dig Site holds 22 people!) and got into our bathing suits. The hot tub was a little too hot (and popular) for me, so I retreated to the virtually empty and incredibly huge swimming pool. It was sheer heaven. After a very long, tiring day, that cool, luxuriant water was like a balm. I really recommend going for a swim at the end of the day if you can.
* While we're at Disney, work on the laptop usually means reading and replying to e-mail: answering questions, confirming orders, fulfilling orders (through our warehouse in Michigan), adding and removing folks to our mailing list, registering readers, and so on. We also need to update our Web site, organize our notes and materials from the day (PassPorter does wonders here), and check several discussion areas (our own message board, rec.arts.disney,parks, AOL message boards, and so on) for any important information or threads we should respond to. It can take several hours to do just the basics.
Skip ahead to Our Second Day: Friday, October 1, 1999