Jennifer's Disney Adventure Report

Dates: 9/30-10/2 (three day trip)


  • Jennifer Watson (author): 30 year old, writer and co-author of PassPorter Walt Disney World, on her umpteenth trip to Disney (from Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Dave Marx: 44 year old, writer and co-author of PassPorter Walt Disney World, on his 11th (or is it 12th?) trip to Disney (from Hackensack, NJ and Ann Arbor, MI)

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 Celebration

Updated 11/21/03

Copyright 1999-2006
PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.

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  Our Second Day: Friday, October 1, 1999

Our good intentions to get up early this morning went out the window after a long night of working. We got going around 9:30 am and headed towards Pepper Market, the food court at El Centro. For those unfamiliar with Pepper Market, it is different than other Disney resort food courts in that a server shows you to a table and gives you a card. You then visit various food stations and the server stamps your card whenever you take a food item. At the end of your meal, you present your card at the register for your total. A gratuity is automatically added to your bill.

Though we knew what to expect, Pepper Market was a bit confusing at first and the food station signs sometimes promised food that wasn't available. Once we sorted things out, it went smoothly enough and food tasted good enough. The quality didn't seem much above regular food court fare to me.

After breakfast we headed to the bus stop. The Epcot bus was late, and we ended up getting to Epcot around 11:30. As the RADP meet was at 12 sharp in front of Millennium Village, we set out for it. Regretfully, we had to pass up the Pin of the Day at the Pin Station because the line was much too long. We did stop at Mouse Gear to see if they had the Pin of the Day—no luck, but they did give us a free Mouse Gear opening day pin! Mouse Gear, by the way, is the new shop that opened where the old Centorium used to be. It is very large store and decorated to look like a playful factory.

By the time we got to World Showcase, we noticed the line for Millennium Village. It extended from entrance between United Kingdom and Canada to well past Canada. Yuck. Dave got in line while I walked up to the front to get the story. The cast member said that Millennium Village wasn't opening until noon. I looked about for Deb Wills or any other person wearing an Internet button (which is three @ symbols arranged to look like Mickey's head), but found no one. I returned to Dave in the line, and he said that he though he noticed someone ahead of us in the line and encouraged me to say hello. Shyness overcame me, much to Dave's chagrin, so I waited a few minutes and worked up the nerve. Eventually she came over when she noticed our buttons (and, thanks to my shyness, I cannot remember her name now). Deb Wills came over soon after. She didn't recognize us at first (we hadn't yet met in person), but after a glance at our buttons (which read "Jennifer" and Dave") she put two and two together and realized it was “Jennifer and Dave!” It was great to meet her in person after all this time in e-mail!

The line for Millennium Village started moving at this point, letting a group of people into the pavilion. We were stopped right before it was our turn to go in, so we passed the time away chatting with Deb, Maryan, Paragon, Bruce, and many more folks from RADP. It went much too quickly, though, and I didn't get everyone's name nor the chance to say hello to all. I'm really looking forward to meeting more people during the December RADP Meet, when we should have much more time.

Once we were let into the queue area for Millennium Village, we had another 15 or so minute wait. They let a specific number of guests in for the pre-show and hold back the rest until the pre-show ends, after which another group goes in. The pre-show area is a round room with eight small stages around the perimeter and interactive displays on an island in the center. The pre-show itself was really just eight representatives from eight countries (Israel, Kenya, Indonesia, Ethiopia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, and Mambia*) coming out to talk about their country's “gifts to the world.” The pre-show only takes about four minutes.

* Dave thinks Mambia was Zambia. We'll need to double-check this one on our return!

After the pre-show, the doors open and guests can wander through the Millennium Village freely. Unlike other pavilions such as the Wonder of Life where the exhibits are scattered about, the Millennium Village exhibits follow a path through the pavilion. If you look down, you'll see a multi-colored carpet that flows through the exhibits—if you ever get lost, just follow this carpet in the direction in which other people are walking. Exhibits, in order of appearance, are: Scotland, Brasil, Saudi Arabia, World ShowPlace (theatre sponsored by Venezuala), Sweden, Etritea, The Gift of Cuisine (food court), gift shop, Israel, Millennium Village Green, Chile, Gifts of the World (shops representing Venezuala, Egypt, Thailand, Lebanon, Peru, Greece), The World Culture Game, and What's Your Gift to the World (exit). We took extensive notes on each of these exhibits and are even working on a map of the Millennium Village, which we need to return to the pavilion itself to finalize. We hope to offer a detailed report of the Millennium Village when we return from our 10/18-27 trip.

We spent about five hours in Millennium Village. No, you wouldn't normally need that long to walk-through it, but it would take about this long if you tried everything and also ate a meal there as we did. Here are some highlights from our time at the pavilion:

  • We watched a dance group from Israel perform folk and traditional dances in the World ShowPlace. They weren't always realistic, but they were fun and high-energy. The World ShowPlace is a good place to rest your feet and enjoy the show.
  • In the four seasons of Sweden, the snowman in winter was real! Also, the benches under Sweden's exhibit (which is overhead) were fairly quiet places to sit. Most people were passing them by.
  • You can get a free coffee sample at Etritea, next to The Gift of Cuisine food court. You can also learn about their coffee ceremony and culture.
  • The Gift of Cuisine food court has eight food stations and about 25 tables (100-110 chairs). You can get a paper tray by asking one of the cast members at a food station.
  • Journey to Jerusalem (the simulator ride) has long waits, though the queue has some interactive terminals, interesting displays, and entrancing architecture. At the time we went, the wait was about 30 minutes. The ride itself is 15.
  • The Millennium Village Green is a fun place for kids. They can “harvest crops” (gather balls), and then use those balls to process, build, power, recycle, light, and then harvest again. It is a good, hands-on example of the life cycle.
  • Gifts from the World is a “bazaar” where you can choose items from various countries and pay for your purchases all together towards the end (near the World Culture Game stage).
  • The World Culture Game is a “game show” trivia game where groups or families try to answer international culture questions. A good exercise for older kids and adults who want to test their knowledge.
  • The restrooms, phones, and drinking fountains are located in the Gifts from the World bazaar, between Thailand and Lebanon. The restroom are very large, but the most interesting thing about the restroom is that there is a door to the outside at the far end. This means you can exit the pavilion this way, but more importantly, you could enter the pavilion this way as well. You will miss the pre-show, of course, and end up at the end of the pavilion, but if you wanted to purchase an item at the Gifts from the World bazaar, this may be a good shortcut. These doors can be opened from the outside, presumably so guests can use the restrooms.

After our adventures in the Millennium Village, we headed back to Journey Into Your Imagination to ride it again. The wait was about 30 minutes this time, so Dave waited in line while I went to the Pin Station to get my Pin of the Day. There was a line again, so this time I got in line and wait patiently. When I was about five people from the front of the line, a cast member announced that they had sold out of the Pin of the Day. I couldn't believe it! I was so disappointed. I sulked back to Dave, who was equally disappointed. I consoled myself by doing some non-Millennium research we needed at Epcot. Along the way, I stopped back at the Pin Station, hoping against reason that maybe they found more Pin of the Days. No more pins were available for today (10/1), but they were putting out the pins for 10/2-10/10. Boy, were they ugly. They are huge and nothing I'd ever want to wear. They are only good for putting together to form the photomosaic. Bleah. Suddenly, I didn't mind not getting the Pin of the Day. I did, however, buy one pin for October 2, 1999. It was $7.00. After this revelation, we met back at the gift shop outside Journey Into Your Imagination and headed back to World Showcase for the Tapestry of Nations parade at 6:25 pm.

By the time we got to Mexico, Tapestry of Nations had already begun. Throngs of people were lining the walkways and there was no room to stand and observe. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as we walked along the side of the parade route. Since we were walking faster, we overtook the parade eventually and found a good spot to watch the parade near the bridge between China and Germany. We took lots of pictures and notes. The parade itself was 20 minutes long. We both enjoyed it, though I doubt I'd go way out of my way to see it again (I'm not much of a stand and stare sort of person). The music was great, the puppets were amazing, and the drummers were reminiscent of my high school marching band days (a good thing).

When the end of the parade passed us, we followed the marchers to the end of their route, a large gate next to the Germany pavilion. We immediately realized that this spot might be ideal for viewing the parade. Tapestry of Nations is actually three identical parades. Each of three group of marchers emerges from one of several gates positioned around the World Showcase, marches about 1/3 of the way around the Showcase, and exits through a another gate. The gates are located near Mexico, Germany, Morocco, and United Kingdom. The gates near Germany and Morocco are special viewing spots, as one set of marchers emerges onto the parade route at these points, and a second set of marchers departs the parade route through the same gate, in effect doubling your parade viewing time. We decided we'd test this theory with the 8:10 pm show later.

We spent some time doing some more research and met up again between Japan and Morocco, which was one of the points at which the parade would begin. The parade is actually three identical parades, beginning at three points around the World Showcase. We camped out on the curb next to the parade gate, and we rewarded as the Sage of Time (stiltwalker) stepped out at 8:10 to begin the parade. We discovered several new things this time. First, the parade reverses itself for the second showing, meaning that for the 6:25 parade it goes clockwise and for the 8:10 parade it goes counter-clockwise. This is good to know if you're deciding where to view it from. Second, many of the puppets are lit when it is dark, making them seem more mysterious and exotic. Third, when the parade is all the way out of the gate, the parade stops and the lights flash on pavilions around the lagoon and on the drums. Fourth, the Sage of Time stops when he gets to the end of the parade route and waits for all the puppets to go into the gate before he ends the parade. We really enjoyed the 8:10 parade more than the 6:25—the darkness lends the parade the mystique it was lacking in the daylight, and you see the lighting effects much better. We recommend the nighttime parade, as well as viewing the parade between China and Germany or between Japan and Morocco (for seeing double parade). If you don't want 40 minutes of parade, position yourself at the start of one of the parade points (Mexico, China/Germany, or Japan/Morocco at 6:25, or United Kingdom, Japan/Morocco, or Germany/China at 8:10).

As Tapestry of Nations took 40 minutes this time, it was now 8:50 and almost time for Reflections of Earth. IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth is a revamped version of the popular IllumiNations fireworks, laser, and music show that takes place in the middle of World Showcase Lagoon. “Revamped” is probably too light of a word, as the only things that have really stayed the same from the old show are fountains in the center and the fact that it incorporates music, fireworks, lasers, and a globe. Reflections of Earth “pays tribute to the planet we all call home.”

We'd scouted out some good viewing locations earlier, but by this point we decided it was easier to stay in front of Japan. The view of the lagoon in Japan was fine in most places and we could see the globe positioned next to the American Gardens Theatre. The show didn't start until almost 9:15 (it normally begins at 9:00), but when it did, wow! We were right next to a speaker, so everything came through very loud (maybe a bit too loud?). The show began with “comets” (shooting fireworks) overhead, which would presumably symbolize the birth of our planet. We could see the globe perfectly as it moved out into the center of the lagoon. It was covered with the sort of screens you see at sporting events, each in the shape of a continent. The continents changed with images depicting the birth of the earth and progressing through time to present day. Music played, fireworks burst, lasers shot, and fountains surged. Nineteen huge torches around the perimeter of the lagoon intensified the overall effect and made the show seem much more intimate than it really was. It was a moving, almost emotional display. I could feel the pride and awe welling inside. I really enjoyed it, and look forward to seeing it many more times when we return on October 18.

After Reflections of Earth, we strolled slowly back around the World Showplace. We were both exhausted. Not only had this been a very tiring trip so far, but we'd been under huge pressures and deadlines all summer with book projects. It was really catching up with us at this point. Along the way, we noticed the lights on at the new counter-service eatery, Tangierine Café. We peered through the windows, noticing that it wasn't quite ready yet. We were able to read the menu, however, and wrote it down for later reference.

We decided to bypass the lines at the bus stops and monorails and walk to the Beach Club, catching a bus from there to Pleasure Island. You didn't think we'd let a little exhaustion get in the way of visiting the Adventurer's Club, did you? We got to Pleasure Island in good time, headed to the Adventurer's Club, and camped out there until our stomachs reminded us we hadn't eaten since midday. We snuck out to The Missing Link next door for some hot dogs and chili fries. Ramona (from the Adventurer's Club) passed us as we were eating at a table behind the Club (next to the water—great spot for some peace and quiet) and offered to get us drinks. We were grateful and much impressed with her service.

We bid farewell to the Adventurer's Club after midnight, returning to the room to do some work and fall promptly asleep. Tomorrow is our last day.

From my PassPorter:

The weather on our second day was hot and sunny (again).

The best thing about our second day was getting to see so much new stuff in one day: Millennium Village, Tapestry of Nations, and Reflections of Earth

The worst thing about our second day was not having enough time to do and see everything we wanted.

The most interesting thing about our second day was meeting Deb, Maryan, Bruce, and the other RADP folks!

The most frustrating thing about our second day was not getting a Pin of the Day.

One word that best describes our second day is WOW.

Skip ahead to Our Third Day: Friday, October 2, 1999

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