All right... I was writing about our reservation for supper. We met up with Elsa and told her the plan. Since we'd inevitably miss the 10pm bus back to the hotel, Judi agreed to pay the cab fare. Works for us!
It was shopping time. I still had one more souvenier that I wanted to buy myself. Since we now have to wear staff IDs at work, I wanted a Disney lanyard to wear some days. We stopped at the Emporium so that Judi could buy some Minnie Mouse ears (hers were old and becoming uncomfortable to wear thanks to the plastic clipping). Elsa was also looking for a lanyard to hang her camera. And you know about my search. I bought one that was blue with red (more like pink) writing that said "Walt Disney World." I also bought a Mickey Mouse pin for it. And then I transferred all of my pins from my bush hat onto the lanyard. Finally, I hung my camera (or rather mom's digital) on the lanyard. I was set for a day of photo taking!
While helping Judi with her purchases, I finally found out what all this Pin Trading was about. Apparently you can trade pins with Disney workers who have lanyards. Provided the pin you trade them is Disney and they don't already have it on their lanyard, you can do it. Since I'd been eyeing one cast member's Cheshire Cat, I asked if I could swap it for one of the Animal Kingdom pins. She agreed and now I have a Cheshire Cat to go with Mickey and the purple lion and the stylized rhino that came with my hat. (I also have one that says "Animal Kingdom.") I seem to have lost one of those pins from the hat, however. Perhaps it fell on the ground when I removed them from my hat to put them in my purse. Alas...
Elsa had found a simple black lanyard for her camera and was waiting for us outside the shop. Having mentioned "ice cream" about 4 times already that morning, the girls agreed to join me at the ice cream parlor at the end of Main Street USA. Elsa wanted a fresh bottle of bottled water and Judi was going to do likewise. I bought a caramel sundae in cone cup and Elsa bought an ice cream sammich made with 2 chocolate chip cookies and chocolate chip ice cream. Judi, who'd only gotten the water, felt betrayed by Elsa for buying more than the water, so she had to go through the line again for an ice cream sammich too. (To think Judi had to be goaded into buying ice cream - that's a rarity!)
We sat outside the parlor and ate our ice cream while enjoying the lovely day. I refilled my water bottle (from the day before). Then, as the sun was getting to be too much, we moved onward. Elsa took our photo in front of the castle, but then her camera attempted suicide by jumping off of her lanyard and onto the ground. We rounded up the batteries that had fallen out and put 'em back in, but the camera gave her a warning. Hmmm, perhaps the batteries were damaged - one certainly had a dent in it.
Elsa had a set of 4 replacement batteries in our canvas bag which was back at the locker. So I raced off to get them. They, being rechargable, were completely dead. So we returned to the Emporium and Elsa bought a 4 pack of AA's. Judi was concerned her camera battery might go dead, so she bought one over at the photo store. Once Elsa replace the new batteries, she was still getting a warning. But this time it turned out to be the memory card. It had been jarred loose. Once returned to the slot, her camera worked just fine. Hooray!
We decided to check out the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. On our way there, we got fastpass tickets for the Jungle Cruise. Then we got in the Pirates line. Took about 20 minutes or so to get through but I'm not even sure it was worth that wait... It's incredible that such a lame ass ride could inspire the wonderfully entertaining movie that it did.
We had lunch after the Pirates ride at El Pirata Y el Perico Restaurante. We all ordered the empanada special - one empanada with rice and black beans. And I got a Coke with mine. We found a place to sit where the birds were bold. Thankfully none of them tried to take our food while we were eating.
When dinner was done, it was time for the Jungle Cruise. The fastpass line here was the usual 10 minute wait or so (better than the 55 minute wait for "standby"). And we got in the front of our boat - hooray! Our guide was trying too hard to be funny - in fact, he seemed almost like a disgruntled Disney employee. The only one we encountered the entire trip. Just couldn't handle being happy all the time, he turned to sarcasm instead. Lots of plastic animals to see and the ride was very pleasant and cooled us off.
When our cruise was done, it was nearing 4pm. So we found Elsa a nice place to sit and read while Judi and I headed across the park to Space Mountain. We were 10 minutes early for our fastpass time, so we went to the TimeKeeper 360 degrees movie. It was entertaining and Jules Verne had a blast in it.
When we got to Space Mountain, the fastpass line was the fastest we'd ever gotten so far in the parks. And then we got to race through space in one of my favorite roller coasters. As always, it was a blast.
We returned to Adventure Land where Elsa was awaiting us. Then I was offered a free pineapple spear if I stood in line to buy pineapple spears for the girls. Judi then changed her mind and had me order a pineapple float for her. Seeing the lovely soft serve ice cream that they had, when I finished my tasty pineapple spear, I went back in line for some soft serve vanilla ice cream.
It was after 5pm and Judi was getting a little chilly. So it was time for jackets. Judi and I left Elsa again and headed back to the lockers. I switched to my shoes from my sandals and Judi got her coat and Elsa's jacket. We returned to Elsa and made our way to the Haunted Mansion to get fastpass tickets.
Along the way there, we stopped to photograph one of the riverboats and my camera died. Geez, couldn't it have done this before we went to the lockers? Well, we got our fastpass tickets and then I raced back to the locker to pick up my spare pair of batteries. I snapped some evening photos of the colorful lights and the Magic Castle. Then I joined the girls in front of the "It's a Small World" ride.
We were in line for about 20 minutes or so until we got on our little boat. Then we all took loads of pictures. Probably enough to recreate the experience. I decided that the ride had better looking dolls than when I'd first ridden on it - some really cute little critters there. The song, however, still got on my nerves. And it doesn't help that Judi keeps singing it!
It was nearly time for our Haunted Mansion visit. By now it was nicely dark - perfect for visiting a haunted house. I thought the best bit about this ride was the extending room effect at the start. I also liked the lighting effects that they used to make the ghosts, but it's a trick that I'm aware of anyhoo. Still, it was far better than the Pirates ride.
It was quarter til 8 when we were done with the mansion, so we headed back to Main Street to find a place to watch the lighted parade. It was an incredible show. The Holidazzle Parade that Minnesota puts on has a few more years to go before they can even come close to this parade. And Elsa got quite a few nice photos taken of it.
We headed to the Crystal Palace to check in for supper and sat outside to wait. They got us in 20 minutes early, so we got inside and our waiter informed us that Pooh was on his way to our table, so we should wait a couple of minutes before going to get our food. Pooh arrived and Elsa took a photo of Judi and I with him. Then we headed off to the buffet. And my, do they know how to put on a spread at the Crystal Palace. Even the salads looked delictable - I had some artichoke heart salad and potato salad and leaf lettuce salad. There was roasted chicken and mashed taters and pasta and a kale & bacon dish that was yummy as well. I had fruit punch with my supper. And for seconds, I got more taters and pasta, plus a chocolate chip cookie.
The dessert bar was even more incredible. I mean, they not only had Elsa's favorite (bread pudding) and Judi's favorite (tiramisu), but they had mine as well (creme brulee). I had some creme brulee (no shit - literally) and vanilla flan plus a smidgen of bread pudding. But I got too much and wasn't able to finish.
As for the character visits, Piglet came while I was getting food, but Elsa got her photo with him. And when Tigger arrived, we all got our photos with him. Elsa was fascinated with his tail, but there's a bad (dirty) joke involved that I shan't go into.
After supper, we decided it was time to go. It was after 10pm and we mosied to the front. First to get our locker stuff and then to get Judi's package pick-up. We took the ferry back to the transportation center and then walked around looking for a cab. Coincidentally, there was a cab driver walking around looking for clueless people walking around looking for a cab. And she found us. She directed us back to her cab and agreed to take us to the hotel for $15. She was a nice lady from Philly who misses the snow but not the cold.
We were back by 11:30 and there were two messages waiting for us from Gene, our cabby who took us from the airport to here. He informed us that our hotel name had changed. Wow - we came here to the Rennaisance World Gate and will leave the Orlando World Gate Resort. So we stayed at 3 hotels (once you include the Mariott World Center in the count) for this trip.
We spent the evening transferring photos onto my laptop, watching the "dailies" (ie, slideshows of today's photos), and burning CDs for each of us with all of the photos. I copied a game for Judi while I was at it. And eventually, we got to bed.
This morning we slept in - some... By 9:30, we were down for breakfast. It turns out the reason the buffet was gone yesterday was because the Orlando World Gate doesn't have a breakfast buffet. So we ordered off the menu instead. I had blueberry buttermilk pancakes, sausage, and milk. The pancakes were grilled to perfection - lightly crispy on the surface and fluffy inside. Paid $11 for that (and Judi owes me $11 as well...)
Now we're in the goofing off stage. Still over an hour and a half before we must vacate the room. So I'll probably play with my laptop for awhile more. Then I'll sit outside by the pool listening to Scherzo on my MP3 player after we've checked out. Gene won't be here to pick us up until 4:30pm, so we have time to cool our heels, so to speak.
This has been a truly enjoyable vacation. I had a blast with my friends and we'll all very happy that Steph could join us. And tonight I'll get to see my kitty again and open my last present. YAY! Let's hear it for Disney!