After dinner, we headed down to the bus station to go to Downtown Disney. On the bus, we met more people from Jersey. It's been like a New Jersey/Greater Philadelphia fest this week. I overheard a woman talking to a friend on the phone that she was planning to meet at Pleasure Island and saying "meet you at the Safari club?", so I let her know to follow us to the Adventurer's Club and sure enough her friend was in the salon.
We only stayed for the two radio broadcasts in the library, 'cause the crowds were horrendous. From now on, we'll make sure we are doing other things on Friday and Saturday nights (perhaps when we return with Kris and Becky, this would a good time to plan something like the Hoop De Doo Revue or just a night out on the Boardwalk?).
Yesterday was our big day in MGM Studios. We got up, headed out (skipping breakfast 'cause we knew we'd be eating a big lunch) and hopped onto the boat (having a very short wait out on the dock). When we got to the park, we bought a disposable camera (since we were charging the digital cameras battery in the room). Before riding the rides, I made sure to get a PS (Priority Seating) for the 50's Prime Time. I quick headed to Tower of Terror and Rock N Roller Coaster. I love both of these rides. They are probably two of the smoothest of the thrill rides I've been on.
We then caught both the Muppet 4-D and the backlot tour (with is currently a shell of it's former self...there's barely a backlot on display and the residential street that housed the Golden Girls house, among other facades, is now demolished).
At this point it was time to arrive for our Priority Seating. We still had about a twenty minute wait 'cause the place was mobbed, but I heard the hostess turning people without a PS away until 3:30 (this was 11:55am). We split a basket of onion rings (which are more like onion straws...much better that way), Paul ordered the meatloaf and I had the fried chicken. I also had a peanut butter and jelly milkshake which was out of this world. We also got a glimpse of the smores dessert (the couple next to us ordered them) and they are humongous.
I started feeling a little chilly and began to feel some raindrops. Paul wanted to stay to do "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire", but that would be another hour and a half wait for the next show, so he stayed and did some stuff to kill time (including the Walt Disney: One Man and his Dream exhibit, which we're going back to today) and I shopped quickly and headed back via boat.
I took a nap and Paul played Millionaire (Though they ran out of time before he got into the chair. Boo. Maybe today.).
When I got up, we got ready for heading out to Epcot to watch the Tree lighting ceremony and got there just in time. It was mobbed last night (again, probably simply because it was the weekend). However, when we walked by Mission: Space STILL was just a five minute walk-on (and I think was maybe really only a three minute wait). I'm so surprised. This is an awesome ride and it's a humongous building. I guess there are more chicken-shits in the park this time. For the people counting at home, yes, this was the third time I rode it this trip.
I wanted to get more holiday decoration photos for Becky and we had the time to kill until our Priority Seating at the Contempory (California Grill), so I suggested that we take a trip around the monorail to the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian. I was less than impressed with what I saw at the Poly (one measly little tree and maybe some wreaths here and there), but I was blown away by the Grand Floridian.
I'd seen the decorations at the Grand Floridian on television, but it's nothing like seeing them in person, a HUGE tree (inside the grand lobby), a life size Gingerbread house (made of real gingerbread...and they sold gingerbread cookies and cider out of it), and a band playing from the second floor balcony. (they were playing "ain't got a thing, if you ain't got that swing")
We then monorailed to the Magic Kingdom, shopped through the shops, and I hopped onto the railroad. However, I barely had enough time once I got to Toontown to walk to tomorrowland and hop into the Buzz Lightyear ride, so I didn't chance it and just rode the train the whole loop back to the station. I amused myself watching the old penny arcade movie machines (silent movies that you make move by cranking a crank, causing a series of pictures to flash by, creating the illusion of animation). I'm just upset they didn't any longer have the Felix the Cat one I remember from my trip in 1976. These machines used to be in the Penny Arcade (which was next to the Confectionary if I'm remembering correctly).
We hopped back onto the monorail for our dinner at the contemporary. They've changed their policies there since they've found that many tourists know about their observation deck. There's one elevator that can take you to the California Grill, but you first have to check in on the fourth floor and be accompanied there by a staff member. All other tourists have to watch the fireworks from a fourth floor observation deck (we were on the fourteenth floor).
Paul ordered the grilled pork tenderloin with creamy goat cheese polenta, cremini mushrooms, zinfandel glaze and sage. I ordered the oak-fired beef filet with three cheese potato gratin, green beans and tamarind barbecue sauce (though I ordered the sauce on the side). I was glad I got the sauce on the side, since I think it would have taken away from the steak...it was such a tender filet it practically melted in my mouth like butter. I happily (surprising to me) ate the green beans (I've now realized that though I still hate string beans, I kind of like green beans).
During our dinner, just before the fireworks began, most people in the restaurant headed out to the balcony observation deck where we watched the fireworks (the view afforded us a view of the entire park). They were fairly spectacular and HUGE.
Returning from dinner, we ordered desert. We both had decided on the same thing: citrus celebration (satsuma tangerine sorbet, blood orange jelly, vanilla cream and citrus salad). The sorbet was marvelous, the jelly a little too bitter for my taste and while I enjoyed the vanilla cream, Paul found it a bit too sweet paired with the citrus. The citrus salad was a couple different types of slices of grapefruit (which didn't help cut the bitterness).
today, we'll be doing a couple quick things in
1) MGM: returning to that Walt Disney exhibit and trying Millionaire again.
2) Epcot: mostly innoventions and I want to ride the Land boat again (though Paul may sit that out and work on his radio show).
to be followed by spending the majority of the night at:
3)the Very Merry X-Mas party at the Magic Kingdom.