Since I was right there at the exit of the show, I stepped onto the Star Wars ride. I have to say that this hasn't aged well. The film portion of the ride (which synches up with the ride portion) is starting to show some wear. The queuing area, though, is still one of my favorites. By this point, it was time for Paul and I to meet up and start heading back to the "Millionaire" set (though we still had about twenty minutes to kill when we got there).
We had a great time watching the show (and playing along)...and darn it, it was too short! At various points in the game we were both in the top ten of the whole audience.
We then went into "Walt Disney: A Man and His Dream" and it was a great exhibit, with all kinds of rare items (including the original Imagineering models for many of the attractions at the theme parks, including the various castles and the Tree of Life). The movie that followed was very moving. I'm glad I got the chance to see this!
Paul mentioned that he was hungry and that he really just wanted to have a cheeseburger, so I suggested we head over to the Electric Umbrella in Epcot. We each got bacon double cheeseburgers and fries (and a toll-house cookie for dessert).
Paul went back to the hotel to work on his show and relax for a while before we planned to head out to the Magic Kingdom for the Very Merry X-Mas Party. I knew that I wanted to do some specific shopping, so, after hopping back onto Mission:Space (for the fourth time for those counting) and stepping into Refreshment Station Cool for more Lychee Mello (I'd mispelled it last time)...oh! and it's from Thailand!...I headed back through World Showcase.
I picked up the t-shirt that I wanted to get for Dawn (I had picked up one a few days before for myself, but they didn't have any others of the same one at the time. I'd figured that they would get more out on the shelves and I was right). I also stopped into France and found another copy of the book I'd bought (this one for Aunt Bette).
After calling Dawn on the phone and double-checking, I picked up a whole bunch of "Flake" bars for Kim in England. By this time, it was nearing 2 o'clock, so I headed back to the hotel to relax a little, then shower and change.
We headed out via bus and arrived at the park just a little after 4pm (though closer to 4:30). We arrived just as a parade was ending in Main Street USA and walked to Tomorrowland and bought some pins for ourselves and others. I wanted to ride "Buzz Lightyear" again, to improve my score but the line was pretty long so I got a fast pass (for between 5:30 and 6pm).
Paul headed off to get his hair cut at the barber shop on Main Street and I shopped around some more (in the Stitch store at the exit of the Stitch ride). I then hopped onto the Tomorrowland Transit Authority to kill some time before my fast pass. I'm SO glad I did. On my second time around, I looked down and noticed that the CAROUSEL OF PROGRESS was RUNNING!!!
I called Paul and told him to meet me in Tomorrowland as soon as his haircut was done. About this time, they started herding all of the people from the X-Mas party (who had wristbands on) into Tomorrowland as they made everyone else in the park leave. I sat down at the bench under the TTA, in front of the CoA and waited. Soon Paul got there and we stepped into the Carousel. It wasn't normally open this week and was listed as closed on the daily times sheet, so I think they only started it at this point to help with the traffic control since so many people were being shunted into Tomorrowland to wait for the rest of the park to empty out. It was great to be able to see this show again and I just hope they manage to keep it running until we can get back in 2006.
Tomorrowland was getting mobbed by this point. I used my fastpass before it expired (got a score of 66,300 this time) and then Paul and I took another spin around the TTA until it was time for us to be allowed into the rest of the park again.
We then headed over to the castle for get a spot for the "Celebrate the Seasons" show, staring the Mickey characters and a group of dancers/singers. We first sat down for a bit and Paul handed me the bag of pins we'd purchased earlier while he was settling in. Before the show officially started, they sent out the Main Street Philharmonic to play a few numbers and warm up the crowd. When the show started, I started snapping photos and most of them came our pretty good (especially the ones of the castle...they projected beautiful snowflakes all over it).
When the show was done, we were both a bit hungry, so I suggested we head over to Casey's Corner for a hot dog (at Kris and Becky's recommendation). After maneuvering through a LONG line (most of the people were preparing to sit and grab a seat for the first of the two runnings of the parade), we sat down and took a bit...YUCK. The WORST hot dog I've ever had in my life...but we ate it 'cause we were hungry, we'd waited in that line AND we'd just paid $4.00 a pop for them (they were the quarter pound ones). While in line, I looked over at Paul and said "Hey, do you have those pins?" He turned to me and said "I gave them to you, remember?" Oh no! That was when we were sitting. As soon as the show started, we stood up and I started taking pictures and just forgot about the pins on the ground. While Paul was in line, I ran back out to the castle, but the bag was no where in sight. Oh well, live and learn.
After eating we headed into Adventureland to ride the Pirates of the Caribbean again and that's where we found the line for our free photograph. It was much shorter than the line at Tomorrowland, I could see it was moving quickly AND the photograph was included in the price of the ticket, so we quickly hopped in line. After not too long a wait, we were herded into a big room (that was probably once a store or something), where the pictures were being taken at four booths. Meanwhile, to keep us entertained, there was a woman playing piano in there.
After exiting the photo queue (they will be mailing us the photo), we got onto Pirates and then onto the Haunted Mansion (we saw that they were still preparing for the parade at this point and chose to avoid it). While the parade started, we ducked out of the way into the Columbia Harbour House where they were giving away the free hot chocolate and cookies (sugar cookies).
Now, as an aside...I was just starting to get a sore throat earlier that day so the hot chocolate felt so good going down (once it had cooled down a bit...initially it was almost scalding and in fact, I believe that I DID scald my tongue a little bit.
In order to avoid the traffic clog of the parade, I suggested we walk back to Tomorrowland (to rebuy those pins since some had been picked out for gifts) via Fantasyland. The crowds were unbelievable. This was supposed to be a night where it was easy to get on the rides, etc. Thank God for the characters EVERYWHERE...I saw SO MANY characters in the park that night it was practically making my head spin, but that was slowing down many a family to getting into the lines for the attractions (though some attractions were crazy as we passed...there was a wait time for the Peter Pan ride of 30 minutes!). We did manage to practically walk right up to TweedleDee and TweedleDum to get my picture with them 'cause they were tucked away by the tea-cups.
Anyway, we got to the pin station where we'd bought the pins earlier and picked out all the ones we'd gotten earlier that night (and I managed to find one with Gus-Gus and Jacque this time through). I made sure I opened up the fanny pack this time to prepare to put this purchase in the bag. That's when I found the original bag in there. I'd put it in there and didn't remember doing so (and had bought something else in the Stitch store and that bag blended in with it). We stopped the cast member in time before he rang everything up and we only got the mouse pin that we just found (since we, thankfully, didn't have to duplicate our original purchase).
We headed over to the Rose Garden to sit and enjoy the fireworks (though we'd just seen the same ones from above the night before). Unfortunately, we misjudged where the fireworks would appear in the sky and where we were sitting they were paritally obstructed by a huge tree...however, I was equally entertained watching a family of ducks swimming in the pond (I guess they've all grown up with fireworks going off every night, 'cause they didn't alarm the birds at all). However, we were in one of the PERFECT places to see Tinkerbell make her descent!
We then headed over to Main Street to shop and pick out a spot for the parade. I bought Becky's chocolate paint brushes and Paul found a watch for R.J. as a thank you for taking care of both the theatre and T.C. while we were gone. (we ended up getting the watch we picked out at the World of Disney store the next day, 'cause they only had the display model left at the Main Street store).
The parade was wonderful and not too crowded (since many people saw the earlier one). By this time, we were both getting tired so we headed out of the park and over to the bus stop (did I mention that we managed to have near perfect timing for the buses our entire trip?).
We returned to the hotel and set the alarm for 8am, since Downtown Disney would be opening the Marketplace at 9:30am and we wanted to finish all of our gift souvenir shopping as early as possible.
I'll tell you about that last full day (and our return home) tomorrow...it's getting pretty late and I need some sleep!