Tuesday, September 5, 2006

“It all started with Walt” – that was the name of the annual EPCOT Pin Celebration Event that Gary and I attended. I had looked forward to this event all year and was not the least bit disappointed with the celebration. The following is a brief account of the adventure.

Tuesday September the 5th we left our motor home in Kingston and drove to Buffalo where we spent the night. We timed it so we could stop at the casino in Niagara Falls for the dinner buffet and do just a little bit of slot machine playing. We had to leave enough time to do a bit of shopping in Buffalo before we checked into the Holiday Inn Express near the airport.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Wednesday morning the wake up call came at 5 a.m.!  Gary and I both jumped with a start, we were not sure where we were or what was happening, finally it set in that it was time to get up and go to Disney . . . what a great feeling that is. We got ready and caught the shuttle to the Buffalo Airport; our flight was at 7:15 a.m., Southwest Air direct to Orlando. The flight left on time and arrived on time, exactly 2 ½ hours, what a great way to run an airline, I wonder if Air Canada would ever consider this? The Tiffany Town car was waiting for us and whisked us off to POP Century, our room was ready so we dropped our bags off and headed directly to Animal Kingdom. The first stop was lunch at the Flame Tree Barbeque, it was very good but I think I like Tusker House better. It was so hot and humid we almost ran to the Kali River Rapids, I did not mind in the least that I got wet, as a matter of fact I said to Gary “this ride is so much more fun when you want to get wet”. Next we rode Expedition Everest, I love this ride even if it does make me a little dizzy, it’s worth it. The heat was starting to get to us so we went back to the resort for a swim and cool down in our air-conditioned room. Then we caught the bus to MGM, we visited the Animation building before we had dinner at Prime Time Café. Our waiter was Dale and he did a wonderful job of acting and involving everyone in the theme. It is CM’s like him that make going to Prime Time so much fun, not to mention the great pot roast and PBJ milkshakes. We decided that since there were no crowds that we would go to Fantasmic, it was lighting and threatening rain so the show was postponed, we decided not to wait since we were tired and we would see it in December when it wasn’t quite so hot. We were back to the resort by 10 p.m. and both had a swim, then it was lights out.

Event sign - between Canada and England

Thursday, September 7, 2006

A drive-in theatre set up inside World ShowPlace

Thursday morning we started off with breakfast at Everything POP, I met my friend Susan and her mom Allison who were there for the pin event as well. We chatted and planed to meet at noon for the pre-registration.  Gary and I went over to Fort Wilderness to check out the 300 loop that we have booked in December. We wandered around the site and singled out a couple of preferred camping spots. It was now time to go to the Contemporary for the pre-registration. We had a quick bite in the food court at Contemporary and then proceeded to Fantasia Room H in the convention part of the resort. It is huge, I never imagined that there was that much room at that resort, funny the parts you don’t see from the concourse. We joined up with Susan and her mom and spent about 50 minutes in the line, much faster than last year’s 2 ½ hours. I checked out the pins that I had pre-ordered, made a couple of returns and trades and then went back to POP to drop everything off. After a brief rest we caught a bus to the Magic Kingdom and then a boat to the Polynesian where we had dinner at Ohana, still one of my favourite meals even without the pineapple. We finished dinner and had a couple of hours to spend at the Magic Kingdom before we came back to the Polynesian to catch the Wishes cruise. We rode on the newly renovated Pirates of the Caribbean. I loved the new additions to the ride, Jack Sparrow looks so real that you want to jump ship and swim to shore, just to get an autograph of coarse J. It was time to get back to the Polynesian to meet up with two other couples one from Riverside CA and the other from Lancaster PA to partake in a Wishes cruise. It is very nice, you board a pontoon boat and cruise around Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon and get a close-up view of the Water Parade and then watch the Wishes fireworks show from the water.  Even though I like Wishes better than Illuminations, I prefer the Illuminations cruise. After the cruise we caught a cab back to POP. Gary had a swim and I prepared my “trader pins” for the next day.

Friday, September 8, 2006

Friday morning, the pin weekend was about to start!!! We met Susan and Alison in the food court and had breakfast, then Susan drove us over to EPCOT.  The event was held in the World ShowPlace, where the Millennium Village was, between Canada and England. They had a special park entrance for the “Pin People” and a sniffer dog at the bag check. The serious pin traders came with suitcases; it’s the only time they allow you to bring pins on wheels into the park.  The hall was decorated to follow the “It all started with Walt” theme, they had all the old rides set up, there was a sub from 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, a Skyway cab, Mr. Toads Wild Ride car and many more. It is one of those things you have to see to appreciate all the work that goes into an event like this. There were Cast Members at their kiosks from Disneyland in California, the Tokyo and Paris parks and the Cruise line. And there were the pin boards with lines that out do Soarin’. But it was fun and I loved it. Gary and I escaped for a bit to have lunch at the Land and then when he suggested we ride Soarin’ I had to remind him that this was a pin weekend so I had to get right back to it. He did find a ride partner though, Alison is not a pin trader either, she was just there to enjoy Disney with her daughter so they both went off and rode Soarin’ a couple of times. We left the pin event just in time to get to our dinner reservation at le Cellier.  We were seated right away and had the awesome Maple Glazed filet. There was a small change in the menu, the Maple Crème Brulee shares a dish with a Vanilla Bean Brulee, it was wonderful, I loved it. 

We left Canada and walked over to the Land where we had a ride on Soarin’ then on our way out of the park we took a ride on Spaceship Earth. We both had a swim when we got back to POP and then lights out.

The decor was beautiful!

Saturday, September 9, 2006

The children's play area.

Saturday, day two of the pin event was the same as day one except that we had lunch at the Electric Umbrella and Gary rode Mission Space instead of Soarin’. He checked out the sissy side for me and reported back that I would be able to ride it . . . no problem. The trading and long lines continued through the afternoon and ended with the live auction. Do you know that someone actually paid $1900 for a set of pins!! The average winning bid was several hundred dollars. Very serious pin people attend this event, but there are also many very fun people and I met several of them.

 We left the pin event just in time to get to our dinner reservation at the Coral Reef; this was our first time there for dinner and it was quite good. We got a great seat next to the aquarium and the food was good, it was just so noisy though, very bad acoustics. After dinner we walked over to Mission Space and I rode the sissy side green side.  Gary was right, it suits me much better, I really did enjoy the ride and had no side affects from it. I did some shopping at Mouse Gear before we went back to the resort, Gary had a swim and I sorted through my pins. 

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sunday morning, we met Susan and Alison again and drove over to EPCOT with them for the last few hours of the pin event.  It was opened to the general public at 11 a.m. I did some trading and Gary read his book until about 12:30 when we headed over to the Land for lunch, we ate with Susan and her mom and a few new pin trader friends I had met over the weekend. After lunch we went back to the resort to cool down and have a bit of a rest. We caught the bus to the Magic Kingdom and walked down Main Street taking in the sounds and smells that make it my happy place. We got a fast pass for Peter Pans Flight before we went to the Crystal Palace.  We met Susan and Alison there for dinner. It was fun and we had some good laughs about pin trading. After dinner Gary and I rode Pirates again and then got our wristbands for the Extra Magic Hours. We watched SpectroMagic but it was cut short due to a downpour. Then we rode the Haunted Mansion before heading over to Main Street for Wishes. After Wishes we rode Pooh, saw Philharmagic, rode Peter Pans Flight and It’s a Small World. Tired and wet we caught a bus back to POP and called it a night.

Susan, Allison and Carol at the Crystal Palace.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Monday morning, no pin event, how sad it was that it was over but there is always next year. We decided that this was a good day to go to Typhoon Lagoon.  We got there early (Extra Magic Hours) and got a good spot by the wave pool. We wanted to get right over to Crusher Gusher before the crowds started, we rode each slide individually, (last year we rode together and it didn’t work out so well). At that point I said to Gary, I can climb those steps one more time, and even though I said I would never ride with you again, lets try it one more time. Up we went with one raft for the two of us. The coming down was fine, but as soon as we hit the bottom I remembered exactly why I didn’t want to ride together. With Gary’s weight, as soon as we hit the water he literally launched me into space, I flew up in the air and then hit the water with such force that I was sitting on the bottom of the pool before I knew what hit me. Sputtering and spitting I came to the surface and the cute, very young cast member asked if I had fun. 

After a fun time at the water park we packed things up and went back to POP and rested up before boarding the bus to Animal Kingdom. We had a dinner reservation at Boma and planned to go to the Animal Kingdom park and then switch busses to get to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. There was only one other couple getting on the bus with us and they were going to Boma as well. As we boarded the bus the driver asked “Animal Kingdom?” and we replied “Yes, but it would be great if you could go by way of the lodge, even just slow down and we will tuck and roll”. We all chuckled and let him know we were all going to the lodge for dinner. All the way we were chatting with this other couple and Gary nudged me and said, “I think he’s taking us to the lodge”. Sure enough, Don the bus driver made a special delivery and drove us directly to the AKL. How nice was that? We had lots of time to go out and watch the animals on the savannah and talk to the wonderful Cast Members from Africa who proudly tell you about their countries. There was a baby giraffe in one savannah and it was so cute, the Cast Member told me she is 8 months old.  This is a wonderful resort; our dinner was great and I finished it off with a couple of Zebra domes. After dinner we headed to Downtown Disney and wandered through a few of the shops. I needed to do a bit more pin trading before going home so Gary found his usual spot to sit and read. We were not too late getting back to the resort; Gary had a swim and I did the packing to be ready for check out in the morning. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tuesday morning, we checked out of our room and decided to spend our last couple of hours at Animal Kingdom. We took a ride on the Kilimanjaro Safari and followed that with one last ride on Expedition Everest. We wandered along the walkway and watched DeVine for a few minutes. We still have 2 Counter Service meals left from our dining plan so we used them at Tusker House; it’s a very good lunch. Time had run out, we had to go back and catch our ride to the airport. At the airport we met up with Susan and Allison, checked our luggage and the four of us passed through security and found a spot to sit and have a drink while we wait. Gary and I went into the book shop to buy some reading material for the flight home and as we were standing in line Gary became very animated and is pointing and stammering “It’s…it’s.. you know…it’s” I look over to where he is pointing and there stands Betsy Ann, She had just arrived for a Disney week, what a small world after all. We hugged and had a bit of a chat before we had to head in opposite directions, saying “we’ll see you in December”. It’s not so bad leaving Disney when you know you’re coming back real soon.

It was a great week, I met lots of people, made some new friends, watched Gary get excited about finding a good lanyard pin, got some amazing pins from the event, had some wonderful meals, laughed and laughed and made plenty more magical memories.

Me and my favourite mouse!