Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Monday January 26: Not so Many Words.

Not so many words this post, promise...it's extra magic hour at Animal Kingdom day!!VERY early for a vacation, according to some.Some who attempt to tell me that the animals are not out. The animals, he says, are wisely in bed. Because it's 6:30 in the morning, and it's his vacation, so he has to wee on mine. Well, so much for that:The gorillas were up.The bats were up as well, stretching in the sun,and the antelope had risen early.My lion was right where I left him last year.There were a bunch of elephants on the move. In fact, this was the most active Kilimanjaro Safari we've ever had.I love the theming in this park. And I always love a good fountain.I especially love fountains with small people in them.More animals, a bongo?Lots of early birds catching worms and nectar and bugs and such. Walking the Maharajah Jungle Trek and Pangani Forest Trail we saw many antelope - we also saw giraffes and ostrich, a variety of primates, hippos, birds and really just a ton of animals.We reminisced. That's me on the far left getting ready to throw a shoe, or knock heads together, Meg ducking down beside me because she knows it's coming. Gene is glaring at the boys, who are making a scene. Just like old times.
So here's the thing. Dude wanted to mess with me about the animals, right? Yeah. So I 'forgot' to tell him that this goes backwards, in the dark.He doesn't like backwards. Or in the dark. Tell me the animals are all asleep. Go ahead. I'll get you in the end.
This was tea-day, so after Expedition Everest and Flights of Wonder (which is just a really fun bird show without birds on bikes!) we headed back to the resort to freshen up, then made for the Grand Floridian. Arriving at about ten minutes before 2pm, we checked in at the podium and were promptly seated. My gluten issue was already uppermost in their minds. We selected tea - Eros for me and Jamaican Spice for Gene. The chef came out and greeted my happily, and asked me what I'd like. I told him that I was willing to leave it up to him. Good choice.Do you see them? Do you see what those are?? They are SANDWICHES. Sandwiches that did not taste like sand. Sandwiches with actual bread that - while not exactly like bread, were close enough to wring a few tears from my eyes.The tea is served in courses. After the sandwiches came fruit and then this plate just for me, with mousse, a brownie, and macaroons. I was so happy. I could not have finished it all, but I had some help from Gene. He had sandwiches too but they were all, you know, on "normal" bread. The offerings are substantial - come hungry and leave satisfied. The teas are available for purchase. I bought a bit of the Eros which was really wonderful.Gene made it through, although he's forever changed by the experience.I told him his pinky will come down eventually. After tea we headed to the Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day. This was extra magic hour evening at the Magic Kingdom, and we had reservations for the Crystal Palace, which has always been a favorite.
After some wandering and hopping on and off of various rides and attractions, we headed for the Crystal Palace porch. I wish I could adequately convey this evening's dining experience to you. I have never seen so many people on the porch before. Most did not have reservations but were perched waiting for fireworks. It was mobbed. Wall to wall humanity. We could barely make it to the podium to check in. We've been here before at park closing, and have sat on this porch during fireworks, and had a marvellous time. This was not that kind of an evening. It was a loud, chaotic mob. No one was watching, really. Everyone was yelling, pushing and shoving. Cranky kids, tired adults; by the time Wishes began I had a few wishes of my own, none of which came true and most of which involved disappearing humans.
When our name was called I was relieved. Relieved that is until we got inside. I've never seen this place so packed. There were huge lines for the buffet. There was less floor space than I remember, making me wonder if they hadn't added tables. We were seated in a high traffic area, and people kept tripping over my chair. The table next to us was unbelievably loud. The characters skipped our table, all but one. By the time he came around we were done eating and I was about ready to cry, so there was a big hug.A really big hug. The chef here was harried and rushed. He offered to cook me a steak and make me a plate of brocoli. He ran through the list of what was ok on the buffet so rapidly that I could not keep up, and really wanted me to avoid it entirely. Like I said, we've dined here before and never felt the way we did that evening. In short, it sucked. The atmosphere was tense, harried and rushed. The server's uniforms were rumpled and dirty and poorly fitted, which I've never seen before. The characters were even in a big rush, which is the saddest thing of all. Maybe it's a management issue, or maybe it's the result of the extra magic hour. Or maybe they did add tables. Regardless, I can't recommend this dinner any more. I wish we'd gone to Libtery Tree instead, which in the past has been a nice experience, and features the Mouse and friends. Once dinner was over we headed back out for extra magic hours. The concept of extra magic hours is that each evening, or most evenings, one park remainds open for up to 3 hours past regular closing time "for resort guests". Each morning, or most mornings, one park will open an hour early for resort guests. The problem arises when people beyond "resort guests" find out about this - easy enough since it's posted on the internet on a variety of Disney resource sites - and stay for the event as well. In the morning your resort key is your park entry, so the numbers can be kept in check. In the evening, that's not the case. Everyone's already in the park. Really, the lines were no shorter and in some instances longer than a regular park day. There didn't seem to be much point to staying, so we got a final look at the castle and headed out.Isn't it pretty?! I love the castle, especially at night when it's all lit up!
A good night's sleep, then onward into Tuesday we go!

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