DAY 7 – FRIDAY 5TH MAY, 2006 We woke at 545 to another, calm and clear (although still dark) morning. Up and out by 610, we walked clockwise around the Boardwalk Lake, past sleepy Swan, Dolphin, Yacht and Beach resorts, taking photos along the way. The Bakery is just opening at 630 as we complete the circuit, and we purchase coffees and cakes, plus a fruit salad. We enjoy these at the tables outside again, watching the daily parade of slow joggers making their weary way around the water. Back to the room by 7.10, for showers and to sort gear for the day. I also do a bit of washing. While hanging this discreetly on the balcony, (as I think it’s frowned upon at Disney hotels), I chat to our ‘new’ neighbours, a family from Connecticut who arrived late yesterday. We chat to the guy on the valet desk (not Paul today, but I didn’t get his name) while waiting for the car, and when we tell him we’re off to the Magic Kingdom today he gives us an all-day valet pass, so we can stop at one of the Bay Lake resorts and not mess about with the TTC, the main MK car lot. We decide on the Polynesian Resort, as I’ve not been inside here before, and approach the security station ready with a tale about having breakfast there. The guard doesn’t ask, however, and we are waved through. We drive up to the lobby, and wait for valet parking. This seems less well organised than at the BWV and we have to approach the desk and make our request for assistance. This done, we enter the lobby for a look round. It’s lovely – huge, central water feature, lots of stone, timber, & lush foliage. Very pleasant. Doesn’t feel as ‘fresh’ as, say, AK or WL though… I presume it’s an older resort? There’s a Wyland Gallery shop here too, and some of their larger tables and sculptures are displayed in the lobby area. We take the stairs to the next floor, to the Monorail station. A train soon arrives, and we set off around the lake, via the Grand Floridian, to MK. I’d been looking forward to this trip, and had the camera ready, but a mist has descended on the lake and there are virtually no views! By 830 we are in a small crowd waiting in front of the left hand park gates. Guests arriving for character breakfasts are being admitted, supposedly by the right hand entrance.. many try here instead, and the CM, a middle-aged man, gets fed up with redirecting them, allowing entrance here instead. This causes a trickle of regular guests to try and walk past him (why they didn’t bother with a rope I don’t know), attempting to get to restrooms or lockers, and he reminds me of a collie trying to round up its flock! The sun breaks through the mist before we are admitted, and another hot day is in prospect. Although we can’t see it, we hear the opening ceremony commence on the station above our heads. Amanda’s face is a picture… my darling isn’t exactly a ‘girlie’ girl, and doesn’t quite get the whole Magic Kingdom thing yet! We are admitted at 8.55, to a second wait along Main Street. At 9.00 precisely we follow two CMs towards Frontierland and the two main rides at this end of the park. We elect to do Big Thunder Mountain Railroad first, and at this time of day it is a walk on. Good fun, as always, but feeling even more dated now that Everest is open at the Animal Kingdom. Off by 915, straight across to Splash Mountain. This is also a walk on – most of the logs coming off the ride are still empty – and we are seated within a couple of minutes. I’m looking forward to this, if only to break my duck here. So far the ride has either broken down or had horrendous lines when I’ve tried to ride on previous visits – we actually made it to the top of the external bit once, and after a 20 minute sit in a torrential downpour, we had to walk off via an internal staircase… didn’t even get complimentary FastPasses! Well… we make it! And it’s better than I’d expected.. much more going on inside the ride and a decent drop. Off, mildly damp, at 930. We restroom in Adventureland before walking over to Tomorrowland for the last Mountain. There’s a 20 minute standby time posted, at the extreme edge of my personal limit for any ride, but it’s early so we risk it… it turns out to be just 5 minutes! This is still a decent coaster, although I suspect it wouldn’t be as impressive in daylight. We leave at 1000am, walking across the sunny plaza to Buzz. The FastPasses aren’t available yet, but there’s only a 5 minute standby time, so we enter, effectively walking straight on to the ride. Our scores are A- 24,000, M- 52,000. Over to the Castle now, and into Fantasyland. They are just hustling the last few bodies into Mickey’s Philharmagic, so we rush in, grab our ‘opera glasses’ and enjoy this first-class, 3D show. One of my favourites! Ok. It’s time….. for It’s a Small World! I feel Amanda’s WDW experience won’t be complete without it, so I drag her reluctantly into the building…. We experience one of our longest wait times here, about 15 minutes overall, due to them pausing the boats to load some disabled guests. It’s a laugh – for me at any rate – mostly watching Amanda’s ‘sucking a lemon’ face during her ordeal! We pass through the rear of FL, giving Peter Pan a miss, as it’s got long lines, and stroll to the Haunted Mansion. Here again we experience over-stating of wait times – posted 20 minutes, in reality a walk on. I see things I haven’t noticed before, on 10 or 12 previous rides, and we both enjoy the attraction. Delightfully naff! There really are some serious lines waiting now, as we exit into hot sunshine at 11.10am. We continue to Adventureland, just for the scenery really, as Pirates is in rehab and I’m not sure Amanda could cope with Jungle Cruise in the same morning as IASW! (There’s a 30 minute line anyway!) We’re pretty much done now, so take the WDW Railroad back to the exit and leave for the monorail at 1130. We are back at the Poly by 1200, and there are serious numbers of guests waiting to ride to MK. Both hungry now, we head off, roof down, to the I4 (85-89 degrees) and make our way to Sweet Tomatoes, landing a little before 100pm. We fill our salad plates to bursting ...and follow up with soup, pizza slices, fruit and a few buns for me. Lovely! We’re done by 130 and head off back. Amanda elects to drive, for the first time this holiday, and we set off to Celebration with me navigating. Big mistake! I manage to lose us somewhere on I-Drive, and the journey takes 40 minutes! Celebration is quiet as we park up near the hotel and stroll to Barnies for coffee. Two rockers are available opposite Antonio’s, and we sit quietly, watching the lake and the birds until we finish our drinks. Amanda’s driving experience was enough for her (“It’s like learning to drive all over again!”) so I return to the left side and head off back up the 192. A short but intentional detour takes us off at Formosa Boulevard, to show her the villas at Indian Creek where I’ve stayed before. I can only find one of the three though! Splendid China looks sad now, stripped bare of all its themed detail at the entrance. We stop at the shopping development back on 192 (Outback Steakhouse on the corner, tomorrow’s dining venue) and call into the Winn-Dixie store for water and beer. From here it’s an easy route back to the hotel via Sherberth Road, and we land around 4pm. I think we’ve hit our wall today. We’re both tired from the long days and early starts, so we decide to have a wee siesta. I wake at about 515, but Amanda is still snoozing so I do a bit of washing and sit out on the balcony. The room faces south west, so the balcony is in full sun and delightfully hot, although a breeze keeps it bearable. I iron last night’s washing before Amanda wakes at 6.20, and we freshen up before leaving for a gentle stroll back to Epcot (where else?) at 645pm. A couple of resort boats have just docked, so there’s a 5 minute wait at International Gateway. I ask about getting the wristbands for the Extra Magic Hours tonight, and a CM gives me the locations of the collection points. The nearest one is just after the entrance, but it is mobbed, so we continue past, through the UK Pavilion. The ‘Beatles’ are in the middle of a set, and we pause to listen to a couple of numbers. It’s 7.10 as we leave, heading over to the walkway before Mexico where another EMH station is set up. The light is lovely at this time of day – it’s hard to take a bad photograph. There’s no line here, so we show our room keys and receive our wristbands. It seems that they don’t make a concerted effort to empty the park after Illuminations, so I suppose non-residents could stay and enjoy the atmosphere, but we are advised that you can’t get on or in any attractions unless you are banded. Using the side walkways we carry on to Mission Space. Standby is 40 minutes, though, well beyond my tolerance limits, so we get FastPasses for 8-9pm. If we miss the slot we can always try again during EMH later. Moving on, we pass through the breezeways to Innoventions Plaza and ask at the information point there what attractions are available tonight – loads! Hungry dear? Yep, me too! Off back to the World Showcase for dinner, anti-clockwise through Canada, UK, France etc to Japan, as we both fancy a ‘takeaway’ from the Yakitori House. It’s fairly busy, and we are in line for 10 minutes before being served. Two Tonosama Combos, and two Kirin beers please… $25. There’s a lovely garden patio behind the YH where we sit to enjoy our meal as night settles over the park. We take a few photos… … before climbing the balcony above the shop opposite for more piccies and to check out the menu at Teppanyaki for Sunday’s meal with Bob, Dawn, Sue and Paul. No one seems to mind, so we have a look inside the dining rooms with their table grills and personal chefs – looks great! Moving on to Morocco for a restroom stop we find them closed due to a minor flood. A CM advises us to carry on next door to France, where we use the facilities in Chefs de France – what a pleasant dining room! Never eaten here, but heard some good reports… next time, maybe. Back to Morocco, and we decide where we want to watch Illuminations from, a spot just before the pavilion, between trees with a cracking view across the lake to the geosphere. Also, the speakers here seem to be louder than those on the France/UK bridge, which I felt let the show down slightly last time. I’ve only eaten takeaways at Morocco before, from the Tangerine Café, so we browse the shops through to the main restaurant at the rear, popping inside for a look round. It’s quite impressive inside, with ornate ceilings and furnishings…another one for the list. At 8.55 we return to our viewing spot and enjoy a much-improved view of the fireworks and show. I can’t ever get enough of this stunning display and wonder when they will finally, sadly, change it. Sigh… We move slowly on, accompanied by Kellie Coffey singing us out with Promise, stopping to buy coffees at the US Pavilion stall, which we carry (the coffees, silly, not the stall!) to China. The gardens here are beautiful, although ongoing reconstruction of the buildings mars the scene during the day somewhat. There’s an almost deafening racket coming from the ornamental pond, which on closer inspection turns out to be the calls made by an army of bullfrogs! Some of these are on the paths around the water too. 9.40 now, and coffee break over we continue our ramble. Mission Space beckons, and the posted 20 minute wait turns out to be 5! Another fun ride. We’d like to do Soarin’ again, and make our way over to the Land Pavilion. Here we notice the lovely mosaics in the entrance for the first time. CMs are checking wristbands, and several people are refused entry to the building. The wait time is sadly too long for us, at 40 minutes, so off to the Living Seas instead. There’s a theatre attraction inside which looks busy, but we really only want to view the tanks and residents. The main, massive aquarium is superb, and we spend some time just watching the fish cruising round – do they even know they aren’t in the wild I wonder? And, perhaps I was I drunk or dreaming, but I seem to recall that they had dolphins here some years ago? Anyone? We check out the ancillary rooms, with smaller tanks of seahorses, jellyfish and baby clown fish (these latter all knotted together in one, seething lump!) before leaving and returning to Innoventions Plaza. It’s 10.50 now, and we decide to try Spaceship Earth for a sit down! It seems to have been updated a bit since my last visit, and I note that Siemens are the new sponsors, although their display floor at the ride exit is unfinished to date. Very restful and worth the small effort, but probably not if there had been any lines. Out at 11.15, and quite tired again now. Time for bed. We amble back, stopping to watch the fountain for a while, then on through Canada and UK to the Boardwalk. The crowds have thinned out now, with many less children in evidence. The Boardwalk is also peaceful, with only a small number of people wandering around. Up to our balcony, and time for a beer and a chat about another full day, watching the last of the swimmers down below, before we hit the sack at 1230. Goodnight all. Mike & Amanda Tomorrow: MGM Studios (early EMH), Outback Steakhouse, more Epcot and Jellyrolls!