A Travellerspoint blog

Characters Galore and a Great Breakfast too

Chef Mickey

We were up early again the following day, because we had reservations for the Chef Mickey breakfast buffet at the Contemporary Resort. This was also set up Geoff and Kristy. Apparently it's a good way to meet Mickey and the gang without waiting in the hug lines that are usually following them at the parks. The characters come right to the table and pose for as many photos as you're willing to take.

Since Rory and Scarlett had shown no interest in posing with any of the Disney citizens at the three parks to date, we figured that this would just be an expensive meal. Once again, we were wrong. The kids posed with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Pluto. They hammed it up in the photos and even hugged some of the characters. We were astonished. Heck our kids run the other way when Spartacat tried to give them a High Five.

The buffet itself was quite good too. There was an extensive selection and our glasses were never without orange juice. Originally, we had planned to head back to the Magic Kingdom since we were in the neighborhood, but things went so well the previous day that there was no need. We headed to Downtown Disney instead to do a little shopping. Scarlett had a souvenir stuffie from each park so far, but Rory was saing his money for the Lego Store. However, he stayed true to form and could not decide on anything.

Later in the afternoon, we decided to treat Dad by taking him to watch the Winter Classic at Jimmy Buffet's Magaritaville at Universal Citywalk. Much to our surprise, it cost $15 just to park. When we got to the bar, we told them we were there to watch the hockey game. Surprisingly given the number of bowl football games on, they were happy to oblige. The TV at one of the bars was tuned into the game and we saddled up on some stools. After five minutes of no bar service our party grew a little suspicious. Meanwhile a crowd of people had gather behind us to watch the hockey game. An inquiry from Bertie ascertained that the bar we were sitting at was not going to open for another hour.


Needless to say, we moved onto another bar in the facility, one without a TV. It was a small sacrifice, but necessary for Geoff, Dad and Bertie. They had a few local specialties, margaritas and Landshark Lager, as we waited for the huge volcano to explode Margarita mix into the massive blender every hour. Before we left Uncle David picked up a new hat and sweatshirt at the souvenir shop. Now he'll fit in at a Jimmy Buffet concert. He can also be sure to get served because according to his new hat, it's 5 o'clock somewhere.

Posted by redrob 18:21 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Disney Visit No. 3

Magic Kingdom

New Year's Day was a big one for the whole family. All of the clan, including Geoff's inlaws were going to the Magic Kingdom. According to the guidebooks and some Disney employees Jan. 1st was guaranteed to be a zoo at any of the parks. We had no option because the girls were booked for full-fledged princess makeovers. With that in mind, we opted for a 6 a.m. start to the day and skipped the New Year's Eve festivities.

Much to our surprise, we were all en route to the Magic Kingdom at the agreed upon time. We were certain that it would take a miracle to get to the park in time for its opening, but we made it. Geoff and I started off the day by picking up Fastpasses for the two big rides in Tomorrowland, Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. Having the grandparents along meant we had a dozen tickets to use to get Fastpasses. We met up with the group at the Teacups on the way to Fantasyland. Kristy lined up to meet the characters from Tangled, while the rest of us took in the rides, Peter Pan's Flight and It's a Small World. Then we split up briefly, Geoff and his family went to meet Kristy at Tangled and we took in a couple of more rides in Fantasyland while the lines were short.

All of us regrouped in Tomorrowland to take advantage of the Fastpasses. The day was going amazingly well as we actually met up with little difficulty. It turned out that all of the dire warnings of massive crowds and long lines were off the mark. Some of the group used the Fastpasses at Buzz Lightyear's while the rest of us took the regular route. We quickly learned why Fastpasses are the best option. We were at least 30 minutes longer than the other group. Chantal, Kristy, Rory and myself then made our way to Space Mountain. Dad and Bertie surprised us by joining us. Geoff graciously gave up his seat, so I grabbed some more Fastpasses. Chantal was still reeling from the Teacups, so this was going to be it for her and rides on the the day. Rory proved to be willing to take on the big rides and took a second trip on Space Mountain with Uncle Geoff.
The Clan

The Clan

We had dinner reservation at the Liberty Tavern for 2:45 and the girls needed to be at their makeovers for 1:20, so we kept ploughing on. The grandparents and the girls took in some more of the rides in Fantasyland, the Dumbo ride, Snow White's Scary Adventure and the Winnie the Pooh ride, so the adults (Rory too) took in the Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - the wonder of the Fastpasses again.

Finally, most of the group went to Cinderella's Castle for the princess makeovers, while Rory, Poppa and I continued to explore. By time we all met up again for lunch, we'd added the Pirates of the Carribbean ride and the Disney Railroad. In fact by lunch it was becoming quite clear that a second day at the Magic Kingdom might not be necessary. We couldn't believe how well things were going. I even slipped away at lunch to grab Fastpasses for the Jungle Cruise.
Before the Makeover

Before the Makeover

The three girls were a big hit in their princess outfits. They looked absolutely awesome. Scarlett being the ultimate redhead chose the Ariel package minus the clamshell bra. I am Ariel in human-form she was happy to tell anyone. While part of our group had desert and coffee, the girls returned for their photo shoot that came with the package. That was quite something to watch.

After our late lunch, we hit Adventureland. The whole group did Pirates again and then went on the Jungle Cruise. At that point three of the grandparents decided that they'd had enough. Apparently the fact that the Magic Kingdom was the only park of the four without alcohol was too much for them. The rest of us took in more of the park as we waited for parade and the fireworks show. It was well worth the wait. The kids were enthralled by the Electric Light Parade. The fireworks then put a cap to an incredible day start to finish.

Posted by redrob 18:59 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Disney Visit No. 2

Hollywood Studios

With our five-day passes, we decided to hit one more park before taking in the Magic Kingdom with the whole Matheson clan. We didn't know what to expect from this park. My wife was quickly enamored with street scapes as we walked through the park. We were given fast passes to the stunt show as we walked in. We made a beeline to the Toy Story Mania ride only the Fastpasses were not until after lunch. So we wandered through the streets and found ourselves at Star Tours.

Obviously Rory was thrilled to find no wait there. We had to talk Scarlett into getting on the ride too. She kept saying that she was scared to get on and didn't seem to enjoy the ride, but at the end of the day she told us it was her favorite ride of the day. The simulation ride was fun, but I still prefer the old-fashioned roller coaster rides.

We then took in the 30-minute stunt show. It was cool to see how car stunts are planned and executed. The best part was to see how they turn around the frame on a car so they can make it go really fast in reverse. We also learned the secret to cars that drive without an actual driver. We went from there to the cool Muppetvision 3D show. That was really good, especially if you are into the Muppets. Our little Beeker, Scarlett has a tendency to squeak and make other sounds when she is overtired, finally learned why we call her that. She ended up buying herself a Beeker stuffy.

We stopped for an early lunch. Big mistake. For some reason the attendance at the park boomed after that. The lines for a couple of the other big attractions, the Rockin Roller Coaster, the Tower of Terror, and the Voyage of the Little Mermaid were huge and the Fastpasses were for time that were well after we planned to head home. Rory and I even got shutout of the Indiana Jones Stunt Show, because it was standing room only. Chantal and Scarlett took in the Beauty and the Beast show.
Studio marquee

Studio marquee

We did enjoy the Toy Story ride. It's slow-moving and as you go along, you shoot at targets like at a midway. The kids and Chantal were also. It fans of the Pixar Pals parade. We also enjoyed the Great Movie Ride. It was one of those classic Disney rides with robotic characters from the great movies. John Wayne and Clint Eastwood were featured. There was a gangster shoot out where our tram got high jacked and an Indiana Jones re-creation. All in all it was a good day, despite the big lines and big crowds in the afternoon.

Posted by redrob 17:03 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Are we in Montreal?

Tampa hosts the Habs

Terrible Internet service at the house has made it difficult to keep up the timeliness of the blog entries. The men on the trip took a side trip to Tampa earlier this week. We travelled to Tampa for some hockey and dinner at the Tampa Times Forum. It took just over an hour to get to downtown Tampa from the house in Kissimmee. That was almost a full hour shorter than Mom thought it would take. We now know that the next time we are visiting the folks in St. Pete Beach that a road trip to Orlando is certainly something that we can do. We would like to come back to visit Sea World, Universal Orlando and there is a part of the Magic Kingdom that is under construction.

We arrived at our prepaid parking lot near the arena and found ourselves parked next to some tailgaters from Gatineau. As we walked around the downtown core looking for a place for the boys to get rid of their thirst, we were surrounded by people wearing Canadiens' gear. There was plenty of French being spoken as well.

We enjoyed a fine buffet dinner at the Fireside Grill inside the Forum. The was plenty of variety, although a lack of vegetables and potato options, to compliment the various meats. Of course, we were lucky to even find the restaurant. The first usher we asked, a retiree, asked two other Forum employees where it was before forgetting who asked him the question in the first place. I thought that I was at least easy enough to remember for 2 minutes. Unfortunately, we could not return to the restaurant between periods.

We had great seats in the corner that Tampa defended for two periods. Three of us were in the fifth row and the other two were in the third row. When the anthem singer belted out O Canada, she sang most of it in French and was joined in by half of the fans. Montreal played well for the first two periods, building up a 3-1 lead. Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis led a comeback and went up 4-3. Matthieu Garon stood on his head in the last 5 minutes to preserve the win.

Posted by redrob 18:24 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Disney Visit No. 1

Animal Kingdom

We set off bright and early in one heavily packed vehicle - 4 children and 5 adults to Animal Kingdom. Even Poppa came along, because he hadn't been to that park yet. We figured he would regret that decision by the end of the day. We got there by Out 9, which was later than Chantal's guidebook suggested. However, we headed straight for the recommended first ride, the Safari ride. It is the main one that takes you through the animal reserve. It was fun, but not much different than similar rides elsewhere. I think there is one that is almost identical at Busch Gardens in Tampa.

We then walked through an Asian themed area with Tiger in cages. The other animals, the bats and Komodo dragon were so cold that they stayed I side. It was actually quite cool all day and most of the park is well shaded. The Disney stores were making a killing selling toques and blankets. Poppa was the only one in the group, who spent the day in shorts, likely something else he regretted.
Tree of Life

Tree of Life

We learned all about Fastpasses today. You get these issued for specific rides and avoid the hassle of lining up for more than an hour. The Fastpasses gives you an hour window when you can go through a special line and bypass all the poor saps waiting. It is awesome. We took them at Expedition Everest and Dinosaur. We were on the thrilling coaster ride through the Himalayas in five minutes. Rory was terrified and thrilled at the same time. He took it much better than the Dinosaur ride, which was anothe fun one. It's more of a simulation coaster with a lot of quick movements. Rory got off it shaking like a leaf, but praising it for being exhilarating. We stopped by the photo booth to see the snapshot from the ride. Geoff and I are clearly having fun, but Rory is barely visible. He had his head in his lap, trying to avoid getting scared by a fake dinosaur.
Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom

This park is less about the rides and more about the shows. We skipped the bird show. We've seen similar shows recently at the Toronto Zoo, Busch Gardens, African Lion Safari and at some animal park in Scotland. The rest of the shows that we saw at Animal Kingdom did not involve real animals. In fact, I was a little disappointed, because I expected it to be more like a Eco-friendly zoo than it was. Nevertheless, we really enjoyed the big-puppetry of the Finding Nemo musical, the acrobatics of some of the performers in the Lion King show, and the unexpected surprises of the 3D-plus show, It's Tough to be a Bug!
All in all, it was a busy day. It was a good opener to our Disney Experience, despite the chilly weather.

Posted by redrob 18:41 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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