Grumpy Old Men on Tour: Walt Disney World – The End

The Seven Dwarfs' Cottage
Yes, you do get to see what’s inside the cottage during the ride.

NOTE: The events in this post and the following series all took place pre-COVID. Many of the rules and planning for a trip to Walt Disney World (WDW)have changed since my last trip. Be sure to do your own research as things change frequently right now at WDW and any destination in general.

Our final day at the “most magical place on Earth” had arrived. Our bags were packed and stowed away waiting for the Magical Express. But as we had intentionally booked a late flight from Orlando to Detroit we still had all morning and part of the afternoon to finish up our visit. We boarded the bus one last time to head to the Magic Kingdom. We had only one goal for the day – a ride on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

As coasters go this one is actually fairly mild. But as the newest attraction in the Magic Kingdom Fast Passes were difficult to get. So we opted to go into the stand-by line. Which was nearly two hours long even on a relatively uncrowded day in Fantasyland. Part of the reason we chose this ride was because I enjoyed the theming and the “drive by” of the Seven Dwarfs Cottage at the end of the ride. I won’t spoil the tableau it presents for those who haven’t ridden it yet but it is that wonderful blend of humor, happiness, and tragedy all rolled into one that makes many a Disney movie great.

We joined the line which started well outside the queue. So far outside the queue that a cast member stood at the end of the it holding up a sign which read “line starts here” for all the good it did. We observed many people once again jumping the line to join friends and family who were further ahead. None as bad as the group who joined in the line for Pirates on Day 7, but enough to be annoying. Fortunately, a large heron also joined the line and, heedless of the throngs of humanity surrounding it, hunted for small lizards which were hiding amongst the plants. It “terns” out that this bird had an “eagle” eye as he caught lizards that we didn’t even see until their tails were sliding through his beak!

Some people cheered the canny hunter, some made sounds like they were going to throw up. It was a “True Life Adventure” right in front of us – and at no extra charge! The folks at Disney think of everything.

Further into the queue there are all sorts of activities for the children (and the very *ahem* mature children) to play with. Spin the jewels, play music with dripping water, etc. All designed to keep us distracted from the length of the line. We’ve noticed this in several queues and I think it’s a great idea. However, I do think that the Imagineers might need to spend a little more time thinking about typical family dynamics. Especially when there is only room from one sibling to “play” with a barrel and mom and dad are forced to referee.

Anyhow, to make a long story a little longer, eventually we did make our way to the front of the line and boarded our train for a well-themed trip through the seven dwarfs’ mine and a peek inside their happy home with Snow White. The line was probably the longest of our trip – except for the Peter Pan line – but because much of it was outside in a gardened/wooded area I thought it was a much more pleasant wait. At the very least it was less claustrophobic!

Heron at the Magic Kingdom.
The heron that kept us entertained in the queue line for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride. He’s stalking a little lizard.
Dave and Bob on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
One of us might be holding on for dear life. Hint: it’s not the guy in the front row.

The Trip Home

With our mission accomplished it was time for one last stroll through the Magic Kingdom and back to the hotel to catch our Magical Express to the Orlando airport for an uneventful trip home – which is the best kind of trip!

Summary and Lessons Learned

As I believe I stated at the beginning of this series of blogs, I considered this Bob’s trip as it was his first to WDW. Thanks to his meticulous research and enthusiasm I learned to experience the “world” in a way I hadn’t in a long time. Here are a few of my take-aways and tips. Some of them may work for you, some may not and your experience will vary. So in true grumpy old man fashion let me “illuminate you” (extra points if you can identify that quote):

Dining

  • For us the dining plan was a big plus. We ended up going to restaurants and having experiences I never would have done on my own. This plan did not save us money – as we would have had to eat anyway – but it did ensure that we got at least two decent meals each day (one quick service, one table service) and a couple snacks as well.
  • Our plan to prepare breakfast in the room ended up being nixed fairly early on, I think we only did this on the morning we went to Rise of the Resistance, mainly because I preferred a more substantial breakfast. The hotel breakfast was reasonably priced (by Disney standards) and I thought a good way to start each day. Next time, I might try having breakfast in the parks.
  • Go for the experience when dining in the parks. Our most memorable meals were the ones in themed restaurants!
  • Don’t forget to tip the wait staff just like you do in the “real” world.

What to Take Into the Parks:

  • At least one person in your party should have a backpack to carry stuff. Be nice and trade off carrying it (I wasn’t good about sharing the load – sorry Bob!).
  • Be sure to pack a cheap poncho as it will rain during your trip.
  • Don’t forget extra chargers for your phones as they will run out of juice during the day – the My Disney Experience app seems to be an energy hog and if you add the hundreds of pictures you will take, you get the idea. There are some places you can sit for a few minutes and plug your phone in – if you can find a free outlet – but a portable power supply will allow you to keep going with minimal interruption to your day. I used a Fuel Rod I had purchased on an earlier trip because they can be swapped out at kiosks in the park (for a fee).
  • Sunblock
  • A refillable water bottle of some kind.
  • An emergency credit/debit card in case your Magic Band or the mobile app fails.
  • Did I mention sunblock? Put it on your lower legs, too.

What to Wear

  • Hats! Especially if you happen to be follicly challenged as I am.
  • Comfortable walking shoes. Have a spare pair. One pair can rest and air out back at the hotel while you are wearing the other pair.
  • Be aware that some of the restaurants in the hotels have a dress code. It’s still resort causal for the most part (“dress” shorts and a collared shirt for men) but worth checking when you make your reservation.
  • Layers – a sweatshirt can be taken off if it gets hot. But it can’t be put on if you don’t have it.

Attitude and Mental Health

  • Remember – you are at WDW to have fun!
  • Don’t worry about trying to impress anyone or looking foolish. You are in a land of make believe where grown adults are wearing mouse ears.
  • Don’t be afraid to take breaks from the parks. Even staying for a week we didn’t see everything. I’m not sure that it’s even possible to see everything in two weeks. So don’t kill yourself trying to do it all. I didn’t mention it in the earlier blogs but we found time to spend a couple hours just relaxing poolside back at the hotel. Sometimes you need to remind yourself that you aren’t there to stress out but to relieve stress (I hope).
  • Go with the flow. Something will go wrong. A ride or attraction will break down or not be available. You won’t find the exact mouse ears that you’ve been dreaming of. Just take a deep breath and remember that you are in the most magical place on Earth. If you forget this don’t worry, a cast member will remind you.
  • Be willing to experience everything in a different way than you planned. I began this trip as the expert but I learned that there is no right way to enjoy all that Walt Disney World has to offer. Sure, I offered suggestions now and then (i.e. constantly) but over all I found that trying new things made my trip more enjoyable not less. If I had insisted that we had to “do this” or “do that” otherwise our trip was ruined both Bob and I would still not be speaking to each other. If you want to do everything exactly the way you want to do it then go solo!

Accommodations

  • I’ve always been a fan of staying on-property whenever possible. This isn’t because the Disney hotels are so great in fact, as I pointed out in an earlier post, there are areas that the Disney hotels can fall short. But you can’t beat the fact that they are close to the parks and are tied into the WDW transportation system.
  • I view the hotel as a home base and need plan spending a lot of time at the room or even in the hotel. So I go for the least expensive option which usually means an All-Star hotel. I have stayed in more “upscale” hotels but other than the room being decorated nicer the beds in the All-Star hotels are just as comfortable.

Transportation

  • We used pretty much every form of Disney Transport during our trip and our favorite was the Skyliner. Usually a short line, a smooth uncrowded ride, and a great view!
  • Busses were overall reliable but usually packed. We were careful to build plenty of time into our schedule to allow for at least an hour to get from place to place using the bus.
  • We only used Uber once because we needed to get to Hollywood Studios before the busses started running in the morning. The driver was familiar with driving around Disney and our experience was good.
  • Everyone needs to ride the monorail at least once just because!
  • A ferry ride from the Magic Kingdom to the Transportation Center is a nice relaxing cruise. It’s not crowded mid-day and we rode it just for fun.

Miscellaneous

  • For the curious among you a complete list of the attractions and shows we saw is located HERE.
  • A list of all the restaurants we ate at is HERE.
  • A list of the characters we encountered is HERE.
  • A post on where to go when you have to GO in WDW is HERE.

Parting Words

So there you have it. The entire adventure and proof that even a couple jaded grumpy old men can have a good time at the most magical place on Earth. Even when they know all the “behind the scenes” tricks. Now if I could just talk Bob into going to Disneyland…

Thanks for reading along. I’d love to learn more about your favorite tricks, tips, and things to do in the comments below.

As they say in my “real” world – have a magical day!

Bob, Mickey Mouse, and Dave in February 2020.
Bob, Mickey, and Me. The perfect way to end another magical day.

Grumpy Old Men on Tour: Walt Disney World Day 7

NOTE: The events in this post and the following series all took place pre-COVID. Many of the rules and planning for a trip to Walt Disney World (WDW)have changed since my last trip. Be sure to do your own research as things change frequently right now at WDW and any destination in general.

An Unsettling Discovery

I had hoped for a restful night after another fairly long day in the Magic Kingdom. I was still feeling chilled from the earlier rain and took a hot shower to warm up before hitting the sack. As usual it wasn’t long after I had my CPAP (aka “life support”) attached to my fast and turned on that I was fast asleep.

At some point in the dead of the night I awoke – feeling like I was about to freeze to death. “Who turned down the air conditioning?” I thought. But when I got out of bed to check the temp the room seemed to be at a comfortable 70 degrees. I turned the temp up to 75 anyway hoping that Bob wouldn’t notice until morning. My bed was the closest to the air, I reasoned, which might be why I was so cold. But, I had been comfortable every other night so far. I went back to bed but couldn’t sleep because I was still cold.

I searched the drawers as best I could in the dark for any extra blankets. I found pillows but no more covers. “Floridians,” I thought to myself, “never ready for the cold.” I finally put on my sweat shirt and some sweat pants I brought – I had this idea that I might actually work out while here (ha!) – and finally was warm enough to get back to sleep.

Morning for me came a little to soon. But I was feeling better overall and presumed that my chill during the night was because of a little dehydration and/or my long dormant Crohn’s acting up. I thought nothing of it until I made a rather startling discovery in the shower. My lower leg was covered in a bright red rash. It looked as if someone had taken a grater to my leg during the night. I dried off, pulled on a pair of shorts and exited the bathroom.

“What do you think this is?” I asked Bob as I showed him my leg. Bob took a quick look and then recoiling back a little he replied, “uh, I don’t know. It’s some kind of rash. How long have you had it?”

“I just noticed it in the shower. I don’t think I had it last night. Maybe I brushed up against a plant or something on Tom Sawyer Island?”

“It looks pretty nasty. Does it hurt?”

“Not really. It doesn’t even itch. I’m not going to worry about it now,” I lied, “Let’s head out and I’ll stop at First Aid to have someone there take a look at it.”

The entire bus ride to the Magic Kingdom I wondered about this weird rash. Bedbugs? No, something like those would have started biting days ago. Poison Ivy? In the well manicured confines of the Magic Kingdom where nothing grows except what Disney wants to grow? Not likely but an allergic reaction seemed likely. What could it be? Is this why I had chills during the night? Was I going to end my Disney trip at the hospital? I tend to go to worse case scenario at times like this as you might have noticed.

First Aid

David's Golfer's Rash on his leg
The verdict? Golfer’s Rash.

“Golfer’s Rash,” the nurse at the First Aid Center tucked in neatly between Casey’s Corner and the Crystal Palace, “we see it all the time. The sun reflects off of the pavement and hits your calves. Most people forget to put enough sun screen on their legs.” she handed me some ointment to put on the rash if it started to itch and we were on our way to enjoy the rest of our last full day at Walt Disney World.

Attractions New and Repeats

We had Fast Passes for Space Mountain, one of my favorite coasters, so we headed off to Tomorrowland. Now as my friends know I am (was?) quite the coaster enthusiast so some of them might be surprised to learn that Space Mountain is one of my favorite coasters. Despite the theming it is essentially a “mad mouse” style coaster in a dark room. But, heaven help me, I still like it. I will admit that I like the Disneyland version slightly better because of the speakers built right into the seats. Though the Magic Kingdom’s version has a sound track there’s something about that music blasting right into your ears that gets all the senses engaged. The Rock ‘n Rollercoaster in Hollywood Studios does the same thing as does the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit over at Universal. IMHO all coasters should come with soundtracks.

A Quick Detour Down Memory Lane – Space Mountain 1975

Space Mountain in 1975

Another reason that this coaster is a favorite is because of the memories it evokes. On my family’s first trip to Space Mountain in 1975 the ride was new and mysterious. All of us decided to give it a try. Most of us (my mom, sister, brother, and myself) liked roller coasters. My dad, as a rule, did not. As we waited in the queue the tension mounted. Was the ride as intense as they said? Can we pick which track to ride? Did astronauts really say it was like going into space (they did at the time)?

When it was our turn to go on the cast member announced that each car only head four people. Who was going to ride alone? At the same time four heads turned, my sister’s, my brother’s, my mother’s, and mine, and looked at poor dad who was taken by surprise. “What? Why me? I don’t like roller coasters?” he protested. But like the good father he was he dutifully waited for the next car while the rest of us took off into the “booster” tubes for one of the most fun rides of our young lives.

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Post

Stollers in front of King Arthur's Carousel.
So many strollers. Everywhere.

After Bob and I rode Space Mountain we felt we needed something a little slower for our next attraction. So naturally we meandered once again over to the other side of the park to find some lunch. We settled on Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn for some burritos, with a self-serve fixing’s bar, and then got back into line for our second ride on Pirates of the Caribbean. This time we did not have people talking behind us all the way through the attraction and it was a much more enjoyable experience.

We did have an experience in the queue line though. We were in the stand by line behind a couple of teen age girls who were just talking to each other when behind us there came a shout, “Oh look, it’s Jessica* – hi Jessica” and suddenly the two girls were joined by a third. No big deal right? Wrong. “Karen!” was the next shout. Then there were four, then five, then six, suddenly the two girls we were standing behind became an entire cheerleading (we presumed from our earlier experience) squad!

Now it might help to know that Bob and I used to work at another amusement park (Cedar Point) and in this park line jumping is cause for removal from the park. So the idea of a couple people being joined by an entire group ran against both our sensibilities. Bob, ever restrained as always, pointed out to a cast member what just happened. The cast member looked at the teens and said, “this man says that you all cut in front of him? Is that true?”

The teens sheepishly admitted that a “couple” of them did join the line late. The cast member then took Bob and I to the front of the group so are wait would be a few minutes shorter. It didn’t help all the other people behind us and I frankly might have just instructed the group of teens to go the back of the line. But what later became apparent, and I’m not sure why we hadn’t really noticed earlier, in other stand by lines that the idea of “line jumping” is a foreign concept to a lot of Walt Disney World guests. As from that point on we noticed at every other stand by line we were in that someone, usually several “someones,” was always being joined late by a family member or two (3 or 4 on occasion) who was going to the restroom, getting some food, or just waiting for the designated member of their party to get closer to the front of the line. I don’t know if this is just a Disney thing but it’s not the queue line etiquette I grew up with dagnabbit.

Space Mountain through the tracks of the future Tron coaster.
Space Mountain through the tracks of the future Tron coaster.

Pirates was followed by another look at the 3:00 parade, a trip on the iconic Jungle Cruise (soon to be a major motion picture), the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House, Goofy’s Barnstormer, and another ride through The Haunted Mansion. Another pretty full day! I also got in an afternoon “snack” of chicken and waffles from Sleepy Hollow which was pretty good. I even had a pleasant conversation with an Ohio State fan while standing in line. Since I’m an alumnus of the University of Michigan we would normally be mortal enemies, but there are only friends in the Magic Kingdom.

By the way, Goofy’s Barnstormer had a mercifully short line which was good as it’s a very short coaster. It is a favorite with the younger set however. The queue line there gave us an opportunity to see more of the construction progress of the new Tron coaster which at the time seemed to be coming along quickly (unfortunately, it’s been delayed due to the pandemic and is behind schedule now due to open in the first half of 2022).

Citrico’s

For our final night’s meal we decided to “splurge” and take in a Disney Signature dining experience – mainly because we had an extra dinner credit to still use because of our night at the Hoop Dee Doo Revue. We chose to go to the Citrico’s over at the Grand Floridian. I made sure to wear a collared shirt and khaki shorts to match the dress code. We rode the monorail to get over to the hotel but I should mention that since this trip Disney has built a new walkway so you can walk between the Grand Floridian and the Magic Kingdom along the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon.

The Grand Floridian is arguably Walt Disney World’s most posh hotel. The surroundings are luxurious and are designed to recall the glory days of Florida’s tourism (if you were wealthy that is). The restaurants are top-notch and dining at Victoria and Albert’s is thought by many to be a once in a lifetime treat – especially if you can afford the chef’s table experience. Citrico’s, which promotes American food with a Mediterranean flair, is no slouch either. Rated 4.5 stars out of 5 on Trip Advisor it is a fine dining experience and worthy of the “signature dining” label.

But, here’s my problem. I agree that the surroundings of the restaurant were pleasant. The open kitchen layout is effective without being obtrusive to the dining. The service was top-notch even though we did have to wait a little to be seated. I can’t recall having a single issue with my meal and it was a pleasant way to essentially finish our vacation. However, for the life of me, I cannot recall what I had to eat that night. Not a single bite from appetizer to desert. I can recall pretty much every other meal we had except the one that was supposed to be the highlight of the trip.

Maybe it’s because I have had the good fortune to eat in several other fine dining establishments, maybe it’s because my palate is refined or geared towards haute cuisine, or maybe it’s because it was just another meal at another fancy restaurant. In other words, and experience I could get pretty much elsewhere in any city in the world. Again, it’s not that there was anything wrong with the meal – the restaurant is more than worthy of high ratings – it was just, unfortunately, forgettable. Lesson learned – next trip I’ll pick a themed restaurant to finish my trip.

After dinner it was back to the hotel to pack our bags and get in one last good night’s sleep before our final attraction and the trip back to reality, aka – home.

To be continued…

All photos by David P. Wahr unless otherwise noted.
Photos and words @copyright David P. Wahr

Grumpy Old Men on Tour: Walt Disney World Day 5

NOTE: The events in this post and the following series all took place pre-COVID. Many of the rules and planning for a trip to Walt Disney World (WDW)have changed since my last trip. Be sure to do your own research as things change frequently right now at WDW and any destination in general.

The wait for the bus to the Magic Kingdom was always the longest.
The wait for the bus to the Magic Kingdom was always the longest.

After spending so much time in the other parks we had almost forgotten how crowded and popular the Magic Kingdom is. Our first reminder was catching the bus this particular morning. The line for the Magic Kingdom bus was easily twice as long as any other queue. Fortunately, buses for the Magic Kingdom also come more often than the others do because we didn’t make the first or second bus if I recall correctly. We had seen the lines on other days though, so we were prepared for this possibility and waited patiently.

One of the benefits of staying on property is that you have ready access to the extensive Walt Disney World transportation system. However, one of the drawbacks of what is essentially free public transit is that it is very crowded. Standing up on a full bus for 20-30 minutes, depending on traffic, may not sound too bad to the seasoned commuter in the morning. But at night when your feet ache and your back is feeling the pain of standing all day…well, that’s another story. However for the impatient among us there is always the option of a Minnie Van or Uber or even bringing your own car with you (beware parking fees).

Character-palooza!

Traffic to the Magic Kingdom was a little backed up so it did seem that we were in for a crowded day. But we had a fast pass for Dumbo and by golly we were using it! Our next Fast Pass was for the Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh which is an enjoyable dark ride though I miss Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride which it replaced (there is still a version of Mr. Toad in Disneyland).

After Pooh we decided that since we were in Fantasyland we might as well continue our character quest and find as many characters as we could. We joined the line to meet Donald Duck and Goofy in the “sideshow” tent. As we drew closer to the famed duo I must have been spending more time on my phone than paying attention as Donald snuck up behind me to give me a quick “scare” to the delight and amusement of everyone else in line (I only jumped a little). We were off to a great start on our character hunt and I think this was our single biggest day meeting the Disney stars. At some point during the day we also sat under the sea with Ariel, traded workout tips with Gaston, and had some playful banter, in mime of course, with Stitch!

Columbia Harbor House

We had lunch at the Columbia Harbor House along with just about everyone else in Liberty Square! Even the upstairs seating was at a premium, but we finally found a seat at a round top which sat six and decided that we would be happy to share if anyone else needed a space. It was near a window and had a nice view of the midway below and the Haunted Mansion. A nice air-conditioned oasis to enjoy our counter service meal of the day.

Now I have an acquaintance in the dining service industry who loves the Lobster Roll here and it seems to be a favorite with other various blogs and food critics. So it may be my grumpiness coming out, but I had the Lobster Roll on a previous trip and I think the secret ingredient is mayonnaise. Lots and lots of it. However, I’m not a huge seafood fan so my review is suspect. I will mention that Bob gave it a try though and came to a similar conclusion. This trip I stuck with my old stand-by when it comes to seafood – fry it up! I got the Trio Platter which is essentially all your favorites (fried shrimp, chicken nuggets and battered fish) deep-fried to golden okay-ness. It was served with hushpuppies and French fries. If you prefer something lighter you can swap out the fries for green beans and carrots but at this point why kid yourself? You’re eating the fries. To be fair, Columbia Harbor House does have an extensive allergy sensitive menu and some healthier options. Check the full menu out for yourself.

Attractions

Despite the crowds we got in several attractions as well including: Mickey’s Philharmagic, which is still one of my favorites, Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid, spoiler: if you’ve seen the movie you’ve seen the attraction but I’m betting you may have a little princess who will insist on riding, and, of course, It’s a Small World.

The Pan Incident: In Which I Exhibit Poor Judgement and Choose Poorly

It was after exiting It’s a Small World that I made the most memorable mistake of the entire trip. One that would cost us two hours of our lives that we’ll never get back. After making a quick pit-stop at the Tangled Rest Area, which has some of the best toilets in the entire resort IMHO (see my blog entry on where to go in Disney World for more info), I noticed that the line for Peter Pan’s Flight seemed unusually short. As in there wasn’t one. And the sign outside said, and I’m not making this up, “Stand by Time 10 Minutes!”

“Bob, we should get into the line for Peter Pan’s Flight now. Look it’s super short!” I said.

“But we have fast passes for it tomorrow,” he replied, “and there’s no way it’s only a 10 minute wait.”

“10 minutes Bob – even if the sign is wrong it’s still got to be shorter than any line we’ll find later for it even with our Fast Passes,” I explained in my oh-so-wise I’ve been here a hundred times and know what I’m talking about voice.

“Well, I don’t know,” Bob paused for a moment, “okay, what the heck. All the other signs have been pretty accurate.”

So, like lemmings to the cliff, we got in what promised to be an amazingly short line for a unique “legacy” ride that opened with the Magic Kingdom in 1971. Unfortunately, I hadn’t been on this ride since 1975 and somewhere between then and now the ride queue had been updated so that most of it was hidden behind the wall of the attraction. Based on the twists and turns and the length of the queue it may even now extend into the utilidor which runs beneath the Magic Kingdom. The Imagineers have done a nice job of theming the queue so it’s as if you are entering into the Darling family’s garden, complete with street noise over the wall, and then through their 100 room (or so it seemed) house including the children’s room. Here, where we made our base camp and prepared to stay a day or two, Tinkerbell flits around playing tricks and moving items – Peter Pan’s shadow even makes an appearance. It was all, I’m sure, delightful if you were walking through at a reasonable pace and was enough to keep anyone amused for a short time.

But, it became quickly apparent that our 10 minute wait would be a little longer than advertised as the line inched forward. Ten minutes became 2o minutes, then 30 minutes…then people started going by us back towards the exit.

“Do you think the ride’s down?” Bob asked.

“I don’t know, I haven’t heard any announcement and we are moving…slowly” I replied. While in the back of my head I recalled a previous trip when my sister and I were in line for Toy Story Mania and they kept announcing that some of Andy’s friends had come over to play so there would be a delay. Never actually letting us know that the line behind us was closed…but that’s a tale for another blog.

Thirty minutes became 40…50…and hour.

“Maybe we should get out of line. Any idea how far it is to the loading platform?” Bob asked.

“No…this is different than I remember. But we’ve waited this long” and at this point my inherent stubbornness had kicked in and overrode my common sense and weariness. We had come this far and, dagnabbit, we were getting on that flying boat and we were going to have a magical time!

We were in that line for two hours. Let me repeat: two hours. For a dark ride that recreates the events of a movie we’ve already seen. Rumors were running rampent among the guests in the queue. Whispers that someone had vomited in one of the boats. Murmurs that someone fell out and they had stop the ride to clean up the mess. Tales that the world had ended and we were all stuck in some sort of Imagineering purgatory for all eternity.

I started to doubt our purpose. Granted the ride vehicle is unique as the boat does “fly.” Granted that it’s a “legacy” ride. Granted that every true Disney buff should experience it at least once. We may never get another chance to do this again. But, two hours! And there wasn’t a coaster at the end? Who had I become? Why was I doing this? I began to lose myself completely in the futile quest to get on this ride. All while Tinkerbell flitted about the room – taunting me with her horrid, evil shenanigans. Why had I been foolish enough to believe that sign? Suddenly, unexpectedly there was movement! We were moving, it wasn’t an illusion after all.

“Please watch your step as you board the boat,” the cheerful cast member instructed as our eyes adjusted once again to the sunlight before being plunged back into darkness.

Our quest was over. We did get on that flying boat and we did have a magical time just as I knew we would all along!

‘Nuff said.

Hoop De Doo Revue

The good news is that despite my blundering advice the day was not a wash by any means and the best part of it was still to come. We had reservations for the Hoop De Doo Revue over in Fort Wilderness!

This revue is one of the oldest running shows anywhere and, in fact, celebrated it’s 45th anniversary in June of 2019. It’s something that I had long wanted to see and now I was finally getting the chance. We took one of the smaller resort launches to make the journey from Seven Seas Lagoon over to the shores of Bay Lake and the Fort Wilderness campground.

We arrived in plenty of time for our reservations and had a little time to kill so we took a quick stroll around the grounds. I hadn’t been in the campground since a trip I took with my cousin Larry the summer after I graduated high school and I’m happy to say that it hasn’t changed too much. From the little part we visited it still had the same rustic flavor and “great outdoors” feel that you would expect. The lots are well spaced, plenty of trees and it felt like almost another world as compared to the rest of the WDW resort. The Settlement Trading Post (campground store) was well stocked with basic food items and the requisite Disney souvenirs. There are also a couple of dining locations on site, including Crockett’s Tavern where I could refill my Disney Parks tumbler (score!), Trail’s End Restaurant, and Mickey’s BBQ. To help pass the time I regaled Bob with tales of that graduation summer’s trip with my cousin and the memories of the now defunct River Country waterpark which used to be adjacent to the campground. I could tell from the glazed over, far away look in his eyes that Bob was hanging on my every word.

Soon the dinner bell rang and it was time to go in to take our seats. The energy of the audience was palpable and it was clear that everyone was expecting to have a good time – and I don’t think anyone was disappointed! Our table was near the stage and in the center of the hall so we had excellent seats to join in the fun. Before, during, and after the show the meal was served – and what a meal it was. Basic down home style, served in buckets, and plenty of it. Salad, potatoes, corn, beans fried chicken, BBQ ribs, and for dessert strawberry short cake. My tastes are simple it turns out when it comes to food, or perhaps it’s because my eyes are rarely bigger than my stomach, but this was probably my favorite meal of the trip. I should mention that the Revue is a separately ticketed show – be sure to book it when you make your hotel reservations. Because of this our dining plan couldn’t be used for the any part of it. This gave us an “extra” dinner to use later in the trip at a “Signature” dining restaurant. More on this in the day 7 entry.

To put it simply the show itself was what we in the theater would call a “hoot.” Okay, a hoot and half with a little holler thrown in. No description I can do would do it justice so go read the official Disney Parks blog article on the 45th anniversary here.

Afterwards, stuffed with food and a couple old songs in our heads, we exited Wilderness Hall and made our journey back to our hotel by boat and another very crowded bus. One good thing about standing on the bus and hanging onto the support bar – I was getting my arm workouts in while learning great balance control!

To be continued…

All photos by David P. Wahr unless otherwise noted.
Photos and words @copyright David P. Wahr