12/2/07--After finding an enormous roach in our room at the Luna Sea Hotel, we depart the next morning and have our complementary breakfast at the Sunrise Diner. They make really expensive pies, apparently.
After dropping Mom off at the port to check us in, I return the rental car and take the shuttle back. The first sighting of the ship!
The scene at the Port after going through the metal detectors. Mickey likes you, but he doesn't quite trust you.
The port is all decorated for the holidays. Actually, I've never seen it not decorated for the holidays.
When you check in, you're given a group number, which they call when you're allowed to board. Even though we get there around 12, which is when they start boarding, we get number 7.
Later that day, we have the safety drill, where you have to put on your life jacket and stand around on deck while they tell you what to do in case of sinkage. Here's the port from the ship side.
This is the adult pool area, complete with adult-only coffee bar. For people who have little interest in sharing water with the newly toilet-trained.
Everybody loves to do YMCA, although some are apparently dyslexic.
After the excitement of the day, Mom sacks out in our tiny room.
The show that evening is a ventriloquist, of which we are intially a little dubious. She actually turns out to be really funny and very good with the kids she uses in the act.
Our first night's dinner is at Animator's Palate--the restaurant that goes from black-and-white to color as the meal progresses.
They have an elaborate tree-lighting ceremony the first night, where all the characters come out and sing. The tree lights up, and snow shoots out of the upper decks, and everyone is merry in a Winter Wonderland.
12/3/07--After attending an early morning Mousefest meet at the Cove Cafe, we arrive at Nassau.
Nassau is a colorful town, but it's a little offputting to people as it's a little dirty and the vendors are a little aggressive. Having done a walking tour last year, we settle for having a late breakfast and then staggering off the ship to see the Pirate Museum.
The ship's gingerbread house that gets progressively nibbled on as the cruise continues.
Typically a disney show ends with fireworks and a great deal of confetti. This one is no exception.
Later, after dinner, they had a performance of T'was the Night Before Christmas in which a lot of the performers from the night's musical came and sang while Mrs. Santa Claus read the story to the children in the lobby. It was nice, however one got the feeling some of the kids were just being polite.
12/4/07--Castaway Cay. By noon, there is not a hammock to be had.
The Disney Wonder.
Captain Jack Sparrow also made appearances on the island, but he didn't perform or anything--when we saw him, he was just taking photos and signing autographs. I offered to wait in line so Mom could get a signature, but she declined.
Later, before dinner, Deb Wills and Jennifer Marx award prizes for the door decorating contest, and the dress-like-a-pirate contest.
We head back and find that our travel agency has arranged for us to eat at Palo that night, in their private dining room. We attend the show that night, which is the Golden Mickeys.
The Golden Mickeys is sort-of supposed to be the Oscars but is mostly disparate singing and dancing numbers from the various films.
Usually you have to pay an extra fee to eat at Palo, along with the tip, but the agency took care of it. Thank you, Mousefan Travel!
12/5/07--Our Day at Sea. I manage to get up for the annual stroll around the deck walk for Breast Cancer. It's hosted by Ms. DiVa.
Ms. DiVa's alter ego, Deb Wills, is a long time survivor of Breast Cancer.
Ms. DiVa with 50% of the WDW Today podcasting team.
Later, Mom goes to a towel-folding class and the evening show, while I go to watch some podcast tapings. Here, Matt and Mike broadcast from the Walt Disney Suite.
Fred, Beci, and Deb, all assisting in Podcast magic. Beci looks a little concerned about the goings-on in her suite.
12/6/07--Disembarkation day. Bye Disney Wonder! See you next time!
Later that day, we manage to collect our luggage, get our rental car, and drive to our hotel, Pop Century. Unfortunately, our room isn't ready, so we head on over to the Polynesian and take a look at the decorations. Afterwards, we travel to the Magic Kingdom for the first land meets of Mousefest.
Afterwards, we go to Pirates of the Caribbean, where everyone loads onto several boats for a Hidden Mickeys hunt. Unfortunately, there is some sort of malfunction and we wind up stuck in the first part of the ride for about 20-30 minutes.
As the sun sets, we head over to the castle to see the new lighting effect.
There is a short show in the forecourt, in which the characters debate on decorating the castle for Christmas.
The fairy godmother appears on the balcony and reminds them that it isn't really their castle to decorate, is it? Then she throws water on them and tells them to scat before she calls the cops. OK, that last bit didn't really happen, but it would have been cool if it did.
Anyway, eventually they decide to ask Cinderella, since she is nominally the owner of the castle (although I'm guessing it's more like 50%, depending on her kingdom's community property laws) and since her mind runs pretty much constantly on her glass shoeware, she suggests a theme of “sparkle.” The godmother complies.
It is a pretty effect.
So then we backed up from the castle somewhat and watched the Wishes fireworks. This was the night of the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, so the park closed early.
Instead, after the fireworks, we went back to the hotel and got our room (finally) and refreshed before dinner.
Dinner this night was at the California Grill, at the Contemporary.
Happily, we were able to get there in time to watch the second fireworks show of the evening, Holiday Wishes, from the observation deck.
I like the music better than the music for the Hallowishes firework show, which has too much of a teenybopper “pop” influence.
12/7/07--Mom sleeps in while I go to the Safari Meet at Animal Kingdom.
Walking to Expedition Everest afterwards, I catch an appearance of DeVine, a performer who can completely blend in with the background foliage.
Later, it's off to Dinoland USA for a ride on Dinosaur (sponsored heavily by McDonalds.)
Dinosaur is a close relative of the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland, except darker, and with dinosaurs.
In the afternoon, I pick up Mom and we go to MGM Studios, where we attend a few more gatherings. That evening, we have dinner with the rest of the WDW Today podcast team. Here, Mike Scopa tells us that dinner is on them, much to the surprise of the rest of the team who are then stuck with an $800+ tab. They later attribute it to Scopa either being “drunk or old.”
Mike and Mary Newell, enjoying Ohana's fare.
Matt Hochberg and his fiancee Marissa.
Mike and Len, looking as though he's trying not to think about how he told the waiter to give him the tab.
Ohana is an all-you-can-eat family style restaurant where waiters come by with meat on skewers and shovel it off onto your plate. They also have coconut races for the kids and things, which made it sort of an odd choice for the next table, who were having their wedding reception there.
But, whatever makes you happy. Here, they apparently made gingerbread sculptures of each park's icons.
Oh, ok. Maybe just 2 park's icons. Apparently no one felt up to making a huge gingerbread geodescent sphere.
After the dinner, we have our private Illuminations dessert party. So back to EPCOT.
One surprise was that they had arranged for us to go on Soarin' as a group, leading us in through the backstage entry. It was totally fun.
Later, we take in the Lights of Winter as it's Extra Magic Hour night.
They have a tree lighting ceremony every day, but I've never seen it as there's usually a huge jam of people around there, and the geography is such that only a few people can actually see it and everyone else is just packed in and irritated.
Afterwards, we walk through the Boardwalk resort and admire their decorations. Can you see the hidden Mickeys?
On the whole, it seems as though there were fewer decorations than last year, which is sort of a gyp.
Len, greeting the masses.
Beci and Newell, broadcasting the meet live, as it happens.
Scopa, your Man on the Street, reporting the events of the day.
12/8/07--After a morning tour of EPCOT, it's time for the Mega Mouse Meet at the Dolphin Hotel. Because I am too cheap to pay for parking, I park at the Yacht Club and walk over. On the way, I admire the Yacht Club's wintertime train diorama.
After the excitement of the Mega Meet, I head back, pick up Mom, and head on out to MGM Studios for the Fantasmic! Dessert party. Getting there a little early, we eat dinner at the bar at the Prime Time 50's Cafe's Bar--the Tune-In Lounge. It's crowded and hectic, but at least we don't need a reservation. Don't those TVs remind you of Grandma's? And didn't Aunt Sakaye have those glasses?
Lou Mongello and Jeff Pepper, running their Disney Scene Investigation. Jeff is apparently about ready to take off and fight crime elsewhere.
12/9/07--After a surfeit of desserts at the Fantasmic Dessert Party, we groggily get up late the next day to make more meets at the Magic Kingdom. On the way, we encounter Captain Jack, corrupting the children, as usual.
After a few last meets, Mousefest is officially over.
After a certain degree of confusion, we find that you have to take a bus to the area with the restaurants after driving to Fort Wilderness. Apparently it would have been faster to take the boat from the Magic Kingdom.
Apparently they use antlers in all of their decorating.
Either that or they stole these guys from the Country Bears.
12/10/07--We break and mostly go shopping today, visiting the local branches of Costco and Walmart, and the outlet malls. Dinner is at Marrakesh, where a couple guys occasionally come out and play on traditional instruments. There is also belly dancing, for those who have absolutely no interest in traditional instruments.
It was a lot warmer than last year, but also seemed a bit more crowded than last year, as well.
12/11/07--The big tree outside Animal Kingdom. It has ornaments such as lion heads and stars that look like they've been made by hand-tying sticks together.
12/12/07--Our MGM day. We eventually we make our way over to the Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
There are a lot of lights.
The dancing is a nice effect, and really changes it from a walkthrough experience to more of a show.
OK, what you can't tell, is that all 3 Mickey heads blink on and off in separate sequence. And I managed to get them all when they were all lit at the same time. For I am PHOTO MASTER.
There weren't many people around these displays. I think there are so many lights, some are stacked practically in back of others, so they go unnoticed. Either that or motorcycles weren't that Christmasy.
This display usually blinks so it looks like it's rotating. It sort of has a dreidel appearance.
During the daytime, I think the wires detract from the street appearance, unlike with the castle.
After viewing the lights for awhile, we take in the Great Movie Ride. We say hi to Gene Kelly, and the Wicked Witch of the West menaces us. Fortunately, she's hydrophobic.
12/12/07--EPCOT World Showcase day. In Mexico, the holiday storytellers are the 3 kings, telling the story of Las Posadas. Unfortunately, one guy says it in Spanish and the other guy pretty much talks over him, translating it into English, so it's pretty hard to make out what the whole deal is.
The Monkey King. I get the feeling they don't really celebrate Christmas in China.
We move on to Norway, where they have a small Viking display inside a reconstruction of a Stave Church. Inside they have a small case depicting the Viking that discovered most of Norway, and another small case of the Viking that developed Christianity, and an ENTIRE WALL devoted to Rognvald, known mostly for murdering and pillaging, and leaving a trail “of death and destruction” throughout Europe. There is a moral in this, somewhere.
The Norwegian storyteller is Julenissen, a porridge-eating gnome who enjoys tormenting the other storyteller, Ingrid, by freezing her and then moving things around to confuse her. Here, he's probably melting, as it's about 80 degrees out.
Italy's storyteller--La Befana, who wanders around looking for the Christ child and leaving gifts for children in case they are him. I should think she's be able to eliminate 50% of the kids she finds.
On our way to see Morocco's storyteller, we find that they're letting people in for the first Candlelight Processional of the night. We walk in and take a seat.
We end up sitting next to a toddler who has relatively little interest in choral music, and periodically lets everyone know in no uncertain terms. The woman in front of us, who evidently paid for the rather expensive package seating, was not amused.
The narrator for the night is Chita Rivera. She does a good job, although there really isn't a lot of room for personal expression in the text.
After it's over, there's a mass exodus to the bathroom at the American pavilion, and we take a look at their gingerbread house.
There's actually a guy inside, selling gingerbread out of the window, but he doesn't look all that enthused about it.
“America, spread your golden wings. Sail on freedom's wind, cross the sky...”
After taking in the American Adventure attraction (Mom sleeps through it, as is tradition) we wander over to the Japan pavilion.
Japan recently consolidated their 3 restaurants into 2, slightly more expensive restaurants. As opposed to Italy, which recently consolidated their 1 restaurant into 1 really expensive restaurant.
After spending so much time in the store at Japan that we miss the Morocco storyteller, we make the last one over at the United Kingdom--Father Christmas.
12/13/07--We meet up with some friends from home who are park newbies, and show them around Future World. Later, we ditch them for a nice, albeit expensive, dinner at Victoria and Albert's.
The big gingerbread house in the lobby of the Grand Floridian. They also sell gingerbread out of it--you can buy a tiny gingerbread house for around $80.
The Grand Floridian's Christmas tree.
12/14/07--We wander around MGM with our friends, after their second character breakfast of the trip.
We watch Fantasmic! as our last night at the parks comes to a close.
12/15/07--After waiting in incredibly long lines for a luggage cart, and airline check in, we meet up with Gail et al over at the Magic Kingdom, where we get in Carousel of Progress, Peoplemover, Philharmagic, and Pooh. We then return the rental car and get back to the hotel to catch the Magical Express. As it turns out, we miss the first bus to the airport, the second one is full, and the third one leaves about 45 minutes late. We get to the airport and manage to get in the longest security line on Earth, and figure that we're going to miss our flight. Racing to the gate, we find out that it's been delayed an hour. We're happy for about 5 minutes, until we realize our connecting time in Dallas was about 45 minutes. We miss the flight, which turns out to be the last one to Orange County. They try to make us stay in Dallas (on our own dime, since they claim it's due to “weather.”)
Fortunately, the people next to us were in the same boat, and Mom happened to hear that they were going to try to catch the last flight to LAX, which was leaving immediately. Our gate agent says we won't make it, but the other people decide to try for it, so we do too. Unfortunately, by this time, the other gate agent had given the last 2 seats to the other people, so we had to go on the standby list. We race over there to find that flight delayed by about 10 minutes, so we make it on. Our luggage, however, continues on to Orange County, so we have to have it delivered home the next day. Believe in the Magic.