Leah woke Rachel early and they went down to the lounge for some breakfast and to let Aly and I sleep in a bit. Aly woke up a little while later and discovered nothing else in the room besides me, so she decided to wake me up, so I grunted something at her that resembled “go to the lounge, there might be someone you know there, and if not, there is probably at least food there. Make sure you pee first.” She said “I already went to the bathroom.” so I patted myself on the back for excellent cognitive skills, despite being 87% asleep, and then reclaimed the other 13%.
I did indeed discover the three girls breakfasting at the lounge.
Today was the fourth straight day of DisneyWorld Marathon related running events, in fact the Marathon itself, so we again opted not to drive our vacation car, but instead chose to take the resort monorail to the TTC and then take the monorail to EPCOT where we had plans for the day (completely forgetting, of course, that the marathon actually goes through EPCOT, but that wasn’t too big of a problem).
I’ll spare you the details of the drama, but suffice it to say, before we had rounded Seven Seas Lagoon and exited the Resort Monorail, Aly had already been threatened by each parent (not just by the nice one) to be escorted back to the hotel room and left there for the day.
Into the Experimental Prototype City Of Tomorrow
Raise your hand if you knew that’s what EPCOT stands for. 1, 2, yeah, that’s about what I expected. It was a bit cooler this morning, around 60 when we set out, but it warmed up nicely to around 72 and that spectacularly bright winter Florida sun by midday – a perfect day for running a marathon. We made our way through people carrying signs and cowbells towards the newly remodeled EPCOT character spot, which a few fellow WDW devotees (shootouts to Veeser and Hager – hollah!) said had a very short wait in October. Sure enough, the new design makes the entrance harder to find, and the blacked out windows made it harder to see from the outside, so nobody knows that it exists. There are fewer characters than the old version, but there was literally no one in line ahead of us, so who cares? Leah was tickled to see Mickey, Goofy and Minnie, most especially Minnie. All day Saturday, people had been asking her if she was going to see Mickey or excited to see Mickey, and she’d tell them “No, I’m going to see Minnie” in a very matter-of-fact voice. And she wasn’t kidding, she was very excited to see Minnie.
Due to popular request, I’ve started inserting myself into pictures with the characters, sometimes with the family/girls, and sometimes by myself. Leave a comment or two and let me know if this is what you were looking for or if I need to do something differently.
Warning! Warning! Things were going well for 10 minutes!
We walked out of that fantastic experience and headed towards the Land with a quick stop for those rascally chipmunks, Chip n Dale. We waited about 10 minutes to see them, and the girls were both very happy to see them. The girls were also both very excited to see Duffy the Disney Bear (only the hardcore among you will be familiar), so I asked a character handler (yes, a real job) for directions and timing on where and when to see Duffy – 11:30 was the time.
And then: disaster. I’m packing the autograph books back into the park bag and Leah running up from behind trips over my foot and skids along the pavement, bloodying both knees and starting to wail. It draws the character handler away from the chipmunks, who offers directions to the First Aid center and tells us that it’s free (things that we already knew from past experience, lol).
Poor Lele and the raspberried knees got antibiotic spray and bandages from the First Aid center (it’s a decent walk from where we were and required us to wait a while to cross the marathoners) and then she got a diaper change at the Baby Care center next door while I shot a picture of the lovely sky.
We made our way back across the park (waiting for a break in the marathon runners to cross again) to the Land pavilion and Aly rode Soarin’ with me. She wanted to ride in row 1 so we would be at the top of our section, so I made her ask the ride cast member, even though she didn’t want to. She did it though, and we ended up in B1, which is the top center row, pretty much the ideal spot. She loved it as always, as did I. Except that my sunglasses somehow broke in my pocket during the ride, which made that brilliant winter Florida sun kind of bright the rest of the day. Good thing I brought two pairs, so the remainder of the week won’t be bad, though.
In search of Duffy….to fail for the first time
We headed to the front of World Showcase where Duffy meets guests and were about 10 minutes early for the 11:30 time, which was confirmed on the sign by his little are. We spotted him across the runners from us taking pictures with the marathoners whenever they wanted to jump out of the race, which we thought was cool. I caught the eye of the photographer and character handler several times while we were waiting and I signaled over to them to ask if we should come over. The photographer shook his head no and held up two fingers. Since it was 11:27, we figured he meant they’d be coming over at 11:30, so we just waited. At 11:35, he came over and said “Are you waiting for Duffy?” I said, “Yes.” He then said “He won’t be signing autographs until 2pm.” I pointed out that other CM’s in the park were telling people that Duffy was on the normal schedule (as were the signs, printed guides, and the iPhone app), and that he should spread the word. He said “No, it’s just because of the marathon” and walked away.
We were pretty irritated about it but figured oh well, sometimes these things happen. We still had some time before our noon lunch reservation so we crossed the street to the Duffy store and let the kids shop a bit, where Leah picked out a Marie kitty. In the store, Rachel heard the store staff tell a customer that they could meet Duffy outside for autographs….fail. BTW, Duffy’s “changing room” is connected to the store, so if that store doesn’t know that Duffy isn’t operating on the normal schedule, nobody does.
LeCellier, a restaurant in the Canadian pavilion, is one of the best restaurants in all of DisneyWorld. Like many restaurants here, it has lost some of its luster in the era of the dining plan, but it is still excellent. With the crazed behavior of the girls lately, we were a little nervous about bringing them into a fine dining room, but we rolled in at 11:55 and were treated to the traditional pre-opening ritual: the servers singing O Canada, which helped put the girls in a good state of mind.
Laura “our authentic piece of Canada” was an excellent server who read the girls well and made the meal most enjoyable. I’ve avoided being a Disney food photographer on most of our trips, but I’ve been badgered a bit, so I took a few pictures this time around. They’re pretty low quality though, mostly taken with my iPhone, or taken with my DSLR, but I don’t carry a flash, so even those are low quality.
Leah had fries and ketchup, along with a Coke with grenadine (the proper Cherry Coke). And even fed a fry to her mom.
Aly had a kids steak with fingerling potatoes (uneaten) and green beans (uneaten), all of which was not photographed.
Part of the problem with taking food pictures is remembering to take the picture before eating, and I suspect we’ll never learn. I had the Filet Mignon with Mushroom Risotto, which was exquisite. Those little round things that look like capers are pearl red onions that have been sautéed in balsamic vinegar and they just melt in your mouth.
Rachel had a seasonal couscous thing that I can’t remember how to describe and I did not photograph but she would not order it again. The hit of the meal, though, as usual, was the pretzel bread:
Yes, the basket does arrive full, but I’ve found it is impossible to photograph in this condition. I tried, more than once. Impossible. We did get to bring some back with us, though I have no idea where it is at this moment. It may have been consumed without my knowing before we even got back to the hotel. Hmmm, I’ll investigate.
I cannot recommend enough that you visit LeCellier if you are going to be at EPCOT. You’ll need a reservation, and you’ll need to make it at least 4 or 5 months out – that’s another thing you can thank the dining plan for. We use to walk up and get dinner at this place when Rachel and I started coming down to WDW around 2000.
Herded like chattel
Yes, I know that’s mixing metaphors, but it’s fun to say it that way. After lunch, our plan was to loop World Showcase with the sole intent of finding all the characters we could. We had loaded all the character locations into our My Disney Experience app, but of course that didn’t account for the fact that the marathon was also looping World Showcase on this day, so there were a few twists. Like trying to pass through the United Kingdom portion at all – we were literally herded into holding pens to pass from Canada into UK into France. It was a a bit crazy, but all the people were there for the runners, as we suspected they would be, leaving the characters to us. So we stopped in the UK first.
And then we found a teeny Aurora in France. When was walking up, I though to myself “What a cute little Aurora.” When the girls were done meeting her, Aly said “Wow, I was almost as tall as Aurora! I’m not usually as tall as an adult!”
Belle was not at her usual place in France, so we headed on to Morocco, where we located Aladdin and Jasmine, who needed a bit of coaching from this photographer.
So look at that picture above. Are Aladdin and Jasmine mad at each other? Aly is usually the one lingering two feet outside the group and I’m shooing her back into the photo, yet this time she’s snuggled right in. There’s even a Fastpass (or whatever it’s called now, it has a new program name) photographer working this, too, and he’s not saying anything – they usually control the group very well. So I say something let “come one, guys, let’s all squeeze together like we know each other.” It’s funny, there are several other shots I have of this particular pair of characters and the girls that are hilariously bad – Aly was sitting next to me while I was editing and she was dying, but they’re not quite bad enough to post all 20 of them here. Anyway, here’s the better one.
We next headed towards the China pavilion in search of Mulan and we found her! Leah had a drink and the girls played on some benches while we waited in a short line. Leah showed Mulan her new kitty, and Mulan was telling Leah about her “dog” named Mushu. It was cute.
After that, we headed to the Mexico pavilion to see Donald. Leah was acting a bit worn out at this point, and even though Donald is one of her favorites, she was acting shy about getting close to him. Well, he wasn’t having any of that, so he turned around and shook his hiney at her, and that cracked her, Aly and the entire line up and from then on she was fine.
In search of Duffy….to fail for the second time
At this point, we made a second visit to see Duffy. We got there around 2:55, and the sign said he’d be back at 3:10. We were waiting with two other families.
At 3:10 exactly, a character handler (yes, this is an actual job, did I mention that earlier? and this person, while not the same one who came over to talk to us earlier, had been with the person who talked to us earlier, and had signaled to us earlier) came out and told us that Duffy wouldn’t be coming until 3:40. A dad of another family said “so the sign is wrong?” and the CM replied “yes, you’ve gotta understand that Duffy has been out here since 5am.” The dad complained some more, and the CM basically said that we had to be understanding because it was for the marathon. Well, that statement took me from disappointed for the girls into writing-another-letter-to-Disney more. I’m all for supporting the marathon runners, I really am. But to be told twice in one day that marathon runners are more important than regular paying guests? That is not how DisneyWorld runs their business, thankyouverymuch. I’m not sure when I’ll find time to fire off that email to guest services, but most of it is written in this post, so I’ll get ’round to it in the next few days.
We then headed to Club Cool to try out the new flavors that were added since our last visit in September.
On our way out of the park, we stopped at Innoventions West where Aly and Rachel played the Where’s The Fire? game that they enjoy so much. Unfortunately, their team lost to the Searchwells this time around.
After that, we made our way out of the park and boarded a crowded monorail headed back to the TTC where we planned to walk back to the Polynesian. A nice lady gave up her seat for Rachel and Leah, while I stood behind the stroller where Aly was seated.
The shoes on the right belong to Rachel. The red on the left side is the roof of the stroller, under which you can see Aly’s blonde hair peeking out and one of her thumbs. But just what in the hell is that thing on the floor to the right of the stroller wheel? Yes I took this picture to identify it. Without shame. And then I zoomed all the way in and took this one:
Okay, at this point, I’ll admit, it could be food, it could be shite, who knows.
I looked over at Rachel and mouthed “There’s a ball of poop on the floor”, barely able to even mouth the words without busting into giggles. She gave me a sideways glance and then almost giggled.
I leaned over to Aly and said, very quietly in her ear, “Do you see that thing on the floor? We’ll talk about that, but not until we get off the monorail.”
Of course, the only thing she can do is reply loudly, “What is that, Daddy?”, which, again, nearly causes me to fall over giggling, and then say “I said we’ll talk about when we’re off then monorail” and she says “Yes, I did see it earlier.”
I have been without my sunglasses in the brightest of sunlight all day, but never did I wish I had them more than I did at this point, feeling like the entire world must know I can barely contain the laughter. I look to Rachel again and mouth the words “Don’t step on it, but you’ve gotta look when you get up” and then point to the location, before once again almost succumbing to the quivers.
We somehow make it off the train and Aly says, “Well, what was it?” and we both die laughing while saying “Poop?” and Aly says “I wondered if maybe that’s what it was….” and you can imagine where the conversation went from there. We’ll get back to this subject in a minute, keeping things chronological here.
After we got down the ramp and onto level ground, 26-pound Leah decided she wanted to push 64-pound Aly in the stroller, which can barely contain Aly’s weight as it is – the front wheels are hard for us to turn when Aly rides in it. Brutish Leah succeeded though, much to Aly’s surprise.
The laughter powered our walk back to the room, combined with Aly’s sudden need to pee. Back at the room, I pulled the memory card out of the camera and set to work investigating the mystery. Shooting with a full-frame camera in RAW and then cropping way in on a Retina display yields an image that is somewhere between helpful and disturbing:
Food: pre or post-digested? Comment away.
Moving on, we ate dinner in the lounge, had a Mickey ice cream bar, then went to the arcade and let the kids pretend they were playing video games. Aly doesn’t fall for that, lol. Leah was tired out, so Aly and I headed back to the lounge around 7, where Aly watched the Disney channel and I started editing photos (286 on the camera from today, plus iPhone pics) until just before 8, when Rachel joined us. Desserts rolled out right around the time that the fireworks started and that again made for an excellent way for Aly to end the day. I’m finishing this up at 11:10 or so and running off to bed, because we have a breakfast date at Cinderella Castle at 8:05 tomorrow morning. 🙂