We always wondered how far we walk in days at WDW. In the pre-kid days, we thought were were logging days with mid-to-upper teens mileage, as we hopped from park to park nearly every day we were at Disney. Thanks to technology, on this trip we figured it out definitively. I bought the iOS app Cyclemeter a few years back to track my bike rides, and I’ve been using it lately to log my camera hikes. It tracks distance, time, and pace, along with GPS route mapping that tracks everything. You can use it to create regular routes and measure your performance against historical bests and averages.
In this context, Cyclemeter proves really useful for figuring out how much damage my heels feel while at WDW. I love know the mileage, but it’s also fun to see the map of where we went. This is part of the map from our morning trip into Disney’s Hollywood Studios:
We walked from our villa into DHS, arriving shortly after rope drop to a huge line at both the bag check and at the ticket booths. I swung over to Guest Services to activate our AP’s and purchase the Tables In Wonderland card, which gives 20% off most table services restaurants (including alcohol) throughout DisneyWorld. Since the kids were not available, I instead took the usual trip kickoff picture of Rachel at the park entrance as she let Disney measure her finger joint length for identification (cower in fear, tinfoil-hat crowd).
I’ll see your cat and raise you one beaver
Upon entering, we of course made a beeline for Toy Story Midway Mania, where we got fastpasses and also hopped in the standby line, which wasn’t too long yet as the park had just opened. Rachel beat me again, ranking Beaver to my Cat. I’m not sure when the last time that I beat her at TSMM, but it was some time ago. At least the pre-ride queue is enjoyable.
In case you’re not sure, Mr Potato Head is behind me, not the other way around. While we went through the queue, Mr Potato Head pulled his right ear completely off (take a second look at the picture) and set it down on the stage. A few minutes later, a Disney cast member popped out and put his ear back in place. I sense a TSMM refurb is on the horizon.
Color ball + striped candy = happiness
While licking my wounds, we headed (well, I should clarify that – “I licked my wounds” – the “we” doesn’t apply to that part) over to Tower of Terror, where we got in the standby line and played more Candy Crush while we wound through the gardens outside the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Despite the warnings, we boarded the elevator and had an excellent ride on the ToT.
As usual, we walked around the corner to the Aerosmith Rock & Roller Coaster, which is one of the best thrill rides in all of DisneyWorld. We looped our way through Hollywood en route to using our Aerosmith backstage passes. At this point, it was nearly time for our lunch reservation, so we made our way over to the Hollywood Brown Derby, which we’ve eaten at several times before, but has never been very high on our must-do list.
Lunch. With a period
Well, that changed on this day. We were seated quickly in a round booth and our charming waiter came to the table to take our drink orders (sprite & water; coke & water). Rachel had the famous Cobb salad, while I had the noodle bowl, which was truly excellent. The dessert, however, moved Brown Derby into the higher echelons of our WDW meals, so beautiful that I broke my normal rule of not photographing my food (to avoid sentimental longings):
That, friends is one of the best desserts that this man has ever consumed. AllEars describes it as:
Citrus Honey Nest - filled with a candied ginger blueberries over a lemon cheesecake
and it was delightful. Rich but not heavy, sweet but savory, sour but sweet. I could go on and on describing how wonderful it was – it’d be easy to write copy about this dessert. Instead, I will bring honor to it by naming my next child after it (“Honey Nest Goudie”). In the absolutely-assured event that I have no more children, I shall require that my first-born (or adopted, or bought, or kidnapped, etc) grandchild bear this moniker. Giddy with dessert joy, Rachel and I walked back to Beach Club for a post-lunch swim.
And where I nearly die a horrible death
Disney’s Beach Club has a water park as its main pool, called Stormalong Bay. It’s actually a series of pools, one with a whirlpool, one with a lazy river, one with a sand bottom, etc. Here’s what it looks like from overhead:
By the way, Beaches & Cream is marked incorrectly on that map, all you’ll find in that spot is a slide atop a pirate ship – no burgers. We found a few chairs in the middle of the lazy river pool, plunked down our stuff, and I hopped in while Rachel drank in some vitamin D. After a while, she joined me and we floated around the lazy river a few times before heading to one of the hot tubs, which required us to exit the lazy river pool and cross a small concrete area between the pools, before wading through another pool to reach the stairs up to the hot tub. We enjoyed a toasty soak in the spa before reversing our journey to get back into the lazy river pool.
As I swam off the steps into the lazy river, I scraped the top of my toes on one of the concrete steps, but didn’t think much of it. Until I stepped out of the pool and blood began making yet another pool on top of my index toe. It didn’t particularly concern me, except that it probably would freak out any fellow poolies who happened to see it. Since she has a Doctorate of Physical Therapy, and is trained for such medical emergencies, Rachel swam across to the lifeguard and retrieved a couple bandaids and antibiotic ointment while I lounged in the chair and dried off in the sun. Crisis averted, we headed back to the room, leaving no trail of blood, where we cleaned up and got dressed.
Thus began the night of belches
I put on my magicnetical blue shirt (more on that later) and when we were ready, we walked into the back entrance of EPCOT at the International Gateway. The setting sun made for a pretty twilight setting around World Showcase as we made our way around the lake towards our dinner reservation at San Angel Inn inside the Mexico pavilion.
We took some time to wander through Germany, where we were nearly run down by an adult male holding an iPhone up to take a picture. The iPhone was in a pink & white case which was completely covered by pink gems – highly bedazzled. As we sidestepped around him, noticed he was also wearing a hot pink purse backpack, not that there’s anything wrong with that – we were partially blinded by the bling and the bright color of the pack. When I turned to see what he was photographing, it all became clear: his completely blinged girlfriend/wife who was wearing stretchpants in the same hot pink of the phone and the pursepack.
We next headed to the Norway pavilion, where we hopped on the Maelstrom boat ride to learn about Norwegian culture: blondes, cruise ships, offshore oil platforms, and vikings. At least, those are my takeaways. Oh, and Helly Hansen. As we stood in line for the ride, a loud belch was released nearby, which came not from a Norwegian troll or marauding Viking, but a girl with her newly-embarassed family.
Speaking of digestion
Next up, we had a nice dinner in the romantic setting of the San Angel Inn, which is inside the Mexico pavilion and borders the Donald boat ride. Pre-kids, we ate at this restaurant nearly every trip, usually along the rail next to the boat canal, but we haven’t been here lately because the near-darkness would drive our kids crazy. This place has upscaled quite a bit over the last few years, and thankfully the service has improved as well. We had two tasty chicken entrees that we switched several times; Rachel had the Mole Poblano and I had the Pollo a la Rajas. We both said we’d order the same thing again, which is high praise.
After the meal, we hopped on the Mexico boat ride, and were assigned the back row of the boat – woohoo! The woohoo quickly turned to just plain whoo when the sweaty tank-topped guy in front of us held his video camera above his head to record the entire boat trip. Hopefully the mic on his video camera picked up my muttered comments and will improve the experience for some future person lucky enough to be behind this gentlemen in some future attraction.
We had spent much of the meal debating whether to stick with our planned evening of touring EPCOT, which was fairly busy that night, or hopping over to Magic Kingdom, which was less busy and open later. As we walked out of the Mexico pyramid at 7:15 Rachel decided we should head to MK for the 8pm Wishes (fireworks), so we walked to the main entrance of EPCOT and boarded the monorail for the trip to the other park – we even had to run to make the train.
The next belch
The monorail was moderately full, but not at full sardine status. We were standing, as was another family that also had a stroller next to us. As the monorail pulled out of the station, the 30-something mom expelled a rather furious belch, surprising even herself with the volume and intensity. She was so shocked that instead of saying “Excuse me,” she instead said “Oh.” At the TTC, we switched over to the MK monorail and went through security, with a brief delay as our security guard left his post to sprint after a guest that had skipped through the bag check without saying a word to anyone. We made it into the park with 4 minutes to spare before Wishes began and wove through people along Main Street USA and headed towards Adventureland to watch the show.
I took several pictures of the fireworks, but my favorite one is from the dozens of old people in front of us taking pictures/video with smartphones, including this couple both taking pictures, one standing and one from the electric chair.
It entertained Rachel too:
Two words: Dole. Whip.
We had skipped dessert at San Angel Inn in favor of getting Dole Whips from Aloha Isle in Magic Kingdom. Dole Whip is an awesome pineapple soft serve ice cream, and we get them in floats made with pineapple juice. They are an absolute must-do on every trip, and usually more than once. As the fireworks ended, we bolted over to get our Dole Whips, and gobbled them down as we made our way over to Haunted Mansion. We took the new garden queue, which is great – the WDW push to develop interactive queues is great. We had a great ride and then headed over towards Fantasyland, where we were briefly rained on walking under the bridge by Columbia Harbor House restaurant. We later found that this is from the sprinklers that Disney uses on the roofs after each fireworks show, which is good, because we were worried it was some other liquid spilling from above.
We next went to Philharmagic, walked right into the theater and enjoyed the show as usual. We started making our way to the front of the park as we were tiring out.
Back to the blue shirt
We decided to ride the Pooh ride, because the line was short with many people gone for the night or drawn towards other rides at the back of the park. If you’ve ever wondered how Disney calculates wait time, they have a system of RF cards and RF readers. The cast member working at the queue entrance holds a red RF card against a reader, then selects a guest to carry the card all the way to the ride itself, where it is handed to a CM there who scans it against another RF reader. The wait time is then calculated, averaged, and displayed at the ride entrance and various other place throughout the park.
As we entered the line, the CM there reached past Rachel and flirtily asked me to carry the red card up to the ride loading point. I agreed, and we chuckled about it as we walked through the rest of the queue up to the ride. Rachel said it was the power of my attractive blue shirt, but I just attributed it to Disney magic. It happened again, however, as we were going through the line at Buzz Lightyear as a CM looked right through Rachel to say something to me. It had us cracking up as we made the walk to the bus depot. Still giggly, I gave my blue steel look on the bus (don’t say I didn’t warn you, this is powerful stuff):
A word on Disney buses
A debate rages among WDW fanatics between those who rent cars and those who only use Disney buses. We are staunch rental car advocates, reinforced by a trip with no car a few years ago. Since this night began with us walking into EPCOT, however, our car was back at Beach Club, so we decided to take the bus back to our resort. It worked out great! Since we were fairly exhausted we rode wordlessly in the dark and played Candy Crush on both phones. I didn’t even look up until we were back at our resort, and we both remarked that maybe we’ve been wrong about this bus/car thing.
I almost forgot
about the mileage thing. As you may have concluded from the post title, I was able to track our mileage for the day as we walked to and from DHS, to and from the pool, to EPCOT and through MK. We walked over 16 miles – supporting our earlier guesses from over the years. I still think I may have consumed more calories than burned, but I’m kind of proud of that.