and Cathy McArthur on
the Road 2006: 6
We left Belleair on Saturday, March 11 and headed to WDW. This was to be a 2 hour drive, but thanks to construction and heavy traffic, wound up being a 3 hour drive. We had left early, so we arrived on time at 12:15 and checked-in to Fort Wilderness Campground. We had been told that this is the BEST campground and found that to be true. The only downside is that half of the campers rent golf carts for $44 per day and then let their kids speed all over camp. We settled into our campsite and then ate lunch outside of a snack bar in the Fort Wilderness Lodge. We found one Disney employee that wasn't totally polite and friendly; we figured that she was hired to make the hard core New Yorkers feel at home. We walked to the Lodge and took a boat back to the campground. We spent the afternoon and evening in Epcot by taking a bus from the campground. Bill had never been in Epcot and really enjoyed it. Alex and Phil had prepared an itinerary which would kick in on Sunday, so we tried to do some things that the kids would probably not want to do. We ate dinner in the Marakeesh Moroccan Restaurant. Bill's meal was only so-so because they didn't have much in the way of vegetarian fare. We had a nice adventure on the way back from Epcot. We took the Monorail to the Transportation Center, where we got on the resort loop Monorail and went to the Contemporary Resort; finally, we took a boat to the campground. On Sunday, we met Alex, Phil, Erin, and Bridget at Animal Kingdom bright and early. We took the Safari Ride without much wait. We also rode some pretty good rides including the awesome new Everest roller coaster. Bill, Alex (Alex!), Erin, and Phil rode Everest. We finished up with attending a wonderful "Lion King" show. Later in the evening, we went to Epcot to eat at a French restaurant and watch the fireworks from our table. On Monday, we met at Magic Kingdom and did some kid-oriented activities. A highlight was the return to Small World where, in 1977, our family was trapped during a thunderstorm on a stalled boat in the noisiest room full of singing dolls. This ride has been fully revamped, but the spirit is still the same. The big highlight was our attendance at a Cinderella Lunch in her castle. There were many princesses in attendance and the food was good as well. Bill and Cathy went out for a separate dinner out to the Kona Cafe in the Polynesian Resort. We had an excellent meal with excellent service. On Tuesday, we headed to Epcot again because the park opened an hour early for guests. Soaring and Test Track were the favorite rides. We managed to visit most of the countries. The kids had a good time getting their "passports" stamped. We ate a good lunch in Morocco. During mid-afternoon, Cathy and Bill brought the kids to our campground via a bus and a boat. We stopped at the Fort Wilderness Lodge on the way to get dinner items. Back at the campground, we went swimming, had showers, ate dinner, went to the campfire and sing-along, toasted marshmallows, and headed to the Port Orleans Resort. Bridget slept most of the boat ride and bus ride back to the Stoops' room. Alex and Phil arrived back from a dinner out at around 10 PM. Cathy and Bill caught a River Boat ride to Disney Downtown, where the hip, urban scene was amazing. Then we waited too long for a bus back to the campground. We got back to our rig at about 11:30 PM. Lots of fun, but a long day. On Wednesday morning we slept in until 6:30 AM. Then we headed over to Disney/MGM Studios for the day. We managed to pack in an exciting morning with Rock and Roll Coaster, Tower of Terror, Beauty and the Beast, and Muppets 3D. Bill found Tower of Terror to be the most thrilling even though he was in the front car alone for the roller coaster. After lunch at the ABC Commissary, we took the backlot tour and then watched the stunt show. Alex, Phil, and Kids headed for a playground and Bill and Cathy went to the Great Movie Ride before heading back to the campground. Dinner was in Mexico at Epcot at the San Angel Restaurante. Dinner was so-so, but the ambiance with dinner on an indoor river was excellent. After dinner Cathy and Bill hustled to Canada to get Erin and Bridget's "passports" stamped. We continued home by bus. Thursday was an early day for us at Magic Kingdom. It was another beautiful day when we arrived by boat at a bit before 8:00 AM. We met with Alex and Phil and the girls and headed to Space Mountain to get noon FastPasses. Then we rode Small World once more and then entered the Haunted Mansion. From there we moved on to Splash Mountain where Bill, Erin, and Phil had a wet, exciting ride. Then we all went on the Jungle Cruise. We watched the last half of Cinderellabration and then moved on to Space Mountain (Erin yelled "Bring it on." in the midst of the action) for four of us and Belle's storytelling for Bridget and Cathy. Cathy and Bill watched the others on Aladdin's Magic Carpet and then we all ate lunch at Cosmic Ray's Starlite Cafe. Cathy and Bill were back at the rig by 2:00 PM for a little down time. We had an early dinner at Hollywood and Vine at MGM, which was a very busy buffet restaurant. Then we went to a fabulous show at Fantasmics. As we rode back to camp on the bus, we wondered how a six year old and a three year old could run us ragged over the course of five days. We planned for a lower key day on Friday, doing laundry and other chores around the campsite, before meeting the Stoops Family for lunch in Epcot. After lunch we went on an Imagination ride, which was pitched at about Bridget's level. Then we went to the Imagination 3D show, "Honey, I shrank the audience!", which was another entertaining movie, preceded by an over-long commercial for Kodak. We also visited the aquarium, which is pretty big unless you compare it with Atlanta's. We all shopped in the Mouse Gear store to buy last minute items. The Stoops left to return home, while we walked from Epcot to the Boardwalk, and then to MGM where we took a bus to our campground. After cleaning up and dressing for the evening, we took two buses to Animal Kingdom Lodge where we dined at Jiko, a Disney Signature restaurant. We had a great meal in a beautifully designed room. At the end of dinner, our waiter tried to charge us for a double meal on our meal plan, but we only had enough for a single meal left on our meal plan. Our waiter talked to the manager and let us go for a single meal, for which he received an additional $10 tip beyond the built-in 18% included tip. We took three buses back to our campsite where we watched basketball until the NCAA first round was over. The total cost of our meal plan was around $500, the total we "spent" was around $600.
We are very thankful for Alex and Phil's outstanding planning; they led us to the best rides and events with energy and efficiency. Bill's top five activities: Tower of Terror, Everest, Test Track, Space Mountain, and Splash Mountain. Cathy's top five activities: Soaring, Safari, Jungle Cruise, Philharmagic, and "Honey, I shrunk the audience!"