Sunday, December 28, 2008

Disney out of our system

We are at our stealth boondocking lot in Orlando (map), just a few feet from where we spent last weekend.

We had a great time at the Hollywood Studios on Wednesday with Jim, Cathy, and the boys. The park was quite crowded, as we expected, but we still made it onto our favorite, the Tower of Terror. We also caught the Extreme Motors stunt show, which I've wanted to return to see ever since I saw a TV special on how the cars are outfitted. It's really quite impressive driving. We all left the park around 5ish, since we needed to walk Opal, and the boys were running out of steam. Louise and I used our "extra magic hours" access to go back in the evening, though, to see the Osborne Family Holiday Lights. Word's can't describe it, so here's a photo:

What you can't see in that shot is the animated display. There is music playing in the street, and every third or fourth song, the lights flash in sync to the music -- it's really quite spectacular, and I'm sorry the camera in my BlackBerry, which took these stills, was really not up to the task of capturing it. This "tree," which is really just a pole with thousands of lights strung from it, must have been 70' tall:

After we finished in the park, we had a nice dinner at the Flying Fish on Disney's Boardwalk, a short boat ride away from Hollywood Studios. The boats themselves fascinated me, as they were quite maneuverable. Turns out that they are azimuth drive.

We decided to stay out of the parks on Christmas, since we'd heard that the Magic Kingdom gets so crowded that day, Disney often closes the gates by 10am. Instead, we had a quiet morning at home, wandering over towards dinner late in the afternoon. After an excellent meal at Shula's Steak House in the Dolphin hotel, we strolled back over to the Boardwalk, browsed a little bit, and treated ourselves to an ice cream cone. We ended up spending a good part of the afternoon and evening on the Disney Transportation System, since getting from Fort Wilderness to that area and back is something of a project.

To cap off a perfect evening, we rode our scooters through every RV loop at Fort Wilderness, taking in the holiday displays. This one, on our loop, was by far the most elaborate. Again, the still photo does not do it justice, and this shot covers less than half of it -- the rest is behind the rig and extending all the way to the main road:

We saw perhaps half a dozen sites that were similarly over-the-top, and I would have to say that we must have passed over a hundred sites that were "well decorated" with lights or inflatables. If you are looking for a dark, quiet camping experience around Christmas, this is not it. Here's one of the less elaborate sites (really) in the daylight:

Friday morning we packed everything up, then backed up a few yards so we could dump our tanks in the provided sewer hookup. I don't think there's a dump station at Fort Wilderness, since most of the sites are full hookup, and sewer connections are almost always too far back for Odyssey's dump, which is amidships (as far back as we could practically locate it when we installed the tanks). We rolled out right at the 11am checkout time, and situated ourselves in the day lot (map) -- just in time, too, as we got one of the last "easy" spaces, and the several rigs that pulled in after us had to hunt around.

We spent the rest of the day, all the way till past midnight, in the Magic Kingdom, other than a couple hours to come home and walk the dog (and yes, it takes that long to make a round trip on the transit system). Little did we know that we should have rested up in the early afternoon, and hit the park at sundown. Our resort cards would have given us till 3am, when I'm sure it was quite calm. As it was, in the early afternoon, the FastPass dispensers were giving attraction tickets for 9-11pm, and the park was so jammed, you could hardly move.

We ended up doing slow-moving sit-down rides like the people-mover and the steam train for the afternoon, since most standby lines were an hour or longer. The rest of the gang did the smart thing, hanging out at the hotel pool and joining us in the park after 7. We did manage to get on Pirates of the Caribbean (which stopped in the middle, and we sat through the gun battle for Port Royal repeatedly for several minutes), Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Thunder Mountain (do you detect a theme here?). We also saw the fireworks, and the nighttime parade twice. And the castle looked stunning in its holiday finery:

We pooped out just a little after midnight, which was closing time for non-resort guests. We handed our resort cards over to Jim and Cathy so they could stay in the park as late as they wanted, said our goodbyes to the entire crew, and headed back to the bus. It was very nearly 1am when we finally rolled out of the day lot, and we made it here by 1:30 and fell into bed exhausted.

Yesterday we tried to sleep in a bit, then spent the morning recovering from our Disney experience. We're really, really glad we got the chance to spend the holiday with friends in this magical place. That said, unless we're meeting someone here again (recognizing that many do not have the same schedule flexibility as we do), we won't likely do Christmas week again. It's very expensive, nearly twice the daily rate as the surrounding weeks, and, moreover, the place is just too crowded to be pleasant.

The parks and resorts are nicely decorated for the holidays, but those are up well before and somewhat after this week, too. Disney even adds extra holiday festivities that run only through mid-December, to attract folks in otherwise off weeks. In any case, we've had our Disney fix now for a while, and I guess it will be another few years before we get back here, absent any of our nieces and nephews coming.

Yesterday afternoon I took the scooter out to go get some coolant -- we got a low coolant alarm leaving Fort Wilderness. I then made the mistake of trying to tighten the clamp on the dripping hose fitting, which made the slow drip much, much worse. Realizing we could lose most of our coolant overnight, stranding us here in Orlando, I relocated the clamp a bit further up on the hose, which cost me a gallon and a half of coolant while it was loose, but at least now the drip has stopped. We need to get this hose replaced in the next week or so.

Last night we rode in to downtown Orlando for a nice dinner at the Citrus Club, a positively relaxing experience after the chaos that was Disney. This morning we'll top off the cooling system with some of the six gallons I bought yesterday, and head down to Arcadia for the start of Bussin' 2009.

1 comment:

  1. Considering you took those photos with your Blackberry, Sean, they came out pretty nice!


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