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May 30th, 2003
May 30th 2003, Day One: We are up at 5 am and out to the airport for a 7:30 am flight on Delta. Short wait in Atlanta and then a short trek to Orlando. I booked hotel and air fare c/o CheapTickets.com. Though good rates, I recommend staying at Disney Resorts. You can get package deals for the same price and the benefit of staying at Disney is the location and availability of the monorail which will take you place to place FREE. It's convenient, schedules are not so much a bother as the monorail comes within minutes after the last one departs. Less hassle and if I go back, I'll use the package even if a few dollars more. Our arrival at the Radisson is approximately 12:30 PM. We looked up transportation and were going to take a Mears shuttle from the Airport to Kissimmee, about 17 miles away. Kissimmee is outside of Disneyworld, but JUST outside the property. Alas, that's MILES away still because Disney owns all that land it's massive. While looking for a Mears shuttle which was to charge us $16.00 per person each way plus tip, but we're hijacked by a guy running a limo service. He tells us that they will charge us $22 a person and not the $16 as stated, so if we go with him, he'll do it for $20 per person and get to ride in a nice Lincoln in comfort. We go ahead and do that. This way even if charged more, we get there faster as we don't have to wait for the shuttle to load with others and we are the only passengers. Cost with Tip: $45! Expensive. Next time, the shuttle it is. We recommend saying NO to anyone coming up to you asking you if you need a ride. There were loads of hucksters there.
We arrive at the Radisson (which looks great from outside and in the lobby), check in and before we are ready to go to our room, we are again bombarded by a guy who I THOUGHT was the concierge or info guy and I asked a question. Next thing you know, he's suckered Scott into signing up for a 90 minute presentation. Scott, lured in by the $50 Disney bucks and free breakfast after the presentation is over agrees to go the next day and hands the guy a $20 bill, for a "reservation fee". Being cynical, I refuse to go and we lose the $20. We've not even gotten to our room yet and 1/4 of my allotted money is spent on a limo ride from the airport and this scammer. Do NOT talk to other employees not at registration till you find out who they are. We found out there are desks at some of the better hotels that rent out space to anyone selling stuff. It said information above and that's why we thought it was a concierge service. BEWARE! Never say yes. We saw two couples (one set each day) being stung in the trap and they did NOT look to happy. Anyway, we go to our rooms unpack.
We want to get to the park fast because it closes at 7 pm! Typically, the park is open from 9 am to 7 pm most days, but open till 9 pm on Saturdays. However, times change for special events and days and seasons. See above We head out to the free shuttle bus provided by the Radisson, but the shuttle is not coming till 4:30 pm. Not wanting to waste all that time, Scott says the brochure says Disney is 1.5 miles away and I say, let's walk! BEWARE! It's NOT 1.5 miles away! Disney's property line may and the hotel's may have 1.5 miles between them, but the all parks are MANY MILES further. Do NOT walk! We recommend NOT renting a car because parking at the park, and the possibility of getting lost. Even our bus driver once turned the wrong way in the maze of turns.... We walk about that distance on the HIGHWAY (yep, crossing merges from other highways) and there is no sign or clue. So we head back and notice that some people are standing at a bus stop, about half a block from the hotel. So we ask and sure enough, a city bus will bring us there for $1.25 each. We opt for that. The bus comes every 30 minutes at latest. Our wait was 5 minutes. We get to the park and realize we have to take a monorail to get to it. This is the "Gateway" to the four parks. From this gateway you can take a monorail or ferry to Magic Kingdom, the monorail to Epcot, or you can go to the bus area to connect to Animal Kingdom or MGM Studios. All rides to the parks whether by monorail, Disney shuttle, or Ferry, are FREE.
Finally we are in the park. My fond remembrances were of the Pirates of Caribbean so we head there. The ride wasn't as great as I remembered. It's cute, but there's only one little dip and that's it. Flash photography isn't allowed inside, but I did snap two photos. They gave out free posters which I missed! UGH. They were GREAT too... one huge one divided into sections with all the posters pictured on it. We eat there (me a salad and Scott a Cheeseburger and fries-cost about $15-$18 including drinks) I next wanted to go to Splash Mountain, but it was crowded so we got a fast pass (this is where you put your ticket into a station and they give you a time to come back. That way, wait is never longer than 5-15 minutes) and head to The Disney Railroad, which took us around the park. I use that time to plot our day. We eat an ice cream on the train and end up deciding to run to the Haunted Mansion.Flash photography not allowed. Cute ride (especially the end where you take home a surprise guest!). Mostly relies on holographic technology. I snap a photo and with that done, we buy Jeremy a T-Shirt from the Seven Dwarves Mine, one of MANY stores to buy Disney stuff in the park. There are more shops than anything else in the park. Now it's time for Splash Mountain, the ride I am scared of...it's a 5 story drop on a raft. But I suck it up and go and this is the highlight of the day even for me! I recommend you take this one if nothing else!
We don't have a lot of time before the park is closed, so we decide to walk and do the first two rides that we pass. We enter the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, which is in Tomorrow Land. Alas, I forgot to take a photo of the Alien encounter, but what it is, is a large room where everyone sits. a little scene is enacted and it's mostly dark, sound and flashes of lights to play with your mind and make you scared. Nothing moves. It's cute, but small kids might get scared at the alien...Next up is a kid's ride that was called Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. Here, you get to shoot florescent targets as you move and swirl in your car and get points! I was lousy and Scott did one higher than me. I guess you could get better learning how to go from target to target. Kid's loved this ride and I admit it was cute and the lighting was neat. I snap a photo and move on.
We get a Slushy and then we realize because we didn't have to wait for anything, we can do one more ride. So we head out and hit the Jungle Cruise as we leave. This is a boat ride that relies on the talents of the script writer and an enthusiastic operator. It's only good to rest your weary feet otherwise. It's a quiet thing. On the way out to the buses we realized we had an hour and a half wait, (ours didn't come till 8:30, so we lollygagged at the park till about 8 (it was open for some people later who had special tickets...don't ask me how you get those, I don't know) and took some photos of the castle and of characters from Aladdin signing autographs for the kids. We then left the park, using the ferry to shuttle us to the place we needed to wait for the bus back to the hotel. On this day, we've ridden a car, plane, train (in the airport), bus, monorail and a boat!
Left to Right: 1) Magic Kingdom Entrance 2) Pirates of the Caribbean Entrance 3) Inside Pirates of the Caribbean 4) Haunted Mansion 5) Seven Dwarves Mine (shop)
Left to Right: 1) Splash Mountain 2) Entrance to Tomorrowland 3) On the Jungle Cruise 4) On the Jungle Cruise 5) Buzz Lightyear
Left to right: 1) The Cinderella Castle 2) A Disney Boat (you can travel to other parks on this) 3) The Cinderella Castle Closer view 4) Disney Buses which transfer you park to park 5) Aladdin Characters
Above: Not sure sure where this was; I think Magic Kingdom where the ferry was.
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