Wednesday October 26
After our busy day at Animal Kingdom we all wanted to sleep in, so it was pretty late by the time we got started. As usual Ursula was the first one awake, then her rustling around woke me, and the two of us had to manually eject Stitch out of the bed.
Typhoon Lagoon was on the agenda for the morning with Epcot in the afternoon. We discussed skipping TL in favor of Epcot, but I really wanted to go before it closed for the season. With 3 weeks in WDW we figured we'd have plenty of time to enjoy everything, but we were running out of time and there was still a lot of stuff we wanted to do. I was excited to tackle the tidal waves at Typhoon Lagoon and remembered going snorkeling with the sharks quite fondly, so I really wanted to experience that with Stitch.
So we packed up our swimming gear and drove to TL, it was around noon by the time we got there and the park was fairly crowded. We walked all over the lounger area trying to find a place to put our stuff, and eventually found a few together. Ursula had perfected the art of bandaging her blistered feet to be waterproof with a combination of blister bandaids and tegaderm, so she wasn't as afraid of getting in the water this time.
We all went in the wave pool first and I at least enjoyed it. The Typhoon Lagoon wave pool is famous for sending out a giant tidal wave every 2 minutes or so. You hear a tsunami alert noise, see the wave begin at the head of the pool, and then hear everybody scream in delight as the wave approaches and sweeps over us all. Many tried to body surf but for the most part all I could ever see were bodies crashing into each other as the wave washed over us. Fun!
Ursula said she nearly drown in the wave pool, and Stitch said the “tsunami knocked me off guard and the hard pool bottom that is evil in every way nicked my left knee very hard.” Months later she still had a mark. The gritty surface of the pool bottom was rough on knees and elbows, that is for sure.
When I was trying to leave the pool a little girl got tossed by the waves (even near the “beach” area at the shallow end the waves were quite turbulent) and rolled right into me. I helped her up and she said she was all right, but I could see that she had a few scrapes on her.
We all decided to go for a turn in the lazy river after surviving a few tidal waves, and Ursula showed us (and a few other people) her method of flopping onto the innertube while still on the stairs to achieve a perfect float position. Only problem with that is that then one is too buoyant and mostly out of the water, so eventually Stitch and I abandoned ship to float while hanging onto the edges of the tube, which allows for more immersion. We steered Ursula around (right under the waterfalls) and shared our game of “Swoop, Moose!” with her. Ursula didn't think much of the game but we still had fun.
After making a full loop we got out near our loungers, stopping to grab a couple of sandwiches to share at the snack stand. It was lunch time after all, and even our small amount of fun in the water had worked up an appetite. Stitch noted “I had my awesome candied-Jack Skellington-caramel apple which was very crisp and fresh even though I bought it two day ago.” She graciously let me and Ursula have some bites of it-- I was surprised it was any good since it was at least 2 days old and possibly more (do they make them fresh daily or sell the ones leftover from previous days?).
After we finished lunch we went on the family raft ride, only waiting about 5 minutes in line behind a handful of other families. That was so fun that we went again immediately! Ursula went to go lay down and read her book after all that excitement, while Stitch and I headed in the opposite direction to the Storm Slides. We walked up a million stairs and didn't have to wait too long in line for our turns. They were much funner than the enclosed slides at Blizzard Beach! We only went down once, as neither one of us felt like climbing up all the stairs again.
We opted for the shark pool instead of stair climbing, so we went and picked up some freshly sanitized snorkels and masks and got in line. I put my mask on but started to feel some burning on my face and realized the sanitizer was irritating my skin. I kept it off until we were in the shallow end of the pool and I could rinse it in the saltwater, but I felt my eye area burning for the rest of our time at TL anyway. Stitch said she felt the burning too but we couldn't see that our faces were obviously turning red or blistering, thank the gods!
The water was really cold at first, but once I got over the shock I was happy to float across the surface and watch the sharks and other creatures far below us. Truth be told, it wasn't as cool as I remembered it being-- I remembered more colorful fish and decorative coral--everything was approximately the same 3 shades of brown and grey and I was perhaps a little underwhelmed. Still cool to go snorkeling with sharks though! Unfortunately Stitch had some trouble with the snorkel part of her mask and felt like she was drowning the whole time. I'm not sure why she didn't stop to fix her gear, because in the middle of the pool there is a rock where a lifeguard was stationed for just such emergencies. Stitch said “I'm not gonna lie, those sharks were really cool but I felt I was going to drown the entire time. I'm never snorkeling again. Ever,” (emphasis hers).
I did wish that we had the waterproof camera with us, but it was back with Ursula in the backpack. As it turned out the photos of us in the wave pool were the last ones it successfully took, as the force of the tidal waves managed to get water into the battery and memory card compartment. Oops! We tried to dry it out and use it again later on, but it was kind of hazy from some internal moisture that caused the inside of the lens to fog up. We decided that taking it back to Alaska to dry out properly wouldn't hurt it a bit. Nothing ever dries in the dampness of Florida, whether it's a towel, swimsuit, other article of clothing, or a camera, as we had discovered.
We got in the lazy river again-- Stitch's “river of life”-- and floated around to meet back up with Ursula. She had been napping on a lounger, but was ready to go, as it got awfully chilly when the sun went behind the clouds. We wrapped up in our beach towels and headed toward the changing area, which also was home to the tantalizing doughnut stand. I had been wanting some of the freshly made small doughnuts covered in cinnamon and sugar since having them as a teenager, and the smell as we walked past the stand was driving me nuts. I talked Ursula into getting some to share, and we sat on a bench and snarfed them. Stitch got some rainbow sherbet Dippin' Dots and allowed me a couple bites of those as well-- they were better than I remembered, being less freezerburned than my palate expected.
Even though Ursula was ready to leave, Stitch really wanted to go back in the wave pool again, and I was happy to join her. We promised to be back soon and left Ursula on the bench to read her book for a few minutes. A lizard came and hung out on a nearby rock as she was sitting there.
Stitch and I had fun in the wave pool getting tossed about by the large waves. We swam out to the deepest part of the pool and attempted to body surf but failed every time. Stitch let me borrow her goggles briefly but wanted them back almost immediately when the next wave washed over us. I'm not a huge fan of goggles—they fog up too easily--so I handed them back over without too much fuss. Eventually we headed back to shore and went to find Ursula, completely dripping wet. Our towels were already pretty wet from earlier so we were cold as we went back to the changing room and got dressed.
After checking out the gift shop and not seeing anything we couldn't live without, we hopped back in the car and headed home to shower and change.
It was extra magic hours at Epcot, so we headed over there on the bus to eat around the world for dinner. We had to recharge our cards first off, and Ursula grumbled that we could have eaten several fancy dinners with the amount we were putting on our wrist cards to pay for “snacks” at the booths. The lines weren't too bad, but the crowd was perhaps a little thicker than usual. The worst part about Food and Wine is that people are in general drunker and louder than they would ordinarily be. Even though booze is readily available in Epcot, it's more plentiful during F&W and that makes for more boisterous, rowdy crowds.
I got a snapdragon drink on Ursula's recommendation and it was delicious. Stitch got another Mickey bar and we managed to eat our treats while waiting for the friendship boat that would take us across the Seven Seas Lagoon to Germany. I wanted another draggleberry drink but we didn't think we'd be welcome on the boat with food and booze, so I waited to get another one.
We were pleased to notice fish and seaweed in the lagoon, as well as a lot of waterfowl and even a dragonfly. It was gorgeous out and the perfect temperature as we took a nice leisurely boat ride.
Ursula noted that we ate halfway around the world, getting a few new dishes and a few of our favorites from when we'd been there before. We started in Germany, checking out the Karamell Kuche, where I was chastised for pronouncing the shop's name phonetically. Not sure exactly how it is supposed to be pronounced, but Ursula didn't appreciate the way I said it. We eyed all the treats but didn't buy anything. We visited the Christmas shop and admired the ornaments, then stepped outside just in time to see the tail end of the cuckoo clock scene.
Our next stop was the train set, and I loved checking out the details of the miniature village! It was surprisingly challenging to take decent pictures in the pre-dusk light, I managed to get some that were relatively sharp when I had the flash on.
Next we headed to Italy to enjoy the architectural details there and take a few pictures before disappearing into a store to ogle the amazing masks and tiny “Venetian” glass bottles. Unfortunately the area near a photogenic fountain also happened to be the cancer ride (smoking area) so we didn't stay too long. I wondered if the large, tall tower had always been there or if it was new; I didn't recall it being there before and it looked really new. They were doing some work in Italy and had barrier walls up, is it possible they were revamping the area with a new tower? We didn't bother trying to find out or anything, but it was briefly discussed.
We made it the American Adventure (or USA land), where they were having a Boys II Men concert--the place was jam packed. Women my age were all going crazy as the remaining two members of the group sang some songs I got tired of hearing while still in high school. I remarked that if my high school friends knew I was here ignoring a Boys II Men concert they would disown me. I climbed up on a wall and got a couple of pictures for proof, then we scurried inside the American Adventure building to wait for the next showing.
As we were waiting to enter the theater, Stitch and I made eyes with an older male couple with some really neat collector pins, but we were both too shy to ask for a better look, lest they be appalled by our shoddy collection of trade pins and mock us openly. At least that was my rationale, not sure what Stitch’s was. She noticed one of the men had a rare Stitch pin where he is shown wearing a bra as a hat, and I could see her turn green with envy. Even if not trading, seeing someone else's collection of Disney pins is interesting, now that I am officially a pin collector.
The show was better than I remembered, and while I wouldn't go out of my way to see it if I was pressed for time, it was worth watching. I did use it as the nap ride briefly, but probably only for a minute or so. It's easy to get tired out at Disney, walking so much in the heat, swimming and eating nothing but junk food, the moment I sit still in a darkened, quiet theater my eyes like to drift shut. The theater itself is absolutely gorgeous and I hung back after most people had gone to get some pictures of it, which didn't turn out well in the dim light.
We tried to see the USA museum but it was closed for a private event of some sort. We pressed on, getting lost from each other for a minute in the concert crowd.
Next we went to Japan and looked at the museum there, which had some neat exhibits that Stitch requested I take pictures of. There were some really loud annoying tourists in there with kids, and they would not shut up the entire time. They were obviously people who had never been to a museum before. Ursula noted, “A couple of noisy children and their even noisier narrating mothers totally ruined the mood and decorum of the place. They never shut up for 5 seconds the whole time we were in there.“ Luckily their voices don't turn up in the pictures, and I took plenty of them!
Next we headed over to the UK pavilion, as we had explored Morocco in depth before, and we would be returning to France very soon for lunch. I did stop for a Grey Goose citron slushie as we walked by, however. Divine! It was a lovely night and the walk over to the UK was nice, especially with a drink in hand. We walked into the garden area and attempted to do the hedge maze in the dark, but something shot out of the bushes and ran right into my sandal! It was slimy and squishy as it smashed between my arch and the footbed, and I shrieked and freaked out. If it didn't move so fast I'd have sworn it was a slug for the slimy sticky residue it left. I still get chills thinking about it. Eew!
We visited the shops, and Ursula was disappointed by the “sad lack of Doctor Who merch.” The most exciting part of the UK gift shop was the Beatles drumset, which I made Stitch pose with. We also discovered a little alcove with comfy chairs, and we sat down to take a little break and a mini photoshoot.
It was officially Extra Magic Hours by this point, and the food booths were all closed. There were a few non- F&W booths that remained open though, and Stitch got an ice cream while Ursula and I went for frozen lemonades. We were sad to find out that the lemonades weren't the deliciously sour ones we'd been expecting, but syrupy sweet ones that were not very good. Ursula got a soft serve cone to make up for it, and I just powered through with the lemonade, not being a huge fan of ice cream.
We strolled by Canada, but we weren't interested in the giftshop there (we have enough moose merch in Alaska to last us a lifetime). The gardens aren't as pretty at night as they must be during the day, so the entire pavilion would have been a bust except for a cute bunny that was hanging out in the garden, happy to be photographed extensively. Ursula wrote “Mr. McGregor's rabbit was posing for pictures in the garden. Did not see him stealing carrots.”
We made our way over to Mexico and absorbed the fun atmosphere of the indoor Mercado, where Ursula contemplated buying a piece of decorative pottery for a long time. We decided to go on the ride as there was no line, though we did have to dig out our room keys (to prove that we were actually resort guests) for the first time that night. Smart people wishing to take advantage of low crowds would do just fine in the World Showcase during EMH, as there are only 2 rides and those seem to be the only places they check.
The ride was fun and we all liked it. I wish that my camera was nice/fast enough to take some pictures during the ride without flash. We went into the jewelery gift shop and I found some neat earrings that went rather well with my Cinderella carriage necklace. I like them a lot but am afraid to wear them too often because they are only silver plated and I don't want the finish to wear off. Ursula decided to get an inexpensive magnet instead of the larger sun-shaped dish she had been pondering. Stitch got some Mexican candies. As we were checking out we noticed a chalkboard with some Mexican trivia questions, which we all got wrong. “Failed Mexico knowledge quiz miserably, typical Americans,” Ursula said. The CM said most people do, which shamed us even more.
Next we headed to Norway to visit the bakery. Ursula enjoyed a cloudberry horn, and Stitch got a slice of chocolate cake. I had heard good things about the school bread, a roll with shredded coconut and nutmeg on top, and a small amount of crème filling. It was good but not as amazing as described online. Stitch and I sat down outside on the curb in front of a hedge to eat, and Ursula remained standing. After I'd eaten about half of the school bread Ursula shouted “Get up! A cockroach!” I thought she was joking but another warning spurred me into action. Reflecting on the incident Ursula wrote “Shrieking ensued from you can guess who.” Stitch had actually seen the roach first, but didn't think to mention it as she thought it would simply go away.
I was displeased to be sitting and snacking in roach territory, and from then on every bite I took tasted like roach legs (it was probably just nutmeg) so I was done. I remained standing while the family finished their treats and we all went on Maelstrom again, skipping the movie at the end as we always do.
We headed over to China next, but it was pretty quiet and Mum thought it was “closed.” Ursula went to find a restroom while Stitch and I explored, and I ended up taking a bunch of pictures without other people in them. Not optimal lighting, but still a treat to be checking out the impeccable theming without a million other people. The restaurant and store were of course shut, but upon further investigation the museum was still open. Stitch went inside briefly to check, and I hid in the shadows for her to come out again, effectively scaring the living daylights out of her. It still makes me laugh! We went and fetched Ursula and all checked out the museum together. It was neat to see the tomb soldiers exhibit-- for a while it was just us but a handful of other people wandered in and out while we were there, reading all the plaques and taking pictures. Luckily the few other people were all quiet adults and nobody was bothering anybody else.
After seeing the China museum we were about done, and quite tired. It wasn't officially park closing yet but it was close. We wandered out of the nearly empty park and got a quick photopass with the empty courtyard behind us and Spaceship Earth lit in dazzling colors.
We took the bus home and were grateful that the busdriver was quiet and normal, no horsing around or hopping off the bus without engaging the brake. We all collapsed into bed immediately-- tomorrow was slated EMH in the morning at Magic Kingdom!