- The Parents took the Grandparents to Epcot that day so Evan and I were left to our own devices. We headed over to the Magic Kingdom. I was flooded with childhood memories as we boarded the monorail (the Contemporary even smelled the way I remember) and was vibrating with excitement as I bounded down the ramp to the entrance.
- I admit, without shame, that I got a little misty as we stood in front of Cinderella's Castle and watched the little show that was going on as we walked in. I had been looking forward to that moment for almost 20 years, and found myself reflecting on everything that's happened in my life since then. You can be as cool and as cynical as you like; you can make jokes about the Disney Corporate Machine all day; but I dare you to not feel some wonderful spark in you while you stand there. If you don't, I'm truly sorry for your loss.
- We rode, in no particular order: Big Thunder Mountain, The Haunted Mansion, the train around the park, Peter Pan's Flight, Pirates of the Caribbean, and ran around the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.
- We also took in a showing of The Country Bear Jamboree. It was everything you could want to make fun of in an animatronic robot bear show and more. The signs of the attraction's age were not merely in the lo-fi soundtrack and filmstrip interlude; you could tell the bears each were meant to be an homage to a real country singer from some time or another (one sorta looked like Johnny Cash), and had my understanding of Hee-Haw not come almost entirely from a 20-second bit on the Critic, I might have gotten more of the joke. The most vivid aspect of the show was the contrast between a time when a children's attraction would feature a set of 3 girl bears singing all the boys that turn me on turn me down, and today when after years of rampant PC and nannysim have nerfed our sensibilities to where even I felt a bit of shock at Big Al's There was blood on the saddle, blood all around, and a great big puddle of blood on the ground.
- In an effort to prevent a tummyache relapse, we headed back to the house mid-afternoon for a break. Evan felt much better in time for us to make dinner plans, so we pulled out my trusty WDW Guidebook and managed to score a table at Citricos in the Grand Floridian hotel. For those of you who plan to go to Disney: do not overlook the restaurant options in the resort hotels. Our meal at Citricos was without question the finest of the week.
- Evan and I were on our own again, with the folks driving the grand-folks down to their Ft. Lauderdale winter home for the day. We went to the Disney Hollywood Studios, which for some reason the internet probably knows, is no longer affiliated with MGM.
- Hollywood Studios is way less ride-y and more show-y than the other parks, but their headliner ride was awesome. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror takes place in the "Hollywood Hotel", made up to look like an abandoned hotel from the 1940's. You're taken into a room where Rod Serling comes on a black & white TV and explains how the hotel's service elevator is a corridor to the Twilight Zone. You get in seats in the elevator and are taken to a floor to witness a strange event, then are bounced up and down between floors in the dark with no indication of when or for how long, until the doors open to reveal the outside and you take a plunge back down to the first floor. Awesome.
- We finished up with Hollywood Studios and park-hopped over to the Magic Kingdom in the hopes of finding a place to have dinner and watch the fireworks, which was a tall order to say the least. With no restaurants available at the MK, we went to an information desk to make reservations elsewhere on property, saying we didn't mind where it was, just that we could eat relatively soon. We got a table at a place in the Polynesian, and headed straight over. When we arrived, the restaurant was not what we hoped. It looked like a Denny's (with less atmosphere), and the menu was full of $30 entrees. We were going to just leave to eat at any of the other Denny's-like restaurants on the road back to the house when I remembered something else from my last trip. We went downstairs to Luau Cove and asked if there were any available seats for that night's dinner show, which was to start in about 15 minutes. She said we would have to go on the wait list, but since we were first on it and there were only two of us, our odds were good. We canceled our other reservation, sat on the shore of the lake sipping a glass of wine and watching the fireworks as we waited to be called, and enjoyed the good meal and excellent show at the Luau.