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Magic Kingdom and MVMCP

MGM Studios

Epcot

Magic Kingdom

Downtown Disney and Chef Mickey's

I hate to keep being repetitive about the weather, but we awoke to bright, sunny skies this morning, and a very nice high 60s for temperature. In fact, I have to say that this was probably the nicest morning so far. The sky was just a crystal clear blue with narry a cloud about. I don't know how long this weather will last, but we sure are enjoying it while it lasts. Today we finally get to Epcot. Our plan was to originally visit Epcot yesterday, but with Daddy's visit to the Immediate Car center for his ear ache, that just didn't happen.

Being that we were staying at the Beach Club Villas, we entered Epcot through the International Gateway Entrance. It was only about a 5-7 minute from BCV entrance to the gate. I had totally forgotten about the shortcut to the International Gateway via the walkway down by the canal, so up the hill we pushed both of our strollers with Michael and Elisabeth just sitting back and enjoying the ride.

As we walked through the entrance, we decided to veer off and walk past England and Canada to get over to the World Showcase Pavilion. There was supposed to be a character meet and greet there in about a half an hour. As we came up on the pavilion area we were greeted with Epcot's enormous Christmas tree. It had several different color ornament globes hung throughout the tree, along with ornaments containing the flags of the many different nations occupying a spot at World Showcase. The tree also had white ribbon-shaped ornaments that contained various Christmas/Holiday sayings in the different languages spoken at World Showcase. The tree was topped off by an angel with golden wings.

We found a bench down close to the lagoon, and just admired the scenary while we waited on the character caravan. You could get a good view of quite a few of the different country pavilions from this vantage point. Directly across from our location was the American Adventure pavilion, but just to the right of it was Japan with its beautiful pagodas adorning the tops of their buildings. This would probably be a great viewing point for Illuminations later on tonight, but the chances of lucking out into this spot would be off the charts.

After sitting around staring at the scenary for what seemed to be a long time, we started to hear some Christmas music playing. We couldn't see anything happening just yet, so we thought maybe it was just the fact that World Showcase had "officially" opened up for the day. Out of the corner of my eye a catch a glimpse of


The only two characters we had not seen get off the bus were Mickey and Minnie, and guess where they ended up...right smack dab in front of us. We jumped at the opportunity to get these two pictures. I was so excited that Mickey was right there, that I only took a picture with Elisabeth, but after calming down we asked one of the friendly Cast Members to take a family shot with Minnie. This was quite character meet and greet as I would guesstimate that there were at least 10-15 characters on the bus, including Donald, Pluto, and Pinocchio.

a shiny red object coming in our direction. Upon a further glance I noticed that it was one of those old London double-decker buses with a huge wreath affixed to the front of it. Sure enough it was the Character Caravan. Right up front was Mickey dressed in coat tails with a bright red top hat, and right alongside is faithful companion Minnie in a red velvet Christmas dress. As the bus circled around to the back of the pavilion area we started down the ramp to get a good spot to meet the characters. It was really unbelievable how our luck was still holding out. As the characters got off the bus they went to specific locations around the entire pavilion, and we thought we had blown it because they were all walking back up to where we were near the Christmas tree.

The caravan stayed for about 30-40 minutes and then pulled out to give the characters a well-deserved rest. Once the bus left we decided to head on into the main part of Epcot to see how long the wait for Mission:Space and Test Track were. Of course we had to take the obligatory photo in front of Spaceship Earth. Daddy and Michael got to do the honors on this one. As we made it over to Test Track, the Fastpass wait wasn't too long at all, so both Mommy and Daddy took a turn on Test Track. I was really looking forward to this as Test Track was to have opened just before Deb and I got married back in 1998, but circumstances beyond our control prevented this.

I took the first ride, and was not disappointed. It was a bit bumpy going over the suspension tests, but nothing too bad, and the "hot" and "cold" tests weren't as extreme as I had envisioned. The ABS brake test and the high speed cruise around the proving grounds track

was terrific. There's nothing like shooting out from a standing start to 65 MPH and then dumping into a high banked turn. You almost feel as if you're going to be pulled out of the car if you're sitting in the righthand seat of the car. I wished I had brought my video camera on the ride. Oh well, maybe next time. Mommy seemed to enjoy the ride as well, although she is not the car buff that I am, so I'm sure she was just kind of ho-hum on all of the pre-show and queue items. We now started over to Mission: Space, but it didn't look too promising. Both the FastPass and Stand-By waits were fairly long, and since it was getting to be lunchtime we decided to head over for some food over at the Sunshine Season Food Fair inside The Land. The food was pretty good and one of the better values in Disney World.

While eating we were discussing whether to go back and see what Mission: Space's wait was now, or go back to the Villas and get in some swimming. The weather forecast called for high 50 to low 60 highs the next two days, so we thought this could be one of our last days to get in the pool. Swimming won out, and we were off to the room to change. Only one more stop to make. Elisabeth and Michael both wanted to see the big fountain. Daddy snapped off this nice shot of Mommy, Michael, and Elisabeth in front of the water sprayers. I think Michael wanted to jump right in, but we told him to save it for Stormalong Bay.

After a quick change it was off to Stormalong Bay once again. We were really wondering if we were going to be able to swim at all never having been down at

Walt Disney World during December. So far so good. We thought we would try a different area of the pool away from the sandy beach, and sand bottom. That stuff just sticks everywhere. Unfortunately, Michael and Elisabeth had other ideas and wanted to be able to build some sand objects. So...I'm sure you can guess who won out. You will notice that we are wearing ID bands. Both times we have been to SAB they have checked our resort ID cards to make certain we were YC/BC/BCV guests. We asked the Cast Member who was checking whether or not they have had to close off SAB recently. He said that in October they had done a count on how many "guests" had utilized SAB in a given day. I believe the count he told us was 2,500. I'm sure some of those were repeats, but that shows you how popular this pool really is.

Neither Michael or Elisabeth wanted to get out, but we still had a return trip to Epcot planned for this evening to take in Illuminations, and they needed some nap time before dinner. Michael took a bit of convincing, but both finally gave in because they were excited about the fireworks that they would be seeing later tonight. Deb and I were looking forward to it as well, as we thoroughly enjoyed the old Illuminations show that we saw on our honeymoon. Unfortunately for Elisabeth she was almost too wound up, and really didn't get that much sleep. This would come back to bite her later on.

Beaches and Cream was the choice for a good ol' domestic dinner. Deb and I had been looking forward to taking the kids here, as well as getting hold of one of their burgers and shakes. After dinner it was back into World Showcase to search out a good viewing area for Illuminations. As we walked around we discovered that we could get a fairly good viewing of the Candlelight Processional presentation standing just outside the theater. I'm sure it was much better being inside, but the line to get in was simply too long for us.

Just past the American Adventure pavilion we ran into a crowd that was assembled around one of the "Living Statues". It really is amazing how still these Cast Members can stand. We finally found a nice spot, or so we thought, at the railing between Norway and China. At the time, we didn't realize that we weren't going to be able to hear the music, nor did we realize that we were standing right in front of one of the shell launchers for the show. Once the show started, both Elisabeth and Michael were both rattled by being so close to the launchers. It was difficult for all of us to follow along with the show, since the music was inaudible, and thus we all walked away with a less than enthusiastic opinion of this Illuminations show. Frankly, I thought "Wishes" was a much better show. I guess if we had been able to hear the music it probably would have made a world of difference.

After Illuminations, I wanted to see if it might be possible to grab a quick ride on Mission:Space, seeing that many of the Epcot patrons would probably be leaving the park. As we started walking over to the gateway area by the Christmas tree, Elisabeth was really complaining that her tummy was hurting. I thought maybe it was her way of trying to get us to go back to the room because she was tired. Not wanting to take any chances we decided to head out. On our way to the International Gateway I caught a glimpse of Spaceship Earth all lit up, and just had to snap off a picture. We also passed the gateway from World Showcase to Future World, which was also all lit up. It was a beautiful site with all these lights and the Christmas music playing in the background.



Once we arrived back at the room, Elisabeth's tummy situation was getting worse. We spent the better part of the next two hours trying to get her comfortable and parading her to the bathroom. I will spare you the details. I knew it wasn't anything regarding food poisoning because Michael had eaten the same things during the day as Elisabeth. It was just a disagreeable stomach ache.

It was time to hang it up for the evening. Tomorrow...back to the Magic Kingdom.