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Magic Kingdom and MVMCP

MGM Studios

Epcot

Magic Kingdom

Downtown Disney and Chef Mickey's

It's Saturday, and what do you normally do on Saturday's? That's right...GO SHOPPING!!! This was our second "bad" weather day in a row as temps were hovering in the high 50's, but certainly bearable for us Chicagoans. The sun was out, so it really didn't feel all that bad. We had decided that today was going to be our souvenir hunting day, and that we would be taking a day away from the hustle and bustle of the parks. This probably ended up being a bad idea, because when we arrived at Downtown Disney's Marketplace area it was packed!! I guess everyone else had the same idea as well. Unfortunately we were committed to this, so off we went in search of all things Disney.

Our first stop was at the World of Disney store. I'll tell you this, you'd better keep a watchful eye on your money in here because your souvenir budget can get busted in no time. I'm not going to bore you with the details, but let's just say that we dropped a goodly sum in this store. Next stop was the Christmas Store to grab some ornaments for the family tree back home. We also found a really nice advent calendar that was made out of a cloth and you hung little ornaments portraying different Disney characters and scenes for each day.

We had spent a considerable amount of time in both stores, so it was now getting near lunchtime. We weren't through shopping, so we walked over to the McDonald's. Wow...I have never seen a McDonald's so crowded in my life. The prices weren't the greatest either, but we didn't have much of a choice. I went up to order the food, while Deb took Michael and Elisabeth to see if they could find a table. She lucked out as she was walking past this table near the windows, the family asked if she was looking for a seat as they were about to leave. Whew!! that was a load off our mind, as there really wasn't a single table or booth that wasn't occupied. What an odyssey. After lunch it was off to the Disney Sports store, and the pin depot for a little more shopping before afternoon naps. Tonight was our last character meal at Chef Mickey's!!


Our Priority Seating time was 5:00 P.M. on the dot, and so after our experience with The Crystal Palace, we decided to make darn sure that we arrived early. I think we arrived in the Contemporary's parking lot around 4:30 P.M. Being our first time in the Contemporary we were quite impressed at the structure itself. It is really something to experience the monorail coming through the building. We checked in at Chef Mickey's at about 4:45, and there already was a nice crowd forming. We went right over to have the gratuitous family "portrait" taken behind the Chef Mickey's sign.

Chef Mickey's doesn't open for dinner until 5:00 P.M., so we thought we had a bit of time before we would get seated judging by the amount of people that had checked in before us. To our amazement we were seated at 5:05!! We were seated fairly close to the buffet, but if I had my pick of tables I would have rather had been out in the main seating area as it was a little more of an "open" feeling. The characters started making their rounds right away which was good because we really got most of the character greets out of the way before it became too crowded. Then we were able to relax and eat our food without worrying about scrambling for pictures and autographs.

I don't know if the food selections change much, but I was quite impressed with the variety of choices for both adults and children. The fried chicken was my favorite item on the menu, and of course dessert!!

There were plenty of characters to go around. Goofy made his way around first followed closely behind by Minnie. Chip and Dale were there as well (they seem to be everywhere), and of course the head Chef himself, Mickey. Donald was also present, but as was the case with Minnie at the Cape May breakfast, you had to go to Donald. At various times throughout the meal music began playing and all of the characters began dancing with some of the children. Elisabeth shocked us by actually getting out of her chair this time and waving her napking up above her head. You may remember that she was a bit timid at The Crystal Palace.

Most of the characters made it around to our table twice, although I don't think this would be the norm. I think it was more of a product of our being seated extremely early and the dining area wasn't quite full. The characters didn't have as many tables early on, so their rotation was a bit quicker than normal.

Oops!! forgot about the gratuitous family "portrait" that we took earlier. While you're eating, a Cast Member will come around to your table with a nicely packaged array of items containing your picture. I believe there was a 5x7 photo in a picture binder, 2 keychains, and a refrigerator magnet as well. They inform that you can purchase this "package" for something like $25, or you can select from other packages that contain fewer or more items. Well... we fell into the tourist trap, and of course we just decided to take the package "as is".

We really had nothing planned for after Chef Mickey's. We had originally intended to take in the Osborne Lights Festival, but since it was closed due to construction of the new Auto Stunt Show, we decided to hop on the monorail and take it over to the Grand Floridian. We had heard that there were going to be some carolers over there, plus we wanted the kids to see the big tree in the lobby, and the gingerbread house. The kids really loved it every time we rode the monorail. I was hoping to be able to get a chance to ride in the front car, but we weren't able to. Maybe next time.

As we walked into the Grand Floridian from the monorail station, down below us were a couple of lighted reindeer grazing amongst a sea of red Poinsettias. Directly in front of us was the main lobby and its tree reaching up into upper levels of the lobby. The kids wanted to go down to the main floor to hear the carolers sing, and look UP at the tree from below. The tree was even more impressive from this view. It was just time to relax and take some of the holiday magic that Disney had to offer. The CMs singing Christmas Carols added just that little bit more to an already festive atmosphere. I really enjoy being down here during the holiday season, and wish we were going back this same time in '04.

Elisabeth and Michael really liked the Gingerbread House that the Grand Floridian staff had built in the lobby. They couldn't believe that a majority of the house could actually be eaten.

After about 45 minutes, the kids were starting to get a little "goofy" and wanting to run around, so Mommy and Daddy decided that it was time to head back up to the monorail station. I was hoping that we had timed it just right to be able to see some of Wishes from the train, but then I remembered that this was a MVMCP night, and Wishes wouldn't be starting for another hour yet. We did get a brief look down Main Street before the train pulled out and headed back to the Contemporary.

 
 

As we walked back to the van in the Contemporary's parking lot, two more monorails passed overhead. Elisabeth and Michael wanted to go back and take another ride, but it was getting close to their bed time, so we piled into the van and headed back to the villas. This is where I got lost, I hate to admit. This was the first time that I actually drove to the Contemporary, and the roads within the Magic Kingdom resort area are a bit confusing to negotiate in the dark. I think I ended up driving us around a good portion of Walt Disney World ending up all the way over by Animal Kingdom before getting back on Buena Vista Drive headed back towards the Epcot resorts. I guess I made a wrong turn somewhere. That'll teach me to follow a Disney Transport bus labeled Epcot. As it was, I did find that there was a McDonald's down by Animal Kingdom, which worked out well because I had to make a Happy Meal run on our last night, which would be Monday.

Tomorrow...Day 7. A day at the Animal Kingdom.