Disney World 2/23 thru 2/28 (Very Long)

Associated parks:

With only a weeks notice after a 16 yr. old dropped out, I was offered the opportunity to travel with my sister, her boyfriend and his 14 yr. old son to Disney World with accommodations at Pop Century. Since I wasn't supposed to be taking any trips of this nature this year (at least 12 DW trips and 6 to DL over the past 20 yrs.), especially having just reserved a cottage next to Knoebels for August the previous day, I knew this would have to be on the cheap!

I was at work when I got the call and I had previously told my sister if the young girl opted out I could go on short notice if need be but I'd have to get a deal. She told me that night that they thought $275-$300 should cover what they thought would be money they would lose on changing the package and the air. I clarified that it would not be more and was assured that it would not, maybe even lower. Ha! I told her the $300 would be fine but I would have to check with my people (I've got no people, just my wife).

I called my wife and opened with asking her if she knew how much I loved her. Since she had called me earlier asking if I wanted her to bring me food since she was out and I had said no, she responded by asking what I wanted her to bring me. I told her she wished that's all it was. This would be the first time I've taken a Disney trip without her but she still put her stamp of approval on the $300 and another $300 to eat. Holy moley, I'm going to Disney World in a week!

I'm sure most people on this board know what a steal I'm getting by paying only $300 for a place to sleep on property, 6 day Park Hopper and airfare out of Baltimore. Hey, I didn't come up with that price, it was offered to me. I just accepted it. When they re-ticketed with AirTran the airfare alone was $344! Again, I didn't 'work' this deal, just benefited from it.

In my defense, my childless wife and myself have taken nieces, nephews and siblings in different combinations of two to Disney parks on at least 8 of the above mentioned trips, all on our dime. It was nice to have a little of that karma come back to us (well, me anyway). I didn't even have to drive us to the airport, pay for parking, check us in or any of the responsibilities I usually shoulder on such trips.

What I didn't pay them in cash was made up by my vast knowledge of Disney World, vast to them anyway. My sister had never been and the boyfriend twice but felt he never saw anything either time and was determined to get the most out of this trip! You should have seen this guy motor through the crowd, not caring who, even his son got left behind. I'm 6'3" and going with me has been known as the Uncle Keith plan for the way I've hit the parks with a certain gusto but I had difficulty keeping him in check at times he was so excited. I was glad to hear that he told his mother, who was there, that he was glad I came along because he knew he saw so much more than he would have without my 'suggestions'.

By this time you probably could not care less about my time in the parks so just let me give you a few highlights and observations:

Day 1 (Sat.) Magic Kingdom
Arrived around noon to rain that had started while we were on the bus there but soldiered right in and hit Jungle Cruise first. Loved our skipper who used my all time favorite line that I've only heard once before at DL back in 1997. Lions eating the zebra scene..."Number 1 rule of the jungle? Don't be a zebra!" Also, while going through the temple ruins she sang in a whisper "Yo Ho, Yo Ho" in the style of the young Elizabeth Swan at the beginning of the first Pirates movie. That was a great touch although I think most in our boat didn't appreciate the humor as much as I did.

Watched Spectromagic and then Wishes. I had an open mind and it is a fireworks show that is fantastic but Wishes just pales , pales I tell you to Remember...Dreams Come True at DL.

Day 2 Hollywood Studios
Didn't have a great drop sequence on my only Tower of Terror ride this day and even the 14 yr. old who had never been on it felt it was lacking. It turned out to be his favorite attraction after several rides the last day. Did RNR once but didn't get Sweet Emotion as my soundtrack which I feel fits that ride perfectly.

I was surprised to find a full house for the first showing of the Indiana Jones stunt show. I thought this show was losing it's appeal by the crowds I encountered the last several times I had seen it (last trip to DW was over 2 yrs. ago). I was pleased to see a packed house. Also caught the 'new' motorcars which was very good but doesn't have the repeat viewing that the Indiana Jones show has for me.

Saw Fantasmic! (which I love but not like I love DL's) and then for the first time pulled off the Daily Double by taking the brisk 25 minute walk to Epcot to watch Illuminations.

Day 3 Epcot
My sister doesn't get out of bed too early so the three guys headed to Epcot and while they got on Test Track I grabbed 3 Fastpasses for Soarin'. By the time our window of opportunity arrived my sister made it to the park so I sent the three of them into Soarin' with the instructions to ask for B1 seating. For the first time viewing I like people to sit center top. They came off loving it and it was my sister's boyfriends favorite attraction all week.

Everyone left me for the afternoon so I just meandered around World Showcase on this beautiful afternoon bouncing from the British Invasion shows (love The Beatles) to other things I probably blew past other times including the young lady I saw on the Travel Channel who did the Japanese candy art. Cool. Saw Illuminations again which is no problem for me because I love Disney nighttime entertainment. Illuminations does it for me, love it!

Day 4 Animal Kingdom
Saw the new Nemo musical and enjoyed it however I still like Festival of the Lion King better. Dinosaur is OK but too many dark areas and lets face it, it's no Indy at DL. Not even close. Was there anything else?

Oh yeah, my first rides on Expedition Everest! Three rides in quick succession first thing in the morning. Very nice, the ride, the theme, the backwards portion...oh wait, I felt like I was going to 'grey out' with a tingling sensation going down to my feet during that part.

The last two days were spent hopping from park to park and hitting attractions we missed or rerides of favorites. One of my main goals on this trip was to use the Evening Magic Hours to finally see AK at night. Wow! A beautiful park becomes enchanting with the way Disney lights their parks at night.

I anticipated perhaps one night ride on Everest since my main goal was to wander the park while it was dark but one ride turned into three, on and off, in a total of 23 minutes. IF you have never experienced this coaster at night, make plans. Rode in the middle for first ride and was blown away by how much better it is at night. Got back on right away and was going to ask for the front but since nobody was in the station I walked right up and took the spot. My last ride was in the back seat which I was told was faster. On none of the night rides did I feel the intense nature of the backwards portion I had felt on the previous days rides. Another great benefit at night, besides looking hard left going up the lift hill and seeing Spaceship Earth, is that it is much easier to see the Yeti since your eyes are used to the dark. None of that going in and out of darkness you get during the daytime.

Highlight of the trip? Last days Segway Around the World Showcase tour and then going to the Studios and talking to Sage Steele of ESPN's First Take. Sure I got my picture taken with her! As a side note, Cal Ripken was on our flight back to Baltimore, perhaps he flew in for ESPN The Weekend which started on Thursday.

Thanks for your time, I hope you found it of interest here in the off season.

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