Before I start…I want to say something. We’ve been going down to Florida for 20 years and we really enjoy it. Everyone always seems nice and pleasant and of course, I’ve made so many great friends on MB, but I have to tell you, both Neil and I were totally OVERWHELMED by the wonderful comments we got concerning the Olympics - (yeah, like we planned them ourselves!:laugh:) - and the graciousness on congratulating us on the Hockey gold. We could not believe it! As soon as someone found out we were from Canada it was the first thing out of their mouths - and we thought that was pretty darn classy and very generous and very, VERY nice.:happy: And BTW that game wouldn’t have been half as great if we weren’t playing such a worthy opponent. So congrats to the USA team for making it such an exciting event.:happy:
Secondly - evidently the Province of Quebec closes for the first week of March because there were more francophones down there than at home. Gave me the opportunity to brush up on my French.
Thirdly - the parks were EMPTY - totally and completely EMPTY! If you’re planning a trip and hate crowds - first week of March is it!
Fourthly - it’s time the world woke up and realized that Blackberry Addictions are OUTTA CONTROL. I sat in between two people who both were texting like their very lives depended on it up until the very last second before they were told to turn them off - the guy was texting in two languages no less! English and Mandarin. Actually, he was texting English with his Blackberry and talking Mandarin on his cell. NUTS! Throughout the whole trip the woman on the other side twitched like she was going “cold turkey”. The NANO-SECOND after we landed she whipped out her blackberry and was at it again. Personally, I think this is insane behaviour. NO ONE needs to talk to anyone that badly!
So - now that the formalities have taken place - on with the show.
I do have pictures, but as usual I have to wait until Sarah shows up and helps me.
As most of you know, Neil was already down in Jacksonville golfing at Sawgrass - which I understand is this golf mecca, but I don’t know a thing about golf, but he was jumping out of his skin he was so excited about golfing there. So, he had left on Friday morning and I was flying down to Orlando on Sunday to meet him at Kidani Village at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Now - here’s a little confession. Aside from visiting my sister, I honestly don’t think I have ever travelled alone. I’m either with Neil or the girls or a friend, whatever, so, embarrassing as it is to admit, I was a little nervous, even though I have made the trip so many times. Emily dropped me off at the airport at 7 a.m. and getting through customs, etc. was a breeze. The customs official asked me where I was going and why, and blah, blah and when I told him, my husband’s golfing in Florida, he says where? and I say “Sawgrass” and he gets so excited he could have basically handed over the entire USA to me - I think I might be your new President, I"m not sure…anyway, he was so excited he forgot to stamp my passport:laugh: and had to call me back.:laugh: I hope his supervisor wasn’t around. I breezed through security - cause after all - I look and am the most honest person in the entire universe. To cut a long story short - the trip was a breeze. Both flights on time and of course I love the Chicago airport because of the seatcovers on the toilets which I love to watch go around. So sanitary!
United Airlines has become OBSESSED with being on time - which is a good thing. Honestly, they practically push out of the gate before you have your seatbelt done up - and this time was no different, which meant we were in Orlando in just under 2 hours. I had my one little piece of luggage with me, and found Magical Express with no problem. I was feeling very smug at everything going so smoothly - but I have to admit I was a little lonesome at spending most of the day with no one to talk to…
Magical Express consisted of a tour group from Brazil:pinch: and six other people. Me being one of the six. Four of us were going to AKL, 2 to Pop and the tour group to CBR. There was nothing Magical about our driver - he was SO SLOW it was almost painful - and of course, AKL was the last drop off. It took me 2 hours to get from Chicago to Orlando and another hour and 45 minutes to get from the Airport to AKL. Boy I was happy to be off of that bus! At least I talked to one of the AKL people on the bus. She was a DVC member too and was down there with her nieces, because her husband “HATED WDW and she only got him to buy DVC because he was drunk at the time - and he wants to sell it, but over her dead body and she’ll get rid of him before DVC” - it’s amazing the things perfect strangers will tell you.:laugh: At least it was nice to have someone to talk to for awhile.
My first night I was staying in Jambo House, because we had booked so last minute that was all they had available. (I will discuss this later in more depth) and then the next morning I was moving to Kidani Village. Check in was easy and I was soon in my savanna view studio. First things first, I dropped my suitcase and turned on the tv to find out what happened in the hockey game. I was just in time to see the medal ceremony. And yes, I admit it - I stood in my little room, all alone and sang O Canada. It was so moving.:crying: Then I called Neil who was in a Sports Bar at Sawgrass and could hardly hear him, but figured out that he’d be at AKL by about 6 the next night. Then I called the girls who were having their own little celebration to tell them I had arrived and with their “we love you mummy, but we hate you because you’re there and we’re here. Have a good time. We won the GOLD - yay!!! Bye!!!,” they hung up.:huh: (I swear to you that was the entire conversation).
Really, AKL has got to do something about their obsession with pillows. Everywhere you look and sit - pillows. I piled them up and had my own, mini Expedition to Everest - which, BTW, I could see from my window. The real one, I mean. (I will scatter my observations and thoughts throughout the report).
I changed my clothes and took a little tour of AKL - what an amazing resort. I love it. I wandered around the store and the lobby. Most of the animals had headed for the barns, but some of the big Watusi cattle were still wandering around. I was pretty hungry, so I decided to go to the Mara for a quick dinner, because I wanted to watch the Olympic closing ceremonies - now c’mon, you gotta admit it’s not a party without a giant inflatable beaver.:laugh:
Mara - Grade F. TERRIBLE, AWFUL, HORRIBLE.:blow: The place looked like an afterthought stuck on a fabulous resort. In fact, it reminded me of a cafeteria in a bus depot. Only maybe the bus depot would be better. No atmosphere, no appeal, no nothing. Obviously others must have agreed. There were only about 3 other people in the place. There were hardly any selections - so I settled for the chicken dinner. With my doctor’s cholesteral talk still ringing in my ears, I opted out of the french fries and just got some lettuce and tomatoes to go with it. The chicken tasted funny. Just weird and the white meat was so dry I just about choked on it. Yuck. I threw most of it away. I bought a bagel and an orange to have for breakfast, stole a little bit of cream from the coffee station, (sue me) I cannot drink that powdered stuff, and went back to my room. I was really tired as I’d been up since 5:45 a.m., so I got into bed and watched the closing ceremonies, channel surfed (is it necessary for WDW to have FOUR religious channels?) and went to sleep.
The next morning the sun was shining. It was gorgeous outside. I decided not to hurry because Neil wouldn’t be arriving until about 6, I didn’t know if I’d have a room in Kidani Village until after 4 and I didn’t want to be homeless for too long. So I toasted my bagel and spread it with the jam I also purloined (along with the cream), made a pot of coffee and sat out on my balcony. It was wonderful… The animals started to arrive, giraffes first. The some “Tom-mees”, a couple of ostriches. It was terrific. I drank the entire pot of coffee, ate my orange and at about 10:30 got dressed and headed over to Kidani Village. This very nice lady in a van wanted to drive me, but I wanted to walk. Just being outside on such a beautiful day was a treat. At Kidani I checked in and Yay! my room was ready. What is it with Disney and hallways? This one could definitely compete with Boardwalk’s Hall of Eternity. I honestly heard one little kid, panting along, asking “are we there yet?” My room was very nice. Nicer, I thought, than Jambo House where, I suspect, some of the regular hotel rooms had been turned into studios. My only complaint was - that the rooms are so DARN DARK! Even with all the lights on - they’re still in this semi-gloom. I like bright. But other than that (and the pillow fetish which evidently followed the designers from Jambo House), the little studio was perfect. I opened the curtains and watched some “ghosts of the forest” and an - is it “opaki?” - for awhile. It was just after 11, so I thought it was time to get the show on the road. Down to the bus stop - oh, the weather was glorious! and I was soon at Epcot. On first glance I thought - “have they closed the park?”. There was literally no one around! First I hopped on Spaceship Earth. Because I love it and I could. Then I thought I’d head over to World Showcase because I was starving! As I wandered through Canada I was amazed to see only two young girl CM’s. I asked one of them in the store where everyone was…“well, we kinda had a really big celebration last night and most of the guys…” I told her there was no need to explain.:laugh: On to the UK, where I banished thoughts of my doctor and marched right up to the fish 'n chips window. They had just finished frying a new batch!!:wub: So armed with my lunch and enough tartar sauce to launch a ship (be gone Dr. Maureen!), I found a bench at the back of the pavillion in the little London street part. I love sitting there because it reminds me of the street we stayed in when we were in London. I watched some kids on the Kim Possible quest, and just enjoyed the gardens. Lunch finished, I wandered through the shops. All of the topiaries were on display, although the Flower & Garden Show didn’t start until Wednesday. I had a great afternoon. Did a little shopping. Before I knew it, it was 4 p.m., so I thought I better head back. I was the only person on the bus - and if our Magical Express driver was the slowest in the company of Disny bus drivers, this one was the Mario Andretti! I was literally flying around that bus - but he had me home in record time!:laugh:
I gotta stop here - be back in a bit and hopefully I’ll have my pictures up.