I was kinda pooped after wandering all over Epcot in the heat, so I spent a little time relaxing in the living room of my embarrassingly ginormous-for-one-person 1-bedroom villa at Bay Lake Tower.
I dragged an easy chair up to the window. First I looked at the “lake view”…
Then I craned my neck a little to see the actual lake…
I used my camera to check out all the things in the distance, like Characters in Flight at Downtown Disney.
This is what the view looks like when you’ve been swallowed by an easy chair:
And then I did what they always tell you to do if you’re a smart tourist: I took a break in the middle of the day to go swimming! At first glance, Bay Lake Tower’s pool is not particularly interesting to look at. There’s a lot of Miami Vice glass blocks goin’ on…
…And a ragged beach with a sign that may as well say “Gator-Baitin’ Station”!
However, the more I poked around (and the more I read my “What Would Patrick Shoot?” bracelet) the more nifty photo opportunities I found.
I think I spent 20 minutes standing under the slide trying to take a picture of someone whizzing by. It’s worse that trying to shoot a Test Track vehicle on the outside track!
The slide was FANTASTIC! I hereby declare it the Fastest Hotel Water Slide on Property (OK, of the ones I have been on: Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge, BoardWalk Inn & Stormalong Bay). I went down it 12 times! The grown-ups at the pool thought I was nuts and began herding their children away from me…
After that I spent a little time back in the room getting ready for my date with Jensey & Nate for a Candlelight Processional Dinner Package. We’d chosen Biergarten because it was in the marginally cheaper Tier 2 price category, and because Patrick has always wanted to eat there. Now, of course, Patrick would be the only one NOT eating there, and we were stuck with his choice… Interestingly, when I called to cancel his Candlelight dinner package, I was told “No refunds!” However, they don’t actually charge your card until you get to the restaurant, and when the server brought our bill it was only for 3 people cuz that’s as many as he saw at the table. So…. good to know for future reference!
On my way to the monorail, I stepped out on the fireworks viewing platform to take some nighttime pix of the view.
Now let us travel back in time a few hours to the moment when the Roots set foot in Epcot that day, so that we may see all that they saw while I was endlessly whizzing down the pool slide at Bay Lake Tower.
OK, so, the Biergarten was pretty much exactly what I expected—great theming, rowdy atmosphere, middling food. My journal entry from that night says, “Sensory OVERLOAD! Crowds! Sitting with strangers! Oompah band! Buffet mania!!!”
It’s all semi-communal seating, so we were put at a table with a group of four. The food was the typical Disney buffet take on ethnic specialties—lots of lukewarm overcooked meat, heavy sauces, clammy cold cuts…. Definitely not for those on a diet!
I think we had a 5:45pm dinner reservation for the 8:15pm showing of Candlelight Processional. We got out with an hour to spare before the show and went straight to America Gardens Theater to line up for seats. The queue for dining package holders—not even standby—was already all the way to Japan! What’s the point?! You pay all this money for a dining package that guarantees you a seat, but you still have to stand in line for an hour or more? If I really want to see Candlelight again, next time I’ll just spend that hour in the standby line for FREE and eat takeaway dinner while I wait…
At last we were let into the theater and filed into some OK seats slightly off center but within the first section of seating. They were better than what D23 got us at least!
Unfortunately, that night’s narrator had been replaced sort of at the last minute by former child star Abigail Breslin, and the phrase “woefully miscast” has never been more appropriate. I am sure she’s a great person, but a golden throated elocutionist she is not. Her flat, bored-sounding reading of the Christmas story sapped the life out of the performance, and in between her cues she’d stare off into space as if counting the moments until she was reunited with her cell phone. We referred to her as “Abby Bressie” for the rest of the trip.
That year was the first time they offered a private IllumiNations viewing area as part of the Candlelight Processional dining package. I thought surely for the 8:15 people that area would be Italy Isola, which holds up to 300, because it’s right next to America Gardens Theater. But that would have been too convenient—instead, they herd everybody from all three seatings of the dinner package into World Showcase Plaza. This means that if you go to see the 8:15 CP, you have only 10 minutes to hoof it half a mile around World Showcase to get to the viewing area, because they hold you in the theater until the entire mass choir has crossed the path on their way backstage. YIKES!
World Showcase Plaza is the area between the two identical souvenir shops at the entrance to World Showcase. I ran ahead and staked out as close to the front as I could so that only one of us would be panting and gasping for breath during much of the show. It really is a great place to see IllumiNations from (if you can get to the front). I’m just shocked that they think people can make the trek in 10 minutes, through Christmastime crowds.
We did not have the greatest view, but Nate still got some cool shots!
After the show, I made poor Nathensey wait around in the cold because I was convinced we were going to get to see the fabled “barge burnoff” in which the fireworks barge goes up in a ball of flame to use up all the leftover fuel. We waited and waited and waited…
Finally we gave up. As it turns out (and I learned this only 2 weeks ago when we were on an IllumiNations cruise), they haven’t done the barge burn-off in YEARS cuz they updated all the systems a while back and eliminated the need for the burn-off. I *hate*not knowing stuff!
Nathensey took some more nice pix on their way out as I rode the monorail back to Bay Lake Tower.
When I got back to the room, I guess I thought our hilariously empty refrigerator needed to be documented.
And then I decided, heck, I may not be able to sit in a bubble bath and watch the Wishes fireworks show through our bedroom window, but I could sure as heck sit in a bubble bath and eat a Mickey bar! And so I did.