The lead for today’s journal entry? “Best. Anniversary. EVER.” OK, so it’s our only anniversary so far, but I dunno how I’m going to top it next year, short of celebrating at Tokyo DisneySea.
The whole day was filled with surprises for Patrick and nostalgia for me. Of course, it wasn’t until we got back from our trip that I discovered Patrick doesn’t really care about surprises (I know – I think it might be unAmerican too!). Apparently he likes them OK, but he says he’d be just as happy knowing about whatever fun thing I’ve planned, and then I wouldn’t have to stress about keeping a surprise. This has been very hard for me to swallow – I’ve been a surpriser since high school, when (I later learned) all my friends knew that if they were invited to my house sometime around their birthday, they were gonna get a surprise party. (Oops!)
So I guess I am the one who likes to be surprised, but since I am also the one doing the planning, Patrick is the one who gets all the surprises, whether he wants them or not. At least he’s game about it, but now I feel kinda dumb for jumping through all those hoops to keep our anniversary plans secret…
Anyway, it makes a good story!
Anniversary Surprise #1
Following our late-night dessert blowout at T-Rex, we got up at an ungodly hour the next morning and drove to Epcot for the very first Around the World at Epcot Segway tour of the day. I guess getting up that early was the first thing we did that was like on our wedding day.
This was more of a present for Patrick than for me, since he seemed so interested in Segways and had enjoyed the little 5-minute Segway ride you can get if you’re bored enough to go into Innoventions. The part that was for me was to (I hoped) ride into the Morocco Pavilion at precisely the time we’d been married there exactly a year earlier.
We had to drive to Epcot because they have you meet at the front gate, and the International Gateway wasn’t open that early. Just so you know… We waited outside the gate for a bit, and then when everyone arrived, they scanned our passes and sent us to Guest Relations near Spaceship Earth.
We were fortunate to be in a small group of, I think, eight. We all signed legal waivers that said Disney wasn’t responsible if we poked our eye out with the Segway or died of boredom inside Innoventions. Then an older gentleman whose name I forgot (we’ll call him “Chad”) lead us into Innoventions to the Segway demo area. We went inside the, uh, yurt they have there and watched a promo video designed to introduce us to the Segway. It showed scores of smiling white people whizzing around completely flat cities on their Segways. (The video assured us that Segways also have the ability to go up stairs: Simply step off the Segway, grasp the handles, and lug it up the stairs – it’s that easy!)
After the video, we got to pick our helmets from a selection that ranged from dorky to really dorky, but I took consolation in the fact that my head fit into the regular size and I wasn’t forced to choose from the rack labeled “Bobblehead.”
The first half of the tour is devoted to training and practice. We exited the yurt and assembled in the Segway demo area. Chad would show us a sweet move, like how to get on the Segway, and then we’d take turns doing it. Then we’d take turns maneuvering around cones or up a ramp (advanced move: around cones AND up a ramp!)
I was pretty timid at first – I couldn’t seem to balance on the thing, and there was no connection in my mind between the motions you’re supposed to do to make it move or stop and what my brain thought I should do.
But after just a little practice I became more and more confident, and by the end of the tour I was burning rubber! (If by “burning rubber” you mean “straining forward to max out at 5mph”…). It really is intuitive once you stop trying to figure out how to make it do what you want and just sorta do what you want.
Toward the end of the training session we met our tour guide, a verbally efficient guy who spoke in a clipped German accent (we’ll call him “Pablo”). I made my pitch to him about how I hoped we’d make it to Morocco around 9am or so because we’d been married at that time a year ago that day and it would be such a special experience. He just sorta blinked at me and said something like, “We’ll see.”
We were instructed to follow Pablo single-file, like a row of baby ducks. Now there’s a direction Patrick and I can relate to! I fell in line behind a very sweet woman who must make other drivers on the freeway NUTS, because she poked along at the Segway’s slowest speed (-3 mph – in fact, I think she might actually have been going backward) and left a huge gap between herself and the front of the tour. I became pretty frustrated as I watched the tour guide disappear on the horizon – I’m one of those obnoxious people who always has to stand right by a tour guide so I don’t miss anything. So after our first stop, I became the obnoxious person who swooped in directly behind the guide whenever we left for the next destination.
World Showcase was FREEZING. We hadn’t packed anything heavier than a sweatshirt, and boy could we have used some gloves. Patrick and I kept saying, “Thank goodness it wasn’t this cold on our wedding day!” I think our tour may have been cut a little short due to the cold. Or maybe it was due to the guy wiping out on his Segway…. more on that later!
We don’t have any pictures because you can’t hold a camera and the handlebars at the same time (at least not without putting out an eye). So I’ll try to fill in with other pictures from the trip – sorry about the repeats!
First stop, China!
The guide stopped in front of the exit for the Reflections of China movie, and we formed a circle around him to hear what he had to tell us about China. I don’t remember what it was, so it must not have involved cake…
Then he lead us along the path around China’s pond, which seemed like it was made for a Segway.
Then, with squealing tires and revving engines, we roared off to Germany at 5mph!
We circled the wagons again and learned some tidbits about Germany. Because it was his native land, Pablo even cracked a smile!
When we got to Italy, Chad was there setting up some cones around the area familiar to Disney brides as Italy West Plaza. (Brides who have parties there have to pay $$$ for a plant wall to do the same thing as those cones. I guess Chad doesn’t work nights…). This is the one part of the tour where you’re allowed to get off the Segway and/or bust out your freestyle moves, cuz it’s wide and flat and idiot-proof.
Pablo told us we’d have X amount of time (5 or 10 minutes, I think) to take a break or practice or do donuts or whatever, and he offered to take pix of each group with their cameras. I found this quite refreshing, given Disney’s penchant for monetizing everything – I’d expected a PhotoPass photographer to be waiting for us.
I decided to open up the Segway and see what she could do – I didn’t want to get off the dang thing! Picture everybody else in the foreground standing around chatting while in the background I’m whizzing back and forth hollering, “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” “Whooooooooooooooooooooaaaaa!” and “Oh wow, you really CAN make yourself dizzy on this thing…”
Our next stop was America, where we threaded through the tiny formal garden that I didn’t know existed (it’s back by the Kidcot station).
Then it was off to Japan, where we rode up the hill to the seating area for the Yakitori House and back down over the bridge. I was thrilled to see it was right around the time we’d been taking our bridal portraits together in Japan a year earlier.
When we finally rolled into Morocco, I was excited to see that it was right at the time we’d been there for our ceremony. I also found it pretty ironic that a year later, we were actually on the Segway tour I’d feared would ruin our wedding by riding past the ceremony. (It never showed up that day.)
We rode through the pavilion and circled around Pablo just inside the arch. After he told us a little bit about Morocco, he surprised us by announcing to the group that Patrick and I had been married there exactly a year ago. Everybody burst into applause (we seem to have that effect on people.) Then he said, “We don’t usually stop here, but if you would like, you may park your Segways against that wall, and I will take a picture of you in front of the arch.” Cool!!!
As if that weren’t cool enough, when the tour got to France and Pablo asked us if we knew what other monument had been designed by the guy who did the Eiffel Tower, I blurted out the answer, and I was right! (Answer: Albert Falls.)
After we left the main part of France, the Segway tour took us around the pavilion’s IllumiNations viewing terraces, which on Feb. 4, 2008 looked something like this:
All of a sudden, one of our tourmates clipped a planter and totally wiped out! Pablo hopped off his Segway and ran over to the guy exclaiming, “Are you OK?! Do you need medical attention?!” I half expected an army of lawyers to jump out of the bushes. The guy was so embarrassed. He got up and dusted himself and insisted that the only thing hurt was his pride. Eventually he convinced our tour guide that he didn’t need a stretcher, and we all hopped back on our Segways (well, OK, I was the only one who got off mine – but I wanted to be ready for anything!).
From there we went straight back to Innoventions. I don’t know if Pablo cut the tour short on purpose or if the UK and Canada just aren’t part of it. I think he said the paths in the UK were too narrow for Segways. By the time we got to Future World, day guests were in the park, and we got lots of smiles and waves as we cruised by. We returned our Segways to the training area where we’d started, and Pablo gave us each a special pin that you can only get by taking the tour or looking on eBay or trading with Patrick for a Vinylmation pin.
© 2009 The Internets
I was sad to have to get off my Segway. It would be a fabulous way to do the parks (I mean, if Disney didn’t prohibit them). Talk about commando touring! Suddenly, instead of scheming a way to be able to afford DVC, I was trying to figure out how I could get me a Segway!
Anniversary Surprise #2
OK, so this one was more of a nostalgia trip for me than a real shocker for Patrick – I’m pretty sure that when he discovered we were going to take a Friendship Boat from the International Gateway to the BoardWalk he didn’t, like, wet his pants or anything. But I wanted to reminisce about that fun trip from our ceremony to the reception, so we braved the biting cold to sit in the back all by ourselves.
It actually wasn’t too cold on the back of the boat, and it was nice to relive the experience a little. The trip kicked off a couple hours of me giving annoying historical play-by-play for everything we did: “And this is when were took a boat to the BoardWalk with our guests… and this is the staircase we all walked up to get to the lobby… and this is the place where the videographer suggested I strike a clichéd pose in the window and I wouldn’t do it until she told me it would make my waist look small….” etc.
Anniversary Surprise #3
When I first started planning our anniversary, I’d looked into the cost of doing brunch for two at the Attic, which would have been a great follow-up to the Segway tour through Morocco. But the food and beverage minimum at the Attic for a non-wedding event was $3,500 — even I can’t eat that much! My next idea was to have breakfast for dinner during our private IllumiNations party, but that would have been $800 on top of the regular party price because it required setting up an on-site kitchen – yikes!
So in the end, I decided we could get pretty close by having brunch at Spoodles on the BoardWalk, which was also the site of our informal rehearsal brunch the day before the wedding. Again, not a huge surprise, but a fun thing to do. And, hello, Mickey waffles!
We notorious free-water-drinkers splurged on hot chocolate cuz it was so dang cold.
I asked for another sausage and they brought me three! It was almost like eating on a cruise ship….
Anniversary Surprise #4
When my dessert party event planner, Tess, and I had been wrapping up our plans, she said to let her know if there was anything else she could do for us. I got to thinking about the Disney Difference, and it made me bold enough to ask her if she could unlock the Attic for us to take a quick peek on our anniversary. She was more than happy to do it, and we arranged to meet around 11:30am. I had to come up with an elaborate cover story, though, because Patrick would still not know about the dessert party and might wonder who this person was and why she was letting us into the Attic. So I made up a story about how she had helped me do research for the weddings book (which she really has, cuz there’s a part about setting up an anniversary event like our dessert party).
After we waddled outta Spoodles, we had a little time to kill before Anniversary Surprise #4, the peek into the Attic, so we wandered around the BoardWalk Inn. Patrick snapped pictures while I kept up a running narrative of exactly what we’d been doing in each spot a year before….
OK, not really, but Disney wedding ouple Caryn & Mark took wedding pictures at the pool cuz they met when they were lifeguards there! I told this story to the lifeguard at the top of the slide while Patrick took pictures, and she seemed duly impressed. In fact, she may even have leaned over the rail a little to scope out her co-workers….
Another thing we didn’t do on our wedding day:
About this time I realized Tess was texting me to see where we were, so I not so subtly steered Patrick in the direction of the Attic.
We trudged down the 2 1/2-mile hallway…
And when we got there, we discovered…
Anniversary Surprise #5
…Tess had set up brunch for us in the Attic!!!
I was in shock! Here I am complaining about how I have to do all the surprising, and she got me good!
She was standing there with three of the Boardwalk chefs, plus a server and a personal chef to wait on us. I noticed one of the chefs was the guy we did our wedding menu tasting with (and this time he wasn’t on his Crackberry!), and the server had been at our reception! I was so surprised, I don’t remember what anyone said, but I know we thanked them profusely and then Tess introduced us to our server and chef before she and the other chefs left and said to call her if we needed anything. She also said the Attic was not reserved that day and that we could stay as long as we liked!
Now some of you may recall that just five paragraphs ago we were stuffing ourselves silly at Spoodles, and boy oh boy was I sorry now. The chef was set up to cook omelets to order and—oh, the irony—had Mickey waffles with all the fixings!
On top of that, there was a gorgeous display of chocolate-peanut butter candy and a solid white chocolate Tinkerbell waiting for us at our table!
I think there’s an ironic children’s story in here somewhere about gluttony… I was filled with remorse, at any rate—but not too filled for Mickey waffles!
Patrick thought he might be able to squeeze in an omelet.
There was enough food there for 10 people, it seemed, and we encouraged the chef to fix something for himself and our server so it wouldn’t go to waste. (This was the only thing about the experience that was uncomfortable for me – having two people waiting on us who surely could have been doing something more important!)
While we were eating, Tess texted me that our anniversary party at UK Pubside was going to have to be moved inside Rose & Crown due to the cold. Ordinarily I would not have taken this well, but at that moment I was too happy to care…. which may have been the plan, but who cares – free brunch at the Attic!
I had the presence of mind to ask her to have them display our cake on whatever table we got so at least Nathan & Jensey would have something to shoot before we got there.
I felt like I’d returned to Brigadoon – I went running to all the windows and had to look into every corner. I demanded that Patrick take pictures ofeverything so we could remember this special place and this special day, some of which I will bore you with now:
We braved the cold to take a few quick pictures on the patio, and we even did a quick little dance!
Then we dashed back inside and took more pictures.
It was such a trip to be there, and I enjoyed every minute of it—but I missed our wedding guests! Sometimes, for some people who may or may not be me, when you plan the wedding you are mostly focused on getting everything to be exactly as you want it and not so much on what the guests want. Being in the Attic again without them reminded me of the immeasurable love and joy our guests shared with us on our wedding day and showed me how empty (literally and figuratively!) the celebration would have been without them.
Finally, I couldn’t think up any more excuses to stick around. Our server boxed up the candy and ginormous Tinkerbell for us, and I think we grabbed some bottles of water. I tried to take it all in one last time, cuz who knows when we’ll ever get back to the Attic (future Disney brides, I’m looking at you…). I was a little sad when we left Brigadoon, but at least I got to narrate our Friendship Boat trip back to the BoardWalk.
And then, even more exciting, we got to see Cinderella’s Glass Coach in all its glory, complete with nippy ponies!
Now, Patrick really wanted to see the puppets in the Nemo show at Animal Kingdom, and we were running out of time to schedule it into our trip. I have absolutely zero interest in any stage show at WDW, but I knew how much it meant to him and thought maybe I could earn a few more Good Wife points by making time in the schedule for us to see it. It turned out that there was a showing that afternoon, but by the time we got back to our room, we had less than half an hour til it started, and our car was in the parking lot at Epcot!
We dropped our edible loot at the room (this may be how Tink’s wing was broken), dashed down the secret path to the International Gateway and booked it through the park to where Clementine was in the lot. Fortunately, since we’d arrived so early for the Segway tour, she was in the first row.
I decided that I should drop Patrick off so he could run ahead and get seats, so I jumped behind the wheel and put my foot to the floor. Clementine roared to life, accelerating from 0 to 60 in just six minutes! We leaned forward to make her go faster. Fortunately, there’s not a lot of traffic on the roads of WDW, and we were finally starting to figure out where everything is in relation to each other, so we made good time. When we got to Animal Kingdom’s parking lot I frantically cranked down the window and hollered, “Where do we go for drop-offs?!” The woman in the booth told me to follow the white line.
Clementine squealed around the wide curves of the confoundingly far-flung road to the guest parking areas and then careened out of the designated lane to follow the bus path up to the entrance. A CM in a golf cart yelled at us, “You can’t park up there!” as we whizzed by. Clementine screeched to a halt at the entrance and Patrick tumbled out of the passenger seat and took off running. On my way back out of the restricted area I waved merrily at the shouty CM in the golf cart and claimed my rightful parking spot waaaaay out in the boonies.
As I reached the park gate, I got a call from Patrick, who said that he’d managed to be one of the last to enter the theater and they weren’t allowing anyone else inside – YESSSSSSS!!! Suddenly I had at least 45 minutes of free time at Animal Kingdom to do with as I pleased. I was drawing a blank, so the first thing I did was stop at the merchandise cart by the entrance and *finally* buy a pair of gloves cuz it was so dang cold. I should have done this at least 2 days earlier. Then again, the chenille fabric had pretty much disintegrated by the end of the day, so maybe the less time spent wearing them the better.
Then I wandered aimlessly around Discovery Island for a few minutes before realizing I could be riding Everest as many times as I wanted! So I legged it over to Asia and hopped in the longest line I’d ever seen for Everest (cuz we always go first thing in the morning and only use FastPass), where I stood for 5 or 7 minutes before I realized – duh – I could be using the single-rider entrance. Which is all to say that I definitely could have ridden Everest more than four times in a row in the time it took Patrick to watch the Nemo show if I’d been thinking straight.
Still, four times in a row ain’t bad, and it topped the three in a row we managed in September, when a friendly CM showed us inside the control booth and walked us right on the ride. It was fun sitting with different people each time. Twice I went with people speaking another language (fortunately, the language of screams is universal!), and once I went with a newly engaged couple (I sat behind them with Mom). I think the last time I was with one of those thrill-junkie preteens you see riding the E-tickets with friends and no adults in sight.
I was kinda sad when Patrick called to say the show was over and he was on his way, but let’s just keep that between you and me — I have enough Bad Wife points against me as it is….
We had a Hollywood Studios moment and couldn’t think of anything to do, but then Patrick suggested we check out the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Today was a great day to see the tigers. I think maybe they were more active cuz of the cold, and lots of them were hanging out right near the glass.
We think it was getting close to feeding time cuz a few of the tigers were pacing back and forth near the gate. Either that or they were reciting Shakespeare.
It always amazes me how you walk right around the corner from the carnivorous tigers and find cattle hanging out in what looks like it must be the far end of the tiger enclosure.
Either Disney’s fences are really well hidden or these dudes know karate.
After our journey through Asia, we headed back toward the Tree of Life to find a quiet makeout spot – NO! Kidding…. heh heh… we went to take pictures, of course!
At this point we headed out of AK and went back to our room to nap (just like on our wedding day!) and get ready for…. Anniversary Surprise #6!