We started our day at Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s to ride the new Toy Story’s Midway Mania. We got to the park before it opened and there was quite a sizable crowd lined up. The gate opened up and like everyone else we headed to the rope for the official opening of the park. At 9:00am the rope dropped and several hundred people headed for the same location, Toy Story Mania. We got in line and despite the number of people the wait was around 30 minutes. I took a glance at the fast pass sign as we passed and it was already up to 1:00pm. The line for fast pass was growing faster than the stand by line. I have to say this ride went way beyond my expectations. The game is simple, you ride in a car equipped with a gun that uses a pull string instead of a trigger to shoot. The car moves along a track and stops in front of these huge floor to ceiling screens that have a shooting gallery type sets on them. You wear 3D glasses and the depth of the sets is amazing. Your gun shoots different objects depending on the type of game. In one game you shoot darts to pop balloons and in another your gun tosses rings over targets. It is hard to describe but the effect is very smooth and realistic.
Next we headed over to the animation building to see if the new characters from Up were out but they were not due out for another hour so we headed to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The wait for TOT was long at about 30 minutes but we always enjoy this ride. The 13 story drop is always exciting and actually included several drops as the elevator kept dropping us and bringing us back up.
We left the park around noon and headed for our lunch at Raglan Road an Irish pub style restaurant over at Downtown Disney. We were seated in the center main room with a high peeked roof. The room is filled with filtered colored light from the stained glass windows. Kim ordered the fish and chips and I ordered the shepherd’s pie that was made from ground lamb and beef. For an appetizer we ordered the calamari that came in a little fry basket and had some veggies fried along with the tender calamari.
After lunch it was on to the highlight of the day, Characters in Flight. This is often described as a tethered hot air balloon ride but this is incorrect because the balloon is sealed and filled with helium. The ride lasts for about 10 minutes including the time going up and down. On a clear calm day up to 20 people can ride up to 400 feet. I bought a ticket and waited in line. Kim went to wait for me as she did not want to ride. Once we loaded the operator who rides with us told us that once he release the tether the cage will bump as it finds it centering point so encouraged us to hold on until we were clear of the ground. He released the cable lock and we quickly went up about 20 feet and like he said it did bump around a bit. The cage quickly centered and we continued our climb. I was surprised how quickly we went up. Once we at the top the operator told us we could walk around. For the people who were unfamiliar with the area he pointed out where to find landmarks like Epcot’s Spaceship Earth, Contemporary Hotel, Expedition Everest, and Typhoon Lagoon. It was an amazing view and I will definitely go on it again. After about 7 minutes or so we headed back down. Again the operator warned us that as we landed it might be bumpy so he told us to hold on.
After the flight Kim and I went back to the Hotel because Kim had to do some work with her office. It took most of the afternoon and during that time the thunderstorms rolled in. That night we had ADRs at a restaurant in Epcot called Bistro De Paris but it was raining so hard we decided to go to the lobby and cancel it and try to find a meal located in a hotel where we could valet park. We went to the lobby and all we could get was Flying Fish for 8:40. Not the ideal time considering we had not eaten since 11:30am. We stopped at the Beach Club to see if we could get a walk up seating at one of my old favorites, The Cape May Café. I say old favorites because I have been a fan of the Cape May since 1995 but over the years new chefs have come in and tried to either put their stamp on it or perhaps they were trying to make it more profitable. Whatever the reason food items have been removed from the buffet over the last decade that have really turned my off to it. The last thing to go were the buckets. The buckets were used to carry your clams to the table. They were easy to fill and eat from and could hold a lot of clams. The buckets also had a smaller foot print so they took up less room at the table. Two visits ago we were told by our server a new chef was in control of the restaurant and he decided to throw the buckets out because many of them were broken and they were too expensive to replace. The alternative was to use bowls. The bowls had a wide rim that took up a lot of table space and they were not deep enough to hold a lot of clams and it wasn’t as much fun to eat them out of a bowl as it was the buckets. I should mention that years and years ago you used to be able to add a lobster to your dinner for $10.00. After a few years they replaced the lobster with a bucket of crab legs but it was still $10.00. Once the crab legs were removed there were no more add on items, that was the start of the Cap May’s fall from my favorites list. It no longer was a must do every vacation place and became a once in a great while type of place. So to get back to our dinner plans. We went to the check in area and were told they could seat us in 45 minutes. We took a pager and went over to the Beach Club Concierge desk to cancel our Flying Fish reservation.
While we were canceling our reservation our pager went off. Wow only 10 minutes and we are in, let’s eat some clams. So we were greeted by a young man named Andrew, very polite and he takes us to our table. As I am walking past the buffet I see Crab legs. The whole world goes into slow motion, the clamor and din of the restaurant seems to disappear as I focus in on something I see but don’t believe. “Did I just see crab legs on the buffet?” I think to myself “perhaps I am seeing things”. We get to our seat and Andrew is saying something but all I am hearing is blab la blah blah…my mind is racing “wow are there really crab legs OK relax take a deep breath, The world starts to speed up to normal and my hearing and focus slowly recovers. I look at Kim and say “HOLY S*** DID YOU SEE CRAB LEGS” seeing my excitement she says yes it looks like they have them again. I am now as giddy as a school girl “oh look they got the buckets back!” I now can hear a singing chorus of angles from heaven as a warm yellow beam of light surrounds me.
I could hardly contain myself. I was overwhelmed and about to pass out when our server came over. Our server was Roger. We have had him before many years ago. I told him how happy I was to see that the buckets were back and that crab legs had returned. He told us that the crab legs started this week and that they are testing them. He jokingly suggested celebrating with a drink and both Kim and I thought that would be appropriate so Kim ordered a Glow –tini and I had the first of my new favorite drink the Magical Star. When he returned with our drinks I asked him what that meant by testing and he said they will see if the guests like them and if they are cost effective. I was so enthusiastic that he brought the manager to our table so I could tell her how pleased I was.
During our dinner I learned Roger had been working for Walt Disney World since it opened. Kim asked him where he was from knowing that the Beach Club did not open until December 1991. He told us that prior to working at the Beach Club he worked at the Top of the World restaurant located at the top of the Contemporary Hotel before it became the California Grill. Now for Disney World Geeks like me this is huge. The Top of the World was the premier location in Walt Disney World. It had a dinner show that would feature big stars from time to time. Another thing about the restaurant was that all the stars would dine there. This was back when there were only the 2 hotels, the Polynesian Village and the Contemporary . He told us about meeting Charlton Hesston, and Dom Deluise. Anyway it was great to talk to somebody who worked at that place when it was in its hay day. I have to say this dinner was a surprise that made the day really special. I hope the crab legs stay and the buckets never get thrown out again.
After dinner it was still raining so Kim and I went to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We went up to the room to drop off our stuff and went to the bar to have a nightcap. I ordered another Magical Star.