Our First Trip to WDW Together

Walt says to remember that “it all started with a Mouse.” Well, for two4disney, everything that happened after all started with our first trip to Walt Disney World as a couple in 1999. This is that report.

Where: Walt Disney World
When: May 22-29, 1999
Who: Rich and Kathy
Resort: The Yacht Club

Day 1

Fly to Orlando

We used some of our United Airlines frequent flyer miles to get first-class tickets on a direct flight to Orlando (MCO) from San Francisco (SFO). First class was great – they fed us all the way across the country. Our flight left SFO at 2:10pm PDT and arrived in Orlando at 10pm EDT. We were picked up at the airport by a Transtar Towncar driver. Apparently there was a problem with the towncar, so we got a private ride in a mini-bus instead.

We arrived at the Walt Disney World (WDW) Yacht Club at 11pm EDT and checked in. We finally hit the sack around midnight.

Day 2

Magic Kingdom

We got up early and took a WDW bus over to the Magic Kingdom (MK). This park is the closest thing to Disneyland (DL). Many of the same rides are here, although there are differences.

We stopped off at the Main Street Bakeshop for pastries and coffee. When the park opened at 9am, we headed to Tomorrowland.

Tomorrowland: We had hoped to ride one of our favorites, the Carousel of Progress, first. But it didn’t open until 11am. So, we rode the People Mover instead. This ride is no longer at Disneyland (replaced by Rocket Rods). Then, we walked over to Adventureland.

Adventureland: Here we rode Pirates of the Caribbean (Rich’s favorite ride at DL). The Disneyland version is much better.

Frontierland: Splash Mountain was our first ride here. That was fun. Much better than the Disneyland version – we got to ride side-by-side and it was a longer ride. We still got wet, but it was refreshing with the warm temperatures and high humidity. Then we visited the Country Bear Jamboree. They showed the original version of the show which was great to see. Disneyland shows the vacation or holiday version (depending on the time of year). Then we did one of Kathy’s favorites – the Frontierland Shooting Gallery. She’s a real sharpshooter, hitting 100% of her shots!

Liberty Square: We visited the Haunted Mansion. The main difference here was the façade – a federal style brick building in WDW, a white-column Southern mansion in DL.

Fantasyland: We took the Skyway to Tomorrowland.

Tomorrowland: We finally got to ride the Carousel of Progress (CoP). This was terrific! Rich first saw this at the 1964 NY World’s Fair and Kathy grew up seeing it at DL. DL no longer has the CoP. We’re still singing the theme song, “It’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.”

Main Street USA: We had lunch at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant, themed from the movie “Lady and the Tramp.”

Yacht Club

We took the bus back to our resort and went swimming in the Stormalong Bay pool complex, which is shared by the Yacht Club and the adjoining Beach Club. The water was the perfect temperature.

Epcot – World Showcase

We had 8pm dinner reservations at the San Angel Inn in the Mexico pavilion in the World Showcase section of Epcot. So, we walked to World Showcase from the Yacht Club. We took a walk through several of the other country pavilions on our way to Mexico. Inside the Mexico pavilion, we rode the El Rio del Tiempo boat ride which passes by the diners at the San Angel Inn restaurant. The set up here is similar to the Blue Bayou/Pirates of the Caribbean at DL.

After a delicious Mexican meal, we walked over to the Boardwalk during the Illuminations fireworks show. The Boardwalk is themed like the Atlantic City boardwalk of the 1920s. Really cool!

Day 3

Yacht Club

We had breakfast at the Yacht Club Galley. Rich had the Mickey waffle with strawberries and cream. The bottomless glasses of fresh Florida orange juice were wonderful. After breakfast, we took a boat from the Yacht Club boat dock to the International Gateway in World Showcase.

Epcot – Future World

We arrived at Future World at opening, 9am. We walked through World Showcase and into the back entrance of Future World.

Universe of Energy: Rode Ellen’s Energy Adventure, a combination of film and back-to-the-dinosaur-era ride. It was pretty cool – the theater seats turn into ride vehicles.

Spaceship Earth: Rode through the geosphere for a look at the history and future of communications.

The Living Seas: Rode through an underwater coral reef.

The Land: Rode Living with the Land, a ride showing futuristic ways of growing food using non-traditional methods.

Epcot – World Showcase

During the month of May, Epcot was having the International Flower and Garden Festival. Consequently, there were many beautiful flowers to see. After wandering through several floral exhibits, we walked through the United Kingdom and Canada pavilions.

Yacht Club

We ate lunch at the Beaches and Cream soda shop.

Wilderness Lodge

In the evening, we took a couple of buses (a 1 hour ride) over to the Wilderness Lodge resort, modeled after National Park lodges. We had a wonderful dinner at the Artist Point restaurant.

I had the amazing Smoky Portobello Mushroom soup and Cedar Plan Salmon. Kathy had the Filet Mignon and we both had a glass of Pinot Noir. We were considered ordering the Berry Cobbler. But when our server asked if we’d like to have dessert out on the deck, we say yes. We watched the sun set but then our server suggested after dinner drinks and a cigar for me. The service was superb. This was a wonderfully themed resort and one that we would like to stay at next time.

Day 4

We decided to take a day off from the theme parks and do some resort hopping.

Polynesian Resort

We took the bus to the Magic Kingdom stop and transferred to the monorail which we rode to the Polynesian Resort. We ate breakfast at the Kona Café where we had Auntie Kauai’s Tonga Toast – banana stuffed, cinnamon sugar coated French toast. YUMMY! Kathy remembered it from her first trip to WDW, 17 years ago.

Grand Floridian

After breakfast, we walked along the beach to the Grand Floridian resort. This is modeled after the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, CA.

Contemporary

Then we caught the monorail to the Contemporary resort (sorry Bob and Karen, this place is showing its age – 28 years old). Kathy stayed here on her first trip. We tried to rent a boat here, but they told us that the water level was too low for the type of boat we wanted to rent.

Epcot – World Showcase

We then took the monorail to the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) and transferred to the Epcot monorail. We had lunch at the Cantina de San Angel in the Mexico pavilion. Then on to the Norway pavilion for the Maelstrom boat ride.

We walked through Epcot admiring the many topiaries created for the flower festival. Later that night, we returned to Epcot to have a wonderful Italian dinner at L’Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante. We had delicious authentic Fettucini Alfredo and lasagna – just the way Rich remembered it from growing up in New Jersey. After dinner we strolled through Japan, France, Italy, Germany, and over to the Boardwalk.

Day 5

Animal Kingdom

We got up extra early this morning to get to the 8am opening of Animal Kingdom. It was worth it!

Africa: We went directly to the Africa section to ride the Kilimanjaro Safari ride. This was great! We got to see a lot of live animals from both sides of the open-air safari vehicle. We got lots of pictures too.

Asia: In the Asia section, we rode the Radio Disney River Cruise. Then we walked through the Maharajah Jungle Trek where we saw some tigers.

Yacht Club

In the afternoon, we went swimming and rented an inner tube for floating through the lazy river section of the pool complex. We had lunch at the pool snack bar, Hurricane Hanna’s. Kathy had her favorite shrimp basket.

Downtown Disney

We took the bus to Downtown Disney where we had dinner at the enchanting Rainforest Café. The portions were huge, and the food was delicious. For dessert, we split a piece of luscious Key Lime pie. After dinner, we walked through Pleasure Island and Downtown Disney Westside where Kathy had her first Italian Water Ice. We saw Gloria Estefan’s Bongo’s Cuban Café and another Wildhorse Saloon, modeled after the original in Nashville, Tennessee.

Day 6

Disney-MGM Studios

Hollywood Boulevard: Inside a replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, we rode the Great Movie Ride, a journey into the movies with scenes from famous films.

Mickey Avenue: Took the Studios Backlot Tour with Catastrophe Canyon, New York Street, and the huge costume department.

New York Street: We walked through the façades of the New York City backlot. Then we watched the Muppetvision 3-D/4-D movie. Pretty funny. Sunset Boulevard: We walked through here for a nostalgic look at Orange County, CA produce stands and eateries.

Commissary Lane: We ate lunch at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre where we sat in a car with a drive-in speaker and ate while watching clips of old B sci-fi movie trailers of the 50s. It was a riot. The kitchen looked like a snack bar and some of the waitresses were on roller skates.

Animation Courtyard: Visited the Magic of Disney Animation, a guided tour, behind-the-scenes look at Disney animators in production.

Boardwalk

We ate dinner outside on the Boardwalk at the Big River Grille and Brewing Works. Afterwards, we walked the Boardwalk and visited Atlantic Dance, a 1930s swing club (not very lively at 9pm; must get better later on).

Day 7

Slept in this morning and ate a leisurely breakfast at the Yacht Club Galley. We then headed off to Epcot – World Showcase, which opens at 11am.

Epcot – World Showcase

America: Saw the American Adventure animatronic show and movie.

France: Watched the Impressions de France widescreen movie. Afterwards, we ate some scrumptious
pastries at the Boulangerie Patisserie.

United Kingdom: Took pictures of the Mary Poppins topiary.

Yacht Club

Enjoyed a leisurely swim at the pool complex in the afternoon.

Magic Kingdom

This was our last night, so we thought that we would wrap it up at the Magic Kingdom.

Adventureland: When we arrived, they were all out of Dole pineapple spears, so we enjoyed some tasty Dole pineapple whips instead. Then we watched the updated Enchanted Tiki Room show. Liberty Square: It started pouring down rain (the first real rain of the trip). So, we ran over to the Hall of Presidents and watched that show. The rain kept coming, so we bought some Mickey ponchos, covered ourselves, and ran for the bus.

Yacht Club

Back at our resort, hungry and wet, we discovered that the Yacht Club Galley restaurant was closed because the storm had knocked out the kitchen. Room service was also based in that kitchen, but we managed to order some cold sandwiches from our room.

Day 8

Up at 4:15am. We caught our towncar (a real one this time) at 5:15am and took the 30 minute ride to the Orlando airport. Our flight left promptly at 7am and again we ate our way across the country. The only way to fly! We arrived home at 11am PDT and enjoyed our 3-day weekend. After some reluctance, the cats finally forgave us for leaving them alone with only a petsitter for a week.

About Rich Eckardt

Byzantine Catholic Convert. Knight of Columbus. Celebrant of the Divine Office.