Day 5: Animal Kingdom & Studios
Day five of our trip, Thursday, started off with a little extra sleep, then a Quick Service breakfast at the Roaring Fork Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge.
After a hearty breakfast, we meandered to the bus stop and caught the next bus to Animal Kingdom. Since we had experienced Expedition Everest, Dinosaur and It’s Tough to Be a Bug during EMH on Wednesday night, we went straight to the Safari and walked right onto a jeep.
We strolled around the park and took some more pics for our new site. We’d pretty much seen and done everything we cared to do at Animal Kingdom, so we took a bus to the Beach Club Resort where we snapped a few photos and took a leisurely walk along the waterfront to the International Gateway – the back entrance to Epcot.
We finally got to see the American Adventure – which we missed earlier in the week due to technical difficulties. It’s such an amazing show, and really brings out the patriotism in every American.
That’s all we needed to do in Epcot, so we grabbed a pastry in France – using our snack credits – headed back out the International Gateway and took the boat to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We were supposed to meet up with some of our extended family (aunt, uncle, cousins) who were visiting WDW the same week we were, but we were running behind and only had the opportunity to greet them outside the Tower of Terror and watch the Pixar Pals parade with them.
Then it was time for dinner at Mama Melrose’s. After being seated 25 minutes after our reservation time, it took another 30 minutes to get our appetizers, and another hour before we actually left the restaurant. 2 hours for one table service meal is unacceptable. After noticing that the managers were serving other tables and food was coming out for tables that were sat after us, we asked our server what the problem was – and I told him to be honest. His response was “they overbooked us”. I chalk it up to poor management.
There was an incident in the restaurant while we were there, which was unrelated to the terribly slow service. It happened at the table next to us, so we were able to eavesdrop on the entire event. Supposedly, a woman who has been a vegetarian all of her life ordered a dish and asked for NO CHICKEN. The dish came out without chicken, but still included the pancetta (tiny pieces of ham) – since she didn’t specifically tell them she was a vegetarian, just that she didn’t want the chicken.
Well, when she discovered that there was ham in her dinner, and that she’d probably eaten a piece, it became quite an ordeal (resulting in tears and what appeared to be a panic attack). Over the course of an hour (or more), she and her mother were visited by the chef, the restaurant manager, Disney security, Reedy Creek paramedics and – most importantly – the Area Manager for that “zone” of the Studios. His job is to make guests happy, and that’s what he did. She left in a wheelchair, but also had a huge sack of food and more Fastpasses and Gift Cards that one can possibly imagine.
We caught up with that Area Manager (who shall remain nameless) after we escaped the restaurant. He was visiting with guests outside the currently-under-refurbishment Star Tours. My brother is a manager at a major chain restaurant, and wanted to let the guy know how impressed we were with how he handled the situation, but to also let him know about the poor service at Mama Melrose that evening. My brother gave him some suggestions based on his observations of how the entire restaurant was managed that night, and the Area Manager seemed genuinely appreciative of our compliments and CONSTRUCTIVE criticism.
In exchange, he offered us a handful of Fastpasses for Toy Story Mania, Rock’n Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. We promptly used the ones for RnRC and Tower, and probably set a record for experiencing the Studio’s three headliner attractions in the last few hours of the night.
We had dined at Mama Melrose using the Fantasmic Dinner Package. This gave us vouchers to show up for the 7:30 Fantasmic show at 7:00, enter through a side entrance, and sit in a reserved area of the stadium. We highly recommend this package, just not at Mama Melrose.
The show was as fantastic as always, but I think much of the crew members were “earning their ears” because there were a number of technical errors. 99% of the guests probably didn’t notice, but I’ve seen the show a number of times, have the music memorized, and have a background in technical theater. Sometimes I wish I could just turn my brain off and enjoy things like normal guests.
After Fantasmic, we took a spin on Toy Story Mania one last time, bypassing all the poor souls in the 60-minute standby line with our Fastpasses. It was a tiny moment of glory. After that, my brother and sis-in-law called it quits and headed to Downtown Disney to do some shopping. Kayla and I hit the Tower, which was literally walk-on. We walked right to the library two times in a row, watched the pre-show, and headed into the boiler room.
It was time to head back to the resort. We did some laundry and hit the sack.