Leaving Fort Wilderness

Sunday March 31st 2019

Today was a travel day. My eight nights at Disney’s Fort Wilderness were over. As seems to be the norm for a travel day it was unusually warm. The temperature peaked in the high eighties. Packing up and getting ready to travel was a sweat inducing effort interrupted by a long walk. I had to move my car up to the overflow parking lot before I left my site. The buses weren’t cooperating time wise, so I walked back. Hooking up the car to be towed in the overflow parking lot doesn’t get in as many peoples way as it would in the camping loops.

Blossom of the day.

As usual I enjoyed my stay at Fort Wilderness. It’s a nice campground with entertainment in the campground and the theme parks. This time around I was annoyed by the bus transportation system and the multitude of golf carts. The 1900 loop in the park where I was staying is serviced by the Yellow bus route. For some reason the Yellow bus also leaves the campground and goes to the Wilderness lodge. I rarely saw anyone on the bus going to the lodge. Most people take the boat from the marina to the lodge. The long run to the Wilderness lodge makes the time between buses very long and they only have two buses in play at a time. The other bus routes in the park have more stops, but they are all within the park.

Horse (or pony) drawn cart passing in front of my site as I packed up this morning.

The golf cart situation is out of control. Probably because of the unpredictable bus schedules, many people use golf carts. Some bring their own, some rent in the park and others rent from third party vendors. The overflow parking area is full of empty trailers used to bring the golf carts to Fort Wilderness. The golf carts are supposed to stay under 20mph, be driven by licensed drivers and follow all rule of the road. I saw a couple of golf cart drag races and lots of kids driving, usually with a parent present. These all are on the main roads of the resort that have pedestrians, bicyclists, cars, RVs, park buses and horse drawn vehicles on them. At night it gets worse. During the day most of the carts are parked near the buses and boats to the theme parks, but at night they are all active. Golf Cart cruising seems to be a popular night time activity. The head lights on many of the golf carts are aimed high and do a good job of blinding you as you try to get out of the way.

Site 31 at the Orlando Southwest KOA.

I moved less than a dozen miles today. I’m at the Southwest Orlando KOA for the next three nights while I figure out where I’m going next. I want to stay in Florida another month. With the snowbird season winding down it is much easier to find places to stay. I just have to pick some place and make a reservation.

A Little More EPCOT and Animal Kingdom Park

Saturday March 30th 2019

I got another slow start to the day. The temperature this morning was around sixty. I just didn’t want to get out of the nice warm bed. The temperature warmed up quickly. It was in the low eighties before it started to cool off again.

For exercise this afternoon, I walked up to the Outpost Bus Depot and caught a bus to EPCOT. I walked around the world showcase looking for topiaries I hadn’t seen yet. At the International Gateway entrance, I left EPCOT and walked to the Boardwalk Resort. From the Boardwalk I caught a bus to Animal Kingdom to take another safari ride. It was advertised as a seventy five minute wait, but it was less than an hour. There were a number of different animals visible this afternoon.

Another bus ride brought me back to the Fort Wilderness Outpost. Once again I had to walk back to my site. The internal bus timing was terrible. Pictures from today’s exercise session follow.

A Morning at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Friday March 29th 2019

This blog entry is mostly pictures.

I finally made it to Disney’s Animal Kingdom this morning. I didn’t get as early a start as I planned, but I was in line for the Kilimanjaro Safari by 9:30. I saw a lot of animals, but my position in the safari vehicle made it hard to take some pictures. After the safari I did the Gorilla Falls walking trail and the Jungle Trek to see the tigers. I also walked around the entire park. I wasn’t in the mood for shows or long waits for the other rides, so I was off to Disney Springs by noon.

Tonight I went back to the beach on Bay Lake to watch the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom.

Domestic Chores get in the way of Theme Park Visits

Thursday March 28th 2019

Morning arrived too quickly today and it was 9AM when I made that determination. Last nights visit to Hollywood Studios in the cold weather seemed to require a full nights sleep to overcome. Once again my late start to the day changed my plans to visit the Animal Kingdom Park.

Blossom of the day.

Another random thing contributing to a change in plans was my phone. It was dead this morning. The battery is getting old. Once it gets close to a quarter charge it drops to zero in an instant. On top of that, the power connection is loose. If I’m not careful the slightest vibration can break the connection to the charger. Being one of the millions of technology dependent people of this age, not having a functioning phone is cause for a change in plans.

Arriving from the barn for “hay” rides.

While my phone charged I turned to domestic chores. The sink had an accumulation of dirty dishes to wash and the laundry was long overdue. Everyone of the comfort stations in Fort Wilderness has a laundry with six washers and six driers. They seem to be very busy in the late evening and early morning, but during the day I didn’t have any competition. As with anything Disney, they aren’t cheap. It cost three dollars for each washer load and another three dollars for the driers. The fees are collected with a high tech central credit card reader. Disney probably wants you to save your quarters for all the fifty one cent penny presses.

For the individual rides.

Once my chores were finished and my phone was charged I took a long bicycle ride around Fort Wilderness. The work on the new Reflections Resort that is replacing the old River Country water park is moving right along. The area around the barnyard, behind Pioneer Hall, is getting used for construction worker parking. The bus routes that were going along the road from the Settlement to the Wilderness lodge were changed on Monday. That road is now part of the construction zone. All of the internal buses are going up and down the two main campground roads. All of the buses that leave the park leave via the main entrance. The actual staging area for the construction project is way out on the old airstrip near the Magic Kingdom Parking lot. Things are going to be different for the few years of construction. Hopefully the new resort will not be an invasive presence in Fort Wilderness when it is finished.

Some Time at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Wednesday March 27th 2019

The good news is I got up early. The bad news is heavy rain on the roof woke me up. Something the weather forecasters called a Florida Nor’easter formed off the east coast of Florida overnight. This morning around seven thunder started to punctuate the morning quiet and heavy rain soon followed. Some of the areas a little east of here got unusually big quarter size hail. The rain continued hard until shortly before eleven.

This Azalea blossom is my blossom of he day.

Going to the Animal Kingdom the first thing in the morning was not practical. Not only would I get soaked, but there was no guarantee that the animals would be out to see. Instead I waited for the rain to let up then went out for groceries. I was getting low on sandwich materials, orange juice and non frozen meats. Leaving the Disney cocoon for a little while is an interesting reminder there is a real world out there.

The new Skyliner transportation system is in testing outside the Hollywood Studios for an opening later this year.

Around 3PM I grabbed a bus from the campground to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This is the park I’ve always liked the least. It has undergone extensive changes since my last visit in December of 2016. Toy Story land has opened and lots of changes are in progress for the new Star Wars land to open later this year. There are some areas of the park that I didn’t recognize after all the changes. Toy story land was interesting, but neither of the two new attractions are ones I’m likely to ride. The Slinky Dog Dash Roller Coaster and Alien Swirling Saucers are both very motion sickness inducing. Even the existing Toy Story Mania ride leaves me a little queasy. The bottom line is Hollywood Studios is still my forth favorite at Disney World and I suspect that the Star Wars land won’t change my opinion.

A Sorcerer Mickey topiary is at the entrance to the Hollywood Studios.

My first experience at the park today was the Beauty and the Beast show. I was just in time to get a seat for the 4PM show. The singing, talented dancing and abbreviated story overcome the super sappy musical aspect of the show. After the musical show, it was time for an action show. I made it across the park in time to get one of the last seats for the 5PM Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular which was as good as ever. I’ve read rumors that the show is going to get updated to remove some of the working move set theme, but I continue to enjoy it the way it is now. Next up was another show, Muppet Vision 3D. I was one of the last in to this show as well. In my hast I forgot to pick up my 3D glasses. Other than blurry double images it was still a good show.

Woody welcomes visitors to Toy Story Land.

After the Muppets, I slowed down a little. I took time out for some supper at the ABC Commissary. I had the Land and Sea dinner which was about average for theme park food. It served its purpose, a little nutrition and some time killed. The idea was to survive in the park until the night time show at the 9PM closing time.

Buzz Light Year guards the inside of Toy Story Land.

Next up was an exploration of the new Toy Story land. It’s very colorful and adorned with oversize kids toys from the last century. I know a lot of the toys are still around today, but I don’t think they are the center of a kids toy collection in this era. For example, Tinkertoys are probably behind Legos in popularity, but Disney couldn’t emphasize the competition. Checking out the attractions, didn’t excite me to a level that I was willing to risk motion sickness. Plenty of other people were taking the risk. The wait for the roller coaster was over an hour. I chose to ride Toy Story Mania which I’ve ridden before. It also had over an hour wait time.

Mr. Potato Head entertains the long queue for Toy Story Mania.

When I came out of the ride it was almost eight. The sun was down and a strong wind was blowing. It was getting very cold and uncomfortable. All of the shows that have human actors close at 6PM. That leaves the “thrill” rides which aren’t for me. I could only stay warm so long before I gave up the wait and headed for the bus. I caught some of the early part of the show which displayed scenes from movies on the side of the Chinese Theater building. I saw the pyrotechnics that followed from the bus stop. I wasn’t impressed. Heading for the warmth of the bus early was the right decision. The fireworks at the Magic Kingdom remain my favorite followed by EPCOT’s illuminations.

EPCOT Topiaries

Tuesday March 26th 2019

I got a late start this morning. It took the noise of my neighbor preparing to leave to wake me up this morning. My original plan was to start the day at the Animal Kingdom to see the animals when they are the most active, but I slept through the required 8AM departure.

Blossom of the day.

My modified day consisted of a bike ride around the campground this morning with a visit to EPCOT finishing off the day. After lunch I left the campground bound for the Animal Kingdom Lodge to at least get a few animal sightings in today. I saw Roan Antelope and Zebra in the compound behind the lodge this afternoon. The bus to EPCOT from the Animal Kingdom Lodge got me to EPCOT at 3:30. It was a little earlier than I had planned. My first FastPass wasn’t until 5:10PM. I visited some of the attractions with shorter stand-by times and wandered around taking pictures of the topiaries. The Disney horticulturists really go all out creating and maintaining the topiaries for the International Flower and Garden Festival.

Zebras and Roan Antelope at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

I finished my afternoon and evening at EPCOT with a FastPass to the prime Illuminations viewing area. The sectioned off area at the entrance to the World Showcase gives a front and center view of the action on the lagoon and in the sky above. This will probably be my last time viewing Illuminations. The show will end this summer. A temporary fireworks show is scheduled to replace it for a year or so while a new elaborate show is built.

A Magical Time at the Magic Kingdom

Monday March 25th 2019

After breakfast this morning I road my bicycle around the camping loops in Fort Wilderness. My goal was to get some exercise before the heat of the day. The temperature started in the sixties under partly cloudy skies and climbed into the low eighties as the day progressed.

The blossom of the day.

After lunch I headed down to Bay Lake to catch the launch to the Magic Kingdom. Boat traffic from Fort Wilderness and the Wilderness Lodge to the Magic Kingdom is a little bit make shift right now. They are down at least one big launch and are using smaller craft and multi-stop routes. I got to the Magic Kingdom a little after 2PM on a boat that had to stop at the Wilderness Lodge on the way to the park.

My plan for the afternoon was to watch the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade and to see a few attractions. The crowds were already gathering along main street for the 3PM parade when I entered the park. I spent a lot of time in the shops to kill time before the parade. Eventually I reached the hub area in front of the castle and waited with everyone else for the parade. The people watching was entertaining. The frazzled parents of kids that were burnt out from a hard day at the park were plentiful, but there were also many happy clans of extended families all dressed alike.

When the parade finally arrived my view was of the top halves of the floats. I was about fifty feet back from the parade route. The area between my location and the parade route was packed with people. I did OK identifying most of the characters on the floats, but a couple were total mysteries.

After the parade I watched/road the Carousel of Progress show. I’ve always enjoyed this attraction since I first saw it at the New York Worlds Fair in 1965. It’s now a pure history lesson since it only covers the twentieth century. Everything in the last scene that was supposed to represent the future has already happened.

A Great Egret in the middle of everything looking for dropped food.
A Great Egret launching from the top of an umbrella.

By the time I was finished with the Carousel of Progress my first FastPass time had arrived. I walked over to the Buzz Light Year Space Ranger Spin ride. The line at the FastPass entrance was longer than I’m used to seeing in the Standby line during the slower seasons that I usually visit the park. The FastPass line moves quickly and is much shorter than the Standby line, so there are still plenty of advantages to FastPass. I found a similar story at my second FastPass attraction the Haunted Mansion. The line to reach the FastPase entrance was two or three hundred feet long.

The Muppets telling the story of Paul Revere and how the nation was born.
A lot of people were riding the recently overhauled river boat.

After four hours in the park my tolerance for the crowds was diminishing and my hunger was increasing. The simple cure was to head back to my campsite for supper.

A Little Bit of EPCOT in My Day

Sunday March 24th 2019

It was a nice day with a few high clouds to block the sun from time to time. The temperature was around eighty in the afternoon after a slow start from around sixty degrees overnight.

Night Heron having a little lunch.
Even the bushes have blossoms.

I spent a lazy day wandering around Walt Disney World on the transportation system. I started with a short boat ride to the Wilderness Lodge and continued on from there on a bus followed by a couple of monorail rides and another boat back to Fort Wilderness. The only actual park time I spent was a couple of hours in EPCOT.

Blossom of the day,

The crowds today reflected the volume you’d expect for a Sunday in Spring Break season. It seemed to be very busy. The few wait times I saw at EPCOT were close to an hour for rides that usually move quickly like Space Ship Earth. I didn’t even check the rides that usually have long waits. The only attraction I visited was the Disney Pixar Short film theater. I’m not sure I’ve been in the theater since the “Honey I Shrunk the Audience” show ended years ago. Today I saw three short films that were really fun.

My real attraction to EPCOT this time of year is the International Flower and Garden Festival. The flowers, gardens and topiaries are beautiful. They make the park very bright and cheerful. I wandered around Future World checking out all the colorful plantings. I’ll be back a couple of more times this week to see more of the festival and watch some of the entertainment.

Tonight I returned to the Bay Lake beach in the campground to watch the fireworks. I didn’t take any pictures tonight, but watched the show more closely. There are some very remarkable firework shells. When the music and narration talks about love, the fireworks are in the shape of hearts. Similarly, when the bells are ringing, the fireworks are bell shaped. The view from the beach of the aerial bursts is terrific. It is a much calmer way to watch the fireworks than inside the Magic Kingdom. Last January I had that experience and had to fight my way out of the park after the show.

Travel Day to Fort Wilderness

Saturday March 23rd 2019

I was packed up with the car hitched up by 11AM. The next three hours were a battle with Florida traffic going a little over 100 miles on Interstate 75 and Interstate 4. The volume of traffic is so great that any little problem causes a backup. When you combine the four or five areas of congestion, I had more than twenty miles of ten to twenty mile per hour travel.

I arrived at Disney’s Fort Wilderness campground between 2 and 2:30pm. After check-in I dropped my car off in the overflow parking area. There isn’t enough room to unhitch the car in the camping loops. I have a full hook-up site in loop 1900. This is the lowest category of full hookup site and it is still costing me more than I’ve ever paid at Disney before. I must have been feeling rich or demented when I booked this site for the next eight days. This site costs significantly more per night than I spent for a week in the Big Cypress National Preserve earlier in the month.

Site 1919 at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground.

Once I was set up and had an early supper, I road my bicycle around some of the campground. The bike was doing a little complaining. I need to check the adjustments on the bicycle gears and lubricate it some. The bike is going to be an important means of transportation. This site is a long distance from most of the campground amenities and I don’t have a golf cart like many of my neighbors. Waiting for the bus transportation may get old fast. I waited over twenty minutes for the bus back to the overflow parking lot to retrieve my car.

Blossom of the day.

Tonight, before I sat down to write this blog entry, I went down to the shores of Bay Lake to watch the Happily Ever After Fireworks display across the water at the Magic Kingdom. Here are some pictures I took.

Pirates vs Rays in Port Charlotte

Friday March 22nd 2019

Today’s weather was a copy of Thursday. It was sunny with a high around seventy and a north wind. When you were sheltered from the wind it was a great day. In the shade and wind it was a little chilly.

My marathon of Spring Training games came to an end today with the Pirates versus the Rays in Port Charlotte. This was my sixth game in eight days. It would have been eight in eight days if two games hadn’t been rained out. Next year I plan to be in the Phoenix area for the entire month of March. I’ll try to do more games spread out over a longer period of time. Watching a baseball game at the stadium is so much better than watching on TV. At the stadium you get to see all the nuances of the game. On TV the broadcast focus is on the position of the pitch in the strike zone while ignoring the players on the field. Watching all the defensive shifts and other action on the field is only possible at the game. Plus, there is also all the bizarre behavior of the people in the stands.

Rays at bat against the Pirates at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte.

Today’s game between the Pirates and the Rays was slow. Both teams were changing pitchers in the middle of the inning and there were a lot of base runners. The score wasn’t high because they were leaving runners on base most innings. The end result was a Rays victory.

Tomorrow I’m moving on. I’ll be staying for a week at Disney’s Fort Wilderness. It is a little over one hundred miles from here. My plan is to leave here around 11AM. Hopefully, my site will be available when I get to the Fort.

This alligator beside the drainage pond at the Charlotte Sports park was getting as much attention as the game.