Florida 2012 Journal – Our Final Day at Disney & our Private Illuminations Cruise
February 29th, 2012 by Jessica

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Our Final Day at Disney & our Private Illuminations Cruise

Finally… a day we could sleep in!  It was the first time in 8 days that we didn’t have to get up early for some activity, and the day before we were awoken by my niece Rachel’s butt.

But… it was not to be.  Pun intended. We woke up to Rachel texting me, apologizing for her embarrassing butt call the day before.  C‘est la vie, eh?

View from the Yellowstone Suite

View from the Yellowstone Suite

We packed up all of our suitcases and our massive amount of souvenirs.  Andrew did most of the packing, to be honest.  I did a lot of supervising the process.  I do remember thinking that we were definitely going to miss our beautiful view of the pool and Bay Lake.  We straightened out our bills for the Segway tour, the Seeds tour and a bunch of other incorrect charges with the concierge staff.  I grabbed a fresh copy of each of the park maps for keepsakes from the lobby and packed them away.

We discovered during our packing that one of the Mickey and Minnie photo ornaments we purchased were missing something – Mickey and Minnie’s noses!  The tiny microscopic noses had broken off and through some incredible miracle, Andrew found them on the granite counter top.  I have no idea how he saw them, because the granite was black and the noses were black, but he did.  The concierge gave me a piece of tape and we taped them onto the back of the ornament to be repaired when we got home.

Yellowstone Suite Balconies from the Pool

Yellowstone Suite Balconies from the Pool

We sat down for breakfast at the concierge on the 7th floor and enjoyed a little peace and quiet.  We had done so many scheduled character breakfasts that it was nice to just sit and relax for a bit.  Somewhere along the way I lost my tan scrunchie and since we had planned to go parasailing that morning, I forked out $4 for a Minnie Mouse hair tie at the gift shop.  I confirmed with the concierge that the parasailing would definitely be happening that day because we were afraid it was too windy.  The concierge staff called the Contemporary and they said we were good to go.  We took the water taxi over to the Contemporary Resort and approached Sammy Duvalls, a bit nervous to get out on Bay Lake.  Once we checked in, we were told that we had reserved a personal watercraft and were not signed up for parasailing.  I pulled out the confirmation card and yes indeed, the Wilderness Lodge concierge had booked the wrong activity.  The staff at Sammy Duvalls said that we couldn’t parasail anyway because it was too windy outside.

For reals?  The concierge not only mis-booked us, but then they mis-informed us by saying Sammy Duvalls was going to fly that morning.  We were very disappointed.  The staff there was very kind, offering to call us later in the day if the wind died down enough and they would take us flying.  I declined politely.  In my head, if this many obstacles get in the way of me flying over a lake, maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.

We had another breakfast at the Contempo Café where touch screens were the primary method of ordering, but then we waited for our food incorrectly.  We didn’t realize you’re supposed to pay for your food first, then get a pager, then come back for your food later.  The system is not very user friendly, even with touch-screen self service ordering.

The Monorail transported us to the Transportation Ticketing Center (TTC) after breakfast where we switched to the other Monorail and went back to Epcot for the day.  I decided upon entering Epcot that I wanted a locker for the day to hold our jackets which we only had because we thought we would be on the lake for several hours.  The lockers, well worth the price, were just $7 for the day plus a $5 deposit.  We stored our stuff and started in on another day at Epcot.

Our first stop was fast passes for Soarin’.  We then tried to use the Instant Fast Passes that we had received as an incentive for attending the Disney Vacation Club open house, but they had already expired.  It says on the back they had to be used within 3 days of attending the open house, and this was day 4 so we were out of luck.

Sum of All Thrills ride at Epcot

Sum of All Thrills ride at Epcot

We rode the Imagination Ride and I finally got to experience Figment as a Disney character.  This was my fourth trip to Walt Disney World and the first time I had ever been on the ride.  We then sat through the 12 minute Stormstruck interactive film which was incredibly stupid, although that may have been primarily due to our tour guide who was in training and couldn’t remember what she was supposed to say most of the time.  We noticed an extraordinary amount of Cast Members throughout our stay that were Earning their Ears, which means they were new employees.  One Cast Member told us that over the Christmas holiday, many employees get burned out and quit so they end up with a lot of new employees in January.

We went back over to Innoventions where Andrew got to design his own ride on the Sum of All Thrills.  It’s a spinning simulator where you get to choose how your ride will move and how you experience it.  He really enjoyed the experience.

Lunch was at the Seasons Café at The Land.  Once again, the cast member had no idea how to ring up the Platinum Plan.  He ended up charging me for the food.  He was still Earning his Ears like everyone else seemed to be, so I asked him to call the manager over.  Once the manager came, he took a look at my Key to the World gold card that clearly says PLATINUM PLAN on the front, and immediately got flustered.  “Oh I’m so sorry ma’am, we so rarely see this plan, I don’t think I’ve seen this for several months now.”  I replied to him, “I understand sir, but I paid $15k for this trip and all I want is some café chicken for lunch.”  He quickly fixed the error and sent us on our way.

Ice Cream from Beaches and Cream at the Boardwalk

Ice Cream from Beaches and Cream at the Boardwalk

By the time we finished lunch we were exhausted and pretty much done with Disney.  We were struggling to find stuff to do in the crowds of Brazilian tourists.  Apparently not only was it a Brazilian holiday, but we were told that the state of Florida has some kind of agreement with the government in Brazil to allow the citizens to come to Florida for longer vacations than they can do anywhere else in the world.  There were flocks of tour groups from Brazil all over the park, always chanting and screaming at each other.  Thirty here, thirty there, thirty behind them, and thirty more coming.  There were literally thousands and thousands of people speaking Portuguese from Brazil.  It was really too much for us to handle by this point.

Andrew decided to go through the single rider line for Test Track.  I was done with rides.  I was still sick to my stomach and had never recovered after Mission Space Barf – I mean Orange – and didn’t feel like pressing my luck any further.  Andrew rode the dreaded Mission Space Orange one more time while I went over to the Epcot Character Spot to meet Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and Donald Duck.

We joined up again after that to ride Soarin’ with our fast passes.  Then it was off to ride Spaceship Earth and send a postcard from the future to ourselves.  Then we messed around in Innoventions and played a 3D surgeon game.  We looked at our Epcot Legacy Tile one last time, then hopped on the bus back to the Wilderness Lodge.

View from the Illuminations Cruise at Epcot

View from the Illuminations Cruise at Epcot

We ordered pizza from in-room dining with a Caesar salad, a cheese and fruit plate, iced tea, Coke, a slice of chocolate “moose” cake, apple upside down cake and our order came with two whole pints of vanilla Häagen-Dazs ice cream.  Two whole pints?  We didn’t even have room to touch them.

After dinner we took the bus to the Yacht Club and went shopping for a while.  I was done with all of my pins by this point so I couldn’t trade with anyone.  We got two double waffle ice cream cones at Beaches and Cream which were delicious, and only cost two snack points.  By then it was 8:00pm and we checked in for our Illuminations Cruise.

Our boat captains for the Illuminations Cruise were Todd (who was… you guess it! Earning his Ears) and veteran captain Jerry.  They took us out early so that Todd could get a little more practice navigating the boat around the lake.  We had the entire cruise boat to ourselves because… you guessed it!  Nobody in their right mind ever signs up for the Platinum Plan.  The cruise usually costs $325 per group but it was included in our package.

Jerry said the last time he encountered anyone on the Platinum Plan was early in December, two months before.  He said most people sign up for Platinum for 2 or 3 days of their trip to take advantage of all the included features, then lower themselves down to a cheaper package for the remainder of their time at Disney.  Now why didn’t we think of that?  That makes too much f’ing sense.

Take my advice – don’t sign up for Disney’s Platinum Plan.  It’s way too much trouble and it costs an absolute fortune.

Illuminations Cruise Boat

Illuminations Cruise Boat

The Illuminations Cruise was very relaxing.  We rode around the lake and our captains told us all about the area and some facts about Epcot.  The boat had free snacks and drinks. The Illuminations Fireworks show was only 13 minutes in total and was really cool to see up close on the water.  We tipped them $40 cash and they snapped our picture on the boat before we were off to finish our Disney adventure.

From the Yacht Club, we took the bus to the Magic Kingdom and went inside the park.  We thought it was appropriate to end our vacation at the same place we had started it.  We walked right onto Haunted Mansion, and then Andrew bravely rode Splash Mountain as a walk-on while I typed up some recaps from the day.  I noticed a very pretty reflection of the castle of the lake so I snapped a few pictures with my point and shoot camera.

Andrew and I finished up our stay by walking right onto Winnie the Pooh and It’s a Small World, then we waited 20 minutes to ride Peter Pan.  By then it was exactly 12:00AM midnight and the park had closed.  We took the water taxi back to the Wilderness Lodge and crashed from a very full, long final day.

Andrew’s Favorite Thing of the Day:  Test Track & Illuminations Cruise

Jessica’s Favorite Thing of the Day: Illuminations Cruise

Did you know? There’s a lot more to this story!

Flight to Florida & Universal’s Royal Pacific Hotel
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios & Arriving at Walt Disney World
Visiting the Magic Kingdom & The Richard Petty Experience
Water Sports & The California Grille
Hollywood Studios, Star Tours & Toy Story Midway Mania
Epcot & Around the World Segway Tour at the World Showcase
Our 10th Wedding Anniversary
Animal Kingdom, Mini Golf & The Yachtsman Steakhouse
Our Final Day at Disney & our Private Illuminations Cruise
The Missing Towncar & Our Flight to Phoenix

Flickr Photo Collection of Our 10th Anniversary Trip to Florida
See the Wilderness Lodge Yellowstone Suite Video Walk Through
See my Richard Petty Ride Along Experience Video

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© 2013 Jessica M. Green