The B hotel, unlike the mid range Hampton Inns and their brothers, we usually frequent, did not include breakfast. So, after a cup of coffee and a pastry from their convenience store, we headed to the B’s bus stop. This was the first time we weren’t staying in a Disney World hotel, and we wondered just how long it would take us to get to Animal Kingdom. In this, we were pleasantly surprised as it took no longer than a bus ride from one of the Disney resorts.
The trick was to memorize WHERE the bus stopped so we could find it again. It is no surprise that the stops for the Disney hotels are prominently marked while those for the non-Disney preferred hotels, are in the furthest possible location. Oh well, we were saving a good bit by staying at the B.
I guess we were smiled on by the Disney gods because neither Animal Kingdom nor Epcot were particularly crowded that day, and the sun was shining. This was yet another surprise as we thought that the third week of April would still be prime spring break season. Thus we were able to get to the Safari ride, at the absolute farthest end of Animal Kingdom, before a long line had developed. After a brief wait, we were loaded onto our fake bush vehicle and rumbled down the dirt track. This Rambler has always enjoyed the Safari ride; seeing all the animals, especially the babies is fun, as is the concept of taking a safari in Africa.
What I didn’t like, was the fake chase for poachers which was part of the schtick. To our surprise, the search for little Red the baby elephant had been abandoned, and instead there was more emphasis on the animals and nature. To me, this was a plus. Having taken our brief trip to Africa, it was time to head back to the exit gate, and our bus stop, for a ride to Epcot our favorite park.
Again, the wait was not too long, and soon we were at Epcot. There are two Epcot rides we particularly enjoy, Soarin’ and The Land. When I thought about this, they share a certain similarity. Soarin’ provides a swooping view of California’s beauty and while The Land focuses on the bounty of fruits and vegetables our land provides.
The new ticket system allowed us to select up to three rides for fast passes but we couldn’t do both Soarin’ and The Land, so we picked Soarin’ as it has been the most crowded ride every time we visit Disney. Thinking we might not get to Epcot very early I chose a late afternoon time for our fast pass. This was a mistake, because we did get there early. This meant that if we wanted to eat in the World Showcase, and we did, we would have to walk from one end of Epcot to another and back again. Looking on the plus side, we had to walk back there anyway to get to our bus stop, again it was about as far away as possible without being in another park altogether. Plus Soarin’ and The Land are in the same building, and we got to see some of our long time favorites along the way.
One thing we have noticed is the proliferation of mobility scooters and gigantic strollers since we have started coming to Disney World. In the old days, strollers were usually small and became even smaller when folded. Now most strollers one sees at Disney are about the size of a small sports car. I’m sure they are easier to push and more comfortable for their occupants but they sure do take up space, and don’t fold much either.
Twenty years ago, one might see an unfortunate soul struggling to push a mobility-challenged relative in a wheelchair, but no scooters. Now there are hardly any wheelchairs but many, many scooters. Some folks are downright dangerous when they steer those machines around, Although the Ramblers figure that if they can’t get around on their own two feet, they probably should stay home, we may be suffering from scooter envy. Who knows?
One of the best things about Epcot is that it offers a wide variety of restaurants serving excellent ethnic food. It may not be entirely authentic, but it certainly tastes good. We settled on the Tangerine Cafe in Morocco, because there were outside tables, and the weather was just about perfect.
Footsore but refreshed after a pleasant lunch, we headed back to Soarin’ for another wonderful ride and then back to the B hotel. And yes, we only visit our most favorite attractions now, when we go to Disney. Somehow it heightens our enjoyment and leaves lots of time for people watching.
I did find some time to taste some wines at the German pavilion. It was fun chatting with the young woman who came from one of the towns we would visit on our next river cruise.
There was yet another special exhibit open at Epcot while we were there, the Flower and Garden Show. Although Disney World has some of the best landscaping and floral displays in the United States, some extras had been added for the show. The flower beds were particularly spectacular, simply a riot of color reflected in one of the many ponds in the park.
The garden staff certainly outdid itself with its topiaries, this time they were inserted in a variety of different landscapes, not just on their own. Two of my favorites were Miss Piggy and Tinker Bell. Tink was a part of one of the displays in the butterfly house specially constructed for the show.
The next morning we headed south on the Florida Turnpike for Palm Beach and the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction held at the Fairgrounds. W e had watched the Barrett-Jackson auto extravaganzas many times on television and on a whim, I bought tickets for the Palm Beach event, as we could stop at Disney on the way and Palm Beach is a beautiful city. Taking the fairly expensive Turnpike was a good choice because traffic was a lot lighter than on the Interstate, and as an added bonus, Florida has been upgrading their Turnpike rest areas. Although not all are finished, we found them exceptionally nice, sparking clean and with a good variety of food choices. When we stopped at one for lunch, we found they even had an Earl of Sandwich, our Disney World favorite; not as many choices but still excellent.
Our choice in Palm Beach was a Hampton Inn, Although we have been to Palm Beach before, we stayed on the island part on the other side of the bridge. Since our main purpose was to attend the auto auction, I chose a hotel which I though would be close to the fairgrounds. It wasn’t, but it was a pleasant stay in an older property which caters to mainly to business people. It was also very quiet which can be both good and bad. We had a wide open evening , and to fill it, I had vouchers to a ghost tour in downtown Palm Beach. Since this is a beautiful area with ritzy shops and restaurants we thought it would be fun to stroll around there at night. As it turned out, the tour was fun, in a weird way. More about this next time.