After a half-week long work trip down to beautiful and sunny Avon
Park, Florida (read: a pit in the middle of nowhere), we spent the
last night in a hotel in Orlando, across the street from the airport.
We finally got up and checked in to the hotel around 7pm. My
coworkers decided to hit the hotel bar and go to sleep early; our
flight left early in the morning. We were about 20 minutes from
Walt Disney World, so I figured this was an opportunity I couldn't
Unlike my trip to Disneyland in October, I knew that I only had a
few hours. $85 entry into the park was not worth it, as I'd get
there about 8, with the parks closing at 9. Instead, I woul hang
out at the resort hotels, and do other things around the park.
Primarilly, I wanted to hit the Polynesian Resort, Perhaps the
Contemporary, and ride the monorails, perhaps down to and around
Epcot. All free things to do. Past that, I knew that the fireworks
were starting at 8, with the water parade at 9, and that I wanted
to hit Kona Cafe in the 'Poly for dinner.
I got lost driving around the roads, missing my turn off to the
poly the first time around, and ended up driving near the main
parking lot and back around. Oops.
I then headed up World Drive, with intentions on going to Seven
Seas Drive, to try to park in the Polynesian's (tiny) parking lot,
since I knew that if i said I was going to have dinner there, I
could park for free. I got to the interseaction, saw that World
Drive continued up to the Contemporary, and decided to continue on,
for the hell of it. I know that when i visit in a few years with
the family, I can't do this kind of aimless driving, so.. opportunity!
Drove up under the waterway/tunnel, which was neat, then past the
Contemporary.. I never really liked the thing as a kid, but it sure
is pretty at night! I was about to turn around, but decided to
continue on. I drove right past Space Mountain which was awesome,
and ended up at the utility/engineering areas north of the park.
I found a small parking lot and turned around, and headed back.
I then tried to park at the Poly, sharking back and forth in the
tiny, cramped lot, not finding anything. I eventually gave up and
drove to the main parking lot. Turns out, there was no parking
fee; i'm guessing because it was so late at night. After a few lanes
of driving the wrong way on a few lanes, I parked the rental car
under the monorail track, just south of the TTC.
Pics are online of this.
A quick walk under Seven Seas Dr, and I was boarding Monorail Coral!
I took this one (the express monorail) to the main gate and back,
sitting in a car by myself. Did I mention that it was exactly 8pm,
and I was watching fireworks from the monorail? Because I did, and
yes, it was AWESOME. It doesn't get more "Disney World" than that.
I deboarded the monorail back at the TTC, and walked to the Polynesian.
Man, I love the ambience of the lands, the buildings, everything
about this place. All of the gas tiki torches were lit around the
property. Lots of crickets chirping, although to be honest, I'm
not sure if they were real crickets or a recording... not that it
mattered. Once inside the Great Ceremonial House, I headed up to
Kona Cafe to get a seat for dinner. With only 20 minutes to wait,
I hit some of the stores there, and did a recreation of a photo of
me as a kid sitting in a wicker chair in that lobby.
The Tuna Oscar from Kona was delicious. The water parade was going
on while i was eating, at 9pm, so I missed that.
Next, I hopped on the non-express monorail, made it back over to
the TTC, with hopes of zipping down to Epcot. But arriving back
at the TTC at 9:50ish, I missed the last train by a few minutes.
I tried to hit the ferry as well, but missed that also. Oh well.
I spent a lot of time walking around the grounds of the Poly,
exploring and spending money in the stores. Eventually, I realized
that I could get a DOLE WHIP at Capt. Cook's! So i got one, and
ate it outside. Nice.
Soon, 11pm creeped up, and the stores in the Poly were closing, so
I walked back to the car. At this point, the parking lot was EMPTY.
It was crazy to see such a huge parking lot so totally empty.
In retrospect, I should have then headed up to the Contemporary and
taken some pics in the lobby there.
Instead I was heading back to the hotel, and saw signs for Epcot.
The parking lot for the MK/TTC had no one at the gates, so, would
Epcot also be unmanned? Yep! I parked the car right up near the
entrance at 11:30pm, 2.5 hours after the park closed. I walked up
to the monorail station, not trying to be sneaky. I figured that
if someone didn't want me there, they would let me know.
I made it up to the north side of the station, took some pictures.
Continued up to the south side of the station, took some pictures.
The gates were all open, I continued, took some pictures. Next, I
saw the turnstiles; the actual entrance to the park, some of which
were open. I could have just walked right in, but I saw a security
guard, and waved him down. I walked over to him and chatted for a
minute or two. I asked him if it was okay to have him escort me
right inside the turnstiles to take some pictures of Spaceship
Earth. He, surprisingly, let me. We both commented about how
beautiful the thing is at night. I asked if i could go up to the
little monument to take pics, he was cool with that. He really was
very nice and awesome. Actually, all of the cast members I spoke
with were nice and awesome... then again, I guess that's kinda their
It was a very fun little mini trip. Only a few hours, but I feel
like I packed in quite a bit. I would have loved to have spent
more time exploring the resorts, or perhaps hitting Downtown Disney,
but I was happy with what I did. :D