17 months, continued
We left off with Liz and I waiting for a table at Le Cellier and both of us deciding that the kid's steak looked like a good choice. We are soon taken back to a table. The restaurant is set up as the different provinces of Canada, and we are in New Brunswick. Woohoo, New Brunswick looks over what used to be the cafeteria queue when I first visited the restaurant in 1984.
Our server, Courtney (or was that Natalie? good old Disney nametag confusion) was great. When we first told her of our small appetites and desire to get the steaks from the kids menu, we could see the gears turning in her head. Both of us being former CMs, we reassured the young lady that we tip on adult entree prices. So we ordered medium rare steaks and I chose the healthy options (the veggies and fruit) and Liz the not so healthy. Seeing Liz's birthday pin, Courtney wishes her a Happy Birthday, and I mention that mine was last week. She asks me where my Birthday pin was. Next thing I know, I've got a pin. Cool deal!
One of the choices with the kids meal is some of their incredible Beer Cheese Soup and the bread sticks. Since I am without the family, the smaller portion makes sense-it will leave room for the rest of the meal. (Younger son tends to be a soup poacher, meaning I never get a full bowl, anyway) Liz grabs the pretzel bread stick, splits it in two and hands me a piece. Nope, I am not a fan of pretzels, I am all about that sourdough stick, though. Really, the only way I like pretzels is soft with some good brown mustard.
We enjoy talking and dining, though the heat really has done a number on Liz-she barely ate her meal. The steaks were tender and perfectly medium rare, I had no difficulty finishing mine, and I made a good dent in the harcot verts and carrots that accompanied my meal. We'd been talking wines, and the next thing I know, Liz has ordered two glasses of the Inniskillin Ice Wine. Sweet! With the wine, Courtney has also brought us a birthday Chocolate Mousse to share. She apparently is not familiar with how much ice wine to pour, we get way more than we should have. Great meal, great dessert and a lot of a really delicious wine. Nice.
(something to know about the Inniskillin...it starts very sweet, but has a light, dry finish. I'd had a sample at Epcot's Food and Wine Festival a couple of years ago-two sips for 4 bucks. Nope, Ice wine is NOT cheap)
We depart the restaurant and head over to see the movie "O, Canada". While waiting for the movie, the CMs ask trivia questions. I guessed the population of Canada to be 30 million, which earned me an "Honorary Canadian" pin. (the correct answer is 32 million). I have to say that it was very pleasant this time around to sit while viewing-the companion chair definitely helped here.
We leave the movie and head back into the thick, humid air. I think it was just a little too much for Liz. I've had three years to get use to the heat, she's had a few days. We walk over towards England (I know, we can walk on water, right?) and things do not improve. At this time, Liz makes the decision to head back to her room. She asks if I want to head over there, but my thought was that if she's not feeling well, she'll probably want to take a nap. We part ways at the international gateway and I head over to France for my favorite show in the World Showcase.
I have just missed the showing of "Impressions de France", so I while away the time looking around. Aurora is in the courtyard where I found Belle and Beast on my last visit to Epcot (last year). I get in line for a picture, get kids who assume I am not in line so they run past me when its my turn and then get birthday wishes and a picture with Sleeping Beauty. One of the CMs wishes me a happy birthday and directs me to stow the chair en francais. Too bad I only managed a year and a half of Madame Boucai's class (a/k/a Madame Sadist).
This 18 minute movie is a perfect postcard of France. My phone rings one of the pieces used in the presentation, "Aquarium"from Sant Saen's "Carnival of the Animals." Strangely enough, the phone RINGS at exactly that segment-about a half second off from the film. The average person couldn't tell, so it seemed to surprise the woman nearest me when I dug the phone out to silence it and it was in sync!
Afterwards, on my walk around the WS, I see Jasmine and the Genie, Belle and Beast and Dopey and Snow White. At the American Adventure, I decide to tempt fate and go in to see the show. I fell asleep the first time I saw it, so we have yet to bring the boys to see it. Once again, the CMs are helpful in getting me where I need to go and extending birthday wishes. Those needing special assistance enter the auditorium before the rest of the audience, which besides me includes a grandfather and grandson and another man on a scooter. My phone rings, and it's Ed. We talk very briefly, and once off the phone, the grandson asks WHERE DID YOU GET THAT RING TONE? It ends up that Impressions is his favorite and he'd love to have the same ring. I told him the name of the piece and hopefully, he tracked it down.
Now, why didn't I silence the phone? I dropped the phone last month and can't see the darn display, so I figure I could just silence quickly when the need arises.
The CM that had led us into the auditorium extends birthday wishes to me from in front of the audience, lol. Then, I finally watch the "American Adventure" without falling asleep. However, the montage of famous Americans at the end gets me a bit misty-JFK, MLK, Jim Henson, Johnny Carson. Great people who made a difference. Back out into the heat and around the World Showcase. It's slow going, since the companion style chair is not meant to be used as a walker and my ankle is not in any shape to be rushed.
The next stop on the journey is in Norway at Maelstrom. It feels strange to ride this one without the family, and this time of year, you don't get the die hards who recite the dialogue along with the narrator (or the trolls). Nope, most of the voyagers on this boat probably have not experienced the trolls before, based on the reactions to them. Since it'd been a while, I sat down to watch the movie on Norway-but 15 minutes later, it *still* hadn't started (usually, you wait 5 minutes *at most* from the time the doors to the theatre open till it begins), so off I went.
Since last I'd been here, the attraction in Mexico had a revamp. El Rio Del Tiempo had not changed since the park opened in 1982-yep, saw the same thing as on my first trip in '84. Now, the Three Cabelleros are the stars of the attraction. Physically, there has only been one change to the ride, a carousel at the end has been removed and a stage replaced it. The new version is cute. At one point, there is a Donald pinata, and the thought crossed my mind that the Imagineers probably picked it up at the nearest Party City.
Next up, Test Track. I'm waved through to the Fastpass entrance and here the CM's really impress. The young lady handling the queues waves me into the single rider room. The way this room works is that these people are used to fill up a ride vehicle. Each vehicle has 6 seats. If there is a party of two riding together, then a person is taken from the single rider queue to complete their row.
I expected a long wait, so I open up the chair and sit down. I'm not there more than a couple of minutes before a CM (Nicholas, I think) comes to find me and bring me out of the room. I was prepared to wait, so this was a most pleasant surprise. He brings me out to the front most loading area and takes the chair. He tells me that it will be waiting for me as soon as I exit the ride-and it was.
Then, it's decision time. Do I venture over to Mission Space? I decide to skip it, opting to visit Mousegears and Ice Station Cool. I'd forgotten that they revamped the Ice Station early last year. Fortunately, they still carry the Watermelon Soda, Smart. It'd be great if Coca Cola saw fit to release that one here-it is soooooo good. I still had my kid cup from lunch (and my light up Tinkerbell, too!), so I filled it up. Then, I headed outside to enjoy the Innoventions music and some of the soda. After a couple of sips, inspiration strikes. I saved the rest of the drink to bring back to Ed, as he misses this place (and soda) as much as I do.
About 10 after 6, I bid farewell to the park and head for home. It was a great day. Too brief in some respects and probably a bit too long in others (physically).