Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Friday, February 11, 2005

Walt Disney World - Day 7 - February 11, 2005

Walt Disney World '05

Day 7

Friday, February 11, 2005

Welcome to Day 7, if you've had the patience to stay with me this long, look on the bright side, this is only an 8 part series, and this is part 7, and its the last part with any real meat to it. Before I started for the day, I followed Mear's directions and called in at least 24 hours in advance to schedule my return pickup. A hint for future travelers, call the front desk on the room phone and ask them to connect you to Mear's it seems like they don't put the call on your phone bill that way. Anyway, the helpful Mear's representative took down my information and scheduled us for a return bus a full three hours before my aircraft is scheduled to depart. Confirmation number noted down, we are confident that chore is out of the way.

Today's park is Animal Kingdon, and it happens to be our first ever trip to Animal Kingdom. Knowing the park closed early, we somehow found the will to awake early and caught a bus at the bus stop nearest our room. Let me tell you something, it is a real long bus ride from Port Orleans to Animal Kingdom, and apparently we arrived at the park just after the big park opening show. Another thing is that the artctic cold spell that arrived last night, well its still here, and the thermometer is reading about 40 degrees as we enter the park. We note not many people are entering the park.

The park entrance tried to emulate that of a national park with all its dark greens and earth tones. We get dropped off at the bus stop and make our way to the front gate. Once through the front gate, Mom is able to get one of those motorized wheel chairs, and I heard the stroller/wheelchair attendnats talking about how its like 5 minutes after park opening, and their stand has no business. Apparently this is quite rare.

We enter the park and Disney took a different approach with Animal Kingdom, instead of the traditional wide commerical path that leads from the front gate into the heart of the park, Animal Kingdom uses a number of narrower windy paths that are collectively dubbed "The Oasis" The Oasis does not look that different than trails you might see in a zoo, with lots of landscaping and vegetation lined with animal exhibits, but we must remember what the Dsney marketing folks keep trying to sledge hammer into our heads, the fact that this is meant to be Nahtazu. (pronounced NOT-A-ZOO, get it?) The windy twisty paths serve to remomve any possible visuals that might reveal the parking lot or even the front gate while in the park. So much so that on the other side of the Oasis they have large tropical bird themed signs that prominently read "PARK EXIT" Coming out of the Oasis you cross a wooden bridge and find yourself in the hub of Animal Kingdom. In this case the hub is named "Discovery Island" in what must be a tribute to the resorts first zoological themed attraction.

Discovery Island is vastly different from the national park look of the entrance plaza. On Discovery Island shops and food stands are housed in bright vibrant vividly colored buildings. I took a look at the tip board before continuing. In the center of the Disocvery Island is the parks signature landmark, the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is a hige manmade tree, whose leaves will always be a vibrant shade of green, but more importatly the trunk of tree is ocvered with hand carved animal sculptures, making the Tree of Life a huge piece of art, and to assist in viewing there are several 'nature trails' that endeavor to get you close enough to see the Tree of Life up close, but far enough away to prevent any vanadlism.

The Tree of Life is a huge tree with a LARGE diameter. How large you ask, well large enough to fit a movie theater into the base of its trunk. We note the disused Fastpass machines and enter the regular queue. The queue itself is themed to be a nature trail, and as such is windy and naroow and seems to take you anywhere except to the theater. Mom quipped that this queue must be her motorized chair mobility test.

Eventually we walk into the base of the Tree of Life and into a waiting room. The movie is titled "It's Tough to Be a Bug" and the waiting area has movie posters for other shows staring the bugs, most are name parodies on popular musicals. With hardly any wait we are admitted to the theater itself. Here in the tree of life, there are no cushy theater chairs, no, you sit on a big wooden bench, but wait that bench has ridged dividers to encourage you to position yourself on the bench properly.

The screen appears to be one of those Magic Eye pictures, you know those pictures that if you cross your eyes and stare at it a 3D image is supposed to pop out. The movie starts and it is revealed that you are actually looking at a zillion cinematic insects that were forming a curtain. In the introduction you learn that you are about to learn about the world of the insects, and to do so you have been issued speical 'honorary bug eyes' which will magnify your sight so that bugs seem to be about the size of you.

What starts as a supposed documentary on bugs gets ugly fast when a bug with a grudge to hold against humans decided to turn the tables. The special in theater special effects start, including a new effect, 'stingers' in the back of your seat, and lets not forget the odor of the stink bug. This makes three Disney parks in Florida that now have an attraction that makes use of spraying an offensive odor into the theater. That and the spiders dropping from the ceiling to just above your head is another cool effect. Luckily for you all the ruffled wings get smoothed out, and you get treated to a musical number that helps to reveal what insects purpose is on the eco system. Get readt for one last surprise when the insects are told to leave the theater first. Its an interesting effect that involves probs in the bottom of your seat interacting with your butt. Its another of Disney's unique 4D movies.

We exit the theater where we follow another nature trail that leads us back to Discovery Island. The park has provided a very generous number of directional signs in this park, owing to its newness and its confusing layout. We follow the signs around toward Festival of the Lion King. Not that we would need too many signs as they have cast members as far back as Discovery Island playing the role of carnival talker trying to drum up an audience to see Festival of the Lion King. Aniaml Kingdom may be a HUGE park (500 acres), but very little of it is used be footpaths, leading to a lot of congested areas, and long long long paths that serve to keep the themed areas far apart. I mean just because you have started down the path to Festival of the Lion King, don't start slowing down now, becuase its a huge walk back to Camp Mickey Minnie. Recall that there is only one way in and out of Camp Minnie Mickey so yep you;ll be backtracking along that real long pathway when its time to move on to another themed area.

Camp Minnie Mikcey seems to be intended to be the parks children's area, and is themed have a rustic summer camp feel to it. Along the way there, rustic looking cabins house disused concession stands, and if you follow the 'nature trails' at Camp Minnie Mickey you can visit the Disney charcters. In fact one of the big attraction in the area is character greeting. After navigating the long walk back to camp Minnnie Mickey, you reach a central plaza. To the right are the character greeting trails, to the left is the amptheater for Pocohantas and Her Forest Friends, and up ahead is the huge arena for Fesitval of the Lion King.

We stay the course and head straight to Festival of the Lion King, which by all accounts is a very popular show which is a must see. Remember how cold I mentioned it was today, it seems that every warm blooded human in the park has decided to gather for this indoor show.

Festival of the Lion King, for lack of a better word is a circus. You have larger than life parade floats each topped with a jungle animal, which come out and take up positions between the seating sections, and in the middle a large float that serves as a multi purpose stage. When you first enter there are 4 seating sections in the octagonal shapped buidling, leaving 4 gaps. When you start the parade floats come out and fill in those gaps, and the stage rolls into the center of the arena. The show consists of a revue of music from the Lion King, hosted by Timon and Pumba. Larger than life stilt walkers and others in colorful native dress cause a constant fury of motion around the edges of the stage. On the stage, you have aerial artists, you have gymnasts, you have fire-jugglers, and more. Its just a real fun show that gets the audience involved. I happen rather to like it. I was a bit surprised at the end of the show when they had the audience exit the arena before the stage and the parade floats retracted back into their hiding spots backstge. I would have though they would want to protect the floats from curious hands.
Remember those congested areas I told you about, the end of a Festival of the Lion King show sends Camp Minnie Mickey into a major case of traffic congestion. Through some skill and luck we were able to edge our way over and get into the Pocohantas and Her Forest Friends show just as it was starting.

Pocohantas's show is masically a forest conservation show aimed at the younger crowd. Yur hosts are the live actress playing Pocohantas, and the talking tree "Grandma Willow", along with several smaller non threatening live animals. You ahve the Pocohants theme song, as well as animal intoductions before making the point that the only one that can save the forest is the humans. It seemed to be rather a short show, it was interesting but seemed a bit short.

We then backtracked all the way to Disvoery Island, and continues walking around Discover Island until we found the bridge to Africa. The Africa section is themed to a rural/agricultural village complete with village market, and what are reported to be some nice food stands. The architecture is supposed to be representative of Africa, and of course the areas main attraction is the African jungle safari, here named The Lillamanjaro Safaris. We decided to stop in the public rest room (and I make the point becuase the parks signage says in big letters "PUBLIC REST ROOMS"), before heading off on our safari. We look at the fastpass time but decide we can do better just going standby. We enter the long queue area which leads us to and through the booking offices of the Killamanjaro Safari Company. In an odd move for Disney, guests with strollers are told to take the strollers through the line with them, and there is a littel branch off the main line almost at the loading area that leda to the stroller parking area. Id' say not less than 10 minutes later in this constantly moving line, and we were to the front.

Owing to mom's motorized chair, we were directed to follow an alternative path when we got to the front of the line that leads to a different loading area. On this ride they deidcate a certain number of safari trucks to those requireing wheelchairs, or even to those just using wheelchairs owing to the way the attractions exit is setup. We waitied for the next designated truck to show up which pulled off the main show road to this alternative pick up point where extra time could be taken in unloading and loading. We were soon loaded an on our way. Our safariguide introduces himself an comments that we packed light of a three week safari. Our vehcile looks a lot like an oversized land rover with large bench seats that have thankfully been padded as well as animal spotting guides posted above each row. The vehicle is driven by your safari guide, who gets assitance from the "warden flying overhead" and communicated via radio. To further enhance the jungle safari experience, Disney has gone out of their way to make the road your safari vehicle travels on about as rough as they can get it, and you will even drive through pools of water at some point. For the most part, the ride is just what you would expect a safari ride to be, the guide drives you through the reserve while pointing out the various live animals that can be seen along either side. No ugly fences or barriers here, it looks for all the world like you are driving in the middle of a wildlife preserve and the illusion is that nothing is sperating your safari truck from the wildlife. It's the parks signature attraction, and deservingly so. We were lucky enough to get a ride witha lot of very active animals so I got several photos, and really enjoyed the ride. Disney put in a couple unnecesary specieal effects just in case the live animals weren't enough of an attraction, such as the 'collapsing bridge scene', and the loosley followed "Save Little Red from poachers" storyline that flares up in the last few moments of the ride. Whe you see the lions doing their Pride Rock imitation, the actual safari is over the rest is just unneeded Disney storyline. We then roll right past the normal load and unload stations without stopping and are let off at the same alternative station where we entered. We then exit down into the Paginini Jungle Trail. Ah, this is why you must take your strollers and wheelchairs with you, becuase apparently this is meant to be an out-but-not-back safari, where your return to the main park is via the Paginini Jungle trail, or part of it anyway, as the walking trail can alsse be accessed without taking the safari. The Junge Trail is meant to be an at-your-own pace compnent that weaved itself in and through the same safari area you just rode through, giving you some different viewpoints.

We walked the Paginini Junle Trail and exited into the heart of Africa in time to notice that we have a lunch seating in 15 minutes. Hey we covered quite a bit of park by 11:45. We saw both Camp Mininie Mickey shows, the Oasis, the Tree of Life, Tough to be a Bug, and most of Africa. We followed the conveniently placed signs pointing us to the "Park Exit" Our lunch is to be in the Rainforest Cafe, which is located just outside the parks main gate. Back through Africa around Discovery Island, through the Oasis (we choose a different trail), and finally we follow the trail marked "Rainforest Cafe" We learn that since the restaurant lies outside the park gate, Mom must leave her rental chair inside the park boundaries. She takes the key and we slip out a special side exit just for patrons of the Rainforest Cafe. It may be the smallest park gate at Disny with just one turnstile for exiting guests, and one for entering guests. We collect our handstamps and proceed through the gift shp of the Rain Forest Cafe.

I am directed to check in at the pink elephant, which I do. Unlike most Disney restaurants, they host at the Rainforest is electronically handling the waiting list via a computer instead of with an index card system. I check in, and note that I have a Priority Seating. The host hands me a ticket which indicated our part size and that we would be seated in the Gorilla Room. We move along and stand in the queue of those holding seating tickets. I barely have time to admire the large aquarium and the animal''s legs barstools when a server comes up behind us, asks for the Bowers party, then leads us out of the line, and around the aquarium to enter the dining room via the exit. Talk about a Priority Seating that makes you feel like royalty.

We are quickly seated at a table in the middle of the Gorilla Room, and it is explained to us to not be surprised when the storms come about every 20 minutes. To assist in planning Mom asks when the next storm would be, and the server claims that she doesn't know and that she has done this for so long, she doesn't even notice the 'atmosphere' anymore, which is probably very true.

We order a nice lunch and proceed to enjoy it along with our jungle friends. The animals act up a little bit more often than every 20 minutes, but the big feature 'show' is every 20 minuites. Which means you will probably see it 2 or 3 times through your sitting. Rainforest Cafe is NOT where you go to have a nice relaxing meal while trying to carry on a casual dinner conversation, but Rainforest Cafe IS where you go to eat in a total imersive fantasy environment. The food is even pretty good to boot. And hey say it with me "VOLCANO!" We did not order this feature family sized desert, but we got to see enough of them being served, and oh did it look so good, and did I mention they make a big deal when they serve one. Rainforest also served sweet tea, which is a rare commodity on Disney property, even though I though Sweet Tea was a southern tradtion. For those liking artifical sweeteners, RainForest is also one of the very few places on Disney property where you can get "Sweet and Low" (pink packet) sweetener, Disney owned establishments seem to have a thing against it.

One rarity is when you go to charge your meal to your room, since RainForest is not owned by Disney, they follow a different charging proceudre, they bring you charge slip before they process your card, and ask you to indicate your tip on the slip before handing over the card. In fact you write your tip on the check, ut don't sign it yet, they come back with an adjusted tip that has your desired level of gratutity included in the check, THEN you sign it and process the paperwork, Wierd, and I noted that the non Disney establishments must be using an older version of Disney's room charge software. How old? Old enough to print our hotel name as "Dixie Landings" That theme was killed how many years ago?

We finsih our enjoyable lunch and reenter the park through the special side gate, recollect the chair, and head back through the Oasis. This time we stay to the right of the Tree of Life and head toward DinoLand USA. I note that a Tarzan Rocks show is about to start, so we head to the Theater in the Wild.

Tarzan Rocks is a Disney character 'rock concert' that features some extreme trick bke riding and other aerial stunts along with a a rock concert like atmosphere. It's nowhere near as endearing as Festival of the Lion King. But that means we have now seen all but one of the parks shows. We return to DinoLand USA.

DinoLand USA is themed to look like a Route 66 era roadside attraction. Dinosaurs are the theme in this quirky attraction. DinoLand contains such non-Disney elements as a carnival style midway. Mind you this is Disney so you can believe they are highly themed carnival games. Also in the area are two carnival rides, one being the Triceratops Spin (think Prehistoric Dumbo and you have the idea), the other is Primevil Whirl. Primevil Whirl happens to be a rollercoaster, so while I could do without the flying dinosaurs, I had to take my ride trough time. Primeveil Whirl is a Disneyfied Reverchon Crazy Mouse, and identical model rides are curretnly traveling and playing some of the nations finest fairs, and other parks are starting to get them. In fact another Florida park, Cypress Gardens is trying to do a themed version of this very same ride. Mind you Disney did replace the mouse cars with 'time machines' and they put a lot of cheezy whimsical lookin theming around the ride, and to improve capacity they enven installed two idential rides right next to each other. That didn't help the fact that Fastpass was almost completely sold out for the day, so I entered the regular line and wound up waiting about 30 minutes for this ride. Disney has made a couple minor improvements to the ride by slowing down the speed at whch the cars travel through the station. The idea is the cars never stop moving, but most carnivals run the cars through the station so fast they have to sit and wait for clearance from the rides safety system, Disney has figured out the optimum speed at which to run the cars through the station so that they really do never stop. They have also added gates to the sides of the cars to keep your legs inside. I get seated into the 4 seat car with another couple. Its not a tight fit as the cars are very roomy, and besides I got one of the two becnehs to myself. Both benches are righ next to each other and form a sort of semicricle, not unlike the seats on a Tilt-A-Whirl. Being an experience fair goer, I knew jut where to sit on my bench for maximum effect. The first half of the ride consists of a fairly ordinary left turn out of the station where you go along the front of the ride, then anothr left turn, then up the lift hill. At the top of the lift hill you start going on a zig zag course of sharp turns all while facing forwards. After about three such sig zags you turn left, go down a drop, come back up, to a turnaround to the left, go down the big drop, then up the double up to make yet another left turn. You then enter the larger lower set of switchbacks. You also cross over a track mounted switch that releases a lock on the tub which allows it to spin as gravitiational forced dictate. Remember that strategic seating I mentioned earlier, well our car span like a top for the rest of the ride. I could tell the other riders in the tub with me were not as excited about the psychotic spinning as I was, but hey I wanted to show them a good time, right?

The madlly spinning car eventually returned to the station, where it was automagiclaly rotated to face forward and we exited UP the exit ramp, The exit ramp for this ride is a coaster photography fanatics dream as you go up over the coaster.

We exited Primevil Whirl and I noted that all the fastpasses were now gone, so it was time to find Dinosaur (the ride). Dinosaur the ride sits in a Jurassic Park inspired buidling off the beaten path behind DinoLand. I noted that all its fastpasses were also exhausted. I netered the buidling which is themed to look like your average natural history museum complete with dinosaur skeleton sculpture in the grand lobby. I walked right through the empty queue area in the foyer and in the Grand lobby and was soon being directed down a corridor to a pre shw room. Of course, its a Disney adventure got to have a briefing. I did note one guest who tried to bypass the pre show by continung on walking out the (closed) exit door was sent back into the preshow.

The stroyline this time is that you are at a high tech museum that has figured out how to transport guests through time using a special time machine that looks a lot like a safari jeeps. You will be taken back to the age of the dinosaurs and ride amongst the dinosaurs before being safely transported back to the current day. This attraction is in no way inspired by Jurassic Park, not at all... We even have the greedy computer geek, who hypothesizes that if he can send us back through time, he can pick up a (vegatarian) dinosaur and bring it forward through time, presumably to become rich by opening a "See the dinosaur" attraction. Unfortuantely his superiro gets wind of his idea and reminds him that we are to be given the standard expedition, no more, no less. Computer geek makes a show of pounding a few keys to which the screen flashes that access is denied to tamper with the tour computer. But wait, as soon as the sureprior is out of the room, said geek enters a password, and we are about to embak on a special dinosaur retreival mission. I can just see the standard "And something goes really wrong" Disney storyline from a mile away.

We exit the pre show room, and follow another corridor to the main stairwell where we go down one flight to the ride boarding area. Hey they have running ketchup, mustard and mayonaise in this facility, I always wondered how those condiment dispensers were kept stocked ;)

A few moments later, I am beign shown to a jeep and seeing that there are to be more seats than riders in our row, I start to sit in the 'window seat' on the load side. This catches not only the evil eye but a directive that I must move filling in the empty seat. I am just starting to get moved into my new seat when the vehicle starts moving. I am not fully seated, not to mention fastened my seatbelt. Hmm, I thought Safety, Courtesy and Show all came BEFORE effiicency. With that startling lunge forward, I hastily complete taking my seat just as the car stops again. This is another ride that uses that Disney three stop loading "Unload"."Load","Restraint Check" I fasten the seatbelt and we proceed on.

What happens next is well I don't know. You sort of ride around real fast taking sudden truns while getting about a 2 second peek at a dinosaur "Nope, not our dino" and hastily move on. Of course the asteriod shower that killed the dinosaurs that you were warned about in the pre show is about to happen, and after a couple failed attempts yo do mange to snag your dino. All in all I left the ride feeling "What was that??!!??" If this is Disney's answer to Spiderman, they have fallen way short. This dark ride is about as good at DCA's Superstar Limo, and that ride has gotten the endeering nickname of SuperSuck Limo, by its non-fans, if that gives you any clue. Guys, I've been on Indiana Jones at Disneyland, I know what this ride sytem is capeable of doing, and this ride just doesn't seem perform to the same standards as Indiana Jones.

I exit the time travel jeep, proceed up the stairs to the gift shop, and walk through the gift shop. We proceed through DinoLand USA, and I take a few moments to look at the Expedition Everest construction site. Man this ride which seems like it might fall into the mine train variety looks absolutely HUGE. Work is progressing well on the mountain, and I presume the summit has been reached, if the American flag flying hapilly from the summit is any indication, and some of the exposed trackwork looks pretty interesting as well. How wll it turn out, I guess we'll fnd out in 2006.

Next stop is Asia. Asia is themed loosely around temple ruins. I decline to ride Kali River Rapids owing to the bitter cold winds, and note that we missed the last showing of the bird show "Flights of Wonder", and we head off to the walking trail portion of Africa. The Maharajah Jungle Trek. We each get issued a trail guide and animal spotting guide and head out on the trek. It appears that I am not the only one thingking the air is a bit cool as the Komodo Dragons, and in fact everything up to the bat exhbit seems to be missing. The attendant in the bat temple explains to us that due to the cold weather many of this exhibits animals are curretnly enjoying their heated indoor accompdtions. Luckily the keynote tiger exhibit and pretyt much everything after the tigers, includding the birds in the aviary were very much ou and active. The intricate detail in the Tiger Temple Ruins is impressive, and you may even learn a bit of culture. At one part there were strings of several small flags stretched out over the walkway. Right at that spot a helpful sign indicated that they are prayer flags and gave a brief decription of their use.

We enjoyed the walk through Jungle Trek where we had a nice conversation with the person overseeing the bird aviary, and soon returned to the main part of Asia. We returned to the main central pathway just in time for the parade. Mickey's Jammin Jungle Parade. Shortlye before the parade, I ducked into what looked like a little store that advertised tht it sold Coca Cola. Shame the store looked deserted, except for a big old fashioned steel Coca Cola cooler. Interestingly the Coca Cola cooler had a coin mechnism visible, I went over to investigate. Ah, its a self service Coca Cola stand, I opened the lid on the cooler and staring back at me is a modern adaptation of a style of soft drink machine that I had not seen much of since the 1980's when glass bottles were still the rage. You may remember this one from your local barber shop, you open the lid and thre are racks of soft drink bottles suspended from metal racks by their necks. You can move the bottles around inside the cooler, but there is no place where there is a big enough gap in the tracks to squeeze a bottle through, except for a mechancal gate that will only open after payment is made. In other words you grab a bottle move it through the habitrail until it gets into the mechanical jaws, you then insert your payment, then pull up hard on the bottle. I had used this kind of machine many times in my youth, and was instantly prepared with the knowledge of how to operate it. I would have loved seeing one of today's youth struggle with it.

Anyway, now that I have the soft drinks, it is time to grab that nice spot available right by the rope and watch the parade. A lot of disney characters, a lot of crazy safri vehicles, and even Donalds' boat. Also a lot of oversized mechanical animals being opearated by puppetters who are walking beneath the mechanical animal. Nice peppy sountrack, and what appears to be a good number of 'volunteers from the auidence' who are seen riding along on the floats. It was a fun parade, and owing to the fact that the only thing left to see is Rafiki's Plant Watch we wound up follwoing the parade through Asia and into Africa. Man was that a long walk. As it turns out we board the very last departing train of the evening. The cars are setup like the train cars at Disneyland, with all the seats turned to face one side, and the back closed in. The train ride is advertised as a behidn the scenes tour type ride, and yes you do get to see some rather utilitarian all weather anial enclosuers, including one (I think the elephants) who apparently get luxury living, or at least a luxury facade. We arrive at Raffiki's to learn that Raffkiki;'s and Conservation Station have closed for the day, but the petting zoo "Affection Section" will remain open for 15 minutes for us. We decline the petting zoo and are allowed to stay aboard the train for a round trip back to Africa.

We then start the long walk back to the front gate, and I notice that Expedition Everest is clearly visible from Africa. We continue walking and eventually go through Discovery Island and then throught the Oaiss trails. We returne the chair, get the deposit back, and note that while strollers earn a $1 refund, they have thought to have a person soliciting donations for a Wildife care fund, the donation required for a button, you guessed it $1.

We then exit the park and head over to the bus pickup area and take the long ride back to Port Orleans. Once back at the resort we pick up packages from the gift shop, then I pick up a copy of our room charge bill from Guest Services, then we ask at the lounge about the piano man. Seems he plays from 8:30-midnight. Gotcha. We return to our room.

On the way to the room I ask mom to guess how much the rooom charge bill is, and am deligted to hear her guess a number that is significantly higher than what the bill actually is. The bill also gives an itemization bypurchase, giving the stand name and dollar amount appearing in more or less chronological order. We get back to the room, pack up as tommorow is check out morning, and take naps until about 8PM.

Around 8, we got ready to go and headed over to the River Roost, which is Port Orleans' cocktail lounge. We were fortunate enough to be able to grab one of the last tables and settled in. We found a menu on the table listing the various signature cocktails as well as mentioned that we could order appetizers from Boatwright's. We started off with some soft drinks and an order of Nachos Supreme. Disney lounges are friendly to those that don't want to drink. They will give you no grief over odering just a soft drink, in fact they will give you free refills on the soft drink.

Entertainment in the River Roost is provided by a comic piano player that goes by the name of Bob Jackson. His show consits of mostly pop standards, tv theme songs, campfire songs and the like. In other words it all songs you have probably heard before and are familiar with. This is good because Bob's show is heavy on audience participation. There are two motto's "No one has more fun than us!", followed closely by "You will never see any of these people again" I know you might think this sounds cheesy or campy, but from what I saw everybody gets involved in the show. This is mostly because a lot of the songs have either obvious auidence parts or Bob makes up an audience part. If you are thinking you'll just sit back, wrong. I dont know how else to describe it, but Bob's enthusiasm is infectious and before you know it you too will be jumping up and down, waving your hands in the air and yelling (or singing like Edith Bunker) in your loudest voice stuff like "Have some Fun Tonight" in the cocktail lounge of a rather upscale looking hotel lobby. And if you hear a bugle call, well by the end of the evening you will instincitvely jump up and do your best Tarzan imitation.

Pay close attention to Bob's piano, becuase it is also a part of the show. This black upright piano gets so excited that when they say Bob rocks that piano, the piano literally rocks back and forth. Then you have bob himself who is a very personable entertainer who welcomes newcomers to the lounge between shows. He ask them were they are from, and gee whiz, Bob just happens to also be from whatever city they name, and a little while everybody else claims to be from whatever city the new arrivals are from. Bob takes two breaks but never leaves the lounge, instead spending his break itme signing autographs and making his way around the room stopping to chat at just about every table. Oh, and for those that drink, be careful, Bob loves to haul out a song titlled Sara towards the end of the night. Its a perfectly innocent song, but its lyrics are a tounge twister when taken slow and sober, let alone when taken fast and with a few drinks. Just try keeping "Sarah, Sarah, sitting in a shoe shine shop, sarah sarah, sitting in a shoe shine shop, all day long she sits and shines, all night long she shines and sits, Sarah Sarah sitting in a shoe shine shop." straight.

All in all it was a great evening. After the show ended it was time to make our way back to the room. We got just about all packed up before going to bed, then told Stitch to take his own seet time in waking us up tommorow. Sadly, tommorow is departure day.

We planned on watching one set, and wound up staying from 8:30 clear through last call, which at the River Roost is at midnight.


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