One of the last things we see, down the road from our site at Hillsborough River before we leave, is this rig. Looks like it’s been on the road quite a while. Notice the em’ “hood ornament”.
We have time to notice these things becasue check out time is 1pm at Hillsborough River and we’re only going 66 miles up the road. It’s an easy trip up I-4. One O’clock is also check in time at Disney World and we are there right on time. Check in is easy of course in this service oriented place.
Once we have lunch and get set up it is after 3:00. We take the path right in front of our site in the 300 loop to the Fort Wilderness dock where we’ll take the boat over to the catch the Monorail. We are going to visit some of the great Disney hotels before dinner. There are thirty hotels owned by Disney and 6 owned by private hotel companies within the more than 25000 acre park. We have no plan to visit them all.
I really love being able to walk so easily over to the lake, the Settlement and the dock from our campsite.
The wildlife starts right away. We see an armadillo who probably doesn’t see us since they have terrible eyesight and he’s got his head down constantly looking for insects. They aren’t native to Florida but are pretty common in forested or semi-open areas of loose soil.
Along the shore is an anhinga drying his wings and a pair of coots.
Further along we see a reddish egret. I think we’ve seen more reddish egrets this year than ever before.
At the dock we are greeted by a female starling. I don’t find the males very attractive. They look oily but I think she’s very pretty although they are non natives and I do wish they’d go back home. Not much of a chance at this point unfortunately.
We are meeting Nancy and Bill at the dock. We both scheduled Hillsborough River campsites because of the RV Show and for us because of David’s doctor. We both scheduled Disney the week after because we were so close to it. It’s amazing how folks with similar interests end up in the same places.
The boat takes us just outside the Magic Kingdom but that’s not our destination on this holiday week-end. We’re going to buy our passes and then take the monorail over the the Contemporary Resort.
The Monorail lets us off at the doors to the second floor entrance where we look over the balcony at the central floor of the hotel. It has a Polynesian theme and feel.
Bill and Nancy have been coming regularly to Disney World for a very long time. They have lots of stories to tell about what they’ve learned over the years. They know a lot about the history of the park and the building of the hotels. They have stories about previous visits both with and without their children. They know Disney World very well. We’re just learning.
Back on the Monorail our next stop is my favorite, The Grand Floridian. Again we walk in on the second floor. Down below I see Mary Poppins and a 1929 Cadillac. We will have to go down and get a closer look at it before heading on.
Inside, the hotel is definitely Grand. It gives me the Great Gatsby feeling of the elegant roaring twenties.
Love the elevator.
The chandelier hangs from here.
We move down the grand staircase to visit the Cadillac. At the bottom I stop to take a picture looking back up. The last time we were here, a wedding party was having pictures taken on the staircase. What a wonderful backdrop.
The car is definitely a beauty. I wonder how many vintage cars Disney owns? I suppose the answer is as many as they like.
Interesting that the side view mirror on the poassenger’s side is attached to the spare tire.
We take a bit of time to look around the grand entry way but it’s mighty chilly.
Tonight’s low is predicted to be 39 and sunset is approaching.
David and Nancy snuggle up to the outdoor heater.
David has moved into the usual woodstove lover’s position for warming up.
You may have noticed thought that all of us are in long sleeves and long pants and fleece but Bill is still in shorts.
You’d think he was from Minnesota although you’ll notice he’s the first one back inside.
That’s probably due to the fact that it is time for dinner and we have one more place to go first rather than that he’s cold like the rest of us.
The sun is setting as we pull away from the dock headed for our last stop, the Wilderness Lodge.
As we depart the boat, two Limpkins are busily poking their beaks into the sand.
They are coming up with something but it is too dark to tell what.
Even in the picture, I’m not sure.
Is it a snail? What do Limpkins eat?
Wilderness Lodge is fashioned after the grand lodges of the early western national parks. Although from this entrance it doesn’t look a lot like them, it definitely does inside.
The decor is largely Native American. There are giant totem poles and a Disneyesque totem pole.
A number of Native Drums adorn the walls.
The enormous fireplace screen is gorgeous brass work of art and the fire draws Nancy and I like a magnet.
The lamp shades remind me of Yellowstone Lodge.
The support poles have other poles strapped to them and many are carved.
Heading back to Fort Wilderness Campground, we catch the last of the color in the sky. Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Monday and we figure many families will be here for the long holiday week-end. So the crowds in the park will be up. Tomorrow we’re going to try our luck at Epcot which is not as child centered as the Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom. But we’ll get to them all this week you can bet. Come along and join the fun!