DAY 4

FRI 31st DEC 1999

Wake up at 6:30. Yahoo! This is the day that the whole trip has been based around, the eve of a new millennium. We shower and have breakfast in the room while Georgia discovers her gift from the tooth fairy. Her prime objective for the day will be to find something to spend her new found wealth on.
Out to the bus stop at 7:45 where there is already a queue of about 100 people. One Epcot bus turns up quite quickly and then nothing for the next hour. there are dark mutterings afoot in the queue. (Can a foot mutter?) Eventually a CM comes out to explain that the delay is due to heavy traffic around the Epcot area and the buses just can't get through. He also reassures us that, as we are guests at a Disney resort, we will be guaranteed entry into Epcot. I am reassured by this and relax and enjoy the lovely sunny morning. We have no plans to do anything except wander round and enjoy the atmosphere so I am not really worried how long it takes to get in.
We eventually enter Epcot at 10:15 and head for the lockers to try and store our clothes for later. These, of course, are full but they point us in the direction of Guest Relations where there is a long line of people waiting to leave their spare baggage. It does not take too long to reach the front and you have to give credit to Disney for setting up a service to their guests.

We try to get a fastpass for Test Track but just as Tammy reaches the machine it stops giving out tickets as the allocation for the day is full. We will have to wait a little longer for our first ride. We wander round World Showcase and stroll into Mexico where we take a trip on the boat ride. This must be one of the few attractions with practically no wait today. After this Tammy starts to get that strange look on her face that means I have not had any food for 3 hours and I will start to get grumpy very soon if you don't feed me. By good luck we are in Norway so a visit to the bakery is in order. There follows a of an hour wait for coffee and pastries. It's funny how Tammy hates to wait in line for any ride but would gladly hang around all day for a cake. While we are queuing the girls have fun in the Viking ship. The pastries are excellent as usual.

We are not really worried if we have to queue for anything today. this is New Year's Eve, the place is packed, the lines are long but this is just what we expected. We don't care, nothing is going to spoil this day.

The next stop is to watch the American Adventure. Why is it that I always come out of there feeling proud to be an American? I thought that one or other of the girls might fall asleep but they both watch enthralled.

We walk round to the Land to meet Patricia O'Brien for her RADP meet. We cannot immediately see anyone so get in line at one of the food outlets. Grandma spots a lady with an RADP badge and is off to introduce herself. The rest of us soon follow and meet Trish and her husband Kevin. (Wonderful name, always reminds me of handsome, intelligent men). we find a table and soon after are joined by Tony (Panflight). We spend a very pleasant half an hour discussing our various trials and tribulations getting into the park today. Trish and Kevin were waiting in the car park at 7:00 and had very little trouble while poor Tony was kept waiting for 2 hours at the International Gateway. They are all very nice people and it was a shame that more people couldn't make it to the meet as I would love to meet as many people from RADP as possible. I know that there was another RADP meet in Italy at 6:00 PM but we already had priority seating for the San Angel Inn at 5:45 and so were unable to make that one. By the way, I sample my first beer of the day here. Be fair, it is nearly 2:30.

While we are busy chatting the girls and Grandma have been off to the Green thumb Emporium and Georgia has achieved her objective of spending her Disney dollars. She has bought a bag of those little gem stones. We meet another lovely CM here who tells Georgia that she should be able to fit a few more into her bag and to go back and get some more. Well, Georgia is never one to miss an opportunity and comes back with the bag bursting at the seams. The lady just laughs and asks Georgia her name. when she tells her the lady says 'Oh, you must have one of the new quarters with the state of Georgia on it' and spends a few minutes searching around to find her one. Just a little kindness but it is the sort of thing that makes you feel good.

We say our farewells and wander off to get changed for the evening. The ladies do like to dress up and look their best for the big event. Back at Guest Relations we recover our things and after a quick wash and brush up we are raring to go. One thing that is unusual about today is that we have seen quite a few people who have decided to make an effort for the evening, some going so far as wearing tuxedos, OK, they have shorts on as well but the thought is there. All around the lagoon we have seen people that have laid down blankets and staked out there place for the fireworks right from park opening. As we have been walking around we have also seen people lying out on any grassy surface available, just relaxing, sunbathing and enjoying a drink. It is a really laid back atmosphere, almost similar to a big rock festival.

It is nearly time for our meal in Mexico but we are hoping to catch a few minutes of Tapestry of Nations first. It is 5:30 PM and this is going to be the only showing today. Unfortunately we are right at the end of the parade route and so it has not even reached us when it is time for us to go to eat. While we have been waiting Georgia asks Tammy 'Mummy, are we going to watch the race?' Tam can't think what she means for a while and then twigs it. Georgia has seen all the people in wheelchairs lined up across the path at the end of the parade route with a rope across them and she is ready for the great wheelchair dash!

The food in Mexico gets a mixed reception. Grandma finds her shrimp dish to be too hot whereas I quite like my beef dish. The girls really push back the culinary borders and order chicken fingers. This is the second time we have eaten here and I think that the attraction is definitely the setting rather than the food. Still, we all enjoy the Sol and we get given silly plastic top hats which we not only wear all night but somehow manage to get home in the suitcase as well.

Our aim is to be in front of the Rose and Crown for 7:00 PM which is midnight back in the UK. The crowds are now quite heavy around World Showcase but we just take our time and go with the flow. We arrive in plenty of time and the purchase of a mini yard of ale for me makes me feel much better. There are so many silly plastic hats around that it looks like some sort of mad milliners convention.
I will try to explain the scene. It is absolutely packed with people, they are climbing up on the cross and all over anything to get a vantage point. The atmosphere is absolutely electric and there is much singing of patriotic football songs. It is all wonderfully good humoured and the countdown is greeted by enormous cheers and a very rowdy version of Auld Lang Syne. I like this, I like it a lot, two New Year's for the price of one.
Off to catch the end of the British Invasion and the first attempt by the Stringer family to dance this evening. Not a pretty sight. Well, I'm pretty good, it's the rest of them you understand. Georgia is now getting tired but, ever resourceful, we have planned for this possibility and the stroller is brought into play. At 6 years old she is really too old for this but we brought it all the way from England just for this night as we know there is no way she will last without it. Sometimes even I am amazed at my forward planning.

Our plan is to see Off Kilter next but it is so thronged with people as we approach Canada that we can't get through. Never mind, we just turn around and walk towards France instead. Forward planning and flexibility, what a guy!

Around we go as far as Japan where a huge disco is in full swing. They play 'Tubthumping' and everyone starts to jump. Rolling back the years to show that there's life in the old dog yet, I grab India and we push our way through to the dance floor and start leaping. As we look around there is Grandma, elbowing a few youngsters out of the way and doing a pretty fair Tigger impression herself.

On to Italy were another disco is in full swing with lights and lasers going like crazy. Another dance or two, this time with Tam. I think there is some obscure law in Florida that states that you must dance with your wife on New Year's Eve. Damn, and just as I was getting on so well with those two good looking girls. I assume the gestures they were making sticking their fingers in their throats and holding their stomachs is something American girls do to show that they are impressed?

We then wander off to the dancing fountain where another big stage is set up with some obscure boy band are going at full bore(dom). When we pass later on our way out the lighting rig has been lowered. I hope they were underneath it at the time.

Onward back round to Canada to catch the end of Off Kilter where Georgia wakes up for a dance with her embarrassing parents. The worst thing so far has been the queues for the drinks (mmm...... beer) and the loos. The ladies have to stand in line for ages as usual.

A return to the UK sees us up front with the British Invasion again with much singing along to 'Hey Jude'. For the rest of the week Georgia is singing 'Hey Jule'.
It is now 11:15 and we decide to find a place to watch the fireworks. We move on to Japan and find an area that is not too crowded, passing the blanket people on the way. Much as I admire their resolve there has been too many wonderful things to see and do today to spend it camped out on the pavement.

Celebration drinks are required for midnight but, as time is running out, the only thing we can get is champagne, sake and plum wine. The sake is horrible but the plum wine is nice.
Reflections of Earth begins. I did not realise that the globe moves across the lagoon to its position in the centre. We cannot see too much of the water level effects but the music is fantastic and we will see it later in the trip without the crowds. Poor Georgia has had enough and is crying that she wants to go home. Tammy sticks Georgia's head under her fleece and we carry on watching. Horrible parents aren't we?
As Reflections of Earth finishes a huge fireworks display begins in the sky above Japan. It is truly beautiful and as it fades away I think 'That's it, they can't top that'. Oh no? The countdown to midnight begins and the globe has the numbers spinning on it as we approach zero. Everyone goes wild and the skies around the top of World Showcase erupt in a huge wall of fireworks. I do not remember too many colours, mostly gold, silver and white. At one point the whole sky seems ablaze with fire for as far as I can see, I just stand there with this stupid grin plastered across my face watching this amazing event. As India points out, it is like daylight, there is so much light being shed. When I do manage to look around there are fireworks shooting from the barges in the lagoon as well! All too soon it is over and, as Tammy says, 'I want to see it all again please'.

Gradually we calm down and New Year hugs and kisses are exchanged. We walk on past the American pavilion and a swing band are in full ...... er, .. swing. People are up on the stage dancing so we clamber up and let rip again. After a while we decide on a quick snack and a return to the bus stop as it is now 1:45 AM. We planned not to leave straight after midnight as the bus queues would be awful. Burger and hotdogs in America are the order of the day. (night?) We are all amazed by the gingerbread house. Tammy would like to live here but she would eventually end up with no roof ...... or doors ....... or windows.

Another slow walk to the bus stop sees us line up with the rest of mankind on this planet at 2:15. Our plan to miss the crowds has not been entirely successful. The buses roll in and out with great regularity but the sheer volume of people means we do not get on the bus until 3:15 AM. Still, a one hour wait with that many people around would not be too bad if it were not for the fact that we are all very tired.
We eventually clamber on to the bus and come to the low point of the day. We are all standing and not one person offers any of us a seat. What kind of ignorant, stupid, self centred people allow an adult carrying a sleeping 6 year old, a lady of 74 and a clearly exhausted 9 year old to stand in a moving bus?
Tammy and I exchange rather loud comments about ignorant people and how good manners are a thing of the past but no one seems inclined to move. The only way I can remain upright is to wedge myself across the gangway between the seats. I am sure that the person in the seat closest to me must have caught Georgia's food around the head a couple of times. GOOD!
I don't mean to be rude but had this been a bus in Britain you would have had people (both men and women) falling over themselves to offer a seat to a child or elderly person. Men even get up to let women sit down for goodness sake!
I apologise profusely to my wonderful American friends for these remarks but I'm afraid that it is the truth. Maybe we just had a bus full of selfish tired people.
OK, enough moaning, we reach the All Star Movies and clamber into bed at 4:00 AM. Not even the ending could spoil an incredible, wonderful day. I can honestly say that I will never forget where I was when the new Millennium began. Oh yes, and one other thing. In all the hours we were in the park, which was full to capacity with happy, drinking adults, we did not see one incident of violence or even rudeness. Now THAT is something that would be very unlikely had this event taken place in the UK. Good and bad in all societies I suppose.

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