Monday, November 20, 2006

Day 3 at Disney - Pt 2


Day three continued, but by the skin of our teeth.

There was legitimate concern that the girls, having been put down very late for a nap, would sleep straight through the night. We'd have probably gone ahead and woken them up, but they did it themselves as if on cue, and we were off to the races.


The question was: Epcot or the Magic Kingdom?


We chose the latter for the 3rd day in a row.  It was largely to catch up on what we'd missed, but also had a lot to do with our rather boring recollections of Epcot. Still, Epcot will rank high on our next 'to do' list.


So we got to the park and took the steam train around the park, exiting at Mickey's ToonTown Fair at the girls' request.


The ride in the dark was great, with spectacular views of attractions in Frontierland and the like!



The first thing we did there was take a spin on the Barnstormer, a kiddie roller coaster with a potent little bite for its size. I liked it, and so did everyone else - well enough to go on it three times in a row!




From there we toured an open-air Disney shop, where we bought an apple for a snack and a Mickey Mouse toy car as a souvenir for Parker. We also tried on some of the hats for sale - how do you like them?







At LuLu's urgent and repeated requests we then went on a tour of Minnie Mouse's house, a charming little home done up in full cartoon style. There was a microwave in the kitchen that popped 'popcorn' and some amusing 'plant' specimens too, like Tiger Lilies with cat faces!




It was only logical then that we tour Mickey's neighboring house, which didn't seem to have as much character as his girlfriends (it is a bachelor pad, after all), though with several tuxes hanging in his closet he is a dapper Mouse.



A path in the garden led to the Judge's Tent, where Mickey himself holds court. We all enjoyed seeing him again and posed for some pictures.




We closed out ToonTown Fair by spending some time in Toon Park, where the girls enjoyed playing in the toddler area. YaYa spent much of the time conversing with another father in the play area. Sometimes I think we must not spend enough time conversing with the girl!


After that we pushed onwards into more familiar areas of the Magic Kingdom. While searching for our next stop we were surrounded on all sides by the nightly fireworks. It really was swell seeing the sky light up to our right, to our left, and overhead - like sitting (safely) in the middle of a great cannon broadside. Easily, unquestionably, the best fireworks show I've seen.


Afterwards we waited in a tremendously slow line for Peter Pan's Flight - made more so by my girls growing restlessness with waiting in lines.


Thank goodness for cell phones, as Lisa called home and had her Mom talk to the girls.


The ride itself was all right - you're suspended in a gondola(?) as you fly over various scenes from the story of Peter Pan. The visuals are endearing, but was the three minute ride worth the half hour wait? Naw, probably not.




From there we pushed on to Liberty Square, where we did a little shopping. Ten years ago I came across a book of all the Presidential inaguraral addresses. I wanted it, but was running low on cash and gave it a pass. This time around I found the exact same book (updated, natch) and gave it a green light.


I sent Lisa and the girls in to pick it up while she assigned me to secretly go across the road and pick up and Ariel and a Belle Christmas ornament as a surprise gift for the holidays. I also picked up a 2006 WDW ornament too.


When I walked back to the bookstore LuLu came running to me, shopping bag in hand.


"Daddy, you'll be sooooooo happy," she said, handing me the bag. Inside was not only the Inagural Address book, but another thick, $40 history book.


"Lisa did you buy this?" I asked.


"Buy what?" she said.


Yup, that's right - LuLu had successfully pinched the book from the shop. I took her back in the shop to return it and apologize.


From there we all hit the Haunted Mansion, the ride Lisa describes as her favorite of all WDW.


You begin by standing in an oval room that appears to stretch and warp as a ghostly (and somewhat tongue in cheek) voice warns you about the horrors to come.




You're released from the room and the ride becomes more conventional, with folks loading into cars that travel down a track throughout the mansion. Holographic ghosts hitch a ride with you, appear and disappear for a dinner appointment, and just generally try to spook you.


The girls were scared, but nothing over the top. A very fun ride.


The evening parade was beginning to take shape (the park was open to 11, two hours later than earlier in the week) and our options for travel in the park were getting limited.  

Even so we pushed on to our next destination: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.



This wild but not too wild roller coaster was one of our stops in '96 and YaYa and Lisa both wanted to ride it something fierce. LuLu and I waited at the entrance while they took their turn, watching the parade start to move down a nearby street.


[it's also where I took a good drink of water fountain - 'bubbler' - water and nearly gagged. The whole trip Lisa had been complaining about the water quality but I poo-poohed her. I guess I'd gotten lucky and drank only our Milwaukee stock, 'cause that water SUCKED]


YaYa and Lisa quickly came down, YaYa all breathless in her excitement over the ride. They wanted to go again, and while they did Lu and I ventured down to the street to watch the parade up close.


None of my pics turned out from that glittery, beautiful, illuminated nighttime parade (one of my camera'smajor flaws is the poor picture quality in low light circumstances]


One of my happiest moments at DisneyWorld occurred there, when LuLu ecstatically yelled 'Hi So and So!!' to every character she recognized, even if only a smidgeon ["Hi, Ariel's Dad" she yelled at one point.]


In the end the folks on the ride let YaYa ride three times, twice without even getting back in line. "Go ahead Princess," they told her. She couldn't stop talking about the 'cave' and the 'bats' and the this and the that J


[FYI - everywhere they went at WDW and on the ship it was 'Princess' this and 'Princess' that. Spoiled 'em rotten]


We took Adventureland as an attempted escape route, but YaYa begged and pleaded to go through the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House again. I'm sure it was just a stalling technique before we went home and it wasn't really her favorite thing in the whole park. ["Well, maybe not my favorite," she said when Lisa pressed her "But one of my favorites!"]


This time I went alone with the girls, and mister, you try carrying your 35 pound youngest girl up that many stairs.


From there it was out of the park [passing the disturbing scene of parents holding their mentally ill son against the concrete as he had an episode]


Once we returned to the hotel we realized we still hadn't eaten since our makeshift lunch of reheated leftovers. So we headed over to the diner. The girls and I ordered a pizza, Lis had spaghetti, and we spent a good hour there; the girls coloring pictures of the Princesses and watching the Disney Channel, Lis and I admiring the girls and already remembering the great times we'd had at Disney World.


Then it was on to the room where we packed our bags and got ready for our cruise.


Day 3 of Disney - Part One


Day three and our final full day at Disney began, again, with us finishing off the last of the cereal and powdered milk. From there it was on to Disney-MGM studios, an amusement park built around misty, watercolor memories of Old Hollywood. It has a beautiful, quasi-'40's feel and visually is right up my alley.


Our first stop was an old stomping ground, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.



While I am a ninny on any and all rides, ten years ago I'd worked myself into such a frenzy over the Tower that the reality of the ride seemed . . . mild and good natured. My fondest memory of the ride was a Rod Sterling story collection I'd picked up in the Tower gift shop in '96.


An unusual description and nerdy memory for a ride that takes you through a haunted hotel before dropping you straight down 13 stories, but there it is.


Anyhow, I didn't ride it this time.


YaYa did.


She and Lisa went on it together.



 Despite all the people who gave my wife dirty looks as my 5 year old waited in line, YaYa had been itching to go on the Tower since we landed in Orlando.


Trust me, it was her choice and she loved it.


She came off the ride raving about how exciting it was, how she'd seen a car full of ghosts who had disappeared , crashing windows and mirrors, and had ridden all the way up to 'the letters' before dropping to the earth, and hard the darnest time remembering the word 'stories'.


Did I mention she LOVED it? She and her Mom are more alike than they recognize.


Meanwhile, Lu and I waited in line for Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage.



[you know, I hate to have this whole thing sound like a 'here's how we banged up Lu throughout the vacation' but my big memory of the wait, besides her eventually taking a nap in the stroller, was her flipping head over feet out of the stroller outside the restroom, falling sharply on and scraping her left shoulder]


Once the seating opened we grabbed the row just behind the sound manager.


The show was very good.  Like I said once upon a time, we're a big fan of musicals. Essentially a shortened version of the Broadway show, it followed the movie close enough for the girls to follow easily.





Following seeing Lu's favorite Princess in song, we waited in line for YaYa's. I had been warned that the part live action/part animatronic/ part cartoon show was one of Disney's weaker efforts, or at the very least not fit for grown ups, but on the contrary: I found it to be very amusing and cute. A little too short, if anything.


[neat memory: a little girl vomiting in the cattle car the line was forced to wait in before the doors opened. Nifty!]


Lisa had tried in vain, as we waited in line, to secure a last minute reservation for any restaurant with bookings for Fantasmic, an allegedly fantastic laser/light/water/special effects show that closes MGM at night. We never did get to see it, and that will have to top our 'to do' list if/when we return.


When Mermaid was over the girls were starting to bug out and Lisa and I were both feeling a little let-down.




Because almost all our 'memories' of MGM from '96 were actually of Universal Studios. Kong, Earthquake, Back to the Future, etc - all Universal.


It's like going on a date with an old flame only to remember, too late, that it was her sister that was the hot one.


So we contemplated going back to the hotel, or hitting a different park. After all, we'd already knocked out The Tower, Beauty and The Beast, and Mermaid - other than Fantasmic, there was nothing left on our list.


At the last minute tho' Lisa decided to jump us into the line for the Great Movie Ride, primarily as a last 'hurrah' and because there was almost no line.


Except oopsie, the line was long as heck, but hidden from view as it wrapped around the inside of a theater showing old movie trailers (The Searchers, my Dad's favorite western, was one of them).


It went on FOREVER, and the wait was hellish as the kids continued to wig out. The only good part - as if it was even worth it - was seeing some real props from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Mary Poppins.



The ride itself started out disgustingly lame and I remember thinking "oh man, please don't let this be it. Don't let this be what we waited through THAT for".


And then a gunfight broke out with some bootleggers and a female ganster, clad in a zoot suit, hijacked our tram at gunpoint.


I should mention we were sitting right behind the 'driver' of the tram, so when this woman booted the tour guide and took over we had a gun being waved a foot or so from my kids.


Hey I know it was fake, and I know the chick wasn't really a Brooklyn Bootleggin' Gangster.


But if I'd have known it was gonna happen, I'd have certainly kept the kids a few rows back.


After that the ride picked up, going through scenes from Alien, Singing in the Rain, and the girls' favorite The Wizard of Oz.


When the ride ended we grabbed an ice cream and pretzel from a nearby refreshment stand and decided to make one more stop, at a placed called the Writer's Stop.


I had some idea it was related to writing, but it was just the standard bookstore/coffee shop. Funny, I remember being fooled the same way a decade ago.


So we just loittered for a minute.




Then we AGAIN tempted fate by joining up another line, Muppet Vision 3D.



We were fortunate in seeing a wicked temper tantrum by a 7 or 8 year old boy during the pre-show. Our own kids stayed pretty well behaved. We somehow lost two sets of 3D glasses and started the show without them, but dispatched YaYa to grab us another two sets.


The kids liked the show, but it paled in comparison to PhilHarmagic and honestly, it seems very dated compared to how it stood up in '96.


Here's a pic of the Muppet fountain outside the venue.


On the way out of the park for a much need nap we were - guess what? - sidetracked by another event, the daily parade. We got seats on the very last stretch of pavement before the parade's end, and occupied our time by trying to catch some of the super fast lizards in the nearby bush, and collecting snail shells from the same area.



The parade was pretty cool. I allowed YaYa to take most of the pics of it. Here's some of the better shots:


















From there it was back to the hotel for a very late nap, as it was now nearing 4 o'clock.