Category Archives: Disney
EPCOT! Oh man. I had so many great memories of Epcot, and so many things I wanted to do. The fam got up and left a little early because the brother wanted to go to Test Track. Figment and I weren’t that interested in that, and I thought I would die if I had to wake up at 5:30 again, so we snoozed just a little late and met them at the Land pavilion for breakfast. I had a chocolate croissant. It was glorious. (I love chocolate croissants more than most any other pastry item in the entire world.) After that, we went on Living with the Land and I got some excellent ideas for our garden. (I so want a tomato tree!)
After living with the land, we headed over to Soarin’ which was brilliant. We were in the first row (thank you Fast Passes!) which concerned me a little bit because I don’t generally do well in the first row of anything, my eyes are just too bad. But it was amazing. I didn’t realize how high up they take you when you get off the ground. I totally would have done it again, but they were already out of fast passes, and it was still early! After Soarin’ we headed over to the Seas with Nemo and Friends. Now, Nemo had nothing to do with the seas when I was a kid, it was just the Living Seas, but the exhibits have totally gotten better. We rode the ride and then wandered around the aquarium bit for a while. I know a good aquarium when I see one (hello Aquarium of the Americas, I miss you!), and this one was pretty good. When we got there, there was a guy feeding the cuttlefish. Those little things are speedy! If you blinked, you’d have missed it.
Then we split up. The brother, sister, and nephew all went off to play at Innoventions for a while and were going to go back to the hotel for the afternoon pool party. The mom, dad, Figment, and I went across to Mission: Space which I was really excited for. I’d heard great things about it, and let me tell you they were not wrong. Mom and dad went on the green, while Figment and I went on the orange. I admit, I got a little nervous while waiting for my turn after listening to the instructions, but I shouldn’t have been. It was one of my favorite things I did at Disney. During one bit, I had to push the button and I could barely lift my own arm!
After Mission: Space, we headed over to Spaceship Earth (AKA the giant golf ball), which was one of my can’t miss things. It was both just how I remembered and completely different. The little computerized stuff they added to the cars was fantastic, and I loved every minute of it. Then we headed over to Ellen’s Energy Adventure. I have to say, I was disappointed. I don’t remember it having been a 45 minute thing when I was a kid. Really, what I remembered was the riding part and the dinosaurs. If I got the chance to do it all over again, I’d have skipped it. Thankfully, there was a pineapple popsicle before we got there. After that, it was time to head to the World Showcase!
First stop, Norway where we got fast passes for Maelstrom then headed back to Mexico to do the Gran Fiesta Tour. The Mexico pavilion hasn’t changed much since I was a kid. Then it was time for food. Oh my cake, the tacos. I shared the chicken tacos and churros with Figment and they were amazing, probably some of the best tacos I’ve ever had. Absolutely delicious. Then it was time for our fast passes, so we headed back to Maelstrom.
Maelstrom was always my Mom’s favorite part of Epcot, and I knew I couldn’t skip it. What I did do was skip the damn film at the end. I always hated sitting through the movie when I knew there was so much other stuff to see, and now that I’m an adult I finally got to sneak out the other side without having to sit through it. After that, we just kind of meandered, it was nice to just wander through instead of race. We took our time looking at the various country specific shops, especially the Christmas ornament store in Germany. I kind of wanted to purchase a pickle ornament, but I knew I’d break the damn thing before I got it home. Because that’s how I roll.
We stopped at a cart outside the Italy pavilion for gelato. Now, I know absolutely nothing about gelato, but it was delicious anyway. I had a combo of strawberry and lemon. It was just the thing for the hottest day thus far. At this point, I was a sweaty, sweaty person. Let’s just say I was really thankful for my deodorant. While we hung out with our gelato, we wandered into the mask shop and then watched the mime who was a trip. Then we made it to Japan. I was excited to see the woman who makes the candy animals right out front of the shop, but she wasn’t there yet so we went inside and wandered around for a bit.
We saw the place where you pick your own pearl and both mom and me decided to get one. She let dad pick hers out, she wanted earrings, so he picked two. And then Figment and I managed to pick the same clam without even having to talk about it. It turned out that mom got two different colored pearls, a gray one and a white one, but I ended up with a white one so we traded. She got her earrings and I ended up with a glorious necklace that I now wear every day. And it has a great story attached to it! At this point, the candy lady was there so we went out to check out what she was doing before we headed over to catch the monorail to Magic Kingdom for dinner at the Crystal Palace with Pooh and friends.
I took this picture as she was finishing up. The green thing (which she hadn’t finished painting yet) was a dragon that Figment had requested. The upside down one below it is a lion. She literally takes blobs of plain white sugar candy that’s been warmed enough to be malleable and shapes it with her bare hands and scissors. It’s absolutely amazing watching her create something out of nothing. After she finished the dragon, it was time to head out.
As we were headed to the monorail, the brother and sister in law called us. Apparently they screwed up and our reservation was for 30 minutes sooner than they had told us it was. We were likely going to be late as we were all the way on the opposite end of the park from the monorail at that point. We speed walked past the remaining countries and headed to the monorail. I forgot that between Epcot and Magic Kingdom you have to switch trains at the transportation and ticket center. We were going to be just barely on time. Until the monorail fail. I swear it was like riding the metro at home. We made it to the Contemporary, and then we had to stop. Something about adding another train to the line and/or safety checks. It took FOREVER and we were late. But it didn’t matter too much, we just chilled out on the porch at the Crystal Palace until they called us.
The buffet wasn’t really anything to write home about (except the dessert), but it was good food anyway. And the nephew absolutely loved seeing Tigger, Piglet, Pooh, and Eeyore, which made the whole thing worth it. We were inside while the parade was going on outside, so we missed that. Then Figment and I decided to go ride Pirates again while we waited for the fireworks to start. We rode Pirates not once but twice, bringing the total up to 4 Pirate trips in 4 days. As it was the release date for the new Pirates movie, they had changed Davey Jones in the mist at the beginning to Blackbeard. Everything else was the same.
Afterwards we watched the fireworks, well half of them. We didn’t really think it through well enough, because we tried to see them from the top of Swiss Family Treehouse, but there were too many branches. So we ended up over by the Hall of Presidents where we caught the end. Regardless of how much we missed, it was still great. (It turns out we didn’t make the worst choice, the rest of the family ended up seeing them from the people mover!) And since it was a Magic Hour day, after the fireworks were through, the fun continued where we met up with the rest of the family at the Tomorrowland Speedway. I was kind of excited, I was finally old/tall enough to drive my own freaking car! Unfortunately, I got what was probably the slowest car on the track, but it was still fun. The brother in law got in trouble for running into dad. He said some guy just appeared out of the bushes and started yelling!
After that, we had time for one more thing, so we decided to go to Monsters Inc again. Figment and I had already been, but no one else had. This time, mom got picked out of the audience. I have to say, it was absolutely hilarious and the nephew was giggling madly at grandma. I don’t think she’ll ever live it down, and the number 57 will never be the same again. Then we were all exhausted and ready to go home, so we headed back to the hotel for rest and relaxation before the final Disney day.
We all got up far too early again, but I had had a much better sleep the night before so it didn’t really bother me as much. We all ate just whatever was lying around for breakfast and headed out the door. I was excited because today was Magic Kingdom day! When I was last at Disney, the only parks we did (I don’t even know if the other two even existed yet) were Magic Kingdom and Epcot. So I was ready for a return to my childhood. I couldn’t wait to ride Pirates and the Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain! I was even excited to see the Hall of Presidents, even though when I was little it bored me to death and all I really remember was having to stand up and listen to a bunch of boring stuff.
We all boarded the bus and headed off. It was still a pretty nice day ahead, not too hot and not too humid (especially for Florida weather). When we pulled up to Magic Kingdom, so much came rushing back to me. I must admit, I cried a little throughout the day. It brought back so many good memories of being there with my parents that it was kind of difficult to move on. Although, I’m not the only one who was having an issue.
The day before, my MIL walked the entirety of the day under her own steam. Now, for anyone else this wouldn’t be a problem, but she has rheumatoid arthritis and so today she was paying for the day before. She kept up her brave face, but the family didn’t want to see her suffer so they made her get in one of the motorized wheelchairs. She was not best pleased. Figment kept poking at her about it (he never does know when to leave well enough alone) and I told him to just shut up and let her be, she’d get used to it and be fine (which she did and she was). We all knew she’d be happier and be able to enjoy it more if she didn’t have to worry about being in pain all the time. We were right.
After that mess, Figment and the brother and father and I headed off to hit Space Mountain before it got too crowded while the nephew, mom, and sister went off to Fantasyland. Space Mountain was my first real roller coaster and was one of my dad’s favorite parts of Disney. As we had gotten there not too long after the park had opened, we were in luck and the line was minimal. I must admit, I don’t remember it being so jerky, but that’s probably because it was my very first roller coaster and I didn’t know any better and because I had been on Rock & Roll just the day before and it was such a smooth ride. In any case, it was just as I remembered it was.
Next we all wandered off to Frontierland to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain. And the HAUNTED MANSION! I was so excited. When my parents and I would go to Disney, we’d spend an entire week doing just the two parks, so there was a lot of meandering and doing things slowly. My dad didn’t come out with us every day, he was a barfly back then so he’d spend quite a bit of time napping or hanging out in the bar on the top floor of the Contemporary Resort. The Haunted Mansion and Pirates were one of the few things I really remember us doing all together as a family. (Except Epcot. My dad ALWAYS went to Epcot.) And it was just as I remembered, only better obviously because clearly technology has gotten better.
Then we took the nephew on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad since he hadn’t done it the first time and then had lunch. I was totally in the mood for chicken nuggets, and I have to say Disney does an excellent nugget. Actual chicken! After lunch we headed over to Adventureland for the Jungle Cruise. Then there was the disaster where we went to ride Pirates (which was one of the few things on my own personal MUST DO list). All I have to say is at least he didn’t do any screaming or carrying on, but it was a disaster none the less.
Then we got on the train that runs around the park. Figment and I got off at Main Street while the rest of the fam went back around because Mom’s chair couldn’t make the journey on the train and they wanted to take the nephew to Tom Sawyer’s Island. Figment and I went off and saw Buzz Lightyear (where the FastPass guy gave us the only bad experience of the entire trip), Stitch’s Great Escape, the People Mover, the Carousel of Progress (which for some reason I confused with Spaceship Earth), and the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. Monsters Inc. wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen at Disney. It was absolutely hilarious and I have no idea how they do it but I completely recommend it.
After we had done all that, we met back up at the front of Magic Kingdom because it was time to go to dinner. So we went and got on the boat to take us to Wilderness Lodge to the Whispering Canyon Cafe. At this point, we were all hungry and tired so dinner was looking great to us anywhere, but Wilderness Lodge was absolutely gorgeous and the food was delicious. I had a mango smoothie and the trout and a fruit plate for dessert. The men all had the all you can eat meat plate.
Now, if you’ve never been to Whispering Canyon Cafe, you wouldn’t know that the name is completely bogus. There is no whispering there. The waitresses are all crazy funny, and when the brother asked for more tea, the waitress brought him out a mason jar the size of his head full of tea. She told him if he finished that one he could have more. And god forbid you should ask for ketchup. Oh man. We had just sat down when all the sudden we hear from a table at the back “WEEEE NEEEEEDDDD KETCHUPPPPPPP!” Apparently, if you ask for ketchup, you get it but you have to yell for it. And people all over the restaurant bring you theirs. Literally. So you end up with 10-15 bottles of ketchup on your table until it’s time for the next person to need ketchup then you have to take all your bottles to their table. Figment tried to swipe one off another table in order to not do this, but our waitress caught him. It was hilarious.
After dinner, we got back on the boat. Figment and I decided we wanted to go back to Magic Kingdom and do some more things, like I really wanted to go to the Presidents and hadn’t gotten there yet (and I didn’t know if we’d have time to go back later). Everyone else headed back to the hotel. We ended up doing basically everything that was left to do in the Magic Kingdom.
We started off at Presidents which had become amazingly impressive compared to what was there in the 80s. I mean, you can’t go wrong if your show is narrated by Morgan Freeman. When it first started it was a movie and all I could think of was, “Where in blazes are the animatronic presidents!?” Well, soon my question was answered in true Disney fashion. The curtain went up and there was Lincoln. Now, when I was little they just kind of stood there. Now? They stand up and sit back down and are so realistic it’s scary. And then at the end, the entire screen goes up and there they all are, including Barack Obama!
I found it all very exciting. Morgan Freeman’s God voice introduced all the presidents in order, and shone a light on each of them as they were named. Barack Obama was so realistic that his gaze followed the introduced presidents and even had shifts in his body weight. I was really blown away. It was so much more than I ever expected!
At this point we went back outside and I wanted to go through Cinderella’s castle, but they had it all blocked off. I was annoyed until I found it it was for the fireworks show! Since it was already pretty late, we decided to just go ahead and stay for the fireworks as I couldn’t remember them anyway. In the meantime, we rode Winnie the Pooh, where Figment realized that’s where I got the words heffalumps and woozles from. (It’s what we call the cats.) And then we visited the carousel, even though we didn’t ride it, and avoided It’s a Small World like the plague. (I rode it as a child, and the song is still stuck in my head.)And since we still had a little more time to kill we went and watched Mickey’s PhilharMagic. It was amazing, and I’m not a fan of 3D. (Mostly because my eyes don’t work well with the glasses so I have to perch them on the very end of my nose in order to see everything.) It was AMAZING. They pipe in smells and you get spritzed with water and puffs of air. I was glad we randomly wandered in. Then we walked as quickly as possible to the front gates to watch the fireworks.
Now, I love fireworks, but I hate crowds and getting stuck in traffic. (I love fireworks so much that I’ll brave both frigid and sweltering temperatures to get a good view.) So we decided that since you can see the fireworks from anywhere in the entire park that we would see them from the front so we could exit fast quick and in a hurry afterwords. It was GLORIOUS! Unfortunately, I suck at nighttime pictures. I’m too shaky to make anything not blurry, but I try anyway and amazingly enough I got a few decent ones. I have to admit, I cried a little during the show. Huge displays have a way of doing that to me, and it had been a rough day emotionally but oh so worth it.
I awoke the first actual morning of Insanecation 2011 exhausted. I’d had an absolutely crap night’s sleep and felt like a zombie. It was a glorious morning, in the low 60s with a slight breeze and very little humidity. The first stop of the morning was going to be Animal Kingdom for breakfast with Donald. I was pretty excited about this, because even though this was my fifth trip to Disney, it would be my first trip to Animal Kingdom as it had been built a few years after the last time I had been.
After waiting what seemed like forever for the bus to show up, we finally made it to Animal Kingdom. My first thought was for coffee, and then for waffles. I mean really, how can you visit Disney for breakfast and not have a Mickey waffle!? Breakfast was carbolicious, and the nephew got autographs from Mickey, Miney, Donald, and Daisy. Then we were headed out, and one of the guys gave us the tip of the day – head out the side door so that when they drop the rope you’re a stone’s throw away from the Kilimanjaro Safari and since it was early, all the animals would be out.
We ended up being on the first truck out for the safari. I was expecting at least fences or some other thing that would keep the animals out of the road and away from the tourists, but that was totally not the case. All the animals (except the elephants) wandered wherever they liked and we even saw the lion and his mate just hanging out atop a rock right off the road. Had they really wanted to, they could have come down and eaten us, but I think they probably get pretty regular feedings in order to prevent just such a thing.
Then, some genius in our party decided that Kali River Rapids would be an excellent idea. I don’t remember who it was, but whoever you are, I call shenanigans. I got completely drenched at 10 in the morning. It wasn’t even hot yet, and I wasn’t actually wearing the right clothes to be drenched in. Jean shorts are extremely uncomfortable wet. Thankfully, I had planned better than the MIL, as she had both done her hair AND worn a white t-shirt. None of us were particularly pleased as the signs tell you there’s a possibility of spray, not that you may end up taking a bath in your clothes!
After this debacle, we headed towards Expedition Everest. On the way there, we passed this woman who was like nothing I had ever seen in my life. She was not only completely clothed in leaves, but she was walking on stilts and had what were basically long crutches. She didn’t walk, she kind of flew. When she stopped at this pole and turned her face away from the crowd, there was no way you could tell there was a person in there. It was amazing.
Now let me tell you, I didn’t ride my first roller coaster until my senior year of high school. Yep, I was a COMPLETE scaredy cat. But since then, I’ve gotten a lot better. We got to Expedition Everest and were going to get in line, but two random guys offered us their fast passes, so Figment and I went and BIL and FIL got in line. (BIL isn’t really good at roller coasters, I’m not sure what he was thinking.) According to our bus driver, there was a giant Yeti that used to swing his arm at the cars on the way by, but after a few years the steel had actually started to warp and they had to shut him down because he was getting too close to the passengers. Everest wasn’t at all bad as roller coasters go, even though there was some backwards action, which really isn’t my favorite thing.
We wandered Animal Kingdom for a little while longer because the nephew wanted to go to The Boneyard to excavate dino bones. Figment and I take responsibility for this, for his birthday two years ago we bought him an excavate your own dino kit. It apparently made a giant mess, but he LOVED it. We hung out around there for awhile and then went for lunch, which was pretty good, then headed for Hollywood Studios (another new to me park).
We got to Hollywood Studios, where my camera died later on, and meandered towards something that the SIL wanted to do with the nephew. It was way below our age group and didn’t seem interesting, so Figment and I got some ice cream and headed to the shade to chill while we waited. Yep, I did get a chocolate covered Mickey on a stick. It was just like I remembered and was really very refreshing. Figment had a popsicle that he lost half of, but we rinsed it off with some of our water. After everyone was finished, we went on the Great Movie Ride which was a nice change of pace from all the walking and was pretty cool (in more ways than one!). Then Figment, BIL, and I headed over to get fast passes for the Rock & Roll Roller Coaster and to get in line for Tower of Terror. I’m not quite sure how I let him talk me into that one. I hate free fall, and honestly I kept my eyes closed the entire time. When we got on, I accidentally overtightened my seatbelt and it was really uncomfortable, but once we started “falling” I was kind of happy I did. (Another bus driver tidbit, you don’t actually fall, you’re pulled up and down by various cables. It made me feel slightly better about it, but not enough to do it again.)
And holy balls, Rock & Roll Roller Coaster. We got in line and I was fine until we got to the front and saw one take off. I immediately started getting cold feet. I was SO not interested in dying! According to the book that someone had brought, the cars go from 0-60 in 3.5 seconds. It ended up not being so bad, it was actually the smoothest roller coaster I had ever been on, and I totally would have done it again, only we never actually got the time to do so.
Then everyone headed off to Toy Story Mania which had an 80 minute wait, so Figment and I went off exploring on our own. (What can I say, we’re impatient!) We wandered around and checked things out and then had a moment of “hey, what’s over here?” Then another moment of “wait, this looks like Star Wars”.
And it WAS Star Wars! I had NO idea that Lucas had partnered with Disney to create a ride there. We got fast passes, and were going to come back, but the line seemed to be moving pretty quickly so we just got in line where we randomly met (by sharing hiccup cures) two people in line behind us who actually work at Disney. (The pay isn’t great, but the benefits are amazing.) They told us that there are 57 different versions of this ONE ride. The lead up in line was awesome. If it’s one thing Disney knows, it’s attention to detail and entertaining people while they’re in line. We got to the ride, strapped in (even the “pre-flight” video was hilarious, with stuffed ewoks and people in Yoda backpacks), and then proceeded into what would be one of my FAVORITE parts of the whole Disney experience. Even though it was 3D, which for some reason doesn’t get along with my crappy vision, it was amazing. I highly recommend it to EVERYONE IN THE WORLD, well except 5 year olds apparently.
We exited and the fam was waiting for us and even the 5 year old wanted to go, so we gave them our fast passes and they went in while Figment and I stood outside and watched the show. They choose kids from the audience to “train” to become Jedi. They even fight Vader at the end! It was adorable, until they came back out. Apparently, the 5 year old spent the ENTIRE time screaming. This is the same kid that rides scary roller coasters at home all the time, things I’m not even sure I’d want to do. (This is a theme that would continue throughout the vacation. Don’t even get me started on all that mess.) Then we all decided we were hot and tired and ready to go. So back to the hotel we headed for dinner and hot tubbing.
Stay tuned for the next installment!
Oh man. Our vacation. was. INSANE. The trip down was horrible. We were in the last group to board the plane, and we were still outside the jetway when they announced that all the overhead space was full. What? Then they told us one of our carry ons wouldn’t fit under the seat (which it totally would have) so we had to actually check it. Thankfully, we weren’t charged a second checked bag fee. Then that little fiasco made us 30 minutes late for takeoff, so our takeoff slot was gone and we were going to have to wait. (Another problem was getting the nutbags on the flight to sit the hell down already!)
We finally got to the runway, only to sit there for two hours. Why? Because our slot was gone, and suddenly the winds had changed which meant because of the weight of the plane, we would have to take off in the opposite direction from where we were supposed to take off and there wasn’t any space between all the planes landing going in that direction for us. Then it started raining. Then the President flew through the local airspace, further backing things up. I love my President, but not when he’s interrupting my regularly scheduled programming, so to speak.
We finally got underway about two hours after we were supposed to. (Figment had a drink on the plane because we were seriously pissed at this point, but I was saving myself for the epic Pina Colada that I knew was waiting for me at our resort.) We FINALLY got to the airport in Orlando wt which point we had to take the tram from our arrival gate to the baggage claim, we got our two bags and headed off to get in line for the Disney Magical Express! We were so tired by the time we made it to the hotel, we barely had any energy left to schlep across the street to our resort’s quick service dining place.
After dinner, Figment and I hit the bar where I got my much needed Pina Colada, then sat around the pool area for a while. (Yes, that is my delicious adult beverage over there on the right, and yes that is indeed Lilo and Stitch playing in the background on that giant inflatable screen!). The first night was not magical, since I was so congested and exhausted that I ended up having an asthma attack and having to sit in the steamy shower for 30 minutes. Then Figment’s mom started in with some serious log sawing, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was cold, exhausted, and couldn’t breathe. I finally wandered into our living room and figured out the pull out couch and semi-crashed. Thankfully, it wasn’t too uncomfortable and the rest of our trip was way better.
Stay tuned for days 2, 3, and 4!