Monday, January 11, 2010

"the era we are living in today is a dream of coming true." -WED

Oh, hi. I just wrote half of this post and then deleted it, because I rock at life. I'm at work right now, and not happy to be here, though I have lots of happy memories to tie me over until my next Disney trip.

Without further ado, here's my recap of Thursday, January 7, when we went to …a lot of different places, actually!

To be honest, AK is my least favorite park. Animals are cool and all, but at WDW I'm all about fantasy and magic. One thing I really admire about the park is the effort Disney puts into their conservation program. Part of Disney property is actually devoted to a wildlife rescue, and plastic straws aren't sold in AK because they could be harmful if they got inside the animal pens. Pretty cool, right?

We slept late, again, and it was cold, again. Thank God, Caroline woke up feeling normal, so we set off for the park in a great mood. Let me tell was weird to be staring at the Tree of Life in its green springtime splendor while wearing a coat, hat, scarf, and gloves. AK is set up in the style of the MK, with Discovery Island the Tree of Life as the hub leading to the various lands: Africa, Asia, Dinoland U.S.A., and Camp Minnie-Mickey. This was the first time I was able to maneuver AK without a guidemap. It was a proud day for me. We headed to Flame Tree Barbecue for lunch first thing, since we were starving. I'm not much of a carnivore, but for some reason I turn into a cavewoman when presented with a platter of ribs. And I dream about Flame Tree's ribs. Mmmm.

After lunch, Caro and I wandered over to Asia. We looked up at Expedition Everest, towering over the park. She took one look at the people screaming as their train barreled down the mountain, and decided that she didn't want to risk any thrill rides with her iffy stomach. So, she shopped for her sisters while I jumped in the Single Riders Line. Every Disney attraction has a "backstory," and EE's is that you are part of an expedition to Everest (duh), but your camp is disturbed by the legendary yeti. It is without a doubt one of the best rides at WDW. The train starts off slower than one might guess, but doubts are vanished when the train approaches what appears to be a broken track. What?! Suddenly, your train switches tracks and goes BACKWARDS, in the dark, very fast. It's a screaming good time. Then your train goes forward again, down a massive drop the size of Splash Mountain's, and into the mountain, as the yeti takes a swipe at your train! It's awesome.

Actually...right now the yeti is in B mode. A mode is the way the yeti was designed, with his arms moving realistically. B mode consists of strobe lights flashing to give the appearance that he moves. The Animatronic is so large that most of the time, the moving mechanisms break down. It's rather disappointing, but scary all the same.

After I got off EE, I found Caroline and we headed back to Flame witness a recording of a Be Our Guest Podcast with Mike, Rikki, Pam, Steve, Danette, Jake, "Kidani" Katie, Jillian, and the rest of the gang! It was so awesome. Mike, who runs, and Rikki are the hosts of the bi-weekly podcast, and the rest of us commented on the magic of Disney, our personal trip experiences, and how amazing it was to all be together! We are a Disney family. I'll be posting the link to the podcast episode sometime after it's broadcasted.

Next, we headed to Dinoland, which is mainly for children but has one great attraction: DINOSAUR. Formerly known as Countdown to Extinction, it was renamed in 2000 to go along with the Disney movie Dinosaur. It’s an extremely scary ride because it takes place in the dark, the Time Rover cars are obnoxiously jerky, and the dinosaurs are very LOUD. I rode this one alone as well. It used to scare me to death, but now I pretty much know when to expect the big dinos.

After I caught up with Caroline, we headed to the Finding Nemo musical show. It’s such a cute show, and so very colorful. Adults as well as children love it. “In the biiiiig bluuuuue world…” Ahem, after Nemo, I used my FastPass for EE, and we left AK. There’s a lot we didn’t do, like Kilomanjaro Safaris, Kali River Rapids, and the coaster Primeval Whirl, but it was just too cold for some things. Plus, Caro isn’t a fan of spinning, so PW was out of the question for her.

Next, we took advantage of those Park Hopper Passes and hopped to Disney’s Hollywood Studios! It’s such a wonderful place, full of the spirit of old Hollywood. In his dedication speech on May 1, 1989, Michael Eisner said, “The world you have entered was created by the Walt Disney Company and is dedicated to Hollywood – not a place on a map, but a state of mind that exists wherever people dream and wonder and imagine, a place where wonder and reality are fused by technological magic. We welcome you to a Hollywood that never was – and always will be.” If you know me at all, you know that I’m obsessed with old black and white films starring actors like Clark Gable and Audrey Hepburn, so DHS fascinates me.

After gawking at the massive Sorcerer’s Hat that serves as DHS’s symbol, Caro and I made a beeline for the Great Movie Ride. It’s an attraction that’s housed in a building built to look like the Chinese Theatre, complete with famous stars’ handprints and signatures captured in cement in front. It’s a long ride that features scenes from famous classic movies like Footlight Parade, Casablanca, Singing in the Rain, Alien, and the Wizard of Oz. It’s a classic ride I never get tired of.

Because of the cold, we were desperate for attractions that took place inside a warm building, so we skipped to Animation Courtyard to watch The Voyage of the Little Mermaid, a 22-minute musical based off The Little Mermaid. Ahh..Prince Eric! It was dark when we got out, and time for our 6:30pm ADRs at ‘50s Prime Time CafĂ©!

DHS has some of the best restaurants in the World because the themes are so over-the-top. PT was designed to look like a typical suburban house in the ‘50s, and there are black and white TVs in every room that play clips of shows like Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best. Furthermore, all the servers have names like “Aunt Debbie,” or “Cousin Fred,” and they love to scold. “Keep your elbows off the table!” “That table sure isn’t gonna set itself, honey!” “NO CELL PHONES AT THE TABLE!” I got punished there once…yes, they punish. One man had to sing “I’m a Little Teapot” for not eating his green beans. Last year I was caught texting at the table and had to stand in the time-out corner. It’s all jolly good fun, and the food is excellent. I had Mom’s Old-Fashioned Pot Roast and Caro had Dad’s Traditional Meatloaf. I cleaned my plate in ten minutes flat. Dessert was s’mores….yum.

As fun as dinner was, I realized upon leaving that I’d made a fatal mistake. I was ashamed, because every Diser knows that one does not schedule dinner reservations at 6:30 on a Fantasmic! night. If one does do something so asinine, they will get extremely crappy seats, because it’s common knowledge that people begin lining up for the 8:00 show at 7. Of course we didn’t get out of PT til 7:30…and the crowds were backed up like crazy.

Fantasmic! is an awesome nighttime spectacular show. Though fireworks are included, they are not the focal point…after all, this is Hollywood Studios we’re talking about! Disney puts on a real show, complete with water and pyrotechnics effects, and many Disney characters star in the show. I can’t even describe how incredible it is…but it makes me bawl every time. You can YouTube it if you haven’t seen it.

The show takes place in an amphitheatre built specifically for Fantasmic! The amphitheatre entrance is located next to the Beauty and the Beast musical pavilion, and the path winds for what seems like forever; the actual theatre is located far behind Tower of Terror, which appears to be the border of the park when standing on Sunset Boulevard. The theatre can hold more people than Tiger Stadium, and frequently does, as the show is now only done twice a week to cut back on costs. It’s insane. Crowds are insane. I cannot begin to describe the madness that is entering and exiting the amphitheatre. Only a show as spectacular as Fantasmic! would keep me coming back to it year after year.

Anyway, of course our seats sucked because I forgot about the unspoken rule. Oh well. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and it’s not like I won’t ever see it again from the front row. I still cried and screamed and clapped at the end, and I was too happy to care that we were the very last people leaving. The amazing thing about Mickey Mouse is that he is timeless. Though only a fictional character, he does the same thing today that he was created for in 1928: he inspires hope.

Of course, the bus stops were nuts by the time we got to them. For some reason, a ton of people were staying at Pop Century (probably due to the marathon – I’ll get to that later), and the line was RIDICULOUS. I’m talking winding past TWO OTHER BUS STOPS. I took one at that line and headed for the Old Key West stop, which had hardly any people in its line. We boarded the bus and headed for yet another unexpected adventure.

Old Key West is a deluxe Disney resort, and it’s also a DVC resort. DVC stands for Disney Vacation Club, which the timeshare program. I’m not explaining how it works, because that would take too long, but it suffices to say that it’s way too expensive for me now but I hope to be a DVC member, someday. Because it’s a DVC resort, the theme is incredible, and the gift shop rocks. It includes a minimart grocery store type thing, which cracks me up. I bought a DVC shirt and Mickey Mouse underwear…was that TMI? Oh well, they are cute, so be jealous.

Our adventure didn’t stop at Old Key West. We jumped on a bus to Downtown Disney, to explore Pleasure Island the West Side. We didn’t do much shopping (for which my bank account is thankful), but walked around and looked at the crazy sights, like the massive Disney hot air balloon parked on the lake. (I know that didn’t make sense – I’ll have to post a picture later.) Then, exhausted, we climbed on the bus bound for Pop. Then we climbed into bed, where we promptly fell asleep.

Stay tuned for the rest of our adventures! I have lots of time now to embellish, so be patient with my word-vomit detail.

Thanks again to everyone who followed me on Twitter while I was there! It made me happy to share the magic!

See you real soon,

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