Our trip to Disney World started on a soggy note. As I mentioned in the last post the rain chased us away from Clearwater Beach and it stayed with us all the way to Orlando. There aren't many photos because
A. It was raining too hard to take the camera out
B. You get on and off rides so quickly there isn't time to snap a selfie, and
C. 25 other families are waiting to take the same photo.
After the first day we ditched our big camera and made do with our phones. It was so nice to just enjoy the parks without feeling like I needed to document everything.
A break in the clouds, I didn't think we got any photos of Disney's Hollywood Studios, but here we are without our ponchos.
The Toy Story Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios. This line held steady at a 60 minute wait time the whole day. They have this app that allows you to check the wait times on your mobile phones, so we checked and checked, but it never dipped below and hour. What could possibly make this ride so popular? We were determined to find out.
Closing time was just around the corner. We once again saw that the line was an hour wait. I asked the Disney "cast member" (they refer to all their employees as cast members, weird, right?) if it was a solid hour, or more like 45 minutes and glanced at Sadie who was already squirming. Then the most amazing thing happened. She reached over and tapped her magic screen granting us fast passes for the ride (The fast passes had been gone when we tried reserving this ride) "Now it's only five minutes", she said quietly. I said, "thank you", but thought, "bless you!!", as we ran through the special fast pass entrance.
Everybody wears 3-D glasses so you can see what to shoot. Yup, this ride in interactive, hence the long line. You sit in your car and pass through a "carnival" with different games that you aim your cannon at and shoot. Things like popping balloons and hitting ducks with darts. They even keep score and tally your points at the end.
We went the first time and then rushed through the rain to our reservation at the Jack Sparrow ride. Lo and behold when we had officially been made pirates, we exited and found that everyone had gone to get a seat for the fireworks show and there was no line at Toy Story. So we went a few more times. As we left who should we see across the street but Buzz and Woody. We had to say "howdy".
Alan insisted on this photo of him and "Stinky Feet".
You could waste a lot of time meeting characters at Disney World. I guess I kind of get the whole "princess" thing, at least they can actually talk. Except for literally stumbling into Woody and Buzz my boys were content with pointing out the characters and just waving from a distance. Ben even questioned why all the people were waiting in line. "They don't even talk to you, mom, I don't get why they want to see them so much."
Our character sightings, not including the Halloween Parade which hosted a slew of villains,... Woody, Buzz, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh et al, Jack Sparrow, Elsa, (Holy cow this girl was EVERYWHERE with all her little Elsa minions. Ben, ever the sensitive one, told me at one point that he felt badly for Anna) the Fairy Godmother, Goofy, Donald, Daisy, Mike and Sully, and of course Micky and Minnie. Not bad for Disney novices.
A really bad photo of Star Tours.
As I mentioned, everyone had gone to get a seat for the fireworks. It's called Fantasmic and it's loosely based on Fantasia. We ended up finding seats front and center even though we were pretty much the last people to walk through the gates. Ben took this photo. He was completely overwhelmed with the amount of people. It looked the same on the other side of us too. People must come to the park late at night just for this because I know all of these people weren't in the park, or maybe they were just riding Toy Story all day.
Our top 3 rides at Disney Hollywood Studios...
The Tower of Terror (except for Alan)
and The Aerosmith Roller Coaster
Day 2-3 Disney's Magic KingdomStick with me, I really didn't realize we had taken this many photos...
I wish I could have documented all the little touches. There were pumpkins everywhere and all the statues were dressed up in halloween costumes... Dean thought it was all a little creepy. At one point he mentioned that he had yet to see a bug, which led him to research why there weren't any, and he concluded that Disney pays "cast members" to spray at night while all the guests are sleeping. "Can you imagine how much we're breathing in, not to mention what it's doing to the eco system?" I guess that's the price you pay for Magic. I personally, was grateful.
It's a Small World selfie. Dean got in trouble for putting his phone over the water...rebel.
Space Mountain. Dean is "holding his head so it didn't shake so much"........
Still one of my personal favorites. We went three times. Two times too many for Alan. He jumped every time the fake canon splashed next to the boat.
I think this was the longest line we stood in all day. 15 minutes for pineapple bliss, um, yes, please!!
If you look closely you can see Dean and the boys. Green shirt, hand in the air. I thought having a toddler who couldn't go on any rides would be a miserable experience, but she made it possible for us to ride switch. The lines weren't necessarily long, but when the boys and Dean go off, Me and the boys ran right back on with our "baby switch pass".
As I mentioned on FB, this is not the usual way to take the Sword in the Stone pic (seriously, people were actually telling us that). Everyone takes it with the carousel in the background, but with Dean on the side shooing people away I got it with the castle in the background, ahem, the way it should be... You can see the guy rolling his eyes waiting for me to finish.
Our mobile command center. This held ponchos and snacks and sleepy Sadie and her bag of trick or treat candy from our night at Mickey's Not so Scary Halloween Party. We were able to buy the special conference priced tickets and get two days in the park. That was all I was willing to spend, but a friend tipped me off to this Halloween party. It's advertised 7-midnight, but they really let you in the park at 4:00 and there are lots of little extras, plus the park is relatively uncrowded. Best of all, It's half price. Mostly, it means that everyone comes to trick or treat and meet special characters which leaves the ride lines empty. We could have ridden Space Mountain all night without waiting.
Our hotel pool, by far the coolest hotel we have stayed in. So glad we weren't footing the bill.
Alan earned the nickname "Mike" because Dean thinks he looks like a Ninja Turtle in his goggles.
Ben had waited all week to get his souvenir. Every time he would see something in a gift shop he would carry it around for a minute and then say to himself, "I can have this or a LEGO...LEGO", and then put it back. Needless to say he was grumpy when I made him stop for a photo just outside the LEGO store at Downtown Disney on our last day.
LEGOS in hand we stopped for Ghiradelli Sundaes.
I know there is no such thing as a cheap Disney vacation. In fact, we struggled deciding to go even though hotel, gas, mileage, and dinners, would be covered. I know, we're a little cheap, but at least we own it. I disagree that Disney is something you have to experience, and yet I felt the guilt rise up when I considered not taking advantage of Dean's conference.
We met an older couple on the bus, funny, they asked us what ward we were in and then said they could just tell we were LDS. Gotta love it, but what we thought was funny was that they were there, alone, without kids and grandkids, celebrating his birthday. They had Magic Bands and extra fast passes and they were staying at a resort hotel. The whole shebang. "We just love it here", she said, "and we're coming back in December with the grandkids." To each his own, but Dean and I both agree we will not be spending our advanced birthdays at anything with Disney in the title.
I can't say we'll be back soon, or next year, or ever. I guess if the opportunity presents itself like it did this time. No offense to you who love this stuff. I had my fill and I'm ready to cross something else off our bucket list.
Magic Kingdom favorites... the boys chose the order
Seven Dwarves Mine Train
Peter Pan (this was Ben's choice as his last ride)
It's a Small World (this was Alan's choice as his last ride. My sweet boys, totally vintage in their favorites)
Pirates of the Caribbean
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad