Operation “Showtime Doubletime”
We slept marginally later on Friday, not having to be anywhere before the parks opened. We foolishly expected to easily make it to MGM for the park day starting ceremony.
Someday they’ll rename it MGM again and I’ll be ahead of the curve, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
As we stood waiting for the bus, Rosa realized she forgot her phone. I told them not to wait if a bus came (so they wouldn’t miss the opening) and sprinted back to the room. My sprint carried me next to the pool, where they had just washed the deck. You’d be amazed how slippery Chuck Taylor sneakers are on wet concrete…well maybe you wouldn’t be, but I certainly was as I started careening out of control right next to the “Caution: Wet Floor” sign that I should have paid much more attention to. I quickly realized that if I tried to stop the fall I’d get hurt really bad. Instead, I went with it, executing a roll and slide that would have made Captain Kirk proud. I escaped mostly unscathed except for a large scrape on my elbow (Jeff Injury Index: JII=1). Of course the bus was late, and there were scooters to load, meaning as I peeled myself off the ground I got a text saying, “You don’t have to run.” Nice timing.
Though the act of becoming fully phoned (How the heck did groups find lost members before these things?) ended up not slowing us down, we missed the opening. But it was still cool because the Christmas decorations had gone up. (It was a bit jarring too, as when we first arrived in the World, the Halloween stuff was still there. Disney has way too much invested in those two holidays to waste time with Thanksgiving.)
Since Anabelle and Aurora were excited about it we decided to start with the Tower of Terror, before they could eat anything. I think if we just did the ride part Anabelle would have been fine. However, the creepy entry area, and more importantly the five minute “Twilight Zonette” that introduces the ride really messed with her head. She kept asking questions about the hotel elevator, family that disappeared and the nature of the Twilight Zone. Since she was already terrified, the ride went really badly.
It went badly for Aurora too, but for the less subtle, “giant loud drop of doom” portion of the ride.
They were so shaken when they got out, the cast member ended up giving us the photo free. He even made a close up so you can clearly see Anabelle’s tearful screams, and Aurora weeping and holding her ears peering under my waving arm (trying to calm Anabelle by waving to Mami). Anabelle proclaimed she is not riding it again, until she is thirteen, Aurora made a similar claim, but every time they reminded us of it the age raised. My poor daughter continued asking questions about the story all day and was more nervous about rides and shows than she usually is. Between the Tower of Terror and Talky Tina, Rod Serling has now scarred two generations of my family.
We then crossed the park to Pixar Place to get Fast Passes for Toy Story Mania, and to give the kids a chance to return to sanity by meeting Buzz and Woody. Disney proved its awesomeness again by making the line to see them better than some attractions at other parks. There were a series of photo op constructions from the Toy Story films, even the claw, and Stinky Pete! Meeting the toys themselves was great; Woody tried to hide our back up Giant Pen in his holster, doing an impressive quick draw to return it. After we finished our family hokey pokey, putting all combinations in and out of the shots, we convinced Grandma to go in for one. As Woody is her favorite we were all yelling for her to hug him. She finally did, and poor Buzz executed and epic mope, prompting her to hug him too.
We even met up with one of the Green Army Men as we left. The girls thought he was a statue…until he moved and scared the boojeebers out of them. On the way out of Pixar Place the kids were delighted to see Handy Manny, and we learned that the backup giant pen ripped the books, ending the giant pen saga for this trip. They were content with only waving to the Little Einsteins from a distance before we continued on.
Next stop was what should have been the fun for everyone Great Movie Ride. Sadly Aurora had to go potty just as we boarded. Kim threw a diaper on her, but she refused to abandon her training and held it in the whole ride (despite urging to the contrary by Kim). Between that and the noise, she was hysterical throughout (as was Kim). Aurora, of course recovered much faster afterwards. Anabelle, still shaken from Mr. Serling, hid her eyes for the Alien and some other parts, but had a good ride overall, singing along with the Munchkins, and trying to point out fun stuff to her poor cousin behind her. Veronica sat, as usual, taking it all in calmly and looking as if she was planning on how she could ditch us all and escape with the tour guide.
Then it was time for lunch at the Sci Fi Dine in Theater. The food was still great, the movies were still fun, the shakes were still worth cashing in a dessert for, and the service was still insanely slow. Therefore when we finished, it was time for another cross park jaunt to the Beauty and the Beast Stage Show.
On the way we watched some entertaining Streetmosphere people (that name will return too, this I swear), and then stopped in the Villain store. I’m not really sure why they called it that anymore, there was almost no villain stuff (even the cast agree Jack Skellington is not a villain) and some Marvel Comics stuff (which while cool, still doesn’t cut it). Grandma and Kim filed official villain complaints at guest services later.
We made it to the show in time for the start and it was exactly the same as every other time. Fun songs, beautiful staging, great story, me crying when the Beast says, “You came back”: nothing to see here, move along people.
We then found a good spot on the Main Street analogue to watch the Block Party Bash parade/show/thingy. The Streetmosphere people were out in force beforehand, and one asked Rosa if they could celebrate her birthday. To my surprise she said yes. The next thing I knew she was in the middle of the street on the red carpet with Dora Nesmond and her director. Luckily Dora handed me Rosa’s camera before absconding with her. There were even some jugglers, who got extra loud clapping from me for dealing with the wind that day.
The parade was fun; we ended up in the Monsters’ section. (The “Boo in disguise” character, with her shaky head was far scarier than any of the actual monsters.)
The girls were dancing on the curb and continually falling off, so Kim told them to go play in the street - replacing “pee in your pants” as the stellar parenting moment of the day. When the time came for the characters to bring kids out into the parade to dance, Anabelle got all upset and refused to go. Later when I asked why she had no problem with the previous day’s hoedown, but not this day’s parade, she said she was still thinking about the family in the elevator. Thanks, Rod. Veronica, being almost asleep at this point, had no such qualms and immediately started shaking her butt when placed in the road, with half closed eyes.
(Her eyes were half closed, not the road’s…or her butt’s, never mind.)
Since we had identified MGM with the Muppet Theater as soon as the trip was announced, we had to go. Not only did we catch the start of the pre-show, but got to watch it from directly under “A Net Fulla Jell-O”. We then celebrated a rare attraction that didn’t scare anyone.
Afterwards, when we took the girls to see Lightning McQueen and Mater, the noose of the WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY tightened on me.
I realized that there was only fifteen minutes to the last Indiana Jones show we could make. (The next one conflicted with our Fast Pass time.) I tried to quietly tell my wife, mother, and sister, without the kids hearing, that I thought it was a bad idea to try to run everyone down there for a show they may not care about. Unfortunately, I wasn’t clear and they all took it as an announcement of the next stop by the WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY, and each individually, without consulting each other, formed plans about who would go, which kids would nap, who would stay with them, and where they would nap. Obviously to any rational observer (of which we had none), there was a great deal of yelling and screaming at each other. Kim’s kids (who originally were going) ended up falling asleep in the stroller and staying out with Grandma, while Anabelle (who had asked for a nap) ended up going in with Rosa and I and enjoying the show a great deal. We even got to see Darth Vader at the end of Jedi Training as we passed, so it was actually worth it.
After a great deal of apologizing, we went back to the Muppet plaza for some temporary tattoos.
Note to self: they don’t stick to hairy guys like me, Anabelle’s was still intact days after we left Florida, Donald’s face fell off mine almost immediately.
We stopped briefly en route to chat with the cast members at the closed entrance to Star Tours, making some George Lucas jokes with them. (As Star Wars fans, we have to do that. It’s in the contract.) By then it was time to rush (once more) back to Toy Story Mania for the Fast Pass, hoping all the way that Aurora and Veronica would wake up in time. We had to rush because we just realized that the time it took to run all of our cards through the Fast Pass machine meant that we ended up with different return times, and had less time that we thought to make it back.
Dave ran ahead with the stroller as I followed, barking directions so he could find the handicap ramps he could roll it down. Kim asked Anabelle if she wanted to run, then regretted it when she found out just how long my daughter’s legs had become. The girls did wake up and we all made it there together and had a fun ride. One of the screens for Rosa and Anabelle’s car was out (or all the targets were obscured by a grey fog, making it far too challenging). We tried to explain the glitch to the cast member as we exited, but she didn’t seem to understand. Wanting to make sure they knew there was a problem in the ride, I also told the cast member outside, who offered the two of them a return trip. They went back in through the exit (encountering several others, indicating they hadn’t had time to get the last kinks out of the Toy Story 3 upgrade because of the demand for this awesome ride) while Kim took her newly alert girls for their tattoos. I’m sure someone took a bathroom break as well, with eight of us; those came along with nearly every pause.
We managed to form up again in the animation courtyard. The girls caught the Little Einsteins heading off shift for the last time, and the park crowd was low enough that they stopped for a quick hug.
Yay off peak visits!
We headed toward the Animation Tour, with a quick stop to educate a cast member. He was very excited about my Electric Mayhem shirt, so we told him about when they used to play behind the Muppet Vision Theater. He had no idea, but was very excited, hopefully we planted a spark. They should really hire me to visit more often and tell the cast members about cool stuff that should come back.
The newly limited (OK, not newly, but everything in Disney is relative to when you first saw it) Animation tour with Mushu got everyone laughing and in a good mood. All the kids (and most of the adults) were looking around the room when they did the surround sound gags. We’d heard reports about which characters would be in the area after the show, and it sounded like we might miss some as they closed up for the night…not really.
Disney went overboard trying to meet character demand. It used to be the only place to meet princesses was breakfast at the castle, and even then about half of the characters there were the royal ladies, the rest being costars. Now we were pretty much beating off princesses with a stick. The place was absolutely LOADED with characters of all types. The girls actually ran off Belle’s line when they heard Mulan was around the corner.
Sorry Belle, you know I would have stayed.
The only one we missed (he was leaving as we entered) was Lotso, and since absolutely no one wanted to hug the strawberry scented scion of evil, that was fine. We ended up meeting with Mulan, Sorcerer Mickey (who was very excited at Veronica’s hat and my temp tattoo), and Mr. Incredible and Frozone (which Dave and I also posed with, if you’re a dad, you know why). Pooh, Eeyore, Chip, Dale, Goofy and Pluto only merited quick waves the place was so overstuffed.
It was full enough that Mulan didn’t even have a line; she was just wandering around watching the kids color on the digital drawing tablets. We left just in time to catch the last Little Mermaid show, almost tripping over Snow White on the way out.
The show provided a nice end of the day (and some witch and noise trauma for the kids.) It was indeed a VERY Little Mermaid; standing about four feet when she transformed, guess Triton’s power was a little low.
There was a large line to get into the park when we left, I wandered over to it, admitted being extremely nosey and found out there was a cast preview. It must have been for the Christmas lights. Due to our constant running for show times, we never actually stopped to eat, requiring dinner at the POP again. Kim’s kids, having napped, hit the arcade with Dave on this (relatively) early night, while I took Anabelle in for desperately needed hair washing and sleep. She went out almost immediately (“The most fun thing at Disney today” journal being called on account of exhaustion) but showed her true Disney spirit when she heard me move the curtain to the bathroom section at Eleven, groggily half sat up and said, “Good Morning” thinking it was the next day already. Rosa and Kim used the night to go shopping downtown.
Links to the whole Campaign History
Preludes and Plans
Day 1: Operation Magical Beginnings
Day 2: Operation Jungle Run
Day 3: Operation Early Kingdom
Day 4: Operation Showtime Doubletime
Day 5: Operation International Alchoholics
Day 6: Operation Magical Meetings
Day 7: Operation Excessive Travel
Day 8: Operation Giant Nostalgia