Monday, November 10, 2014

Walt Disney World 2013: Day 11 –End of the Trip Frown, and I Go Upside Down

Disney 2013 Trip Index

We roused ourselves on the final morning to find the boarding passes hanging on the outside handle of the room door. This meant, aside from getting to see the giant Lady and the Tramp when the distraction caused me to get lost, all of the previous night’s check in fiddling had been a waste.

Demonstrating our clear skill and experience as travelers, the first suitcase came in at forty-one pounds, well under the fifty pound maximum.

Demonstrating our still being us, the second one weighed sixty-three.

Shifting some contents between them, and into backpacks and rollers, we brought them over to the Magic Express luggage check and carry-on babysitting service.  On the way we were concerned to see an individual pulled out of the pool and placed onto a back board.  Concern gave way to astonishment when that individual stood up, and the life guard who did the rescuing jumped into the pool and sank to the bottom, accompanied by several others.

Leaving lifeguard training behind us, we visited the Everything POP store to buy the Magic Band decorations.  They were little plastic jobbies, like the ones that stick into crocs. We divided up the Muppet and park logo sets before taking our final bus ride to MGM.

Anabelle discovered why the Transportation Cards she had only learned about on this vacation were as scarce as they were.  It, alas, wasn’t because they were a Magical Secret, only shared with guests who display true Disney Awesomeness. (Hey, I can dream.)  The reason was that the busses were due for new paint jobs and there was a corresponding new set of cards on the way.

I liked my explanation better.

Since we each had shirts with a Villain on it,  pretty much everyone in the park, from the baggage screeners on, asked if we were excited about the Friday the 13th Villain party coming the next day.

At the end of a trip, Awesome Happy Disney people can be depressing.

It was early enough for Anabelle and I to squeeze in a Tower of Terror trip before the line grew.  We enjoyed both the ride, and the sight of the backpack actively hovering during the drop, while Rosa did some secret shopping for our daughter.

We tried linking up with cell phones after our journey. Luckily the WIFI in the entire place worked perfectly to keep access to MyDisneyExperience as needed, because the actual cell signals were terrible. 

Thanks to that interference, we met each other at the Sorcerer’s Hat, and the Toy Story Midway Mania FastPass entrance, at the same time. This caused some problems with the whole “meeting up” thing.  We got together, and learned that one of Rosa’s Magic Band bits had fallen out. The theory that it was due to her rummaging in the backpack was later proved false.

FastPass Plus was responsible for going on “Uncle Jesse’s Ride” more than once on a vacation for the first time ever. That’s one in the “plus” column for the new system.  Rosa scored at the “Beaver” level on our last attempt, and I made it all the way to “Cat” with tips from the creator, and overhearing how to set off the balloon volcano.  Considering it still made her kind of nauseous on the turns, Anabelle should have been proud she maintained “Bunny.”  However, she was upset she didn’t improve, and started debating if waiting on Stand By was worth it to take another shot.

I think I just figured out what keeps that line full all the time.

Since it was next door, we stopped in at the Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow again.  It’s really hard to pass up the temptation of seeing an inebriated Johnny Depp stagger about, make inside jokes, and lead us all in a rousing chorus of “Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a Pirate’s Life for Me.”

It used the Park Soundtrack CD version of the song, as identifiably by the over the top drunken voice out of synch with the rest. That’s two sloshed pirates in one attraction!

Honestly, I’m seriously considering ending every activity in my personal and professional life with a rousing chorus of “Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a Pirate’s Life for Me.”

FastPass Plus restricted selecting the same attraction twice in one day, and Anabelle felt that a half hour, while miniscule compared to normal Midway Mania times, was too long to waste on line our final day.

Instead we did twin rides on Star Tours.  Being our last day, Rosa came for one. Fortunately for us, it was the first time we rocketed through the exciting Tattooine Pod Race. Unfortunately for her, that segment had more side to side shaking than any of the space and air combat scenes, and it darn near knocked some of her kidney stones loose.

Anabelle and I took our last journey to a Galaxy Far Far Away, and were rewarded with the only sighting of Admiral Ackbar we had.  Sadly, he did not say, “It’s a trap!”

Due to location, we hit one of the other MGM “Original Three Row” - Muppetvision 3D

For those playing the home game, the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular is the third.

There were some panicked moments as we left the theater when Anabelle discovered she’d lost some Magic Band decorations as well. Actually, we all did. They were cute, but far too bulky to stay in place on a wrist band designed to be in constant use throughout the day.

Sometimes, Disney Awesome gets diluted by Disney Marketing.

Bookending the trip, as our time started to wind down, we went back to the first attraction we rode.  This time, we used a FastPass Plus for the Great Movie Ride.
I think the reservation actually hurt us, in terms of wait time.  They let us into the queue in the preview room, but since we were the only ones, the Cast Member waited for a gap in the line to let us in.  Like I said, new system, still a few kinks.

The delay was more than made up for by the ride itself.  We got the much less explosive Gangster hijack. That didn’t matter, because the Cast Member tour guide and hood were almost infinitely superior actors to our earlier hosts, which is really where the entertainment value of the attraction came from.  The main guide kept throwing in off script (and off microphone) asides to the front rows that maintained the Disney Spirit, but were far more laugh inducing than the prepackaged lines.

Even the awesomeness of Disney food had some annoying repetition when it came to the counter service meals.  A check of menus the day before steered us toward the open air food court area on Sunset Boulevard across from Beauty and the Beast.

Anabelle got one last hot dog, Rosa continued her new relationship with ribs, and I immensely enjoyed the pulled pork sandwich.  Don’t knock my crazy research and planning skills, this was a heck of a lot better than burgers and chicken sandwiches again.  The choice came complete with entertainment, as we could hear Belle and Gaston singing from the stage across Sunset.

There weren’t any more shows or events we wanted to (or could at this point) squeeze in. We used the last FastPass Plus to secure Anabelle and me a final Tower of Terror trip right before we needed to exit. 

I also performed one of only three “double dips” of the trip and grabbed a regular FastPass for something else in a moment of insanity.

We went to digest a bit in the Animation Attraction. The film’s the same every time, but highly amusing. Plus the different Cast Members hosting spiced things up with delivery and add lib changes.

I noticed the sign of coming FastPass Plus take over: stations being installed near Sorcerer Mickey.  Anabelle wanted to try the “Which character are you” screen again, and pretend she was a boy to see the result.

She got Buzz Lightyear (YAY!)
Rosa did it correctly and got Tinkerbell (YAY!)

I couldn’t help ignoring the answer:
“I’d rather eat a nice lunch with friends”
And chose
“I’d rather eat nice friends for lunch.”

I got Jafar.

Anabelle tried the digital painting screen next. That exercise was hosted by Kronk. Not just Patrick Warburton, who filled in the deep voice gaps everywhere in Disney once Thurl Ravenscroft passed on, but specifically Kronk.  Considering the only other reference to the Emperor’s New Groove in all of Walt Disney World was the white board trivia questions in the hotel gift shop, it blatantly demonstrated what year the paint program was installed.

Right before our second to last “We crossed the park” to make the FastPass time, I demonstrated how tired I was by misunderstanding the sign location and nearly running into the women’s room. 

Luckily, I caught myself before becoming the eighth dwarf: “Sleazy.”

Anabelle and I took our fifth and final ride on the undiminished by familiarity Tower of Terror. 

Every single trip went exactly the same way. Anabelle started saying she was “really very nervous” at the atmospheric beginning, and then yelled “AWESOME!” over and over again while the car zoomed up and down.

Before we left, it was time to use the FastPass (minus?) I grabbed at lunch. Anabelle still flat out refused to go upside down, but once I’d rediscovered how much I liked roller coasters, it was time to give the new stent an extreme workout.

I entered the queue for the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and as I passed more and more warnings, worked on wrapping and folding my pockets to keep everything in them.  The Aerosmith story was, unsurprisingly for Disney, well done and cute. The next thing I knew I was sealed into the “super stretch limo” via a space shuttle harness and “ready” to go.

I was coming off of an over twenty year hiatus on grown up roller coasters. 

In my mind, a roller coaster started out when the chain pulled it up a hill:
“Click click click click click”

And then went down the other side:

I was ill prepared for the launch system that has since been adapted for aircraft carrier take offs that went:
“Three- Two – One - BOOOOOM!”

And blasted my recently out of hiatus heiney into a sixty mile an hour double inversion loop!

I do believe I uttered many a Non-Disney Clean word.

Anabelle was very keen to know if I went upside down, all I could tell her was:
“It moved so fast, and pushed me back into the seat so hard, there was no way to tell except for the signs that said ‘corkscrew ahead’.”

I do know that the Linear Synchronous Motor launched the car at that unsafe speed using electromechanical interaction.

This means I NEVER have to ride Test Track.

Magnetic Levitation Man is back…
And he’s ME!

Of course with the car theme, I thought I’d have a shot at a last minute shopping find of a bumper sticker.  I did make a last minute shopping find, but it was the Mickey sneakers Rosa spotted in the back corner.  Just because Disney is awesome it doesn’t mean it always makes sense.

Anabelle bought me a souvenir pen from the ride to celebrate the fact that I didn’t die. 
What a sweet kid.

On our final “we crossed the park” I put in another call to the Everything POP store to see if we could get the Duffy Rosa wanted for Anabelle there, or we needed to detour.  During this bout of high speed multitasking, torrents of rain gushed out of the clouds, making the sky reflect our mood.  It also blew our final chance to take a picture of the Monsters University topiaries that we said, “We’ll take that picture next time,” all five previous times we saw it.

Procrastination:  It has consequences.

Of course, as per standard McGinley operating procedure, the final bus wait was also the longest.

We parked ourselves in the dining area, sad and soggy, to do some last minute carry-on reorganizing. We also threw away the trusty red backpack that barely survived its second journey to Walt Disney World.

A moment of silence, please.

The Grid was only held together by a few paper and ink atoms, due to the frequency of it being used and consulted. The MyDisneyExperience mobile app worked great, but load and locating times meant the old reliable Grid was frequently the fastest source of our schedule’s information.

Go me!

Anabelle wielded her Magic Band with practiced expertise to charge our last dining plan snacks while Rosa went to buy her Duffy.  Since this happened in the same store, Duffy became more of an end of trip spirit lifter than a surprise.  What I learned later was Anabelle chose to get the bear instead of replacing the little Muppet MagicBand “stick ons” that didn’t “stick” or remain “on.”

I went to pick up our luggage. The attendant complimented my tattoos, and said that piercings were more her thing, listing the myriad of metal objects she normally has shoved in her face.  Then she explained that Disney dress code policies meant she had to leave them home.

See, Disney is awesome.

We dropped the hotel room towel that had been our constant cooling companion in the parks at the front desk and exited to the Magic Express Stop.


Our bus came, and we endured watching the energy and enthusiasm filled crowd disembark for the beginning of their magical time.  It wasn’t quite as painful as the Main Street meetings. I think that’s because we were already packed up and resigned to going, not to mention the overwhelming notion of:

“How can it be over when it never felt real?”

Anabelle leaned on my shoulder, across the aisle from Rosa and said, “I’m sad,” every couple of minutes as the Magic Express Bus took us ever farther from our home behind the giant Play Doh can.  Disney awesomeness continued as part of the commute, and “Listen to the Land” piped in over the speakers, to make up for its absence on the ride. This considerably raised her spirits.

The “we hope you enjoyed your stay and reminder of how Magic Express works” video ended with a somber:

“M I C…see you real soon
K E Y… Why? Because we like you

Then everyone said, “I’m sad.”

Well, the video didn’t actually end there.  It went on to show advertisements for trips and time shares we certainly couldn’t afford after this adventure.

Rosa nodded off, and Anabelle and I were close to it, when the driver apologized for having to take us back to the real world.

I sat bolt upright and declared:
“No!  You’re taking us out of the real world. 
I have to go to that other place for a while to work and save up enough money to come back to the real world.”

He accepted that explanation.

Anabelle was amused (and rightly so) by the hidden Mickey “birthmark” on Duffy’s butt.  She took a picture of it with the SmartPhone. This put our back up camera photo count at nineteen-hundred.  Rosa narrowed them all down to a printable quantity a couple weeks after we got home. Then the file folder vanished from all devices. We expect to have them all weaned down again to make photo albums shortly after the Mars Colony declares independence.

Being pulled out of the magic kicking and screaming, we loitered around the airport Disney Store for a bit, hoping a contest win we’d forgotten about entering would suddenly whisk us back.

I thought I was starting to have withdrawal symptoms and hallucinating we were in the park, but it was only my Disney music ring tone indicating a flight status call.

Note for Orlando International Airport.  A Majority of the people leaving your city have spent extended stays walking for upwards of a thousand miles a day. 
Invest in some moving sidewalks please.

 There was a sign at security that said
“15 Minute Wait
From this point”

The airport was not as awesome as Disney.

The sign lied.

There were two giant lines that merged in an uncontrolled manner before joining, in an equally unpleasant way, with a third right before the scanner.

We didn’t really help the general mood by having our suitcase be passed through the scanner forty or fifty times before being opened and searched.  Apparently, miniature tombstones look suspicious under x-ray.  Who knew?

Anabelle, in a last ditch attempt to save her mood, pointed out that the tram to the gates felt like the monorail, and made the door warning announcement in fluent Spanish.

That’s OUR girl!

We ended up with time to sit down and eat due to weather induced flight delays.  Q’doba was yet another Denver based “Fast Casual” Mexican joint, kind of like a wicked expensive version of Chipotle.  Perhaps it was only the airport location that caused that last observation.  In any case it was a vast improvement over the Burger King we were forced to settle for on past trips.

Anabelle ordered her last vacation milk.  I’d just like to point out she was really good about specifically asking for milk when there was such a large variety of less healthy options everywhere we ate.

Several passengers complimented Anabelle on her brightly multicolored sneakers as we boarded.

That’s my girl!

We sadly discovered there was no yellow test strap for the seat belt on the ride we’d just boarded, and accepted the mundane world we were being ferried back to.

Much like the trip down, I sat next to an excessively panicked woman.  However, this time I was married to her, and was able to provide some calming snuggling.

Anabelle continued to be impressive by writing the homework paragraph that the infinite awesome distractions of Disney World rendered impossible to create previous to this moment.  Fortunately, the turbulence held off until she was done writing, and she was able to use it to be rocked to sleep.

We landed, and the overcrowding from the weather induced delays forced us to wait for a gate, and inspired the pilot to actually use the phrase, “lemon juice on a paper cut” to describe our situation.  De-boarding the aircraft and getting the luggage were also slow and painful processes.  Anabelle’s McGinley genes shone brightly when she started asking where the Doom Buggies were when we were on the airport moving sidewalk.

My mother picked us up, helped with the bags, and delivered our tired and broken bodies back home.


We entered the house to find a unpleasant smell permeating our home.  Both too quickly and not quickly enough we found the goldfish, who had survived a longer trip with the same feeder the previous summer as well as a crashing fire extinguisher at one point, were long dead and decomposed.

There were notifications from neighbors concerning weeds that had grown rampantly in our absence.

Anabelle was behind in her first year of changing classes.

I had two projects blowing up in my face.

Rosa had to cram all of the start of the year class mom stuff into half the time while putting the house back together.

“Real World” my butt.

When I got off of the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, I realized it immediately but we were rushing.

Later, I told Anabelle,
“You would have been yelling ‘Awesome!’ through the entire ride.”

She answered with a big smile on her face:
“I know, I wanted to make sure you didn’t die first.
I’ll go next time.”

T minus 1072 and counting…

Disney 2013 Trip Index

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