(With all the Star Wars and Toy Story expansions planned, “Disney’s Hollywood Studios” will go away before long. Therefore I’m sticking with MGM.)
Further proof of our pace is we de-bussed right about at park opining time, the slower moving than usual check in lines, coupled with Grandma’s continued unvalidatable fingers, sending her and her newly replaced knee through the metal detector slowed us further.
The original plan, which involved charging the opening gate, was to see Buzz and Woody before the unFastPassable line could build, and squeeze them in before our scheduled trip on the double capacity “Uncle Jesse’s Ride.” (Toy Story Mania for those new to the MGM home game.)
The posted half hour wait would put us right up to the edge of our FastPass window, and Woody wasn’t on the line. I was concerned about wasting that time for only Buzz since-
(A) Woody and Jesse were recently fired from Frontierland,
(B) We had no idea of the sardine packing level of crowds we were due to see in the Magic Kingdom, where we were used to Buzz having a tiny line.
Seeing his favorite space ranger through the window caused Morgan to cast a decisive vote.
He had patiently endured the Princess visits of our mostly female group, and may have exploded if forced to wait two more days to meet Buzz after waving frantically at him from the other side of the glass.
The Awesome Happy Disney people are not allowed to reveal character arrival and departure times, but the Cast Member at the door overheard our debate about the Woodyless line and casually mentioning, “I’d risk it,” gave me far more confidence.
Kim’s kids pulled all manner of goofy displays in the toy based picture spots on the line and good old Sherriff Woody made his grand entrance well before we reached them.
We had a hoot of a time meeting with the Toys in charge, and made it out in before the time limit expired on The Uncle Jesse based FastPass.
See, all exactly according to plan…with several helpings of panic and aggravation thrown in to keep things interesting.
The FastPass line for the addictive shooting gallery of a ride still extended outside, in spite of the multiple tracks, but there was almost no inside wait. We had fun, shot things, spun until dizzy, and had plenty of time to cross the smallest of the parks. (Even discounting the large closed off sections taunting me with AWESOME STAR WARSNESS COMING SOON!!!! signs.)
The Beauty and the Beast show is- was- and thanks to the massive financial success or the new version with Hermione and Bard, ever shall be awesome. Gaston was an extra hammy version, which considering all the other versions of that character, was a substantial achievement.
Locked down show schedules and our large party size forced a second cross park excursion in two attractions, not my utter failure as a Where Will We Go Next Guy, as it may appear to the uninitiated.
I had desperately tried to switch the Star Tours FastPass, based on Anabelle and me running on the ride through multiple sorties without needing to pause in the gnarly little spaceport line any other time we visited The World.
Luckily, I failed.
Rey and the rest of the Force Awakens gang rekindled interest in the MGM staple producing a consistent, staggering ninety minute wait. The scenes from the new film fit in almost seamlessly, though geek experts such as myself were slightly thrown off by seeing the Falcon’s RADAR dish change shape between scenes.
A double dose of extra awesome came from the attendant who sat us wearing a badge claiming she was from Kashyyyk, and Veronica being identified as the rebel spy.
“Nothing… can stop that now.”
The food was excellent, containing many of the sauces and techniques I can’t pronounce highlighted on all those Food Network shows my family watches. The portions looked small, but fancy. Yet I still found myself full when we were done.
Most impressive Mr. Derby. YAY!
There were more birthday cupcakes and Rosa and I got some Anniversary Champagne.
Rosa and Anabelle ended up sharing and/or switching dishes again, leading to some confusion and less than perfect selections. I think this came from Anabelle still getting used to functioning on the adult menu, having a focus on sides, and most importantly, forgetting she likes steak. However, she is still talking about how gooooooood the macaroni and cheese was.
Given the classy atmosphere and food, I decided to have wine with this meal. The goblets were giant, because they served it correctly in only the bottom section of the glass, adding to the effect of small portions that are somehow filling. Our proper British waiter went through the whole wine tasting ritual I’ve seen in James Bond films.
When I sipped the sample, I said, “I have no idea what I’m doing; I buy wine based on funny names that are on sale.”
In his proper British accent, waiter replied, “Confidently, so do I,” revealing himself to be a Proper British Awesome Happy Disney person.
The next across the park dash was unquestionably due to my utter failure as a Where Will We Go Next Guy. On the map, the Kylo Ren exclusive Disney Visa Card visit looked to be at the edge of the Star Wars Launch Bay, nicely positioned right next to us, and built upon the ruins of the old Animation Studio Attraction.
What was not clear on the map was the need to pass through the far too distracting Star Wars museum of the Launch Bay before getting to the secret entrance hidden in a back corner.
He was also alone, as opposed to being flanked by first order Stormtroopers as expected. Note: there was no indication of this flanking; I just live with constant unrealistic Star Wars expectations.
Contrary to the plan most of the kids (and several of the adults) had for spitting on Kylo for what he did to Han, it was one of the better meetings. Kim’s kids were nervous but impressed, and Anabelle was invited to join the Dark Side and happily accepted.
That’s My Girl.
Y’know, it really isn’t a true Disney trip without a panicked, scream filled, sprint across MGM.
This was ours on the way to the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular.
It looked to be the capstone of my previously mentioned utter failure as a Where Will We Go Next Guy when the auditorium was completely full. Luckily, as the previous trip demonstrated, FastPass Plus works at Indy, and we were shown to the front row on stage right.
Directly in front of the dead guys on the spears!
Explosions, pratfalls, and Nazi julienne…that show should run forever.
We filed out of Indy and lined up near center stage for the March of the First Order. Anabelle waved frantically in her Captain Phasma shirt as the Stormtrooper commander passed by to no avail. I guess you’re only allowed one Dark Side invitation per day in Disney World.
Afterwards the First Order dispersed some pairs of troopers to continue patrolling the area.
Need I say it?
Most of the crowd didn’t enter the Great Movie Ride.
Knowing both that
(1) There are two versions.
(2) The ride is awesome.
We hopped on even though we had a FastPass for our planned return. We got a mediocre Gangster, but it’s exceptionally difficult to have an unpleasant time on that ride. The New Turner Classic Movie sponsorship added some cool trivia to the preshow. YAY!
My Star Wars Excitometer was pegged to the max, and there was no way I could deal with only a brief peek in the Launch Bay. More importantly, Chewie was in there and going off shift in a bit.
I’d apologize for overusing awesome, but it isn’t overuse.
WE MET CHEWBACCA!!!!
THE KIDS ALL SAID HE WAS FLUFFY AND HUGGED HIM BUNCHES!!!
SO DID GRANDMA!!!!!!
MORGAN YELLED AT EVERYONE WHO SAID “CHEWIE,” WITH” “HIS NAME IS CHEWBACCA!”
CHEWBACCA TALKED IN HIS OWN LANGUAGE!!!!!
I TALKED BACK IN SHRIWOOK AND HE RESPONDED!!!!!
AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME!!!!
This was clearly a “whole family PhotoPass ninja” moment of epic proportions.
The handlers commented on how amazingly organized we were.
Extra bonus mini awesome- the handler from the Rebel Alliance volunteered to take pictures on one of our phones by saying, “You are allowed to give us one scanning device.”
Extra reduction of my own personal awesome- it took me a while of staring blankly at her to figure out what the heck she was talking about.
Suffused with Wookie awesomeness, we spent some time exploring the grooviness of the Launch Bay, including looking at props and goofing around in the Cantina.
“steal”/ “barter”/ “I have no idea but it was entertaining” various objects on passing guests.
Once we exited, darkness began to fall and we had yet to visit Muppetvision 3D.
Clearly, this was a problem.
The intro had some references added from the newer movies, but overall it was the same pun and vaudeville gag filled Muppet fest it has always been.
To catch the fireworks, we hurried back from what was the upper corner of the park before they reoriented the map.
We hurried so frantically through the darkness that we ended up watching them from all different locations.
I was right next to a sadly closed stand that sold Tie Fighter Popcorn holders and Chewbacca head mugs.
Sorry, I think there’ something in my eye…sniff.
Normally, it is McGinley tradition to beat feet during the fireworks shows to dodge the crowds.
This, however, was a Star Wars show, with fireworks, laser beams and spotlights tuned to John Williams epic scores, while scenes were projected across the whole of the Chinese Theater.
Wait For it…
I noticed a large number of cross handled lightsabers in the crowd. I guess Kylo was more popular than I’d thought. Maybe it was the live version specifically.
Anabelle wanted to see him again and declared he was, “Much cooler in person,” now that she was invited to the dark side.
That’s my girl.
The rest of the gang went back to the POP to eat. We wanted to re-experience our excellent dinner in the Art of Animation, and maybe see their statues, even if the extended park times made it too late to swim there.
The Doctor Strange bus that took us there was very cool. Not as cool as seeing him in Pixar Place would have been, but I sadly didn’t learn of his unannounced appearance until we got home.
Disney, please fix the Marvel deal with Universal to allow more than the occasional random non-Avenger appearance.
We had some fun in the store before we ate. Anabelle sang a Belle song for some stickers.
Art of Animation sticker criteria was more performance than knowledge based when compared to the POP, I guess.
I don’t know how she sang, because we had to be in another section of the store, or preferably another section of the county before she started.
We had some “better tasting than ours but definitely not better enough to make it worth coming all the way over here” food. The final squash on future repeats of this came from Anabelle’s need to be taken back to the room before the full effects of the food hit her stomach.
Rosa finished her dinner in peace while we ran back across the Generation Gap Bridge to find the first washcloth art, a bird, in our room.
Anabelle sorted herself out while I went on the mug run.
The question board in the shop was Ariel based, and Anabelle played Tele-Trivia over my phone, and scored an insane extra number of stickers for the day.
Nicely hydrated for the first time on the trip, I finally got some hot chocolate for myself, instead of mainlining PowerAde.
I also provided a valuable service. There was a woman in the store looking to buy Star Wars toys for her grandson. After learning his age I was able to steer her to the appropriate batch out of cartoon, original and prequel toys. Also, the conversation allowed me a release that prevented me from purchasing all of them for myself.