Thursday, February 7, 2013

Disney World 2010: Day 5

Operation “International Alcoholics”

I don’t know what it is about EPCOT. 

I do know it’s big, but the two sections are very linearly connected, meaning there shouldn’t be that much chaotic running about.

And yet…

We entered the park on Rosa’s birthday, and following the required Big Ball Photo Pass Foolery walked over to the right side of Future World.

I realize I should refer to it as the East or West side, but I have no idea which is which.  This may be why I always end up in the wrong Innoventions building.

At that point Soarin’ had a thirty minute wait, which is close to what is required even with a Fast Pass.  It’s a testament at how good Disney is with crowd management that we consider a half an hour a long wait anymore.  The Fast Passes were for during our lunch, and despite a suggestion to wait for Soarin’ now, we all decided to head to Nemo and get the Fast Pass later.

Thus illustrating my complete failure at being a properly assertive WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY.

The fishy ride was fun, and all the kids had a great time playing around in the aquarium and surrounding areas.  They found some underwater hidden Mickeys, and we all watched the divers feed the fish and turtles. 

Kim even asked, “What’s that,” so I could sing, “that’s A-Moray!”
(yet again)

I think Veronica had the most fun though, constantly yelling, “YELLOW FISH!” and laughing hysterically whenever one passed.
Only she knows.

Obviously by the time we left, the Soarin’ wait was almost an hour and a half.  I ran in to get the Fast Passes, using super WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY speed to be sure the return time was constant this time.  Luckily, next door was the always fun Imagination Ride with Figment, which was a pick up for everyone.  The kids played in the animation playground for a bit, and Kim’s family got a cool green-screen flying photo (which has been seen by many when she sent Christmas cards out). 

We decided not to risk traumatizing the kids with Captain EO.  None of us really remembered the movie, but that’s not why we were worried about traumatizing them.  Kim remembered me launching into one of my long, patented tirades about Starship Captains not crying during its original release.

I remember nothing, but since I am known to have blackouts during periods of nerd rage, better safe than sorry.

With the need to get Anabelle into her Belle dress, Aurora into her Esmeralda Dress and Veronica into her Apple Girl outfit, we mobilized for World Showcase. We managed to reach Norway in time to change everyone for lunch. 

Entering Akershus we got an unusual surprise. I am used to certain characters being taller than me. Goofy, Mr. Incredible, Bre’r Bear, there are many.
However, I was in no way prepared to be eye to eye with Belle.

We all took the entry photos with Valkyrie Belle, and settled in for an excellent lunch.  It was the same group of princesses from the castle.

Disney has apparently given up on niche markets; this is why the magic shop closed.

 Ariel was, in fact, exactly the same and wanted to make sure they wanted her autograph again…of course they did. Since she recognized us, it’s understandable that she thought Aurora was in an Ariel dress (and since Ariel herself made that error, I feel much less dumb for making the same one.)  Ariel said to her, “Do you want your picture with me in your mermaid dress,” which Aurora (not being in a mermaid dress) calmly replied, “No,” resulting in a pouty princess.  We cleared everything up and the rest of the photos, including Rosa’s birthday princess pictures, and Veronica’s special Apple Girl shot, came off without a hitch. 

Anabelle and Veronica joined in the princess procession. Aurora was too busy enjoying her Mickey Raviolis to process anywhere. (I was unaware rodent shaped pasta was a staple of Norwegian cooking, you learn something new every day.) 

Dave got a lesson about, and shot of a potent Norwegian liquor, which they age by shipping around the world in an actual ship. Apparently using fed ex to speed up the process is not allowed (those picky Norsemen).  Full of princess goodness, and Norwegian eats, we went back outside. 

The girls went to get their “Duffys”.  The replacement for the masks they used to have at EPCOT became Mickey’s teddy bear, as Disney expected to sell more plush bears than plush masks. Plus you can’t sell cute outfits for a mask.  While they were coloring; Anabelle noticed the back was missing from one of her pins. I kneeled quickly to look for it, slamming my right knee on to the hard concrete of Norway (JII=2).  The plans of the WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY were sundered, yet again, when the Maelstrom broke down as soon as we got on line. The Maelstrom breaks regularly. There must be more physics to “backward in a boat” than I am privy too.

Therefore, we hiked back to Mexico through the increasing crowd.  After getting the kids their Duffy stamps, we went on the ever fun Grand Fiesta Tour, which remained a singing bird filled Latin hoot.

Once done it was back through the still disturbingly increasing crowd to Norway, and the repaired Maelstrom.  Vikings, Polar Bears, trolls, Odin and oil rigs; definitely one of the more testosterone fueled rides in the World.  Veronica fell asleep either during or just after all that manliness. She stayed in the post ride movie with Grandma and her folks while Rosa and I took the other two girls to meet Mariachi Donald outside Mexico.  I went ahead to get in line while Rosa weaved the girls through the still increasing and increasingly inebriated crowd.  I got there just as Donald returned from a coffee break, and his handler suggested I meet him alone, but I decided to be nice and wait for the ladies, letting the next family go first.

With the Ole’ duck mission completed, we fought our way back to meet up with everyone and into China, to get the EPCOT Death March underway in earnest. The large rowdy crowds were an unpleasant surprise.  We had been there during the Food and Wine festival several times before, even on a Saturday, but this was well over and above what we’d ever seen.  My membership in the WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY Union was now seriously threatened.

In China we got to see Mulan easily. (Apparently, drunken revelers have no interest in characters, points for us.)  When Mulan’s movie first came out, she’d appear both at meet and greets, and parades in her battle armor. She was even part of the “action hero” group in shows, along with Peter Pan and Hercules. Ever since she got drafted by the princesses, she only shows up in the dress from the beginning of the movie, the whole point of which is she hates it, and it isn’t true to who she is.  She got a really raw deal somewhere along the line, but at least it was a better deal than Hercules. Due to poor box office performance he has been banished from The World for all time.

In previous visits we were never able to convince Anabelle to try the Circle Vision movies, despite how cool I told her they were.  This time, we finally did, and it was actually worth it. As soon as the image of the Great Wall opened all around her, Anabelle’s jaw literally dropped. She kept an amazed expression the whole time while whirling around to follow the action.  Kim’s girls, being younger and more worn out, stayed asleep in the stroller in one of the few theaters allowing them to be rolled in.

Next came what was almost the nail in the coffin of my WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY membership. Before the movie, Rosa’s magic phone told us that several characters we hadn’t seen, and probably couldn’t see anywhere else (Marie, Beast, and Aladdin and Jasmine) were in World Showcase in France and Morocco, but leaving at 4:30.

We didn’t know at the time that the magic phone doesn’t tell you when they are coming back, or when they take short breaks to bundle up against the cold…this would have been very useful information.

 We decided we needed to see them, either today or when we returned.  In the store after the movie I started to formulate a WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY plan. I thought Rosa had gone up to the register to pay, and was thinking if we skipped the center section of World Showcase this time, we could catch all the characters, and finish the countries at leisure on our return. 

Similar to the Indiana Jones debacle, the WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY questions and suggestions were miscommunicated as and/or mis-taken as the definitive next objective. Kim, knowing she’d need more time to get the stroller through the staggering - drink spilling masses grabbed it, Dave and all three girls, and took off toward Morocco, on the other side of Seven Seas Lagoon for those playing at home.

It was then I learned that Rosa hadn’t gone to the counter but was instead still shopping in the larger, adjacent room of the store. I tried to hyperactively and ramblingly explain that our daughter was on her way to characters while we still had the camera and her autograph book. Rosa finished up much quicker than she should have needed to, and went to the register. It ended up turning out that the pants she picked were the wrong size…

Honestly, I’m lucky I didn’t spend the night sleeping in the big Play Doh can.

The whole group got split up as we worked our way through the drunken mob around World Showcase.  When we reached Morocco (aside from the belly dancer that made the pickled crowd that much harder to pass through):


No Aladdin, no Jasmine, not even a carpet we could pretend was from the movie.

I wormed my way inside to the Duffy station to pathetically inquire, and the woman showed me a time guide indicating they’d be appearing at 4:45 (in almost a half hour).  Having failed in Arabia, I pushed forward to France to find only Princess Aurora in her pink dress yet again.

She’s always in her pink dress now; because Cinderella outranks her in the princess hierarchy and claimed dibs on blue, as well as Aurora’s original hair color. Check the films kids.

She wasn’t listed on the Magic Phone at all.  Rosa found me as I proceeded to have a complete emotional breakdown, apologizing for being a horrendous shopping partner, WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUY, and general human being.  She wandered off for her birthday call to her mother, while I collapsed on a bench in a prolonged French sulk.

My cell phone blared heroically (making those DC ring tones actually worth it) with the first good news in a while, Kim had found Marie. Being a kitten she was kinda tiny and obscured by a tree from the main section of France. I got there in time for Anabelle’s hug.  We then began a more leisurely push back to Morocco for the expected reappearance.  Passing through the neutral zone between the two countries, who did we see?

Belle and the Beast!  

My nieces were terrified of the large hairy individual that wasn’t their uncle, but Anabelle was excited. Everyone else went over to wait for Jasmine’s return while we stood on line, and I frantically called Rosa.  She made it there in time to not only get a family picture with Belle and the Beast, but also to see her daughter get to dance with the Beast in her Belle dress while the real Belle signed the book. Beast’s paws wouldn’t even let him use a stamp like Buzz, never mind write, but he was a good dancer.

We then made it to the rest of the gang to meet up with the newly winterized Agrabah couple. They were a lot of fun, Aladdin, ever the street rat, stole one of the three girls’ books, hiding it in his robe. He even managed to get me blamed for it, in case I hadn’t annoyed everyone enough that day.  Despite the miscommunications, drunken hordes, emotional collapses and general chaos, we made all three character spots, so it was actually worth it. 
Then we got the heck out of World Showcase as fast as we individually could.

Fighting our way through, we found a nearly empty Future World.

Note to other poor WHERE WILL WE GO NEXT GUYs, stay there during the Food and Wine festival weekends.

Eventually we linked up again to ride Space Ship Earth and its nifty “you in the cartoon” ending, where Anabelle stuck her tongue out for the picture.

That’s my girl!  Hooray for classic EPCOT.

Anabelle played the Build a Body 3D game in the after show area with a nice woman who helped talk her through it (thanx nice lady!) as well as a driving game. Aurora played some games as well, while Veronica pushed the buttons she could reach.

It was finally time to ride Soarin’.  As they tried to figure out who was going to do the baby hand off shuffle thing with Veronica (still too short to ride), Grandma decided to forget the whole hang glider and take her to find some more YELLOW FISH as she hadn’t stopped talking about them all day.  This means Grandma had one of the rarest of all Disney World souvenirs, an unused Soarin’ Fast Pass.  The rest of us rode and had a great time. Anabelle loved smelling the oranges and she and Aurora pretended to step on people’s heads.  We also both kept adopting Superman poses.

That’s my girl!

With the inability to find anything anyone really liked in the Land counter service place last time, and no one wanting to re-enter the tipsy throng in World Showcase, dinner became the Electric Umbrella by default.  It has a minimal selection by comparison, but good quick food.  Between the three girls there was a MOUNTAIN of chicken nuggets on the table.  Rosa decided to wait till we got back and have the excellent shrimp pasta left over from the Dine in Theater, using this time to hit the giant Mouse Works gift shop.

She found the only “medium” Buzz Lightyear uniform shirt for me in the park, and Grandma bought it, providing me proper attire for the next day’s trip to Tomorrowland.
Thanx guys!

After dinner we had time for one more thing. All the kid rides closed at Seven PM, which left Mission Space.  Aurora indicated she wanted no part of it during the whole ride across Future World in the stroller.  That is until we got there and she learned she wasn’t tall enough for it, and immediately became upset.
Yay kids in Disney! 

Kim and Dave went in one ship, while Rosa, Anabelle, and I took another. With our familes cardiac histories, the green “no spinning” line was our choice, as opposed to the orange “you may have a heart attack” line.  Everyone had fun and sent goofy video postcards before meeting up with Grandma (who doesn’t like the ride much anyway) and the other kids.

The cold snap was in full swing, after all the rain, leaving every kid in The World sneezing or coughing.  Dave and I were about the last two people in the park in shorts and t-shirts.  After the exit Photo Pass guy told us to pretend we were shivering for a picture he noticed how I was dressed and pronounced, “No sleeves and shorts? You’re crazy.” 
Usually people notice that without inappropriate dress for the weather. I must be slipping.

We made sure to get to the buses as Illuminations began, allowing us to clear out before the Food and Wine crowd crawled on them.  Rosa brought her dinner to the microwaves in Everything POP while I gave Anabelle a run at the arcade. She proved deadly accurate at the chameleon tongue target game, and learned a valuable lesson about gambling. 
Some of the games were basically roulette wheels that determined how many tickets you won. The first time she tried she won a boatload and happily freaked out, but any other time, she won significantly less.
Better to learn now with tickets. 

She cashed in her stash, including a couple piles of tickets the very nice attendant asked her to “help clean up” for him.

Imagine that. Another nice Disney employee, what are the odds?

Then, after picking out a small bag of random plastic toy items, we went back to meet up with Rosa in the café.  Before collapsing back to the room, my wife decided to buy a small Disney backpack to carry the snacks in, as I had managed to crush all of them as I maneuvered the manly Ariel backpack around.

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