Monday, October 6, 2014

Disney World 2013: Day 6 - A Plan to Finally Get Some Rest, is Dropped for Dancing and Everest

The collapse ended.

Based on a newfound love of a roller coaster, and Dinosaur being shut down on Wednesday, we awoke much earlier than initially planned. It was well before “We can sleep late on this day,” but a little later than our normal, “Get there when the park opens,” time.

We were, yet again, personally welcomed to a park by music.  Animal Kingdom was playing “The Bear Necessities” once more followed by “The Circle of Life” when we entered.  They know us well.

Anabelle’s Wilderness Explorer book had gotten wet in the intervening days, leading her to request a new one at the main station.  She got to go through the initiation ceremony, which was pretty nifty.  She also heard the speech that made me love Disney some more.  Unlike zoo, museum and other class trip place sheets, the Guide Leader explained there are intentionally far more badges than anyone could reasonably collect on a normal trip. The kids were instructed not to race around focusing solely on answering the questions, but to spend the day enjoying the park, and stop by the badge locations only if they specifically interested them.

Keeping with the Wilderness Explorer theme, our next stop was to visit with Russell and Dug in front of the Tree of Life, and some lemurs. (Yay!)  They immediately left on a break (Russell and Dug, not the lemurs.).  We seem to have had the magical ability to make any beloved character need to take a leak.
Once they quickly returned, we had another mime filled meeting. Anabelle was a bit confused but eventually got that Dug was making some Cinderella waltzing references, then encouraging her to make a dinosaur face with him, based on us all wearing dinosaur shirts.

Appropriately shirted, we entered into Dinoland, where our FastPass Plus awaited.  Another musical welcome ensued as I sang along to “Alley Oop.” This allowed me to have fun and embarrass my child at the same time. BONUS!

We took the long way to the exhibit through the “Cretaceous Trail.”  It was a path through woods with several dinosaur statues from that period.  I think they were making fun of the periodically misnamed, “Jurassic Park.” The trail ended in a courtyard with a reproduction of “Sue,” one of the most famous Tyrannosaur skeletons in the world.  Well, famous to dinosaur geeks like us, anyway.

We didn’t need the FastPass, but with a short day planned decided to use it only to have the Cast Member personally welcome us when our Magic Bands activated the entry light. (We’re such Disney geeks.)  

I hadn’t been on the ride in years. I forgot about the line looking very much like a museum, complete with some nifty exhibits.  The room displaying the K-T Extinction boundary was impressively realistic.
Or it would be if one discounted the Carnotaurus skeleton in the center that matched the film Dinosaur, but bore no resemblance to the real creature of that name.

After watching the preshow film, where the wacky scientist defied Claire Huxtable and told us about going to the end of the Cretaceous, we entered the vehicle.  Research told us to position Rosa in the front inside seats, for minimal back and kidney pounding, giving her an enjoyable ride. Anabelle hated it because it was far too dark and scary, even though there were less poppy-uppy dinosaurs than I remembered.  I thought it was OK.

That’s a serious problem.  I’m nowhere near close to what one would consider a tough audience when it comes to both Disney and dinosaurs.  If all that combination could get out of me was, “It was OK,” somebody dropped the ball big time.

No one felt overly compelled to take a second bumpy bus safari for the vacation, but the MyDisneyExperience App wouldn’t connect, keeping us from moving the scheduled FastPass Plus.  This is yet another reinforcement to my belief that FastPass Plus should have remained a perk for those staying on property in addition to regular FastPass. It lacked the flexibility to always be used spur of the moment in the same way the standard one could.

Or I’m just old and have issues with change.

Triceratops Spin never ever ever ever had a line. Most times, it was included under the “open all day” section of the Wait Times list.  We let Anabelle take a trip, and I accompanied her to share a dinosaur themed ride that didn’t scare the bejubees out of her.

For about the fourth time on the vacation, we ran across the length of Animal Kingdom, successfully making it just within the Lion King FastPass Plus window.

Our plan was to simply enjoy the show.  Like most of our plans, it went completely down the toilet.  This time, however, the flushing was for a very good reason.

Possibly due to the FastPass entrance, but just as likely due to sheer luck, we got our best seats ever.  We ended up as close as possible, for non-VIPs, to the front of the giraffe section.  We were over to the side, meaning there were no seats in front of us.

We each took a couple of close up pictures.  Frighteningly, wielding the backup camera, I passed a thousand photos for the trip during the show, only half way through the vacation. 

Rosa started filming again because, in a burst of unexpected audience participation-ness, Anabelle agreed when the zebra lady asked her to join the show.  That video came out more shaky than usual, as Rosa’s dancing along reached new heights of enthusiasm when our daughter became part of the extravaganza.

The FastPass Plus site was still down, but crowds were low enough to allow a standby ride on Expedition Everest without abandoning Rosa for too long.  The line was just as fun this time through, though we could have done without the guys who felt the need to ring every single one of the near infinite bells along the way.

We were smart enough to grab regular FastPasses before getting on line, allowing an old fashioned two in a row ride.   I started a new hobby on this trip, watching people who’ve never been on rides before. There’s some element of that with Anabelle, but she’s become a seasoned Disney veteran at a young age.  It was highly amusing to watch the thrill seekers extreme disappointment at the first sissy hills,  the story telling catching them hook line and sinker before the ride kicked into high gear.  I tried to take some pictures of the Yeti and the big drop, but the rapid switches between near total darkness and the blinding Florida sun left me with a series of completely black and white photos.

No, those didn’t count toward the total, I deleted them.  Give me some credit.

We had some interesting adventures waiting for our return window between the rides.  Anabelle initially didn’t want to get a nearby Wilderness Explorer badge, because she wanted to, “just have fun.”

That’s my girl.

When time dragged a little further, she changed her mind, as the requirement involved walking around the area she was already walking around and counting yeti, which was cool.

We also saw a girl, maybe a little younger than Anabelle, wearing a bright yellow shirt with large print declaring (unedited), “Oh S*** It’s Monday.”

Now, far be it from me to criticize what other parents find acceptable and not acceptable for their children to wear…

In a crowded theme park…

With a strong family slant…

Filled with thousands of impressionable children.

However, if they do insist on letting their spawn wear excessively inappropriate for their age or environment clothing they should at least learn how to read a freakin’ calendar.

Because it was SATURDAY!

Hey lady, instead of spending your money on child sized obscene clothing; why not purchase a desk planner…and a clue.

The second ride was just as fun as the previous one, or ones, counting the first visit. However, the Saturday crowds …

Because it was SATURDAY, which I may have mentioned already.

Made the stand by length threatening to our Downtown meal reservation.  Fortunately, my eagle eyed wife sighted the single rider line around the corner next to a happy little sign proclaiming “5 minute wait.”

Rosa, once more, found a spotting location in front of the big drop, and prepared to run into the gift shop to meet Anabelle as soon as she passed on her “single ride.” Meanwhile, Anabelle struck up a conversation with the woman in front of us who was from the United Kingdom.  We traded stories about which TV shows of the other one’s country we liked.  Upon learning of our Doctor Who fandom she told us her fiancée was planning to dress as Tom Baker at their wedding.  She was impressed Anabelle knew Monty Python and especially Fawlty Towers.  Based on that recommended Red Dwarf, which her similarly aged daughter enjoyed.  This thrilled me as I had been trying to convince her to watch that series for ages.  Any parent knows your child is much more likely to take to heart a review from a random stranger than Daddy. 

The woman told us about the US shows she liked, particularly Friends.  She had been somewhat disheartened to learn that Joey’s reply greeting of, “How YOU doin’?” was met with more confusion than anything else.  My guess is that was mostly caused by the sudden shift of accent as she nailed the voice.

Our new mate boarded, and we shortly followed. Just before we were called we noticed there were already people on the ride, but didn’t think much of it figuring it was wheelchair boarding or something similar.  I ended up on the same train as Anabelle, but she was several cars ahead of me.  This unfortunately focused all of my attention forwards.  Normally, on a roller coaster ride, this would not be unfortunate.

Skip ahead a bit to after our return home.  On one of Rosa’s many extended phone adventures to find all of our PhotoPass Plus pictures, the Cast Member asked, “Do you know your husband was on a ride with a Disney Star?”

Sure enough, a couple rows behind me, screaming an making faces directly at the camera as an indication of how often her family enjoys the park, was Jodi “the voice of Ariel” Benson.  I guess she was having some fun before performing at the “Night of Joy.”  While Anabelle made another friend with the excited coaster riding guy next to her, I was not as fortunate.  The man next to me looked ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED, even before the train launched.

I tried to remain completely motionless to avoid inducing a heart attack or gag reflex in my riding partner.  I’d like to extend apologies to Jodi Benson and her family for looking like I’m in a boring business meeting in her picture.

We walked into Asia proper to get a PhotoPass picture in front of the mountain ride we’d enjoyed many times.  Unfortunately, the family ahead of us hadn’t figured out the concept of PhotoPass yet…
Or photography in general…
Or crowds…
Or bathing.

We eventually got our shot, including one in the offered frame, although it looked just as dumb in the Himalayas as on Hollywood Boulevard.

Timing for our lunch reservation downtown became a concern.  As usual, this meant all three of us came up with as many ways to slow down as humanly possible.

Anabelle, who had been ignoring most of the Wilderness Explorer badge locations, decided she needed to learn how to say hello in Thai. 

It’s “Sa wa tee” for any one in similar time stressed circumstances.

Rosa had seen several Hakuna Matata shirts being worn around the parks that would be a perfect souvenir of her favorite show.  I went into the big gift shop to check once we’d returned to Discovery Island, and learned the shirts she’s seen were from K-mart.  This led to a discussion with the Cast Member about the serious decline in the quality of Park T-Shirts in our lifetimes.

I emerged from the store, but Rosa didn’t care about the information she had sent me in to find because “Danza Kuduro” was playing, which is not a combination of the stars of Who’s the Boss and Friends. There was a couple from Brazil leading Latin dances for any interested guests.  Rosa highlighted her interest by throwing her pack, camera equipment and daughter at me, and merging with the crowd as one of its more proficient members.  Anabelle’s participation pendulum swung back to the conservative side after the Lion King experience, leading her to stay out. 

The cultural dance demonstrations were everywhere this time.  I’m betting when Anabelle is older we’re going to need more time to simply “be” in Animal Kingdom, forget what the Avatarland addition is going to require.

To insure we really needed to rush, we stopped for one last PhotoPass at the tree, since we hadn’t taken the required shot of Rosa and me kissing in this park yet.  (Yeah, we’re embarrassingly romantic, ask our daughter.)  Anabelle got another “holding baby Simba” picture, and we were leaving again.

Except of course for stopping at the Wilderness Explorer Headquarters for her Animal Badge.  Anabelle immediately forgot every animal she saw, liked, or even heard of when asked. Luckily, this was Disney; the Wilderness Leader talked about the Siamang as her favorite ape, and gave Anabelle the sticker anyway.

I apologized for using another snack on a PowerAde as we left the park.  Rosa said not to worry as:
A) She’s dealt with me dehydrated and cranky before.
B) She planned to use many more of them in the parks where the Starbucks were already open.

The new feature of busses from Animal Kingdom to Downtown Disney would have been fantastic except for one tiny problem.

The service started at 3PM and our lunch was at 2PM.  All we needed to do was get to any hotel, and transfer to a Downtown Bus.  We picked Saratoga Springs partially because of its proximity to Downtown, but mostly because the bus was one of the ones there.  Anabelle helped out by running into each to ask the driver’s about the proximity of their route to our destination.

Moderate Resorts tend to be insanely sprawling, and the multiple stops ate up much of our extra time before leaving us in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere.  Luckily, the Disney Psychic Express bus showed up almost immediately, and the trip length indicated we probably could have walked Downtown if there was a strong enough signal for the SmartPhone to show us where we were, instead of mockingly spinning the little circle.

Thus we reached the midpoint of our vacation, as well as the midpoint of our “rest” day with Anabelle and my first arrival Downtown since she was two.  Yes, Rosa had agreed to do her main shopping with us, instead of leaving us out of the way at the hotel.  She must really love us.

We didn’t have time to view much in the sprint needed due to getting off the first, instead of the second stop, but I was happy to see that the Lego store had added Disney based sculptures sometime during my eight year absence.

Despite the difficulty in booking the reservation, the T-Rex Café was no more crowded than any other place during our off season but free dining plan season visit.  Arriving at the appropriate “few minutes early,” we only had a momentary wait while enjoying the view of the undersea themed bar and full size animatronic Tyrannosaur that served as a greeter.

Being used to Disney can spoil one. Being IN Disney can spoil one further. That was the only problem with the Landry owned eatery.  It was of equal quality to other places owned by that chain, such as the Rainforest Café and the Denver Aquarium.  However, while the sculpts were impressive, the actual animatronics paled in comparison to what we were seeing at the parks every day.
There was also a pteranodon that kept issuing a Godzilla roar in the Geotech Kitchen we were seated in that caused some geekly unhappiness.

The rooms connected, placing us between the pterosaur filled kitchen, and a full size mammoth in the color changing Ice Cave.
There was a prime view of the rear of the greeter Tyrannosaur as well, adding much temporal diversity to the animals that mooned me on our vacation.  Through the color changing Ice Age room we had sporadic views of the Sequoia Room. That was the most “dinosaury” of all of them.
Anabelle could see straight in to her favorite the parasaurolophus, which was next to the triceratops bench that I am totally buying when we hit the lottery.

The food was excellent and came in Flinstonian sized portions. Rosa continued her newfound relationship with chicken and ribs, while Anabelle and I devoured our salmon and lasagna respectively.  She helped devouring my salmon as she was having her own newfound food relationship.
Between the sizes of our entrees and the “shareable” desert, which we could have shared with the cast of the Electric Light Parade, we remained in our booth through several meteor showers.  That’s the booming, light flashing, animatronic moving answer to the Rainforest Café’s thunderstorm.

The bill reminded us why the meal plan is always worth it while we compared notes on the fossils on display in the “He Rex” and “She Rex” restrooms. I think there was a Marylyn Monroe themed dinosaur sign in the ladies room, I’m not sure. I really need to write these things up much sooner after the trip to prevent my notes turning into unsolvable puzzles.  Our waitress was one of many complementing our dinosaur shirts, particularly the cute matching ones Rosa and Anabelle had donned.  We really take the whole Disney t-shirt coordination thing to insane levels, but it is appreciated.

The gift shop had a “Build a Dino” branch of the “Build a Bear” empire.  Anabelle used money from Grandma to design “Adrianna Apatosaurus.”  Then there was clothes shopping to outfit the blue dancing sauropod, and registration of its adoption papers online.  The whole thing made the cabbage patch phenomenon look sane by comparison.

Our exit to the outside was a brief as possible due to yet another unforcasted thunderstorm hurrying us into the Lego store.
Besides the Marvel and Disney sculptures, other awesomeness was seeing the boxes for the giant Star Wars and Lord of the Rings sets which are too pricy for most regular stores to carry.  My drooling was cut short by an excessively geeky sales guy, and remember, this is me talking here.  He sighted the Star Wars display and my superhero tattoos simultaneously and launched into a monologue on multiple topics which was
A) Unending
B) Incorrect in many areas
C) Occasionally insulting

I believe Disney has less control over Cast Member selection Downtown.
Luckily he lampreyed onto unfortunate other guests, and I was able to watch Anabelle design her three minfigures and ask more Disneyesque and dinosaur friendly Cast Members if Lego still made nonspecific sets.

They did, but they didn’t like to talk about them.

We checked out a couple of small stores while we had time.  In Trend-D something happened that I did not think possible.

They had a purse with Makeover Belle on it featuring the quote, “I want it all.”

I was sure that after seeing Superman in Man of Steel there couldn’t be any treatment of a fictional character this year that could make me issue forth a worse, embarrassingly loud, big “NO!” in public.  As my family and other Trend-D customers can confirm, I was incorrect.

Choosing to go the Church from Downtown turned out to be a good decision. Because of highway access, the trip was shorter and about half the taxi price from any hotel or park we’d tried before.  It left us much less time to complain about the Mass no longer being offered at the Polynesian, which is probably better from a holiness point of view.

It was early enough that Anabelle had time to call a friend to check up on school assignments.  She gathered the information while we all sat under a clear blue sky being rained on.  I really wonder about the divine alignment on all things Disney.

There was Saturday night shopper traffic, but our return to Downtown was still quite short.  The stop and go motion of the cab assisted in our utter failure at taking pictures of the “Welcome to Disney World” signs for a second time.

Instead of waiting until the very end, this time Anabelle and I selected temporary tattoos at the midpoint of the trip.  There was a slight pause as a man ran into the kiosk demanding, “I need to go to the bathroom.”  The teenaged temporary tattooist directed him, and as he rushed off I caused one of the few emotional changes in her face by offendedly stating, “Well, not in here!”  I went with the same one of Mickey’s gang from last time, and Anabelle selected Ariel.  The teenaged temporary tattooist kept a mask like serious expression most of the time, including when she mouthed along to nearby music.  Anabelle found her a bit creepy, but her laughing at my joke, supplying an extra tattoo for us to take when Ariel didn’t look quite right, and compliments on my forethought at shaving my arm guaranteed the teenaged temporary tattooist a tidy tip.

We let Anabelle look around in Little Miss Match, but not for very long.  The combination of “Happy Disney” and “Cutesy Girly” in the bright florescent accessory farm threated to put me into a saccharine coma.

There was an excessively unusual set of ornaments in the Christmas Store: trampy looking shoes decorated based on Disney Villains.  Anabelle was complaining about the Jack Skellington based one, and not only because he isn’t a villain, something we will continue to remind Disney until the true villains get their store back in MGM.   She was ranting on (that’s my girl) that there shouldn’t be a high heeled pump for him.  I kept repeating that the Ursula one was worse until she blurted out:
“He’s a boy!”

I calmly replied, “At least he has feet.”

“Good point.” She answered.

The decision to go to the Mary Queen of the Universe shrine from Downtown Disney was one of our better ideas.  The decision to do all of our little store searches first, and save the immense World of Disney store for Saturday night was not.

The store was total chaos, and we were there…


We split up, lost each other, and wandered aimlessly several times.  At least we were able to take advantage of all of our discounts and coupons, and score many souvenirs, but I ain’t doing that again.   They had absolutely every size but mine of the Disney shirt personally designed for me:  a two tone excessively bright tie dye with Mickey and Pals on the blue side, and the villains including Tchernabog on the orange side.  It’s like they know me.  I called our hotel, and once again, Disney awesomeness ruled the night. They saved my size to allow an exchange with the shirt we bought using our pile of Disney People discounts.  Rosa finally found the Minnie visor she’d been hunting for, as well as an auxiliary Super Magic Deluxe Camera purse for days when she didn’t need the full Super Magic Deluxe Camera backpack.

We got back to the POP very late, on our short, relaxing day, where I was apologized to for having to sign a thirty seven foot long receipt for my shirt, since rounding errors led to a one penny difference in the exchange.

We knew none of the Pluto trivia for his birthday, and went straight to the massively crowded Everything POP food court. I’m sure the concert contributed to the number of people not at a park that particular Saturday night.  However, sometimes weekends still bludgeon the shine of Disney awesomeness.

We all ate…something. 
It is possible we walked through the pool on the way back to the room,
before ending our short and relaxing day by dropping into a triple coma sometime after midnight, to re-energize before going to the one park we hadn't hit yet.

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