Friday, August 15, 2008

DISNEY: Sparkles, Balls, and Nuts

It's been three weeks since I've been to the parks, so I knew that I was heading back either today (Friday) or Sunday. Since I had something Saturday morning in Cocoa, I figured to go today for a number of reasons: for one thing, it'd mean one day in Orlando instead of two, which means less packing, and by getting it done early, I'd have more time to manage the pictures. Also, I was hoping it'd also mean lighter crowds.

I passed out on the futon mattress Thursday night. And knowing that 7:40am is the latest that I could leave the house and make a rope drop, that's when my body woke up. I didn't rush or panic though; I just took a late start, leaving the house at 8:30am. And on the way over, I got a call from Pom who was having another busy weekend but was available this morning, so I headed up to see her and the puggies. Pom and I went out for a quick breakfast at Junior's Diner (which has some really good French toast ) and caught up. After that, she had to get back to get ready for work, and I headed down to the parks.

I started at Magic Kingdom (parked at the TTC, close enough to walk to the station and took the monorail). By then it was a little past 11am, and I headed straight for the Barber Shop. I had to wait this time, but it was fine. I watched a lot of kids get haircuts and get sparkles in their hair. When it was my turn I also had sparkles put in my hair (but resisted the colored gel... this time).

With my new haircut, I walked over to Liberty Square to get pictures of the bridge refurb (both cool and nerdy) then I walked through Fantasyland; the wait times were way up there (60 mins for Pooh so I continued onwards to Tomorrowland. BLSRS was 45 mins but I wanted to ride something, so... to the ever-faithful TTA. I bee-lined it to join others Dreaming Along With Mickey at the castle -- my favorite dancer was there (yay!).

And then I headed out of MK. I took the monorail to the TTC then bus to DHS.

I was hoping to get on TSMM before the 3pm BPB but the single-rider line was not open/available, and instead of waiting around, I headed towards Muppet Vision 3D. On the way there I stopped on the Streets of America to listen to Mulch, Sweat, and Shears, who seems like a fun group of guys, and I figured to take a picture of the guitarist for someone (not me). Anyways, I got to MV3D just in time to catch the very end of the pre-show (good) and again enjoyed the show despite Waldo C. Graphic.

I was getting hungry and needing of nourishment. I was going to save myself for some Chinese food (Nee Hao, Welcome to China) so I just got a drink from to the Backlot Express. I then lined up for the Block Party Bash with no rush. The parade was again high-energy, which I appreciate and enjoy -- it's like eating cotton-candy... pure sugar and flavoring. And at the end, when the balls shot up in the air, I was ready. I didn't catch any of them, but I did step over a row of kids to pick up a couple of balls rolling on the street... somewhat dangerous and foolish, but I wanted some balls. I wanted some balls. I wanted some balls.


Then I considered going to the second party zone for possibly more balls but caught myself and reasoned that perhaps now the TSMM SRL would be available. So walked over to Pixar Place, and Yeah! I got in!

...but the SRL reached all the way to the bottom of the stairs (boo). On top of that, I'm sandwiched between two pairs of very under-enthusiastic guests. And once I got on the ride, I was partnered with a not-as-enthusiastic-as-I'd-imagine Disney CP newbie from Puerto Rico. I was virtual on my own on the ride but still managed a respectable score of 200,600 (cat). Afterwards I decided it best to move on to Epcot -- took a bus so I could do FW before it closed at 7pm.

First of my two goals for Epcot was "StormStruck: The Tale of Two Homes". It's a new exhibit at Innoventions East where guests experience a simulated Level 4 (Charley) hurricane. I thought it was a very good addition. I was nervous that all the talk about hurricanes would freak me out (like the Boy Scout trips to the fire station way back when), but it didn't so much. It was educational but not enough motivational for me to remodel my house right now.

Next, I headed towards WS, making a stop at the Odyssey and First Aid. I needed a band-aid. It was my first time there. Inside, the lights were turned off, and there was a great feeling of calm. The lady at the desk was helpful and had a good spirit. It was a nice two-minute break from the parks and a reassuring experience.

Then it was off to my second goal, which was to visit the China Pavilion. I went to the Lotus Blossom Cafe and had the Orange Chicken with steamed rice and a bottle of Green Tea. The food was good, the eating area was quiet, and it brought back good memories.

I then went into the shops there and was expecting more Olympic merchandise but found something to buy (I really should leave the credit card in the car when I visit the parks). I then went to watch the Reflections of China 360 show, which was again very inspiring.

I continued around WS and stopped by Japan to pick up a couple of snacks for my across-the-street neighbors' girls. They are so nice and enthusiastic about me for some reason, and they've shared some of their Japanese candy with me. So I got them a marble ball soda and a bag of dried snow peas for them to try.

Well, I was feeling like my day was over and took the ferry boat across World Showcase Lagoon to FW. On the path between Canada and JII, I came across a group of people gathered around a people-friendly (read: "nut-loving") squirrel. A lady was handing it peanuts, and it would take one, nibble on it for a bit, then find a place in the bed of the rose garden to bury it. I had to take pictures and a video.

Anyways, I wanted one more ride before I went home. It was 7:30pm and JII was closed. Maybe a sun-setting LWTL? Closed. With Illuminations coming up, I went over to Soarin'... 70 mins, so I got in line.

Again, I was feeling alone, unable to connect with anyone around me. Perhaps it was the glitter still in my hair,maybe it was a little dehydration, but I was feeling a bit sad. I was about to bail, but decided that my next opportunity to play those big-screen games.

Turns out, I was able to talk with a family from North Carolina -- parents with their two girls. They were a great family -- funny and with good spirits. I asked them about their day (they also managed BPB), and we talked some about the Olympics. I felt useful and knowledgeable, and they suggested that I should maybe be a guide -- always a complement :).

Anyways, we managed three screen games, each with not-great results, but the family had a lot of fun nonetheless, and thus I had fun. The wait ended up being 70 mins, and as we got assigned concourses, we were split up. I gave the family my red BPB ball so that each of the girls can have one -- the least I could do because they salvaged my visit. It's people like them that keep me going.

As I exited a solemn Land pavilion, I heard the the fireworks from Illumination's second movement and saw them burst over the Imagination pavilion. I rushed over to the dancing water fountain for the final set. I couldn't hear the music, but I could feel the fireworks. Plus I got a head start to the monorail, which wasn't too crowded for me as I made my way back to the TTC.

Overall, I think that the trip went well -- it had a mix of disappointment and pleasant surprises. And though I tried to slow things down, my theme park anxiety was still pretty high -- I probably could've used more water and a nap. Even having started late, I think that it was enough.

Listed below is what was my itinerary and following that are some pictures from the trip.
Here's what I did this visit:

Parked at TTC (Minnie 38)

Monorail to MK

- Barber Shop (sparkles, Evan)
- Liberty Square Bridge Refurb
- TTA (w/another single)
- Dream Along With Mickey (yay)

Monorail to TTC

Bus to DHS

- (Toy Story Midway Mania (SRL not available))
- Mulch, Sweat, and Shears (love the stickers on their truck)
- Muppet Vision 3D (really good timing)
- Backlot Express (large diet coke)
- Block Party Bash (first zone, red & green balls)
- Toy Story Midway Mania (SRL: 200,600)

Bus to Epcot

- Cool Club
- Stormstruck
- (Test Track (SRL not going to be 20 minutes, & bad vibes))
- First Aid (for band-aids)
- China Pavilion:
- Lotus Blossom Cafe (orange chicken & bottle of green tea)
- Shopping (Beijing Olympics)
- Reflections of China (lost a pin)
- Japan Pavilion:
- Shopping (snacks for neighbors)
- Ferry Boat to FW/Canada (napoleon)
- Squirrel burying nuts (video)
- (JII closed for the night)
- (LWTL closed for the night)
- Soarin' (games, redemption guests)
- quick peek at I:RoE Fireworks

Monorail to TTC


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