Sunday, December 28, 2008

DISNEY: Four in Sixteen

The rational for going to the parks this time was that I spent the entire day before indoors and managed to write holiday cards to everyone who sent me one. And for good balance, I wanted to be around people (happy people). Plus I needed a haircut.

I got out of be at 7:20am and was on the road by 8:00am to get to the parks around rope drop (supposedly...). I decided on DHS first to get a TSMM FP and maybe get a ride in, but I soon discovered that the park had already been opened for an hour (at 8:00am) so the SB time was already at 60 mins. Still, I got my FP (1:35pm-2:35pm) and went to look at Sunset Blvd. I managed a quick RnR (SR)then took a look at ToT; it said 20 mins but the queue wrapped around much of the outside landscape, so I bailed. Off to park #2: MK.

The park was evidently very busy. I checked on the Harmony Barber Shop, and the line was out the door and on the benches, so I proceeded to Tomorrowland to try to check out MILF. The front room was completely packed so I bailed this one too and went to CoP instead, which was also very busy (I was pleasantly surprised). I saw that Surprise CoP FPs were being distributed with the ones for BLSRS, and it looked like it was certainly worked. Next was the TTA, which also amazingly had a queue of its own. Before leaving Tomorrowland, I pick up BLSRS and (Surprise...)CoP FPs(woo!).

Since there were so many people, I decided to go into show mode and over to Tiki Birds, which... was as bad as I had expected. Instead of being a beautiful experience that entrances young and old alike, as in the original still found in Disneyland, this Under New Management iteration is grating on the ears (a la Gilbert Godfrey), disconnective with its script, and poor in its attempt to modernize the music... no love, no love. [Okay, rant over.]

After that, I went to the nearby Country Bear Jamboree; I sat towards the front. I was pleasantly surprised by/reminded of just how charming this [original iteration] show was. The show emptied into a crowded Frontierland where the noon parade was in progress. I headed towards Main Street via Adventureland and on the way heard a guy talking with his female companion about today's crowds, "The best thing to do is just to soak up the spirit.", to which I say "right on :)".

I made a quick stop by First Aid for a band-aid, then went around the corner to Casey's Corner for lunch. Yesterday I was surfing Disney sites for dining ideas, and there was one site that just raved about the hot dogs there... kinda strange, but it got me to try. I do have to say that it was quite filling and hit the spot -- and perhaps the recommendation added some purpose to the choice.

Anyways, the parade blocked the path to the exit, so I swung around and checked on the barber shop -- clear and with two new-to-me attendants. I asked Diane for a thinning and clean-up trim, and she was very pleasant, easy-to-talk with. The other attendant was wonderful too, and we enjoyed the parade as it yummy-yummy'd by. It was a very nice visit to the barber shop and restored a lot of magic. Plus it checked off an item from my to-do/worry list. I believe that the trim helped with my confidence for the rest of the [marathon] park-visit. I definitely felt more presentable. Thank you Diane :)

With that, I exited the park and hopped onto the small boat to the Wilderness Lodge. I congratulated a mother & daughter on their Dream Mickey Ears, and I learned that they were from Minnesota on their eighth trip to Disney in two years. They were fun to talk to because they were big Disney fans and quite informed. I was connecting! Anyways, when we got to the WL, I just took a quick pic of the tree in the lobby then headed to the bus stop. It was back to DHS to redeem the TSMM FP.

I kept forgetting that the WL-->DHS bus stopped by the campgrounds. There was a little girl on the bus pointed out some sky-writing... "JESUS LOVES U". I hadn't seen this for a while.

At DHS, I headed down Hollywood Blvd and stopped at the main stage where Mulch, Sweat, & Shears were performing holiday songs; I like how they were given some special treatment (HSM3 was temporarily moved to the Streets of America where MS&S usually play). Anyways, back to TSMM FP; I actually got paired up this time and with a first-timer. Coming off of a promising effort (just before the TSMM evacuation), I was thrilled when we got the rainbow balloons, the alien bin monster, And cleared the bullseyes! We unlocked a number of 2000 targets on the western traverse, then I knocked all my mining carts and hit both bats. I was only hoping to get over 214,000 to take 3rd place and was hella-surprised & giddy when the numbers came up -- 280,200!!! (Oh Deer!), a PR by at least 50,000 and #1 for the day @2:10pm.

280,200 <-- ME!

I left DHS on that good note headed to park #3: DAK.

The enthusiasm continued as I rode the crowded bus to DAK. There was family from Rhode/Long(?) Island. The mother was explaining to her children about the Indiana Jones show -- how they put one of their own people in the group of volunteers, and that's how that person was able to do a back-flip when he "got hit" -- to which one of the little boys said "It was a real punch!", as if they were talking about the authenticity of Santa. (Awww...)

Anyways, at DAK, I was surprised by how busy it was. I thought I would be just-in-time for the 3:00 FOTLK, but the show was completely full and we were turned away. Heading to Africa, I saw how packed that pocket was and just moved on. I walked by the 90 min (SB) Kali River Rapids to finally make it to the Maharajah Jungle Trek where the Tigers were awake, walking around, peeing, etc. Afterwards, I went to Asia and rode EE -- the SR line was long but doable. And just a note: the EE FP line has been looking backed-up lately, so maybe they need to reprogram those kiosks. Next: park #4 Epcot.

This park was also very busy. And I thought of a place where I can do something without a wait... Cool Club! After that introduction, I figured attractions. I had gotten my JII & LWTL fix in recent visits, and TT was 20 mins SR but the line was out the door... so I headed to the M:S Adv. Training Lab - I scored a 33, and our Titan team won... coincidence? That done, I headed to the WS.

The goal was to see the Candlelight Processional. I was indecisive of whether or not to have dinner beforehand, so when I got to AA, I just fell in line -- an hour early for the 6:45pm show. There was a really nice couple in line who was telling me about how their children had sung in the CanPro in past years and how cool the behind-the-scenes were. I enjoyed their enthusiasm not only for the CanPro and Disney (they've been at Epcot all day catching the holiday presentations at each of the countries), but also for the Miami Dolphins who were playing the NY Jets that evening -- their son were sending them updates via txt (Ha!).

Anyways, the show was really beautiful. The music was incredible and the conductor was so animated and fun to watch. Then, like in my favorite choral performances, there was a point in the show that the audience got to participate -- we joined in on a verse of Silent Night, and I totally enjoyed it. Then the couple received a txt saying "The Dophins Won!" just as the chorus started singing "Joy To The World" (Double Ha!).

Angela Bassett and her husband Courtney B. Vance were wonderful guest narrators -- very expressive and appreciative -- and again, the show was really beautiful. I would like to bring MOM to this next year.

After the show, I had to decide between staying for a special IllumiNations or going back to MK for a special Holiday Wishes. I did want to see Cinderella's Castle lit up (and to ride the Ferry Boat) so I headed out.

On the way, while passing the McDonald's kiosk by Canada, I overhead a lady telling her family "This is Morocco." (there are many themed posters for McDonald french fries, and I suppose that the one for Morocco does kinda stand out). Her grown-up children were skeptical, pointing out that the building was too small to be a country, but she was convinced (Ha!).

Anyways, the FW-WS archway lights were choreographed to the background music (a la Osborne family lights at DHS) and that was cool. Even cooler was the fact that the FW Fountain was also playing along. I stopped by Cool Club one more time (surprised that it was still open) before heading to the monorails heading to the TTC & MK.

I had learned from other guests that MK had opened early and that it was also hosting Extra Magic hours from midnight until 3am -- and so by 8:45pm, the park was a mix of worn and fresh guests. The crowd was big but amazingly manageable, and I got into the hub with no problem -- Mucho kudos to the CMs directing traffic on Main Street.

I planted myself beside a young guy who had a huge tripod set-up, camera framing the castle. I learned that he's a CM, working Photopass for a little over a year now. He was quite soft-spoken that night, but a huge Disney enthusiast -- he had worked at DHS earlier in the day. He also had quite an aggressive Disney schedule planned for the rest of the week.

Anyways, the 9:00pm Holiday Wishes was very much different than the regular Wishes show. There was almost exclusively holiday songs but still featured a flying Tinkerbell, which the crowd especially loved, along with the smiley-face fireworks. The choice of MK was very good. Afterwards, the streets were bustling as expected, and instead of fighting traffic, I stayed around, moving closer to the castle for more pics.

There were a lot people people sitting in front of the stage -- quite obviously waiting for something -- the 9:30pm Celebrate The Season stage show, I learned. So I waited along with them. The show was even more holiday music, characters, costumes, and dancing, which is incredible when I think about the planning involved.

Afterwards, it was time to go home. There was another rush of people trying to get out before the 10:00pm SpectroMagic parade. I couldn't believe that there was so much happening so late at night... it was like a hard-ticket party -- yay to Disney for all the entertainment!

I took the Ferry Boat back to the TTC -- crowds were huge but the transportation was again very efficient. I believe that there were three ferries in operation with one ready to dock at MK. I managed another connection while waiting -- with a couple and their little boy snacking on some cheese & PB crackers -- not a big deal, except that it goes to show magic at the parks even at that late hour.

The ferry ride back was relaxing. I rode the front of the 2nd level, and closed my eyes, breathed in the fresh chilled air, and felt the wind through my freshly thinned-and-trimmed-and-lightly-gelled hair. The night was clear, stars evident above, and yellow lights from the resorts dotted the black landscape -- it was beautiful.

At the TTC, I got on a bus for DHS; its automated announcement during the dark ride somewhat spooky, but pleasantly exhausted, I enjoyed the calmness. I took a packed tram back to MUSIC, with yet another connection made, and I made a safe and easy drive back to Melbourne.

The marathon trip to the parks was incredibly enriching. There were so many connections and achievements. The World was filled with not only a lot of people but with a lot of magic. Seeing families of all backgrounds enjoying each other's company, sharing an atmosphere of joy and goodwill -- it was another reminder of the intangibles that Disney affords us.

On a personal note, the day was another step towards becoming the person I'd like to be -- independent but able to play well with others, spontaneous but capable of exercising self-control, and able to keep a good perspective and to feel appreciation for my blessings. I conducted myself well all-throughout the day (drives included), and that's a big pat-on-the-back.

That was a wonderful visit to the World.

Pictures/proof after the itinerary.
Here's what I did this visit:

(- Toy Story Midway Mania [> FP])
- Rock 'n' Rollercoaster
(- Tower of Terror (bailed))

Bus to TTC

Express Monorail (light blue) to MAGIC KINGDOM
(- Monsters Inc Laugh Floor (bailed))
- Carousel of Progress (pretty packed)
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority
(- Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin [> FP +> COP FP])
- The Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management (not good)
- Country Bear Jamboree
"The best thing to do is just to soak up the spirit."
- First Aid (band-aid)
- Casey's Corner (all-beef hot dog meal)
- Harmony Barber Shop (Diane)

Small Boat to WILDERNESS LODGE (Minnesota)

- Mulch, Sweat, & Shears (on the main stage)
- Toy Story Midway Mania [< FP] (280,200 points -- #1!!! @2:10pm)

Bus to DISNEY'S ANIMAL KINGDOM (Rhode/Long Island)
"It was a real punch!"
(- Festival of the Lion King 3:00pm (full-capacity))
(- Africa (packed!))
- Maharajah Jungle Trek
- Expedition Everest (SR)

Bus to EPCOT CENTER (Richard Petty, Anniv/Birthday, Teppan Edo)
- Cool Club
- Mission:Space Advanced Training Lab (Triton, won, 33)
- Candlelight Processional 6:45pm (in line at 5:45pm, Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance)
"This is Morocco."
- Cool Club

Monorail (red) to TTC

Express Monorail (purple) to MAGIC KINGDOM
- Holiday Wishes 9:00pm (Photopass Tanner)
- Celebrate The Season 9:30pm

Ferry Boat to TTC (General Joe Potter)


Bag of Nuts.

TTA has a line.

Surprise! (I had no idea... *shifty eyes*).

"All the guys who turn me on turn me down."

Stitch and my hot dog meal from Casey's Corner.

Diane at the Harmony Barber Shop :)


A TSMM PR! (3 easter eggs & all the 5000pt targets)

and #1 for the day @2:10pm!

Cat scratching. Not my couch.

EE: it's fun to lean.

The Odyssey is a beautiful place for pictures.

The Candlelight Processional was beautiful.

Angela Basset and Courtney B. Vance were tonight's guest narrators.

Epcot's Dancing Lights

Castle pics from Holiday Wishes.

Home safely.

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