Monday, June 29, 2009

DISNEY: Passholder Preview of the Hall of Presidents

The primary purpose of today's trip to the Magic Kingdom was the Passholder preview of its newly-refurbished Hall of Presidents. The other reason was so I could make a stop by Disney's Central Lost & Found in the hopes of finding my Stitch I lost at Epcot the weekend before. And this trip was going to be a relatively short one since I had some extra time at the office to put in.
I knew that the HoP preview didn't start until 11:00am, but for some reason, I convinced myself that I had to get there really early for rope drop. Perhaps it was the tempting prospect of going to the Poly for some Tonga Toast beforehand. Perhaps it was because it would be the only way for me to get some extra magic time. Either way, it was early (up by 6:00am, out the door by 7:00am, at the TTC just after 8:00am).

I was on the first row at the TTC (Minnie 26!) and walked over to the monorail where I caught myself on a wet seat (A/C). Another person in the car told me "You didn't know you were riding Splash Monorail?!". Clever. No bother though. I wasn't wearing Corduroy.

Yeah, I had to wait a while for Rope Drop, but it happened, and it was fine. Afterwards, I somewhat resisted the urge to rush over to HoP. Instead, I went to the Emporium to buy a pen -- I chose a Woody Kooky pen (and I LOVE it) -- and some additional $50 gift cards (the ones with the bonus pins).

I asked the cast member ringing me up if I could use the GCs at the Character Connection store at the outlets. She didn't know and paged her supervisor, who made some called to get the answer, which was "unfortunately no", but I thought the whole thing was amazing who they really did go above and beyond to find an answer to a seemingly innocent question. Good job Disney :)

Anyways, after that detour, I proceeded onto Liberty Square and to the Hall of Presidents, but there was no line; there was no crowd. I didn't want to be overly-fanatical, so I kept moving. Now I can go ride some rides!

Big Thunder Mountain was a walk-on. There was a grandmother riding with her teenage grandson. She had her arms up, and that was cute.

Next, I did Jungle Cruise, which was standard, but there was an infant boy that was fascinated with my Stitch, so I entertained him for most of the ride. Cute boy, cute mom, cute family.

By that time, it was 10:00am, and I got a call from Jack -- he had just arrived. And it was time to head back to HoP.

There was a three-person film crew underneath the lantern tree taping some ladies walking up to HoP. I was instantly jealous & giddy, then the feelings quickly passed.

I met up with Jack and recognized Matt from StudioCentral and saw people from WDWNews. A crowd was starting to form.

I took the opportunity to take a lot of pictures from around the scene and to talk with another passholder, a nice lady from Lakeland. I loved the energy.

The exterior of the building looked very clean and the trims were calmly-colored (like the chairs at the refurbed McD's). There were a number of knick-knacks in the windows -- lanterns, a gun, a ship, a doll -- and under the front of the entrance was a countdown-till-the-next-show clock, which was a good idea.

11:00am soon came, and we were let into the lobby. To the right were a couple of display cases of... something (I didn't really pay any attention to them). To the left, there was a large display of the dresses and novelty items of three First Ladies -- Elizabeth Monroe, Edith Roosevelt, and Nancy Reagan.

Before the doors to the theatre were opened, a cast member made the announcement that video-taping and photography of any type were prohibited in the theatre. This was not followed by everyone (NOTE: Jack and I abided).

Anyways, right from the beginning, you could sense the changes in the show. The visuals were super crisp & clear and the story was more structured & more-briskly paced.

This first show was a full house, and people around me were tearing up from the grandeur and nostalgia. Everyone applauded at Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and after Obama's speech about the American dream. The refurbishment was a definite hit (A+).

After this show, we were all hungry and made the short walk to the Columbia Harbour House, where I tried something different, Anchors Aweigh Sandwich -- "white tuna with lettuce and tomato on toasted multigrain bun" -- it sounded healthy. And it was quite tasty. While we ate, a rain came and went. Good timing.

After lunch, we went back for a second viewing of HoP. There were fewer people there, so I managed more pictures in the lobby. And this time, we sat closer to the front. The show was again impressive but I did come close to nodding off, so some of the original charm/essence of the attraction was still there.

Afterwards, Jack had to leave so that he could go home and finish his write-up for the event (it's a race!). I stuck around a little bit longer to catch a part of the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party.

I'm always impressed by the number of people they manage to get in the street dancing. It looks like a whole lot of fun.

Then I eased my way down Main Street U.S.A. and headed back to the TTC.

I got there early enough that I'd walk back to my car, and on the way, I made a stop by Disney's Central Lost & Found, my other primary objective. I told the cast member there about losing my Stitch at the parks the Saturday before, and a moment later, he came back with my buddy in hand! I really couldn't believe it.

That is the Disney Magic. And with that, I walked back to my car and started my drive back to Melbourne.

The trip to Disney was quite successful. The Hall of Presidents was definitely plussed -- I'll make a stop by there on my subsequent visits to the MK -- and I was reunited with my longtime traveling companion. It was a short visit but just the right amount.

Pictures from the Hall of Presidents preview and more can be found after the itinerary:
Here's what I did this visit:


Resort MONORAIL (Light Blue)/"Splash Monorail" to MAGIC KINGDOM
- Rope Drop
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (no wait, grandma raising arms)
- Jungle Cruise (boy and Stitch)
- Hall of Presidents (applause, applause)
- Columbia Harbour House (#5 Anchors Aweigh Sandwich with HSM apple slices)
- Hall of Presidents (closer)
- Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party

Resort MONORAIL (pink) to TTC

- They had my Stitch! YAY!!!


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