"Surprise! We're going to Disney World today!" -April 22-27 TR (6/15 - 2 NEW Posts!!)
Welcome to the second of three TRs in the "Year of a Million Disney Trips". Here’s the deal for those not hopping over here from my last TR.
The three characters:
Me, SkierPete, 40: I will say I am a planning nut. I have a 20 page spreadsheet with costs, park hours, ADRs, day plans, the whole shebang. I’m an engineer and do planning as part of my job, one of my favorite parts perhaps. I also love to ski (hence the name) and travel in general, as well as spend time with DW and DD whenever I can. Originally from Western Massachusetts, but have lived North of Buffalo, NY for 15+ years.
DW, age to remain secret, though she already celebrated her big 4-0. That's her on the right...I didn't really get any real good pictures of her this trip. Originally from Rochester, NY. We met through a mutual friend 14 years ago (damn!). She is a good match to me in most things, and a perfect match in Disney trips.
DD, almost 7. This trip is really about her, as you will see below. She is a good child, though she can be very stubborn and emotional. While she loves Disney in many ways, she is not much for trying new things while there. Most of the time, she is pretty easy to follow the schedule we set, but when in the right mood, she just wants to do what SHE wants to do. It doesn’t matter if you CAN’T do it now to her A lot of going to Disney with her is about battling with her. In addition she is definitely NOT a princess, preferring animal characters to people, no BBB for her.
Our little family of three bought Annual Passes for a December 2009 and October 2010 trip. When the 2009-2010 school calendar came out, I noticed that DD school vacation in April (19-23) was much later than Easter (4th) and I said to DW…”Hey, what if we could get a really cheap airfare and fly out mid-week for just a little mini-vacation to Disney. The tickets would be free, we could stay at a Value resort and even skip the meal plan and just eat QS. What do you think?” Not one to turn down WDW, DW was OK with it…so when the fare dates opened up on SWA, and I was able to swing $145 round trip (!!!!) we were preparing for another trip! We also decided that instead of telling DD, we would keep it a surprise until the morning of…
I’ll skip the boring planning part. While I typically plan out a lot of the day, I didn’t really do that this trip. The intention was to (A) let DD lead the decisions, and (B) no TS meals, so we would not be tied to that either. The only thing I plotted out was which parks which days:
Thursday (Arrival day): DHS
Saturday: Water Park
Tuesday: Fly home
So, we were all packed and ready to go. She had been off school all week home with mom, but I had been working. She had asked every day if I could stay home. I said, “No, Daddy has to work.” On Wednesday night she asked again as I was leaving to play tennis - I play every Wednesday night – and I said “Well, If you are really good for Mama tonight, tomorrow I will stay home and we’ll do something fun.”
So, Thursday dawns, and we get the car packed and ready to go. It’s 6:30 AM and we go into DD room with the videocamera running, and here’s what transpires:
Me: “So mama said you were a good girl, so I am staying home. So what should we do today.”
DD: “I don’t know”
Me: “How about the zoo?”
DW: “How about the Aquarium?”
Me: “Nah, we just went there. How about the Bird Kingdom?” (Open air bird sanctuary in Niagara Falls, CAN)
DD: “OH YEAH!”
Me:” Nah, something else…..how about if we go see the Indiana Jones Stunt Show?” (DD has been into Indiana Jones since December, and plays Lego Indiana Jones every chance she gets.)
DD: “But that’s at Disney!”
Me: “Oh yeah, What do you think mama? Should we go to Disney World?”
DW: “Sure, let’s go!”
Me: “All right, let’s go to Disney!”
DD “ You’re kidding!”
DW: “Nope, the plane leaves in two hours!”
You might expect your kid to jump up and down like a maniac when told they are going to Disney World later today…but a big happy smile was all we got. She was definitely thrilled though – and for the next hour she frequently said “I can’t believe we are going to Disney!”
I will skip all the boring airport/flight/ME stuff, as I severely doubt anyone cares about that…let’s get to Disney. Let’s just say, DD was awaken at 6:30 PM, and by 1 PM, less than 6 hours later, we were checking into our hotel room at Pop Century.
This was our second trip to Pop Century in just a few months. Before that, we had only stayed at POFQ, which we really liked a lot. We are by far not hotel snobs in any way. While we are in financially good shape, we also can’t afford to regularly be spending $3000-$4000 for our Disney trips, so I always said to her that at some point, we might need to choose the Values over the Moderates to keep going. (Our POFQ trips were free dining.) Well, I have to stay after two stays there, we really, really like the Pop Century hotel. It might have a TON of rooms, but it doesn’t feel that big when walking around. This time, we didn’t even get a preferred room, and I didn’t get my requested building (again). We were in Building 6 in the 70s and we were on the back-side, but were in the room right next to the ice machine and the elevator.
We were a little closer to the flower pool than the computer pool, but both were less than 3 minutes from our room. The bus stop was about 5 minutes, as was the lobby / food court. I think the only building that would really stink is if you were on the extreme end of Building 2 or 7. This was the the view from our elevator:
I don't think that qualifies as a "hidden Mickey". Our courtyard was made up of a giant Mickey phone, foosball table, and a really big "Big Wheel".
We spent a few minutes in the room to get our fanny packs / camel-bak loaded and to catch up on what Stacy was doing...(Still doing the "must-dos"!) And then we headed out to the bus stop for our destination for the day...Disney Hollywood Studios!
I like your TR. We suprised our kids with a trip to Disney too. (See We're Going to Disney? But I Want to See the Alamo!) We didn't exactly get the response we were looking for either. I was the big planner for ours. It was our first ever trip and I had the 20 pages of spreadsheets too! It was great that you got such good rates for airfare. Its amazing when you have to pay almost as much in airfare as you do for the parks! Looking forward to more!
Lovin the trip report. Signing on.:rotfl::rotfl:
Hey Skier Pete,
I'm glad you got started. What an excellent surprise! I love your pictures. That saturated color is what I wanted in mine. That is just so Disney! Excellent score on the tickets!
Pop makes it easy to get color saturation though...everything is SO bright!
Day 1 Continued - So you say it's your birthday!
So, I didn't mention this in my first post...but DD had been asking for a while to go to WDW for her birthday...especially since our last trip was for my birthday. We told her this trip could be to celebrate HER birthday...since it is only a month away. The only thing is, she didn't want to lie and say it was her birthday, or that she was 7, when it was actually in May. So we told her if someone asked to say that she was "Almost 7" and if anyone enquired further we would just explain a little more. Since Disney doesn't care if it's your actual birthday, we figure no problem with this. (You can see her proudly wearing the birthday button in the photo below.
Back to the trip: We got to the bus stop and caught a DHS bus almost immediately. (We had EXTREMELY good "bus Karma" this trip, as I like to call it. I think we only waited more than 5 minutes for a bus twice, and only more than 10 minutes once.)
DHS is without a doubt our families least favorite park. DD only likes about 5 things in the whole park, DW doesn't care for much besides TSM and the Muppets, and while I like larger parts of it, I find the park as a whole too disjointed in design and theme. (Is it "old hollywood" is it "backlot"?) Last trip we spent about 6 hours total in this park, and this trip we would have about 5 to spend, which we thought was more than enough. This is essentially the reason we did the park today.
That said, the park was as empty as I have ever seen it. Very, very light crowds coming in and throughout the park all afternoon. It was kind of a theme of the trip. Considering we have been going at supposedly uncrowded times (early December, late-August and late-September) the crowds this trip were either lighter or just as light as any of those trips.
First thing, DW bought DD a balloon. DW wanted to do this last trip and never got a round to it. Personally, the balloon mostly got in the way, but DD like it, so whatever. First thing she wanted to do was her favorite thing...the "Ant Playground". On the way, I had tried to get FP for Star Tours, but the FP machines were shut down, so I caught up with DW and DD at the playground. I got a few requisite shots of DD:
It was quite warm as it was mid-day, and even with fans blowing we were pretty warm. After 45 minutes of crawling around like a bug, we decided to try and catch the Muppets and Star Tours before hitting the 4:15 PM Indiana Jones show. We made the mistake of trying to find the "Singing in the Rain" umbrella, which wasn't working, though we were told it was. By the time we looped back to the Muppets, we had *just* missed them letting people in, so they were holding people outside. We decided there just wasn't time to wait a full two show cycles. (One in the pre-show area, and one for the show.) and headed over to Star Tours.
At this point, DD was protesting that she didn't want to do Star Tours. A new special treat she gave us for this trip...she now decided that rides she had previously liked were now too scary to ride on. :confused3 Since we had basically decided this trip was for her, and missing things were not going to be a concern - we were going to skip it...but I wanted to ride it one last time. So, DW got DD a popsicle and I did a quick trip to Endor and back. (There was zero wait for this ride.) DW and DD also caught the end of block party bash while I was there.
Next, on to Indiana Jones. She had been always afraid of this show, but since the last trip when I volunteered for the show, she had really gotten into listening to the Indiana Jones music and playing the Indiana Jones lego game. (She likes adventure-type games.) So, she wanted to see the show, even though she wanted to hide for the "part with the boulder". We watched the show, and it turned out there was another family from Buffalo behind us, who I chatted with before the show. (The Sabres were still in the playoffs at this point, so we were comparing hockey notes.) I still enjoyed this show a lot, even though I've seen it about 6 times now. One of the few shows that doesn't get stale to me.
On the way out, we were walking under some trees when we heard a *fttssssssss*. Somehow, DD balloon had gotten a hole poked in it from a tree branch. A janitorial CM nearby helped us out by getting some tape from a near-by vendor. They said we had to go to the front of the park and they would give us a new one. The tape seemed to do the trick, and we wanted to catch the next Playhouse Disney show. I volunteered to go and replace the balloon while DW and DD watched the show. (Talk about a show going stale - I can't stand this show anymore.) But, DD wanted me to stay. Isn't it time you outgrow this show, kiddo?
So it was 5:30 PM by this point, and we had decided to try out the "Magic of Disney Animation / Learn To Draw" Tour. The Animation show was OK, showing how the animators came up with the concept for Mushu. After that, we were let out into the animation hall...and I we were completely floored. There were characters everywhere! And they were changing out so fast. DD just wanted to draw, and even though we had 15 minutes before the next class started, she wouldn't see any characters. But, let me tell you, this was the total character motherload. Here is who we "saw" in about a 20 minute span. We didn't actually wait in line to see them, but this is just who was available.
Mary Poppins and Penguin
Aladdin and Jasmine
Mr and Mrs Incredible and Frozone
Captain Hook nd Mr. Smee
Pinnochio and Geppeto
Lilo and Stich
Carl, Russel and Doug (from Up)
Chip and Dale
Mickey Mouse (as Sorcerer Mickey)
Donald and Daisy
The Queen (from Snow White)
No lie, all within a 15 minute timespan we saw these characters! I had heard that on Fantasmic days you can get a huge surge of characters by the Hat late in the day. Perhaps they've move that inside, but there was no fantasmic tonight. I don't know if this is a regular thing, but if you are at DHS and looking for characters...this is the place to go. Most lines were only 3 or 4 families deep.
We *had* to see the Queen. DD went and pouted in a corner. So, when I got up to the Queen, I told her that DD is afraid of her. So naturally, she *had* to go over and talk to her. When she saw her Birthday Button, she commanded that everyone present must sing "Happy Birthday" to her, so of course everyone sang. She also insisted on a picture, which didn't come out very well as there was too much backlight:
We also stopped by to see Pinnochio and Geppeto (am I spelling those right?) I told Pinnochio that his was the first Disney movie I ever remember seeing, and that Monstro scared the crap outta me. (Not in those same words though.) Pinnochio was shaking in fear at my mention of Monstro! After he signed my book, he played keep-away with it with Geppeto, who got really irritated with him. We got our picture, too.
Next up, learning to draw the Big Cheese himself.
Sweet deal on keeping the trip a secret from the DD! My DD wants to go to Disney or Univeral for her birthday and I already told her it will never happen- her birthday falls on Presidents Day weekend usually..... but I never told her we wouldn't go the week before! Lol! I am already planning to take her to Universal (she's a Potter fan) for her 10th Birthday!!! :lmao::cool1:
Can't wait to read more!!
I'm in! :)
I can't believe how many charcters were out and about. How cool is that?
I was super-cool. To bad DD was being such a poop-head. I've already told her that our next trip, we are going to do some character meets whether she likes it or not!
Day 1 continued - Drawing school and SFDI
So, it was six o'clock and we headed in for the drawing class - which I just looked up and is officially called the "Animation Academy". Basically, it's a room full of drawing Tables, and an animator in the front shows you how to draw a character. We ended up drawing Mickey Mouse. I didn't get any pictures of the class, as it was pretty dark inside. If you are into drawing, I highly recommend this. DW, who was a commercial design major in college *loved* it, and DD liked it a lot, too. I think DW could've spent the whole day in here.
Combining the treasure trove of characters with the Animation Academy...this is something I love about Disney world. We were on our 5th trip in 5 years, most of which went for 9-10 days, so we've probably spent about 40 days in Disney World, and I consider myself pretty knowledgable...but we had NEVER really realized this was here...and it was totally awesome. The fact that after all these trips you can still come across something new and different...one of my goals of any trip to Disney World is I want us to do something we have never done before every day, and this most definitely qualifies.
After the class, it was 6:30 PM, and we had an ADR at the Sci-Fi Drive In for 6:30 PM. We were doing this trip with no meal plan, and limited TS...but I had decided we would do a couple sit-down meals. Since this is one of MY favorite restaurants...I chose to eat here:
Even though she had eaten here before, DD became a bit frightened by some of the movie trailers. (I admit as a 6 year-old, some of those old movie monsters would've creeped me out...but they are absolutely histerical.) For me, I love them because I am (was) a huge fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000...for those of you that never saw the show, it was in summary a bunch of guys talking over old Sci-Fi movies making jokes...though it was quite a bit more than that. So, the funny thing is that many of these movie trailers...I have seen the actual movies. So, we had to spend much of the time consoling her while we ate our dinners. DD and I sat in the front. I had the Reuben and a Oreo Cookie shake...DW and the Chicken sandwhich and a duplicate shake. DD had Pizza, but wouldn't finish it. She took the ice cream to go.
On the way out, we stopped at Guest Services about our balloon. It was still inflated, the scotch tape had held out for us, but since all the balloon vendors were gone, they gave us certificate for another balloon. (The park had "closed" long before we finished eating.) We then headed to the bus stop, where a bus was waiting for us. (GOOD BUS KARMA!)
We got back and our bags had arrived...we unpacked, went for a short swim. (It was quite warm in the daytime, but the air chilled quickly after dark. The pool was plenty warm though.) After that it was bedtime...we had an early date with ANIMAL KINGDOM!
I'm trying Sci Fi for the first time in Oct. I can't wait to check out the film clips. I used to love Mystery Science Theater. :thumbsup2
My favorite was the clip showing "the future is now" where they were demonstrating the video-phone. I joked to the family in the next car: "I wonder if anyone back then had predicted the actual future if they would have been thought as crazy: 'Someday...instead of talking on the phone....the technology will be available that we can TYPE to eachother!!!! And then, the person on the other end can READ the message - and TYPE back!' Bet no-one thought the future would be a personal portable telegraph.
Make sure when you go to check out the hall "outside" the main Drive-In. When you walk in, the entire restaurant has halls down either side that are dressed as if it is the backstage of a movie set...but there are all kinds of props and poster stashed around in the rafters. Don't miss the jar of eyeballs up high on the shelf.
I am so jealous that you saw Sorcerer Mickey! He is my favorite Mickey! I'm keeping track of reasons to go back and this has become reason #5!
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