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Old 09-11-2011, 10:55 PM   #1
Merida
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The Bear and the Bow: Planning a Christmas with the Mouses - Update 12/11

By my reckoning, in 91 days we’ll be dropping our hedgehog off at his sitter’s and finishing packing. A day after that, we’ll be heading out onto the open road, tunes blasting..

Okay, maybe that’s jumping the gun. Let’s back up a few (91) days. What’s going on here? Well, we’re going to Disney World!! Probably could have skipped that revelation – but onwards!

Who are we?

1. Merida (or.. the bow. Also, this is the worst movie name change in the history of ever. Cool and evocative to Mel Gibson rip-off? Definite downgrade. Anyway! I’m a grad student in atmospheric science and 23. I love science and stories and parantheticals).


It’s possible that there was some artistic license here, maybe. But I never take pictures of people – especially me. Will this ever change? Stay tuned!
2. Bear (the boyfriend, also a grad student and as old as the hills (or 24ish))


Okay, maybe not quite that Bear. Mix that bear with some of this..


and get...


Better!
3. Our clan: 2 Siamese (of varying degrees) cats and a hedgehog.
Eventually I will have pictures here because all I do is take pictures of our animals. And waterfowl. But mostly our cats. Plus we’re a foster home for cats and we just got in new kittens so I’m in the process of updating my collection of cat pictures.

When are we going? December 12-whenever we leave Florida. Some days are traveling, some days are visiting Bear’s family, and some days are even at Universal. But there is a dedicated block in there, from the 15th to the 20th, in which we will be enjoying free dining and all the comforts of home at Port Orleans Riverside!

So, what will this pre-trip report consist of? Probably a lot of rambling, to be honest. I’m not very talkative in real life, but I do love typing and I type a lot. Maybe some meteorology, but not weather forecasts because I’m terrible at forecasting. A lot of gifs, because I have an extensive collection. Maybe some plans for our trip and, to top it all off, some of my feelings on things like television and books.


Sources: Merida screenshot, Bear concept art, and my gif folder!
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Old 09-11-2011, 10:56 PM   #2
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Old 09-12-2011, 01:04 AM   #3
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I like your style. I think your PTR will be fun.
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We Had the Best Trip Ever! Maholo WWoHP, WDW & Waikiki- A Jan 2012 TR

Wonderful time at Fort wilderness- A mini TR with Pictures


My Jan 2012 PTR. We Are Coming from the Land Down Under!


Jan 2012 WDW Fort Wilderness Cabins DH DD1/18 DD2/15 DD3/13 and Me
2009 Disneyland with DH & DD1,2 & 3; 2001 Disneyland DD1 with her DGma and dance troupe; 1992 Disneyland with DH & DD1 an unknown passenger after our European trip.
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Old 09-12-2011, 01:51 AM   #4
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Jumping on board. We're going to be there from the 17th to the 22nd. I'll also be 23 by the time we hit Disney!
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Old 09-12-2011, 04:38 PM   #5
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Do you ever get that feeling where there’s just so much you want to write down and you keep it all in your head because how could you forget this? It’s so brilliant! I like to compose things – emails, homework solutions, PTR posts – in the morning because I wake up prior to Bear and it’s nice and relaxing and quiet. I never write them down because I suffer from the mistaken impression that I will remember everything later in the day.

Suffice to say, I had an excellent deconstruction of our trip planned and then kittens happened. How two kittens manage to disrupt my normal routine so thoroughly I will never know, but all four of the cats are currently down for a nap and I have time to think again. (Please note that I’ve been trying for an hour and a half to find everyone toys and a sleeping spot. This is why I won’t have kids. This is also why we foster kittens – our own cats are spoiled enough to need special sleeping spots. New kittens remind them of their place in the world. I still cleaned out ~15 toys from under the oven this morning and we had plenty more to play with.)

Anyway, a brief (ha!) reconstruction of my poor, forgotten agenda:

December 12th – This is actually the start of finals week at our university but thanks to a rescheduling of the AGU meeting, neither of us have finals during finals week! (Okay, maybe I dropped a class to get this to all work out but it was only one.) We’ll be loading up the car, making sure the cats (only two – Darren and Robin. No fosters during this time) have enough food for a day or two and hitting the road. Bear is covering traveling logistics, so sometime on the 14th we’ll be getting to Florida. Magic!

December 15th – Harry Potter day! Harry Potter has been put on and off our agenda so many times, I’m surprised I know the final decision. This trip started out as a summer and a winter trip and then got smooshed together to form a Christmas extravaganza. At some point we’ll check out of our Orlando hotel and into Port Orleans Riverside! I’m pulling for an early morning check-in so we can get a refurbished room in the mansions, but Bear isn’t really a morning person. After we finish up at Harry Potter, we’ll head back to Disney and I will take over the driving (plenty of warning for everyone else!). I think we’ll probably boat down to Downtown Disney (I’ve never been) and gaze longingly at everyone going to eat at T-Rex Café. Possibly checking out some stores (My Little Pony boxes! The new show is pretty and fun and I’ve even gotten Bear to watch it. It depends on how much money I spend at Harry Potter).

December 16th – Magic Kingdom day! We have Christmas Party tickets and early morning (8:10ish) reservations for Crystal Palace. Plus we get to go to one of my favorite restaurants, the Plaza, for lunch. Dinner is up in the air because of the party, but I’m thinking Columbia Harbor House.

December 17th – The 17th and 19th are winging it days, depending on if we feel up to MGM or Animal Kingdom. We have a breakfast and dinner scheduled for each night but since we’re driving, it’s not too hard to get around. On the 17thm we have the Wave for breakfast and Kouzzina for dinner.

December 18th – Epcot!! I love Epcot and I love Christmas so it’s pretty much a guarantee I’ll love Christmas Epcot. We have a Candlelight Processional package booked for the San Angel Inn and a very early lunch at Captain’s Grille. Our narrator for the Candlelight Processional is the very beloved TBA (seriously, I want to know!! I wish we were there for Neil Patrick Harris or Marlee Matlin.)

December 19th – Whichever park we didn’t go to on the 17th plus the Grand Floridian Café (yay!) and Whispering Canyon Café.

December 20th – Our final day on Disney property before heading to central Florida. Apparently we have a Kona reservation today (thanks, spreadsheet!) that I completely forgot about.
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Old 09-12-2011, 05:56 PM   #6
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I love the sound of your itinerary and am jealous of your Christmas plans. It's too expensive for us all to go at Christmas so I have a (very) slight envy of those who can travel without kids. But DH and I have been there done that and will again. When the kids have moved on DH and I have always said we will spend Christmas in the northern hemisphere. A bit of Disney Christmas Magic might have to be on the agenda. the kids are welcome but will have to pay for themselves.
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We Had the Best Trip Ever! Maholo WWoHP, WDW & Waikiki- A Jan 2012 TR

Wonderful time at Fort wilderness- A mini TR with Pictures


My Jan 2012 PTR. We Are Coming from the Land Down Under!


Jan 2012 WDW Fort Wilderness Cabins DH DD1/18 DD2/15 DD3/13 and Me
2009 Disneyland with DH & DD1,2 & 3; 2001 Disneyland DD1 with her DGma and dance troupe; 1992 Disneyland with DH & DD1 an unknown passenger after our European trip.
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Old 09-12-2011, 11:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilpixiebabe101 View Post
Jumping on board. We're going to be there from the 17th to the 22nd. I'll also be 23 by the time we hit Disney!
Yay! Welcome! I wanted to go a little closer to Christmas but the crowd levels made me a little nervous. I commend all the people who actually go Christmas day or New Year's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OziJo View Post
I love the sound of your itinerary and am jealous of your Christmas plans. It's too expensive for us all to go at Christmas so I have a (very) slight envy of those who can travel without kids. But DH and I have been there done that and will again. When the kids have moved on DH and I have always said we will spend Christmas in the northern hemisphere. A bit of Disney Christmas Magic might have to be on the agenda. the kids are welcome but will have to pay for themselves.
I'm really excited! Growing up, there were four of us kids so we didn't do many big trips (plus my brother has Asperger's) so most of my traveling was done with friends. Disney, for me, has less family associations and more of the 'complete freedom, no responsibilities, hang out and chill' type of memories. I definitely recommend that style of planning - it's super fun!


photo by wingsfive, on Flickr

I've been a little preoccupied by these guys and their new favorite hobby - walking over my keyboard. It's been a long time since having little kittens in our house and I've forgotten just how much attention they want to have!
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Old 09-13-2011, 11:29 PM   #8
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I have a soft goal of posting every day, which I didn't realize would be that difficult. I have lots to say about our trip but it turns out it's harder to turn into a coherent series! Coupled with the fact that Bear surprised me with The Good Wife, season two tonight I haven't been very motivated to organize my half posts. So tomorrow I'll have something a little more substantive about our first days in Orlando! Right now I'm enjoying kitten snuggles and relaxing with our routine bedtime TV since I've finished my week's homework early for once.
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Old 09-15-2011, 09:43 AM   #9
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Day 1 - Commercial-y

The (several) countdowns I have running are set to the day we start driving but the true first day of our vacation is when we pull into Orlando – preferably before 5PM so we can go see the Peabody ducks. This is probably the only day we have no actual activities planned; we do, however, have a meal. The best meal of our entire vacation will occur on our first official day.

My boyfriend grew up in Florida and consequently loves Cuban food. I grew in Pennsylvania and had never had Cuban food until I visited him down there (the second time, ironically, was when we were taking a trip to Philadelphia). Our favorite fancy Cuban-inspired (according to Bear) restaurant is Cuba Libre, a rum bar with exquisite indoor themeing. Apparently there are no pictures online, but the inside is styled to look like a Cuban courtyard/patio of a café at night.

Cuba Libre features amazing Cuban bread with mango and excellent rum smoothies – perfect for the first night free from driving and fast food on the road. Eating is pretty much the only thing we’re going to do on Wednesday – we need our rest for Thursday, our marathon Islands of Adventure day.
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Old 09-15-2011, 03:06 PM   #10
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Day 2 – Yer a Wizard, Harry

My mother is a children’s librarian so throughout my formative years I was often reading books for her as a test group for her library. She had a number of ways of gaining ARCs – marketing pushes, special events, sponsorships, and the like. In 1998, when I was still a precocious little 10 year old, my mother gave me the first Harry Potter to read, to make sure it was ‘appropriate.’ Being involved in a reread of the Anne of Green Gables books, I dropped it in my sock drawer and promptly forgot about it. A month later, my mother was asking about the book and I was running out of socks – a chance coincidence that led to me burning through the book in a day or two. So I have – quite literally – grown up with Harry Potter (though Anne, Rilla, Emily, Jane and Valency maintain a lead on favorite characters. I was going through a strong ‘school girls at the turn of the century’ phase at 10 that has lasted. Also, I’m still waiting for my Pottermore email and the Montgomery heroines have yet to let me down so decidedly. Plus Montgomery’s inclusion of war narratives in Rilla is better than Rowling’s).

So on this monumental journey to Florida, it was only natural to try and squeeze in a day here:


even though neither Bear or I have seen all of the movies (I prefer television series for a number of reasons; once BBC puts out its miniseries version I will watch the whole thing, honest. The only caveat to my TV/movie preference is Pride and Prejudice because Colin Firth looks like my father and Matthew Macfayden does not).

So on Thursday, Bear and I will wake up bright and early and head here:


for early check-in! Since Riverside is undergoing refurbishment and we really, really want (okay, maybe it’s mostly me) a refurbed room in the Mansions, Bear has agreed (to think about) heading over to Disney first thing Thursday morning. With pretty much the whole day available to wait for a room to be free, I’m really hoping that they can find a refurbed room for us at some point. Then it’s back over to Universal and Islands of Adventure.

WWoHP picturePort Orleans picture
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Old 09-15-2011, 06:51 PM   #11
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Joining in!! Your plans sound great! I've always been curious to go to HP world, but I haven't seen all of the movies either!
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Old 09-18-2011, 12:08 AM   #12
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Yay!

I had an update, and then FSU (Bear's alma mater) lost to OU so we are instead settling in with DVDs. Ah, the vagaries of college football.
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Old 09-18-2011, 02:55 PM   #13
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Day 2.2 - The Places You Will Go

So after checking in at Port Orleans, we’re jumping back in the car and heading back over to Islands of Adventure. The last time I’ve been to Islands of Adventure was my senior year of high school, but from a cursory glance at the Wikipedia page, I either don’t remember much or we didn’t do that much (either is possible). There’s three islands I really, really want to do (Seuss Landing, Superhero Island, and Harry Potter) and then Jurassic Park if there’s time.

Island 1: Seuss Landing

I’ve been trying to write about going to Seuss Landing for a couple of days now, and it’s been harder than I thought! As I mentioned before, my mother was a children’s librarian so I have read pretty much all of the ‘children’s classics’ in one form or another, including pretty much the total Seuss oeuvre. Plus, my elementary school principal (the first woman non-medical doctor I’d ever met who loved to wear business suits. I always thought of her as a Kate Beaton style Business Woman) was very into National Read Across America Day was always a pretty boring day in elementary school despite not be very proficient in reading aloud to children. Our activities usually centered round Dr. Seuss trivia which few of my peers ever bothered to retain (probably for good reason). So Dr. Seuss was a big part of my childhood, moreso than Disney.

So what’s in Seuss Landing (i.e., I use Wikipedia too much)?
Caro-Seuss-el
The Cat in the Hat
If I Ran the Zoo
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train
Oh, the Stories You’ll Hear

If I Ran the Zoo (a play area) and Oh, the Stories You’ll Hear (a stage show) are immediately cut for the list because we’re too old for play areas and not really into shows of this kind. Caro-Seuss-el is a maybe because I like carousels and I like theming, and Caro-Seuss-el is the best of both worlds. Bear isn’t as enamored with the idea of jostling against a crowd of small children in order to go around in a circle (party pooper). It’s similar reasoning for the Red Fish ride (even though this is up there in my favorite Seuss books with the Grinch, the Lorax, and Fox in Socks. Why is there no Lorax ride and why is the Red Fish ride so silly? Why aren’t children’s theme park areas catered to my tastes?! Similar complaints can be made for the Cat in the Hat live action movie, though. I still can't believe Dakota Fanning, who always looks almost freakishly mature and full of excellent taste, was in that mess. I never saw the whole thing, just the trailer but that was plenty. Abigail Breslin's older brother was in it too, but I don't care about him and he has a really bad filmography so would not trust his opinion on good movie adaptations anyway).

We’ll most definitely go on the last two, though – the Cat in the Hat dark ride which I’ve been on (multiple times) before and really liked and the Trolley train because I love trains and audio tracks of the Sneetches (I used to have plenty of Seuss cassette tapes and had pretty much everything memorized. I was really into rhyming as a kid, what can I say?).

We won’t be stopping to eat or shop really (not when Harry Potter’s coming up), so Seuss Landing is really more of an indulgent stop and photographic exercise (no straight lines) for me.

Summary so far, Park Day 1:
Must Do:
Cat in the Hat
High in the Sky Trolley Train

Maybes:
Caro-Seuss-el
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Source: Wikipedia
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:40 PM   #14
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Island 2: Super Hero Island

One of the things I like about Universal compared to Disney is that I’m more familiar with a lot of the characters. I read the Andrew Lang fairy tales before seeing the Disney movies so for me, as a kid, there was a disconnect between Disney Belle and “traditional” Belle or Ariel or whoever (except Aladdin! It took much longer for me to get to the Arabian Nights). However, the adaptations used in the Universal parks are much ‘truer’ to their roots (I may dispute a lot of the Harry Potter movies things, but they were much more accurate than The Little Mermaid!).

I was (am) much more of a DC girl than Marvel (except for movies. Who chooses to make a Hal Jordan movie instead of Jon Stewart? DC, that’s who. I don’t really like the Batman movies – ‘gritty’ is not synonymous with ‘realistic’ Nolan – and DC’s put out can rival Spider-man 1 and 2, Thor (love Thor), and the new X-Men. However, the DC animated universe is miles ahead of anything Marvel puts out. Batman: the Animated Series was my childhood because I really, really wanted to be a detective. Even the series that aren’t in the DCAU continuity are pretty solid, my favorite being the Brave and the Bold because I love that Aquaman and Jaime Reyes is adorable. Lois Lane and Wonder Woman were also way cool to kid-me. Superhero comics are one of the few genres that I prefer to watch than to read.), but I still watched the old Spider-man: Animated Series reruns and the X-men animated series when everyone was in high school, which pretty much covers Super Hero Island. I was really hoping that there would be something new and Thor-related because it was an excellent movie and I like Norse mythology a lot (poor Loki. He was really dealt a rough hand) but I’m not holding my breath (I am, however, mixing metaphors).

[center]So what’s on Super Hero Island?
Incredible Hulk Coaster
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
Doctor Doom’s Fearfall
Storm Force Accelatron
Meet and Greets

What is with all the spinny rides in Islands of Adventure? I don’t mind a good spinning ride and I do like Ororo, but this one leaves me going ‘meh.’ I love the tea cups ride in Magic Kingdom and I like tea cups ride at carnivals, but not the ones of Universal. The only ride here I really want to go on is Spider-man because it sounds awesome and I’m a big fan of snarky, funny, irreverent Peter Parker (angsty Peter Parker is a different story. I also like the “new” Spider-man, Miles Morales. Alliteration ahoy!). I’m not a big fan of the massive outdoor roller coasters (though indoor ones are better, for some reason) or the Fantastic Four so that eliminates the other two unless Bear really wants to go on them the day of.

Summary so far, Park Day 1:
Must Do:
Cat in the Hat
High in the Sky Trolley Train
Spider-Man

Maybes:
Caro-Seuss-el
A spinny ride. If I have to.

Sources: Comics 101
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Old 09-22-2011, 09:04 AM   #15
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I’ve been falling behind on my goal because my numerical modeling class has been intense this week. Our professor was away for ten days and – amazingly - the time commitment has increased. Also, our foster kittens had to go back last night. The girl kitten had torn out some of her stitches from getting fixed and needed medical care, so the shelter is taking care of that and then putting them out for adoption. So ready for this week to be over!

We’ve (by which I mean Bear) have been getting the car ready for the road trip. This involves stocking up the toolbox now living in our trunk and prepping the sound system. Bear’s been working on upgrading the (speakers, radio, subwoofers, all sorts of parts I don’t know) sound in the car and – I must admit – it’s really amazing. We have enough music through Sirius, HD Radio, normal radio, and auxiliary or USB inputs to last us through a trip to Alaska. As overkill as our radio is, I love it. It means – with the use of things like Slacker Radio or Pandora or even iTunes – playlists. Or excellent video sound for movies or TV on the iPad that we both can hear. I’ll post some of my road trip digital media lists as our trip gets closer – goodness knows I have enough of it.
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