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Old 09-23-2012, 11:11 PM   #16
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The stage-hands brought the three contestants out on stage together. Along with John there was a young man named Matthew who was a preacher. (He was there with his wife and their children. There were six or seven of them altogether and they were all dressed in matching tie-dye outfits that the wife had made. Kind of like the Von Trapp family singers on acid.) We sat on the same row with his family and Larry talked to Matthew’s wife a bit. There was also a young girl, around 18 or 19. Her family sat on the row in front of us and we never got a chance to talk to them.



Rehearsal


You couldn’t really hear what the stage-hands were saying to the contestants but you could figure out that it was where to sit and stand and walk about. John was up first and they brought him center stage. They showed him where the words to the song would appear at the back of the auditorium then cued up the music and he was singing. John did SUCH a good job with his song. I must confess that I shed a tear or two at seeing him up on that big stage. Michael and Ed, on either side of me, were both watching for the waterworks and weren’t disappointed when the tears started.

Tie-Dye Guy went next. He sang “Circle of Life” and did a really good job. I leaned over to Larry and mentioned that Matthew was going to be John’s competition. Larry said he had seen Matthew when John was auditioning and that Matthew hadn’t even practiced with the iPod. Tie-Dye Guy’s wife said that Matthew had competed at this before and had won the finale. Due to his age, he couldn’t use the Golden Ticket that gets you a front-of-the-line pass to any American Idol audition in the nation (you have to be between 16 and 28 years old for that), but he just enjoyed the experience.

The girl sang “Walking on Sunshine.” She had a decent voice as well.

Before we knew it, it was time for the actual show. I think I was probably more nervous than John. When John was brought out on stage, the host chatted to him for a few minutes about why he was at Disney and what he planned to do in the future. John did a good job of answering the questions and didn’t sound nervous at all. Then it was time for him to sing.









I tell you right now that I absolutely could not have been prouder of him. He did such a good job with his song. The crowd seemed to really get behind him and they clapped and cheered in all the right places.

Tie-Dye Guy was up next and he did amazing. A few people even gave him a standing ovation. The girl rounded out the show. She did an okay job with the vocals but the crowd never did get behind her like they had with John and Matthew.


Tie-Dye Guy

Ultimately, Tie-Dye Guy won the show. I don’t think John was too disappointed—he was just thrilled to have the chance to sing for that many people and to have done so well. For his first time ever singing in public, I think he did a tremendous job. For the rest of the day John had random people come up to him and say what a good job he had done and how they had voted for him. Yep, he was pleased with his performance.

Pleased AND starving, that was John. And, once we thought about it, we were all pretty hungry so we scooted off to the Backlot Express. Ed, Michael and Larry all had the Bacon Onion Angus Cheeseburger; John had a hot dog; and I had the Grilled Vegetable Sandwich. It’s amazing how good food tastes when you hadn’t realized that you were hungry and you remember you haven’t eaten in a long time.

With the American Idol Experience under John’s metaphoric belt, it was time for some rides. We headed off in the direction of Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster. Michael, John and Ed hurried ahead of us to pick up Fast Passes for Tower of Terror while Larry and I took our time. When we got to RnRC, we assumed that the boys had gone on ahead to the Single Rider Line, so Larry took off to the ride as well. In just a few minutes, the boys turned up. They had stopped for a bathroom break. I sent them on to catch up with Larry. I had to call back home and tell everyone about John’s performance.

When Larry finished his ride he joined me on a bench outside. He had struck up a conversation with a CM who worked on the Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster who also happened to be British. After talking to him for a few minutes the CM offered Larry five Fast Passes good for any ride at Hollywood Studios. Score! It looked like those Fast Passes had “Toy Story” written all over them!

After the boys all came off the ride, we still had a few minutes before our Tower of Terror Fast Passes kicked in, so everyone but Ed went for the Single Rider Line again.

Now it was time for Tower of Terror. When John was at WDW earlier this summer, he didn’t do Tower of Terror so this was his first time. He sat between me and Michael and held our hands tightly for the entire drop sequence. Afterwards, he said he liked it. When I asked if he’d ride it again he said “Yes. When I’m older.”



I sure hope they got their sign fixed.


Larry’s Fast Passes were burning a symbolic hole in our pocket so we went to Toy Story Midway Mania next. Larry rode with Ed, Michael rode with John, and I took the lonely car by myself. This time Michael came out on top with Ed hot on his heels. I think I was third, John fourth, and Larry last.

It was almost time for 4:00 performance of Beauty and the Beast and, since we had vowed to get John in to lots of shows, we crossed the park yet again. We were all thirsty so we decided to stop and get something to drink before we went into the theater. We were all hurrying so as not to be late for the start of the show. As we rushed up to Catalina Eddie’s to order drinks, suddenly my left leg snapped in two! Well, it didn’t REALLY snap in two but it felt like it had.

You see, I have bad knees. Both my sisters have bad knees. My mother has bad knees, HER mother had bad knees….well, you get the picture.

Why is it that you always inherit the BAD attributes from your parents? Bad knees, wide hips (I’ve often tried to imagine what it would be like to be rail thin. Unfortunately, my daydreams about being skinny are always interrupted by the sound of my own chewing.) and poor vision—thanks, Mom! I suppose I got straight teeth from her. And mad beat box skills.

Anyway, I injured my left knee about 10 years ago and, since that time, it has been known on occasion to pop out of joint. It always pops right back in but the dislocation tears all of the tendons and the knee hurts like heck and swells up like a Mama Bear for a few weeks until everything settles back into place.

So, as we were hurrying to get our drinks, I wasn’t paying much attention to how I stepped and the pavement was sloped and that bad boy just popped out of joint. Usually, if I’m upright when this happens, the knee completely buckles as well and I involuntarily prostrate myself on the ground so I suppose I’m lucky that I didn’t face plant into the concrete.

Michael was right beside me when it popped out and he heard me yelp in pain and stagger a bit. He grabbed hold of my arm and asked what was wrong. I told him my knee had gone out of joint but that it was okay.

I lied.

Something didn’t feel quite right inside my knee. It was almost like the knee was still slightly out of joint or the kneecap was displaced or my leg had snapped in two as I originally thought. I limped up to the counter where everyone else was waiting. I told Larry that my knee had gone out. He asked if I wanted to sit down but I said that we should get our drinks and head across the street to the Beauty and the Beast and I could sit down there.

We got our beverages and made our way to the theater. Ed found some decent seats about halfway down. My knee didn’t feel too bad while I was walking but as soon as I sat down on the bench a sharp pain that made me want to vomit ran down the length of my leg. “Sh-ugar,” I believe was the word I used to convey my discomfort. I didn’t want to frighten Michael (who was sitting next to me) but tears were rolling down my cheeks from the pain. Also, my knee wouldn’t bend. At all.

Larry noticed my predicament and asked if we needed to leave. I told him to wait till after the show and then I’d go back to the hotel. This was probably not the best thing to do for my knee but I wanted the nausea to pass before I tried walking again.




And here is our theatrical interpretation of Robin's knee going out...


After the show, Larry said he’d take me back to the ASMo. We told the boys to stay and have a good time (they still had some Fast Passes and John wanted to watch the American Idol finale at 7:00. Larry and I slowly made our way out of the park. I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage the tram but I figured that, if we could get the double row at the first of each of the cars, I could keep my leg straight and manage alright.

We let one tram pass because all of the double rows were full and we queued up for one of the double rows on the next tram. The next tram arrived only a few minutes later and I managed to hoist myself aboard and sit down without bending my leg with only a small wave of nausea. We were set to go when, unfortunately, a family of four or five came up at the last minute and got on the double row with us. Obviously, they had no way of knowing that I needed the extra room to stretch out my leg and they piled on in so Larry and I had to scrunch up and I had to put my leg on the floor. Sweet Valley High, I thought I was going to pass out!

Mercifully, they got off at the first tram stop. Our car was at the second stop and I oh-so-gracefully managed to disembark. Luckily, our car was at the very first of a row so we didn’t have far to walk. I managed to get in the car without bending my leg and Larry drove me back to the hotel asking if I was sure I didn’t rather he drive me to the emergency room.

“Stubbornness” and “Denial” being two more things that I inherited from my mother, I declined saying that it would be okay if I could just rest it for a while. It was not my best logic. It was kind of like reasoning that the goldfish suspended at the top of the fish tank would be okay if he just “rested” a bit more while floating upside down.

We made it back to the ASMo without too much trauma. As we cut through the food court to go to our room, we stopped to pick up some food for dinner as I wasn’t planning on leaving the room again tonight once I got there. Larry got the made-to-order Salmon Salad and a rice krispie treat while I ordered a Ham sandwich on Foccacia bread and a slice of carrot cake.

Back in the room, I sat on the bed and propped my leg up in front of me. Larry napped while I talked to my mom, being sure to thank her for my knees, and watched TV.

When Larry woke up, he headed back to Hollywood Studios so he could meet up with the boys and watch the American Idol finale with them. As it turns out, Tie-Dye Guy won the whole shebang. John was quite pleased for him and congratulated Matthew after the show. Since Tie-Dye Guy was too old to take advantage of the Golden Ticket, he signed it over to a girl who, in Larry’s opinion, had come in second to Matthew. I thought that was a pretty decent thing to do.

After the American Idol finale, I think Larry and Ed watched Fantasmic! (in it’s entirety this time). John and Michael ran into Zack and Tiffany (the Texas cousins from the first night at the Magic Kingdom). They were staying at the Beach Club and they invited Michael and John to come back to their hotel with them to swim in the pool.

Michael called me to ask if that would be okay and to ask what was the best way to get back to the All Stars from the Beach Club when they were done. They had to come by the ASMo to get their swimming trunks anyway so I told them they could take the car if they’d be careful.

Michael, John, Zack, and Tiffany wound up on the same bus with Larry and Ed. They invited Ed to go swimming with them as well so, after a quick stop to pick up their suits, they left for the Beach Club. It was almost 11:00 by this time and I knew that Stormalong Bay usually closed at 11:00 so I was doubtful that they’d get to swim there. Sure enough, it was closed by the time they got to the Beach Club. They went to the quiet pool instead and met a bunch of CM’s from Germany who worked at Epcot and who had come to swim as well. They must have had a good time because they didn’t make it back to the hotel until 3:00am. I sincerely apologize if anyone was staying at the Beach Club near the quiet pool that night and was disturbed by our kiddos!

Larry and I went to bed fairly soon after the boys left with me promising Larry that, if my knee wasn’t better in the morning, I would go to the doctor. I was hanging on to the hope that it would all magically pop itself back in its rightful place during the night.
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Old 09-23-2012, 11:15 PM   #17
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Wednesday, August 15th – The Self-Pity Pool Swim

My knee was exactly none better the next morning. It had been a long and restless night for me and I was up at 7:30 and ready to finally admit that perhaps I should go and see a doctor. I called the boys to let them know that we were going to the doctor’s this morning and told them that we’d check in with them later when we were finished.

Larry looked up the address of the closest Centra Care facility and we were on our way. We stopped at the Hess station by Old Key West to fill up with gas before we went off Disney property. When we pulled in the parking lot at Centra Care, we found several 5-dollar bills lying on the ground. They were lying near another car so we assumed whoever had been driving had dropped them as they got out of the car. We tucked the bills under the windshield wiper and went on inside.

We signed in at Centra Care right at 9:00. There were only a couple of people in the lobby ahead of us. I hadn’t met the deductible on my health insurance yet this year (I hardly ever go the doctor) so we paid the $200 fee upfront.

We were called back to an examining room after about 30 minutes. Larry went back with me and we waited for the doctor to show up.

There was nothing to do but rack up HIPPA violations listening in on the doctor’s conversation with other patients (there were only flimsy curtains separating the “examining rooms”), and read the notices posted over the scrub sink, which is the place where doctors wash their hands after they operate so that they won’t get flecks of your vital organs on their Lexus upholstery.

After a bit of a wait, a doctor showed up. He poked around on my knee for a bit until he felt that he’d elicited the proper amount of wincing on my part then sent me off for some x-rays. After he had examined the x-rays he said that good news was that everything seemed to be in its proper place in my knee although it was all very swollen from the sprain. The bad news was that I had absolutely no cartilage left in my knee, I had the worst arthritis he had ever seen in a knee, and that my knee looked like it was 100 years old. You ol’ charmer, you.

Great. I have the body of a 100 year old. Why couldn’t I have the body of an 18 year old? (Well, I suppose I COULD have the body of an 18 year old, but where would I bury the head?)

The doctor said that, not right away but eventually, I would need to go to an orthopedic doctor and see what treatment options I had for my knees. He re-emphasized that he had never seen a knee in such bad shape. He gave me a prescription for some pain killers and for some mega anti-inflammatory drugs to try and reduce the swelling. He told me to keep my leg elevated and to keep an ice pack on my knee for 20 minutes every 2 hours and to stay off of it as much as possible. Um, hello, we’re at Disney World.

They had both of the medications available there for the bargain price of only $10 each. We picked up my pills and were out of there by 11:30. We called the boys and they were all still sleeping, so it looks like they hadn’t been too worried by our absence. We stopped at the Gooding’s at Crossroads to pick up some cough drops/throat lozenges for Larry and headed back to Disney.

The anti-inflammatory needed to be taken with food so we decided to go look around the newly opened Art of Animation Resort and grab some lunch at their food court. We walked around the different sections for a little while with Larry going ahead to take pictures and me following along at a slower pace. They’ve really done a good job with the theming here. Everything is all new and shiny and will look even better once the landscaping fills in a bit.














In the BIG, BLUE PO-O-OL!
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Old 09-23-2012, 11:20 PM   #18
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All the areas looked nice but I liked the Cars section the best. I’m not sure I’d be too thrilled with the Little Mermaid section—it looks like it’s going to be light years away from the food court and bus stops. We’re talking “Country Fair at the All Star Music” far.













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Old 09-23-2012, 11:22 PM   #19
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After a while, we went back inside for some air conditioning and some lunch. They have some really different food choices here as compared to the other Value Resorts. We decided that the Surf and Surf Burger (a crab cake topped with popcorn shrimp, lettuce, and tomato on a brioche bun) sounded good but we wanted to try some of the Indian food too so we went with the Surf and Surf Burger and the Mongolian Grill Fish with basmati rice, naan, and spinach and paneer cheese and then we just shared everything. Larry got a Greek yogurt for dessert while I had the thimble full of almond and honey gelato which was good but quite tiny. If we hadn’t been on the dining plan and I had actually shelled out $4.49 for it, I would have been complaining about highway robbery.



Mongolian Grill Fish




Surf and Surf



On the way back to the ASMo I called the boys again. They still weren’t really up and moving yet. I think they were enjoying having a lazy morning to sleep in, especially since they got home so late the night before. As we walked through the lobby of the All Stars, I stopped at the gift shop and asked for a couple of small plastic sacks. I figured they would work well to use to put ice my knee.

By the time we got back to our room, the boys had at least had some lunch from the food court. I’m pretty sure Ed had chicken strips and Michael and John both had the Chicken Penne Alfredo. In fact, I’m pretty sure that this was the third or fourth time that Michael had ordered the very same dish for his meal. I guess if you find something that works for you…

I had decided that I’d be a good patient today; I’d stay at the hotel, take my medicine, and rest my knee while the guys all went to the Animal Kingdom. Larry decided he’d stay with me and be my caregiver and keep me company so, once we got back to the room, he immediately stripped down and got in bed for a nap. It was at this point in our vacation that we discovered that I’m a rubbish patient and Larry is a rubbish nurse.

I suck as a patient because I don’t like calling attention to myself, I don’t like people having to wait on me, I don’t like feeling obligated to others, I don’t like asking for help, and I’d rather just go off by myself and emerge, healed, a few days or weeks later. Larry sucks as a nurse because he doesn’t read my mind.

We managed to get our act together long enough to get John, Michael and Ed sent off to the Animal Kingdom for the afternoon. I felt really bad that my injury was keeping everyone from having a good time and I practically shoved them out the door to go and have some fun, or else!

Larry got a nap for a couple of hours while I sat on the bed with my leg propped up and periodically put an ice pack on my knee. After Larry got up, my mood was still about as chilly as my bucket of ice. He left to go out on his own while I stayed with my knee elevated and watched bad afternoon TV. All alone. At Disney. Welcome to Self-Pity Town. Population: Robin.

Around 7:00 I decided that I was hungry so I went down to the food court and got an order of the Chicken Penne Alfredo that Michael and John seemed so fond of, and an ice cream sandwich. If anything can make you feel better, it’s an ice cream sandwich the size of your head. I see now what Michael meant about the quantity of food you get with the Chicken Penne Alfredo. It’s a helping of penne pasta in an Alfredo sauce served with a whole chicken breast. It comes with a side salad and a breadstick and is enough food to feed an emerging economy. I managed about a third of the pasta and chicken and about half of the ice cream sandwich (at least I have my priorities right).

After a while the boys showed up fresh from Animal Kingdom with pictures of them on Dinosaur and full of tales about Fast Passes and Finding Nemo: The Musical (John and Ed had gone to see it; Michael has skipped and gone to ride Expedition Everest). Larry showed up a bit later.

The plan for tomorrow had been to go to the Magic Kingdom for early entry and then leave in time for our 11:00 reservation at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary. I gave the boys the option of getting up early to go to the Magic Kingdom or skipping the Magic Kingdom and just leaving in time for Chef Mickey’s. Being 18-21 years old and having the stamina of an iron-deficient sloth, the boys voted for sleeping in. The boys stayed and talked to us about their adventures for a while and then left to go swimming. Larry and I made a fairly early night of it (for us, anyway) and went to bed.
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Old 09-23-2012, 11:25 PM   #20
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Thursday, August 16th – The Omnium Orange Juice Guzzle

I was up around 7:30 and Larry woke up shortly after that. We were both more in the mood to discuss our breakdown in communication yesterday so we talked things over for a while and got everything smoothed over. So, to recap, nothing was my fault. (Well, maybe a FEW things.)

We had a handful of old park passes that had “plus features” on them for admission to the water parks, Disney Quest, or the mini-golf courses so we decided that all the guys could go to Typhoon Lagoon after brunch. One of the passes was a park hopper that I purchased for Michael back when he was eight years old. If you have an old child’s pass like that with unused days on it and an “old child” that it was originally purchased for, Disney will exchange it for an equivalent adult pass. We needed to get that accomplished before Michael could use the ticket for admission to the water park.

We woke the boys up at 9:30. Michael was ready before John and Ed, so Larry and I went ahead and took him to the Guest Services desk in the lobby to try and exchange the pass. There was quite a long line however, and Ed and John showed up before we’d moved up at all so we ditched the queue and went to Chef Mickey’s.

Larry dropped us all off at the entrance of the Contemporary then he went to go park the car. The boys and I headed up to the fourth floor to check in. My mom and I had stayed with Michael for one night at the Contemporary quite a few years back when Disney had overbooked the Polynesian, where we had reservations, and they offered us the Contemporary for the same price. As we walked in, Michael said he didn’t really recognize anything about the hotel. Once we got off the elevator on the fourth floor though, it began to look familiar to him.

We checked in at the podium and were seated almost immediately. The restaurant was only about half full because their breakfast service was winding down and they don’t re-open until 4:00 or 4:30 for dinner. I have made our reservation for a later time on purpose to originally give us time to go to the Magic Kingdom. I had figured that our meal at Chef Mickey’s would really serve as lunch. I was a little concerned however about the character interaction and the freshness of the food since we were arriving at the tail end of their service. As it turns out, I didn’t have anything to worry about.

Our waitress immediately came over, filled up everyone’s glasses with orange juice, and took our additional drink orders (coffee for Larry, hot tea for Ed, and milk for Michael and me). John, on the other hand, was pleased as punch with his big glass of orange juice as that’s one of his favorite drinks of all time. He took a big drink of his juice and the waitress immediately re-filled his glass. Cue the heavenly host of angels to start singing because John thought he had died and gone to heaven.

Almost immediately, even before Larry had joined us, the napkin twirling started. Ed and Michael have both been to Chef Mickey’s before so they both whipped out their napkins and began twirling. You might think that John would be a bit intimidated by all the noise and fanfare but he grabbed his napkin in one hand and his orange juice in the other and twirled away with the best of them.

Larry soon joined us and our waitress came over to tell us that the characters wouldn’t be around for about five minutes so we had plenty of time to go and get some food , and to refill everyone’s orange juice (John, I’m looking at you). Larry, Michael and John needed no persuasion and they quickly headed to the buffet. Ed and I waited at the table, just soaking in the atmosphere until they came back.

The characters started coming around even before everyone got back with their food. All the fab five were there: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, and Goofy. I was a bit disappointed that Chip and Dale are no longer in the rotation because they’re always good to joke around with. Larry and Michael both got kisses on the top of their heads from Minnie while Ed taught Donald a few high five variations. Goofy was the star of the show however, and his antics kept us all highly entertained.



Michael, Goofy and John



Larry, Pluto, and John (who is obviously high on orange juice).



Michael, Mickey, and John (still coming down off that orange juice buzz).

Our waitress was great and uber-efficient at keeping our drinks refilled. There’s no way to scientifically calculate exactly how much orange juice John actually drank but I think the fact that he received the Anita Bryant Award as Florida’s favorite adopted son and they built a statue of him at City Hall shows that he put away a fair bit of the stuff. Michael clocked in at three and a half glasses of milk, so he wasn’t doing too shabbily either.

Ed, who is a notoriously picky eater, had a plate with a waffle and a couple of pancakes. I was worried that he wouldn’t find enough to eat (at a buffet? I KNOW!), but he took a second trip to the food stations and came back with a plate loaded with enough bacon to make even Bear Grylls proud. I swear there must have been at least 15 pieces of the stuff! And he ate every last bite of it, too. So, John had his yearly supply of vitamin C, Michael was all stocked up on calcium, and Ed was good for nitrites, sodium, and cholesterol.

We were all quite full from our meal and were beginning to wonder if a trip to Typhoon Lagoon was such a good idea, but we had schedules to keep so onward to Typhoon Lagoon we went. We had enough plus features on our old admission media for four people to get in to the water park, so I was going to sit this one out—mostly due to my knee—anyway. I figured that all the water slides would be off-limits as well as the wave pool. The last thing I needed was any thrashing around with my leg. Even the lazy river was questionable because I didn’t know how my knee would feel hanging over the side of an inner tube and I didn’t really relish the idea of floating all the way around the river with my leg held out straight in front of me like a plank because of my unbendy knee. So I couldn’t see the point of paying 50 bucks so I could sit in the sun. I did however, manage to get my leg into the driver’s side of the car so I could drive, which felt like a small victory to me.

With it being almost 1:00, we had to park in Guatemala and hike in to the water park (seriously, we were parked on grass in the midst of a jungle somewhere). I was going to the ticket stand with Michael to exchange his child’s ticket because Larry was having another British moment declaring that the person who originally purchased the ticket had to exchange it and no one would believe that he was related to Michael because he had a British accent, etc. Larry’s quite brave about some things, really. Just not moths. Or talking to humans.

So we all trekked up to the ticket booth where the woman asked for three forms of identification, a DNA sample from Michael, a sworn affidavit of his genealogy going back seven generations, a urine sample, a complete medical history of everyone in our party, and all the loose change in our pockets. Not really. When I asked about exchanging Michael’s ticket she didn’t even bat an eye and had a new adult ticket for us in about 30 seconds.

Ed was worried about where to put his clothes and sun block so I told him to just rent a locker and everyone could put their extra stuff in it while they swam. Did you know that it now costs $15 to rent a locker at Typhoon Lagoon?! Fifteen dollars! What are they made out of? Titanium?

With the men-folk all safely inside the park, I hobbled back to the car. I exited back behind Team Disney and drove back to the ASMo, stopping in the food court for some Diet Coke in my refillable mug. I got some ice from the ice machine and spent the next few hours resting my leg, watching TV, and talking to my Mom on the phone.

Larry called around 4:00 and said that they were closing Typhoon Lagoon because it was pouring down rain. He was with Ed at their locker but they couldn’t find Michael and John. They obviously couldn’t call them because their phones were in the locker. My call waiting beeped and I put Larry on hold, thinking it would be Michael or John. It was actually Scoobydooby, a fellow trip report writer from the UK that Larry had been conversing with through Mouseplanet’s discussion boards. We knew she and her family was going to be at Disney World at the same time we were and had said that we’d try to meet up sometime while we were both here.

She and I had just made arrangements to meet up at Hollywood Studios tomorrow when the room phone rang and I had to cut our conversation short. Michael was on the room phone and said that he and John were outside of Typhoon Lagoon but they couldn’t take a bus back to the hotel because they didn’t have their shirts on because they were in Ed’s locker. I’m not sure what freakish logic possessed them to go out of the park instead of waiting at the lockers but I told Michael that Ed and Larry were at the lockers and to go meet up with them there. I then called Larry back and told him that John and Michael were on their way and to not move from the lockers. They actually had John in their sights when I hung up the phone so I felt fairly confident that they would meet up and all get their shirts on.

It actually took them about an hour to get back to the hotel on the bus and they arrived about 5:00. We decided to let everyone rest for an hour and then we’d go to Epcot for the evening. John and Michael took advantage of the hour by going to the food court and having some more Chicken Penne Alfredo. What do you call a fake noodle? An impasta.

We drove to Epcot and parked right up front in, like, the fifth row. We got out of the car and John realized that he had forgotten his room key/park ticket back at the hotel. Larry, Ed, and Michael went on ahead and I drove John back to get his ticket. When we got back to the hotel we realized that, if John didn’t have his park ticket, he also didn’t have his room key. Fail.

Luckily, we hadn’t shut the connecting door between our rooms so John used my room key to get into our room and then went through the adjoining door into his. When we got back to Epcot, we were still able to get a great parking spot just a few rows from the front. I called Larry; he and Ed were in the UK eating fish and chips. Shocker. I called Michael; he was in Japan. Double shocker. I told them all to meet us at The Land when they were finished.

Once everyone was back together, we checked the stand by time for Soarin’. It was 80 minutes so I suggested that the guys go over to The Living Seas for a while and I would get me some dinner at Sunshine Seasons here in The Land.

I got the Spicy Cashew Chicken with Lo Mein noodles and a crème brulee for dessert. I had only just sat down when Larry showed up. He said he had come back to keep me company but I suspect it was to have the crème brulee that he went and ordered. A few minutes later, Michael showed up. He said that he had ridden the Clambulators and had looked at the Manatees and that was enough for him. He also decided that he was in dire need of a crème brulee, so he went and got one as well.

After we finished eating, we I decided that I could probably ride Living with the Land if I asked for the front row. That way, I wouldn’t have to bend my knee at a sharp angle like I would if we sat in any of the other rows that had a row in front of them and, thus, a limited amount of space. It’s amazing how many things you can’t ride when you can’t bend your knee more than a few degrees.

Anyway, sitting in the front row worked just fine and we enjoyed the night-time ride. I don’t think I’ve ever ridden Living with the Land in the dark before. While we were on the ride, John called Michael and told him they were finished at The Living Seas. We told John and Ed that we’d meet them at the exit of our ride.

Soarin’ was down to a 50 minute wait but that was still longer than we wanted to stand in the queue so I sent the guys over to Mission: Space. I told them to come back over to Soarin’ when they were finished and I’d wait there for them.

I found a place to sit at the entrance to Soarin’ (the stand by time was now down to 30 minutes) and I sat and people-watched. I find people-watching at Disney to be a great pastime.

The guys showed back up at 9:10 and we were able to walk right on to Soarin’. Yippee. Once we finished we decided that we’d have another go except for Michael who sat this one out. This time we got the first row.

It was 10:00 when we finished up and everything was closed. As we made our way out of the park we noticed that they’ve really oomphed up the fiber optic sidewalks. My mom called just as we were leaving and said that she had decided to show her sympathy for my hurt knee by getting bumped by the neighbor’s Doberman as she was getting out of her car, causing her knee to buckle and her to fall on the driveway thereby hurting both of her knees, twisting an ankle, and bruising a fair portion of her body. Poor thing! My older sister and her husband were there, along with my dad, so they were able to help get her upright and settled in her favorite chair. She didn’t know how she was going to sleep however, because her bedroom is upstairs and she didn’t think her hurt legs would be able to take on the stairs. She wound up “sleeping” in the chair all night but was able to get up the stairs the next day with the help of my sister and brother-in-law. Luckily, she’s okay now.

We drove back to the hotel and decided that, for our last full day tomorrow, we’d go back to Hollywood Studios where John wanted to have another shot at American Idol. I’m pretty sure that the boys went swimming again but Larry and I were in bed by midnight.
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Old 09-23-2012, 11:28 PM   #21
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Friday, August 17th – The Magic Kingdom Marathon and the Great Shrimp Smack-Down

Larry and I were up at 7:30 to make it to Hollywood Studios by opening time. I called Ed as soon as we were up, and called Michael and John at 8:00 (Ed gets the Mr. Clean award as he likes to take very long showers). Apparently Michael and John fell back asleep until 8:25 but got ready at the speed of sound and were ready to go at 8:45.

We drove to Hollywood Studios and I parked in the medical parking area so I didn’t have to mess with trying to wangle my knee into a tram. The bag check line was way shorter than it had been on Tuesday and we were through the gates shortly after 9:00.

I decided that I’d go with John to the auditions this morning so I could see the process, so Larry and Michael headed for Star Tours while John and I went to the American Idol auditions. There was a nightmare of a woman and her daughter/niece/neighbor (who looked to be about sixteen) who arrived at the audition entrance right as John and I got there. Let’s just call the young girl “Allison” for the sake of this report.

Anyway, we all had to wait outside the building for a couple of minutes while a CM asked who was going to be auditioning (Allison and John) and how old they were. The CM then let us all in the audition building together where we were greeted by another CM. John and I stopped right inside the door next to the CM, while nightmare mom just barged on through and headed for the next room. The CM had to call them back to where John and I were standing. Nightmare mom rolled her eyes and said, “It didn’t look like there was anything important in this room so I thought we were supposed to go on.”

The CM was very polite and said, “Yes, but your American Idol Experience starts here and I have a few things that I need to tell you.” He began his spiel but nightmare mom interrupted and said, “Can we get some water for Allison? We had to walk a mile and a half to get here this morning.” *Sigh* Lord, grant me patience. Because if you give me strength, I’m gonna need bail money to go with it. I think people could actually HEAR my eyes rolling in my head.

The CM nicely explained that he did not have any water and, if they wanted to get some, they would need to step outside. You could see nightmare mom mentally calculating the consequences of leaving the building and allowing John and myself to get ahead of her. Apparently, she came to the conclusion that Allison was going to have to suck it up and sing without water.

The poor CM managed to finally finish his spiel but not before nightmare mom informed us not once, but twice, that Allison hadn’t sang HERE before but she HAD auditioned for the REAL American Idol. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt her, but it was still on the list.

Meanwhile, nightmare mom’s competitiveness was ratcheted up to a level bordering on psychosis. She kept looking over and John and me and then looking back at Allison, then looking at John and me and looking at Allison. I half expected her to take a boxer’s stance and issue a challenge: “Come at me, bro!” I was not looking at her so hard I might as well have been staring.

I think I could have taken her.

Next, we were taken to a couple of soundproof rooms where the first auditions were to take place. There were already hopefuls in both of the rooms so we were instructed to wait outside until we were called. Nightmare mom may have mentioned again that Allison had already auditioned for the REAL American Idol.

After about a five minute wait, John and I were called into one of the rooms. The CM asked him a few questions about what he was going to sing for her and what, if any, training he had had. John sang a verse or two of his song and then the CM gave him some feedback. She seemed to really know what she was talking about. In fact, I was impressed with all of the CM’s working at the auditions. They all seemed genuinely interested in helping the contestants and they were all very knowledgeable.

She had John sing “Use Somebody” and then recommended “If Everyone Cared (I’m Alive)” by Nickelback so John sang that as well. She told John she was putting him through to the next round (woohoo!) and then also suggested that he might try “Drops of Jupiter” by Train, but in the alternate key. She told John that she had noticed that when he sings, he closes his eyes. She said that he needed to open his eyes and sing to the audience instead of singing to himself.

When we left the audition room, John was given an iPod and headphones so he could practice his songs. There were quite a few people in the practice room singing. So many, in fact, that there was only room for contestants in the chairs that were there; we parents/guardians/managers were all standing up and milling around.

It was very interesting listening to all the contestants practice. They all have headphones on, so they aren’t really aware of what’s going on around them. One kid was belting our “Circle of Life” (apparently, it’s quite popular) while two young men were having the Battle of the Bubles in the corner—one singing “Just Haven’t Met You Yet” while the other sang “Sway (Dance with Me).”

We had to wait quite a while before we got in to sing in front of the “producer.” During that time I got to see a variety of emotions when people came out of the audition rooms—some happy, some disappointed, some very sad. The worst, I thought, were the ones where two siblings both auditioned and only one made it. It’s a hard line to walk to show elation for one child’s results and sadness for the other’s.

We eventually got to go in to the producer’s room. He had John sing both songs with the backing tracks. He, too, was very kind and helpful. In the end, he didn’t put John through to the show. He said that the dynamics of the shows were different every day and he just didn’t think that John would be a good fit for today’s shows. He said that they had seen way more than the normal amount of people auditioning today and the shows were filling up quickly.

He told John that he needed to work more on connecting with his audience and that John needed to quit singing in the shower and get out and sing in front of people every chance he got because that would give him more confidence and experience. Before we left he told John that, although he didn’t put John in the show, he was still impressed with his singing and he gave John five Fast Passes for any attraction at Hollywood Studios. John took the critique well and didn’t seem too terribly disappointed. I suppose it’s a valuable lesson whether you advance or not because you have to learn that you’re not always going to be picked and not everyone is going to love you.

After our rejection, we were “literally” shown the door. I was kind of hoping to see how poor little Allison did. She seemed a very nice young lady and she had a good voice. I just felt sorry for her having to be saddled with that train-wreck of a guardian. I would have liked to watch the finale for that night to see if anyone we knew made it through.

We called Larry and Michael and found out they were at Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster. After they rode Star Tours, they had pulled four Fast Passes for Tower of Terror and had then ridden RnRC using the Single Rider queue.

I needed to get something to eat so I could take my knee medicine so we told them to meet us at Starring Rolls. By the time I got my bagel and diet coke, Michael and Larry had shown up. Michael and John decided to go make use of the Tower of Terror Fast Passes while Larry headed off to do the Backstage Tour. While I was eating my bagel, Ed called and said he was just arriving at the park. I told him where I was and we eventually met up after he had walked right past me twice.

Michael and John soon showed back up after having ridden Tower of Terror twice. Larry soon squelched up as well. He had volunteered for the battle at sea simulation on the Backlot Tour and, even though he had a rain slicker on, he looked like the sea had definitely won.

This was the day we were supposed to meet up with Scoobydooby and her family, so we gave her a call and found out that they were just down the road at Fairfax Fare. We told them we had a table at Starring Rolls so they said they’d be down in a minute. John and Ed decided to go check out the Backlot Tour for themselves while Michael decided to go to the Great Movie Ride. They did all want to hang around when they found out that Scoobydooby had a daughter, but I shooed them off saying that her daughter was only around 10 years old and that was WAY too young!

Scoobydooby and family soon arrived and we had a really pleasant hour or so chatting with them about all things Disney, British, and American. I know it did Larry good to be able to talk with some sensible British folks for awhile instead of all of us milkshake-swilling, Elvis-loving, capitalistic pig Americans that he’s surrounded by on a daily basis. Hopefully, we’ll get to meet up with them again sometime.

After we said our good-byes to the Doobys, it was time for some lunch. The boys showed back up and we all went to the ABC Commissary. The “sensible Brits” both had the Chicken Curry, while Team “Milkshake Swillers” all had the cheeseburger (with a couple of fried shrimp on top for whatever reason. Bizarre but, hey, free shrimp!).

While we were eating the skies opened up and it started pouring down rain thus making an already crowded ABC Commissary even more claustrophobic. The boys decided that they could make the dash to Toy Story Midway Mania without getting too wet and thereby use John’s Fast Passes from his American Idol audition so the guys all went there for a quick ride.

After they came back we made our way out of the park to go back to the hotel and rest a bit before dinner. Ed opted for a nap because his flight home was leaving at 8:00am the next morning so he had to catch the Magical Distress at the frightful time of 5:15am. Michael and John both became absorbed in their respective electrical devices of the moment. Larry napped while I iced my knee and watched TV.

With ice. I iced my knee with ice, not frosting. That would just be weird.

I always hate the last day before you have to head for home. I was getting a little case of the blues thinking about everything that I had wanted to accomplish on this trip and how little of it I had actually done because of my knee. I wanted this to be the perfect trip for John and Michael’s graduation and I was worried that they hadn’t had enough fun, that I hadn’t shown them enough, that we were leaving things undone, that the Disney magic was gone... I think that, with a Disney trip more than any other, your expectations are always so high that sometimes you can’t help but feel a little disappointed as the trip winds down.

Larry gave me a little pep talk saying that everyone was having a great time and that the Disney magic was just as strong as it ever was. He also told me to cowboy up and put a smile on my face because we were leaving for dinner to celebrate John and Michael’s graduation in five minutes. Good advice, Kimosabe. Good advice.

We left the ASMO at 7:50 to drive to the Polynesian for our dinner at ‘Ohana. It was raining a little and we had a bit of trouble finding a parking spot. Inside the Great Ceremonial House, Larry and I went to check our party in at ‘Ohana. John and Ed both showed up wearing leis that they’d gotten from the front desk. Michael and John went off to look at the volcano pool while Ed, Larry, and I found a few chairs to wait in. Michael and John soon joined us right as we were called to our table.

We were led to our table at the back of the restaurant right by windows which looked out onto the Magic Kingdom. The hostess left us with a loaf of warm pineapple-coconut bread and the parade ‘o food began.

Our server quickly came over and took our drink order. I forget what John ordered to drink, but I asked the server if he would put one of these glow cube ice cubes in John’s glass. All week long, every time we passed a cart or store selling something neon, John would go over and look at it; he loves things that glow. (Just as an example, he has a glowing Frisbee and the ceiling of his room at home is covered with glow-in-the-dark stars.) When they brought the drinks out, the look on John’s face was priceless. Who would have thought that a three dollar plastic cube could bring such joy?

We had devoured our bread so they brought us some more when they brought out the salad. I adore the salad at ‘Ohana’s. It’s just mixed greens but they put some kind of crack cocaine dressing on it that leaves you craving the stuff. The Honey Coriander Chicken Wings and the Pot stickers soon followed and everyone began eating in earnest.

The Lo Mein noodles arrived about the same time as the meat started coming. I rarely ever eat the steak, pork, or chicken—preferring to save as much room as possible to the shrimp—and tonight was no exception. The guys; however, were very much into the meat. Once they brought the first skewers of shrimp around though, John jumped ship from the meat, declared the shrimp the best he had ever had, and never looked back. By the end of the meal, John had eaten FORTY shrimp. I kid you not. To put this in perspective for you, I ate eleven shrimp and I was very, very full. John, who’s about five-foot nine and weighs maybe 110 pounds soaking wet, ate FORTY of them. FORTY. As many shrimp as Ali Baba had thieves. As many shrimp as days and nights it rained on Noah’s Ark. As many shrimp as WD has formulas. As many shrimp as Smith & Wesson have calibers. As many shrimp as newly freed slaves were promised acres (without the mule). I think you get my drift: he ate A LOT of shrimp.

Between the main course and dessert, the Wishes firework show at the Magic Kingdom began. They dimmed the lights in the restaurant and cued up the music and we had a good view of the fireworks.

The meal we had that night is destined to go down as one of the best meals I’ve ever had at Disney. Not just because of the food, but because all of the metaphoric planets aligned to create a perfect meal. The food was great, the company was great, the setting was great, and everyone was in a good mood.

It was at that exact moment as we watched Wishes that I had an epiphany. It’s not that every moment at Disney has to be perfect. In fact, I can guarantee that they won’t be. Life is not perfect. It’s just that when it all comes together in one perfect moment—fireworks bursting overhead, Wishes playing in the background, Michael and John scooting their chairs over next to me, Ed and Larry leaning in head to head for a better view, bellies full of good food, everyone satisfied, everyone smiling, everyone enjoying that one specific moment—it’s Magic.

And then Wishes was over. The music stopped, the lights went up and the moment was gone. But the memory of that one magical moment and the feeling of perfection or magic or whatever you want to call it was still there. And it’s that feeling that will, God willing, keep us coming back to Disney until the day we die.

Our servers brought over leis for everyone and brought us the check. It was 10:30 by now and the Extra Magic Hours at the Magic Kingdom were ticking by. I told the guys to go ahead and go to the Magic Kingdom and I would settle up the bill; time was a wastin’! They hurried on their way with John stopping to ask, “Could you please get two more of those glow cubes for me, Aunt Robin?” I told him I would and called out “John needs to ride It’s A Small World!” as they took off for the monorail.

I paid for the meal and got the requested glow cubes. I drove back to the ASMo and looked around in the gift shop for a bit before going to our room. They guys got back round 2:00. They had accomplished a lot in their final push to get John on classic rides he had never been on and that did, indeed, include It’s A Small World. Magic.

Saturday, August 18th – The Closing Ceremony

Ed’s plan for the morning, after not getting back to the hotel until 2:00am, was to just stay awake, get all of his packing finished, and be ready for the Tragical Express at 5:15am. Unfortunately, in one of those no-so-perfect moments that I talked about yesterday, the reality was that Ed fell asleep almost as soon as he got back to his room so, when I called him to be sure he was up at 4:30, he was asleep with absolutely no packing done. Well, that’s what adrenaline’s for.

Larry went to Ed’s room to spur him on but Larry couldn’t take the suspense and drama so he came back to our room to leave Ed to do the packing on his own terms. Larry went back to Ed’s room at 5:05 and managed to get Ed and his luggage on the bus in time.

Larry got back to the room at 5:30. I didn’t think we’d be able to go back to sleep after the excitement of making the bus, but sleep we did until 8:00. We got up and began our own packing. I called over to John and Michael’s room and got them moving as well. We were all packed and loaded in the car by just a few minutes after 9:00. Our plan for the morning was to have breakfast at Wolfgang Puck’s Express in Downtown Disney before hitting the road for home.

We drove to Downtown Disney and quickly found a parking place. At Wolfgang Puck’s I had the bacon breakfast pizza, Larry had the spinach omelet, Michael had the Crispy Cornflake French Toast, and John had the Chocolate Chip Waffles. This was my first time trying the breakfast pizza (last time I had the Cornflake French Toast and I had a hard time not ordering it again). It was very good and very big. I gave a piece each to Larry, John, and Michael and still had plenty for me.

After breakfast, we still had a meal credit each and a couple of snack credits so we went to Goofy’s Candy Company to use the snack credits and then went to Earl of Sandwich to get sandwiches to put in our cooler for lunch later down the road.

We finally set off for home around 11:00. It was a bit later start than we wanted, but the time at Downtown Disney was a nice way to ease into the long drive home.

And the drive home WAS long. And tedious. (So, I won’t bore you with all the details here although many Bothans died to bring us this information.) The lowlight of the trip was the fact that, for some reason, my knee ached like the dickens when I sat in the passenger seat of the car. Sitting in the back seat was out of the question because I still couldn’t bend my knee enough to get in the back. That left me with the option of a) sitting in the passenger seat with my knee aching or, b) driving, so I drove a tremendous amount of the time. The highlight of the trip home was stopping around twilight on Saturday in Biloxi, Mississippi to let John splash around in the Gulf for a bit and walk on a real beach. We all enjoyed stretching our legs and John got to cross something off his bucket list. Everybody wins.

We spent the night in Baton Rouge, got up early and hit the road, and made it to my mom’s house Sunday evening around 10:00 where we dropped off the boys and picked up the dog. We were home and in bed by midnight.
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Old 09-26-2012, 04:26 PM   #22
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Robin, you really bring a trip report to life. Now the important question - when is the next instalment due out on amazon?

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Old 09-30-2012, 04:38 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottishDisMam View Post
Robin, you really bring a trip report to life. Now the important question - when is the next instalment due out on amazon?

Lisa x
Thanks, Lisa. We'll hopefully have volume two out in a couple of weeks.
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Old 10-02-2012, 04:21 PM   #24
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Larry - just to say thanks for writing, I have just spent my evening reading your report & was starting Robin's when I realised the time (will look forward to that tomorrow) so need to get some chores done. I sat here laughing out loud, your so funny. I've noticed the link to past reports, so have that to look forward to too. Just got to have my Disney fix.
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:51 PM   #25
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Old 10-04-2012, 09:11 AM   #26
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Just finished reading your trippie, I enjoyed it so much, very different to Larry's but equally as good. My problem now is that I'm addicted, I need more but don't have a kindle!!!!
Thanks for writing.
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:14 PM   #27
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Old 10-17-2012, 03:46 PM   #28
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:35 AM   #29
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