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Old 02-02-2013, 10:01 AM   #121
khertz
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As annoying as any tour groups are, I can see how teenagers in a group would behave that way (seat swapping, etc.) but grown adults? I guess it goes to show it must be a cultural thing. I'm glad the rest of your flight went well, and that you got a bonus day on your trip! Too bad DW couldn't get out of work to join you though. I hope she didn't end up stuck at home! We don't generally have to worry about winter weather messing up flights, but I sure got a taste of that anxiety when our flights were getting cancelled from California because of a hurricane!
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:09 PM   #122
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As annoying as any tour groups are, I can see how teenagers in a group would behave that way (seat swapping, etc.) but grown adults? I guess it goes to show it must be a cultural thing. I'm glad the rest of your flight went well, and that you got a bonus day on your trip! Too bad DW couldn't get out of work to join you though. I hope she didn't end up stuck at home! We don't generally have to worry about winter weather messing up flights, but I sure got a taste of that anxiety when our flights were getting cancelled from California because of a hurricane!
Fortunately, the flight was only 1 hour and 55 minutes. And we slept through most of it!

We've had a relatively snowless winter up until that point, so I was unhappy that mother nature was planning something that day of all the days she had to pick in the entire month of January.
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Old 02-03-2013, 06:50 PM   #123
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Reach for the Skyyyyy! Or I'll sling this pie!

Friday, January 25th - 5:30am

I woke up really early in the morning and had trouble falling back asleep. Too excited for sure. The kids were up before 6am as well. I promise, I didn’t wake them up. They were just as excited to get their Disney experience started. We went downstairs to their café and got a couple of pastries and yogurts for the kids. Had a difficult time getting the kids to eat anything partially due to the location of our table which had an unobstructed view of a tv tuned into the Disney channel. Our kids don’t watch that much TV at home. It’s not that we don’t let them. Trust me, I’ve been trying to introduce them to Doc Mcstuffins and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. They just don’t seem all that interested in watching them at home. So imagine my surprise when as soon as DD saw what was on the TV, she became a TV-Zombie. I would wave a muffin in front of her or ask her to ear her yogurt and all I would get in response was a “Huh?” without even eye contact. I had my mandatory bottle of morning Coke Zero.

We checked out and loaded up the car at 7am and headed to our resort, Art of Animation! A friendly CM manning the gates greeted us and gave us directions to the parking lot. The first CM interaction I usually have with each trip is with the CM at the resort gates and they always are a great reminder of what I have to look forward to. Friendly services no matter what the request.

I parked the minivan and took the kids into the lobby to check in. The lobby was absolutely gorgeous – in a neon Vegas kind a way. Loved all of the hand drawings of the Disney characters on the other side of the wall. And so much space.

I think this is what a Disney Vegas would look like.


Is that Dori trying to speak Whale at the far end there?


Exterior facade to the entrance of Ink and Paint Shop


This was in the ceiling in front on the Ink and Paint Shop


The kids were enjoying exploring all of this while I received our packet including our Keys to the World. Our room wasn’t ready which wasn’t surprising. The front desk CM told us that I should get a text when the room is ready. We had a little more time to kill before heading to DHS so decided to check out the Ink and Paint Shop. It took all but two minutes for DD to lock in her gaze on a pencil case with all kinds of small compartments. I told her we can get that later but for now, we should head to Hollywood Studios. This is the point of the trip when I introduced the concept of one souvenir a day for the kids. Otherwise, knowing how I always cave in to my kids when it comes to Disney merchandise purchases, there’s no knowing how much stuff we would have to haul back home. They could pick one thing each day that they want to buy and wait until the end of the day to get it so that we wouldn’t have to carry it around in the parks all day.

We drove to DHS which took about 5 minutes. Closest park from AoA. We walked out of the parking lot following the path laid out for us by Disney which included circling along the entire Disney bus stop area. We arrived at the turnstiles at 8:15am with 7 people in front of us for the line I picked.

Why couldn't I have been in front of these folks?


I decided to line up in front of one of the new RFID scanners located on the far right part of the gate. There was a big sign that said” for resort guests only” and a CM reminded everyone in line every 5 minutes that this line was for only those folks who had their park tickets on their room keys. To the left of us was a refurb zone with several turnstiles covered in the patented Disney refurb blue box. These turnstiles were being converted to RFID as well but also served as a wall partially obstructing our turnstiles from plain view which probably helped keep the lines shorter than the rest. The kids started getting bored. Their crazy dad dragging them out to the park way too early. Once the gates opened at 8:40am, we filed in. The RFID was a breeze. No turnstiles. For each entry point there were two RFID scanners which made it easier and faster for families with kids and strollers to get through. DD took the scanner in front of me and tapped her card. I did the same with mine and scanned my finger. Then DS got his card scanned and we were in!

First stop? TSMM of course. In a very casual pace. Well, I should say casual pace for my standards. When we got to TSMM, I pulled FPs which gave us a return time of 9:45am. I parked the strollers and took the kids in through the standby line. We were still in front of the pack so we walked through most of the queue and stopped at the top of the last flight of stairs you walk down into the loading area.

This made me laugh out loud! Perhaps the idea that a cardiothroacic surgeon has to resort to a saw?


This could be my ticket to retirement! I'm pretty sure I've seen this guy hiding in one my kids' toy bins.


For our last trip, DS was too young to figure out how to work the gun so he ended up sitting on one of the adults’ laps and mostly watched the 3D action while someone else did all of the shooting. I wasn’t quite sure how he would want to play it this time but since I had to sit with both kids, I ended up having him sit in the middle. DD was ecstatic and looking forward to beating her old score which she had somehow managed to remember from our last trip. The ride started and I asked DS to pull on the string for me while I aimed the gun but he was having trouble with it. So for the first ride, it was mostly me doing all of the shooting. We got through the first ride by 8:55am. As we were walking out of the ride, I told the kids we should go again right now. DD gave big thumbs up to the plan. DS on the other hand was whining that it was boring and he didn’t want to go again. Whaaat? I knew what the issue was so I asked him if he would like to be seated in front of the gun this time. His eyes brightened up and his tone changed in snap with him leading us into the standby queue again. This time the wait time had already built up a bit. It took us about 15 minutes to go through the queue. I sat in the middle with DD to my left and DS to my right. He asked if I could aim for him so I said I would and we practiced tugging on the trigger cord. The ride started and he was having a blast this time. So was DD. When the ride came to an end, DD and DS both asked me how we did and if they beat everyone else. (Didn’t realize they had such high aspirations!) Didn’t want them to be disappointed after having such a great time so I just told them vaguely that they both won! (Don’t ask me what they won ). They cheered. I gave them high fives. And they were singing and giggling how they did such a great job. As our cart made its way to the unloading area, it made a sudden turn off to the disabled side with a jerk so hard it almost gave me whiplash. I thought that was unusual that we were siphoned off to this area since I was pretty sure the family sitting behind us in the same cart also loaded from the regular queue with us. It turned out that the gun they were using had not functioned properly during the ride so the CMs pulled the family aside and asked them to wait while they brought in another cart for them to go right back on again.

Next Up: A not so infinite meet and greet.
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:08 AM   #124
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AoA looks really incredible! We are hoping to make time to go check it out on our next trip. We pass right by it to get to Publix for our grocery shopping, so hopefully it won't be too hard to get ourselves in there. The lobby area looks amazing!

How cute that the kids enjoyed TSM so much the second time around. Sounds like a great morning so far!
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:39 AM   #125
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AoA looks really incredible! We are hoping to make time to go check it out on our next trip. We pass right by it to get to Publix for our grocery shopping, so hopefully it won't be too hard to get ourselves in there. The lobby area looks amazing!

How cute that the kids enjoyed TSM so much the second time around. Sounds like a great morning so far!
I have more pics coming of the rest of the resort when I had a chance to solo tour the grounds late at night -but yes, the place was awesome!

DD wants to go back to AoA over and over again until we've stayed at each different section! I'm still trying to convince her that we should check out AKL next time.

I don't think you should have too much trouble getting in to take a look around. Parking spots were plentiful!
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:59 AM   #126
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I can't wait to hear about your visit to A of A. I'm planning a family trip for next January-my son's first trip! Did you use the buses? How was the quick service?
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Old 02-04-2013, 11:00 AM   #127
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That was an awesome move by your wife to let you go a day early.

I'm sorry you had to go through the experience, but your story about the group on the plane was hilarious. I can just see it now. It really is a shame that their leader didn't have a flag though, so you could at least be warned.

AoA looks awesome! I like your souvenir rule.

I'm glad your DS enjoyed TSMM the second time around.
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Old 02-04-2013, 11:02 AM   #128
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I can't wait to hear about your visit to A of A. I'm planning a family trip for next January-my son's first trip! Did you use the buses? How was the quick service?
I thought AoA was great in almost every aspect for families of 4 or more. The two full bathrooms are a huge plus in the mornings when we're all trying to get ready. There was plenty of space for the 5 of us.

We rented a minivan and drove it for most of our transportation. DW did use the buses on a couple of occasions which she said was fine and she didn't have to wait for one for too long.

Loved Landscape of Flavors! Plenty of seating. The variety of food was excellent and much different than the usual QS items we have gotten used to at Disney. Every station had their entree and side items lined up for view "Chipotle style" or "Subway Style" . Open kitchen layout so you can see the food being cooked in batches behing the serving stations. Very easy to navigate.

The only slight negative is that depending on which suite/building you're at, the main lobby/transportation/food court building could take a bit of walking to get to - especially if you're staying in the Little Mermaid section.

Overall, thought it was a great resort!
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Old 02-04-2013, 11:13 AM   #129
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That was an awesome move by your wife to let you go a day early.

I'm sorry you had to go through the experience, but your story about the group on the plane was hilarious. I can just see it now. It really is a shame that their leader didn't have a flag though, so you could at least be warned.

AoA looks awesome! I like your souvenir rule.

I'm glad your DS enjoyed TSMM the second time around.
Can't say enough about DW helping us get there a day early!

If the leader did have a flag, I can see him trying to somehow force it into a small overhead bin! By the time the flashes started popping, I really had to start laughing and tried to make light of the situation. I started thinking what could be going through his mind as he's taking these pictures through his window with a flash popping each time. Was it "Hmmmm, why do I keep getting this gigantic glare that obscures the scenery below? Must be because I'm not using enough flash". Or was it "I can't believe what a crappy flash I have. I mean, it's not even lighting up that dark building 10,000 feet below I'm trying to take a picture of!" Once I started coming up with these, it made it a lot easier to deal with it.

I felt bad for DS during our first TSMM. I wasn't sure of leaving the little guy sitting on the outer portion of the vehicle, so I thought it would be best if he sat in the middle. Just glad that we had multiple tries on TSMM!
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Old 02-04-2013, 01:36 PM   #130
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I think I've moved on from my post-Disney blues thanks to a DIS friend asking to help put together a touring plan for one of her friends who will be visiting Disney for the very first time. Thas was fun!

And now I'm starting to think about our trip next year in January again so that's helping me along as well. Looking at crowd calendars, thinking about restaurants I want to try, hoping that the Mine Ride will miraculously open ahead of schedule.
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Old 02-05-2013, 04:47 PM   #131
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I'm here!! Great start so far! How awesome you got an extra day!

UGH! Tour Groups!!! Adults, even!

I wouldn't have been able to sleep either!! Your pictures of AoA are fantastic!! I can't wait to see more of your room! The picture you posted from your live updates looked soooo cool!!!!

TSMM is so much fun!
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Old 02-05-2013, 05:24 PM   #132
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Subbing! Sounds like fun so far!
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Old 02-05-2013, 07:29 PM   #133
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I'm here!! Great start so far! How awesome you got an extra day!

UGH! Tour Groups!!! Adults, even!

I wouldn't have been able to sleep either!! Your pictures of AoA are fantastic!! I can't wait to see more of your room! The picture you posted from your live updates looked soooo cool!!!!

TSMM is so much fun!
So happy to see you made it over to this TR! I really loved the decorations in the room a lot although I didn't spend much waking hours in the room to really enjoy it.

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Subbing! Sounds like fun so far!
Welcome!! The fun is just getting started
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:09 PM   #134
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"We Scare Because We Care"

Friday January 25th - 9:20am

After we got out of TSMM, we took a quick restroom break. Can I just say how much I lovvvvve the companion/family bathrooms? And I say this as a dad who does a lot of traveling or visiting local attractions solo with the kids. These bathrooms are a godsend. I can get the kids multitasking with the sink being right there. And I don’t have to worry about one of the kids deciding to open the stall door while the other child or even I’m still using the bathroom. Or when DD announces she doesn't want to go into the boy's room. It used to be even more convenient when I had diapers to change and believe me, most public mens rooms do NOT have changing tables. Thanks to no changing tables, I had gotten pretty good at changing diapers cramped in a stall with them standing up. I used to call this the “vertical diaper change”. Sorry, I digressed. Back to programming.

Next, we hopped over the pathway from TSMM to get in line for Woody and Buzz meet and greet. DS had been telling me how much he wanted to meet both of them and was even more excited when I told him that we would meet them in Andy’s bedroom. It was already 9:25am and the wait time was 35 minutes. But considering how much DS wanted to do this and DD didn’t seem to mind the idea, we got in line. I really liked all of the mini photo props they created along the queue pathway.

Hmmm, not sure if these straps meet safety standards.


Watching DD strap DS onto the rocket with him bearing a big grin on his face had me laughing for a while. I’m sure she’s felt like wanting her younger brother blasted out of this planet many times when she feels annoyed by his antics. There were also the three-eyed green aliens. I told DD to pretend that “The Claaaaaaaw” was going to get her as she stood behind the aliens.

Ooooooo, the Claaaaaaaaw


I think the only problem with this place was that there wasn’t enough space to adequately take pictures. To get the whole prop in, you had to step way back but that was hard to do with everyone else in line. Fortunately, for our group in the line, everyone was taking turns and clearing the way for each family to get their photo without having another family photobomb the pictures. I joked with another dad standing behind me how cramped this whole space was. He replied by saying “Yeah, I liked the layout on the map much better than the real thing” and pointed to the map at the front of the queue. Definitely not to scale. The kids began petering out after in line for 20 minutes. They started sitting down on the floor becoming more restless.

It was finally our turn. Anyone want to take a guess as to what happened next? DD took one look at Woody and Buzz and decided this wasn’t for her. She planted both of her feet squarely behind the line and did not budge. I told her that it was okay if she wanted to just watch and not participate. No need to make Toy Story a traumatic experience! But now DS was feeding off from her queue and decided that he was too shy and intimidated to meet them as well. He had been clutching on to his miniature buzz action figure during the past 30 minutes so I told him that he should show the toy to Buzz. That didn’t take either. I carried him over into the center of the greet area. He buried his head into my shoulders. The CM was tending to DD during this process. The photopass photographer managed to get a couple of pictures of me with DD missing and DS trying to burrow into my shoulders. I’m sure I looked like the dad who dragged his kids in just so that he could get a picture with Woody and Buzz. And if you read my TR from April, it was déjŕ vu all over again for me with the whole experience playing out exactly as it did with Phineas and Ferb. Maybe I need to rethink which characters I want to start out the trip with and start with the easy ones like Mickey or Pooh. I later asked DD what she was most concerned with and she told me they were too big. Maybe it was that they appeared to be too imposing.

Well, orginially I had planned on taking the kids next to meet Mike W. and Sulley. But after that dud, I wasn’t sure if doing another meet and greet was such a good idea especially considering that these characters are monsters after all! I calmed the kids down a bit with some snacks from my backpack while sitting around the mermaid fountain. Mmmmm, chocolates at 10 in the morning but that’s all I had in my backpack and none of the snack stations were open this early in the morning. The kids certainly weren’t complaining. Then we decided to use our FPs for TSMM. The kids once again got a gun each and I sat in the middle aiming for DS. That seemed to cure any Toy Story phobia that may have lingered from the previous experience!

When we came out, I decided to press the Monsters Inc meet and greet one more time. DD seemed agreeable to it. DS wasn’t so sure anymore. So I told them that we would go take a peek at them and they can tell me if this is something they would like to do.

Bulletin Board at the Scare Floor - funny fine prints


Mike and Sulley must have been taking a break because they weren’t there. But the CM and Photopass photog were there. DD saw Boo’s door and decided that this would be okay after all. So we got in line and 2 minutes later in came our monsters.



When it was our turn DD ran to Sulley to give him a big hug. Sulley then teased DD a bit by copying her movements. DS was once again burying his head in my shoulders. DS was also wearing a Mike shirt and we tried to show it to him. Photopass took a picture of all of us with me and DD looking at the camera and DS drilling another hole into my other good shoulder with his face.

I decided to take a break from the meet and greet adventures and we walked over to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground.





The kids immediately ran towards the “spider web” net play structure. If you haven’t been on it before, the whole structure is made of rope netting where you climb up a path spiraling up a column than bounce your way down another path that spirals its way down. As soon as they exited, DS and DD would run back to the entrance to start all over again. The first three times, I wasn’t sure yet whether DS could handle the inclines so I followed behind them. He did just fine without any assistance. AND, by the third time out I was getting a bit woozy and felt the ground underneath my feet was bouncing with me. So I stood by the exit and watched them go on it over and over and over again. I tried to remind them that there were other slides and things to try but they didn’t care. Just having too much fun.
We spent a good 40 minutes there. It was time to start making our way to Epcot. So I practically pried them away from the playground and bought them a couple of water bottles before walking towards the exit.

Next Up: Meeting the Princesses at Akershus
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Old 02-07-2013, 07:44 AM   #135
afwdwfan
DIS Dad #460
You should always make room for a loophole when you need it
 
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Indiana
Posts: 9,917

I know exactly what you mean about the vertical diaper change thing... DW coaches volleyball and cheerleading at a high school. We go to a lot of volleyball and basketball games and as you might guess, the men's room at most high school gyms has no changing table. I'm not too crazy about laying DD down on a bathroom floor, so she usually just gets changed between rows in the bleachers...

I'm sorry the M&G experience kind of turned into a dud. Especially with as long as the wait was to see Woody and Buzz. Hopefully your DS will come out of his shell.
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