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Old 07-22-2010, 11:49 AM   #1
stego's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Round Rock, TX
Posts: 443

June 5-12: the mighty flip-flop is king: bow before it’s omnipotence!

…in all honesty, standard issue uniform for tween/teen girls ought to be short/shorts; tank top and the aforementioned flip flop. Black being the preferred color. I also noticed common behavior among this demographic: texting. So much for family bonding time.

With 25 trip reports on the front page, I thought about a trip report title that would catch everyone’s eye:
*Lady Gaga does Disney
*Brad Pitt does Disney
*Miley Cyrus does Disney
*middle aged central TX man does Disney

…really, out of those choices, which one grabs your attention? That’s what I thought.

Who we are:
Let me get right to it folks. In our family, no one is “dear”. I’m just another middle-aged man from central TX. If you were in the parks that week, you’d have observed many people from TX. Schools in TX got out Thursday June 3rd, so many families from TX went during this time.

How I planned:
Obsessively. I’d planned our 2010 trip over the past 3 years. We’re on the 3-year plan: we go to WDW once every 3 years. My trip-planning document was a constant changing entity. I finalized it 2 days before we left. Logistically, we toured the parks and made use of FP’s very efficiently. I probably need therapy.

Notes, thoughts and observations:

I won’t bore you with any exact touring plans, meal reservations, etc. There are plenty of reports for that sort of thing if you are into it. It’s my intention to be objective. I will try to highlight events that were unique to our family.

In no particular order…

Meltdown on the mountain:
Oh, the stories. One morning, I’d gone outside on the balcony and by 8am I’d heard 3 meltdowns. I’d say the age group was anywhere from infant to elementary school. Our 1-day in Epcot there was a classic meltdown at spaceship Earth. As a parent, I could totally relate to everything. I observed other parents nodding their heads, as well. We’ve all been there.

Of particular note; some of the worst were sibling rivalries:
Child: he touched me! I hate him!
Mother: leave him alone. YOU! Stay the **** away from him.
Child: he did it again! I hate him!

And on and on…

When children are hot, tired and over stimulated, the meltdown ensues.

My hoochie sounder was full tilt-on:

There’s something to be said about hoochie’s that dress and appear like their teen daughters. In their own category, such a unique anomolie is classified as: high maintenance and impossible to live with. Please, don’t take my remarks so seriously…or do…I don’t really care. It’s all in fun.

WDW Theme park footgear:
The sneaker/tennis shoe/running shoe/etc. seemed to be the default for the crowds. But don’t kid yourself: many people choose to tour the theme parks with the MIGHTY FLIP FLOP. BOW IMMEDIATELY!
I did see some crocs, but they are fading fast. I observed a number of grandma’s, and the footgear they choose was NOT the flip-flop. There’s something to be said for wisdom. I had this mad idea that I’d wear Ecco Sandals for the duration of our vacation. Made sense: a good quality, walking sandal, with the idea of keeping my feet cool. What I have discovered is that my feet do better with socks/shoes. There’s something about the natural oils that are retained. Wearing sandals dries my feet very quickly.

Animal Kingdom:
The park with the lowest attendance. At park opening, the crowds mostly went over to EE. I got the call from our son to hook it on over: standby was 5 minutes.
Observed a dad in line at Flame Tree BBQ buy lunch for his family of 4. $64 later, he’s whipping out the plastic. Obviously, he’s not on the DP. On the bus back to the resort, I observed children asleep, but I saw some parents sleeping too. It was around 4pm, and on Friday…obviously the tail end for many people winding down their week at WDW.

We went from park open to park close. We avoided the resort bus rush by taking my best friend’s car. At park opening, we followed the crowds to Soarin’ and the stand-by filled up quickly, so I decided to get FP’s. When the window became open, I sent my son to get FP’s for Test Track.

I enjoyed the gulls in front of the Living Seas, so upon exiting the gift shop, I discovered some specific apparel/merchandise on the gulls: mine mine mine. My wife got me a T-shirt and coffee mug. I am ALMOST regretting not buying the towel.

Uh…dude…you might want to rethink that.
Went to see Crush. He was doing the rounds, talking to some different folks. The boy over there…
Crush: so, dude, are you having a good time?
Boy:…uh, I guess so…
Crush: so, dude, who are you here with?
Boy:…uh, my boring mom…

Very nervous silence from children and ooh’s from ALL the parents in the room.

Crush:..uh…dude…you might want to rethink that.

Later, Crush talks to the mom:

Crush: so how’s it going?
Mom: I guess not that well
Crush: you realize what just happened, right?
Mom: NO.
Crush: we just shared a moment together

Animal Kingdom Lodge:
My wife purchased a soda for our son at Mara. While in line, she overheard a father remark how expensive his lunch was for his family at $40. As a treat for our family, Boma was our 1 expensive sit down meal for the week. And as usual, I ate way TOO much. I spent $150 for 4 including tip.

Exclusive theme park/resort merchandise:
You’ve been reading about it for months, and I can confirm it: It’s less and less. There is now a trend for hip-hop styling, and it’s very dominant. As a frugal consumer, I made the conscious decision to stay away from the pricey Disney Art store. I was on the lookout for something as a ride specific/park specific item that I could only find at 1 gift shop. At POR and POFQ I found some prints and artwork. I did go visit All Star Sports, and did NOT see anything upon a brief and initial scan. At AKL I did see resort specific apparel. One plush that I didn’t find anywhere else was a Humphrey bear. He was at the Frontier trading post in the MK. The golden rule we’ve all heard is that if you see something, get it then.

What I saw was a lot of apparel made by Hanes with a combo DL/WDW printed on the back collar area.
It irked me that some of the apparel was WDW attraction specific with that combo tagging.

Touring the theme parks apparel:
Ok, here is where I got obsessive. I specifically had to have a WDW tagged shirt each day that was resort/theme park specific to that day’s general theme. I have some pretty unique items, but that is beside the point. With the heat, 100% cotton shirts SUCKED. I observed maybe 1 in 100 had a Disney shirt, and maybe 1 in 500 had a theme park/attraction/resort specific shirt. MAYBE.

I got the only Hugs-a-lot plush at Walt Disney World:

And no, I am not selling him on e-bay. We looked everywhere we went, and by chance my son found him at a cart in the MK in front of the country bears attraction. He does indeed smell like strawberries. At DHS we inquired and the CM said they’d sold out. So don’t run over to the MK, run inside, and pester the lady at the cart. She HAD to sell it to my son instead of taking it home for herself.

Downtown Disney:
My god, what a circus! I found myself dreading going into the World of Disney because I felt like a cow. Moo!…it was a constant frenzy of people…everywhere. There was no logic to the traffic patterns. I felt like a lineman: block the way for the running back (my family).

Guest of Honor nametags:
Yes, we wear them. We had many people ask where we got them. We also had LOTS of CM’s ask where we got them from. I was mistaken for a CM once. I did not see any else with them. Legend has it that many years ago on Main St. in front of the train station they had a cart, where you could have your name engraved right there. They also had that available in the back of Disney’s days of xmas. Standard issue was Mickey or Minnie, but my wife also has a Tigger GOH nametag.

We also have a set for DL as well. And once again, NO, I will not sell them on e-bay.

Other specific WDW theme park merchandise:
Ok, I got some of it on e-bay. That’s just honest. But in years past, we’ve acquired some pretty neat items. My wife has some Tigger specific apparel: scrunchy, fanny pack, & headband w/Tigger ears. We looked at many gift shops and could NOT find a Tigger adult baseball cap. I kept seeing the same youth green tigger cap. I guess Tigger has fallen out of favor.

The weather:
We’re from central TX. Contrary to belief, it gets hot here. On our 1st day at DHS during SWW, I overheated. I had to lie down on one of the benches in the Beauty & the Beast show. This week it was just plain brutally hot.

Magic Kingdom:
This park is the beast; using the attendance figures from last year, average daily attendance is over 50,000 people a day. We spent 11 hours in the park, and at 8pm I made the call to shut it down. As a touring strategy, I very wisely sent my 15yo son to procure FP’s to conserve my energy. We did spend some time in Toontown to say goodbye to Mickey & Minnie’s homes.

Crystal Palace:
One of our family traditions. This was our 2nd table service/buffet meal. For some reason, we got a KM discount for 2 of us?! We did lunch instead of breakfast. Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore & Piglet visited us twice!


I very rarely see someone say anything about the bent trees from the hurricane passing through years ago. But they are still there. With many acres of woods, I’d say it would be very expensive for WDW to remove/remedy the trees.

It must be that time of the year; there was an abundance of pine needles down. Only once I saw a landscaper blowing the pine needles away. So it’s obvious they are very discreet about clearing the paths.

This time of year the love bugs are USUALLY full on. I distinctly remember in ’07 my best friend’s car CAKED on the front. Not this time. We got lucky.

From a logistical point of view, I always wonder how Disney does it?

I never even considered the DP. We were able to make a grocery run at the beginning/mid-point of the week. During our week, we had 2 buffet meals. The rest were counter service. We had breakfast in our room each day, and 2 days had sandwiches. I’ve learned through the years that my body does better with a consistent food intake.

As a lifetime WW member, everything I’ve learned on the discussion boards from other lifetime WW members is to not waste my time counting points during our WDW vacation. So I didn’t.

By the way, Mickey’s premium ice cream bars are addictive. I shared one each day in the parks with my wife.

30 tons of jetfuel and 2 plastic water bottles:
Fess’ up. You’ve seen it: folks lugging CASES of bottled water. From home, I emptied out 2 water bottles, packed them in our luggage, and re-used them with tea-add in’s for the ENTIRE trip. They’re now back in the fridge at home being used on a daily basis. Our resort room had a plastic bin for recycle goods, and we used that each day. If I could figure out a way to get to WDW without scorching the earth, I would have done it.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios/Star Wars Weekends:
Reports from Matt’s site on the 3rd weekend had the autograph FP’s for Billy Dee Williams done at 4am.
My son and I were fortunate to get autographs/photos from Ray Park and Jeremy Bulloch.

Lined up with the crowd and they released us at 9am. I weaved my way through to get FP’s for TSMWM. There was a line, but it moved quickly, I’d say 10 minutes at park open. Passed by later and stand-by was 95 minutes. After going on TSMWM, we walked over to the photos and I looked: perched on top of my hat were my 3D glasses. Sigh.

A note about Star Wars empire characters: No hugging! None of these characters have a pleasant disposition. Remember that with small children.

Aurra Sing: she did NOT want to take her photo with me…I followed her but she wouldn’t have it. I observed her go up to at least 2 strollers where the child was sleeping, look in, startle the child, and the child would scream. I also observed a young lady aggressively pursue the character to get her autograph. Aurra Sing walked away and then went backstage; the young lady stated loudly she’d follow her…and she did! That’s a big no-no and I can’t say I subscribe to that kind of behavior.

We did stay for the hyperspace hoopla at 7pm, and many SW characters came out into the crowd. We made the decision to go back to the resort, as we’d been there over 10+ hours.

Theme park bag:
You’ve seen the post topic on the Disney park tips front page. In 2007, at the AKL, I found a touring bag in the gift shop. It can be worn across the chest or on the shoulder. It also has a hook to attach for my water bottle (bottle clip extra). This specific model is tan/green and has Kilimanjaro safari on it. We also found a Nightmare before Xmas model for my son at Disney’s day of Xmas, but they no longer have that there. However, I did discover at the RNR gift shop an Aerosmith/RNR model in brown. I only observed one other person with the KJS touring bag during our time at WDW. By the way, that specific model IS still available at AKL. Now, run over and get one.

What we did different from the typical Walt Disney World tourist:
My mom mentioned to me when discussing our trip if we were going to the beach. What a great idea!
Our standard flight option is to fly into Tampa airport, and we drove on over to Howard Beach. It’s a bit off the tourist path, probably mostly locals. The water was very warm…and no oil!

I am overdosed on Walt Disney World:
I’ve been asked by friends/co-workers etc. how my vacation was and there is one word I use:


And that really shouldn’t be any big surprise. After our 1st day, I never really recovered from being knocked out from the heat. I specifically scheduled in 2 days of downtime away from the parks, at our resort, relaxing in the QUIET pool.

What I have found in my own personal experience is that the internet is NOT reality. It can not in any way, shape or form, replicate the overwhelming behomoth that WDW is. I’m talking crowds, weather, the permeation of consumerism, etc.

In my normal daily world, I have my little office family of 6 people. I sit at a desk all day long, Mon-Fri, and that is my routine. I’m physically active as an athlete and train/race during the week/weekends, but for the most part, my life is 99% routine. During my lunch hour I’d walk 30 minutes outside but it’s not the same as 12 hour day theme park touring.

During my research, I’ve come across a term used by Europeans: holiday. When I think of that, I think of relaxing, sandy beaches. Not crowded, hot, 12 hour theme park days end on end.

Quite possibly I do have some shred of sanity in me.

I don’t subscribe to going to Walt Disney World every year:
There are many people who do…and good for them. That works for them. We do what works for our family. I realized some years ago that our time with our son would be limited. As a child, I dreamed of many places to go visit. My family has shared their dreams with me, and we’ve been fortunate to create many wonderful adventures each year we DON’T do Disney.

We’ve gone to those places, and continue to do so. If it’s been in your back yard, thanks for putting up with us!

Castmembers are the reason:
One evening we went on over to River Roost and watched Bob Jackson perform. As he was entertaining the crowd, I realized that here is a man whose job is to make people happy. Very few of us in real life have that kind of opportunity. I did send him a photo and a nice letter.
On our 1st day off from the parks I went to speak to our housekeeper. One of the other housekeeper’s called her, and a few minutes later she came up. She was worried there was something wrong! I told her I only wanted to thank her for taking care of our family during our stay. I specifically contacted Disney via e-mail after our vacation to praise our housekeeper.

If you’ve read the whole thing:
Thanks for doing so. I’ve gleaned so much from the tips and experiences in my research here on the DIS.
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