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Old 05-15-2011, 08:42 PM   #46
GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes
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Chapter 4: Day-1

- Part-4: Christmas time at AK


One quick stop at Blizzard Beach and then we were walking into Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I love the Christmas season mostly because it brings families together, but right after that is the way that we in this part of the world will go about decorating just about anything that is either inanimate or relatively stationary (and some things that don’t quite meet either of those criteria), and the folks at Disney are amongst the best at this peculiar art.









Once inside, it occurred to us that it was high time that we got something to nibble on (it takes work to maintain my Adonis-like figure ya’ know). So off we go to the Flame Tree. Now this is honestly one of my favorite spots to grab a meal anywhere in the entire WDW universe. Counter service BBQ Ribs (and they’re pretty dang good ones to boot). An added attraction was being able to say: “Just charge that to the dining plan” (made it taste all that much better). Another thing I like about the Flame Tree is the dinning area. Even on a less then beautiful day, this is one of the most serene and inviting places you’ll ever run across to sit back, relax, and enjoy some fine grub. Here’s just a sample of the visual prizes available in this wonderful part of the park.

This is what I could see from my chair as we were enjoying lunch.








Here are a few more from other spots in the Flame Tree’s dinning area







Last edited by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes; 05-15-2011 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 05-15-2011, 08:49 PM   #47
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Chapter 4: Day-1

- Part-5: Was that a Jonas?... Do I really care?...


Now that our hunger was fully sated, it was off to Everest. Here’s a bit of what we saw on the way to Asia.







And a couple of pictures from the queue at Expedition Everest
(Which I’ll discuss a bit farther in just a moment.)




Asia is probably my favorite part of AK. The themeing and attention to detail are par excellence (as you’ve already seen). I could easily spend all day just walking the Maharaja Jungle Trek, but at the moment we wanted to ride Expedition Everest. As it turns out, that was a really good choice, because all that “blankity-blank” winter rain had kept a whole ton of people out of the park, and the wait was only 15 minutes! For a family who has never been able to travel during off peek times, that was absolutely unheard of. So, one short wait, and it’s off we go. A few thrilling moments later and we’re laughing at our pictures in the obligatory post-attraction gift shop. With a wait time as silly short at that, we had to do it again. So… We did! This time when we hopped on the train, Tamara and Max rode together and I was the loner. As such, I didn’t get a first hand ear shot of the conversation that resulted form what happened next. Once the train was loaded, we sat there for a minuet or two while the CMs were attending to something at the front of the train (being almost at the back and in the outside seat, I couldn’t really see what was up, and I wasn’t really paying attention anyway). Tamara had a better view and saw that what was actually going on was that they were ushering some type of celebrity onto the ride and into the front car. She saw them walk in and thought she recognized one of the folk’s in the group and a member of the “Jonas Brothers”. She then made the classic parental mistake of asking a teenage boy if her observations were correct. The conversation (I later gathered) went something along this line:

“Is that one of the Jonas Brother’s getting on the ride?”
“What???”
“I think that’s one of the Jonas Brother’s getting on the ride. Which one is that?”
“How would I know?...”
“Well you’re a teenager… Is that Joe?”
“M-o-m… First: no guys care about the Jonas Brothers. There for little girls, and second: I wouldn’t know any of them if I saw them because they’re just too lame to be allowed.”
“Oh… Why didn’t I have a girl?… She’d know!”


Just then the train takes off. When we get back to the station, the same parade takes place in reverse, then the CMs, unlock everyone else’s restraints we’re off to the next adventure (during which time I get to hear the recreation of this conversation). I am similarly quizzed as to whether I’d seen the personality in question and was even more clueless then the boy. I have to feel bad for my Lovely sometimes. She came from a family dominated by the women and landed in a house that is populated by overly stubborn and generally pop-culture clueless guys. She deserves better… We can be a real challenge to put up with at times.
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Old 05-16-2011, 08:15 AM   #48
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Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
I love the Christmas season mostly because it brings families together, but right after that is the way that we in this part of the world will go about decorating just about anything that is either inanimate or relatively stationary (and some things that don’t quite meet either of those criteria), and the folks at Disney are amongst the best at this peculiar art.
I love seeing pictures of Disney decked out for the hollidays. I can't wait to see it myself.

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Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
Now this is honestly one of my favorite spots to grab a meal anywhere in the entire WDW universe. Counter service BBQ Ribs (and they’re pretty dang good ones to boot).
I've never had a meal there. It is definitely on my list for next time.

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Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
As it turns out, that was a really good choice, because all that “blankity-blank” winter rain had kept a whole ton of people out of the park, and the wait was only 15 minutes!
I love Everest, especially with a short wait!

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Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
“M-o-m… First: no guys care about the Jonas Brothers. There for little girls, and second: I wouldn’t know any of them if I saw them because they’re just too lame to be allowed.”


Well said!
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Old 05-16-2011, 03:14 PM   #49
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Rob, I have a lot to catch up on, but I'm really enjoying your narration and pictures. And you're hitting a lot of my favorite places--POR, Flame Tree BBQ, Everest...obviously, great minds think alike!
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Old 05-18-2011, 09:27 PM   #50
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Originally Posted by afwdwfan View Post
I love seeing pictures of Disney decked out for the hollidays. I can't wait to see it myself.

I've never had a meal there. It is definitely on my list for next time.

I love Everest, especially with a short wait!



Well said!
Thanks for following along. If you get the opportunity, hitting Disney during the holidays, it’s worth doing at least once. The Flame Tree needs to be done every visit if possible. As for the Jonas’s, I have to agree… Well said.

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Originally Posted by Captain_Oblivious View Post
Rob, I have a lot to catch up on, but I'm really enjoying your narration and pictures. And you're hitting a lot of my favorite places--POR, Flame Tree BBQ, Everest...obviously, great minds think alike!
Take your time. I’m just trying to get it all out of my head before I forget too many details so I’m moving fairly quick.
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Old 05-18-2011, 09:31 PM   #51
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Chapter 4: Day-1

- Part-6: Dinos, and Characters, and Clownfish… Oh my…


From Everest, we decide to head over to Dino Land and hop on “Dinosaur”. We like this attraction and it’s generally not as crowded as one would expect for Disney. So, we hit the queue, do the pre show and it’s off on our Time Rover (always fun and we try to come up with as silly a pose as possible for the post ride photo display). Once off that one, we headed back toward the Tree of Life to catch a good spot for the Jungle Jam Parade (Christmas Edition). It was as excellent as you’d expect form Disney and looked a whole lot like this:



































Too much fun… Afterward, we backtracked a little bit to take in the Finding Nemo show. On the way we encountered these fine musicians and stopped for a moment or two to give a listen (I love when we can catch music in the parks).





Anyway… Back to “Nemo”. If you’ve never seen it, you need to. It’s one of the better live play attractions in “The World”. Very imaginative. I’d love to show you pictures, but they do ask you not to take them and like a dunder-head, I listened to ‘em. Oh well. After that it was getting toward closing time for AK, so we decided to go ahead and start the journey toward our planed evening entertainment and dinner ressies. Here’s some of the sites that we encountered on the way out.







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Old 05-19-2011, 09:44 AM   #52
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I'm glad you have the pictures of the parades. Now I can see what I was missing while I'm running to the rides while everyone else is watching them.

We didn't get a chance to see the Nemo show on our last trip. From the sound of it, I guess we need to make the effort next time.
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Old 05-19-2011, 10:17 AM   #53
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I'm glad you have the pictures of the parades. Now I can see what I was missing while I'm running to the rides while everyone else is watching them.
That was the first time I have been able to actually catch the parade in AK. I like the parades in general, but don’t get too bent out of shape if I miss one (generally they are really good at pulling people out of the ride queues, so It’s better to miss a few here and there).

This time around we wanted to make an effort to catch at least a couple of the holiday parades when possible just to watch for the alterations and enhancements from the normal show. I enjoy the Animal Kingdom parade a little bit more the most of the others I’ve seen. I particularly liked the animal inspired floats which were generally articulated by one or two of the CMs. They almost come to life and are very imaginative.


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We didn't get a chance to see the Nemo show on our last trip. From the sound of it, I guess we need to make the effort next time.
To me, this how is worth the time. It very closely follows an abridged version of the movie plotline and the character/puppet handling is excellent. The whole thing is just a visual feast.

I believe it was put together with a good bit of input from the same folks that did the Broadway versions of a couple of the other Disney films. When my boy was a good bit younger we had the opportunity to take him to see the Broadway rendition of Lion King. That was an absolutely fabulous evening. The Nemo show reminds me a lot of the production from Lion King especially in the way that they handled the transformations between the human actors and the animated characters.
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Old 05-19-2011, 05:13 PM   #54
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Chapter 4: Day-1

- Part-7: Gingerbread… Lots and lots of Gingerbread


You may have noticed that we didn’t hit a whole lot of the “rides” this day. Actually, that will be a theme during this trip. Having been to Disney many several times, and intending to go back, many several more, we wanted to spend a good part of this trip taking in some of the sites, and especially to partake of some of the unique events that are going on only during the Christmas season. With that in mind, we boarded the bus headed for The Grand Floridian. The plan was to start there and then use the monorail for the resort loop to get over to our dinner reservation scheduled for a little later on at the Polly.

“The Grand” is visually intoxicating and one of the most sumptuously decorated resorts on the property (especially at Christmas time).











However, the really unique twist that they add to the holiday season is the “Gingerbread House”. Excuse me… “Gingerbread Mansion”. Pictures really do not do this goliath any justice at all. It’s just so over the top that you really need to experience it at least once for yourself.















For me though, the real prize was the Swing band! I love music. I’m a musician, and if I could figure out how to make enough income to support both my family and my Disney addiction by just playing my guitars, I’d be doin’ it. I’ve played in rock bands, punk bands, church bands, and swing bands, and I love to here other groups perform.







This just added to the total atmosphere of the “Grand” and insured that my ears were just as entertained and my eyes. Speaking of entertaining the eyes… Here are a few more random images of from around the property…













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Old 05-19-2011, 05:22 PM   #55
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Chapter 4: Day-1

- Part-8: Doing the Loop


After meandering a bit around the rarified grounds of the Grand, we hopped on the Resort-Loop Monorail for the ride over to the Polynesian. The Monorail actually runs clockwise around Bay Lake, so we’d have to go all the way before reaching our ultimate destination. This, however, was actually part of the plan because as far as we’re concerned, the monorails are attractions in themselves. A stop at the MK for a better view of all the lights, color and festivities; a jaunt over to the Contemporary where the train passes smack through one of the largest holiday wreathes you’ve ever laid eyes on; a quick stop at the TTC where we are entertained by one more rendition of the Monorail theme song: “Por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas”, and we arrive at the “Polly’.

We’re on time for our dinner ressies at ‘Ohana so we stroll over to the desk and check in. They promptly reward us with one of their pagers and say it’ll be at least another 30 to 45 minutes (Did I mention, that they were r-e-a-l-l-y busy). Well, now we had time, so we just wandered the Great Hall for a bit (not wanting to get too far afield just in case they didn’t really mean we’d be waiting that long). There is much to see in the Great Hall at the Polly, but the lights are fairly low in the evenings and my camera is not what you’d call: professional grade. So I just didn’t get any really good pictures. An example of what I could get would be:



Not much to see here, but then again, that gives me a good reason to go back (s-o-o-n). We did, however, run across a ginger bread house competition (for kids I believe), which looked a whole lot like this…











After a bit we succeeded in rounding up a few seats near the restaurant and then low and behold… More Disney Magic. Just across from where were sitting, another Swing Band shows up. A Saxophone quartet made up of one proud poppa, and his three sons (this is just way too cool). They immediately commenced to fill the Great Hall with excellent swing arrangements of a number of holiday classics and I quickly forgot that 30 minutes had long come and gone.



And (if your interested), it actually occurred to me to record the performance. Well.. The last tune anyway… Give ‘em a listen for yourself

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02OvQPm1As4


Buzzzzzzzzz… finally the pager goes off and we’re seated in the dinning room at ‘Ohanna right by one of the windows with a superlative view of the MK in the distance (all is right with the world).



Now this is the part of the show where I discover exactly what the “dummy-headed mistake” (that I will invariably make during our travels) would end up being this time around. Way back on Expedition Everest (you did read that section, right?), I had pulled my reading glasses out of my shirt pocket and tossed them in the little net pouch of the train (so as not to loose them during the ride). Dumb! After the ride was over, I climbed off the train and failed to reacquire my spectacles (thus ensuring that I’d loose them after the ride instead). Net result… Tamara would be reading all the menus and such to me for the rest of the trip (dang… dang… dang).

Back to dinner… After a bit, the various courses begin to arrive at the table, the entertainment cranked up and all were enjoying the evening’s frivolities. I liked ‘Ohana. I wanted to say that “I loved ‘Ohana”, but I think it was an off night (at least in our corner of the room). At one point, we were forgotten about by our servers for a good l-o-n-g while, and although nearly all the food was excellent, the particular skewers from which we were served the beef and pork courses of the evening were rather over done and dried out. Every thing else was great, but being as these were the main courses, it was a smidgen disappointing. I suspect that this is not normal (especially after reading the various reviews and hearing multiple pod-cast descriptions supplied by other members of the DisDads club), so I intend to try this one again in the near. As such, you shouldn’t see this as a “negative” review, because I’ll be re-reviewing this particular establishment in future TRs (guaranteed).
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Old 05-19-2011, 05:34 PM   #56
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Chapter 4: Day-1

- Part-9: On the rail again


After dinner, desert and another round of entertainment, we hopped (well, waddled) back onto the Monorail and road over to the MK to catch a bus back to POR. Now, if I had been thinking about it more clearly, I’d just have walked (or waddled as the case may be) over to the TTC and caught a considerably less crowded bus, but it all works out in the end. Actually the bus ride included its own variety of “entertainment”.

Just as the driver hits the button controlling the gate and commences to make the turn into the clearly marked “Buses-Only” entrance at POR, one of the other guests makes a quick turn in front of her and scoots on through the gate ahead or us. Needless to say, the brakes got slammed to the floor and everyone standing (along with everything not nailed down) got their own private little thrill ride at no extra charge. Somewhat flustered by all of this, our driver then inadvertently stalled the engine while trying to get the show back on the road. In the mean time the gate closed. There we sat. Apparently the way the system is designed, she couldn’t just hit the button again, because after receiving the signal, the automated gate will ignore additional signals from the same transmitter until the that specific bus has been identified as having left the grounds via a deferent exit. She jumps onto the radio and explains the situation to “Mission Control”. They wake up all their engineers and get the backup crew into the simulators to work up a procedure to solve the problem. Tense moments pass and then… The radio crackles back to life:

“Aaaaa… Come in ‘Dumbo’ this is ‘Mission Control’… We’re sending you that new procedure… Do you copy? Over…”

(Obviously… I kid.)

Anyway… They have her clime off the bus and open the gate via either some type of key or code operated device built inconspicuously into the back side of the gate’s motor housing. With everything finally straightened out, we proceed on into the resort, jump off at the North Depot and head for 8110. Before you could sing “M – I – C - - K – E – Y…..” We’re back in our room, out of our shoes and ready for a little slumber time.


‘Night Y’all…
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Old 05-20-2011, 09:26 AM   #57
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[B][COLOR="Blue"]From Everest, we decide to head over to Dino Land and hop on “Dinosaur”. We like this attraction and it’s generally not as crowded as one would expect for Disney.
I really like Dinosaur. I think it is kind of underrated. It is a bumpy ride, but you've got to admit the technology and animatronics there are awesome!

Quote:
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However, the really unique twist that they add to the holiday season is the “Gingerbread House”. Excuse me… “Gingerbread Mansion”. Pictures really do not do this goliath any justice at all. It’s just so over the top that you really need to experience it at least once for yourself.
Definitely on the agenda for our trip this year.

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Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
This, however, was actually part of the plan because as far as we’re concerned, the monorails are attractions in themselves.
Absolutely true!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
Way back on Expedition Everest (you did read that section, right?), I had pulled my reading glasses out of my shirt pocket and tossed them in the little net pouch of the train (so as not to loose them during the ride). Dumb! After the ride was over, I climbed off the train and failed to reacquire my spectacles (thus ensuring that I’d loose them after the ride instead). Net result… Tamara would be reading all the menus and such to me for the rest of the trip (dang… dang… dang).


Sorry, not laughing at you, I'm laughing with you... You are laughing about it now, right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
Just as the driver hits the button controlling the gate and commences to make the turn into the clearly marked “Buses-Only” entrance at POR, one of the other guests makes a quick turn in front of her and scoots on through the gate ahead or us. Needless to say, the brakes got slammed to the floor and everyone standing (along with everything not nailed down) got their own private little thrill ride at no extra charge. Somewhat flustered by all of this, our driver then inadvertently stalled the engine while trying to get the show back on the road. In the mean time the gate closed. There we sat. Apparently the way the system is designed, she couldn’t just hit the button again, because after receiving the signal, the automated gate will ignore additional signals from the same transmitter until the that specific bus has been identified as having left the grounds via a deferent exit. She jumps onto the radio and explains the situation to “Mission Control”. They wake up all their engineers and get the backup crew into the simulators to work up a procedure to solve the problem. Tense moments pass and then… The radio crackles back to life:
D'oh! You'd think they'd have a better system in place if something like that would happen.
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Old 05-23-2011, 09:40 PM   #58
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Sorry, not laughing at you, I'm laughing with you... You are laughing about it now, right?
Well you’re missing an excellent opportunity to laugh at me (it’s the national sport in our house ). I hated that I did that, but it’s better then say… Loosing the park tickets or getting us locked out of our own car (with the engine running), so all in all, this was minor compared to prior mistakes I’ve made.

Thanks for reading along and for the comments.

Last edited by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes; 05-23-2011 at 10:27 PM.
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Old 05-23-2011, 09:43 PM   #59
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Chapter 5 – Day 2

- Part-1: “…Early to Rise”




Traveling always throws off my sleeping rhythms. I suspect that’s this is true for most folks as well. We’re used to our own bed, the general atmosphere of our own home and the normal routines associated with settling down for the evening. As nearly all of these factors are thrown way out of kilter once you head out into “vacation land”, sleeping is often fitful and at times illusive (except when aided by shear exhaustion). Then you can add on the fact that I sleep rather lightly in the first place (which Tamara actually finds comforting because she sleeps very soundly and worries a bit about the possibility of not waking up quick enough when the situation might call for it). As you might expect from all this lead in, we generally don’t even need an alarm clock because I’ll usually give up and start stirring fairly early anyway. This trip was no different. A bit before dawn, I finally gave up the repeated attempts to get back to sleep and climbed into the shower and got ready for the day. About the time I was done, Tamara was starting to stir so I decided it was a good time for a caffeine retrieval expedition. I like to make sure that everyone has a good cup of their favorite poison in the morning while we’re all getting ready. As a dad & hubby, that’s just what you do. With this in mind, I threw on a sweatshirt, tucked the camera in my pocket, grabbed the mugs and headed for the dinning hall. It was twilight and the sun was just in the process of rising at the time.

My secondary plan was to use the walk in attempt to get a decent idea of how the weather might turn out across the day. In my youth, I spent about eight years living in South Florida so I can honestly say that contrary to popular myth, Florida does indeed have a winter. Obviously it does not even approach the adverse reality of lake effect storms or prairie style blizzards. But what it does have is very high humidity which regardless of the time of year will make the morning air in particular feel very heavy. In addition there is generally an all enveloping mist shrouding everything until the sun can get up and burn it off. If there’s stiff breeze as well, then when the temperatures drop down into the 40s or so, the cold will seem surprisingly sharp for such a semitropical climate. Today’s walk at first had me thinking that it was a bit cool, but would be tolerable once the sun came out. Once back in the room, I checked in on the various morning show weather forecasters (at least the ones that you’re allowed to see while on Disney property) and the general consciences seemed to be that by midday we’d be in the high 60s and the sun would be breaking up all the goop in the air in fairly short order. With this information in hand, both my son and I decided to forgo the prospect of having to haul coats around all day once they had became unnecessary and we’d just tough it out for the first part of the morning. This course of action gave Tamara a chance to point out that it was probably a bad idea and that we’d regret it latter on. We thought otherwise. {Did I mention that she married “stubborn” and then gave birth to “even more stubborn”? She really deserves you’re sympathy.} Basically, the boys took the forecasters at their word. We should not have done that.

Last edited by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes; 05-23-2011 at 10:18 PM.
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Old 05-23-2011, 09:50 PM   #60
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Chapter 5 – Day 2

- Part-2: “TSM - Take one… Action!”


The destination for today was Hollywood Studios.

“Hooray for Holly – Wood… No one really knows any other words except for ‘Holly – Wood’… where you can…”

Oh… never mind.

Our intention was to be a bit more relaxed in our travels during this stint at Disney. I can certainly take on a park commando style and have done it successfully on numerous trips and during busy times of the year. But it was “Christmas Time Pretty Baby”, and we weren’t in a hurry. As such, it should come as no surprise that we were not going to make rope drop this day (or any other day of this trip for that mater). Such is life, but truth be told we underestimated the holiday crowd effect. The days just before and just after Christmas are unique when it comes to crowds in The World. Something I’ll remember very clearly if I travel down there during this season in the future.

We headed to the North Depot (sans-jackets as I earlier implied) and in no time were on a bus bound for HS.







On arrival the first order of business was getting through bag check. I didn’t have one, but obviously Tamara did, so into line she goes. Max and I headed through the quick entrance and waited, and then waited a bit more. Turns out that there really wasn’t quite enough folks on duty to deal with the number of bags that required checking, so it took a little bit for her to get though the gauntlet (and this should also have been a warning of things to come). Tamara was not pleased, but cooled off quickly (we were at Disney, who can stay mad under those conditions). Through the main gates we go and on back toward TSM. I expected there’d be a good wait and that a considerable bite would already have been taken out of available fast passes, but was caught off guard by the reality. Rope drop was barely forty minutes behind us, and the wait was already two hours and the passes were returning at 5:00 PM! Really! 1700 Hours! It was already hopeless. If we had waited to grab a pass at this stage, it would have been for an even later return time (due to the exceptionally long line), and we’d be locked out of getting any other passes for several hours. If we were going to ride Toy Story Mania, we were going to have to endure the queue.


- Part-3: “We been lied to…”

At this point we decided that we’d likely do better getting a pass for something else, and then relenting to do the wait thing for TSM while the minutes passed for the other passes. Plan formed, we headed down Sunset Blvd to what is still my favorite thrill ride at HS: the Rock n Roller Coaster. The return time for these passes was fairly long too (about three hours, but nothing like those over at TSM. The large holiday crowd was having a definite effect on all wait times today. At least now we had a “Ticket to Ride”, but according to the fine print on at the bottom of the contract, we couldn’t get any more passes until after the return time on these (as expected). Well by this point in the day, there were already two things that had been made crystal clear. First, if we wanted to ride anything today, we’d be standing in line for a while. Second, it was cold!

Remember when I said that if you can tough out the Florida cold until the sun burns off the mist, you didn’t really need a jacket? Well… That only works if the sun shows up (which it was supposed to do according to numerous weather forecasters). As it turns out, the sun ignored greater Orlando the entire day and rather then warming up, the temp steadily dropped from the 8am high. It was at this point the both I and my son, surrendered and decided it was time to spend a little bit of our Christmas money on something that resembled a jacket. This turn of events allowed Tamara to remind us (and with great satisfaction might I add), that we should have listen to her in the first place. She was right (as usual) and we deserved to be thrashed for our arrogance. On the up side, I did intend to get myself a little “something” while I was in the parks (I just didn’t think it would be a jacket). A short walk, a little perusing of the racks, and Max and I each found ourselves a Disney-esk jacket that suited our individual personalities. Now properly armored against the weather and with some time to kill before we could catch the RRC, it was time to suck it up and endure the line for TSM.

Last edited by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes; 05-23-2011 at 10:32 PM.
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