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Old 06-10-2014, 05:24 PM   #1
handicap18
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Trip Report: Photographer goes character hunting

We spent 5 nights at the World from June 3-8. Our plane landed in MCO late on the 3rd so we really only had 4 full days in the parks.

This trip was planned kind of last minute. My DW wanted us to go as a family while we knew for sure that my health was good. I mentioned a few months back that while being an active member on this photography board since 2005 I hadn't been around as much for the last 2+ years. That is because I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Rectal Cancer at the end of March 2012. I've had 49 chemo treatments (and still counting), 5 high dose radiation treatments, and 3 surgeries (the 1st to remove the main tumor, the next 2 to get rid of an abscess/infection). The last surgery was April '13 and it took 3+ to recover from that. The chemo I had last year (May-Dec) had stopped working. CT scan at the beginning of Jan '14 showed the tumors left in my liver showed they had started growing again. So in Feb '14 we changed chemo drugs. CT scan 7 weeks ago showed that this drug is working and the tumors have started shrinking again. Next CT scan is tomorrow (I get them every 6 weeks now).

So DW, being the worrier that she is said we needed to back to Disney sooner rather than later. At the end of March I booked our trip for the first week in June. I wanted to go at the end of September so we could go to MNSSHP, but DW was insistent on going while we knew I was doing well. So June it was. Not to bad because we got to go to Star Wars Weekend.

We flew out Tuesday night after school. This way the kids would only miss 3 days of school. Everything was uneventful. Since we were scheduled to land at MCO at 8PM, my plan was to get the luggage ourselves so we could have everything instead of waiting till 11pm or later for magical express to deliver our luggage. Well, we boarded our plan at 4:30pm and landed just after 7:30. Didn't think about dinner time for the kids. They had food on the way to the airport, but that was at 3pm. So after we got off the plane we stopped at Burger King so everyone could eat. By the time we got to the baggage area, our bags had been picked up. Oh well. We got the the hotel and since I did online check-in our room was ready and we spent all of maybe 5 minutes in the lobby to check-in there. We got to our room around 9-9:30. The kids watched TV for a while and ended up falling asleep. Our luggage didn't arrive till just after midnight. Oh well.

So day 1 was spent at the Magic Kingdom. Our party consists of myself, DW, DS12, DD9, DS7 and DFIL (Father-in-Law). I had wanted to get to MK for rope drop, get a few character m&g's and ride a few rides before the park started getting busy. Because of one of the chemo drugs I was getting in '12 I ended up with neuropathy in my feet. It's not so bad that it keeps me from walking, but running and even light jogging is out of the question. If I do to much walking in a day my feet really hurt by dinner time. Because of this I rented a scooter for our trip. That made a huge difference for me. My feet almost never bothered me.

I picked up the scooter at 7:30, but no one else was ready. We forgot to pack gluten free muffins for my DD who has a gluten allergy so we had nothing for her to eat for breakfast. We had to get her breakfast at the food court so that took up extra time. By the time everyone was ready, we didn't leave the resort till close to 10:00. My original plans were shot so we winged it till our first FP at 11:15. We watched most of the Castle show, then went and rode PoTC. It said it was a 45 minute wait, but we were in and out in 40 minutes. The line moved very quickly. After that it was time for our first FP. Me, DW and DD went to the Cinderella & Rapunzel M&G and my DFIL took the boys to Tomorrowland speedway for a FP there. I wanted to do the m&g because I was on a character hunt. I was looking to get 29 new (to me) characters to bring my overall total to 100. Rapunzel was first on my list. I had already met Cinderella on previous trips. After that we roamed around the new Fantasyland, then met up with the other half of our party and did our FP for Peter Pan then headed to Mickey's Philharmagic. Great show as always. The kids & DW had fun in the shop afterwards. Then we got some lunch. After lunch we headed to Splash Mountain for our next FP and we were running late then had to make our way through the crowd that had gathered for the afternoon parade. That took forever and we missed our FP time (even with the extra 15 minutes they give you we missed it). So we watched the parade then split up again. Me, DW & DS7 went standby at Splash Mountain, DFIL, DS12 and DD went to the little water slash area near Barnstormer. Standby at SM took longer than we expected. A lot of people got in line after the parade went by. But it was still fun. I have video from my GoPro, but haven't downloaded that yet.

After that we met up with the rest of our party for dinner at Crystal Palace. We have eaten hear on every one of our trips. This is DW's favorite restaurant and she LOVES the Pooh characters.

After dinner the kids were pretty much done for the day, so DFIL took them back to the hotel. DW stayed a little while to shop and I stayed back to see how many new characters I could get.

At this point the scooter was feeling sluggish even though it was showing the battery was full. So I headed over to the Fairytale Garden, parked the scooter and got in line for Merida. Once I was done I walked over to Tomorrowland to see if I could get a FP for Tinker Bell. For some reason there was a huge line for the FP kiosks outside Buzz but across the way at Stitch there was no line at all for the Kiosks there. In less than 30 seconds the CM helped me get a FP that started in 10 minutes for Tinker Bell. Walked back to the scooter and made my way to Town Square. Found a place to park it safely. Did my m&g with Tink, then decided to walk rather than chance the battery on the scooter. Made my way back up Main St and was able to get last in line for Tiana & Naveen. That was kind of a longer wait than I would have liked, but I made it. After that I wasn't sure if Gaston was still doing m&g. Walked over there. He wasn't, but I took some handheld night shots of the new Fantasyland area. Then found the line for Minnie & Daisy was a 5 minute wait and Donald & Goofy was 10 minutes at Storybook Pete's. So I got all them then made my way out of the park. Caught the end of MSEP. Snapped a few quick shots as I was walking. Found the scooter and sloooowly made my way to get bus. Barely got up the ramp but made it. When I got back to the hotel I rode by the luggage area the guys there said I and I made a comment about making my way very slowly even though the battery showed full. They said to check the dial for the speed. DOH!!!! Apparently the kids were playing around with it and dialed it to the slowest possible speed. I never even noticed. I sped up back to normal and called it a night.

As for my character hunting.... 5 new characters, 9 overall for the day (I've already had my picture taken with the Pooh gang at CP).
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Old 06-10-2014, 05:29 PM   #2
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Here are some highlight pictures from Day 1:

The Castle during the show:


The Fab 4 at the end of the show.... not sure how much I like the blinking eyes


Didn't bother putting the 50mm f/1.8 on and just used the 24-70 f/2.8 for PoTC. It did ok. Did have to lighted it up and adjust white balance on the computer...


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Old 06-10-2014, 05:34 PM   #3
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M&G with Rapunzel:


Ariel's Grotto:


I had the 50mm f/1.8 for the Peter Pan ride but it was just moving to quickly for me to take a few pics and enjoy the ride. So I didn't really bother.

Here is DD trying on hats after Philharmagic...


Love this Donald display
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Old 06-10-2014, 05:37 PM   #4
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Some Parade shots....






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Old 06-10-2014, 05:52 PM   #5
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Taking a Selfie with Tink:


Backside of the Castle:




Madame Daisy Fortuna:


Quick shot of MSEP as I was heading out:



I'll have Day 2 tomorrow....
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Old 06-10-2014, 07:18 PM   #6
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Such wonderful photos!

Wow! What great pictures from your trip! Thanks for sharing them!

I love the R2D2 Mickey Ears. Super cute!

I'm new here, so haven't seen your previous posts. Such awful medical issues! I can't imagine what you've been through. But that said, you look great in your selfie! Good luck with your CT scan tomorrow, hope all goes well!
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Old 06-10-2014, 08:09 PM   #7
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Great pics! Thanks for sharing them and your trip report. Best of luck to you with your health issues. Hoping you get some good news. Will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
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Old 06-11-2014, 07:42 AM   #8
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Oh Kyle...I'm so sorry for your medical news but am very glad to hear that treatments are working. I've been away from taking pictures and the Photography board for a couple years due to life changes..but I remember your guidance and advice from way back when I was a newbie with a DSLR.

I wish you and your family the very best!!!

Keep posting those beautiful pictures!!

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Old 06-11-2014, 10:29 AM   #9
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Day 2 - Animal Kingdom

Well, another day that started later than I wanted. Everyone was just moving slowly. We didn't have to rush to get to AK, but time was starting to tick away. We had a FP for the Safari till 10:15. I don't think we got to the park till just after 10. Youngest DS hurt his knee sometime on Day 1 and DD was having a hard time with the heat (though the heat wasn't to bad, but she does have Down syndrome and the low muscle tone was showing its bad side). Also DD had sunscreen drip into her eye. So when we got to the park, DW went and rented a wheelchair for the kids (stroller was to small and more expensive) and then took DD to a first aid station to get her eye flushed out. By this time we had missed our FP for the Safari so oldest DS and DFIL went to watch Nemo: The Musical. First time we've seen it. It was fun. Cool colors. It was enjoyable.

After the show we met up with DW and the 2 other kids. We sent DFIL to ride Everest. Let the kids use the bathroom then went to Everest so DW and I could ride. We found DFIL as he came off the ride. He took the kids to the Boneyard Playground while DW & I rode EE with our fast pass. That is a fun ride!!

After that we went to meet up with the crew at the Boneyard. I went to see if we could get a FP for Kali River Rapids, but they were all gone. So we decided to go to Pizzafari for lunch. After lunch DD was done for the day. So DFIL went back to the hotel with her and would meet up with us at The Grand Floridian for dinner at 1900 Park Fair. DW, the 2 boys and I went and rode the Safari. It was only a 20 minute standby line and that was about how long it took. Was surprised to see that we encountered pretty much all the animals except the lions. They were no where to be found. After the Safari DW and the boys went to the Grand Floridian to chill out before dinner (wasn't enough time to go back to our hotel, then to the GF). I went looking for characters and ended up finding King Louie & Baloo and then Dug and Russell. I couldn't find Pocahontas. Didn't really look real hard and didn't ask. At this point it was getting to close to have enough time to get to the Grand Floridian to check in for dinner. So I just got on the bus.

Found DW and the boys but no sign of DFIL and DD. Called DFIL multiple times, left messages, sent texts. Nothing. Went to the GF's concierge to get help in calling our hotel to see if they were in the room. I went up to the monorail station to see if they did make it. They got off on that next train. DFIL had his phone with him but said he didn't hear it ring. I said between me and DW we called at least a dozen times. UGGGGGGG.

At least dinner was uneventful. The character interaction was great. The food at 1900 Park Fair was ok. Considering you see all the Cinderella characters and its only 1 TS credit on the dining plan it's a good deal. The boys wanted nothing to do with any of the characters, but it was very funny when Lady Tremaine and especially Drizella & Anastasia came by and gave oldest DS a real hard time. He was so embarrassed.

After dinner we made our way back to the hotel for some pool time and got to be at a decent hour. Day 3 was going to be a VERY early day......

7 new to me characters on Day 2 bringing trip total so far to 12
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Old 06-11-2014, 10:33 AM   #10
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Highlight photos from Day 2....









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Old 06-11-2014, 10:37 AM   #11
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DW wanted to make sure I got in a few photos other than characters... :-)



For the Safari I used the 70-200mm f/2.8 with a 1.4x TC...






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Old 06-11-2014, 10:42 AM   #12
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King Louie & Baloo:


Dug & Russell:


DD with Cinderella:


DD with Drizella:


DD posing with Anastasia:
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Old 06-11-2014, 10:57 AM   #13
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Great pics, Thanks for sharing.. Seriously thinking of doing the dinner at the Grand while we are there
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Old 06-13-2014, 02:05 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DISNEY180 View Post
Great pics, Thanks for sharing.. Seriously thinking of doing the dinner at the Grand while we are there
If you have girls I would definitely recommend it. Food was decent. DD has a gluten, dairy and egg intolerance and the chef made a special meal for her which she loved. DW also has food allergy issues. Only thing she got from the chef were fresh cook veggies. Then she just went in line and got what she knew she could eat which was quite a bit, especially from the salad bar.

Character interaction was awesome.
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Old 06-13-2014, 03:01 PM   #15
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Day 3 - Hollywood Studios

This was the day I was most looking forward to, but also dreading. This was the first time that Mark Hamill was to make an appearance for Star Wars Weekend. I was expecting long early lines and a mad house at rope drop. I was pleasantly surprised.

I got up at 6:30 and woke oldest DS as well. We were out of the hotel room by 6:45am. When We got to the bus stop there was no one there for DHS. I was surprised. We ended up being the only 2 on the bus. Got to DHS just before 7am and the line to get in was only about 2-3 deep, but we were able to find one kiosk where we were 2nd in line. At 7:35 they started letting people in to the rope were the Stormtrooper Opening Show takes place. They made their way down to the rope at 7:42. The show lasted just under 10 minutes.

Once the show ended they dropped the rope and people started making their way (a few started running and the CM's quickly put a stop to that) to the attraction they wanted. We headed straight to where Chewbacca would be doing his m&g. At first we were 2nd in line, but then the CM made us move back to before the section that the CM's come in and out of the park. The CM there let the family already at that section be first in line so we ended up 3rd in line. Oh well. We only had to wait about 10 minutes before Chewbacca came out at 8:03. We had a great interaction with him, then after we were done I noticed the line for Ewok Chip & Dale was very short. So we got in that line. Again only waited about 10 minutes and had another great interaction with them. DS couldn't stop smiling. Afterwards we made our way through the Streets of America which was pretty much deserted. So we headed past the back lot towards Toy Story. DS saw the m&g for Darth Vader. The line was a bit longer than the 2 we already did, but we didn't have anything else to do. We waited about 25 minutes and DS had a great interaction (I already had my pic with Vader on a previous trip). By now it was about 8:45. 3 m&g's in just under 45 minutes, not to shabby.

We made our way back towards Hollywood & Vine to meet up with the rest of our crew for breakfast. People were already lined up for the parade and the shady side was pretty much filled before 9am (parade is at 11:30). I was able to find the wheelchair section still pretty empty. So after meeting up with our crew we took the scooter and wheelchairs to the WC section. We checked in for dinner at H&V. DW ate her food then went to sit with the scooter and wheelchairs. Once DFIL finished he did the same and DW came back. Food at H&V was ok. DD got some specially made gluten free Mickey Waffles. She loved the character's. Doc McStuffin's is her favorite.

After eating we went to the scooter and wheelchairs and waited for the parade which was awesome. The kids had a least 3 characters come up to them for high 5's and hand shakes. It was great seeing Billy Dee Williams and Mark Hamill. Though Mark never looked our way in either direction his car went. Oh well. We had a lot of fun with the parade. Oh almost forgot. While waiting for the parade to start we met Carolc from here on the Photography board. We hung out with her for the parade and afterwards.

After the parade we split up for our first FP. DW took DD and youngest DS to see Playhouse Disney. I went with DFIL, oldest DS and Carolc to Indiana Jones. It was the first time DS12 had seen it and he loved everything about it. Its basically the same show from the first time I saw it in 2001, but it was fun seeing it through his eyes and how much he enjoyed it.

After that we roamed around for a bit before meeting up with the rest of the crew for TSMM. We found a few Star Wars characters then went on TSMM. The kids loved it. Toy Story is one of DD's favorite movies. She watches them all, so she absolutely loved the ride and wanted to do it again and again and again. lol. After TSMM we had a fun interaction with the Green Army Men roaming around, then went in to Darth's Mall. DW loved shopping. I waited in line for Darth Goofy & Stormtrooper Donald while everyone else shopped. Oldest DS made his own light saber and picked out a shirt and hat. Youngest DS got himself a Boba Fett gun. DW yelled at me for not telling her about the "Her Universe" line of clothing before hand. who knew. We got a family picture with Goofy and Donald, then went out and the line for Buzz & Woody was real small, so we did that for the kids. Again DD was in heaven. Great interaction with them.

We then got some food at ABC Commissary before our FP for Star Tours. The kids got food, but I only got the Darth Vader cupcake. It was good, but would have been out of this world if it were chocolate cream inside instead of peanut butter cream.

The kids loved Star Tours and did more shopping in Tatooine Traders. While they were shopping I went out and found the Cantina Band members roaming around. I ended up getting a pic (there was a Disney Photo Pass photographer there) with 3 of the 5 band members. Of course they made it difficult. 2 of them would walk in front of the camera on purpose. It was a very fun interaction.

Before our Dinner at Mama Melrose we got the m&g with Phineas & Ferb and then Lightning McQueen & Mater.

By this time the kids were pretty much done. Oldest DS was so tired he didn't even eat. After dinner (I had forgotten how much good stuff Mama Melrose has on their menu) DW and DFIL took the kids back to the hotel to swim and go to bed early.

I roamed around a bit longer to find more characters. I would have liked to have stayed for the fireworks, but I was getting tired too, plus I forgot my travel tripod at home. Once it got time where no more characters were coming out I headed back to the hotel. I was able to see the fireworks at DHS from our hotel room which was cool.

Character count for the day... 19 new to me characters. 31 total for the trip. Yay I made my goal with a day to spare...

Next up... Day 4, our last day.
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