Converting the Disney Skeptics - January 2013 trip report

Discussion in 'Disney Trip Reports' started by shalom, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

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    Hey there, hi there, ho there!

    Not long ago, we'd been to Orlando twice without hitting the Disney parks. :scared1: My one daughter and I had been to the Magic Kingdom, and loved it, but the rest of them were all convinced WDW wasn't worth the time or the money. :sad2: But, as a lifelong Disney fan, it was driving me nuts to visit Orlando without doing the parks, so our third time out I finally insisted everyone do all the parks at least once. :thumbsup2

    At first I was really excited, but the closer we got to leaving, the more I worried that they might end up not liking the parks after all. :scared:

    Will my sons' loyalty to SeaWorld prevent them from enjoying WDW? Will my eldest's hatred of crowds and noise mean she hates the parks? Will my youngest's hatred of Mickey and Toy Story and all costumed characters mean she won't have any fun? Will hubby's preference for amusement parks mean the rides won't measure up? Will we experience any Disney magic? pixiedust: Can we convert the Disney skeptics?

    Read along and find out!

    CAST OF CHARACTERS

    The Hermit, 19, my eldest child. Getting this child to express an opinion is like trying to pull your own teeth with strong rubber pliers -- equally painful and futile. She hates crowds, noise and the sun, and is no fan of heat, either, so I was hoping that going in January would mean less of all of those.

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    Mr. Cool, 18, my eldest son. No problem getting him to express an opinion; he thinks WDW can't compare to SeaWorld and is only going to WDW to please mom. He agreed to spend five days at the Disney parks before hand, but by the time we get to Orlando is already trying to figure out how to skip out at noon and spend his WDW park day evenings at SeaWorld. *sigh*

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    SeaWorld Son, 16, has been an orca fan since he was 3, and fears that if he goes to WDW and likes it, he is in some way betraying his beloved wolves of the sea. As is clear in this picture (where he's pretending to be driving a Star Wars land speeder), he may be capable of growing a frightening pair of mutton chop sidburns, but he's still a kid at heart!

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    Ballet Girl, 15, is my compadre in this scheme to convert the skeptics. She's only been to the Magic Kingdom, and loved it, but missed having her siblings there, and has dreamed of going to WDW with the whole family ever since.

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    Warrior Girl, 12, may be our biggest challenge. All the rest of them at least like the Disney movies; she likes a couple of Disney movies, but her favorites tend toward the obscure (The Aristocats, Oliver and Company, Bolt), and she hates a lot of the most popular characters that she's likely to see in the parks.

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    Geek Dad, my beloved hubby, is resigned to the fact that there's going to be a lot of WDW in his future, so will do his level best to like it. :rotfl: We both tend to be behind the camera and so I have very few pictures of either of us, and so far all my pics of him from this trip, either he's in the dark or not facing the camera. :rolleyes: So here's a pic of him in Chicago:

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    And finally, there's me, your narrator, Shalom Hobbitess. :wave: And with that, we're off to Disney World!

    DATES:

    Leave Indiana January 5 -- two day drive, so our reservation in Orlando is from January 6-18. I had five park days planned; one day in each park and then we'd vote on which park to hit a second time. In reality, things did not work out that neatly. :p

    TUESDAY, JANUARY 8 -- MAGIC KINGDOM

    THURSDAY, JANUARY 10 -- HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

    SATURDAY, JANUARY 12 -- ANIMAL KINGDOM

    MONDAY, JANUARY 14 - EPCOT

    After that....???
     
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  3. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

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  4. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    I'm here! :wave2: Loved "meeting" your family, and can't wait to hear more!

    But shalom......I am wondering one thing.........where is the photo of YOU?!?!? :confused3
     
  5. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

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    I hereby vow that I will never again plan an Orlando vacation less than a week after a Christmas trip with my extended family. Visiting my family makes me a little psycho, and planning a Disney vacation for/with them clearly had a negative impact on my Disney planning. :sad2:

    For starts, after driving south for six hours, I suddenly realized I'd forgotten our park tickets. OUR PARK TICKETS. :scared1: *And* my $100 Disney gift card. :eek: :eek: :faint: Never done anything like that before. Plus the whole day I kept smelling overheated car. Our last trip to Orlando, we ended up stranded for two days while the van was in the shop, and only got down there as soon as we did because hubby insisted they get us a rental, so maybe it was just paranoia.

    I know it wasn't all in my head, since I was fussing about smelling an overheated engine in one rest area when the kids pointed out a big truck engine billowing smoke two rows behind us! Not sure what the deal was, since although it was warm for winter it was still nowhere near summer temps, but it seems there were lots of unhappy engines around that day. At any rate, we made it to Smyrna, GA with no serious issues and stayed in a Baymont Inn & Suites. We need to start taking pictures of the motels and hotels we stay in but arent that organized yet, however I will say it was fine for a night. Next morning we headed for Orlando and our condo!

    This trip was originally planned for May and we were going to stay at Bonnet Creek; we switched it to January and I wanted to stay at Vacation Village at Parkway (since it was cheaper and I figured we wouldn't be getting a lot of use out of Bonnet Creeks lazy rivers in January), but they sold out literally the day I went to make the reservation (I'd checked the day before), soooo we stayed at Orlando Sunshine, way out near the north end of International Drive. Mr. Cool wanted the Sunshine because he likes the bus routes there; he was going to SeaWorld without the rest of us and doesn't drive, which had a lot to do with which resorts I considered. Hubby liked the Sunshine because we could rent points from a pal so it was way cheap ($42/night). I was less enthused I like the resort, but would have preferred to be much closer to WDW for a trip that's so parks-heavy.

    Last time we were in the Sunshine I building, first floor, and could practically walk out the back door to the pool (you had to jog over a bit to the gate). This time we were in the Sunshine II building, top floor, as far as possible from the pool. The Sunshine II units are also smaller (1228 sq ft versus 1380, according to the website), but because theyre laid out pretty well I dont think that bothered anyone much except Mr. Cool, who likes to have his own space. When we were at Sunshine I, he laid claim to the little table in the kitchen; this time there wasn't that extra table so he claimed the porch. There was some fuss checking in (the owner's last payment hadn't been applied to the right account or something), but the weekend guys decided to turn it over to someone who came in Monday and checked us in after a bit of confusion.

    The guys at the desk were so out of the loop that they were having a hard time grasping the idea that we owned points but were staying on a rental, which may have been part of the problem. After we got up to the unit we contacted the owner, who said BG had assured him it'd be cleared up by Monday morning, which it was. We've rented from this guy before and I wasn't too worried, especially since it sounds like we could have just paid the difference ourselves and still done alright, but it was definitely a reminder that renting points isnt the same as going direct!

    The unit opens into this little alcove -- the washer and dryer are in that closet:

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    Beyond that is the kitchen...

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    as well as the dining and the living rooms, and the screened porch is that blur in the back:

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    The bedrooms were to the right -- the master bedroom:

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    and bath area:

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    And the second bedroom:

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    There's a second bath as well. I meant to go take pictures from the porch about four times, but never did. It faced toward downtown Orlando over outlet malls and the like, which wasn't very exciting during the day but was kind of pretty at night. There were colorfully lit structures off to the left, likely Universal, which was also the source of fireworks some nights. Below were the grounds for the resort -- a lawn edged with plantings straight down, then the tennis/basketball court and the pool off to the left -- which were a restful view during the day. Although there was that parking lot with a big ol' RV to the right... :p

    Behind the resort was a canal, then a big grassy field, then the field of dirt and construction. :rolleyes: Just as well we'd planned to be up early most mornings, because the distant "beep beep beep" of reversing construction equipment usually kicked in between six and seven. They were a block or so away, but hubby was fighting a cold that first week while I'm a light sleeper when excited, so we noticed them most mornings. Motivation for getting going, that's what. ;)

    Once we got settled in a bit, the first thing on our agenda was getting some pins for the kids to trade. Ballet Girl and Warrior Girl traded pins last time, and wanted to do it again, and SeaWorld Son decided to trade as well, so we needed to start him out from scratch. So we headed for the outlet mall just down the way a bit, and it was a ZOO. January may be a slow time for WDW, but it clearly is not a slow time for Orlando; we rounded the corner to see rows of cars parked on the grass along the road, which wed not seen before. I'd already shifted our first parks day from Monday to Tuesday anyhow, so we decided we'd hit the outlet mall Monday morning.

    We ran eldest son down to the welcome center he thought would have the bus pass he wanted -- they didn't, so we hit Walmart for breakfast groceries, and although we finally achieved success, vowed not to do that in the evening again! The snowbirds were out in force, I think; I know my Minnesota relatives head south after New Years and that must be pretty common. Plus when we finally did get to the outlet mall, tons of people from South America filling their suitcases with deals; January must be shopping month. Just generally much more crowded than when we've been there in May. The road Orlando Sunshine is on is pretty quiet, but we quickly learned not to turn right out of the resort because turning left from that road was next to impossible once the Outlet Mall opened, which had not been an issue on our other stay. Going the other way was a tad longer but much quicker.
     
  6. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

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    Hi, Gina! Welcome! :wave:

    Funny you ask that -- reading your latest trip report right after reviewing a bunch of our trip pics, I was thinking how few pictures we take of each other. :upsidedow There are a fair number of the younger three, but not much of the rest of us. The only ones from a trip of me are a couple taken at the same time as the one in my pretrip report, where my face is mostly covered with hat and sunglasses.

    We do have some family portraits we did for the church directory floating around; if hubby can track them down, I'll post one. :)

    EDIT:

    There ya go:

    [​IMG]
     
  7. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

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    Monday morning those interested got out to the Disney Outlet store for opening. We’ve gotten pins for a dollar apiece at the outlet stores before, and have always been able to get them for $3 or less, but the best we could find this time were pins for $4 apiece. Bother. I got enough to last the kids a couple of days and scheduled another visit. There were some lanyards that were $3; not the best deal but a color he’d like so we got one for SeaWorld Son, and then Ballet Girl bought one for herself (she’d forgotten hers). Then we hit Walmart and headed home to make lunch.

    Ballet Girl decided she wanted a shower before we went to try and get her picture with the ballerina at All-Star Movies, so hubby, the Hermit and I decided to make a quick run to Leu Gardens while she did so. Leu Gardens has been "penciled in" on all our Orlando trips but we'd never gotten there, however it's best known for its camellias, and camellias bloom in January, so this time we were motivated. ;) We only had an hour, though, so we only did The Idea Gardens and part of "The Tropical Stream Garden.

    Leu Gardens is beside Lake Rowena:

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    There are plenty of trees:

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    And palms:

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    And cacti:

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    And carnivorous plants:

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    As well as flowers, like these guys that look like someone stepped on them (not a camellia):

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    These fluffy guys (not a camellia):

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    These orchid-y things (not a camellia):

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    Whatever these are (definitely not a camellia):

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    Some more common flowers (not a camellia):

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    And these beauties (possibly a camellia):

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    (definitely a camellia):

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    We also have pics of lots of other flora and some fauna, and of course some waterfalls. :lovestruc And a random guy made out of pots. :confused3 Such a nice place, but we still had a Mission to accomplish, and our time was up, so we headed back to the condo.
     
  8. Li Li

    Li Li Mouseketeer

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    I'm subscribed

    Can't wait to hear more :)
     
  9. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

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    Welcome, Li Li! :wave2: Hershey's one of our favorite places -- we were there in 2009 and the kids are lobbying to go back. :)
     
  10. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

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    The last time we were in Orlando, we took pictures of Ballet Girl with the ballerina at All-Star Movies, but by the time we got there we were losing our light. So I'd promised her a re-do, and planned it first thing this time out. As you can see, planning it "first thing" doesn't mean we do it first thing. ;) Now we'd done Leu Gardens and were heading into WDW, Geek Dad declared that the first First Thing we had to do was get our tickets replaced! Undercover Tourist recommended we do that at Downtown Disney, so that's where we were headed.

    I am inordinately fond of this fountain, so I stayed taking pictures of it while Geek Dad went looking for information:

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    When we got there, someone was taking a picture of a friend up with Mickey, and Ballet Girl thought this a great idea:

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    Waterfalls and pansies -- two of my favorite things!

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    Geek Dad came back and told us where he was headed, and we drifted after him, but the route led through Arribas brothers so the gap got larger...

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    The Hermit should have been along -- she loves sparklies!

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    Took a while, but the CM replaced all our tickets AND the $100 gift card! :cool1: Tempted though I was to get that gift card broken in, we barely skimmed through the pin store....

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    on our way to the boat dock. We'd rather ride one of Disney's boats than shop, is that bad? :upsidedow As usual, I initially went down the wrong side, toward the resort boat. :rolleyes: I only do that there; I think it's because I so want to stay at Port Orleans or Saratoga Springs! ::yes::

    They've changed the balloon since we were there last!

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    I like it just as well, I think.

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    We originally intended to wander Downtown Disney a bit after the ride, but it was threatening rain and getting darker, so as soon as we got back, it was off to All-Stars!

    [​IMG]
     
  11. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

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    Now we had our tickets, things were looking up, and I was thinking this trip might go pretty well after all. Then I saw the ballerina -- who was all boxed in and only partly painted (or maybe they've decided to change her lips to blue, I dunno). :worried: Ballet Girl took it better than I did, and said she'd pose anyhow, and we'll do it again next time. At least there was still light this time. Someday we'll get that kid there when the ballerina's in good shape and it's sunny and bright!

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    I wanted to check out the resort a bit more, so we headed into the Love Bug section, and Herbie was missing. :crazy2: I knew a lot of rides would be down in January, but I had not thought through to the fact that the resorts were likely being spiffed up as well! Ballet Girl didn't mind, though. She just marched down and laid claim to his glory!

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    Then she decided she wanted some pictures of her sitting on an oddly stiff tire:

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    Then we wandered down to the Toy Story section. Woody looked good...

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    Buzz, not so much.

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    Hubby took pictures of his daughter...

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    While I noticed how much Rex's nose looks like an alien skull...

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    And considered staggering back to the room in an exhausted shape and having to approach this:

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    Or this:

    [​IMG]

    Not sure I'd be happy there on days I'm so tired I'm seeing things...

    Anyhow, we headed home, and, after dinner, I sat everyone down to give them a briefing on the next day. Ballet Girl and I had schedules, but everyone else had refused to discuss possibilities beforehand and still weren't particularly interested, so I offered some suggestions and headed to bed, excited for myself but filled with trepidation regarding some others.

    We were going to the MK on a Tuesday, which is probably better than a Monday, but it was also the last day many locals had off from school, and I know I would save the MK for our last day if I was taking little ones and the scheduling worked out, so I was hoping it wouldn't be crowded. And I'd picked it going on crowd calendars -- the MK was not my first choice for introducing Mr. Cool to WDW!

    Would they like it? Would Mr. Cool decide WDW was for little kids and stall on going to the other parks? Would the ones without a schedule get to ride much? Would my feet hold up? (Got a huge blister on the bottom of my foot the first day of our last trip to Orlando, and it really slowed me down.) Would Ballet Girl finally get her play time with her siblings on Tom Sawyer Island? Only time would tell, and meanwhile I was having a hard time sleeping!
     
  12. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

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    I forgot to mention another thing we did that Monday; picked up some snazzy socks at Dicks Sports Store. I've been having problems with blisters and wanted to try some Thorlos. I got another brand, too, I forget what. I liked the Thorlos the best and wish I bought more pairs! So a TRAVEL TIP for the Footwear Folks, I did the parks in Crocs with Thorlos socks, and highly recommend that combination. I think the footbed of the Crocs would have gotten to me without good, thick socks between me and the little rubbery spines. Although for the parks I also covered the balls of my feet with moleskin, and used moleskin along the side of one foot where I've got issues whatever shoe I'm wearing (not sure why). The socks are enough for an hour of walking at home, though.


    Anyhow, since our first day at a park was a Tuesday, I decided we'd start with the Magic Kingdom. It was not a Best Park with anybody, but Josh gave it a Highly Recommended and TP considered it Neutral, and they gave it crowd levels of 2 and 3 respectively. PARKS TIP: If you want to get there early (as I do), and you're not dealing with people who don't come to full consciousness before eleven even if forced out of bed (I have relatives like that, but none of us are), I strongly recommend you terrorize whoever is most likely to pull the, I don't want to get up early Routine with regular doses of opening versus noon pictures. There's a crowd pictures thread in Theme Park Community here that posts them sometimes:

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2048556&highlight=crowd

    And Josh posts them at Easy WDW as well. After seeing a pair of those every couple of months before we went, Geek Dad, who is our usual Lets sleep in guy, never remotely suggested it on a park day, and we got to all of them in plenty of time. As in, in the first row, straight shot to the TTA kind of time:

    [​IMG]

    I take pics from where the van is so I can find it at the end of the day. ;)

    Mr. Cool wanted to take the monorail, but we've all ridden that and I had never ridden the boat (when Ballet Girl and I did the MK, Geek Dad dropped us off and picked us up at the Contemporary), so I voted the boat -- the monorail wasn't running quite yet, so I didn't even have to pull the Mom Card. I've read so many people talk about their excitement as the boat circles the island and the castle comes in view that I was surprised to discover you can see the Castle before you even get on the boat:

    [​IMG]

    Not sure why I hadn't figured that out -- plenty of people recommend viewing Wishes from there -- but for some reason I expected it to be obscured by the island. So Geek Dad and I spent the trip over taking dreadful pictures of the castle and other surroundings (If you look closely, you can see the Christmas Tree still up behind the train station):

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    And slightly less dreadful pictures of the kids:

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    Mr. Cool is only a shadow's length away!

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    We got into the waiting area and Geek Dad went to the lockers while I settled in a fairly central position to see the opening show.

    [​IMG]

    I am a big ol' sap when it comes to the opening show; I get teary eyed watching it on video, so of course for my first time there with the whole family I was wiping my tears and having trouble focusing the camera. :rolleyes:

    When Ballet Girl and I went, the Mayor was Master of Ceremonies; this morning it was Fire Chief Smokey Miller:

    [​IMG]

    I love the dancers, I love the train, I love the characters -- just the perfect way to start your day at Disney World!:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Sometimes I wish they had opening shows at the other parks, but from what I hear of the opening shows they used to have, no dancers anyhow. :confused3

    Mr. Cool was still working hard at not being impressed:

    [​IMG]

    I had suggested he go looking for Cinderella's Step Mother and Step Sisters later, but he was so busy doing his, "Sea World is better" routine I didn't think he'd take me up on it.

    Ballet Girl hauled her dad and anyone else interested back to get in line to meet Merida, while the Hermit and I strolled back toward Peter Pan's Flight. Taking pictures all the way -- one of Lady and the Tramp's paw prints, of course (although youngest complains that the cement is the wrong color), and one of a window dedicated to one of Walt's daughters:

    [​IMG]

    And of course a few of the castle:

    [​IMG]
     
  13. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

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    I love the castle and the castle area. For whatever reason, Cinderella was the Princess movie I was most familiar with as a child (I also loved the Rogers and Hammerstein version with Leslie Anne Warren), so that's part of it, I'm sure. The details just delight me.

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    Then we went on Peter Pan's Flight -- I had never ridden that before and hadn't thought it sounded that interesting; someone on the Dis convinced me it was worth doing, and it immediately became my favorite ride at WDW! I just love the swinging motion, I guess. :cloud9:

    Meanwhile, Geek Dad, SeaWorld Son, Ballet Girl and Warrior Girl were in line to meet Merida, although only the girls went up:

    [​IMG]

    Ballet Girl greeted her with a curtsey, and Merida curtseyed back, then said, "Oh, good; I didn't fall this time," and told them a story about going to curtsey and instead falling on a little girl!

    [​IMG]

    Going to see Merida first thing is a good way to avoid the line, but I'm guessing it's not the best light of the day:

    [​IMG]

    The light where they got archery lessons was better. Warrior Girl hit hers dead center -- I think the CM next to her willed it there!

    [​IMG]

    The other two didn't do as well, so then they went to try their hands at the Sword in the Stone, with no success:

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    And then, since they were right there, the carousel:

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    Where my predictive powers proved to be quite wrong, and they found Mr. Cool with prospective future mother-in-law:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I haven't been able to get the whole story out of him, but apparently Mr Cool was wandering around behind the castle with his headphones on and she talked to him a bit (telling him to take his headphones out, is my guess, since you notice he's not wearing them here), then later she saw him heading over to meet his siblings at the carousel and joined him, which is when Geek Dad took these pictures.

    The Hermit and I, meanwhile, had wandered back to New Fantasyland, where I wanted a picture of the waterfall by the Little Mermaid Ride. We needed to get back to meet Mr. Cool if we were going to, so I tried to get one without getting in line:

    [​IMG]

    That wasn't going to happen, and there was no visible line, so we wandered down there just to get a picture, but by the time we'd gotten down they were just a trickle. :confused3 We waited a bit in this little alcove kind of out of the way for a bit, but no go. There were enough people heading into the ride by then that we decided not to go against the flow to get out of there and to just try it out instead. After we were well into the building and there were people behind us, the Hermit said she could hear the water pick up again. :rolleyes:

    I was not impressed with the Little Mermaid ride, but I'm also not that into animatronics, and we'd already done an animatronic ride that day, so, could be me. We wandered over to Gaston's Tavern, because I wanted to try La Fou's Brew, and I was hungry enough I got a pork shank, then split both with the Hermit. I quite liked La Fou's Brew -- tastes like apple juice concentrate -- but neither one of us liked the foam topping much, however I didn't expect to (we're not mango fans). The pork shank was tender and woefully greasy, but we got more meat than some pictures indicate.

    [​IMG]

    We went left instead of right, and so missed the room with Gaston's chair entirely (didn't do my homework!). OTOH, we were inordinately entertained by this bear(?) that someone had decorated with a pirate hat. Well, I found it entertaining -- the Hermit was more amused by my efforts to get a good shot of it in that poor light.

    [​IMG]

    EDIT: Mr Cool protests to my speculation on his conversation with Cinderella's Stepmom -- he says he knows it's rude to wear his earbuds when someone's talking to them so she didn't have to point that out. Which is good to hear, since he doesn't often demonstrate those good manners when his family addresses him...
     
  14. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

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    [​IMG]

    Took another picture or two of New Fantasyland, then the Hermit and I decided to head back to the train station and take some pictures there. Saw the Royal Majesty Makers as we went, but there was a lot of traffic there and we kept going. The train was just leaving as we came up -- we went to the exit area, so a CM came over to make sure we didn't want a ride (we didn't), and then I took pictures of the luggage there while we waited. Mostly I was after the stickers:

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    I'd love to know what inspired the choice of stickers -- California and Mexico and the Pacific Northwest all made sense to me, and even Fargo, ND, but there were two for Wisconsin (well, one for Wisconsin and one for Door County), the only remotely midwest offerings, what's with that? :confused3

    Finally, the train showed up. I got one blurry picture of the train just as it emerged from the trees, then my stupid camera decided to take an inordinately long time processing the shot, meaning I couldn't take another. Grrrr. This was to become an ongoing issue this trip, not sure what it's problem was. *sigh*

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    Finally just turned the camera off while I walked around to the other side, where I took some pics of the train sitting in the station. They refill the boiler about every other time around, I believe.

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    While they were filling the train, there was steam coming up from a vent or something on the opposite side of the track way up where we were, not sure what that was all about. Once the train left, we wandered down the back route to Tomorrowland, enjoying the plantings as we went:

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    This next is not one of my better shots, but I am fond of pics of the other lands with the castle in the background:

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    After wandering Tomorrowland a bit, the Hermit and I rode the TTA - twice - and we decided that the People Mover is now our favorite ride at WDW. :teeth: The second time we were on it, it stopped for a while in Space Mountain, but not anywhere interesting, alas. I would have been happier if it stopped outside, and I find the long dark part boring, but other than that, love it. Just our speed, I suppose. :p

    I wanted a cream cheese pretzel but we arrived at the Lunching Pad just at opening and they didn't have any ready. The CM suggested a hot dog but I just got a Blue Raspberry smoothie and then we played with the Kugel Ball (the granite sphere fountain) for a bit before we wandered over to Columbia Harbor House for lunch. We sat upstairs in the bit over the walkway, and the windows facing Fantasyland were blocked, however a kid at one of the tables on that side kept pulling back the covering so we'd get glimpses of the construction. I have yet to eat there when all the windows facing Fantasyland are clear. But the shrimp was good. :)

    We were meeting everyone at Tom Sawyer Island at noon, so we headed over there. I sat and watched the runaway trains on Big Thunder Mountain while the kids had lunch and told me what they'd been up to that morning, part of which I've already mentioned, but also the Pirate Tutorial:

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    The Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse:

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    And Jungle Cruise, which was the "required ride" of the day (everyone was supposed to try it):

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    They had a lady captain, and they adored her. They were doing bits of her routine the whole trip. :thumbsup2
     
  15. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2010
    Messages:
    2,561
    After the kids got tired of shooting at orcs from the fort, we explored the island (which is really two islands, but whatever), finishing up at the mill, which has a couple of touchpoints to The Old Mill, one of my favorite Silly Symphonies:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYEmL0d0lZE

    Namely, the bluebird in the gears:

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    And the owl in the rafters:

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    Then we took the raft back to the mainland and the Hermit and I headed for Liberty Square (I forget why -- I think we were going to take the riverboat but decided not to), while Geek Dad and the younger three took the train to Tomorrowland.

    The Hermit was feeling the heat, so I sent her into the Christmas shop while I took a few pictures. Is it just me, or is there something amusing about a castle, complete with Princess, visible from Liberty Square?

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    The tree is not at its best in January, I'm thinking:

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    Then we headed out, intending to do the monorail resorts.

    I have long wanted to visit Disney early in December after the decorations are up, but I was much less excited about seeing the Christmas decorations in January. However I did like the gingerbread horse ornament on the Christmas tree.

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    But then I got to wondering about how big that popcorn must be...

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    For some reason I decided to just walk to the Contemporary instead of taking the monorail. It was in the eighties, so not one of my better plans. We'd planned on getting a cupcake at the Contempo Cafe, but when we got there, neither one of us was hungry. I got a V-8 and we sat in the lounge area for a while, discussing our day and just zoning out. But once we got rested and rehydrated, we decided we could handle a cupcake, and we got a chocolate mint one.

    The picture is dreadful but gives you some idea of what it's like -- it's a dark chocolate cupcake with chocolate filling (which may have been minty, I forget) and light green mint frosting, soo good! Really, I have yet to get a cupcake at the Contempo I didn't like; the only problem I have there is making up my mind! We got this one because it was one we hadn't tried, and did not regret it.

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    Then we went over to the Poly, which I adore. I took a zillion pictures of the atrium and the waterfalls:

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    And a few of these palm leaves, just beginning to separate:

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    Wandered the Wyland Gallery, which always has cool stuff:

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    And then we had to hustle back to the MK without stopping at the Grand Floridian, because we wanted to see the Flag Ceremony at five.
     
  16. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2010
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    Meanwhile, my three youngest and their dad took the train to the Fantasyland station, where Geek Dad took a quick shot as it pulled away:

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    And then they played a round or two of Sorcerer's:

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    Then they wandered into Tomorrowland and met PUSH -- the kids were intrigued, but their dad was almost more interested in taking pictures of the guy running it:

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    But did eventually take pictures of the kids with PUSH:

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    And Warrior Girl gave him a hug:

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    Then they were off to do a couple rounds on Buzz Lightyear. Then they wandered back for the parade:

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    Figaro is a family favorite:

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    Aladdin looks like he's had a long day:

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    The Beast is willing to play along:

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    But Naveen has just joined the party and is raring to go!

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    Then they decided to do another Pirate Tutorial, where some pirate-y ladies lined the kids up with the rope and marched them around:

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    Then they had a photo session with all the kids -- "look normal, look funny, look piratey, look normal again":

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    I love the kid with the tricorn hat -- he was picked to fight Jack. Is it me, or do the other three look right terrified?

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    They all did fine, though, but the pictures didn't come out too well. And that was it for Jack that day.

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  17. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2010
    Messages:
    2,561
    The Hermit and I got to the Flag Retreat area first, and I took some pics of the rehearsal.

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    Kind of a good thing, since this was my view of the "main event" -- the bass drum and drummer blocked it all!:

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    But I enjoyed it, none-the-less. :)

    Then we retreated to the little alley off Main Street, and started catching up on what everyone had been up to.

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    Mr. Cool, however, realized they were starting the show in front of the castle, and he and his dad ran off to catch that, with Ballet Girl trailing after.

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    Mr. Cool had seen it earlier, it seems, and liked it enough he wanted to see it again!

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    He tends to like stage shows, but I was still surprised he enjoyed this one.

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    After that was done, we all headed back to Adventureland and collected FastPasses for the Jungle Cruise, then most of us did the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride and (against certain kid's protests) the Enchanted Tiki Room. We came back to use our FastPasses and were told that the Jungle Cruise was down, but while we waited for Mr. Cool to show they decided it was working after all, and off we went. We had a good time, but the kids felt compelled to tell me the lady pilot they'd had in the morning was better. ;)

    Then we split up; Geek Dad took Warrior Girl to do the Tomorrowland Speedway; I can't remember what Mr. Cool went to do; Ballet Girl and SeaWorld Son went to finish out a Sorcerer's Game and then meant to meet the Hermit and I while we ate dinner; but I wasn't thinking and set up the meet at a CS that had already closed. Ooops! So the Hermit and I waited until they showed and then went and ate at Cosmic Rays.

    We intended to watch the fireworks from the TTA, but the TTA was down and instead we got a cream cheese pretzel and just saw bits of them in the distance. Everyone else was watching from in front of the castle and Geek Dad got some nice shots, I thought, considering that he didn't have a tripod, first of Celebrate the Magic:

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    And then of the fireworks:

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    After the crowd thinned a bit, everyone eventually showed up at the rose pavilion, which was our meeting place, and we hung out there until the second showing of Celebrate the Magic.

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    Then, most of us made our way through the shops, while hubby took his last few shots, we joined up by the Christmas tree, and we went home. :)

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  18. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    2,561
    Not sure what we all did that Wednesday, because what I didn't do on this trip was fill out my trip journal. :rolleyes1 I can usually count on Ballet Girl to keep track for me, but I ran around more on our non-park days than she did and she didn't keep track of that.

    One thing I did was picked up some Phineas and Ferb pins and some mystery pin bags at Character Warehouse. The Phineas and Ferb pins were $3 each and the mystery pins (2 to a bag) $2.50 each, which is more in line with what I'd expected from a Disney outlet store there. SHOPPING TIP -- since the real deals at the Disney outlet stores sell out quickly, don't expect them to be there the next time. OTOH, if there aren't any great deals the first time, try again a few days later and you might luck out!

    I can just about always find pins and lanyards at the outlet stores for around $3 each if I check a couple of times over a week. OTOH, I've only found pins for a dollar each the first time we went, and lanyards for a dollar each the second time -- and I know the lanyards were sold out within a day. Going on the pins that show up on E-bay after we've visited, I'm pretty sure there are people who live nearby who check the stores regularly and clean out the best deals to resell. Nice for those who live far enough away they can't go themselves; not so great when you're in town and didn't pick something up you decide you want a few days later!

    Thursday we went to Hollywood Studios. We got there before opening, and most of the kids headed straight back to Toy Story Mania with me, while Geek Dad and Warrior Girl veered off to get Warrior Girl signed up for the Jedi Training Academy. We probably all would have been fine doing Toy Story Mania, which develops the worst lines in all of Disney World, because the crowds were fairly light, but only a few hundred kids get to sign up for Jedi per day, so I didn't want to risk it.

    Even doing it first, Toy Story Mania was the longest line the Hermit and I dealt with all week. I didn't want to Fastpass it because I thought the line worth experiencing once. My pictures there are pretty sad, and I think Geek Dad always Fastpassed because he doesn't have any.

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    Everyone enjoyed it, but some of us had to run meet Geek Dad so we didn't get Fastpasses just then but instead headed back toward Mama Melrose, because my older girls wanted to meet Phineas and Ferb. The guys were out when we got there, and no one was in line, but we had to wait for Geek Dad so I think one family ended up ahead of us. Ballet Girl went up to get some hugs and then they posed for some pictures.

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    She was happy with that, but there still wasn't anyone in line, so I suggested that, since she is a dancer, they should do some ballet poses. The guys weren't too sure about that, so Ballet Girl tried to think of some easy poses for them.

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    She suggested one, and the boys gave it a shot...

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    After mastering the foot position, Ferb started getting into it:

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    And then Phineas started dancing as well:

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    You can't tell from the pictures, but I'd say Ferb has a bit more ballet in his background than Phineas does -- which is quite true to their characters. :thumbsup2

    Then the Hermit went up:

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    Phineas and Ferb kept thinking there was something familiar about her outfit, but couldn't quite put their finger on it...

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    They eventually settled down and posed for us:

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    Then we split up; Geek Dad and the interested kids going back to get Fastpasses for TSM, while the Hermit and I wandered toward the Hall of Fame Plaza.
     
  19. eeyoresnr

    eeyoresnr DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2007
    Messages:
    10,053
    okay :wave2:I'm here and all caught up:cool1:... great report so far can't wait to hear more.... It's 1:30 am here so I best get to bed as Jaxon will be here in 5 hours and full of energy... I will be back soon to make a few comments on your trip so far!:)
     
  20. wdwgirl03

    wdwgirl03 <font color=red>I'm just a big Disney Freak! :-)<b

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2004
    Messages:
    12,052
    Nice report so far! Thanks for the heads-up about your posts with the character meet and greets. Ahhh they sound like so much fun! And I love the pictures of New Fantasyland. I am so excited to finally see that area.
     
  21. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2010
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    Two things I wanted to do at Hollywood Studios were to get pictures of all the busts in the “Academy of Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza”, and to get pictures of all the signatures in front of the Grauman’s Chinese Theater, only one of which I accomplished.

    Should totally have stopped at Tatooine Traders at this point – I expected to go back there when we watched Warrior Girl’s Jedi Training session, but then I forgot, meaning the Hermit and I never got there. *sob* The rest of them did, I believe -- SeaWorld Son bought an Ewok there, at any rate.

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    The Plaza would be a lot prettier without the American Idol thingies plonked in it.

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    Walt’s right in the center.

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    I recognized everyone there, although I’m pretty sure my kids wouldn’t. The I, Spy fans (which is to say, most of them) knew this guy at least;

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    After I took pics of all the busts, we stopped in at Starring Rolls and had a snack, then wandered over to the Grauman Chinese Theater.

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    I like the autographs with little drawings the best:

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    I can’t remember if the Hermit got bored (there was nowhere to sit) or if I decided to take a break, but before I'd photographed them all we wandered into the Great Movie Ride line area, where the CM commented on the Hermit’s outfit – I think she said something about being Disney Bound, but although both of us have been on that website, the Hermit and I were so distracted I didn’t even make the connection until we were way past her. The CM also gave us one of the little thingies you carry through, so I didn’t dawdle through taking pictures of the stuff in the lobby. Another thing I meant to come back and do and didn’t, ack! Someday I'll learn to "just do it!"

    Eldest son did take a shot of the outfit from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when he went through on his own, though:

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    After the Great Movie Ride, we headed for the Animation Academy, but decided to do the movie, instead. I enjoyed the Wreck-It Ralph display.

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    The game looks beat up enough to have been in an arcade for a bit...

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    After the presentation, we decided we'd best wander over to join everyone else and watch Warrior Girl in the Jedi Training Academy. But first we stopped to take a picture of some of the artwork in the corridor back there:

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    And hit Writer's Stop for a carrot cake cookie on the way, discovering a picture of one of Ballet Girl's absolute favorite TV series over the door:

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    Writer's Stop also reminded me that there's an Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook I should check out -- have quite liked the recipes I've made from the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, although the author's comments made me roll my eyes sometimes. And there's a Winnie the Pooh Cookbook! Didn't know that, and my library even has it. Score!
     

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