"Thunderbolts and lightning! Very very frightening!"... a trip report (FINISHED!!!)

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by wingedjojo, Jun 23, 2011.

  1. wingedjojo

    wingedjojo Mouseketeer

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    HI and :welcome: to my first ever trip report!

    Before I get into any copyright infringement issues, the title is from the song "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen. It's an awesome song (so go listen to it) and it'll make perfect sense later on in this report. As a side note, a strong contender for the title was: "Please don't eat my succulent knee flesh!!!" - based on a nightmare Jan had during the trip about a female vampire wanting to eat her knees. It probably wouldn't have made sense to anybody if I didn't explain it and it was unnecessary to work it into the report so...yeah.

    Okay! Before we get started, lets do some introductions! I was just going to copy and paste from my pre-trip report but Jan was all like "noooooo" so now you lucky readers get brand new intros and pictures/clues to the shenanigans that occured during this trip. :woohoo:

    To the new readers who have no idea who this "Jan" person I keep mentioning is (which is everybody except the approximate 3 people who read my pre-trip report - it was pretty boring and lackluster so I'm not even going to suggest you go take a gander at it), she is my youngest sister and one of the reasons as to why this trip took place.

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    Jan, 17 going on 18, recent high school graduate and incoming freshman at the University of California, San Diego. This trip was in part to celebrate her graduation.

    Jan got to bring her boyfriend, Edward:

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    He and Jan are from the same high school and the same year so I guess this trip was also in part to celebrate his graduation. While in the parks, he played the part of pack mule and occasionally the butt of our jokes. Since he was the only boy in our group, we kinda picked on him a bit but he was a good sport and we weren't too mean. ;) Fun fact: we share the same birthday.

    Next up we got Jess:

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    Almost 20 (it's her birthday tomorrow) art studio major at Mills College. Too crazy for her own good sometimes, she's always ready with a good joke and a good laugh. Notorious for sunburns, she surprisingly didn't get one this time.

    Next we got our lovely mother (well, "our" in the sense where Edward isn't included):

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    She will be referred to as either mom or ma in this trip report. Over the years she has grown tired of Disney. It used to be just Disneyland (we went way too often while growing up in her opinion) but all the walking this time around plus the heat has put her off all things Disney. While this is sad news indeed, hopefully she'll toot a different horn once grandchildren start popping up but that's a discussion saved for another day (or in my case at least another decade). :thumbsup2

    Finally, there is me, Jo:

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    The other reason for this trip was to celebrate my graduation from college. I'm still going to be working/hanging around campus for the next year so it hasn't hit me that i'm transitioning into the real world. As evident by the fact that I'm writing this trip report, I'm one of the bigger Disney fans in the family (that or I'm the most bored). I did most of the planning in terms of where and generally what we did each day but left it pretty chill and went at whatever pace we felt like.

    Now that we got the introductions out of the way, we can finally get to the good stuff. It'll probably take a while for me to get rolling since I still need to sift through all the pictures (3000+), get them organized and onto photobucket, etc. So sit tight and I'll be up and running in no time.

    Also, if anybody cared to notice, I have a new ticker up for a new trip! Sadly, it's not to Walt Disney World nor is it a Disney wedding either. My boyfriend's housemate is getting married down in SoCal in July and we decided to make a pit stop at the original happiest place on Earth. Disneyland is no Disneyworld but it's still awesome and something Disney is always better than nothing Disney. Can't wait!!! :cloud9:
     
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  3. wingedjojo

    wingedjojo Mouseketeer

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    Wow, I have no idea why the pictures are so ginormous. I'll have to figure that out. Okay, it's fixed.

    Anyway, to make navigation better, I'm going to include a table of contents here.

    Table of Contents

    Introductions

    Sunday, June 12
    Going to the Airport
    From San Fran to "Hew-Stan"

    Monday, June 13
    Escaping the Airport: part 1
    Escaping the Airport: part 2
    Beds, Sofa, Cockroach?
    Detour to the Lego Store
    The Anti-Climactic End to Day 1

    Tuesday, June 14
    Waiting at the Turnstiles
    Welcome to Hogwarts: part 1
    Welcome to Hogwarts: part 2
    Café Stoo-pendous[sic]
    Concerning Mini Walking Walruses: part 1
    Concerning Mini Walking Walruses: part 2
    So THAT'S Shepherd's Pie: part 1
    So THAT'S Shepherd's Pie: part 2
    So THAT'S Shepherd's Pie: part 3
    So THAT'S Shepherd's Pie: part 4

    Wednesday, June 15
    Why Must You Fail Me GPS?!?!
    Our Fantastical Morning: part 1
    Our Fantastical Morning: part 2
    The LIGHT in LIGHTning: part 1
    The LIGHT in LIGHTning: part 2
    The LIGHT in LIGHTning: part 3

    Thursday, June 16
    Cup Noodles Morning
    Now Presenting...the DINO-DOG!!!
    Lions, Yeti, and Birds! Oh My!: part 1
    Lions, Yeti, and Birds! Oh My!: part 2
    Yakking with Yetis
    AHHH…IN KENYAAA!!!

    Friday, June 17
    Operation Toy Story Mania
    Becoming an Animator: part 1
    Becoming an Animator: part 2
    Cashing in the Fastpasses
    Itzakadoozie: part 1
    Itzakadoozie: part 2

    Saturday, June 18
    "Lightning Eagle"
    Fat Princesses Named Beverly: part 1
    Fat Princesses Named Beverly: part 2
    Around the World in < 80 Days: part 1
    Around the World in < 80 Days: part 2
    Around the World in < 80 Days: part 3

    Sunday, June 19
    It's a Jolly Holiday
    Shop ‘til You Drop! (or until your credit card freezes): part 1
    Shop ‘til You Drop! (or until your credit card freezes): part 2
    Shop ‘til You Drop! (or until your credit card freezes): part 3
    Holy Windshields, Batman! (NEW-1/31)

    Thanksgiving Mini Trip
    parts: 1, 2, 3, 4
     
  4. JanetorsCloset

    JanetorsCloset Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Messages:
    11
    Let it be known that the title of this dis report was 'Thunderbolts and lightening! Very very frightening!' before I corrected Jo on her use of the wrong lightning.

    It's karma for not using 'Please don't eat my succulent knee flesh!' :snooty:

    I look like He-who-must-not-be-named. Too bad that photo wasn't taken in Hogsmeade.
     
  5. wingedjojo

    wingedjojo Mouseketeer

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    So the first member of the peanut gallery has decided to chime in. Just to clear things up, JanetorsCloset is Jan and I'm not sure if she'll pop up but Jess is jtawesomesauce on these boards. Neither of them really post much (nor me for that matter) but I'm sure they'll occasionally drop in to give their two cents.

    Also, as a FYI, my pictures randomly come from either a DSLR camera, a point-and-shoot, or my cell phone's camera. So I apologize ahead of time for the discrepancy in quality among my photos. Then again, a bad picture is always better than no picture, am I right? :thumbsup2

    Continuing on with the report!

    ~*~*~*~
    Going to the Airport

    Our trip was set to take place from Monday, June 13 until Sunday, June 19.

    As many of us know, summertime in Florida is notorious for its humidity, heat, and rain. In terms of past experiences in Florida (3 times prior to this trip), we have been pretty lucky. The first time we went was in January and weather was lovely. Second and third time, while during the summer, was filled with sunshine and the heat was rather tolerable. Besides the one time we got rained on momentarily in Epcot during the third trip, we really couldn't complain. Would we be as lucky this time around?

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    Yeah...wasn't looking too good.

    Sunday, June 12

    While we weren't due to be in Orlando until the 13th of June, there's still the matter of getting there. With a midnight flight out of SFO, this meant we had to get going on the night prior.

    In cow-town Davis, graduation occurs over a span of 3 days divided up according to one's major. On Friday, I was present to see my boyfriend graduate, my family came up and saw me walk on Saturday, and Sunday was my friend's graduation. Originally, I was going to leave with my family on Saturday evening to finish packing at "real" home in San Francisco and rest until our flight Sunday night. Well, my best friend from middle school was walking on Sunday (which I stupidly forgot to consider) so I stayed back to give my support. She also gave me a nice graduation gift:

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    So following her afternoon ceremony, I rushed to finish my packing, and left for home. Fun fact: I don't have my own car. So how did I get home, you ask? Boyfriend drove me. This guy:

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    Don't worry, I got him many souvenirs to thank him for his efforts. Plus, it's part of his boyfriend duties to drive me around, right? Right. ;)

    Our trip officially began when we started loading up our car to go to the airport.

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    Edward had gotten dropped off at our place earlier in the day so we didn't have to go pick him up. After making sure the stove was off, lights were off, and doors were locked, we were off!

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    9:00pm on the dot! We arrived at SFO in no time.

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    Personally, I love airports, airplanes, and airplane rides. It has been too long since I've flown and the fact we were going towards departing and not arriving had me giddy with excitement.

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    :offtopic: If, my dear readers, you haven't noticed, I would just like to point out the yellowness of this trip report's traveling group. We are indeed Asian and as much as I like to disprove stereotypes (I can drive perfectly fine, thank you very much), it is true that we are (to some degree) cheap. Which leads us back onto topic with the question: where did we park our car?

    My aunt and uncle live in Millbrae which is about 10-15 minutes away from the airport. So what my mom did was drop us and the luggage off at the Continental airline terminal and went to deposit the car at my relative's place. They would then drive my mom back to the airport where we would carry on our merry way. Money saved is money for food and souvenirs. :thumbsup2

    Speaking of money saved, here's a shot of our luggage:

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    You will notice that our bags are relatively small. As a way of saving the ~$25 it would have cost to check our luggage, we all brought carry-ons! A week's worth of shirts and shorts don't really take up much room and we each had our own little bag of travel-sized toiletries so that was more than enough shampoo and conditioner for the 5 of us. While we waited for ma, we found various ways to pass time.

    First we took pictures of one another.

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    The particular facial expression Jan is so pleasantly exhibiting is what the internet would call a "creeper face." It will make many more appearances during this trip.

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    I think it was Jan that randomly took that shot of my shoes. Take a note of its relative white and clean state; it'll be semi-important for later on.

    Before we had left the house, Jan and I had also painted our nails to mark our grand voyage to the other side of the United States. Jess felt it was too girly to paint her fingernails; she just doesn't know what she's missing.

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    Mine are supposed to be Minnie Mouse inspired, based on her dress. Jan's nails simply portray Mickey Mouse's head. Here's a closer shot:

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    After a while, Jan and Edward decided they were hungry and shared a green onion bun. Before you go "ewwww," it's actually much tastier than it sounds. Of course, I hail from a land that eats chicken feet and find it delicious (trust me, it IS delicious) so I may be biased.

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    At one point, Edward somehow wound up outside and he and Jess played a game called...I don't actually know what it's called but it involves fingers. It's hard to explain the game/rules/purpose but it passes the time. Also, it wasn't necessary for Edward to stand outside but we thought it would be funny to keep him out there in the cold to see how long he'll last. We're not mean; at least we didn't do it while he was wearing shorts. :laughing:

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    While standing there, I noticed the terminal held a particular stench about it that wasn't quite appealing. To me it smelt like bad corn. There was construction going on not too far from us so I'm assuming it's something along the lines of paint but paint smells like bad corn to me so it was quite unpleasant. Before I could die from bad corn smell, mom arrived so off to the plane we go!

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    With just a momentary pause through security, we were that much closer to reaching the happiest place on Earth. :cloud9:
     
  6. wingedjojo

    wingedjojo Mouseketeer

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Sadness that nobody really seems to be reading my report. :sad1: Oh well, gotta finish what I started, right?

    I made a grave realization yesterday. In a previous post (also noted by my ticker) I mentioned a trip down to SoCal for a wedding with a pit stop at Disneyland. I realized I had COMPLETELY forgotten to book a hotel. :scared1: I had gotten the park tickets before the prices went up for the year, so good job, but what use is that if we have nowhere to stay?

    So like a madwoman, I scrambled around the web to find a decent place on such short notice. The last time my boyfriend and I went down there, we stayed at the Howard Johnson just across the street and we liked it there. This time around, for three nights, it would've cost us around $400; no way. So I did something I've never done before: risk it with Priceline. I placed an offer of $75/night for a 3 star hotel near Disneyland and we got the Holiday Inn Anaheim. Crisis averted. :worship:

    ~*~*~*~
    From San Fran to "Hew-Stan"

    Going through security, Jan, Edward, and I went one way while ma and Jess took another line. I am all about efficiency and in no time we were through that ridiculous line. So having gone through the line first, the three of us just stood off in a corner to wait for the rest of our party. After about 5 minutes, we were sort of wondering what happened to everyone else. We could see they were still at the security place...but why? Turns out, Jess had encountered a snafu and was being searched. What dangerous contraband had Jess stowed away on her carry-on???

    dun...





    DUN...








    DUN!!!!








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    An eyebrow razor. :laughing:

    Apparently, a disposable razor is perfectly fine to fly but a 1-inch notched eyebrow razor is forbidden. It's not even sharp enough to cut skin. Go figure.

    After that, we were off to our gate.

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    Earlier, while we were walking to our gate, I had noticed this kid's play area across the way. It had this cool fog vortex machine that I kinda wanted to check out. Nobody would go with me and I felt it would be awkward if I were to walk among the little kids there so I stayed put. One of the bigger regrets I had during this trip. :headache:

    So instead I, once again, took pictures of everybody. Jan looked super excited to be going to Disney World. I think Edward was playing on the Nintendo DS.

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    Mom was looking normal; don't think she realized Jan was being stupid in the background.

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    Jess wasn't too happy with me taking pictures of her. I don't think she particularly likes the camera although she has been lusting after mine for some time.

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    I had to take my own picture because nobody would do it for me. It's pretty hard to do with a DSLR because those things are heavy. I tried.

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    I also took a picture of our plane albeit a bit blurry.

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    So we were flying out at midnight with a layover in Texas. To save time, ma had checked in online and printed our boarding passes at home but for some reason, she didn't print out the passes for the flight from Texas to Florida. So we had to mosey-on over to the Continental Airlines desk thing.

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    While we were waiting at the desk, I noticed a commotion happening over where we were just sitting. Some random lady was talking in Chinese and gesturing wildly at Jess for some reason. After a couple seconds of observation, I noticed that she was trying to ask Jess something concerning a piece of paper in the random lady's hand. I just started laughing my head off because not only was Jess's confused and scared face very amusing but the lady seriously picked the wrong Asian girl to talk to. Granted, I understand that there weren't many Chinese girls sitting in the area but Jess's grasp on the Chinese language was so poor that if this was China, she wouldn't even pass out of Kindergarten (sorry Jess, you know it's true).

    After I laughed for a good amount and mom had finished yelling at me to stop being mean (for the record, Jan's Chinese is decent and she hadn't stepped in to help either), I went over to offer my services. Turns out that the lady and her travel companion were transferring in Texas to Panama City. They had checked in their luggage and the little slip of paper was that little stub thing they give you after they put the sticker around your suitcases and stuff. So her question was whether or not their luggage will get to Panama directly or if they would have to pick it up and recheck it in.

    Now, here is where I have my mini rant. If a complete stranger is trying to help you solve your problem, please don't be rude to them. If anything, at least smile. I would rather help someone who looks like :) than like :mad:. This lady seriously had nothing but a frown on her face the entire time I conversed with her. I told her I was pretty sure it goes all the way to the final destination but I would ask the guy at the desk to make sure. Before I could even finish my sentence she starts to loudly question me and repeatedly goes "go ask him, we're going to Panama City" while shoving that piece of paper in my face. While I'm trying to tell her I'll ask the guy, she keeps interrupting and telling me all these useless bits of information as if I've never flown in my life or as if it was I who couldn't understand English. She follows me to the desk and is seriously talking non-stop telling me to ask the guy the very thing I'm trying to ask him but CAN'T because she keeps interrupting. :sad2: Of course the guy confirms it goes all the way to the final destination and when I told her that, she continues to question it! I mean, if you don't trust the guy who works for the airline, who will you trust? Eventually she felt satisfied enough to leave. Boy was she annoying; for trying to be a good person I get rewarded with a headache.

    Okay, let's leave this negative energy behind so I can continue with this report. Look! A puppy!

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    So eventually we got on our plane and were finally ready to be on our way to Texas. Mom was wearing flip flops and commented that her feet were cold so from my suitcase I whipped out the cutest socks I had.

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    I think I got bored at one point and my iPod had died so I tried to take pictures on the plane. This is the most artsy-fartsy picture I could manage.

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    Eventually we were ready to land in Houston. Look how excited we are to be in Texas!

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    Only half way there to Orlando. :yay:
     
  7. burly

    burly DIS Veteran

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    1,355
    Okay, so I'm here! Love your writing style.
    The Oh look, a puppy picture cracked me up.:lmao:


    Looking forward to more.:surfweb:

    KIM
     
  8. goofy's_gurl

    goofy's_gurl DIS Veteran

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    1,078
    count me in!!!
     
  9. Belle83

    Belle83 DIS Veteran

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    1,182
    Fun pics, I'm in :3dglasses
     
  10. DisneyMissy318

    DisneyMissy318 DIS Veteran

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    You have readers! Enjoying everything so far - love all of your pictures! Can't wait to hear the rest. Hopefully your enthusiasm will eventually rub off on your Mom! :goodvibes
     
  11. jtawesomesauce

    jtawesomesauce Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2011
    Messages:
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    See Jo? You have readers now.
    And I know my Chinese sucks. poo on you
     
  12. wingedjojo

    wingedjojo Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
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    YAY!!! Friends!!! :rotfl:

    :welcome:

    :welcome:

    :welcome:

    :welcome: and hopefully mom will come around. my master plan is to go without Disney (at least as a family) for a couple of years, maybe around 5 or so. then she'll forget why she doesn't like going to Disney and won't protest when I bring it up. :thumbsup2

    word.
     
  13. wingedjojo

    wingedjojo Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Messages:
    148
    Escaping the Airport: part 1

    Monday, June 13

    Surprisingly, the first thing we did when we landed in Houston was NOT go to the bathroom. We went to go look for our transfer gate and lo-and-behold: it was right next door. We literally walked out of our arrival gate and went to the one right next to it. So we settled in to watch the sunrise and wait for our next flight.

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    Yeah...it wasn't that easy. Remember that nice, joyful lady I helped earlier who was completely grateful? Right as we are heading towards some seats, she pops out of nowhere to seek my services once again. This time, it's the boarding pass for her next flight that she thrusts in my face. Our conversation basically went like this but in Chinese:

    COL (cranky old lady): *sticks her boarding pass in my face* Hey! Why is there no gate number? What does it mean?
    Me: It probably means they changed it at one point and hadn't assigned a new gate.
    COL: So I need to find out where the new gate is? There's a new gate?
    Me: Well, the paper doesn't tell you a gate number so yeah, you need to find out which gate you're at.
    COL: How do I find out the new gate?
    Me: You could look up your flight on those giant screens over there or ask a person who works for the airline.
    COL: Can't you tell me?
    Me: Well, I don't work for the airline so I wouldn't know. You'll need to ask somebody else.
    COL: So I just ask and they'll tell me where I need to go.
    Me: Yes.
    COL: Are you sure that's how it works?
    Me: Yes. Just ask somebody who works here.
    COL: Okay... *unsure but walks away*

    Yes, thank you kind girl for taking time out of your life to help me. Here, have a lollipop. :sad2:

    Is that too hard to ask?

    Anyway, after that encounter, we all used the bathroom and then decided to go search for food. We had packed some blueberry-flavored bread (I have no idea what it actually was; I just ate it) so we just needed to find something to wash it down with. Wandering around, we came across some sort of sandwich shop. We got an orange Gatorade for me, a fresh squeezed orange juice for ma, water for Edward and Jess, and Jan got an orange juice. Guess how much the total was? $20 and some odd change. :scared1: Holy cow, that is expensive juice and we weren't even at Disney World yet.

    We ate our breakfast back at the gate and watched some news coverage on a mother who murdered her child? I wasn't quite sure what that was all about and didn't really want to dwell on it since murder isn't exactly the way I want to start a morning (especially a morning where we're heading to the happiest place on Earth).

    I guess nobody slept really well on the plane to Houston because before long, everyone was snoring.

    [​IMG]

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    Well, not everyone. I think Edward was on the Nintendo DS again and Jess and I were just talking about random things.

    Next thing you know, we're up and flying in the air again.

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    I got kinda bummed on this flight. On the earlier one, each seat had its own little monitor where you could choose movies, TV shows and such on demand. I hadn't really want to watch anything at the time so I killed my iPod by listening to it. Between flights, I hadn't bothered to charge it because I figured since we're flying Continental again, they're bound to have those monitors again and I can be kept occupied through that. Life doesn't work out that way. There was NO little monitors or movies on demand. I was SO bored and everyone else was trying to sleep so I couldn't talk to them. If you can't beat them then join them, right? I think I might have gotten a good half hour.

    FINALLY we land. Our first sight of Orlando:

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    I think the moment we were allowed to turn on our phones, I took this picture to send back home to the boyfriend:

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    I was probably grumpy from lack of sleep and just needed to be off the airplane to stretch. While we were waiting for the people ahead of us to get off (and that seriously took quite some time), we all started to slowly get excited for the start of our vacation. I couldn't stay in my seat and was getting all fidgety.

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    Jess was super excited.

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    Here's my "Let me OUT" face:

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    (continued in next post)
     
  14. wingedjojo

    wingedjojo Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
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    Escaping the Airport: part 2

    Eventually our turn to get off came and off we went!!!....right to the bathrooms.

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    Business taken care of, we went to take the fake monorail. Is it just me or does the color scheme make anyone else think of Tron?

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    Well, you can't really see it from that picture. It makes more sense if you were staring directly into the blue and white lighted circles with the black background. While we waited for it to come, mom insisted I take a picture of her cheek.

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    Prior to the trip, she started developing a toothache and before we knew it, it started swelling up. Poor mommy. It got better as the trip progressed though but it was still a bad way to start vacation. Don't worry, she's better now.

    Of course pictures were taken while on the fake monorail.

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    Don't we look excited? Personally, I seem cross-eyed trying to look through my camera. Once we got off, we naturally headed towards the only exit available and spotted our first Mickey!!!

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    We needed to find the rental car area and it was surprisingly easy to do. We had to go down one floor and right before we stepped off the escalator, look what we see:

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    One day. One day we'll stay on-site and be able to use your services. Just you wait and see. Well...in all reality, probably not. We always rent a car when coming to Florida. We do go to other places other than Disney and a car is pretty much necessary. Regardless, it is still my dream to stay on-site one day. One day. :thumbsup2

    So ma rented a car from Alamo and had to go to the counter and fill out paperwork or something. We went to go sit in the waiting area and on our way, had our first Harry Potter sighting.

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    OOoooohhhh....exciting.

    We plopped down in the waiting area section expecting the process to take forever. The last time we were here in 2007, we had to wait more than an hour for the car for some reason or another and we were expecting the same this time around as a worst case scenario. What did we do? Took pictures of course.

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    Jess took the following. She has a habit of zooming in on people's faces.

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    For some reason, we found it super funny and amusing that the furniture stayed exactly the same as the last time we came in 2007. They still had the same wooden tables and blue padded wicker chairs.

    2011:
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    2007 (don't mind Jess's hands):
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    After having left for about 20 minutes, mom came back and we were all set to go pick out our rental car. We got to pick any of the full sized cars available. It was a tough choice. It was either going to be the Chevy, or the other Chevy, or the other Chevy, or the Mercury. They were all basically the same car.

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    So we did what any girl would do: pick according to what was prettiest.

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    We settled on a silver Chevy. For some reason, among all the silver Chevrolets (and there were quite a few), we decided to pick the one that didn't have Florida plates. For the week we were in Florida, according to our car's license plates, we were from the grand state of Alabama!

    Once car seats were adjusted and the air conditioner was turned on (boy was it humid!), we were finally....FINALLY...in vacation mode. :woohoo:
     
  15. luckylady

    luckylady DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2004
    Messages:
    705
    I'm in for your TR. Small world, we were there at the same time! I so can understand your title. It was HOT that week. Can't wait to read more.
     
  16. burly

    burly DIS Veteran

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    1,355
    taking the car with the Alabama plates MAY make it easier to spot in the parking lots?!:thumbsup2

    Thanks for the update, looking forward to more.
    Love all the goofy pictures....:goodvibes


    KIM
     
  17. wingedjojo

    wingedjojo Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Messages:
    148
    Hahaha. I went to school in Davis where summer weather is high 90s to 100s on average so I thought I could handle Florida. It's the humidity that kills you. Regardless we still had fun and I hope you did too!

    We really didn't think about that when we first picked out the car but yeah, it was a LOT easier to spot it when it has different plates.
     
  18. wingedjojo

    wingedjojo Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Messages:
    148
    Beds, Sofa, Cockroach?

    Took a while for mom to adjust to the new car since she usually drives a SUV back at home. For some reason, the break pedal was higher and farther back so it was kind of a reach to get to it. Other than car adjustment issues, getting out of the airport was relatively easy. I find it funny how there's a toll booth almost every other highway coming out of the airport. Is it just the east coast that has those for highways? I know over here we have it for bridges but not really for highways and stuff like that. Maybe it's a regional thing. :confused3

    So my aunt works for Sheraton and she got us a really good deal at the Sheraton Safari Hotel and Suites for $50/night. It was pretty good in terms of location to both the Disney parks and Islands of Adventure. It took at most 20 minutes to get to any Disney park and about 30 minutes to Islands of Adventure. I'm pretty sure there was no way we could have gotten a suite anywhere else for that price that close to Disney. Driving there, I'm pretty sure we passed by the resort that we stayed at back in 2007. None of us were quite sure because it looked kind of different and none of us could remember the name of the resort but we felt like it was the one. Oh well, not important.

    Our hotel:

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    It was conveniently located right across the street from a 7-11.

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    There will be several times during the trip where having that 7-11 there was the best thing ever. We made so many trips to this place, it was ridiculous.

    Before I ever go and decide on a hotel to stay at or just to familiarize myself with where I'm going, I tend to look up reviews and pictures of the resort. So for the sake of providing a good review, I'm going to compare pictures that the hotel officially puts up and pictures that I took. Because honestly, how often do we get tricked by fancy out-dated pictures and end up disappointed?

    In terms of the hotel's exterior, it seems pretty true to picture although the official picture was taken in a fancy angle to make it look much more lush and isolated than it really was.

    Official:

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    Mine:

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    When we were checking in, we could tell by the lobby that it was clearly a very dated and past-its-prime type of hotel. Everything just looked shabby and old. If I had a picture of the lobby, you'll understand what I mean. The upside of the place though was that they had this really cool aquarium that held a couple of little alligators. They were interesting to watch for a little while. Also, the girl who checked us in was SUUUUPPPPPEEERRR nice and super sweet and just a breath of fresh air in that dark and gloomy-looking place. She is seriously like a mirage in the desert that is the hotel; she deserves to be in a happier looking atmosphere. Seriously.

    Our room was ready for us so we went to go check it out. We had reserved a safari suite which had two queen beds, a sofa bed, and a kitchenette. For some reason, when I think of the word suite, I imagined something nicer and bigger than what we got.

    The bedroom portrayed on Sheraton's website:

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    My bedroom picture:

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    The kitchenette area and the sofa bed area as shown by the people at Sheraton:

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    My pictures:

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    Here's also some pictures of the bathroom area:

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    For something that's labeled as a suite, it just seemed so....standard. It was also a very tiny place. My pictures don't show it but the feeling of old and dated that we saw in the lobby clearly carried over into the rooms. I didn't really focus on it but there were stains on the floor, cracks in the wall, and holes in the blankets. We also found a dead cockroach off in a corner. Sure it's dead and all but still, that's gross. We're built tough and aren't too fussy so none of those little things really bothered us. We had enough space, everything worked and we were comfortable enough so we didn't complain. Plus, we got what we paid for.

    If someone were to ask me whether or not I'll recommend this place, I would say: it depends. If you got a really good deal for it or if you were super desperate and this was the only place left, then go for it. If you're squeamish and don't like old and grossness, then look for another place. Usually Sheraton hotels are better than this in terms of quality. I can't speak for the standard rooms or the super suite they had though. Maybe they're beautifully decorated and newer than the suite we got. In terms of our particular room and the hotel in general, hopefully it'll get remodeled soon because with its location, it has potential to be a good hotel.

    Also, entrances to some of the rooms faced the outdoors/parking lots.

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    I don't know if it's just my personal quirk but when my room leads directly to my car, I get more of a motel feel than a hotel. Can you tell I'm being snooty and not really digging our home away from home? I was born to stay in deluxe hotels...if only our bank accounts would reflect that. :headache:

    After getting acquainted with the room and getting our things squared away, it was off to Downtown Disney where we dined with dinosaurs.

    Yay! Dinosaurs!
     
  19. wingedjojo

    wingedjojo Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Messages:
    148
    Detour to the Lego Store

    Getting to Downtown Disney took no time at all. All we had to do was turn left coming out of the hotel, go a couple blocks, turn right, go a couple blocks and we were there. It was so close.

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    As we're going up this particular aisle in the parking lot, this large family group gets into three vans parked side by side and leaves all at once. Easiest time looking for parking ever. I swear things like this only happens once in a lifetime and having it happen at the happiest place on earth just puts the icing on the cake. Delicious, delicious Disney cake. :thumbsup2

    When mom confirmed that we really would be going to Disney World, I automatically knew that the T-Rex Cafe was a must. For some odd reason, Jan and I just have a hoot-and-a-half when it comes to dinosaurs. She even passes by gummy bears in favor of gummy dinosaurs. So I made a 3:30pm reservation for late lunch/early dinner.

    Originally mom was worried that 3:30pm would be cutting it close. Our flight was supposed to land at 1:00pm. Based on our bad luck in 2007 with the rental car, she had expected the obtaining car process to take at least an hour again, meaning we wouldn't leave the airport until at least 2:00pm or 2:30pm. We would still have had to drive to the hotel, do the check-in, drop things off, etc. before finally going to lunch. We seriously had nothing to worry about. Not only did our flight land about half an hour early, the car rental process took no time at all, we were in and out of the hotel, and finding parking at Downtown Disney was a breeze. We were physically at Downtown Disney around 2:00pm. So since we were early, we walked past the restaurant and went to do some looking around.

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    The Lego store area was right there and I was super excited about all the new Lego structures. The Snow White one was pretty cool although I thought it was pretty hard to distinguish between some of the dwarfs. I really like that deer that's standing off the right. It looks super confused and seems to be giving off an "are you looking at me?" kind of vibe but maybe I'm just reading too much into a structure made of Lego.

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    For some reason, mom took a lot of pictures of me while I was taking pictures of something else. So here's a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the above picture.

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    Then here we are all properly looking at the camera. Check out Edward and his manly shoulder bag. I'm just kidding, that was Jan's.

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    It was insanely hot that day and we were all pretty much feeling burned out from all the heat already so we decided to duck inside the actual Lego store and check out the products/AC. At the back of the store, they have this huge wall full of Lego blocks separated by color.

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    Here's the behind-the-scenes footage and a proper looking-at-camera shot.

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    What intrigued me about the wall of Lego blocks was not the fact that it was separated by color but because of what it reminded me of. Last winter, we (minus Edward) had gone to Las Vegas and visited the M&M store. On the 2nd floor of the M&M store they also had a wall but instead of it being full of Lego it had M&Ms.

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    I think the only reason why I was reminded of the M&M wall was because of the way I had shot the picture. Although, I think I rather prefer the M&Ms over Lego. Only because of the deliciousness factor.

    The Lego store had these humongous Lego structures of Buzz and Woody.

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    Just to share the knowledge, those pieces are glued to each other and cannot be taken apart. For the record, I tested it not to be a social menace and destroy what probably took a couple of days to accomplish but to satisfy pure scientific curiosity. I even tested the pieces least likely to cause massive destruction to the figure in case they did come off. ;)

    Right outside was that water serpent that has probably been there since the beginning of time. I'm pretty sure it was there the first time I ever visited Disney World and this was back in 2000. I really wonder how long it has been there and does it get washed from time to time because it looks really clean given how long it has been there. Its colors aren't faded and nothing appears to be broken. I would love to see a guy on a giant ladder or something using a toothbrush to clean the whole thing.

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    Right across from the serpent was another Toy Story structure. I couldn't think of an appropriate pose to pull to complement it so I did the first thing that came into mind. I'm not even sure where that pose comes from; hopefully it's nothing offensive.

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    At this point we still had some more time to kill so we went to browse the World of Disney store. At the entrance we spotted that there was even more to the new structures added since the last time we visited. This was my favorite of all the new structures because it was just so awesome.

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    I wonder if the dragon is hollow on the inside. Jan and I were being silly and decided to pretend to be co-dragons. Well, technically I don't have to pretend since according to the lunar calendar I was born in the year of the dragon. I'm legit. :rotfl:

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    I love the World of Disney store. There's just so much neat stuff to look and browse through. I wish I could have a castle like this in the middle of my home:

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    I knew we were still going to come back to visit Downtown Disney at the end of our trip so I held off on buying any souvenirs. There were many things I had my eyes on and were put on my "To Buy" list. While wandering the store, we came across this Mickey Mouse clock. Jess, Jan, and I thought it was the funniest thing ever because of how its hands were moving. We even made a little video clip of it (click the below image to view).

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    We would mimic the motion several times later on in the trip and it was only a while later that we realized how inappropriate the gesture seemed taken out of context. I forgot who realized that but once it was voiced we all stopped doing the motion.

    Even though we weren't really intending on buying any souvenirs. Mom bought a cell phone case because her old one had broken.

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    I would've gotten that but I was unwilling to spend $30 on a cell phone case. While I did tell myself not to buy souvenirs, I did buy one thing. Even before the trip started, I knew I wanted to send my boyfriend a postcard from Disney World. I thought it would be a nice surprise since all he really gets in the mail are ads and bills. At first, I didn't know whether or not I'll be able to find a stamp but apparently I can buy one right in World of Disney by going to the Information desk.

    Sometimes I wonder if I look too Asian and non-American. I can't count the number of times people don't realize I speak English perfectly fine, that I'm from the states or assume I wasn't born here. So while I was getting my stamp, this exchange too place with the CM.

    Me: Hi, can I get a stamp?
    CM: For what?
    Me: A postcard.
    CM: I mean to which country.
    Me: Uh...the US?

    :lmao: I guess it can't be helped I look the way I do. I guess it does come in handy when I don't want to deal with strangers/solicitors. I can pretend to not know English and people will actually believe me.

    I had forgotten to ask where the nearest mailbox was so I had to wait until our Magic Kingdom day to mail the postcard since I know there's mailboxes there that actually delivers mail. For reference sake, I mailed the postcard from the Magic Kingdom on June 15 and it got to its destination on June 23. I had wanted it to arrive while I was gone but that didn't really happen; at least it got to where it needed to go. It got a bit banged up and scratched during its transit but not too bad. Here's a picture my boyfriend sent me the day he got it:

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    After our purchase, it was pretty much time to go eat and I'm pretty sure we were all starving. We hadn't really eaten anything since we started our trip so we were all ready to go to T-Rex Cafe.
     
  20. wingedjojo

    wingedjojo Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Messages:
    148
    Happy July 4 everyone!!!
    I hope everyone is enjoying their BBQ, family gatherings, fireworks, and an overload of red, white and blue. party:
    Or if you're not American, I hope your day is absolutely normal and weather is pleasant.

    I think I'm going to finish off Day 1 of this trip and finally get to the T-Rex Cafe. :rotfl:

    ~*~*~*~

    The Anti-Climactic End to Day 1

    Around 3:15pm we started to leave World of Disney to head back towards T-Rex Cafe.

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    Of course we had to take a picture in front of the entrance. Look how excited we all are for our first real meal. I'm so happy that mom has started throwing up peace signs and making faces like the rest of us. We try to keep her young.

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    We made a quick sweep, for no particular reason, of the front of the gift shop before going to be seated. I have no idea what I was trying to take a picture of here. Based on the lack of said picture in my camera, it must not have turned out nice and I probably deleted it.

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    I thought this dinosaur was pretty funny because at a certain angle, it looks like it's mimicking Pacman and it's trying to eat those little white things that he's always "waka waka"-ing at.

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    I thought the bar area was totally cool looking. Too bad I wasn't with friends and it wasn't at night because drinking there looks like fun. The colors are so pretty and I bet it looks like you're really underwater at night. Although, if drinks were ~$15 a pop, not being there with friends is probably a blessing.

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    We got seated right away considering it was a weird time to be having a meal and the place was pretty quiet. Well, not quiet in the noise level sense but quiet in the amount of people sense. It was pretty loud in there. I mean, I've been to Rainforest Cafe plenty of times and knew what I was getting myself into but for some reason, it seemed particularly loud in the T-Rex Cafe. Granted, I'm sure dinosaurs in real life are not exactly quiet but nonetheless. If you're looking for a nice place to hold a long, private conversation, it is not here. If you like the "realistic" atmosphere or love them dinos, then by all means, this place is for you.

    So we began perusing the menus. While Edward is trying to think super hard about what he wants, Jan decided to once again show that creeper face of hers.

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    Mom is playing on her phone because in the dim light she can't read the tiny font. She's waiting for one of us to read the menu to her.

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    I was trying to take a picture of the aquarium behind Jess but she wanted to be in the picture too. I think she's puffing up her face to act like Ponyo or maybe it's just your everyday generic fish.

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    Before the waiter-dude came to take our orders, I had asked for my first alcoholic drink of the trip. Only during vacation will I ever order alcohol with a meal or drink just to drink. The picture on the menu was just so tempting. What I got was called a Cosmo-Paleo Cotton-tini. They bring out a glass of cotton candy and basically pour a Cosmopolitan on top. IT WAS DELICIOUS. It didn't even taste like alcohol because it was so sweet but it was definitely really good. I even got to keep the little shaker thing. I don't have a picture of before they poured the drink because it happened so fast but this is what it looks like afterwards:

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    So as we're waiting for our food and I'm sipping on my drink, I start writing the postcard that I bought earlier. I didn't even know Jess was taking pictures of everyone.

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    When the food came, we were all pleasantly surprised about how BIG the portions were. If we had known that we weren't going finish all our food, even though we were all super hungry, we wouldn't have ordered an appetizer. But we did. We got the Supersaurus Sampler: spinach and pepper jack queso with tortilla chips, Brachiosaurus bruschetta, T-Rexadillas and onion rings.

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    I didn't care much for the bruschetta (I've never been a fan) and the onion rings weren't bad but pretty average. The quesadillas were pretty good but my favorite was the chips and dip. Personally, I'm a sucker for anything with melted cheese and it helps that it was pretty tasty too.

    I think it was a good idea we got the sampler plate instead of just one particular dish. While I didn't love everything, mom enjoyed the bruschetta and Jan really liked the quesadillas. So everyone got to try a bit of everything and got to pick their favorites. Plus the portions were just right for everyone to try a little and we didn't put anything to waste.

    Edward got the Layers of the Earth Lasagna: fresh pasta layered with homemade tomato and meat sauce, Ricotta, Mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese, baked to perfection. The lasagna sounded really good on the menu and it looked that way too! If I remember correctly, I think Edward said it was really good.

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    Jan had originally wanted the lasagna too but ended up getting something different and just eating a bit off of Edward's plate. She had the Paleonzoic Chicken Sandwich: fried pizza dough with grilled chicken, lettuce, bacon, pepper jack cheese, avocado, tomato and lemon aioli. If I'm remembering correctly right now, this will not be the last time that she gets a chicken sandwich this trip. I find it strange that she ordered it more than once because I've never known her to eat a lot of chicken sandwiches. Must be a phase. Her review of it was that it was good but a bit spicy.

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    Mom got the Mammoth Mushroom Ravioli: massive mushroom ravioli simmered in a rich lobster sauce with roma tomatoes and fresh spinach. She really liked her dish and actually finished all of it. Only her and Edward were able to accomplish that. I wished I had tasted some of it because reading about it and looking at the picture right now makes me want it. I'm sure she offered but I didn't take any for some reason. Oh well, next time.

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    Jess went with the Gigantosaurus Burger: two 100% beef burger patties piled high with a fried onion ring, pickles, lettuce, tomato and your choice of cheese. I'm asking Jess about her burger right now and she says that when they brought it out, the server had wished her "good luck" because that thing is MASSIVE. She's also crying with tears of regret right now just thinking about that ginormous burger; it was way too much food for her. :lmao:

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    I wanted to eat something light because whenever I'm too excited about things (and being in Disney World is pretty exciting) and I eat too much or eat things that are too rich/filling, I get a stomach ache. So I opted for the Pteradactyl Salad: roasted chicken, mixed greens, celery, tomatoes, Bleu cheese crumbles, chopped egg and bacon tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. This was sooooooo good. Normally I don't like having meat and especially not bacon in my salads but I'm weak for Bleu cheese. I'm so glad I didn't ask them to take out the bacon or chicken because it brought the perfect balance to the salad. It was so delicious and I really wish I had some now.

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    Jess, Jan, and I couldn't finish our food so we eventually had them box it up for us, paid the bill, and was on our merry way. We stopped for a few photo-ops as we were leaving. The lighting was really weird in there and taking pictures was sometimes difficult.

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    I had originally planned for all of us to go swimming at the hotel after lunch. I mean, our room faced the pool and we were on the first floor. We could open the door, take 10 steps and be IN the pool.

    The weather was perfect, we were mere steps away from the pool and we had nothing else to do. So we all....





    ...passed out from jet-lag. We were all tired from the flights and food coma-ing so everyone took a nap.

    We never did go to the pool for the rest of the time we were there. At first I was bummed because they had this really cool-looking water slide in the shape of a snake and I wanted to go play on it. I later found out it was out of service for some reason or another for our entire stay so I wasn't too hung up over not having gone to the pool.

    At some point we all woke up and had leftovers for dinner. I'm not sure what mom and Edward ate for dinner since they had finished their lunch. They probably had the food we brought with us to eat on the plane. Oh wait, no. I just remembered. Before coming back to the hotel, we stopped by the handy-dandy 7-11 to pick up some things. We had gotten a pack of water, Sprite, orange juice, bread for breakfast, and some other food. That's probably what they ate for dinner.

    So after dinner, we watched some television and got ready to go to bed.

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    We had to be well rested because we would be getting up bright and early for our first park day!
     
  21. wingedjojo

    wingedjojo Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Messages:
    148
    So Kevin (boyfriend) and I are off to SoCal in a couple of hours. We're going down for our friend's wedding and afterwards will be stopping by Disneyland/California Adventure. I decided against doing a pre-trip report for it considering it was pretty much last minute in terms of going to Disney. I haven't decided whether or not I will do a trip report for our trip though. I probably will but this trip report has hardly made a lot of progress. We'll see.

    So before we leave and before I neglect this report too much, I'm going to start the next segment.

    ~*~*~*~
    Waiting at the Turnstiles

    Tuesday, June 14

    Today was going to be an exciting day. We were going to go visit Islands of Adventure and see Harry Potter-land for the first time!

    The night before, I had set my alarm to wake me up pretty early. The park didn't open until 9:00am but I wanted to get there an hour beforehand. Estimating that it'll take us around 30 minutes to get there, 30 minutes for me to shower and about 30-45 minutes for everybody else to get ready and eat, I had set my alarm for a bright and early call of 6:15am.

    I think we got ready rather quickly and were sun-screened and eating by about 7:20am. Nothing fancy. Slices of bread and I think some sort of pastry. Oh, and orange juice from 7-11.

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    We left around 7:40am. A little bit off schedule but not too bad. At some point while we were sitting in the car and about to go, somebody (I think it was Edward) had to go back into the hotel room for something or another. It set us back about another 10 minutes. Bored, I took a random shot from the car of our room.

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    I seriously have a problem with this direct access of the room to the parking lot. There was an instance where someone was just walking door to door and slipping random ads into the rooms. It's amazing how large that gap between the door and the door frame really is.

    We were finally on the road around 7:50am. It didn't take too long before we saw signs of the park.

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    I realized that throughout this trip, there were several instances where mom will try (and succeed) at getting us to pay for random things. One such instance is parking fees. Somehow, either I or a collective of Jess, Jan, and Edward will pay for parking fees at the parks. I think ma probably paid parking once. She’s a crafty one. :laughing:

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    We got there about 40 minutes before park opening and there weren’t too many cars in the parking lot when we got there. Sure people were slowly streaming in but we still got to park in the first aisle.

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    Don't forget where we parked:

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    Look at the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed group making their way to the park! Actually, I think some of them are still half asleep.

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    While walking that long path from the parking lot to the park entrance, I grabbed a quick shot of the entrance to the parking lot, where you pay the parking fee.

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    Since we were there early, we took our time walking to the turnstiles and took pictures on the way there. The CitiWalk area looked interesting but we didn't really look around.

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    Like a honing beacon, the tower was calling us to it. We couldn't be distracted by all these other fancy stores/eateries.

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    Is it just me or does the tower just look weird? I don't understand what kind of visual effect they're trying to achieve here. Is it supposed to look like ruins? A lighthouse? :confused3

    Once we arrived at the turnstiles, we tried to pick the one with the shortest line. We managed to find one where we became the 2nd family waiting. At first I thought they were already letting people in because I could see people going into the park. I got super excited for a second and then realized it was hotel guests only. Lucky people who get to go see Harry Potter-land an HOUR early. No fair.

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    While I'm watching with envy all these people just leisurely strolling into the park, mocking us, I surveyed the other lines of people who were waiting just like us.

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    It was more crowded than I thought it would be based on how the parking lot looked. A lot of them probably opted for preferred parking. I don't know how worth it preferred parking is. You have to pay $6 more but you still pretty much walk the same distance to the park entrance. Plus, that early in the morning I don't think it really made a difference.

    It was already pretty hot that morning and it was scheduled to thunderstorm. To distract myself, I started taking random pictures. First a documentation of our park ticket and map:

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    Mom saw what I was doing and decided to play too. She decided the perfect thing to do was take a picture of our happy, eager faces already sweating in the early morning sun.

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    Notice those blue sunglasses? I didn't bring any hats with me this trip and just chose to wear that pair of sunglasses. It was during this day that I realized what a hassle it is to wear them. I normally don't wear sunglasses and for some reason, wearing them makes me feel motion sick. Maybe it's the curvature of the glass or the tinted color but if I move my eyes too fast while wearing sunglasses, I start to feel a little uneasy. Plus, it was hard to look at/through my camera with them on so I ended up leaving them off more often than on. I think this was the last day I brought my glasses to the parks.

    For some reason, I took a picture of all our feet. Try and guess who was who!

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    At some point I noticed that the gate in front of us had different signs on it indicating the different islands. I don't want to put all of them up because it's pretty boring. But I will post my two favorites. One because it looks pretty and the other because of which land it is.

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    Surprisingly, they started letting us in about 30 minutes early! So once we passed the hurdles, and took one obligatory entrance shot, we were off to see Harry Potter!!!

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    We didn't consult our map. We just followed en masse to where I'm sure everybody else and their mother were heading. We were almost there!

    ~*~*~*~

    Okay, time for us to go down to SoCal. I'll continue once we get back!
     

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