Why can't I get a decent photo on that blasted Peter Pan ride?

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by clearskies, Oct 10, 2009.

  1. clearskies

    clearskies DIS Veteran

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    This is my first attempt at writing a Trip Report. I'll admit that writing is typically not my thing. I would usually be an easier sell to get me to walk through that infernal Swiss Family Tree house again than to get me to sit down to write about my experiences. I have a couple of motivating factors though to push me forward. First, I love photography and I enjoy sharing pictures and I am primarily using this Trip Report as a vehicle to share my photos. Second, I sadly still can't let go and I am looking for a way to continue to re-live our happier times. I desperately need some mental escapes from the daily grind. Before the trip, there was borderline obsessive planning to be done and during that planning I could escape from the real world by envisioning our perfect trip. Of course in this utopian world there are no over stimulated and exhausted kids, no bad weather, only nice and polite people, no unpleasant public transportation issues, etc. Then comes the actual trip which of course has its own reality with plenty of drama but no matter what it beats our non-Disney existence waiting to swallow us up when we return. After we got back I was able to keep the experience going by weeding though my gazillion photos but I finished that up and thought what next? Most sane people would probably move on but I am hoping to fill a void by writing this Trip Report. So, here we go.


    This TR is the chronicles of an exhausting but fantastic 12 night stay here


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    Our trip spanned from the end of Aug though Labor Day. This is our family's 4th trip to WDW. We had never been to Pop before but I had read so many good things that I was intrigued. On our last WDW vacation in 2007 we stayed at a DVC resort (SSR) so we know this will be lacking in many of the amenities that we experienced last trip. We will definitely miss the extra space, kitchen, whirlpool bath, etc. We usually don’t spend too much time in the room though and there is a lot to be said about the magic and all-encompassing Disney experience of the value resorts with their larger than life icons and the high overall energy. Our first on site stay was at AS Movies in 2003 and in our children’s eyes this was nirvana. What is better when you are a kid than having a Giant Herbie the Love bug to greet you each morning and night or a 35 ft Buzz and Woody to spark your imagination. As a photographer I am also excited to get out and capture some of the magic. Here are some of the reasons I was excited to stay here.

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    It seems that in order to follow proper protocol, I need to provide some info on the players in our story.


    Me – Dad - Age 44. I am the Project Manager of the trip. I am actually a PM in “real life” and Disney does a wonderful job at fulfilling my need to create detailed plans. Where else do you get excited about getting up at the crack of dawn to book meals months in advance or wait with baited breath for park hours to be finally released as you constantly check day after day when the calendar turns to that critical month. It is pure insanity but at the same time wonderful (well for people with my affliction that is). I am also the staff photographer for our trips. I usually lug around about 20 pounds of camera equipment on our daily adventures. Here is a picture of what I carry around to give you an idea of my mental instability to willingly tote this equipment through the sweltering August heat in WDW.

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    I love photography but still have a heck of a lot to learn. I would like to have more time to devote to this art but I am slowly improving over time. Through brute force and a little bit of skill I was able to get a lot of good pictures that I plan like to share. On this trip I took over 6000 pictures. Yes, the strategy to take a whole lot of pictures and hope something turns out is key in my playbook. I did not good results everywhere though, hence the title of my TR. I know I should be able to get some passable shots on Peter Pan but I was a wretched failure. The "dark rides" were definitely a challenge for me. I have a great camera for this but my most suited lens is adequate but not the best. I did have some limited success in other rides and one particular coup for me was on my last day on HM where I was able to snag some pictures of the ballroom scene that are not a complete blur. This may not look like much to some of you but it was an achievement for me.

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    For the rest of my family we have:
    My Wife – Age 44. She is my outgoing partner. She gets energy from others and is the type of person that will make friends with anyone. She will strike up conversations with people in line and I will stand there wondering how she can talk for so long to someone she never met before. She has a laugh that is instantly recognizable and makes you smile when you hear it. She is a great parent to our children and I would truly be lost without her.

    Son – Age 11. Takes after his mom in that he gets along with almost everyone. He is getting a bit more reserved though as he is getting older. He does take after me in that he is a very sensitive child. You’ll see more of that in the TR. Overall he is truly a very good boy but he does have his “brotherly moments” with his sister that can drive you up the wall. He is also quite handsome and fortunately for him, he does not take after me in that regard.

    Daughter – Age 9. She is more independent than my son even though she is 2.5 yrs younger. She prefers people over possessions and usually does not ask for much. When she does have her mind set on something though she is strong willed. She is adorable and has a spark in eyes that is true magic.

    In addition we have my SIL (my wife’s sister), her husband, my 10 yo niece and my 7 yo nephew joining us for most of the trip and then (if you can follow this) my SIL’s SIL and her husband join us for a few days towards the tail end of the trip. You will hear more about our group as we go on.


    Since this was our 4th family trip and we have seen a lot in past trips I wanted to arrange a lot of new experiences for this go around. Some of the events that I was excited about planning since we had never experienced them before were: a Grand Gathering Safari Diner at AK, a Wishes Cruise, MNSSHP, Hoop De Doo Review as well as our first venture to a Disney Water Park. In addition, I planned to hit previously unexplored areas of the parks. We had 10 day tickets so I thought we would have a lot more time to explore than what we have had on previous trips. I also planned out some great meals. In addition to the Safari Dinner and HDDR we planned our first experiences at Le Cellier, Ohana, Narcossees, Le Chefs, 1900 PF. We did make sure to hit some of our old standbys as well like Chef Mickeys and Crystal Palace.

    Ok, that is enough for now. Hopefully I can keep you interested to read on.
     
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  3. Missus Toad

    Missus Toad <font color=red>Amazing! She actually stays awake

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    Wow!!! Amazing photos! :worship: I will definitely be reading and look forward to more! :thumbsup2
     
  4. clearskies

    clearskies DIS Veteran

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    Thank you Missus Toad and Welcome!! Thank you for being my first Post!!
     
  5. clearskies

    clearskies DIS Veteran

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    We arrived the day before but we did not check in until very late. I debated on whether I would go into the gory details of our arrival day but I decided to spare you from the pain. I’ll just say that it involved a mountain of stress involving unfinished work for my job, a traffic jam on the way to the airport and a late scenic tour of probably every road on the Disney complex due to the fact that neither my GPS nor the GPS software on my iPhone was able to locate the Pop Century address. Seeing how we did not check in until after midnight and I had to log in and work until about 1:30 AM after getting the kids down to bed, I decided we were not going to rush to get anywhere in the morning.

    My body is quite accustomed to lack of sleep though and was not having any part of the plan to sleep in and thus decided that it was going to get me up early anyway. So, I gave up the valiant fight for sleep and got up at around 6:30AM. Fortunately the stress bubbling up from the night before had dissipated and I was ready to start our vacation. Since I still was not going to get up the rest of the family I decided that a tour of the grounds was in order. I dug out my camera and left my slumbering family behind to explore Pop. As soon as I got outside I was instantly reminded of the oppressive humidity to be experienced in August in Disney and its effects on cameras that have been refridgerated in the AC of our Room. My camera lens instantly fogged up. In our prev stay at SSR we had a balcony and when I got up I would put my camera outside for a while to acclimate to the weather. That’s not going to happen this trip. So I acknowledge that photos in the early hours is unlikely. I walked around a bit and enjoyed the themeing of the buildings and then walked across the Generation Gap bridge to get the view from the other side. My camera was still not ready to get to work so I passed some time talking to someone that was fishing on the other side. Eventually the lens cleared. I was hoping for a more spectacular morning sky but sometimes you have to take what you are given.

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    I realized that I left my cell phone in the room and decided to make my way back to the room to see if anyone was up. On the way I took a couple more pictures. Here is one of the themed stairways. We were the 50s building with the bowling pin stairs.

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    I got back and the family was still sleeping. I took a shower and when I was done my wife was up. It’s about 8:30 now and she says let’s wake up the kids. I was going to let them sleep some more but I was itching to get moving myself so I sang them some songs to wake them up. This is something I do every school day to get them up. I don’t pretend that I can sing, in fact I am horrible. What better motivation is there to get up and moving than to avoid further serenades by me. Now that the kids are up and getting ready I take a pic of the view from our room while waiting for them.

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    I had asked for a room facing the lake so it would be quieter. We were also in one of the areas where you could supposedly some of the EPCOT fireworks in a distance. As it turns out this was lost on us since we were never actually around to see them.

    We were still not going to rush to a Park this morning and we decided to use some meal credits for breakfast so we headed to Everything Pop.

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    First thing we needed was refillable mugs. It pained me to pay $2.75 for a vending machine coke zero the night before while working. I had my wife grab 4 mugs and gave her money to pay for them while I got food. The breakfast food seemed pretty much the same as the food in other resorts we had stayed at. Nothing special but it is ok. The apple turnovers were a hit for my kids though. After eating our park du jour was EPCOT. We had a lunch date with a rodent. Not the big one though. We got to the bus stop a little after 10.

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    We got to EPCOT fairly quickly and made our way past security who asked me if I worked for CNN after checking my bag. I had no plans for this day other than lunch so I went with the popular choice and we decided to go to Soarin first. On the way though we saw Daisy near what my kids call the big golf ball. Oh, we have never seen her before so the Kids needed to meet her acquaintance. My gosh that is one popular water fowl. The line did not seem that long but it crawled. I eventually went off to get FP for Soarin while they were waiting. When I got back they had moved a few more inches. I then left the park, played a round of golf, took a shower, grabbed a bite and then returned to the park and they were almost there. Finally we made it to Daisy. We fulfilled our need to get the kids pic and autograph.

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    Stitch was right near by but not getting much love so we said hello to him as well.

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    We picked up our first photopass card in the process. Since I had prepaid for the CD I planned to use Photopass a lot. One tip if you plan to keep your photos is to take a picture of the card once you get it. Then if you lose the card you will still have the numbers. Yes, I erased some of the numbers off this picture.

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    We were now on our way to hit some attractions. We got waylaid on our way by seeing the Kim Possible sign-up in Innoventions. We decided to do our part to help humanity by signing up for a special mission. We had never done this before and figured why not give it a shot. The CM set us up and we needed to report to Italy in about an hour and a half. Oh, but we need to be at France for lunch. Fortunately the whole world is rampant with issues and is in need of help so we were rerouted to a mission in France instead.

    Our Soarin FPs were not due and we had some time before our mission so we headed to the Seas.

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    We hit the Nemo ride first. This is one of those dark rides that can be frustrating to take pictures on and I was not really prepared for it. I should have changed to a different lens more suited for it but I am not that intelligent so here is the best I have from the ride.

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    Next was one of our favorites
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    This is far more entertaining than the Nemo Ride. It is one of the few park attractions where you get a different experience each time. The dude who improvises is awesome and the kids have a blast and the Adults get a laugh as well. Once we were done it was time to head over to the International Gateway for our mission. First a couple more pics on the way out.

    I do love these guys.
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    Not sure why but I wanted a pic of this one.
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    We made it to the KP booth by the International gateway and received our mission. We were off to ruin the evil plans of some wrongdoer whose name I can’t recall but let me tell you he was one very bad person trying to control our minds. Not on our watch though. The mission has the kids going different places and pressing buttons on this phone they give you. I take some pictures along the way.

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    In the theater in France we decided to that we don’t necessarily need to vanquish our evildoer right away so we stay to watch the movie. My kids are reluctant to put our mission on hold but spies are allowed breaks too. After the movie we finish up the mission and save all of you from a terrible demise. Feel free to thank me if you want. It is getting close now for lunch so I tell my wife to relax with the kids by the fountain while I go and return the phone. I return the phone and they tell me to thank the kids for saving the world. That was nice but shouldn’t we get a presidential commendation or a medal or something? Being an international super spy is not very rewarding. I decide to take that off the career choice list for my kids.
     
  6. clearskies

    clearskies DIS Veteran

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    I get back to France and there is no family to be found. I look, I call but nothing. I figure she had to take the kids to the bathroom or something. It is not uncommon for them to disappear on me. They do like to keep me guessing. Eventually my wife emerges from the restaurant. She checked in and they seated us early. Oh, okay, mystery solved.

    We are really here for one reason. The little chef is here for about one week more until he departs Orlando to visit Tokyo. I wanted a chance to see the little guy before he heads off. Soon after we were seated he was making his way into our area. We got to see him before we even ordered.

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    The handler was a little put off that I was only taking pics of the rat so I had to placate him by taking some pics with him in it as well.

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    The interaction was brief but it was pretty cool to see the magic in action. The rest of the meal was not that remarkable. The food was ok but nothing special. I had the short ribs was decent but I’ve had much better. The rest of the family’s food was just ok as well. The waiter was very nice though. Later in the meal Remy did make his way back into our area but they seem to remember who they have seen already so we did not get him to our table again. I did switch to a longer lens and took pics from a distance.

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    During lunch we had a decision to make. I had bought 10 day base tickets without the park Hopper. I figured that with 10 days we would have enough time to see everything without the need to hop around. This may have worked if not for the fact that the dang Fantasmic is now only showing twice a week and we have plans on the the other nights that it was showing. Based on our plans today was really the only feasible night to see Fantasmic if we wanted to. This twice a week Fantasmic change is horrible. My wife says it is not worth it. I do not think that Fantasmic alone is worth $200+ but if we do get PH tickets I rationalize that we'll definitely use it on other days and it will give me opportunities to hit late EMH nights on parks that we do not intend to go to during the day. So we decided (ok I decided and my wife caved in) to go for it and on the way out I would upgrade.

    We got out of Le Chefs and saw these “street performers” entertaining the crowd.

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    They were good for what they are but we had seen this stuff before so we eventually moved on our way. We are so jaded sometimes. We decided to head out of the world showcase and catch the rest of the world on other days. On the way out we saw this young lady in England. This was another first encounter for us so we lined up for a personal greeting.

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    Next, I wanted to see what this Disney Visa card picture thing was all about. I knew it was in Innoventions but was not sure where so we headed to the Innoventions building where the characters were. Belle was standing outside the main area and there was no crowd to see her so we stopped to talk.

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    I asked the CM there where to find the Disney Visa picture spot and she directed us across the way. We got on a fairly short line. It is apparently a secret on who is there so we had to wait until we got in to find out who was there. Here is who we saw.

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    I have seen pictures with others so they must change it up. While we were there we decided to test our safety prowess by going through the Where’s the Fire exhibit. This was another first for us. My daughter and I went on one team and my wife and son on the other. I wouldn’t say this is a must do but we had a good time (especially since my team won). Sorry, I don't have any pics to show on this. Next we are headed the Land to finally use our Soarin FPs.

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    This is our first time trying to use Fast Passes after our return time. One of the many things I learned on this board is that it is usually not critical to get back inside your window. I still was a little worried we might get turned away but it worked fine. We were in the second row in our flying excursion over California. Next time we decided we will wait a little longer for a front row seat. The feet dangling in front are a bit distracting.

    Spaceship earth is next. We had not been there since renovations.

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    We enjoyed the new ending. We all had a good laugh at the screens on the descent.

    It’s about quarter to 5 now and we are ready to head out. We will be back another day to see more. I first stop at guest svcs to upgrade our tickets. I find out that if we do upgrade we will get paper tickets and not the tickets on the room keys. I am getting forgetful in my old age but I thought last trip we upgraded tickets at a park with no problem. OK, we can deal, we will go back to Pop and upgrade the tickets there.
     
  7. clearskies

    clearskies DIS Veteran

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    We get back to Pop and I upgrade our tickets so we can Hop around the World. We then Headed to our room and see that my SIL’s family is fortunately put in the room right next to us. The kids go and join them at the pool for a bit and then after cooling off we head over to Disney Studios.

    By the time we get to DS and make our way over to Sunset Blvd the line for Fantasmic is already huge for the 8:30 show and we are there an hour early. We still need some food too. Our strategy is to grab some food to go, get on line and eat in the theater, My wife gets on line at the Turkey Leg place and I get on line at the Rosie's All American Cafe for some burgers. Just my luck, the person managing the register is having some real issues with a transaction and the line is not moving at all. My wife eventually comes by, The kids started to sit and eat but I am still no where close to ordering. The CM has brought a manager over now. Eventually I abandoned ship and decided another Turkey Leg is the best option since there is only one person in line there. While I am waiting, my wife hears an announcement that it is Standing Room Only for Fantasmic. No thank you. Time to re-plan. We decide we will wait for the 10PM show. So we take our time now to eat.

    After eating we have some time to kill. We decide to head over to Toy Story Mania for hoots to check out the wait. It is around 8PM at this time and the wait is 2 hours! Holy Crow. So much for Fantasmic driving the crowd away from the rest of the park. We wander around and find ourselves outside of One Man’s Dream. Why not, we have time to kill and have never been there.

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    This is another diversion I would not rate as a "must do" but I am not disappointed that we ventured in. The film at the end was a very good tribute to Walt. After this, we wander a bit. It is about 8:30 and it has started to rain lightly. I decide I want a picture of the Big Hat before we head over to line up.

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    We line up probably earlier than we need to for the 10 PM show but we have nothing else that we are compelled to do at this point. I take a pics of TOT while waiting in line.

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    While waiting I decide to get some ice cream for the kids. Again I have a knack for picking just the right line for someone who wants to go on a diet. This line for frozen treats has stalled. Eventually I see the line of people for Fantasmic moving so I abandon the quest for ice cream for the kids and try to find the family in the hoard of people moving. I do eventually catch up and we then go into a series of move the crowd a little then stand and wait a long time then move then wait etc. Why we start and stop moving is a complete mystery to me but we are just following everyone else like a herd of cattle. The 8:30 show ends at about 9PM. Ok good, the kids are getting tired and we just need to wait a little bit more for the crowd to depart and we can soon get off our feet. Not quite. It took about 40 min until we actually got into the theater. We did end up getting very good seats not in the very center section but one section over and only a few rows back. Unfortunately It’s raining a little harder at this point and I am praying to the weather gods that that after all this they don’t cancel the show. The rain is not a hard rain but it is not letting up. Thankfully the show does go on. Though I tried to keep my camera covered for most of the show I did take it out for pics periodically.

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    We had seen Fant before and if you would ask me I would probably have ranked it 3rd out of the 3 night shows. Strangely enough though sitting in the rain this night watching this show I gained a new appreciation of Fantasmic. It is truly spectacular. Go figure, now that it is a terrible ordeal to see the dang show I enjoy it more. I hope that the next time we are back they see the error in their ways and move back to more nights per week. I am probably overly optimistic on that though.

    Leaving the park was incredible and almost surreal. We start heading to our bus stop and there is a looooong line of people backed up before you even get to the section where the bus stops are. I get this bad feeling as we are walking and we eventually ask someone in line where they are going. Of course it is Pop. We turn around and do the walk of horror as we proceed to the end of the line. I think we were in EPCOT by the time we got there. I have never been on such a long bus line. It was so bad that it was somewhat comical. Especially seeing the faces of other unsuspecting rubes like us when they realized that this was their line. At some point after we are numb from the rain steadily beating down on us we actually got on a bus.
     
  8. clearskies

    clearskies DIS Veteran

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    We eventually got back to Pop and got the kids to sleep. We had a long day and we did a lot more than I thought but I had more work to do. I headed out with my tripod to take some pics. I shared some pictures from this excursion in my Intro. Here are some others.


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    I eventually looked at my watch and it was 1:45 AM. Yikes, time to call it a night. I need to get up early the next day for golf.

    What was I thinking?

    My gosh that is a lot for just Day 1.
     
  9. Missus Toad

    Missus Toad <font color=red>Amazing! She actually stays awake

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    Wow, that is a lot for Day 1! You all were on the move, and got a lot done despite the weather. My DD and DH did the KP in France as well, having lunch with Remy afterward, and they loved it. Sounds like you all had fun too. Maybe next time I'll be the designated parent-spy. Awesome Remy pics, btw.

    I love your SE pics! Actually, I love all your pics, but wow. Those were great.

    I haven't been to One Man's Dream or F! yet, but your TR is making me more interested, although the crowd situation at F! is so daunting to me. I might have cried at a bus line like that at that hour!

    Gorgeous Pop pics! Everything looks so shiny. I wonder if it's the rain giving it all a glow.

    Looking forward to next! :)
     
  10. Quicklabs

    Quicklabs DIS Veteran

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    I'm loving this trip report! Your pictures and narrative are both so fun! You really have a talent for photography (glad that you've joined us over on the Photoboard as well!) Eagerly looking forward to the next installment.
     
  11. MeMom

    MeMom DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for sharing your great pictures! We've stayed at Pop many times, so it's nice to walk around again through your wonderful pictures. We'll be back there at Christmas, as a matter of fact.

    I wish I knew as much about photography as you do, because I would love to get such clear pictures.

    I'm looking forward to more fun with your family on this report! :)
     
  12. clearskies

    clearskies DIS Veteran

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    Missus Toad.
    Thank you so much for sticking with me!! I am glad to hear you had a great time in France with Remy as well. I just had to see him before he left the world behind. Thank you for the comments on the pictures.

    I do recommend One Man's Dream if you are not rushed for time to get in the headliners in the Park. If you have never seen Fantasmic I think you should try to brave the crowds one time. The 10PM show was easier to get into and you did not need to line up as early as we did. I think it was just a little too late though for my kids after a long day. I am not sure what we will do next time. I can also say that there was a marked difference in crowds throughout the park on Fantasmic days. We saw that later in the trip as well. So, if you are not using Park hoppers and are constrained to one day at DS then you may want to avoid it.


    Quicklabs,
    Thank you for coming over. I love the photography board. There are some phenomenal pictures that people post over there. It is a great place to pick up tips and get new ideas on photo ops. I am glad you found me here.


    Memom.
    Thank you for joining as well. I have never been to WDW at Christmas. I am envious. Regarding pictures at pop at night, the most important piece of equipment is a tripod. I think most cameras will be able to take good pictures if you have your camera mounted on a tripod. You don't need an expensive camera and lens to get a nice shot of a still subject with a long exposure. There is a bit more to it than just putting your camera on a tripod though. If you want more details, let me know and I will try to explain more on settings.
    Or if you want any full size picture of mine I won't mind sending.
     
  13. clearskies

    clearskies DIS Veteran

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    I have 2 days arranged on our trip where I had made other plans outside the WDW Complex. Yes, I acknowledge this is heresy. Day 2 is one of those days. I had plans to meet up with an old friend to chase a little white ball around and beat it with a stick for 18 holes. I am not an avid golfer and I typically would not take time away from my family vacation for golf but I did want to see my friend and I will give up some of my precious vacation time for visiting friends and family (well up to a limit that is, let's not get crazy). Since I am pretty darn sure you couldn't care less about my golf outing I am going to fast forward to the late afternoon when I caught up with the family. While I was gone the rest of my family and my SIL's family headed to Blizzard Beach. This was their first experience at a Disney Waterpark. I was a little disappointed not to be going as well but I got over it. I am sorry but I don't have any pictures of Blizzard Beach and my details are limited to the fact that they had a great time. My kids love water parks so I knew they would. They mostly spent time at the wave pool and lazy river but they did hit some of the less intense slides.

    When I caught up with the family it was time to get cleaned up and then head to the Grand Floridian for Dinner at 1900PF with my SIL's family. Though we both had cars, the others didn't want to take them for a reason I wish I could explain but is somewhat lost on me. I supposed being packed into a bus with hot and sweaty people is more appealing to some. So, I figured we would take the bus to MK and then the monorail around. When we got to MK though I saw the boat docks and thought "now that's a good idea". Everyone was up for it so we took the boat across the Seven Seas Lagoon.


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    We ended up getting to the check in station at the Grand Floridian 25 min early so I asked the CM there if there was any chance of getting in early. I think he had to bite his tongue to stop from laughing at me. He probably wanted to say, "look around you, you dolt, don't you see a hoard of people standing around waiting" but instead he politely told me that they were running at least 25 min behind so we may want to find someplace to get comfortable. He handed us a pager and off we went to occupy our time.

    Everyone decided to head to the gift store first. Shopping is not my thing so I sat in the lobby for a while. It is truly a spectacular lobby area. Probably the nicest I have seen across the resorts but I have not been to them all yet. I took this picture while sitting but it does not do it justice. I should have gotten up to find a better vantage point but I didn't because, well I was lazy.

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    I eventually decided I need to get up off my rear and I should walk around and take in the beauty of the resort. Of course my camera came along to keep me company.

    When you look at this photo you can capture my emotion at the time by thinking how peaceful and serene it is...
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    Then add to that a feeling of hunger coupled with exhaustion and you've just about captured it.


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    I made my way back to the lobby and found the rest of my party sitting watching old cartoons. It was not too much longer before we were paged to go in.

    We saw who I thought was the headliner first, Cinderella. She was very pleasant but she didn't say too much. She signed autographs, posed for pictures and went on her way.

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    Next up was prince Charming. He had a brief conversation with the kids but was quiet and I could not hear it but the kids were smiling so I am sure it was all good.

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    We chowed down on the food for a while and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with the quality. I was worried after reading some negative reviews that the food would not be that good. I was truly not bad at all for a buffet. I have a restricted diet so I could not eat everything but the food I was able to eat was fresh and tasty. The rest of our party enjoyed the fare as well. We hit four buffets this trip and I think that this was the best of the four.

    After a while Anastasia, Drizella and Lady Tremaine came in to our area and the atmosphere of the room changed. There was much more energy with them moving about. They would shout across the room to each other and were having a lot of fun with the tables. Anastasia came to our table first and she was a blast. She had our table in stitches with her attitude. She posed for a few pictures with the family making sure to give us funny faces.

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    My nephew does not like to participate in any of the photos with the character. It's just not his thing. She pointed at him and asked with an attitude "What's up with him". I figured I would rile her up a little so I told her "well, he really does not like you". She then proceeded to chase him around the table screeching and trying to kiss him.

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    He did put up a good chase. She eventually caught him and they ended up on the floor. Don't worry, we were not laughing at a little boy being traumatized. I assure you that he was smiling and having a good time.

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    After Anastasia, Lady Tremaine came by. She was very good in character as well. Not as animated as Anastasia but she played her part well. I asked her for some tips on getting the kids to do more chores. She had a good stern and sneering attitude with the kids. They realized it was all in fun.

    I must say she did look a bit young for the part though. Perhaps she spent time at the royal plastic surgeon to look as young as her daughters.
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    Our last character was Drizella. She was also very funny. She was interested in my son's eligibility as a prince. She has some great poses with the family.


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    Overall the Step Sisters made the meal. Especially Anastasia. I suppose it is unfair to say that Cinderella was not fun. She was playing her character and she was really not that different in her manner than other princesses we have eaten with at CRT or Akershus. She just did not stand a chance when compared to the energy of the Step sisters. I wish they had more character meals where the characters did a bit more than a greeting, a pose and move on. Some of this is our own doing for not having too much to say ourselves. I think the Mad Hatter at breakfast may be a similar experience at the character breakfast but I have no experience with it. I do recommend the dinner at 1900 PF though and will be a repeat candidate for us on future trips.

    I did not make any plans for after dinner since I wanted to call it an early night. I wanted to experience our first rope drop at MK the next day and thought best to get the family well rested. On the way back to the resort, my SIL's family decided that we were mentally insane to want to get up so early on vacation so they were going to meet us later in the park. We ended up getting back to Pop at about 9:30 PM. Since it was far too early for me to sleep, I decided that I would do some laundry. Yes, I realize this is only our second day but I figured since I had the time I may as well get some out of the way now since we would not have enough clean clothes to last the entire trip. I also figured that in between cycles I would go off and get more pictures of the areas of the resort I had not explored the previous night. It takes about 45 minutes for washing and another 45 min for drying so I had time in between to get these..

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    I was done with laundry a little after 11PM and I headed back to the room. I stayed up a bit longer copying pics, charging devices, etc and then headed to sleep excited about MK the next day.
     
  14. Missus Toad

    Missus Toad <font color=red>Amazing! She actually stays awake

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2004
    Messages:
    1,008
    Good for you, taking time to see your friend! I'm sure it was a nice break in the action. I think my DH would enjoy Disney more if he'd play 18.

    Your lagoon pics are beautiful and totally capture that peaceful feeling of the view. I especially love the one looking over at the Poly, and oh, that little yellow flag on the launch! :goodvibes Can you tell I'm a huge fan of the MK resort area?

    You're right, the Tremaines are way funny, and it comes across perfectly in the shots you took. And I agree Lady Tremaine did seem younger than ever! Glad your son had fun with it. I'm not sure how my character averse son would have taken it.

    Again, great Pop photos! I'm drawn back to the one over Tramp's shoulder for some reason. Neat perspective.

    Looking forward to next!
     
  15. vettegirl

    vettegirl Dole Whip Queen

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    Messages:
    6,185
    Great report so far, and beautiful photos.
     
  16. Lizziejane

    Lizziejane <font color=darkorchid>Funny how everyone is diffe

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2006
    Messages:
    1,311
    loving your report, and your pics! drooling here over those purrrrdy white lenses...
     
  17. clearskies

    clearskies DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2007
    Messages:
    631
    Missus Toad,
    Thank you. The photo of the boat headed to the GF with the yellow flag and the picture of the beach with the Poly in the background are 2 of my favorites.

    I was a little concerned about my nephew at first but I saw him smiling so it was all good.

    Lizziejean and vettegirl,
    Thank you so much for your comments and joining in!!!
     
  18. clearskies

    clearskies DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2007
    Messages:
    631
    We are not a Rope drop family. We may aspire to be a rope drop family (ok perhaps I aspire not we) but we can't seem to get up and going quite early enough to be there before opening. Just once I wanted to see what this phenomenon was all about. Today was the day. Today we join this special breed of individuals. We will attempt to join the elite class of rope drop members. I was not quite sure we were going to be allowed in the club but we were going to try. I picked this day because it was a Saturday at Magic Kingdom and a Spectro Day so I figured the crowds could be a little higher. We were going to get that extra edge that others in our newly joined club experienced as they laugh at the people in their long lines later in the day. Little did we know that we were also going to be tired and cranky by the late afternoon but I am getting ahead of ourselves.

    I got the family up early. There would be no breakfast at the food court today. The kids would eat in the room some cereal and milk and some fruit I bought the day before. I kept the milk in a cooler bag with ice in case you were wondering. Through some minor miracle we were somehow leaving the room at about 8AM. We were actually on the move earlier than I ever imagined. Shortly after 8AM we were walking out the doors of the Pop lobby to the bus stops and we saw a bus already sitting at the stop. Our good fortune was starting already. We turned up an extra gear and sprinted to the bus. We walked on and I had to do a double take. The bus was packed and we barely fit. Who the heck are all these people? This is insane. Don't they realize how early it is?

    When we got to the park we made it past the security checks and ticketing area I went to go get a locker for my tripod while the rest of the family lined up. The crowd was actually not actually that large. Where did everyone on the bus go? There had to be busloads of people from other resorts as well. It occurred to me that they were probably getting in early for breakfast reservations. Boy that seemed like a lot of people that must have had breakfast reservations. While we were waiting for the opening, I took a couple of pics but I noticed something bizarre in the sky today. It had a strange color that I was not familiar with so far this trip. The sky was actually blue instead of the gray cloudy skies we were getting accustomed to.

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    While waiting for the ceremony to start I struck up a conversation with the Photopass photographer who was waiting to capture the event. What a great job to have and she truly seemed to enjoy working there. We watched the ceremony and the lucky family that opened the park.

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    Though the ceremony was nice it certainly did not instill in me the desire to get up early in the future just to see this. It is really the empty park that is the draw. This ceremony is just an added perk to entertain us before we get to business. We joined the flow of people streaming in and I am pleased to say that we did not experience the mad rush of people that I was half dreading. No pushing, shoving or fear of trampling like the day after Thanksgiving at Walmart on this day. We were not rushing to be one of the first out of the starting gate either though. Perhaps at the head of the field there is more action going on. Once we got in, we were not going to stop for pictures. We rope drop people have an agenda and it doesn't involve stopping for pictures. It's in the charter of our club that we don't attend to such foolishness when you can get a picture any time of the day. I told the family to head over to Dumbo and I would catch up after I got Fast Passes for Splash. I can walk a lot quicker than they do. Along the way I saw Frontier Donald all alone. Fellow members of the club will have to excuse me. I had to stop for a few seconds and take a picture of him. He needed some love.


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    I got our FPs and made my way over and joined my family just as they were getting on line for Dumbo.

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    After Dumbo, we had to hit Peter Pan while the line was still small. Little did I realize this was soon to be my nemesis. I was truly not ready for what was awaiting me. It is very dark and you are moving quickly so you need a fast shutter speed to get a decent photo. I foolishly thought I would try my zoom lens on the ride. Bad idea. After a nice collection of blurry pictures the ride spit me out at the end laughing at me and told me to come back when I know what I am doing. I realize I will have to improve my game the next time I attempt this. I'll be back again later in the week and I'll be ready for it with a more suitable lens and then we'll see who's laughing (or perhaps crying).

    I was ready for some Pooh next (the ride that is, not, well never mind) but my wife asked to ride Snow White first. Um, you sure, well ok if you really want to we can. Could you tell that Snow white is not a ride that excites me? There was not much of a line so I succumbed. After this we made our way over to see the Silly Old Bear in the Hundred Acre Woods.

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    After we get our Pooh out of the way I checked my watch and it was about 9:45. Ugh, my daughter is going to want be part of this mad craze to see the fairies and the extra time at Snow White threw us off. We better hightail it over to Toontown pronto. As we are walking over, we can see that they already started to let people in. That is bad news we are going to be in for a wait. We got on the line and the CM told us it would be about an hour. Tell me it's not so, an hour of my precious non-crowded park time! The line is not going to get any better later in the day so we settle in. As it turns out it took only about 45 minutes before we were being shrunken down to a tiny size to see the fairies. The process was quite painless I assure you. The CM who let us in told us who we were seeing. The only fairy I know is Tinkerbell. She said the names of the others but it went in one ear and out the other. They were all very nice though and they interacted well with the kids and had great smiles. The CMs there were good about taking pictures with my camera of the entire family as well. Overall, I think it was almost worth the wait but hopefully it is an item we can scratch off the list and not need on future trips unless the hysteria dies down around this.

    Here is who we saw

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    After we were done I asked the CM if we could keep the kids small. They would be much easier to bring around the park if they were fairy size and we could get an extra ride on FP attractions since they could ride in our pockets. Alas, the CM said we all had to go back to our rightful size. Again it was remarkably painless.

    Since we were in the area we took a quick tour of Minnie and Mickey’s digs. I love the attention to detail in these houses.

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    I love the book titles
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    After getting out we saw the train at the station and hightailed it over and got on. We rode it around to Frontierland to get to the best ride in the Park...
     
  19. Missus Toad

    Missus Toad <font color=red>Amazing! She actually stays awake

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2004
    Messages:
    1,008
    Hilarious update-- love the rope drop narration! :lmao: I also got acquainted with the time vampire that is the fairy meet and greet the last time we made rope drop. :headache:

    I never noticed what the lettering on the train station window said-- thanks for the closeup! The pics of the clock were cool. Also loved the detail shots in Toontown. The keys and the checker board were especially nice.

    Can't wait to see what comes of your second go at Peter Pan! I can almost hear Hook in your "voice" as you vow comeuppance for the ride. :laughing:
     
  20. clearskies

    clearskies DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2007
    Messages:
    631
    Thank you again Missus Toad,

    LOL "time vampire" :rotfl2: I love that description. What an apt description.

    Oh that Peter Pan ride is evil incarnate.
     
  21. clearskies

    clearskies DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2007
    Messages:
    631
    We left off on our way to Frontierland. Taking a load off and taking the train from Toontown to Frontierland was a great idea. Our feet were thanking us profusely.

    When we got off we were ready for..
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    Before getting on the Fast Pass return line though, I went to get Fast Passes for the "Wildest Ride in the Wilderness". When I got back I found that our daughter decided she was not going on Splash. I know she will like it but the drop has her scared and I can certainly understand the fear. I'm a big chicken myself and I was scared of big drops when I was younger. Ok, perhaps even a bit now as well but the Splash Drop does not seem that bad to me now. I will never force my kids to go on to a ride though and I just don't understand parents who bring miserable or crying kids on rides. Can either of them really enjoy the experience when this happens? We do try to convince her to give it a shot but she wants no part of this so we decided to take turns. At least my son got to ride twice. I got some good pictures during my turn.

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    When my son and I got off my wife said my daughter was getting hungry. I had already formulated a plan so I was ready to spring into action. Off my daughter and I went while my wife and son hit Splash. There is really nothing in Frontierland that excites me for food so we walked to Columbia Harbor House. I picked up a tuna sandwich and some chicken and fish lunches to go. Perhaps my plan should have been thought out better though. I should have at least had the foresight to tell my wife to bring her backpack with her on the ride because carrying my camera backpack, her backpack, a bunch of lunches with desserts and drinks across the park made Frontierland become Adventureland for me because it was an adventure in itself to make it back without depositing some of the food on the ground. My daughter helped but it was still not easy. We somehow made it back without losing our lunch and my wife and son were already waiting for us. I said "let’s go we are going to have a picnic" and I told them to follow me. Well, first I lightened my load and then I said follow me. This will give you a clue where we went.

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    Tom Sawyer's Island is a place we had never made our way to in past trips. I just didn't think this was worth my precious park time in the past. After we rafted over we found a nice spot with some seats near the water and ate. I sat in a rocking chair and my wife and kids sat in some seats at a table with a checkerboard. It was a great, quiet spot away from the fray. I must say, I had heard good things about the Tuna from CHH and was skeptical but this was one darned good sandwich especially considering the fact that I am not a big tuna fan. The food not the football coach but come to think of it I am not a fan of that Big Tuna either after he left the Jets. After eating we explored the island and the kids really enjoyed this area. I am sorry we waited until this trip to make it over there because I think that soon my kids will be too old to be interested. They are still adventurous enough now though to really enjoy exploring the island. The kids especially loved the mines and caves.

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    We had seen most of the island except a fort that was there. I decided to let the rest of the family go explore while made it back to civilization to get FP for the Jungle Cruise. Yes, I can't get enough of walking from one area of the park to another. I made it back before their raft came in so while waiting I struck up a conversation with one of the CMs there. Once again I found myself talking to someone who was very happy working at Disney. I must say I have seen people write about CMs that are not happy and how it comes across with their service but all the CMs I came across seemed to be happy and I can't say I experienced any unfriendly service during my trip. Slow service in some cases yes but never any poor attitudes.

    After their raft came in we used our FPs for the BTMRR

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    My kids loved it. It has no big drops to scare my daughter. It is a great ride for people who like moderate thrills. It only has small hills and fast paced turns. My daughter actually insisted we ride again. We were happy to oblige since the wait was only 10 min. I tried to capture the moment but I did not quite get what I was hoping for.

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    My son wanted to take a ride on the Doom Buggies next. This is another tough ride to photograph but I got much better results than that other cruel ride. The pictures I took later in the week came out better though so I will hold off from showing pictures now except for one of the bride which I think came out great. She's a doll isn't she?

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    After HM I asked if they wanted to check out Hall of Presidents. This is yet another attraction we were breaking new ground with. While waiting, I once again demonstrated my ability to perform acts of stupidity. First let me explain that I wear contacts. My eye was itching a bit so I found myself somewhat reflexively rubbing my eye which is not a bright thing to do when you wear contacts. In the process I happened to shift one of my contacts to the far reaches of my eye and it was so excited to travel to new places that it wanted no part in coming back to its rightful place. I've done this brilliant move before and usually I will take the other contact out and wear glasses until I can get the escaped runaway back out. That was not going to happen here though unless we left the park and headed back to the resort. Instead, I resigned to having half sight for the rest of the day. I had a feeling this was going to give me a headache later though. It's not fun seeing clearly out of one eye and complete blur on the other. To make things worse the bad eye happened to be the eye that I use to look through the camera with when taking pictures. I tried switching that around but you can't teach this old dog new tricks. Thus, I also resigned to the fact that I was not going to be able to tell if any of my subjects were in focus for the rest of the day.

    Here are a couple of pics I have from the show.


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    There was one audience member hooting and hollering for the presidents. All except George Bush that is. He did not get a warm reception at all from this person. Um, you do realize they are not real right and they can't really hear you. I actually don't mind a little enthusiasm from the audience but this was a little extreme and became distracting after a while. I was probably bothered by the eye thing so I was not in the best frame of mind either. I'd have to say that this attraction did not get classified as a must do. We scratched it off of our list of attractions we had never done and moved on. For inquiring minds that want to know there are only now only 3 attractions left that we have never experienced: 1. Country Bear Jamboree 2. Liberty Belle 3. Astro Orbiter. We never really had the desire to see the Country Bears. The Liberty Belle does not seem like anything special and my kids have not too afraid of the Astro Orbiter which is fine by me since the line moves slowly.

    Next we decided to use our FP for the Jungle Cruise. It was about 3PM at this time. I had read somewhere that Adventureland empties out during the parade time and boy this seemed to have some truth to it. We did not need our fast Passes at all for this attraction. The ride was ok but I have had better skippers and this ride is all about the skipper. I must say the poor guy was not helped by the fact that the people on the boat were almost as dead as what we saw at the haunted mansion. My wife and I tried to assist by laughing at his jokes but more help was needed. My contact was still on holiday so I did not take many photos but I did like this picture.


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    After we were done with JC we started to make our way to Pirates when we saw my SIL's family sitting on a bench. We sat down with them and caught up. They arrived around noon time (boy I am glad we did not wait for them) and had hit Tomorrowland first. They were now sitting waiting for their FP return time for JC. We told them there was no wait on standby but they still wanted to relax for a bit and wait. We were going to opposite areas of the park so we decided we would keep going our separate ways and meet at Dinner.

    The wait was only about 10 min for Pirates. Note that this ride is difficult enough to photograph when you can actually see.

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    After we got off, my wife suggested we go a second time around. I was all for it. I could sit on the other side of the boat and take some blurry pictures from that side as well. On the second go around I ran into yet another problem. My memory card reached its limit and I had to fumble in the dark to dig into my camera bag and get a new card. A lesson learned here is to check before you get on a ride or a show if you are reaching capacity and keep an extra card in your pocket that you can access easily. I don't expect me to learn this but perhaps you may learn from my mistakes. I eventually got my camera operational again and then something good finally happened. My wandering contact lens decided it wanted to see Johnny Depp and it came back down to its home to see what was going on. Finally I could see what I was shooting. Here are some more pics:

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    My kids got the bug in them to go to Tomorrowland after talking with their cousins which was fine since that was the last land we had not reached. I'll tell you my son absolutely loves Buzz. I think it is his favorite ride in the park. So, after POC they wanted no part of the Tiki Room or the Aladdin ride and no, the Treehouse wasn't even on the table. It was off to Tomorrowland for us.
     

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