Happy Disney Halloween!!

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It’s Halloween!!  The bestest best day of the year! Unless you don’t like it. In which case OK. 🙂
But either way, one of the really fun things about Halloween is how much Disney celebrates it, too. They have exactly the kind of fun that you should have with it – submerging you in spooky fun, just scary enough to kind of make you grin without going too far. 🙂

If you’re needing a little Disney infusion into your Halloween, here are some of my favourite cartoon shorts!
Always a classic: The Dancing Skeletons, from 1929!

This has been my favourite Disney cartoon since forever. From 1952, Donald’s Trick or Treat! Got a catchy tune and plus Donald’s feet change colour!

No batch of Disney Halloween cartoons could EVER be complete without the masterpiece, “Lonesome Ghosts” from 1937!

Embedding is disabled on this particular video, but here is the Headless Horseman song from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1949), performed by the wonderful Bing Crosby!

What’s your favourite Halloween Disney cartoon that I may have missed? Leave a comment; better yet, leave a link! 😀

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Trip Report 2013: The last of Day 2! For reals, now.

After redoing Star Tours, we headed on over to Toy Story Mania to finally use our FastPasses.  It was the same ride it always is, which is to say, FUN as heck and fast-moving but I will not ride it without a FastPass.  I used the standby queue ONCE, on soft open in 2008.  It was 45 minutes and honestly?  It was WORTH it, because I was alone, the ride was fun, and Mr. Potato Head was awesome. It is a great queue! But I wouldn’t wait 45 minutes now, with my kids, and I’ll tell you one more thing: the line is never, ever as short as 45 minutes. I never see it less than 60 and sometimes up to 90 minutes.  No deal.

So long story short, I haven’t seen Mr. Potato Head in 5 years. His loss, really.

He's been waiting for me to return, all this time.

He’s been waiting for me to return, all this time.

Anyway after TSM, it was past 6:30 so we were off after dinner.  I had picked out Fairfax Fare as our dinner place, because D loves herself some mac and cheese and they have some really interesting gourmet hot dogs.  I hadn’t paid much attention to where Fairfax Fare is located but I knew it was on Sunset Blvd, and had a pretty good mental picture of where I thought it was. Because I am awesome, I was pretty nearly EXACTLY right. 😀  (Still no maps, people! I didn’t pick up a map of HS until the next day!)

Sunset Blvd is my favourite area of the park, and normally I snap a ton of pictures as I walk down it.  This time I was trying to conserve batteries, so I didn’t, but you know – it’s kind of the same most times, I’ll admit.  So here are a few from my 2011 trip. 😀

Lovin' this walk!

Lovin’ this walk!

And lovin' this view!

And lovin’ this view!

Ever buy any produce from here? I'm sure it's very Anaheimy.

Ever buy any produce from here? I’m sure it’s very Anaheimy.

I have nothing special to say about this picture!

I have nothing special to say about this picture!

Ever found this luggage?

Ever found this luggage?

I'm almost sure that when I was here in '08, this same woman was assisting a director. I'm NEARLY sure it's her. Way to climb the ladder to fame, honey! :D

I’m almost sure that when I was here in ’08, this same woman was assisting a director. I’m NEARLY sure it’s her. Way to climb the ladder to fame, honey! 😀

The downside of being on Sunset Blvd is you’re staring down Tower of Terror, which you love like whoa, and on your left is Rock N’ Roller Coaster, which you also love like crazycakes, and your daughter is scared of both so you can’t do them this trip. Ohhhh, wellll. 🙂

 

This is from 2011, but I just can't resist sneaking in a pic of this view!

This is from 2011, but I just can’t resist sneaking in a pic of this view!

 

We picked out our meals at Fairfax Fare and moved off to the side to wait for them.  My plan for dessert was to pick up a cupcake from Starring Rolls that we could split; they had a limited time Halloween Minnie carrot cupcake at various counter service places that looked delicious and I’d eyed it but decided not to go for it this time, mainly because carrot cake normally has walnuts and D is allergic to nuts.

Well, our food took a little while to come, and while we were waiting the CMs told another couple of guests that they’d get the turkey legs that they had ordered for free if they gobbled like turkeys.  I had heard this as a rumour but never actually seen it demonstrated!  Sadly, the guests declined, and paid for their food.  Ahhh, well. 😀  They must have needed to give something away for free, though, because when our food came the CM looked at the time on our receipt and said “You guys have been waiting too long – be right back” and she came back with TWO full-sized Halloween Minnie cupcakes.  D asked “Do they have nuts?” and guess what?  They DIDN’T! 😀

So a quick food review: D got mac and cheese with carrot sticks and grapes, pretty standard.  I decided to get one of these fancypants hot dogs, so I got one covered with mac and cheese, bacon, and truffle oil. Yep – TRUFFLE OIL.  To be completely honest, I… don’t know what I thought of it. 🙂  Everything on it was good, but maybe I just don’t like hot dogs enough.  Or it might be the combination of the quick serve mac and cheese WITH the hot dog, I don’t know.  Either way, I have to admit I don’t recommend it.

Gourmet hot dog from Fairfax Fare: Mac&cheese, bacon and truffle oil. I give it 2 1/2 stars.

Gourmet hot dog from Fairfax Fare: Mac&cheese, bacon and truffle oil. I give it 2 1/2 stars.

The cupcakes, on the other hand – oh, myyyyy.  Neither of us could finish them (not even one, let alone both!), but they were wonderful. The frosting is orange – and is actually orange creme flavoured cream cheese frosting.  It’s topped with a little chocolate witch’s hat, in purple and orange.  D ate the hat, and some of the cake, but she said the frosting was too sweet and she didn’t really have much more than a few bites of her own.  I ate about half of mine, and D ate more of just the cake on mine before we had to toss them both; we were too full, and the frosting on them was melting in the heat!  She really enjoyed the cake part though.

Minnie Mouse Halloween Carrot Cake cupcakes!  4 stars! :D

Minnie Mouse Halloween Carrot Cake cupcakes! 4 stars! 😀

Absolutely wonderful, though, and worked out perfectly since I was going after cupcakes and no allergies got in the way. I do LOVE carrot cake.

By now it was getting dark. I decided that it would be fun to do a little shopping for ME; and for years now I’ve been looking for a particular shirt. I saw it in 2008 and thought “Nah, I’ll get it later” and then couldn’t find it in 2011.  It’s a Tower of Terror shirt.  So in the waning light I had D follow me to the gift shop for Tower of Terror – this was neat because she was able to see the entrance, some of the spooky decor, and the sign lighting up with the attraction logo on it – and we FOUND MY SHIRT! 😀

We also browsed around for some other gifts and I got into a discussion with a CM about Star Wars Episode 7.

At this point I was lugging around several bags, and it was dark, so we decided that MuppetVision 3D would be our next, and last, attraction before we left.  (We never did make it to meet Woody or Buzz, nor several other things I had said we would “consider”. That’s OK though.  We have no regrets.)

MuppetVision is the same each time, and yet each time I laugh like I haven’t seen it before. It’s such a goofy, lovely show.  The fact that it’s one of the last Muppet projects that Jim Henson worked on, and completed, may be part of why I hold it in high regard.

So you know how D got a little acknowledgment from the Tin Man in the Great Movie Ride?  Well, Statler and Waldorf picked on me. 😉  “Hey Waldorf! Look at that guy in the Goofy mask!” “That’s not a mask!” “Oh. Sorry, lady!”

Honestly I really do feel like they're actually really up there. :D This photo is by Jack Spence @ AllEars.Net: http://land.allears.net/blogs/jackspence/2010/08/i_know_i_heard_it_someplace_qu_2.html

Honestly I really do feel like they’re actually really up there. 😀 This photo is by Jack Spence @ AllEars.Net: http://land.allears.net/blogs/jackspence/2010/08/i_know_i_heard_it_someplace_qu_2.html

I noticed during this that they were looking approximately in our direction, so I said to D, “Hey! I think he meant me!  Statler, you’re a jerk!”

D took this seriously and kept reminding me afterwards that Statler heckled me. XD

One of my big joys was that I got D to start pointing out where Bean Bunny was.  There were not many people in the audience, and even fewer were kids; plus she’s not really a big “participation” kid, but when the voices come in saying “I see one! Over there!” I kind of said something like “Hey yeah! Up there!” to go along with it – this is how we’ve always watched “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” too, with me answering the TV first and then her picking up on it.  Well, it worked this time too and she jumped right in. “Up there!  He’s right up there!”  Ahhhh, I like to think it’s probably kinda gratifying for the Sweetums guy when kids actually join in. 😀

D was also super-impressed by the state of the theatre as we left, and by the fact that by the time we were nearly out the doors, it was miraculously “fixed”. “How’d they DO that?!” she wanted to know.  Sometimes I tell her (usually if it’s something kind of scary), and sometimes I just say “Magic!” 😀

…So.  It was now nearing 8pm, and that was our time to leave.  We walked through the Muppet Stuff store in search of Fraggle Rock memorabilia (spoiler alert: there is none), then just wandered about a little bit.  I hated to leave, because I really do love this park.  Does it need some TLC?  Oh, yes.  I want it to be about the movies and Hollywood the way it used to. Kick out American Idol Experience – kick it to the curb!! – nobody likes that one.  (Now I’ll get comments from people who love it. In fact I’ll be sad if I don’t, b/c the idea that everyone really DOES dislike it is sad.)

Take out Lights, Motors, Action.  I love Indiana Jones but that show could be replaced or even removed.  I’m trying to resign myself to the reality that they will likely take out MuppetVision, even though I will cry if they do, and I hope it is still there for at least one more family trip so that my son can see it again before it’s gone… he doesn’t remember it from last time.

Star Wars Land would be fine but I would be happier if they’d revamp the Backlot Tour. I never do that anymore because frankly… what backlot?  And if they take out Graumann’s Chinese Theatre to put in Star Wars Land, I am going to kick some shins.  I’m serious.  SHIN-KICKING WILL HAPPEN.  Update the Great Movie Ride but don’t you DARE get rid of it! 😛

And that, my dear friends, is Day 2. And we can say farewell to Hollywood Studios now. 🙂

Sunday Blog Showcase: Relive The Magic

I’m far, far behind on Blog Showcases and there are a lot of people I’ve intended to get to for some time, so this weekend gets a two-fer! 🙂

Relive The Magic is actually both blog and podcast; you can find the podcast on iTunes, or collected here (for anyone who, like me, doesn’t use iTunes), and you can also get videos of the podcast recordings on the RtM YouTube channel. The podcast is hosted by Dallas Thompson, and he covers a wide amount of news on theme parks, Disney-related news, and very much more.  The podcast is well-informed, Dallas even attends events and records them live for you, and he also covers Disney Infinity and other fun things. 😀

Right now, though, I’m going to focus the rest of this post on the blog portion, because this is a Blog showcase – though I make up my rules so if I wanted to expland it to blog/podcast I COULD, but the other reason is because RtM keeps up the blog pretty regularly and in-depth, and I think that deserves as much of a shout-out as the podcast!  Blogging on a regular basis is HARD, and Dallas puts a lot of information and makes an effort to be thorough rather than just report the basic headlines of whatever news is released.

For instance, here is the RtM blog post on the Avatarland concept art.  As you have seen from my post on the subject (I should say “may have seen” since you might not have), everyone and their mother can post these pictures just to say “Hey look!”  Dallas cropped and enlarged them to examine details that are missed when you look at the whole thing in its original size.  That’s a great thing to do, too, because those concept art images are so full of rich detail that they DESERVE to be called out.

As of this week, Dallas is reporting on the newly-reimagined Disney Magic cruise ship, including the Avengers Academy experience for younger guests, and a description of the “AquaDunk”, the new water ride experience on-board the reimagined ship.  Both of these blog posts offered more information and detail than I have seen in most other forums, particularly Disney’s own official releases, so I find them really useful and I’m looking forward to the next posts.

Definitely keep coming back to Relive The Magic’s blog, and sign on for the podcast as well.  (Particularly the October ones, Dallas and I share a Halloween enthusiasm, and he’s been focusing on Halloween events lately!)

Saturday Blog Showcase: Kasey Knows Orlando

Returning yet again from a temporary hiatus (I need to recover from my vacation! :P) it’s the always hugely popular Saturday Blog Showcase!  I have a backlog of blogs… that sounds neat!… which I have to cover, but I’m skipping slightly ahead this weekend to showcase a nifty informational blog that just started and needs some attention.

Kasey Knows Orlando is written by a longtime Orlando resident with an interest in helping vacationers get the most out of their Orlando vacations, particularly those at Disney World (and Universal and Sea World fit in there too)!  Kasey is, speaking personally, a very sweet person who loves to help others and spread her enthusiasm for Disney and Orlando in general!  She’s got some great insider tips, suggestions for details you might not think of, and she’s also blogging with Orlando Informer for some added bonuses. 😀

The end result is that there is a variety of information on Kasey Knows Orlando. Only every 3rd or 4th post is Disney, on average; in between are articles on Discovery Cove, Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and even additional posts on things like finding Orlando in Las Vegas!  But my favourites are the Disney World posts, and I’ll tell you why: because they pick a few “off the beaten trail” topics and run with them.

A blog, in my opinion, needs to have something to set it apart in order to survive.  If you’re going to be general information, you need to do a GREAT job keeping up with the news and information as it comes out, and present it properly. (We can tell, I fail at that one.)  If you’re going to be opinion-based, you do best to have a solid and engaging writing style to keep people interested in reading your opinions.  And if you’re going to do travel tips, you probably shouldn’t have a blog limited to things like “Did you know you can skip the main lines at a lot of Disney World attractions by using FastPass?” 😉

Instead Kasey focuses on things like “Free Things to do at Disney Deluxe Resorts“, or a “Survival Guide to New Fantasyland“, or my current favourite, “Unique Quick-Service Restaurants at Disney World“.  Why is this last so cool?   Because there are a number of unique counter service restaurants, but it’s also easy to fail to realize they are there if you aren’t planning out your menus in advance.  Out of Kasey’s recommendations, I’ve eaten at Tangeriene Café in Epcot (it’s delish!), Fairfax Fare and Backlot Express at Hollywood Studios, and Flame Tree BBQ in Animal Kingdom.  And they are ALL good 😀

I hope you’ll check out Kasey’s blog and visit regularly for tips and insights you may not see any place else. 🙂  Have fun! (Tell them I sent you! No, you don’t really have to do that, it wouldn’t do anything.  No free pie or anything.)

A slightly-late look at Avatarland

Hey there!  Have you heard?  Disney’s Animal Kingdom is adding a massive park expansion and theming it to James Cameron’s recent film “Avatar”.

What’s that you say?  Of course you’ve heard, because you are a Disney fan and have not been living underneath a rock for the past few months?  Ah, yes, I AM a little late reporting on this. 😉

Oh wait, what’s that from the person in the back?  You say you DIDN’T know, because you don’t live under a rock but you just don’t follow Disney news obsessively?  Ah, well then, glad to help!  So yeah.  Animal Kingdom.  Avatar.  Happening.

…Yeah.

*crickets*

NO WAIT, there’s more!  (Don’t go! I’ll stop deprecating myself now and put up some real info!)

James Cameron et al and a model of the planned expansion. (C) The Walt Disney Company.

James Cameron et al and a model of the planned expansion. (C) The Walt Disney Company.

First things first: after months of rumours and unconfirmed buzzing, Disney finally confirmed the Avatarland expansion a few weeks ago at the D23 Expo in Japan.  A short while later (still like, two weeks ago), they released concept art and a few details of what would be included in this expansion.  Here’s an excerpt:

Disney is working with James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment to bring the land of Pandora from the movie “AVATAR” to life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park.

Apparently everyone will get the chance to “encounter awe-inspiring floating mountains and wander through a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants that are alive with light and sound. Guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee.”

Bioluminescent plants.  Huh.

Bioluminscent... like THIS??  Concept art (C) The Walt Disney Company

Bioluminscent… like THIS?? 😀 Concept art (C) The Walt Disney Company

So, I’ll take a moment here to relate that I have not seen “Avatar”, nor do I have plans to.  As such I wasn’t excited to hear the rumours confirmed, but at the same time, I’m not qualified to say “That movie is AWFUL what are they thinking?!”  I will say that I have reservations about this expansion for one reason I think is legit, and even that can be argued, so I’ll just put it down here and say it’s fine by me if you feel differently, I’m just admitting my bias: I don’t think Animal Kingdom is the place to have such a major, heavy movie tie-in.  Animal Kingdom has been dedicated to the theme of Earth, conservation, and nature.  And while Pandora/Avatar do promise to keep the conservation and nature themes going, it severs the ties to our planet; it takes you out of the Earth and its history, and into a work of fiction.  Even the abandoned “Legendary Beasts” concept for DAK was based in our own historical mythology, not a recent work of fiction by a Hollywood creative team.

But, your mileage may vary. 🙂

I will also admit that if they can pull off the “awe-inspiring floating mountains” in a way that lives up to their pictures, I will be impressed enough by this to bake them cookies.

Concept art (C) The Walt Disney Company.

Concept art (C) The Walt Disney Company.

Meanwhile, the concept art and announcements actually strangely lessened my resistance. A little.  More so though, did this:

As part of the largest expansion in the history of the Park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will also offer all-new entertainment experiences, including a new nighttime spectacular where live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery all combine to bring a show to Discovery River …. The Park will introduce more nighttime entertainment as well, including live performers on Discovery Island® and a new nighttime version of the Kilimanjaro Safaris®.

New nighttime spectacular!  This is a big deal; for many years they have held off on having nighttime entertainment at DAK due to not wanting to upset the animals. (Like fireworks are OUT.)  Water screens and swirling animal imagery sounds perfect!  And live music… isn’t that a first for a Disney nighttime show?  That actually sounds really impressive!

Concept art (C) The Walt Disney Company.

Concept art (C) The Walt Disney Company.

Nighttime version of Kilimanjaro Safaris, I’m not sure of.  I just mean I need to find out what that is all about, because it’s hard for me to imagine it. I’ve done the Jungle Cruise at night, is it like that?  Is it just that the drivers will go off-script? 😉  No, I keep faith that Disney will put research into finding out what they can or cannot expect the animals to do at night and build the nighttime safaris around that, rather than building the show and forcing the animals to be out in it.  Animal Kingdom has been dedicated to its animals and I expect them to keep that up.

So, if there are new opportunities and entertainment at Animal Kingdom, I realized, that really isn’t a bad thing.  Would I like it more if it were not tied into a specific movie I don’t plan on seeing?  Yes, yes I would, but it’s not up to me to decide now is it?  And I would like to hold out hope that fun is fun and, much as I ignore Terk every time I see her walking around DAK, I can ignore any blue people. 🙂

Concept art (c) The Walt Disney Company.

Concept art (c) The Walt Disney Company.

So you know what?  I’ll probably end up OK with this. I usually end up OK with the stuff they do once I get there.  But I hope they keep the hardcore movie references to a minimum because it’s not really fair to go to a DISNEY park and be all “what, you’ve never seen Avatar??  You won’t get this then.” ;P

Construction on Avatarland will begin in 2014, and right now the expected open date is 2017!  Are you wary, or excited about Avatarland? Or mixed feelings, like me?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Magic Bands: the Return of the Revenge of the Plastic Bracelets

For those of you who are regulars, you may recall that about a month or so ago I got Magic Bands for my upcoming trip (two weeks ago) and promised to update on how they worked.  And now the time has come to update!

This is not my picture, it's a Disney-issued one. However this is not that far off what it's like using the bands.

This is not my picture, it’s a Disney-issued one. However this is not that far off what it’s like using the bands.

Here’s the ending first: I actually really liked them. I found them very useful. 🙂

Ordering and customizing them was pretty simple.  I got a notice that I would be participating in the testing phase, with instructions on where to login to order the bands.  I did so, got to customize them (which basically just means picking out colours for everyone, not much else to do) and they arrived two days later.  Right now there is a limited number of colours available, but Disney is already selling accessories like covers and little  knickknacks to stick into the peg holes so there is plenty you can do with them.

Now, this is the testing phase, and I’ve heard from a few people who have run into trouble with the Magic Bands.  I’m here to say that I didn’t.  Pretty much all of it worked out the way it is supposed to, and better than I expected.  I’ll give a reasonably quick run-down of what I liked, and then mention any negatives at the end.  There aren’t many.  Ready?  Here we go!

1) This is my favourite part.  In the past one of the things that got me was all the stuff I ended up carrying around: Key to the World cards, paper FastPasses, dining reservation confirmation numbers, PhotoPass cards, and potentially even more.  With the Magic Bands, all of that is on your wrist.  Since you can get charging privileges to your room, you can even charge your dining and shopping expenses with your Magic Band.  Seriously, I could leave EVERYTHING behind and travel without my wallet if I wanted to.

This is huge for me. Especially because I don’t let my kids carry their tickets/FastPasses by themselves in case they lose them.  So I keep them, hand them over to enter the parks or get FastPasses, and then take them back and store them again and inevitably get them confused with my own.  Now that they are WEARING their park passes (and by extension, their FastPass+ reservations), I don’t have to worry about THAT, either.

On this particular trip, the Magic Band was a blessing for just this reason.  We were resort-hopping and stayed each night on a different reservation – Ft. Wilderness campsite, then Animal Kingdom Lodge, then a different Ft. Wilderness campsite.  I got a new Key to the World card with each check-in.  However, since the Magic Band was activated with our AK Lodge stay, I only had to use the first set of KttW cards and after that I didn’t need any.  Which is a real relief, because here is what I was travelling with:

2 sets of room keys, Halloween party tickets, and a PhotoPass card.  And actually there were two other room cards that I let myself "misplace" in the car somewhere.

2 sets of room keys, Halloween party tickets, and a PhotoPass card. And actually there were two other room cards that I let myself “misplace” in the car somewhere.

Since the first set was still active the entire time and had the tickets on them, I kept them with us.  We did end up using them for extra FastPasses (this will not continue to work once FastPass+ completely takes over).  But I have to tell you, it was a relief not to be pawing through my wallet constantly for everything. (I did not charge to the MagicBands b/c I had everything either cash or on gift cards. But having the option was even more convenient, and next time I come and actually use my credit card, I’ll MagicBand it.)

2) FastPass+.  I have heard the very real complaint that this removes spontaneity from your trip, and this is true.  But it also gives you the option to decide in advance what you absolutely cannot miss, and make SURE you don’t miss it.  Our first day, Magic Bands were not active yet so I couldn’t do FastPass for Hollywood Studios.  We got to the park at 11am and Toy Story Mania FastPasses were already for return times of 6pm.  Over Columbus Day weekend, though, they were gone by 10:30am!  Meanwhile, I was able to get FP+ reservations for most of the rides I wanted – at times of the day I wanted – at Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom.  Yes, there is something about being able to check a line first to see if you NEED a FastPass for it, and making a decision based on that, but… I didn’t really miss that.  Instead I had peace of mind in knowing that I would DEFINITELY be able to get onto the rides I had picked out, and since I knew the time windows in advance, I was able to plan my day around them.

3) The fit was better than I thought it would be.  You may remember from my earlier review that the plastic was harder than I thought it would be, and I was having a hard time getting a fit I liked.  Well, I played around with it and I did end up getting it more comfortable… still not ideal, but OK. Then I got used to it.  Meanwhile, my daughter wore hers the ENTIRE TRIP.

D wore her Magic Band the entire time, from the moment I showed it to her. Even though we wouldn't use it for two days.

D wore her Magic Band the entire time, from the moment I showed it to her. Even though we wouldn’t use it for two days.

Plus it was kind of stylish. 😉  I felt all punk rock, in a kind of weird “slave to the system” kind of way.

A few minor negatives:

1) The small inconvenience of not being able to get FastPass+ for our first day.  Since the Magic Bands were assigned to our Animal Kingdom Lodge stay, they were not activated until then, even though I had all my reservations linked on the My Disney Experience page and my tickets were from a Magic Your Way package starting the day before.  I had 4 days’ worth of tickets I could choose FastPass+ for – but that was starting on 10/2, no earlier, and we officially arrived on 10/1. 😛  That was OK and obviously will not be a problem when ALL resort and park media is Magic Band oriented, but it was a hiccup for me this time. That’s OK though.

2) FastPass+.  I know I said I liked it, but it gets a little mention here anyway, for the reason that it will be tricky for people who don’t research their trips in advance but want to use FP+.  You have a few options to do this: You can do it well in advance on your My Disney Experience, or you can do it via the MDE app either at home or even in the parks, or you can do it from a kiosk in the parks.  Let’s say that you don’t know to go to My Disney Experience before you get there, and you don’t have a smartphone so you can’t use the apps (don’t say “Everyone has a smartphone!” because I don’t.).  But you get there and you see a tip about getting FastPasses and that they’re free and everyone can get them… what do you do?  You have to track down one of the kiosks and do them from there.  If you’re in the park and you want to make changes to your FP+ selections – which you can do right up until the time it becomes active – you’ll have to use the app or the kiosk, too.

I just feel like it was easier and more accessible for everyone to get the paper FPs – sure, some people didn’t bother/didn’t know about them, but at least if you did find out about them it was relatively easy to get them.  FP+, it’s a bit more complicated and if you’re not tech savvy you might end up confused.  I only saw one kiosk and it didn’t seem obviously marked to me, nor did it seem clearly to be staffed with a CM to answer questions (though it might have been – I will admit that since I didn’t need it, I wasn’t looking for any).

You will also want to write down your times for your FastPass+ reservations, because I’ve heard a few people say that the My Disney Experience app can be buggy and slow.  Have that info with you with old-fashioned paper to make sure you don’t miss it, just in case!

3) There IS room for confusion.  I’m not speaking about myself personally since things went smoothly for us, but just like anything where you are relying on technology there are opportunities for mistakes, glitches, and just plain confusion.  Things can be reset, things can still be lost, it’ll happen.  This isn’t a negative so much as a reality.

4) The procedure to use the Magic Bands is very, very precise.

Here’s the thing: there is a Mickey Mouse head on the flat front part of each Band. In order to “check in” with the Bands, you have to hold them to the round Mickey sensors. Once they connect, the sensor lights up and then the light spins in a green circle. (For adults entering the park, you still ahve to do the finger sensor as well, but it’s only a second; kids don’t have to do this.)

Anyway, it’s really easy. EXCEPT that you have to do it just the right way, with the Mickey on the Band flat up against the Mickey on the sensor.  If it’s not flat, the sensor won’t read it. This is not so hard for adults, but it’s tricky for kids. I kept telling my daughter “You have to make the Mickeys kiss”, which made her giggle, but I was trying to make her remember that they had to be flat together.  She held up a few lines getting through – not a problem, not really, but if you don’t know what the problem is, it could go on for a while.  It did take her 2 or 3 tries sometimes, especially checking in on the FPs.

This photo is (c) www.adventurevacationcruiselineblog.com

The box that the bands come in. ELASTIGIRL, you guys!! This photo is (c) http://www.adventurevacationcruiselineblog.com

Now here is the single biggest negative for pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to: You can only get FastPass+ reservations in one single park, per day.  You get up to 3 but they are ONLY eligible in one park.  If you’ve got park-hopper tickets, right now at least, you have to pick which park you’re going to use FP+ in.  This may change – most people hope that it will, because if you’re parkhopping it’s a major drawback!  I will say, we were NOT parkhopping, so it was not an issue for us. But it’s undeniably an issue for anyone who does.

The other part of this is the limited number you can get.  Under the old system it was possible to get more than 3 without bending any rules; it just depended on your timing, what crowds were like, what rides you picked, etc.  Having a solid limit of 3 per day can be a letdown.  Adding the single park rule makes it downright inconvenient at times.  There are probably some ways around it, and we are still in the testing phase (this is optimism, folks!) so expect tweaks and alterations as we go.  I’m crossing my fingers that these two restrictions will lift sometime within the next year, at least.  Does anyone remember how many bumps Magical Express used to have?  It always takes a little while to get a system working perfectly, tests or no tests.

Optimism!

I think that covers everything!  All in all, I give my experience a high rating, and I hope it continues to get smoother for everyone.  If there are things you don’t understand, I’ll be happy to take questions! 🙂

Trip Report 2013, Day 2, Part 3: Fewer Photos, More Words!

Still Day 2, still Hollywood Studios! (Only for 1 more post after this though…)  When we left off, D and I were heading to Pizza Planet for lunch.  Join us, won’t you?

Going in, D wanted to play a game in the arcade, as you do.  And she picked out – The CLAAAWWWW.  I should preface this by saying that D has played The Claw once before and didn’t win.  I told her before and after that people rarely win but she still took it hard.  So I didn’t really want her doing it this time, especially because it was a full dollar to play, but she was set on it.  She picked a machine with stuffed dogs in it, chose the one she wanted, and went for it.

Well, she didn’t get the dog she wanted but to my absolute astonishment she got the one next to it!  I don’t know, maybe they have the Claws set so that they’re easier to win on in DHS?  Or maybe it was just Disney magic at work! 😀 Anyway, all it took was a dollar and a single try!  She named it Mary. 😀

Mary the Lucky Dog! :D

Mary the Lucky Dog! 😀

So I know a lot of people who do not love Pizza Planet.  And I understand that.  There’s not a lot of food choices – I ended up not getting anything and just eating D’s carrots that came with her kids’ pizza.  But I do love the theming, and D’s not picky about her pizza, so we were happy. 🙂

I wanted to take pictures of Pizza Planet but didn't want to kill my battery. Here ya go. :P

I wanted to take pictures of Pizza Planet but didn’t want to kill my battery. Here ya go. 😛

On the way out I let her get a pressed penny.  This is something else I really never do – I consider pressed pennies to be a waste of 76 cents (or however much they cost now).  Those poor pennies!  But in this case, it was a decent option, because there weren’t many games in that arcade you could put money into and have something to show for it afterwards.  Since D is not a very good gamer yet I thought it was better to leave with a souvenir instead of a frustrating game attempt, so we went ahead on it.  She chose a Maleficent design. 😀

I have to confess to one thing: I can’t quite remember the precise sequence of events here.  I think we might have gone on the Great Movie Ride *before* heading to Muppets, but timewise, I’m honestly not sure of that.  So I’m sticking it in here, anyway. 🙂

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times now, the majority of the attractions at Hollywood Studios had very little lines, so our wait time was generally pretty low (and as I’ve also mentioned, this was lucky for D, who has no waiting skills at all).  We moved thru pretty quickly – didn’t even take any photos this time – and when we got on I tried to find the Hidden Minnie I knew was in the mural.  But it’s been so long that I couldn’t find it until we were passing it, and as we’re passing is NEVER long enough for D to pick these things out, so we missed it. ARGH.

Have you seen the Hidden Minnie in the Great Movie Ride mural?  It’s one of my favourites. 😀

Anyway, we got the gangster track this time around.  I think I always get the gangster track. I’m pretty sure I almost never get the western one.  I will say though, today it looked as if they only had one car running due to the small lines, so it probably would’ve been impossible for me to get the western track. *lol*  Anyhow, Mugsy was better than our guide. I wasn’t a huge fan of our guide, but Mugsy was pretty good.  Weird thing, I’ve had a few times when I’ve ridden this and the “bad guy” has been somewhat sympathetic, and sometimes totally not.  This Mugsy played it all Gangsta. 😀

D had wanted to go on the ride, but I don’t know if she remembered precisely what it was.  She enjoyed it, but the entire section from “Alien” until you pass the “horror movie” part, she really just can’t watch.  She has to bury her head agianst me and wait until I say it’s OK.  However, the whole thing is apparently worth it for her because of the “Wizard of Oz” part.

We got to the spot where Dorothy and her friends are standing and looking at the city of Oz, and D says to me “Wow! The Tin Woodman looks GREAT!” (He’s her favourite; she probably has a little crush on him, you know, as 7-year-olds do.)  She swears that when she said that, he turned in her direction and smiled. What I saw: programmed animatronic movement in her direction. What she saw: “I think he actually moved, like, with his feet. I think he heard me and turned around and smiled.  I’m pretty sure he’s not really an animatronic.” 🙂  She was talking about this for DAYS and DAYS, folks.

Anyway, as I said, that part is probably out of order because the next shots on my camera are in the Indiana Jones Stunt area, and I’m pretty sure we did that on our way out of the park (and it makes sense given that we were coming from that side).  I kept trying to find some of the “hidden” details in Hollywood Studios, and this time I found, for the first time, the “Do Not Pull Rope” excavation area near Indy.  So I told D to pull it.

I don't know, I'm getting a mixed message here.

I don’t know, I’m getting a mixed message here.

To her credit, D REALLY pulled. HARD.

To her credit, D REALLY pulled. HARD.

She was not enthusiastic at first, but I insisted, so she tugged, and there came a lot of noises and a man’s voice said “Hey you! Stop mucking about up there!”  D asked if there was someone really down there. 🙂

Then we made our way out of the park, taking the route around Echo Lake that has a good view of Gertie the Dinosaur, and past the 50’s Prime Time Cafe.

"I fed her those leaves," said D as we passed. "I feed Gertie leaves every day." <3

“I fed her those leaves,” said D as we passed. “I feed Gertie leaves every day.” ❤

I can't believe Eddie Valient STILL hasn't replaced that window blind.  Darn it, Roger!

I can’t believe Eddie Valient STILL hasn’t replaced that window blind. Darn it, Roger!

Then it was back onto the tram, so that we could drive to our campsite and set up camp.

This is our site before I set up the tent!  Annnnd I forgot to take a picture with the tent set up! *headdesk*

This is our site before I set up the tent! Annnnd I forgot to take a picture with the tent set up! *headdesk*

They put us in the 1500 loop both nights we were there (nonconsecutive)!

They put us in the 1500 loop both nights we were there (nonconsecutive).

So this was the plan. Leave around 2:30, get set up etc by 3, pool from 3:15 or so until 4pm, and then get dressed and head back to HS for the evening.  Most of it went OK; I took a little bit longer than I expected to get the tent set up, b/c D was fascinated by tiny lizards and was not interested in helping me unless I raised my voice. 😛

TINY LIZARDS EVERYWHERE.

TINY LIZARDS EVERYWHERE.

Second problem: Could not find swimsuit. (It turned up later but we only did the pools the first two days.)  D can’t swim, but she LOVES being in the water, so we walked across the road – our campsite loop was right across from the pool! 😀 – and I kept her from plunging into the deep end, which she was all ready to do.  I took her around to the front and had her play near the stairs the full time, so she mainly hung off the bars leading into the pool.

Here's the reasonably-awesome Fort Wilderness pool!

Here’s the reasonably-awesome Fort Wilderness pool!

And here is D absolutely loving water.

And here is D absolutely loving water.

I kept trying to get her to go into the splash area, but she really loves being immersed in water, so she held off.  Eventually I found some life jacket style floaties and had her get into one, then I sat and watched her for a while.  Eventually she decided she wanted to go down the waterslide, which is an AWESOME one, and even though I couldn’t be right there to catch her I let her go ahead; well, apparently the ride down was great but she swallowed/inhaled water at the bottom so there was no more slides after that. 😉  At this point she finally DID go hit the splash play area and had a great time.

This is D at the height of slide enjoyment. A split second after this she had water up her nose and pretty much everywhere else.

This is D at the height of slide enjoyment. A split second after this she had water up her nose and pretty much everywhere else.

The Ft. Wilderness Splash Play area... there are height restrictions but I won't pretend I didn't get soaked, myself.

The Ft. Wilderness Splash Play area… there are height restrictions but I won’t pretend I didn’t get soaked, myself.

So it was more like 4:30 before we were ready to leave the pool, and closer to 5pm before she was changed, dry, and ready to go back to DHS.  Ahhh, well.  Flexibility is key when you are at Disney World!!

So around this point, I realized we were going to have to drop something from our schedule and I was pretty sure that something was going to have to be Beauty and the Beast.  I had intended to see the 5:30 show, meaning we’d want to get there between around 5:15 or so, and when it was done at 6pm we’d still need to do Toy Story, Star Tours, Muppets, AND get dinner in there somewhere within about 90 minutes or so (since I intended to leave before 8pm).  So I asked D, and we discussed it and agreed that it was OK to drop Beauty and the Beast this time, even though I have been trying to take her to it since LAST trip! Oy! But yeah.

So we went on Star Tours again when we got there, and this time D was not the rebel spy, but I thought the adventure was better.  It was ENTIRELY different from the first one, not just one part different but two different planets (we got Tatooine on this one), and a hologram of Admiral Akbar instead of Princess Leia as we had on the first.  Afterwards D got to do her “Big Souvenir” for the trip, and she chose – not a surprise – a Build Your Own Lightsabre!  It was more affordable than I’d expected, with a single-blade one coming in at $21.95 pre-tax, and she really liked customizing it for herself. 🙂 To keep her 4-year-old brother from feeling left out I got him a flashing green lightsabre-shaped keychain. Which, I should emphasize, he LOVES and has used almost daily since we got back. 🙂

Okay friends and followers, we are NEARLY done. Honest. 🙂 One more post at Hollywood Studios, and I’ll have covered the full day!  Unfortunately that post is very low on pics, so I may see what I can cull from earlier trips just to have something to show off.  Give me a while and I’ll put something decent together.  Meanwhile, have a magical day! 😀

More Mutineer Talk

Back to entertain you all with random notes from random episodes of the Mickey Mutineers.  Listen along with me at home!  www.mickeymutineers.com  But if you’re under 18, kids, get your parents’ permission!

Anyway, the most recent Mutineers episode is #40.  To prove how long I’ve been embarking on this “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” endeavor, I wrote these particular notes when the current eps were #32 and #33.  That means it’s just about 2 months ago.  GO ME! 😛  This is how long it takes me…  Enjoy, anyway.

****

Episode 32:

The general Mutineer consensus is “Screw OSHA” for having, you know, the safety of the workers in mind. 😉 If they wanted people to be safe they should have thought of that BEFORE they closed Big Thunder Mountain Railroad down at Disneyland for like 8 months straight, am I right?

Matt doesn’t believe that people actually have allergies to gluten and wonders what they did before gluten free food.  I can tell you: they felt sick.  A lot. 😉

Meanwhile the Electric Umbrella at Epcot serves a Macaroni and Cheeseburger. I AM EATING THIS, EVERYONE. I don’t want to… but I have to.  I may not return. 😛

Matt shouted like Josh! The Mutineers are turning into cranky old men. The next step is yelling at kids to get off their lawn, which I’m kind of assuming they already do.

See, that’s how you do an Amazon promo.  So many words!  Word salad!

I cannot believe how often this podcast randomly degenerates into singing.  Lots of singing!  There is SO MUCH SINGING in this crazy thing!  (And it’s all – uh… I’m too polite to say it. ^_~)

YAY, listener questions!  I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve asked listener questions. Everyone else is cooler than me. 😦

Haunted Mansion bar serving SPIRITS… ahahaha!  I totally love this idea so much.  I swear that @JamboEveryone was a plant on this question and he asked it just so that the Haunted Mansion Bar idea could be discussed.  There is no other answer. 😀

Episode 4:

Wow, brush with celebrity: Flava Flav at Walmart at midnight.  Can’t beat that!

“Disney World needs to smack themselves in the face.”  Feelin’ the love! XD

I think this is possibly the first occurence of the term “BUCKFUTTER” in the show, but I might be wrong and might have just missed it before…   Anyway, all Mutineers are peevish about Cars Land coming to WDW (I still don’t want it) and contemptuous of WDW for stealing it.  “Why do they even have Imagineers since they’re not imagineering anything?”  What about ALL of New Fantasyland Tim?!  HUH??  HUH?!?

Oh wait… “Disney World opened the New Fantasyland and it was NOT a smashing success.”  “Well why would it be?”  I’ll just… go over here… *shuffles away to a corner*

Tim creates the best rumour to falsely spread, Cheese & Donuts Land.  The new Land of Tomorrow!

I was advised that this ep was the first one where the Mutineers “felt comfortable” with the show and “it might as well be episode 1”.  I can kind of hear that in this one; they sound like they’re having a lot more natural fun, which is what appeals to me. XD

“Did you say you’re going to summarize Spring’s question?” “HA!” I’m going to confess that it took me a long time to get that.  Then it clicked.  LOL.

And random singing!  Tim bursts into a vaguely Celine-Dion-like serenade.  I think perhaps it was supposed to sound more like Celine than it did. *G*

Episode 5:

The Mutineers share favourite Walt Disney stories. And argue over whether you can “do shoveling” or just “shovel”.  And then “When I see an Elephant Fly” pops up, as it so often does!

I like that everyone, in general, finds “Darth Mater” as unappealing as I do. The “Uhhhh” noise sums up my opinion.

“Remember when we started calling back to things, like, ten minutes ago?”  WOOHOO Callbacks!

I’ve got a count of at least twice that Jake has said “I seen it!”  I may have missed some. Yep I’m playing that drinking game. Yep it’s 9:40 am. 😀

HEY!  You guys are talkin’ my language here!  DuckTales, Talespin, Rescue Rangers, Bonkers  (Bonkers? Really? when that show was on no one liked it), and I’m going “Darkwing Duck?  And Darkwing Duck??”  And then they said it.  YES to the Darkwing Duck love.  He rocks my socks.

And then thanks for bringing up Dumbo’s Circus. That’s a memory I’d like to be lobotomized over.

Some good Hidden Mickey talk. Hollywood Studios is no longer a Hidden Mickey. 😦  They destroyed it with the Sorcerer Hat.

Ellen’s Energy Adventure = Inception?

This week’s listener question is about souvenirs or Mementos (the Fresh Maker) at Disney Parks.  Some interesting discussions.  And the word of the podcast is DEFINITELY “Segue” or “Segway” as the case may be.

Episode 33:

So YES, I listen to these out of order. Shut up.  Fast forward to NOW! [Note…. wouldn’t that be better if I’d posted this when 33 was the current ep? Oh well] And the episode starts with the Swedish Chef!  Since I haven’t yet re-listened to the first Swedish Chef episode, I haven’t mentioned how ridiculously much this makes me giggle. But best intro ever?  Perhaps, perhaps!

I was going to write about something else, and I can’t remember what it was.  It will now SURPRISE you!  You’ll never see it coming.

Asgard in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland… See basically, Tomorrowland now = Movie Tie-in Land.  I can accept Iron Man in Innoventions, if I have to, but truly now, how DOES Thor/Asgard tie into Tomorrowland?

Top 12 places to wet your.. weenis? Am I spelling that right?  A deliberately dirty-sounding word that isn’t dirty.  How bout that. ;D  This list is great b/c they totally, totally go the full way and talk about sticking your elbow into water over and over.  And then you have a wet weenis.

Random Goonies now.  I love this show.  “This wish is mine, and I’m taking it back!”  From the zombie.

Did you… just… make a Doctor Who reference (“moisturize me”)?

Trip Report 2013: Day 2, Part 2: More Hollywood Studios!

So, it was nearing about 11:30 or so and we got to Star Tours – finally! Our first ride at Disney World!

D wanted to take some pics as we approached and I’m all for that so I handed her the camera.  And she took pics of the souvenir cart.  Ohhhkay.

I don't know why, but she found this HILARIOUS.

I don’t know why, but she found this HILARIOUS.

I liked this one more. Nearly got it for my son, but hey, someday he'd outgrow it and then what?

I liked this one more. Nearly got it for my son, but hey, someday he’d outgrow it and then what?

I stuck D on the speeder bike but she wasn't really sure what she should do on it.

I stuck D on the speeder bike but she wasn’t really sure what she should do on it.

So I had to show her.

So I had to show her.

When we got to the entrance to Star Tours the wait was REALLY short.  That was cool!  It turned out there was a Jedi Training Academy going on and D stopped to watch.  I expected her to ask to participate, but I had forgotten she’s gotten really shy about standing up in front of people and doing things, so it never came up. After a while she was like “This IS exciting, but… it’s also kind of boring. Can we go?”  Haha.  So there we have it.

As it turns out, pics of the outdoor queue of Star Tours are REALLY tough to get!  Some of these were by D and some by me.

Ewok village!

Ewok village! Complete with authentic FastPass machines!

Worst. AT-AT picture. EVER.

Worst. AT-AT picture. EVER. I was hoping it would look like it was walking over us, but instead it just looks badly-lit.

You can't even tell what this IS, except it's going to crush D.

You can’t even tell what this IS.

The indoor queue is not all that much easier, btw.  Lighting issues. 😛

I get geek vibes when I actually pass C3P0. EEEK!  It's really HIM! XD

I get geek vibes when I actually pass C3P0. EEEK! It’s really HIM! XD

Artoo knows what he's doing.

Artoo knows what he’s doing.

Here are your departure times for the day, non-Basic speaking humanoids.

Here are your departure times for the day, non-Basic speaking humanoids.

REX! :D This was a pretty awesome throwback.

REX! 😀 This was a pretty awesome throwback.

I'vvve been workin' on the saaaame droid... Sigh. I can't tell you how many times I've HEARD the queue for the old ride even though I only rode it like, 3-4 times.

I’vvve been workin’ on the saaaame droid… Sigh. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve HEARD the queue for the old ride even though I only rode it like, 3-4 times.

Actually I love these guys. I read somewhere that these are "naked" versions of the geese in Splash Mountain.

Actually I love these guys. I read somewhere that these are “naked” versions of the geese in Splash Mountain.

Then the robot stewardess told us there was no photography allowed so I obediently put the camera away.

Best part: when she gives a little "click" and shifts to Spanish.

Best part: when she gives a little “click” and shifts to Spanish.

This was my first ride on Star Tours 2.0.  It was GREAT!  Last time I rode it was in 2008 (it was closed when we came in 2011), and I had thought to myself “well, that was fun, but I don’t feel like I really need to ever do that again.”  They did a great job with the new version!  I don’t know, I might not have enjoyed it quite as much if I hadn’t been with D, who is a HUGE Star Wars fan and was utterly delighted with it. ^_^

AND guess what happened???

Yep, D was the Rebel Spy!  Bahahaha!  She said it made her a little embarrassed but oh well for her. ;D  No, she was happy and excited, and what a great start to our trip!  It was really the first magic moment of quite a few. 🙂  The funny thing was, things went wrong left and right, but nothing ever ruined the magic for us.  I think it’s impossible to have a truly bad time at Disney World unless something HUGE happens, or unless you’re willing to let it ruin your day.  Neither was true for us, thank goodness!

Well, stepping back for a moment, we came out in Tatooine Traders and of course D wanted to buy everything.  At first she saw what looked like Storm Trooper helmets and really wanted one, but it turned out they were giant piggy banks – lol.  She moved on from that. ;D  I looked around for something for my son, who is 4 and also a huge Star Wars fan, but nothing was jumping out at me.  D became entranced by the “Build Your Own Lightsabre” display and begged to do it, but I said no, too big, too expensive.  I promised we’d come back and do Star Tours again FOR CERTAIN, and think about buying something then, so we moved on out and headed to Voyage of the Little Mermaid.

D and vaporator. I actually expected that to be a water fountain or a mister or something and was disappointed that it's fully dry.

D and vaporator. I actually expected that to be a water fountain or a mister or something and was disappointed that it’s fully dry.

This was the point at which my battery took a hit, so the number of pics will decrease from here on out. 😛

However, this is a recreation of a picture I took last trip:

2011, age almost 5...

2011, age almost 5…

2013, age 7!

2013, age 7!

Two and a half years of difference!

So about Voyage of TLM… I have to be honest here. I love this movie SO MUCH, and it’s always fun to see this show with D, but it’s uninspired.  And although the puppets they use are good, this particular performance was even less inspired than usual.  Ariel was flat, and the final sequence between Ariel and Eric could not have been more “eh, we’re bored, we’re going through the motions” on everything. It just looked like “meet the cues, meet the cues, another show is almost over.”  I didn’t really love it the first time I saw it either, but the times in between had been OK. This time… lackluster.  If D wants to see it again next time I’ll still take her, but meh.  We ended up taking Beauty and the Beast off our list due to lack of time this trip, and next time I think I want to push for that instead. (I liked it WAY better when I saw it, but I’ve still only seen it once.)

After this, since we were right near the Magic of Disney Animation, we headed over to meet some characters and eventually get some drawing done.  I didn’t love the idea of waiting in long lines, though… by this point I was getting restless because time was ticking away and we were still down an hour.  But I didn’t want to skip characters completely, so we made our choice: Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope!  No regrets. First of all their queue was neat (though I wished these screens had actually been interactive… but they were still fun), and second it was just cool to meet them!

This is just a window to the house in Wreck-It Ralph.  Our best attempts didn't actually make it do anything. :(

This is just a window to the house in Wreck-It Ralph. Our best attempts didn’t actually make it do anything. 😦

Here's the card that Ralph and Vanellope sign in advance (since Ralph's hands mean he can't do autographs).

Here’s the card that Ralph and Vanellope sign in advance (since Ralph’s hands mean he can’t do autographs).

To pass the time, I gave D the camera. Not a bad shot really.

To pass the time, I gave D the camera. Not a bad shot really.

AACK!  Not to panic anyone but CYBUG ALERT!

AACK! Not to panic anyone but CYBUG ALERT!

Because I'm the type of person who has to be in the shot too. XD

Because I’m the type of person who has to be in the shot too. XD (D said: “Wow. Vanellope’s really BIG.” LOL.)

Then we hung around, played a few of the little games in there (you know, “What character are you?” and “Colour the picture”, those ones) until they let us into the Animation Academy.  We got to choose between drawing the Genie and Dopey; I would’ve done the Genie if I’d been by myself, but D preferred Dopey and I could tell it would be easier for her.  Plus I was outvoted anyway, as everyone else wanted to do Dopey too. 😉 Mine came out pretty well – considering I haven’t done any drawing in about a year. D’s picture… well… the problem was that she was trying very hard to follow the instructions but they just threw her off.  So she’d start at the point where the animator would say to start, but not end where she was supposed to, so everything is off.  I think she’d have done a better job just trying to copy it herself instead of following his instructions.  However, I’m not saying it’s a BAD try for a 7-year-old, in fact I think it’s really good! Only that she got turned around on placement because she was trying to do it two different ways.

This was taken at home. Purple walls = D's bedroom.

This was taken at home. Purple walls = D’s bedroom.

As it was getting on towards 1:00 we decided to hit up the Muppets and then get lunch at Toy Story Pizza Palace.  Back through wherever we went yet again, passing this window which D utterly loved:

D thought this was hilarious.  She was like "LOOK at the face he's making!!"

D thought this was hilarious. She was like “LOOK at the face he’s making!!”

Then we got in line for Muppets, and I was surprised to find that there was a LINE.  Outside!  This NEVER HAPPENS.  I figured the timing must have been just awkward or something so we settled in to wait.  I got a chance to look at details I normally don’t see, like the fact that there are eyes EVERYWHERE…

The posts are watching you too.

The posts are watching you too.

But unfortunately after a few minutes we were told that MuppetVision was down and they needed some time to fix it. 😦  No idea what went wrong (maybe the Chef shot something with that cannon that he shouldn’t have?), but we just gave in and headed to Pizza Planet for lunch.

Trip Report 2013: Day 2, We Made It!

Day 2 – 10/1/2013

D and I awoke early. We didn’t really mean to, and I had the alarm set for 6am but we were both up by 5:30. Sometimes it just happens. I guess we were like that Disney World ad, “We’re too excited to sleep!” Orrrr maybe it was just not a comfortable room. ;P

Ready and waiting to go in her 3 Caballeros shirt!

Ready and waiting to go in her 3 Caballeros shirt!

Anyway, I let D watch some TV while we were getting everything together, and I made her write a bit in her trip journal. (The trip journal was sadly neglected for the rest of the trip, really.)  She found a little Phineas and Ferb and we watched that while I packed things up and took them out to the car. It was still dark outside even after we’d picked up breakfast in the lobby and were heading out back onto the road again.

There’s a movie D took as the sun was coming up, but I am not going to share it, because it’s long and not much happens in it. However, it’s full of me saying a lot of things like “Full tank of gas, the road ahead of us, and Disney World at the end of it!” and “Palm trees… warm sand… Though sadly we just left Rhode Island! AH I made a Muppets reference!”

It didn’t take too long for the sun to come up, and initially it looked pretty promising that we’d make my schedule and get there around 9:30 as I’d planned! Sadly… fate had other plans in store. We ran into a couple of traffic jams… nothing major at first… but right after getting onto I-4 we hit a HUGE backup. There were warnings on the signs, but I didn’t know any alternate routes, so I just stuck with it. It took us about 40 minutes extra to get through it. 😛

Not her most "I'm thrilled to be here!" face.

Not her most “I’m thrilled to be here!” face.

So, instead of checking in at Ft. Wilderness at 9:30 and getting to Hollywood Studios by 10am, we got to Ft. Wilderness around 10:20 and made it to Hollywood Studios by 10:45. This meant that the tram was a necessity (normally when I drive I like to get there at park opening so I can walk to the entrance, but you do what you can). We JUST missed a tram so D went into her first “I HATE WAITING” response of the trip and schlumped around bored waiting for the next tram. The PARKING TRAM. Sigh.  Sometimes I thought it was going to be a loooong trip. 😉 Fortunately, spoiler alert! The crowds were REALLY low and we had FastPasses for the stuff we most wanted to do, so we were barely in long lines at all!

Anyway once we got onto the tram and I prodded her a little bit about the face she was making, she perked up. 🙂

That's my girl!

That’s my girl!

Then I treated the tram ride like an attraction and took pictures of some of the mini-billboards they had up to advertise their shows and movies. At this point, I had really intended to take a million billion photos and I set off on that goal with a vengeance.

Planes. For some reason I actually took two pics of this. I guess because we were sitting in front of it for a while.

Planes. For some reason I actually took two pics of this. I guess because we were sitting in front of it for a while.

Is there anyone on my Twitter list who doesn't like this show? Seriously, I can't even go on Twitter on Sunday nights without spoilers. ;)

Is there anyone on my Twitter list who doesn’t like this show? Seriously, I can’t even go on Twitter on Sunday nights without spoilers. 😉

I took this because I liked the picture. I have NO idea what this show is.

I took this because I liked the picture. I have NO idea what this show is.

Outside of the entrance of Hollywood Studios, they have a Monsters University topiary. There was even a LINE to stand right in front and get your picture taken, which I found funny. Polite, but funny. LOL. I just snagged a couple of pics of the front, and then when we went around to the other side there were topiary representations of the various frat houses in MU. I told D to pick her favourite and stand in front of it; somehow it doesn’t surprise me that she picked PNK, the girly-girl sorority. ;D

Really cool tope, but I wouldn't stand in line for a photo opp.

Really cool tope, but I wouldn’t stand in line for a photo opp.

PNK forever!

PNK forever!

Once we got inside, I started my traditional photo blast of the … well… the entire park, really. I LOVE the design of HS.

And people talk about loving Main Street USA. BAH! I say to them. BAH!!

And people talk about loving Main Street USA. BAH! I say to them. BAH!!

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I’m on the fence about the Sorceror Hat, really. I actually like it and think it’s a cool design, but using it just for pin trading etc feels like a waste, and the location sucks. I don’t like it blocking Graumann’s Theater. It just feels dumped into what was initially a really thought-out designed area.

Doesn’t stop me from getting our pics taken in front of it though! 😀

I personally think the PhotoPass photographer could've tried a little harder with this one even if he was using my camera.

I personally think the PhotoPass photographer could’ve tried a little harder with this one even if he was using my camera.

I took this one. I like it! :D

I took this one. I like it! 😀

Why, precisely, I feel a need to take pictures of the DHS wait time board is beyond me. Not only that, I have done it before… And ONLY in DHS. None of the other parks.

To satisfy your curiosity here is what the wait times were at 11am on October 1, 2013. WOW!

To satisfy your curiosity here is what the wait times were at 11am on October 1, 2013. WOW!

Anyhoo, once I’d stopped gawking at everything (plus squealing to D “We’re here! I can’t believe we’re here!” because I do that), we moseyed over to Toy Story Mania to get FastPasses. I was hoping they wouldn’t be entirely out of them at 11 in the morning, and I was lucky, they still had some! …For 6pm. Like seriously. That was actually a perfectly good return time for us, though, as it gave us a chance to catch up a bit for our late start and not worry about slotting TSM into the mid-afternoon.

Next on the list was Star Tours, but I didn’t intend to rush through the park for it (HS is sort of the only park where I feel like there are few enough attractions that we can get our must-dos done and still have time to wander). We headed off – without a map, maps are for sissies – OK, I’m lying, I did need it a few times but I like to think of myself as knowing DHS reasonably well and mostly I did fine – and D wanted to stop and see Woody or Buzz. I said we’d come back later, but we did run into a few green army guys! D was under the impression that they were my husband’s favourite b/c they were the only character he was particularly interested in getting a picture with last trip so she made sure to get several pics “for Daddy”.

You can see she's a little bit shy - she told me she was "shy" with any character she "didn't already know".

You can see she’s a little bit shy – she told me she was “shy” with any character she “didn’t already know”.

I love that you can just run into these guys wandering around in Pixar Place.

I love that you can just run into these guys wandering around in Pixar Place.

Then we just kept going… I was NOT taking the most direct route to Echo Lake, and I knew it, but I figured who cared? We were heading towards the Streets of America, I think, and that’s my least familiar area of the park. For instance I don’t think I’d ever seen these mist-structures:

Just like her mother!  Running at a giant Coke bottle with open arms! :P (Disclaimer: D doesn't drink soda, she hates it. she just likes things that spray water.)

Just like her mother! Running at a giant Coke bottle with open arms! 😛 (Disclaimer: D doesn’t drink soda, she hates it. she just likes things that spray water.)

I kept trying to get a shot of it spraying mist. Never did come out right.

I kept trying to get a shot of it spraying mist. Never did come out right.

She's waiting for the fire truck to shoot mist out... She looks like she's a little terrified. XD

She’s waiting for the fire truck to shoot mist out… She looks like she’s a little terrified. XD

And my Splash fountain! I got a pic back in 2008. I need to buy this movie. Actually I was being adorable with my pose, but you can’t tell b/c D didn’t frame it the way I thought she would. Oh well. XD (Yes, you heard me. I’m blaming it on a 7-year-old.)

Seriously, I was all rocking this adorable post... oh whatever. :P

Seriously, I was all rocking this adorable post… oh whatever. 😛

It's SAN FRANCISCO TIME, PEOPLE!!

It’s SAN FRANCISCO TIME, PEOPLE!!

This is the tallest hill in the WORLD!

This is the tallest hill in the WORLD!

And yes, they are putting the Osborne Lights up at HS already.

And yes, they are putting the Osborne Lights up at HS already.

This is as close as I've ever come to seeing the Osborne Lights.

This is as close as I’ve ever come to seeing the Osborne Lights.

D's entire understanding of phone booths is that Superman changes clothes in them.

D’s entire understanding of phone booths is that Superman changes clothes in them.

They play all these "city sounds" in Streets of America, so I was like "NO, don't run! WATCH OUT FOR THAT BUS!!"

They play all these “city sounds” in Streets of America, so I was like “NO, don’t run! WATCH OUT FOR THAT BUS!!”

Coast to coast!  Now we're in NYC!

Coast to coast! Now we’re in NYC!

Stylish little mannequin!

Stylish little mannequin!

I am *really* glad we took our time through the Streets of America, because I had a great time taking pics and it was shortly after this that I got a “low battery” alert on my camera. And… I had not brought my camera charger. I KNOW, RIGHT?? That was possibly my biggest planning hole. 😦 We had D’s camera and that ran out of batteries before mine did. (And no, I don’t have a camera in my phone, before you ask.) So while I fully intended to just go nuts with the pics, this is the nutsiest I got. But it was pretty nutsy, what can I say? So it’s OK. 🙂