Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My Disney Vacation, G to L

For those of you who missed the beginning, here's the start of my 2007 Family Walt Disney World vacation A to Z... you can scroll down or you can click here to read A to E.

F is for Fast Pass
How in the world did we ever do a vacation without a fast pass? I mean, its like the miracle paper of the park. You walk up, toss your card/ticket in the machine, and out pops a little slip of paper telling you when you can come back to ride a particular ride. Some rides, like Stitch's Great Escape, never really needed one... others, like Test Track and Soarin', you had to have one to avoid a 100 minute or longer wait.

We decided to hop onto Everest, the first ride we were on on the first day in the park, and skip the fast pass, as we were there upon opening, and immediately headed to Everest (like nearly everyone else). Ditto for Soarin', when we went to Epcot on Tuesday. But we needed them in the Magic Kingdom on Sunday, when Peter Pan's Flight suddenly took 90 minutes to get to. Who the heck wants to wait an hour and a half for freakin' Peter Pan? I'm just sayin'.

The true test of the Fast Pass came in Epcot on Tuesday. As soon as Soarin' was over, I grabbed cards and ran over to get passes for Mission: Space and for Test Track. Within the next hour or two, the line for Test Track was out of the building and at least 30 or 40 yards past the opening of the queue line. We got them early, because by 11am or so, the Fast Pass tickets were good for 7pm to 8pm, and by noon or so, the passes were all gone. So after 11ish, or whenever our passes came up, we got in the Fast Pass return line, waited about 15 minutes, and was done with it.

When we returned to Epcot, I grabbed the Lovely Steph Leann's card and headed to The Lands, to get passes for Soarin'... and it took me forever--you'll hear that story when we get to "S".

A little trick... just cause it says 105pm, to 205pm. We're in Germany or Morocco or wherever, and realize our passes are going to expire in about twenty minutes for Soarin'. So, we high tail it across the entire park, past at least five of the countries and two bridges, through the crowds and get in in just the nick of time... only to have the Cast Member say "oh, these would have been good until at least 5 o'clock!". Tell that to Steph's swollen ankles.

G is for Genie
Loved this guy. So, at Epcot on Friday, we're in line for pictures with Jasmine, Aladdin and Genie, and we're near the middle or back. Jasmine and Aladdin leave for a break, leaving only the Genie, and they announce "Whoever wants to get pictures with only Genie, you can come forward. Those of you who want to get Jasmine and Aladdin, please step back." Well, lucky for us, we've already met Jasmine and Aladdin, the night before in the Magic Kingdom, so we come forward, right behind these two high school chicks.

So High School Chick 1 and Chick 2 both step forward to get their pictures, and Genie grabs High School Chick 1 for a hug. And then he just stands there, blue fuzzy arms wrapped around her. She hugs back, but he doesn't let go. He stands there motionless, in a hug, for at least 30 seconds, causing all of us to laugh. Then, just as fast as he grabbed High School Chick 1, he lets go and grabs High School Chick 2. He hugs her, and just stands there. Steph and I, and by now, High School Chick 2, think its hilarious.

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Oh, that crazy Genie...

Suddenly, he lets go of High School Chick 2, and races over and grabs Stephanie for his long lasting hug. Keep in mind both Chick 1 and Chick 2 are still waiting for their picture. I laugh, and he gives me the thumbs up, still in an embrace with my wife. He finally lets go, then holds a hand out to shake. I start to shake his hand, and he grabs me and hugs me. Meanwhile, the Moroccan band Mo'Rockin (get it? clever, though at first I was hoping Mo Rocca was doing some sort of Middle Eastern stand up show) is playing in the background, and Genie is dancing. One of the most fun characters we got to meet all week.

H is for Holidays at Disney
You gotta admire the fact they go all out at Disney. Seriously. Lights everywhere, music everywhere, everything from lampposts to big statues and structures are all decked out in mistletoe and holly and lights and ornaments and garland and ribbon and gold and silver and green and red and snowflakes and more lights and wreaths and trees and Santas and angels and stars and shiny things and so on, all with a little Disney touch.

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Epcot lights, with the Spaceship Earth in the background

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I know, I know, it looks like the crowd from 2002's Its a Wonderful Deuce Christmas, but actually its Main Street in the Magic Kingdom

I'd never been to Walt Disney World during the holiday season, but I'd like to go back soon enough.

I is for Incredibles
Everyone has their favorite characters, and their favorite characters they like to meet. I think Steph really liked meeting Piglet, and both of us were giddy for Mater and Lightnin' McQueen, but for my money, when we had a chance to meet up with Mr. Incredible and ElastiGirl at Disney-MGM on Monday, it was just cool.

Right before us, another girl came up, being pushed in her stroller by her parents. The girl was a special needs child, you could tell just from looking at her, and we gladly gave our turn to the family. It was great to watch Mr. Incredible and ElastiGirl get on one knee, both giving her tons of attention, stroking her hair, holding her hand and such. That's what you're supposed to do.

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And it made for a great picture with us.

J is for Jokes at the Laugh Floor
This show was just funny. As you might recall, in Monsters Inc, the city of Monstropolis needs children's laughter, not screams, to keep power and energy flowing. So, the theme of this Tomorrowland (Magic Kingdom) "ride", or show is we're all hustled into the auditorium, the Monsters are doing stand-up, and we are all laughing to fill a Laugh Canister. The Monster of Ceremonies is, naturally, Mike Wazowski, the one eyed green monster voiced by Billy Crystal in the movie. Appearing with Mike Wazowski is Roz, the scratchy voiced, spectacled supervisor (haaaa haaaa haaaa).

The trick of the whole show, though, is that its interactive animation. On the screen, they talk to the audience, ask questions and even use jokes submitted by the audience. You can tell the mouths of the characters don't quite match all the words, but its still close, and remarkable all the same. The first time we went, I got to talk to them, and the second time we went, they used one of my jokes ("Didja hear about the mushroom who had no friends? He couldn't understand it... he thought he was just a fun-gi"). Even though I knew some of the one liners, the show was just as good the second time as the first.

K is for Kilimanjaro Safari
Located in Animal Kingdom, in Africa, its hit or miss with this ride. When the Lovely Steph Leann and I went in 2004 on our honeymoon, we went early in the morning, and got an upclose and personal picture of a giraffe, and a few others. This time around, going a little later in the day, it started slowly, but we got lucky to have our safari vehicle stopped by two rhinos crossing the road.

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The mother rhino, protecting her rhino kid... cub... youngling... whatever

I've always heard to go early in the day, maybe mid-morning, because the animals are up and feeding. Mid to late afternoon is harder because most of the animals are being lazy... unless you're the lions, who I think are always lazy, laying on the rock. We got a great view of the elephants as well as several good views of the bird life. The hippos were hidden by the water.

L is for Le Cellier
Simply the best restaurant in all of Walt Disney World. Okay, so, I have only been to about a dozen of the billion (okay, I don't know how many, but here's a list if you want to count them), but I know its got to be at the top. Located in the Canada area of Epcot, its a steak and seafood place that the Lovely Steph Leann and I fell in love with on our 2004 honeymoon. We insisted that the family go this time around, and it didn't disappoint.

From the Le Cellier menu, I had Canadian Chedder Cheese Soup (featuring smoked bacon and Moosehead beer), for my entree, I went with the 14 ounce New York Strip steak, complete with roasted Yukon mashed potatoes (with a side of delicious oven-roasted wild mushrooms), and for dessert, I indulged in the Vanilla Creme Brulee. Some of the other food items on the table were the Prince Edward Island Mussels (Ron), the Mushroom Filet Mignon (Ruth), the Chocolate Whiskey Cake (Steph).

The only problem? Too much food. I tried to eat it all, I really did... but the food just kept coming, and my stomach was only so big. The service was fantastic, and it was a great way to toss down a $108 meal for the two of us... being on the Disney Dining Plan, though, it didn't matter that much. We'll get to that.

Coming soon... M is for Mater... Q is for Queue Lines... and Y is for Yak & Yeti

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