Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Toy Story Mania Dash (and disaster)

Continuing with another story from our July 2010 Disney World trip, attended by me, The Lovely Steph Leann and the In-Laws, Mama Ruthless and Big Daddy Ron.  So far, we've done...

--PENSACOLA BOOBAGE... Spending the night in Pensacola, including getting flashed on the road side.
--DISNEY IN HOT JULY... Day One of the trip, including the French Quarter, dinner at Epcot, the Electrical Light Parade, the Haunted Mansion Wailer and the Saturday morning's Soarin' snafu...
--ATTACK OF THE LEFT EYE... How my contacts and my eyes conspired to ruin my trip through Ellen's Energy Adventure

On Sunday morning, we were up early because Hollywood Studios opened early, at 8am.  We were up and at 'em at 7, ready to get on the bus soon enough, get over there, get in line and get into the park as soon as possible... what awaited us this morning was the event that any Disney trip worth its salt must make, that being the Toy Story Dash.

Upon entering Pixar Place, you'll see Toy Story Mania, if not
for the signage, than for the 53,008 people trying to ride it.
Toy Story Midway Mania is by far and away the most popular ride/attraction in Disney's Hollywood Studios, and probably one of the most popular in the entire World of Disney.  That means that within the first 30 minutes or so, the wait time for the ride shoots through the roof.  In the down times, it gets anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour (and when I say "downtime", I mean a crowd slow enough to get on Rock'n Roller Coaster in like, 5 minutes) and on busy days, I've seen 80 minute to 120+ minute waits.   I have the firm belief, at least for my own self, that NO ride is worth waiting 2 hours for, but if there was such a ride, Toy Story Mania might be it.

So, the answer is, Fastpass it.  But there is a finite number of Fastpasses available per day... I found out later that what they do is insert a number of Fastpasses into a machine, and once those are gone, thats it.  No more.  Toy Story Mania Fastpass lines are sometimes longer than the initial queue for the ride itself, and if you don't get a Fastpass for it, you might not get to ride it, save waiting 2 hours of your already crammed Disney day in line.  The ride opened early 2008, so the first time we were there after the ride was open was September 2008, when we went with DeNick and DeLisa... It was a short trip, and we got to The Studios later in the afternoon, with the wait around 90 minutes.  In hindsight, I wished we had waited, but we elected to not ride it.

Thus, the Toy Story Dash.  When you get into Hollywood Studios, like Epcot, they will only let you go so far before you run into a rope.  At the park's opening, you have a crucial decision to make, one that will essentially set your schedule for you for the rest of the day... do you want to ride Toy Story Mania, yes or no?  If no, then when that rope drops, you go right.  Go ride Rock'n Roller Coaster, or Tower of Terror, and though there will be a small crowd to fight through, but nothing that will cost you more than 10, maybe 15 minutes of wait time for anything. 

If yes, then you enter The Dash.  When the rope drops, ticket(s) in hand, you begin to move quickly forward.  Hundreds of other people are having the same goal as you, all to get a Toy Story Mania Fastpass, and like you, they are flooding that way.  The goal is to not knock over strollers, even though moms try to run over you, to not bump into anyone, even though everyone is stampeding, not to flatten small children, even though parents are dragging kids along and those same kids are just all kinds of walking in front of you.

At some point, Cast Members must have figured out that just letting a mass of people storm the Toy Story Mania castle might be dangerous, so they have various Cast Members leading the pack with a small rope--go around that rope, and they pull you aside and you have to wait for everyone to pass.  Kinda like how some shampoo bottles say "Hey, don't eat this!" on the bottle, because some dorkface ate it, I'm guessing they Cast Members are there now for crowd control because it was deemed necessary.

Now that you know about The Toy Story Mania Dash, this is all leading to the Sunday morning of our Disney vacation. As I said before, we were there way, way early, and this allowed us to be first in line at the turnstiles.  So, when they started allowing us to get in, I was first in.  I walked at a brisk pace to down the street between the shops and Keystone Clothiers, to the rope.  The rope.  It was in my hand.  I put my hand on the rope, looked ahead toward the Sorcerer's Hat, and knew... I just knew... I was going to be one of the first people to get a Fastpass.  I would make sure I got tickets from Big Daddy Ron, The Lovely Steph Leann and Mama Ruthless, I would get our passes...

...and then we'd jump in the regular line, wait maybe 15, 20 minutes, then we'd ride Toy Story Mania!  Oh, the fun time we would have!  Then, we'd exit the building, and while the wait time had increased to 45 minutes, we'd head over to Rock'n Roller Coaster... we'd wait 20 minutes or so, and ride it.  Then we'd do Tower of Terror.  Perhaps by that time, we'd be able to get another Fastpass, but more than likely, we'd wait the probably-no-more-than-30-minutes-by-now wait time, and ride it.  And by 11am, pehaps 11:30, we'd have done the three biggest, most popular rides in the park, with passes to ride Toy Story Mania again at our convenience.  And we'd ride it again, or maybe we wouldn't... who knows!  We have the power!  All because I had the rope in my hands. 

Rope in hand, I veered around to see Mama Ruthless coming up behind me.  I was a little worried for a few seconds, but I saw that she was waving her ticket... had to have that to get all of our Fastpasses.  My phone buzzed.  It was The Lovely Steph Leann.  I figure it will say something like "wait for us, need our tix" or "where r u?" or "see you, don't move, coming".  But no.  It didn't say something like that. 

"Dad's ticket doesn't work"

Wait... what?

I reread it.

"Dad's ticket doesn't work"

Those four words means that the entire morning just came crashing down.  All hope of riding Toy Story Mania in the next 20 minutes, gone.  Riding Rock'n Roller Coaster in the next hour, gone.  Riding Tower of Terror in the next 2 hours, gone.  Getting those three big rides done by 11:30, all gone.  Walking around, laughing at those people in the 120 minute Toy Story line, taking our pick of whatever ride we want because everyone else is on the the big rides, walking easily from ride to ride to ride, with Fastpasses burning a hole in our pocket, Gone Gone Gone!!!!! 

As I turned around, my hand still clutched the rope.  It didn't want to let go.  It held on tightly, and after a few seconds, it gave one more squeeze... and released.  As I moved away from the rope, like water filling in the space that a rock occupied, suddenly my little space by the rope was immediately taken by someone else who's entire party had working tickets. 

I was ahead of all of these people.  And now, like a confused lemming, am
going back the way I came.  Sigh.  Not good times.
I made my way through the ever-thickening crowd to the turnstile, where Mama Ruthless and The Lovely Steph Leann stood on one side, my side, and Big Daddy Ron stood on the other, bar in front of him, with a ticket that just plainly did not work.  And it dawned on me... the ticket didn't work for one of two reasons, the first being that the ticket was good, but they weren't taking it.  I had hoped this would be it, because if it was, and we went back and got another ticket, even though we had a working ticket, we were totally going to Guest Relations and getting one of those All Day Fastpass Fastpasses.  The second reason that it might not work, and the reason that was probably 97% more likely to be true, was that I had given Big Daddy Ron the wrong ticket.  Remember, I had a stack of tickets that I had gotten checked, and though I thought I had kept them separate, this incident proved that they weren't.

The crowd, roaring and loud getting in, swirled around us, the Cast Member, though smiling, obviously impatient for us to get out of her line, Big Daddy Ron looking at me with a "what do you want me to do?" face.  I leaned over and said, "We've got to get you another ticket..." and it then dawned on me that while the first two days of this trip I had carried my Kermit messenger bag (and every trip before this one had me taking a Mickey backpack), but today, especially since I was in glasses and couldn't wear contacts (thanks, Left Eye. Jerk.) I had no need for any sort of bag, save for the small pin pouch I was carrying. 

The extra tickets that I had in the room were on the table... wait, no they weren't... they were... in the chair, I think... wait... they were in the Kermit bag on the bed, in the side pocket... wait, the front pocket... wait... I dunno... when Big Daddy Ron said, "Give me your room key, tell me where they are, I'll go back and get the ticket..." I stammered.  I stuttered.  I had nothing.  I couldn't tell him, and the rushing swirl of people around people around us  I sighed, my hand clinched empty with no rope to hold, no hope to have.  I was going back to the room.

With one final glance at the Sorcerer's hat, maybe a hundred yards away, it might as well have been sixty miles away, and now with the crowd gathering into the hundreds between where I stood and the blasted, glorious rope, I turned to the exit, moved out of the turnstile and Big Daddy Ron and I walked out. 

We noticed that the bag check line, the line we came through an hour or so ago with nary a soul there, had grown to about twenty, maybe thirty people deep.  There was a flock of Internationalis Groupus swooping in as well.

We walked down the long walk to the bus stop and stood.  Neither of us said a word, both of us frustrated at the entire situation.  I knew looking back, and it proved to be true, that it would be rather humorous a tale to tell, but at that moment, it was terrible.  We stood at the bus stop for French Quarter for what seemed like ages... I looked at my phone, and realized the park was now open.  Bus after bus after bus after bus pulled up at the drop off points, some of them saying "Riverside", some of them saying "All Star Sports", some of them saying "French Quarter", all of them pulling away without a glance to the two poor saps standing in the heat, awaiting a ride back to the room to get a ticket that worked.

Finally, a Cast Member crossed the street over to us and asked, "What are you guys waiting on?  A bus?"  I told her yes, we needed a quick ride back to the French Quarter.  She pointed to a blue bus in the distance and said, "See that bus over there?  I'm going to call them over here, they'll give you a ride back.  Otherwise you'll be here awhile, because the buses really aren't going to be doing any picking up for another hour or more."  We thanked her, and within five minutes, the non-Disney-owned but Disney-licensed bus stopped and we got on. 

The mood was a bit lighter on our way back, with both of us accepting the fact that it was what it was, nothing we could do about it now and so on.  I asked him to go to the concierge's desk and make sure that in fact, his ticket was already used, and I would dash to the room and get a good one.  He did, and I did, meeting up with him at the bus stop to Hollywood Studios.  And yes, the ticket was bad.

A bus came, we were laughing about the whole thing by now, and twenty minutes later, we were back at Hollywood Studios, again, walking towards the entrance, again.  The bag check had now grown at least fifty persons deep in each of the three or four lines, with the majority of the people wearing matching yellow shirts and other "I'm in a group of 75 chanting, obnoxious fer-ah-ners" garb.  Big Daddy Ron, who had somehow procured a bag of bananas and water (maybe he went back to the room too?) looked at the line, pulled out a bottle of water, threw the bag of bananas in the trash and deadpans, "I'll buy her some fruit in the park.  Let's go."

We got in, the park was now packed, and met up with The Lovely Steph Leann and Mama Ruthless over at Pixar Place... using the Fastpasses that The Lovely Steph Leann had already gotten, the boys rode the ride (his first time, my 10th at least), we came out the other side, and our day at Hollywood was finally set on the right track.

Through the rest of the day, we hit the big stuff, like Rock'n Roller Coaster via Fastpass, a 30 minute wait for Tower of Terror, The Great Movie Ride (which actually had a line that started outside the door, which I'd never experienced), we had lunch at Pizza Planet, and about midday, we were done with Hollywood Studios. 

Of course, I do need to mention the fact we met Lotso Huggin' Bear...

For those of you wondering, we smelled strawberries as we came around the corner, but Lotso didn't give off any
kind of fruity smell.  But, he's a hugger, as we all found out when he embraced each one of us.
And everytime we go to Hollywood Studios Art of Animation building, we do have to get pictures with The Incredibles. 

As we were in line for Lotso, we could see up the stairs where The Incredibles were.  At first, it was Frozone and Mr. Incredible--I've had a picture or two with each, but never together.  By the time we were out of the Lotso line, Frozone
had gone, and Mrs. Incredible came out.  Which was quite alright.

Because this story took forever, as my stories are wont to do, I'll stop here, and do one more with a few fireworks pics, the quick wrap up on the rest of the trip, and maybe a few things I missed... because I absolutely forgot to mention Captain EO... and it must be mentioned.

1 comment:

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