Saturday, December 01, 2007

My Disney Vacation, M to P

My Disney Vacation, A to F
My Disney Vacation, G to L

M is for Mater
As in, Tow Mater, and Lightnin McQueen. We saw they were taking character pictures on Monday, our first day in Disney-MGM Studios. The line was long, but we thought, "Hey, get in line, maybe we'll get lucky". Unfortunately, there was a Cast Member at the end of the line, telling us they closed the line... and we didn't even see Mater or Lightnin'.

So, when we went back on Saturday to MGM, we planned our day around the heroes from Cars. We saw on the Times Guide, the little slip of paper updated daily to tell you when shows will be performed, where characters will be at what time, and any other fun events around the parks, that Cars would be on the Streets of America around 330ish, so we showed up around 245 to find a few people already there. The PhotoPass people (the park photographers that take your picture in front of various Disney monuments, ie the castle, Spaceship: Earth, other scenic locales, and hand you a PhotoPass card that allows you to go online and view and buy your pics) were there taking pictures of the San Francisco backdrop.

We had our picture taken, then helped form the Cars line with three or four other families. By 320, ten minutes before the Cars appeared, the line was around the corner, and barriers had been put up to prevent people from just hopping/skipping the line and the line was probably closed. The Cast Members were great, as they were like Nazis in keeping the line in order. They informed the audience that anyone could come up to the barriers to take pictures, but only those in line could go closer, and get with the characters.

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And then, we heard the roar of the engines as Lightnin' McQueen and Mater appeared, rolling slowly around the corner. Steph and I were like little kids, giggling at the sight of the two, and marveling at how cool they really looked. And they looked cool. Naturally, they didn't have the mobility and movement that animation lends them, but their eyes moved back and forth, and Mater's engine rocked back and forth. It was absolutely cool.

The other fun thing to watch was how people were walking up randomly, and even trying to merge into the opening of the barriers, where people who had waited patiently for 45 minutes were going to get in to get pictures. One guy walked up, kid next to him, and hollered back to someone, "Hey, those Cars cars are here! Come on!", and then he actually tried to step in front of me. I simply said, "Hey man, the line is right here, and starts waaaay back." He turned around, frowned at me, and stepped back.

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So, finally, we got up and go to get our pictures. Add them to the collection of cool photographs we have from the week.

N is for No Sleep
That's the truth. In an average week, I probably get... I dunno, 45 hours of sleep. I figure an average of 6 hours per night, maybe one night I only get 4 1/2, another night I sleep late and get 8 or 9, but I figure 42 to 45 hours. This week, I think I got about 30.

O is for Overeating
Holy crap, there was so much food. When you go on your weeklong Disney vacation, you'll want to do the Disney Dining Plan. It gives you a certain amount of "counter service" (walk up, order food, get it and sit down), "snack" (usually yogurt, fruit, ice cream, something you can eat while you go) and "table service" (a sit down meal, typically with a server) meals. As a rule, I've found that the character meals are table services.

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The Campbell clan after finishing Thanksgiving at Liberty Tree Tavern in the Magic Kingdom

My favorite meals include:
**The Cinderella Storybook Dinner at the Grand Floridian's 1900 Park Fare Restaurant, starring a very toothy Cinderella, Prince Charming and Lady Tremaine. Buffet style, it featured a fantastic prime rib, and Steph Leann's much heralded strawberry soup.

**Planet Hollywood, in Downtown Disney. Good stuff. We ate their our first night in the area, and I had a big, fat mushroom & swiss cheese burger.
**The Yak & Yeti, in Animal Kingdom, which you'll read about later.
**And my favorite, Le Cellier, in EPCOT's Canada Showcase, which you've already read about

P is for Pin Trading
Oh, how we love the pins. Here's the story... Disney has always had pins for sale and trade. In DisneyLand, in California, they started trading them as a hobby, but when it hit Walt Disney World in Orlando, it took off full force.

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Our pin board, after the trip. I would say our collection was probably 70% overturned.

You typically have to start by obtaining a lanyard and some pins for trade, usually by buying them. Ours was given to us as part of our honeymoon package in 2004. You wear the lanyards, and when you see other people with pins on, wearing the lanyards gives you the right to ask about their pins. If you want, you can offer a trade. Perhaps they are trying to complete a set of pins that you happen to have one of, one that you'll know you'll never get a set of, but they have a great Goofy pin that you like. Offer the trade. Sometimes they'll take it, sometimes they won't.

Cast members wear two types of lanyards. The first, a blue lanyard, means that you can trade for whatever they have, provided they don't already have the one you are trading. This is an excellent way to pick up rare pins, pins for sets and such. The second, a green lanyard, means that they only trade with kids. However, sometimes you'll find a Cast Member who will trade no matter what... as long as you are nice about it. Sometimes not, though. I found a great Frozone pin that was on a green lanyard, and she wouldn't trade.

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The "Topiary" pins Stephanie was collecting. She got the entire collection this week.

A great little story.... we were just outside of Buzz Lightyear, and a Cast Member had a green lanyard, with a "safety pin". The Safety Pin Series is a 12 or 13 pin set featuring Timon and Pumbaa, doing the safety rules, like "keep your paws behind the yellow line" and "don't sit on the rail" and such. Anyway, this guy had one that Steph Leann, who has been collecting them since 2004, didn't have. I ask the guy if he would be willing to trade with a "kid at heart", and he said it was only for kids. Now, my other option is to ask Madeleine, 10, to come in and trade for it, though that seems kinda low. I figure I'm just going to tell Steph about it, and let her figure it out.

Ruth, Steph's mom, announces very loudly, "Well, why don't you get Madeleine to come in and get it?!?" I sigh, and the Cast Member perks up, suddenly on alert. I walk outside where Madeleine and some of the family is. I don't know if I told her, or Ruth told her or whatever, but Madeleine disappears, and a few minutes later, the Cast Member comes out with the Safety Pin, and a couple of 1 Million Dreams Tinkerbell Pins, asking me if I could give this to "the little girl who came in looking for the pin." Then he gives me this look of disgust, like I'm the scum of the Earth, for a pin that I didn't want, Steph gets the pin, Madeleine gets the special Tinkerbell pin and I get an angry Cast Member. Them's the breaks.

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Somehow, I managed to get Tinkerbell pins, and somehow, I managed to find them cool. And yes, I'm totally straight. Everyone, including Cast Members, asked me about the one in the upper left corner, cause its hard to find.

Some pin trading tips... its okay to buy pin sets to break up and trade. Steph Leann and I did that several times. However, pay attention to what's on lanyards. The "baby mickey" pins were all the rage in sets, and I bought one of those sets, only to find myself in a situation where I wanted a pin from a Cast Member, but he had all the "baby mickey" pins I had, so I had to give him another one.

Also, in each park, go to Guest Relations and ask for the Pin Book. They don't advertise it, but it's a big book behind the counter featuring pins that sometimes are hard to find. You are allowed to trade up to 2 pins per person.

"Hidden Mickey's" are the new thing. "Cast Lanyard Pins" pins are pins you can't buy, given only to Cast Members for trading. The story goes that people were complaining because it was hard to find Cast Lanyard Pins, which is stupid because The Lovely Steph Leann and I both have tons of them, so a year or two ago, they released Hidden Mickey pins, to help people find Cast Exclusives. You can buy a few Hidden Mickey's, but its only one pin in a set, like the Monorail Hidden Mickey Pin--you can purchase one. You have to find the other 7.

Personally, I could care less about Hidden Mickey's. I like Hercules pins, Incredible pins and somehow, I've managed to collect a bunch of Tinkerbell pins.

Its can be an expensive hobby, but its tons of fun. In every picture you'll see of The Lovely Steph Leann and I, you'll see our lanyards, and from one picture to the next, our pins change.

Coming Soon... S is for Soarin', U is for Unlimited Refills... and Why Disney is Better than Six Flags

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