For those of you needing to catch up, here's the scoop... after taking S'ray and C'ray last year to Disney World during the hot June of 2009, The Lovely Steph Leann swore we'd never, ever go back to Lake Buena Vista in the summer time. Too darn hot. For me, I handled it well enough... even went back a month later with Tommy Mac, Amy McL and The Good Revr'n Ty Coffey.
Lo and behold, early this past June, she pipes up and says, "Hey, let's go to Disney World!" Uh, what? "Yeah! We need to go see Summer Nightastic, with the Electrical Light Parade and the new fireworks show!" I looked online, saw that the Summer Nightastic events would only be through August 14th (which, coincidentally, is the last day for high summer rates--on the 15th, it goes to value rates
), and after an invite to The Lovely Steph Leann's parents, Big Daddy Ron and Mama Ruthless, we orchestrated the trip around mid-July, spending a necessary night in Pensacola first (as documented here).
Leaving the Pensacola Marriott early
, we managed to arrive at Walt Disney World around mid-afternoon, check into our resort (Port Orleans French Quarter),
got our luggage and had agreed to be ready to head to Epcot around 5ish. It was open late, so we figured after our dinner at Rose & Crown, we could catch Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, then maybe hit the Magic Kingdom later on that night, as it was open until 3am.
Slight drama on I-10 worth mentioning--Mama Ruthless, from the passenger seat, turned around and looked at me at The Lovely Steph Leann in the backseat, realizing her Annual Pass voucher, that which she'd turn in for her Annual Pass, was sitting on a table back home in Birmingham. Not good times.
THE FRENCH QUARTER
|The hotel I probably wanted to stay at the least became the hotel I think I'd|
like to stay at every time. Course, Pop Century, which I also love, is fairly
cheaper, especially since I'm paying real folk prices.
Wasn't sure if I'd like this resort, as I've seen it in passing and it kinda looked... well, boring and old. I did like Riverside, having stayed there for a night before and liking the setting and rooms. Port Orleans Resort is broken into two sections, a small area known as French Quarter, and a much larger area called Riverside.
Riverside is absolutely huge, we discovered, with over 2,000 rooms in twenty buildings and four bus stops, while French Quarter contains "only" about 1,000 rooms in 7 buildings, all fairly close to the main building and bus stops. The rooms were, well, roomy, with double sinks, comfy beds and a nice showerhead. I told The Lovely Steph Leann that I want to come back to this hotel again. Love Pop Century, but I do love some double sinks.
It was also good to check tickets at the concierge desk too... not only did I have some extra day passes from working at The Happiest Place in the Mall, I had managed to procure a few from another Cast Member who needed a little cash. However, we had used a couple of them, and we didn't toss 'em because The Lovely Steph Leann wanted to keep them. I had ten in my hand, I knew at least two were not good, so I had several of them checked at the resort, putting the bad ones in the side pocket of my messenger bag, putting the good ones in another pocket (this is important, by the way, for later).
|Mama Ruthless (white shirt), The Lovely Steph Leann (blue |
shirt) and Big Daddy Ron (passed out) await Illuminations
to begin, while we chat it up with fellow Disneyphiles
Going into Epcot was easy, as the chick at the Will Call found my information of when I purchased all the Annual Passes, and re-issued Mama Ruthless's pass. I had another girl check a couple of day passes I had in my hand as well, to figure out the ones that were good and bad. I put the bad ones in a side pocket of my messenger bag. (again, remember this. this will come up again.)
Dinner at Rose & Crown
was wonderful, and while The Lovely Steph Leann, Mama Ruthless and Big Daddy Ron all settled for the Sunday Roast, I elected to go with the Surf N Turf, which was grilled steak and fried fish with Yorkshire pudding, Irish potato gratin, seasonal vegetables, and Shallot gravy , with sticky toffee pudding for dessert. Yum.
We slowly ambled our way over to the front of the Seven Seas Lagoon and found a great spot to watch Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, and it was our first experience with a new species...
THE INTERNATIONALIS GROUPUS
They travel in flocks, from all over the world. They are brightly colored, in red, yellow or green, sometimes in white with colored markings. Never less than five, ten, fifteen banding together, they move in a huge blob of figures. They chant, because they know no better, never being told what is good and what is not good in our culture. They chant during shows and performances, and sometimes for no reason at all. They stand in the middle and cheer...
|Here they are, at The Magic Kingdom, chanting and whooping. Its like a|
mating call. Or war cry. Or both.
...mind you, I'm excited for them to be able to come to this country, and I think its awesome that these kids are getting to travel--for some, they may never come to America again. But that doesn't mean they aren't obnoxious as wearing wet socks. Heard a story of one girl who was about to go into the Fast Pass line at Big Thunder and had about 60 Brazilians run straight into the line before she could get there. The Cast Member saw it, and walked her to the front of the line, bless 'em heart.
The huge international tour groups were all the talk around the parks, with nearly every guest we talked to saying something about them, getting caught in the middle as they swarmed by, or behind them in a Fast Pass line (I did see one Uruguayan hold up a Fast Pass line at Soarin' with a stack of, oh, about 50 tickets to get passes for, while the guest behind him were coming up with creative ways to kill themselves),
or trying to avoid them in a flow of traffic. There must have been at least 20 or more groups there. Were I better person, I'm sure it would have been a prime ministry opportunity.
Talking with a Cast Member later on, I discovered that there were plenty of these groups to go around. He said that alot of times they come from other countries and not only are the kids not told our cultural norms, but the leaders aren't either, so as far as they are concerned, its perfectly wonderful to go into the Argentine Warble Dance, drowning out what ever show you are trying to follow. Don't chant for me, Argentina, indeed.
THE MAIN STREET ELECTRICAL PARADE
The plan was to dash from Epcot over to MK to see The Main Street Electrical Parade, one of the main reasons we were going, and though it was close, we made it. We managed to make nice with another family visiting from... Portland?... and we ended up watching the parade with them at MK. Big Daddy Ron had another guy his age to banter with, and The Lovely Steph Leann and I kept the others entertained by answering all sorts of pin trading questions and Walt Disney inquiries.
|This is one of the few new floats in the Electrical Light Parade. Its a great way to start off the show, as I love me|
|This was Cinderella's section of the parade, with a dancing party and all. I would hate to be those guys in the|
corners, actually carrying the canopy
|One of my favorite floats, here's Dopey riding a mine train of lighted jewels|
|Who doesn't love a good pirate ship?|
|The return of one of the most famous Light Parade floats, Elliott from "Pete's Dragon", with smoking nostrils and everything. Pete rode, waving and smiling at everyone.|
THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE HAUNTED MANSION WAILER
Magic Kingdom stayed open really, really late, and we took advantage of some of it after the parade was over. We managed to ride The Haunted Mansion...
...in the Stretch Room, by the way, there was a wailing of a child. Some parent had brought her 5, 6, maybe 7 year old kid, and this kid wasn't having it. I can't knock the kid too much, because the first time I went to Disney World in 1982, I was scared to death of The Haunted Mansion (and subsequently refused to go on Pirates of the Caribbean after that)
mostly because I was--am--scared of the dark. That didn't help when I saw "Poltergeist"
a few months later, but that's a whole other story.
So anyway, as we left the Stretching Room and made our way into what I label "The Cattle Call", that is sixty or seventy people all streaming into the same little area and forcing their way into a single file line, we could hear the kid crying. And crying. And crying some more. Big Daddy Ron & Mama Ruthless were several spots ahead of us, and as it turns out, the kid playing the Crying Game was between my in-laws and myself and The Lovely Steph Leann.
The In-Laws got into a Doom Buggy, and just ahead of us, Crying Boy became full out Wailing Boy. He and his mom were the next in line to get in a Doom Buggy, followed by us, and my man was gripping the railing tighter that Obama grips a bad Dubya report, and he was not letting go for any reason. And he was now completely screaming. Mom, obviously embarrassed, was trying to talk him down, and the chick with them (aunt? sister? domestic partner?) was just standing there, looking like she'd rather be anywhere else in the world than right there in that very moment.
Little man continued his death grip, and when the ENTIRE RIDE STOPPED, Mom shifted her coercion from "C'mon, it will be okay, let's just ride it" to "Okay, let go, we'll get out of here". The Cast Member just continued to smile, standing off to the side, awaiting the decision of the absolutely hysterical boy as to whether to let go, or to continue holding on as if his life depended on it--heck, for all he knew, his life, his soul, his sanity did depend on it. Finally, maybe 30 seconds after the ride stopped, the boy let go. He was still sniffling, crying and unhappy, but mom took his hand and the Cast Member directed them, and the companion, all out. The ride started, and The Lovely Steph Leann and I took our place in the Doom Buggy to join the other 999 haunts for the ride... "...but there's always room for 1,000... any volunteers? Mwah hah hahah!!"
We rode a few other things that night, and headed back to our room before it got way late... of course, that still means we didn't get back to the room until 1ish, maybe after, but it that was early for Disney. We agreed to meet early to get to Epcot the next morning, and we did so. The Lovely Steph Leann and I, with Mama Ruthless and Big Daddy Ron all got in line--which was weird, as I was so used to the Cast Member entrance, and this time I was coming in with the common folk, but we got in.
Like all the other parks, at opening, Epcot will let you in just so far before you can't go any further. Epcot gets you in the gate around 15 til opening, and you can move up and past Spaceship Earth (the big ball) until you are stopped by a rope going across the courtyard. At opening, they drop this rope and 99.8% of people either go right to The Land and get Fast Passes for, and/or ride, Soarin', or they go left and get Fast Passes for, and/or ride, Test Track.
|Not our Fastpasses, but you get the drift|
My particular plan of attack is Soarin' first. Get Fast Passes, ride it, then afterwards, trek across the Future World, get Fast Passes for Test Track as soon as they are available to you (when you get a Fast Pass, which allows you to come back and ride an attraction at a later time, with usually a much shorter line, but you when you get one, you can't get another one for at least another hour). After I get the Test Track Fast Pass, we'll do Mission: Space, Ellen's Energy Adventure and so on. And so, like usual, I'm the fastest, or at least the one not bothered by weaving in and out of old people trying to run me over in motor carts and stroller moms and small kids who aren't watching where they are stumbling, holding hands by parents who aren't paying attention.
I grabbed tickets from The Lovely Steph Leann, Mama Ruthless and Big Daddy Ron, and when the rope dropped, I was off. My instructions to The Lovely Steph Leann were, "Wait for me at the entrance of the ride..." and I was on my quick way. Got in line for Fast Passes--by the way, that hill leading up to The Land is just killer on the calves when you are trying to walk fast--and noticed a member of an Internationalis Groupus at the head of one of the other Fast Pass lines with a fat stack of tickets. I got behind about four people, with the person up front having problems with the machine. The Cast Member looked at it, then suddenly declared it to be closed, so our five or six person line quickly dispersed to other lines. I was now about 9 people back. The Internationalis Groupus was still at the head of his line, getting Fast Passes.
(by the way, I just figured out its "Fastpass", not "Fast Pass", so mock me if you must, but I'm not going to go back and change it all...)
It went quickly, and I got to the front of the line, and got my Fastpasses, walking away. Walking past Internationalis Groupus, who now had a Cast Member with him to just count out the ones he needed. All the other people behind him had already drawn out a map of how they were going to kill him and where they were going to bury him.
I stood in front of Soarin'. And waited. And waited. Fastpasses in hand, I waited. I called The Lovely Steph Leann, who rarely answers her phone anyway, and wasn't surprised when she had no answer. I called Big Daddy Ron, who answered, and said, "We're under the Soarin' mural". I hung up and thought, "Oh, they are in the building!" and though I couldn't place where the mural along the path of coming through the doors, walking around, and coming down the escalators, I waited, watching the steps. Nothing. No one that I knew.
So, I got in line. Perhaps they were waiting for me. I didn't want to be one of those guys who traverse the line, skipping past people, trying to find my party, especially if I couldn't find them... and as I went deeper and deeper in the line, I realized they weren't there. I was a bit frustrated (ask The Lovely Steph Leann and she'd say, "oh, alot") and towards the end, I got out of line and headed to the front lobby, figuring I would find them at some point. I thought they might have ridden it, and have expected me to do so, but I also thought that if I had not waited long enough and had gone on ahead, The Lovely Steph Leann would be The Unhappy But Still Lovely Steph Leann... that in mind, I went to the lobby... and saw she, Mama Ruthless and Big Daddy Ron there.
"Did you ride it?" The Lovely Steph Leann said with a smile.
"Uh... no, I was waiting for you," I replied, and her face dropped. She knew there had been a misfire somewhere, and she knew I was really disappointed that I didn't get to ride it with her. So, she and I agreed to ride it again, while the In-Laws walked around and did some other stuff.
Yeah, I was unhappy for a little while, but like any other time I get frustrated, give me a few minutes and I'm fine. To her credit, The Lovely Steph Leann was wonderful, being very apologetic, and just letting me brood for a little while without trying to "fix it". I snapped out of it, and we had a great time on the ride.
This was a snafu. Wait til you hear the Toy Story Madness.