Thursday, December 4, 2008

Make-A-Wish Day 4

This will be shockingly short :). We started Wednesday, Dec 3 at the Magic Kingdom thinking that Hollywood Studios didn't need a whole day and we were likely to have to ditch plans to see/hear Neil Patrick Harris (who doesn't love "How I Met Your Mother") read a Christmas Story accompanied by a 50 piece orchestra. We got to the Magic Kingdom when it opened, took the train back to ToonTown, ran through Mickey's House, Minnie's House, and rode Goofy's Barnstormer then saw some characters in the Circus Tent / Shopping arena. Took the train back to the entrance and left the park sometime between 11 and noon.

We got to Hollywood Studios right around 1 pm. We had missed the stunt show's first performance so grabbed lunch (very late lunch for us this week) and then zipped all over the park for the next 7 and half hours. Bob made a very costly and very bad call by getting everyone into Prince Caspian ... something or other about Narnia. It was just a really long preview of the movie that took 30 minutes of our lives. Ugh.

We ended that day with walk through the Christmas Lights which is really cool and Bob's favorite part of this whole trip. On the way out we grabbed two more pressed pennies for Max (that will make more sense as details of today and yesterday become available) and then headed out to try and find dinner - it was 8:30 pm as we headed into the parking lot.

Bob made a wrong turn at the Hess station; he actually just failed to make any kind of turn. That prompted a discussion with Tracy on the need to rethink buying souvenirs on Friday at Magic Kingdom after having packed for the trip home and instead possibly doing Downtown Disney to shop Thursday night so that everything could be packed when we leave the hotel for Disney. That prompted a discussion about skipping Epcot all together during which Tracy (yes, Tracy, not Bob) suggested that it was already 8:45 pm and the Epcot fireworks thing was at 9:30 pm so maybe we should do that. We did. It was a little cold and we had an issue with an incredibly ignorant older woman who nearly stepped on Max (he was sitting in the middle of a fireworks show though) and then stole Gwendolyn and Olivia's position at the viewing railing. In spite of harsh words from Tracy, glares from everyone around and a wonderful couple next to the old hag that let Gwendolyn stand in front of them, the woman didn't move. Tracy did her best to ruin every picture the woman tried to take and after about 10 minutes she and her not so obnoxious friend left.

Oh, we had hot pretzels, hot dogs, and water for dinner at 9:45 pm (Bob believes it is mandated that prisoners eat slightly better ... though at less expense). If someone still has our Parents of the Year application, you might want to hold off until next year ;-)

We've slept in a little to start Thursday. We'll be going to Animal Kingdom and have to meet up with Max's Teacher's daughter, Allie, as she works in the Lion King Show and has something special for Max. (Gwendolyn also had Mrs. Sulley, the teacher, last year). We just wanted to write to let everyone know that all is well and the parks have not yet won; the Kimpland Family has just had to re-prioritize a little. Nothing big is planned for tonight but pretzels and water weren't planned for last night so only time will tell.

Details of the Day

Last night was min-golf until late and Bob ended up cutting the Blog entry short that night as well as the next day because all of our waking moments were being spent doing Disney, Universal, and other magical stuff and there was only time to backup the pictures and videos before succumbing to sleep. This was made worse by a power outage in the hotel at 1:15 am on Wednesday, Dec 3. This seemed like only seconds after Bob had fallen asleep but was probably more like 30 minutes. To Bob it sounded like he and Max’s ‘camping’ trip in the outfield at the Sussex minor league park where it started raining, thundering and lightning around 2 am and for the next hour all we could hear were campsites being taken down (in the rain and lightning). This morning, all Bob could hear for the next 45 minutes were doors opening and closing, people arguing in various languages, and just a lot of commotion. Bob did check the hallway quickly to make sure there wasn’t a fire because not a single emergency light had come on, that he could see, and he was slightly worried that the smoke and fire detection/suppression system operated on the same circuit. It is worth a quick note for anyone considering staying at the Radisson at 2900 Parkway – if you plan on doing anything but sleeping there – you probably want to look elsewhere (Bob would be happy to share his reasons).

In spite of a late and eventful night, we got to the Magic Kingdom as it opened. Our plan for the day was to hit all of ToonTown then head to Hollywood Studios for the rest of the day. With that laid out, we entered the park without our stroller and headed for the train station. There Bob got several complements on his Dr. Teeth Band Muppet t-shirt (okay, it was just one compliment but it was from the engineer and he was really excited so it should count for a lot). The train ride was something that only Bob had done before and that had been many, many, many years ago. It was a nice way to get back to ToonTown without having to navigate the crowds. Our first stop in ToonTown was Mickey’s house where Gwendolyn (she says it wasn’t her but the video Bob has seems to say otherwise) set off the same alarm that Bob set off a few years ago by leaning too far into Mickey’s living room.

A quick tour of the front of Minnie’s house was followed by a long stop in the kitchen to play with the refrigerator, oven, and microwave as well as shoot some pictures. The kids and Tracy then went on Goofy’s Barnstormer while Bob tried to figure out what the purple roofed building on the park map could be. It sits behind Donald’s Boat/House and to left of Goofy’s ride but there is nothing there. The problem is that Max has seen it on the map and insists that he is missing something. While the map isn’t to scale, it seems accurate short of this single building that isn’t really there. Bob walked Max all around the area where the purple roofed building should’ve been but Max just could not be placated and was angry that we were depriving him of whatever this was. Unfortunate.

Our next stop was the County Fair where Princesses and Fairies were doing meet and greets. The line for the Fairies was over an hour but Tinker Bell was in attendance and the girls all wanted to see her. We checked on using Max’s pass for this but the attendant told us that they no longer did alternate entrances at this venue. Ah well, we got on the princess line which was only labeled as 20 minutes. While it was actually only about 10 or 15 minutes, Max’s complaining the entire time about the line made it seem like hours. It was clear that he would not be able to do the fairies but Gwendolyn and Olivia were very upset about not seeing Tinker Bell. After seeing Aurora, Cinderella, and Belle, Bob went and asked the new greeter for the Fairies line if it would be possible for the girls to wait in line and have Max re-join them when they got to the front as he would not be able to tolerate the line without being disruptive. This new greeter looked at Max’ pass and said, “He doesn’t have to wait on line, just go over there (pointing to the exit) and someone will be with you shortly.” That was nice, but we’re not clear why the first greeter was so misinformed. After waiting just a few minutes, we were greeted by Kenneth and he talked to the kids about Max’s visit with Peter Pan, how the kids would have to be shrunk with some pixie dust to make them able to hear and see the fairies, and then shared some bad jokes. The kids then got to visit with Iridessa, Tinker Bell, and Rosetta.

We shopped for about 20 minutes (longer than the 5 that Max needed but Tracy was the culprit this time ;-) ) before taking the train back to the park’s entrance. We took the monorail out of the park just before noon. This turned out to be a great time as there was no one riding so Max, Gwendolyn, Olivia and Tracy go to ride in front with the conductor (only 4 are allowed there) while Bob checked email and did a quick 5 minutes of return phone calls.

At 12:36 we were parked in Hollywood Studios and heading to Rosie’s for a little lunch. Max decided he didn’t want chicken so he and Bob headed to Telousse’s Turkey Legs for a hot dog and a chili dog (what else would they name a hot dog stand?). Gwendolyn and Bob ate very quickly and ran to do the Rockin Roller Coaster while Max and Tracy finished lunch and Olivia took a well needed time out to collect herself. This wasn’t an official timeout, just a break that our 4 year old traveler sorely needed because she refuses to nap and we were keeping her up for very long days. Gwendolyn loved the roller coaster and tried to talk her way into a follow up ride but we had a very tight schedule to keep so she was denied.

We headed toward Mickey’s sorcerer hat where we found a stand selling baseball caps that we thought would make great souvenirs. Bob was able to snag a Grumpy hat for a mere $4.99 while the rest got the hats that appealed most to them. After making our purchases we still had time for a ride before the parade so we headed to Narnia’s Prince Caspian ride. It is so NOT a ride. It is a blatant advertisement for a movie that came out on DVD a while ago. We waited in fairly long queue and then entered a room. Oh, this will be like the Haunted Mansion Bob thought. Foolish Bob. We stood around the broken slab that Aslan was killed on in the first movie and then a movie started. OK, not a movie, a trailer. Sure it was a long trailer and a little info on the special effects that were used but it still just a damn trailer that we waited 15 minutes to see and took 10 minutes to watch. What a waste of effort on their part and a waste of time for us.

At this point it was time to get a seat for the parade and we headed to the spot we had used two years ago right outside of the Star Wars ride and near the Jedi Training Stage. We were there for a good 10 minutes before we learned the parade ended here instead of started, as it had last time. There really wasn’t time to move before the parade started so we decided to stick it out here. About 10 minutes later we learned that the trampoline and dancing would NOT take place where we were sitting but, instead, the parade would stop in front the commissary, far to our left, for 20 minutes for that show. Now, it was way too late as there was a crowd around us and the parade had already started. We stuck it out a while longer and Olivia danced with some of the women doing crowd control so we were all entertained. We did have a good position to see everything as the parade rolled by so it wasn’t a complete loss. We also go to see them do gymnastics in the street and all the dancers gathered in front of us while the rides went through a gate to our ride. At the end, we saw a whole dance routine and then caught some balls that were thrown over the gate at the very end so we ended up happy with our decision.

From here we ran to the Lights, Motors, Actions Extreme Stunt show that had come highly recommended for Max. We were late but Max’s pass got him reserved seating up front. The stunt show was going very well for our group until Herbie, the Love Bug, made his appearance. This is Max’s favorite car, in front of even Lightning McQueen, so having Herbie show up was a great treat. Unfortunately, Herbie makes a wrong turn and ends up cutting himself in half. Fun for everyone but Max who was devastated. Explaining to Max that it was a just a trick, like everything else they were showing us in the show but he just couldn’t let it go.

We got out of the stunt show a few minutes before 5 pm and realized that Playhouse Disney’s last show was at 5:00 pm. We explained to Max that were going to miss that this time around and we were told, in no uncertain terms, that this was unacceptable. OK. We ran across the entire park to the Playhouse Disney site just as they were closing the doors. Tracy got Max and Gwendolyn in while Bob found a stroller spot with Olivia and then re-joined the group. We were fortunate to have made it as both Max and Olivia had a wonderful time. For Max, the show is just as magical and real as it is for Olivia. They loved seeing all of the characters from their favorite shows.

Toy Story Mania was our next ride. This was way cool. Similar to the Buzz Lightyear ride in that you’re in a car and shooting at targets, but it is really huge 3-D video game. You move through the ride to six sets of targets, all with different values. Everyone had such a great time that we immediately got back on line and bettered our scores. After this was the moment that Max had been waiting on for years, a visit to Pizza Planet. He was thrilled to be playing in the video game parlor from Toy Story. Unfortunately, or thankfully depending on the point of view, it did not measure up to Max’s expectations. He didn’t like any of the games so it did not end up costing nearly as much as we had feared. Having spent only a few minutes here we headed to Muppetvision 3-D. In the waiting room, there were only about 30 people and Olivia made quick friends with two girls. They ran around, danced, and played until we were able to enter the theater. Bob has no more recollection of the movie as the world went dark for him as soon as he sat down.

We exited the movie and headed to the Osbourne Family Spectacle of Lights. We got there just as the Transiberian Orchestra’s song was starting to play in sync with the lights. That was a cool way to start. We walked through the streets looking for hidden Mickey’s and got our picture taken with the lights as the background. On our way out we stopped by the penny pressing machine under Mickey’s sorcerer hat so that Max could add another pressed penny to his collection. We were tired and unfed but the food venues had all closed for the evening. Tracy made a quick call to Max’s teacher to get final instructions for his visit to Animal Kingdom and then we headed out of the park.

On the way out, Bob missed a turn while he and Tracy were discussing a revision to the plan of buying souvenirs on Friday in the Magic Kingdom because of the problems we might have with getting those things packed. We thought that we might do better to try and visit Downtown Disney tomorrow night since Animal Kingdom closes at 6:00 pm. As Bob corrected for his missed turn Tracy suggested doing Epcot this evening as it was already 8:45 and fireworks there were at 9:30. The story of this adventure is recounted in appropriate detail above :)

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