Thursday, August 27, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Wednesday we headed out the door to Animal Kingdom. On this day the weather turned much warmer so after grabbing fast passes for Everest we decided to head straight to Kali River Rapids. This was another ride which I had not been on for 7 years. The line move fairly quickly and I was trying to take in all the details of the surrounding atmosphere. Once again I noticed that vandals had been carving names. This time in the trees along the queue line. Seeing this stuff just makes me ill. What the heck is with people? The ride itself was a lot of fun. Going up the first hill you can see the geyser spraying and your thinking "oh it will quit before we get to it." Wrong! Just as we approached the geyser sprayer high into the air drenching half the raft. From that point on we all got wetter and wetter. We hit every possible thing that could soak us. At first it felt refreshing but walking around in spongy socks is not fun. We talked about going right back to the room even though it was early. The only trouble was we had an early ADR at Rainforest Cafe. So we browsed around for a bit, took in a showing of Nemo, grabbed more fast passes for Everest, and made our way up front. As we approach the front of the park we noticed that Devine was out. This was the first time we had seen her in the park. She was really cool to watch.
Lunch was OK and I mean exactly that OK. Due to our wet clothes we froze in the A/C.
Afterward we went straight back to the room to change and dry our shoes. Arriving back at the park we found it quite busy. At some point a mass of Brazilian tourists groups had descended in upon the park. It was nuts. We made use of our fast passes and then waited an eternity to ride Kilamanjaro Safari. After the safari we felt hungry so we stopped in to Pizzafari. I did not expected this to be very good. To my surprise it was far better than the pizza over at Pinocchio Haus in the Magic Kingdom. Next stop was Festival of the Lion King. This is a great show and one we always try to make time for. During the last song the park suffered a power outage that affected all of Camp Minnie Mickey.
Next we took in Its Tough to be a Bug and Dinosaur. While waiting for Dinosaur we noticed the clouds were getting very dark. Upon exiting the ride Disney cast members began sending guests back into gift shops and into queue line due to the approaching storm. We were stranded for nearly an hour in Chester and Hester's Gift Shop. It became apparent that even though the park had extra magic hours that no rides would be running so we began hopping from gift shop to gift shop on the way out. Interestingly we found that although Disney was had been herding guests into buildings they were still running the parking lot trams. The storm had cut the day short but managed to get some extra sleep that night.
Thursday was our open day. We had not made plans on were to go. Our Son decided that he wanted to try out for the American Idol Experience so we decided to go back to the studios. This suited me just fine because Fantasmic was showing that night. We arrived and discovered that all of Brazil had decided upon the studios as well. This mornings experience over at midway mania was very different. The line for fast passes was a block long when we got back there. The return time changed by 40 minutes by the time we made it up to the machines. After grabbing the passes we made our way over to Idol where my son tried out and was selected as one out of 21 people that would take the stage that day. Being that he is only 17 I got to see the entire process. It began with a brief interview and him singing a song of his choice acapella. He sang "Purpose" from Avenue Q. They like his singing and he advanced to the coke a cola lounge where he was able to pick to songs. After making choices it was time for a second audition. His choices were "Your Song" and "You Really Got Me"
The producer also liked what he heard and invited my son to sing "You Really Got Me" at the 4 o'clock show.
We had to return to the stage door at 2:50. At this time we entered the Green Room and my son received some vocal and performance coaching and took his turn in hair and make up. Two other contestants were there and when everyone was ready they each got to rehearse one time on stage. During the show my wife and daughter had VIP seating and I watched backstage on a monitor. This was neat because it was like watching the show on TV. He did not move on to the finals at 7:00 but the experience was something he enjoyed and we are proud of how he did.
We made our way back to RNR Coaster to use some fast passes from earlier in the day. Getting those fast passes earlier in the day had been a trip. As we made it up the the machine I noticed that one machine had been roped off and two Brazilian men were busy feeding tickets into the machine. They had at least two stacked of tickets as thick as a deck of cards. As a family we even opted to try the single rider line. This was still a long line and when we finally got to the door I looked down and those same two guys were feeding more tickets into the machines. I think Disney could handle these groups much better. One idea would be that they give everyone on these tours the equivalent of a Dream Fast Past to go with the admission for which ever park they are in that day. There just has to be a better way.
Our meals for the day included the ABC commissary which was decent and pizza sounded good again so later on we stopped into Pizza Planet. This time the pizza was just like over at Pinocchio's and we were disappointed. Note to Disney, if you can consistently serve the same burger from park to park, where does the Pizza break down occur?
Late in the afternoon I received a text from Glenn asking where we were. Glenn met up with us and hung out to do TOT and Fantasmic. It was great to see and hang out with Glenn. Like myself Glenn grew up watching "The Wonderful World of Disney" on TV as a kid. Its nice to wax nostalgia over the old live action shows and share some common memories. I can't thank Glenn enough for take the time out of his day to come see us. Thanks Pal.
That wraps up the Disney trip itself. The next day we drove up to Sanford to catch our return flight on Allegiant Air. Our gate was changed 7 times and our flight was delayed by two hours. The delay was caused by a mechanical problem with another aircraft. Other passengers bound for North Carolina were given our plane and we had to wait while our flight crew was reassigned to another aircraft. Evidently Sanford is considered a hub for Allegiant so they had more planes. Once on board everything went fine.
I have to report that I really dragged my feet over the past few days but tonight I made it outside and put in 5 miles. 4 miles of that was jogging. My best pace hit about a 12.5 when I was warmed up. Consistency is going to be the key to success down the road and I simply must work on that. My foot has been pain free and is doing really good. As a precaution I did take some Ibuprofen post run and iced my foot.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Next we took in the Great Movie Ride. Something was different for on the visit and maybe this is something that is just switched from time to time, but every time I rode this in the past the Cast Member was always replaced by a gangster. This time the change came in the Western portion of the ride when a cowboy took over our tour. Other than that it was the same old ride. Even though this attraction is a bit cheesy I do enjoy the feeling of nostalgia I get during the actual movie portions, both in the lobby area and at the end of the ride.
Lunch was planned for the Sci Fi drive in café. We took in Star Tours while waiting for our ADR and I also ran over to grab fast passes from Rock n Roller Coaster. Lunch here was surprisingly the most expensive meal we would have in the parks during this trip. Part of that was because my wife and kids each ordered a shake. I have to say though that $70 for burgers and shakes is far too expensive and that includes the tables in wonderland discount. The meal was also not all that great. Doubt we would go back.
We used our fast passes after lunch for both attractions and then checked the times schedule for Beauty and the Beast. While we waited for the show my wife and I enjoyed my favorite ride The Tower of Terror. By the time the stage show was over my kids began complaining about tired feet so we left the park.
After a short rest back in the room I suggested we stop by Downtown Disney before going back to the studios. Time managed to get away from us and we never made it back to the studios that night.
On Tuesday we visited Epcot.
Our first attraction was Soarin and again I was surprised by the lack of crowds here. I was surprised by something else here. Something that I was surprised Disney had not addressed. Guests of the local home carnival variety had carved their names all over the metal arm rails in the queue line. It’s disappointing that people will openly vandalize property like this. The damage was extensive and like I said I can not believe Disney has not repaired this and kept a closer watch.
The queue line was not all bad though. Did you know that guests can play video games n line? About halfway up the queue there are four panels which change images from time to time. At one point a message came on the screens telling us to get ready to play bounce the ball. The images on the panels changed and the screen images now had these white outlines on them. The outlines must have been generated by body heat because if you raised your arm a silhouette of you arm appeared on screen. Then beach balls and snow balls began dropping and we could knock them from one end to the other. It was pretty cool.
A second game involving flying began as we went around the corner. After a few other attractions, including “Journey into Imagination” (which sorely needs a renovation) we headed back to World Showcase for lunch at Chefs de France.
I had the Salmon and it was wonderful. Our meals here had only the slightest of seasonings allowing the food to itself speak for itself. I do recommend dining here. And yes we saw Remy!
Over at the American Adventure we enjoyed the Voices of Liberty. There was a familiar singer here that we met back in 2002, Kristin from Marengo, Iowa. It was nice to see she is still enjoying singing and being part of the Disney Magic for the past seven years.
After a mid day break we returned for another ride on Soarin’ and Illuminations.
Last Thursday I made it out for another 4.5 miles. This time I managed to include a steady 3 miles of jogging. My average pace for the whole trip out was 13.5.
My foot has held up ok. I did notice some inflamation on Friday morning. No real pain just some swelling. I am planning on getting back out there tonight. Weather permitting. Storms have been active all afternoon.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
but others were more subtle.
The rest of the morning was a little busy. We drove over to the TTC and purchased our park passes. I bought an annual pass because I will be coming back in January. Now that I had the AP we set off on the Monorail to the Magic Kingdom to pick up a “Tables in Wonderland” card at city hall. By now it was nearly time for lunch over at Whispering Canyon. We dashed back to Frontierland and grabbed some Splash Mountain fast passes before taking the boat over to the Wilderness lodge.
Whispering Canyon is always fun and has become the “must do” restaurant for us. Our waiter, Rafael, was a riot and the food was tasty as always. After lunch we finally had a chance to slow down and enjoy the day. Upon returning to the park we took in Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and the Hall of Presidents.
I had not seen the Hall of Presidents since 2002 and I must say I was very pleased with the refurbishment. The video portions of the attraction looked great and the presentation kept a more focused look at the Presidency. The only thing I might have changed is during the introduction of the Presidents they would very briefly shine a spotlight on each of them. Because the Presidents were not in historical order it was sometimes hard to follow. Brighter lighting might have helped. When visiting this attraction be sure to look closely at the portrait on the right side of the theater entrance for a hidden Mickey on Washington's sword.
Later in the afternoon we rode Buzz Lightyears Astro Blasters. Exiting the ride we found it was raining pretty hard so we dashed over to the Carousel of Progress, an attraction that I have not seen since ’76. The rain had not let up and we found Tomorrowland flooded with 4 inches of water. When the rain did not let up we took off our shoes and walked toward main street. The water remained over our ankles all the way to the Terrace Noodle Station. Clearly there is a drainage problem here. After some shopping we left the park in search of a grocery store in order to stock up the kitchen. Mike Fess had tipped me off to Publix grocery and we drove straight to it with any problem.
Back at the room we cooked a green bean casserole for dinner before returning to the Magic Kingdom for extra magic hours. We arrived just in time to view the Spectro Magic Parade from the raised train station platform. We took in Monsters Inc Laugh Floor and Buzz Lightyear before watching wishes. Next we worked our way counter clockwise back through the park. Grand Prix Raceway, Tea Cups, Philharmagic, Snow White, Pirates. After Pirates I was looking forward to an evening ride on the Jungle Cruise but we found they had closed in down for the night. In fact by now it was near closing. On the way out I stopped at Aloha Isle for a Dole Whip float.
I have begun hitting the pavement again. I went wogging with my daughter on Aug 1st and 3rd for 4.5 miles each time. I am pleased that I can put two solid miles of running together. My current jogging pace is between 12 and 13. My foot remains a bit sore, so after the wogs I am icing it down and taking ibuprophen. The plan is to wog every other day this week and over the next couple weeks begin increasing the frequency and distance of these workouts. I feels good to be out there again. As long as I keep steady and do not over do it I think I will be fine. I also have some added motivation, I have scheduled a physical for late this month.