Saturday, September 11, 2010

Day 6, The Final Countdown

Go ahead, try and get that song out of your head now.

Another day, another plan.  This time, IT WORKED!!!  We actually got to breakfast before they opened!  This has got to be a sign.

For some reason, we didn't take a lot of pictures today, so this will be a bit less visually interesting.

We made it to Epcot just after 9:00.  Once in, we found Daisy Duck, who Emily had been looking for, and Stitch, who Emily is afraid of.  She ran right up to Daisy and nearly tackled her with a hug.  When we visited with Stitch, she nearly tackled me trying to hide from him.  For the group pic, we had to put Kayla between Emily and Stitch.  She's pretty tired, so this shyness was a constant through the day.

From here it's on to Spaceship Earth.  This is the ride inside the "Giant Golf Ball".  It's a pleasant little cruise through history, and Emily must have been paying attention.  On the way home tonight she was talking about how they burned the library at Alexandria and all the books are gone.  The kid loves books, so she may be taking it personally.  Maybe we should talk.

During the course of the ride, it takes your picture and then asks you questions about how you like to live.  At the end of the interview it throws together a little animation using your responses and the photo.  In the area past the exit, you can view your photos and video again and email them to yourself.  I set it up and then forwarded the result to Nana, but I guess she doesn't check her email on Fridays.  We poked around in this area for a bit, but it was really just a bunch of video games with an energy motif.

There is another group character meet in this area, and we did the tour again.  This time we saw Donald Duck in his more traditional garb, rather than the safari costume he was in at Animal Kingdom.  We were leaving the main area when we stumbled across Brer Bear in the hallway.  I don't know where he was headed, but we probably made him late.  He refused to throw my kids into the briar patch, but he did spend time with Kayla and sign our books.

Next, we headed over to The Seas With Nemo and Friends.  There are two activities here - a ride that rehashes the movie, and a chance to have a conversation with Crush, the sea tortoise from the movie.  Everyone sits on benches in an auditorium.  All the kids are invited down front, but they already closed the exit doors, so there's no leaving them there.  The show is an animated screen image of Crush controlled by an actor out of sight somewhere.  He chats and jokes with the kids and tries to impart some tortoise facts to them.  Of course, he's calling on kids in the audience.  Of course, he calls Jason first.  Jason decides to share a joke he learned at the Christmas party Thursday: What is a pirates favorite cookie?  Chips Ahoy!  Crush laughed and laughed before asking "What's 'chips'?"

Emily at first sat in back with us, but soon ran up to join her big brother, now that she was sure he wasn't about to get eaten.  She settles in and Crush starts talking to her.  What is it with these two?  I never got anyone's attention like this as a kid.  I can't remember what he asked her, but the unexpected answer he got was "Coconut!"  Apropos of nothing.

Kayla slept through it.

On our way out we asked a cast member about the Illuminations show.  Info I found online suggested that it wasn't showing Thursday, Friday or Saturday nights, but the Times Guide for the week suggests otherwise.  It turns out my info is wrong and, weather permitting, the show will go on.  Can you believe I got bad info on the internet?  As Crush would say - dude....

Next on the counter-clockwise tour of Future World is The Land.  This is where Soarin' is.  It's a flight simulator of a hang glider.  We slid through the FastPass line and boarded our flight after a quick presentation from Patrick Warburton who gained fame in the live TV verson of The Tick.  Apparently he also had a part in some show by a New York comedian, not that there's anything wrong with that.

The ride itself is pretty cool and very immersive.  At one point you do a fly-by on a golf tee and I ducked when the player teed off.  Jason laughed at me the rest of the day for that one.  Everyone liked this one, but Kayla mostly slept.

At this ride, it started to become evident that the Disney Wish Magic doesn't have a great range outside the Magic Kingdom.  Everyone was polite and friendly, and we had no trouble accessing the rides, but I had to ask where we would do the wheelchair transfer.  At MK, this was anticipated and explained before the thought crossed my mind.  This is a small thing to be sure, but I am surprised at the difference it makes in the atmosphere.  This was the case everywhere but Test Track, where there was a more complicated process to follow.  The Test Track people let us go twice in a row, too, even though there was a wait and some folks had to FastPass it.

While we were still at The Land, it made sense to take the Living With The Land boat ride.  An ecological trip with a message, the greenhouse section gave me some cool ideas for my vegetable garden next spring.  Some I may try out as cool-weather fall crops if I get motivated this month.  Kayla woke up and seemed to enjoy it.  I might have enjoyed the more in depth Behind The Seeds tour of the greenhouse, but it wasn't of interest to anyone else.

Moving on, we come to Test Track and have a blast on the ride.  The cast members help us through the area, in and out of elevators and set us up in a spot where I can more easily transfer Kayla.  We are positioned at a point between the loading zone and the actual start of the ride and wait for the loaders to send up an empty car for us.  After a couple of calls back down to the loader, they finally remember to keep one car empty and we're loaded up and on our way.  It's a lot of fun, and Jason thinks it's amazing that we hit 65mph.  He just doesn't get that we did 70-75 on our trip to Daytona yesterday.  I guess it's not as cool in a minivan.

Right next door is Mission: SPACE, the ride to Mars simulator.  As we enter, they ask us if we want "More intense" or "Less intense".  I am the only one in the group who read up on any of this stuff before the trip so I have an idea of what he means.  I said "'More' sir!"  This brought on a slew of warnings at the various waiting points prior to loading, and that got Jason all upset.  He tried to back out of the ride, but the CM didn't really listen to him.  Again, Jason starts off scared and gets off wanting more.  Kayla loved it!  Emily was nervous because Jason was, but willing.  She got off the ride with a sick bag in her hand.  Clean, but open and ready.  Later, at the Wish Lounge, I mistook it for trash and threw it out.  Bad Daddy!  That was a keeper!  Her souvenir!  And I callously wadded it up and threw it out.  For shame.

We're starting to get hungry, and not really enjoying the park.  Magic Kingdom set a high standard that Epcot is missing in little ways.  Nothing outright bad, but it's death by papercut.  One thing we overheard frequently from the cast members was small talk amongst themselves about break time.  I know those conversations happen, but in front of guests throughout the park?  Another papercut.  The rides and subject matter don't interest anyone much, the cast members aren't quite as outgoing and friendly as they were at Magic Kingdom and we want to see Hollywood Studios. We order lunch at the Electric Umbrella (not an item I'd buy and use!) and after a surprisingly long wait for our food, we eat and head for the buses to Hollywood.

The girl who finally got our order together at lunch had volunteered at GKTW earlier in the week and recognized us.  I knew that many of the VoluntEars were from Disney, but I never thought we'd run into one.  It's a small world after all.

The main thing we know about Hollywood Studios is the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show.  As we get oriented and pull ourselves together, I find that the last showing starts in 7 minutes at the furthest point of the park.  What's funny about that is we made it!  This was a great show, and although it shattered some illusions about movie stunts we all enjoyed it.  I recommend it.

With our mad dash over, I have a chance to look over the rest of the times guide and find that most of the shows are about done for the day.  Emily wants to see the Playhouse Disney show, so we head for Pixar Place.  We make the show, and she's up and dancing, talking back to the puppets, enjoying herself immensely.

All week I've been noticing that she's just a little girl.  Somehow, in my mind, she's older, more grown up.  But seeing her watch the show enraptured by the characters she knows and loves, unabashedly flailing about in her efforts to dance the way only a 5 year old can, her hair up in that crown from the Boutique I seem to be peeling years off my mental image of her.  How did she get so old in my mind?  Aren't daddies supposed to see their grown daughters as small children?  I've got it all backwards I think.

We run through Toy Story Midway Mania and then Voyage of the Little Mermaid before another series of character meetings.  This time we hang with Pinnochio and Gepetto, Buzz and Woody, Frozone and Mr. Incredible.  Then we draw Piglet in the Animation Studio and suddenly the park is closed.  Back to the buses and Epcot for Illuminations!  We have confirmed that my 'net info was bad and the show is on.  Today's Wish Magic: seeing a show we thought we wouldn't.

Once there again, we make our way to the wheelchair viewing area.  This turns out to be a very good place to see it all and we are about 20 minutes early so we got places right up front.  This also means that we caught the debris.  Gina got some ash in her face and I got pegged by a ball from the finale.  Two Disney fireworks shows, two instances of catching the fallout.  We both got hit by the same piece at Magic Kingdom 2 days ago when it hit my head, then Gina's leg.  If we'd gone to Riverfest this year, I'd be dead for sure.

Have you seen this girl?
After the show we do some power shopping, hoping to find some cool stuff in the crowds.  We finally track down some Mickey ears and start looking for the embroidery station.  A cast member gives us directions, and we head off through the crowd.  When we get to the other side of the store we still don't see our destination, and now we're short one kid.

Somehow, in passing through the crowd, Emily got separated from us.  I grab the first cast member I see and she asks what Emily is wearing.  Kayla and I take off to look for her and a minute or two later see the same cast member helping another customer with some shopping.  Nice.  Gina has taken off in the opposite direction with Jason firmly in tow and tracks down another cast member.  When she starts tearing up (we're tired and wrung out, remember), Jason takes over and gives a manager Emily's description - I'm so proud of his nonstop mouth.  About that time I see Emily with yet another CM and she tackles me in relief.  The CM who was with her stays with us while another goes to get Gina.  A few minutes later we overhear the manager giving the CMs instructions on how to respond to a lost child.  I guess the silver lining here is that now those CMs know what to do next time.  I can't believe it doesn't happen more often in these crowds, but apparently it is unusual.

Now that we have our goodies and all the kids we arrived with, it's time to head on home.  It's been a long week and now there's packing to be done.  We're so tired now we can't think straight, but tomorrow night we'll be back in our own beds.

The Swag Fairy has been by again, this time to drop off a canister of Tinker Toys and a Barrel of Monkeys.  What she really needs to bring is another suitcase to get this stuff home.  Between her gifts and our own shopping I think we'll have to ditch our clothes!

Kayla was in and out of it today, but mostly with it.  She enjoyed most of the rides, but the shows pretty much helped her nap.  We'll all be happy to get home and back on routine.  Sometimes you need a vacation to get over your vacation!


  1. Thanks for staying up late to post! Hope you have a safe trip home!

  2. I do so check my e-mail! You sent it twice, and I couldn't open the file attached to either. I'll have Warren look at it later. But thanks for thinking of me! Love you all. Have a safe trip home!