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So after weeks and weeks of anticipation of going to Disneyworld, it's all over. Now I get to write a little bit about it and put up some pictures to try and relive some of the good times. Dave and Suzy invited me to go with them on their annual Disney trip this year, and I thought it would be fun to ask my cousin Niomi's daughter Ivey (she's 12) to come along, and make the number of people an even 6, because an odd number of people don't usually fit well on the rides, and because I thought she'd have a fun time.
So Friday Aug 12th was the first official day of the trip. I flew from San Jose to SeaTac in Washington, rented a car and drove to Anacortes to pick up Ivey. I was up about 6:30 AM to get out the door for my 8:50 flight on Alaska. The flight was fine, when I got to SeaTac and was waiting in line for the Budget Car rental, the group ahead of me was also heading to Anacortes, and one guy was asking for directions, so I piped up and provided some help. Well, one of the guys turned out to be a sports coach for a university in LA, and he didn't like my Stanford baseball hat I was wearing. He made some disparaging remarks about it, and said Stanford gets all the best players, so I just had to laugh about that. I was sorry I gave directions though. I was happy that I got a free car upgrade, a Grand Prix, very nice and a fun ride.
I met up with Ivey in Anacortes about 1:45 PM and we played some games and got stuff packed for the trip, then when Niomi got home from work we went to El Jinite mexican for dinner. Ivey got 4 Chicken Tacos. Apparently they go there often enough that the waiters just ask Ivey "How many?" because she gets the same thing every time. Afterwards we went back to the house and got Ivey finished packing, played a few games and tried to get to sleep early, because the next day was going to be looong. Niomi's dog Zip liked my bed best.
I got up about 6:30 again, got what little I needed put back in my carryon bag. Made sure Ivey was up and getting ready. Niomi gave Ivey a hug because I guess she was going to miss Ivey or something.
Our flight left at almost 1PM for Florida through Southwest, and we had 1 stop in Kansas City, MO. We took off about 9AM from Niomi's and it took us about 2 hours to get to SeaTac. Traffic wasn't too bad at all, but I had to gas up the rental car before returning it and I missed the exit to the airport (I think because Ivey had too much Veggietales music going, I was distracted. :-) Returning the car was no problem and security took up about 20 minutes to get through, so we had a little over an hour before the plane was going to board. I got us a slice of Pizza while we waited. Then I took a trick from Dave Smock's website and tried for a "long arm" picture of the two of us waiting at the airport. Thanks for the idea, Dave!
Now it was time for the real boring part of the trip. 6+ hours on a plane. The estimated arrival time in Orlando was 10PM, local time. And the aforementioned stop in Kansas City. The flight was packed full, but I had printed out the boarding passes at Niomi's and we were in the A group to be seated first, so we got pretty good window seats (Ivey got the window, I got the middle, but a lot of people didn't even get to sit with their group.) Ivey and I whiled away the hours with cards, snacks, harassing the flight attendant with drink requests and even some reading. The flight attendant for both legs of this trip was very entertaining; his prior job must've been a comedian for Disney, since he made lots of jokes about the Land of the Mouse."Please turn off all blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, laptops, palmtops, and shortstops at this time," "Everybody wave to our competitors as we leave the gate to show them that we have a full plane," and "Please keep all hands, arms, legs, heads, noses, and other body parts inside the plane at all times." A good way to get ready for the week ahead!
Kansas city weather was raining. A lot of people left the flight, so many that Ivey and I ditched our seats for some closer to the front, before others boarded and took the really good stuff. Less than 2/3 of the seats were filled to Orlando. It started getting dark fast, about an hour from full daylight to full night. We saw a lightning storm to the south of us as we headed into Florida. I tried taking a movie but it was far off and was hidden in the clouds. Here's a not very good still taken from a movie with the lightning circled in red. Woohoo. But it was fun to watch, since it lit up the clouds once a minute or more. You can also see how fast the daylight was fading in this shot.
As the flight was landing, the pilot made an announcement that at this very time, 9:30 PM one year ago on Aug. 13th 2004, Hurricane Charley came through Orlando airport with 100+ MPH winds. As we landed, I tried to look for Disneyworld and the fireworks, but couldn't see where it might be, and hoped another hurricane wouldn't be on the agenda during our stay.
As planned, Suzy met us at the airport. (Thanks Suzy!) She had rented a car for the day to get from Universal Studios to Disney. We got in about 10 minutes late (because of a thunderstorm that was the area in the past few hours), hit the bathrooms, took a tram to the main terminal, and met Suzy about 10:25 PM. We negotiated a maze of shopping areas, escalators and moving walkways to get to the parking garage. Once we made it out of the air conditioning, I realized what a tough week I was in for. The heat and humidity were a blast of unreality. Sorry Ivey, lets go back?
But no luck. We were stuck in the molten blast furnace whether we liked it or not. Once we got in the car and AC it was ok. We chatted with Suzy about their trip so far, and Suzy and I told Ivey what kind of thing we were planning on for the next few days, talking about the rides we wanted to go on, so the trip to the room went fast. I was really excited when we first saw the Tower of Terror, all lit up in an eerie blue-purple light. We got the rental gassed up and returned it to the next hotel over from ours, the Dolphin hotel. We had a walk through the lobby of the Dolphin (where it was blessedly cool!) and then took off to the Boardwalk hotel, which took less than 15 minutes of being outside.
We got to the Boardwalk and walked the long walk in the endless hallway (don't have a picture, sorry, but it was a good 2 minute walk from one end of the hallway to the other to get to our rooms.) Finally we turned a corner and got to the rooms. They were 2 sets of rooms with a double door that could open between the rooms. The rooms had 2 beds, 2 hide-a-ways and 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen in the large room, and a fridge in the studio portion. Dave was still up when we walked in and we chatted a bit about the trip, and Ivey and I got ready for bed. It was almost midnight by this time. Ivey shared the double bed with Jessica the first night. I felt sorry for Ivey because Jessica was asleep and taking up the middle of it. I woke her up to move her to one side so Ivey could fit in, and she opened her eyes and said "hello" but the next day when I asked her about it, she didn't remember a thing. Matthew was on an air bed in the corner, and I had a hide-a-bed next to the window, which was extremely uncomfortable for me. I could not sleep for the longest time, and probably got about 3 hours of rest in all, before getting up at 6:30 AM to get ready for the first full day at the parks. After that, I decided to give Ivey my bed and sleep on the main room's couch. I didn't even want to open it up into the bed. That worked out better, but I still didn't get much sleep during the week.
Sunday the 14th. Suzy had done some shopping Saturday since she had the car. (Who wants to pay the park prices for anything? 2 liters of soda for $3.50? Ugh!) She had our shopping list and so we had cereal for breakfast. It was very much appreciated, since the first Disneyworld trip I went on it was burgers for breakfast about 10:30. I also hadn't eaten much the day before on the plane trip, a slice of pizza and lots of peanuty-type airplane snacks. (I gave Ivey all my Oreo cookies.)
The first park on our schedule was The Animal Kingdom. It was a fair bus ride away and we wanted to get there in time for the 9AM opening as well as have time to buy tickets for Ivey and myself, so we got to the bus stop at 8:15. The bus had to stop at 3 more places and took forever, but we made it with time to spare. The ticket line held us up a few minutes after 9 but we were all set! The tickets were the last item in a long checklist of things I had to do for the trip, and once I got those, I could enjoy myself for a few days.
We headed into the park, stopped to take a picture of Ivey with a background of parrots. The the Park photographers got ahold of the kids and had to shoot a few with a small Simba lion to be added in later.
The crowd started heading for one of the favorite rides, so we went along with that and tried to go on the Safari ride before too many people made that difficult to get on. As the first official ride, it went well. I tried to get Ivey to take some movies with my camera, but she didn't know how to work it and she gave it back to me a few minutes later. We got to see quite a few animals. Rhino's, giraffes, elephants, crocodiles, cheetahs, hippos, zebras, and more I don't even know the names of. I didn't get many good pics since this was a bumpy ride and with the slight delay of the camera, I got lots of trees, blurry pics, and various other problems (yeah, blame it on someone else!)
After the Safari ride we Wandered to the "Asia" side of the park. We saw a plant wandering around. It looked an awful lot like ivy crawling up the walls. No not Ivey, ivy. I got a shot of Ivey with the ivy just to make things easier to explain. It was a lady in a plant costume and on 4 stilts. She'd wander around and hold a pose for a few minutes before moving to another location. Disney pays people to do this? it was an attention grabber, especially since at one point she was on a collision course with Ivey and me.
Next we decided to try our luck with the Kali River Rapids. "Warning: You may get SOAKED on this ride!" Oh boy, but since Ivey was game, I thought I'd go on it as well. All the bags and cameras went into the middle of the raft, an 8 seater. Dave and I were just in the wrong seats, we got a 2 foot wave sloshing over us, soaking us tead to toe. (Everyone got wet. The color in Ivey's shoes ran (haha), and her feet were prunes when we got back to our rooms (maybe I should take up poetry.)) It actually wasn't too bad because it was so hot, but when we got back to the dock, I grabbed my camera, and stood up to get out and my foot slipped out from under me. I guess there was just too much water coming off my clothes or something. But I came down hard on my left elbow and leg. I had stuff in each hand so couldn't save myself that way (hey, my camera comes first.) I picked myself up quickly, but I was hurting. The ride attendant asked if I was ok, and I had to check my elbow before I answered him, "just skinned myself." I didn't feel my leg was too bad (but later it bruised up dark right on top of the bone, about 8 inches long in the middle between my ankle and knee.) I checked my elbow after exiting the area and there was about a 1 inch circle of blood and it was starting to drip off. So Suzy pulled out her map and found the nearest first aid station and dripping different stuff, we all made our way there. I was going to leave it to air dry but figured I might as well get it bandaged, it was getting on my clothes and that annoyed me.
The nurse on call there was nice and let everyone into the room to see me getting my wound bandaged. (I didn't get any pictures during this, but I think everyone else did! I'll see if I can scrounge some.) I sure got teased about needing to go to first aid stations the rest of the trip. It didn't hurt very much unless something touched it, which actually happened a lot. But I couldn't rest my elbows on the table or use the armrests on the rides unless I was very careful.
So dripping wet still, we went to a Lion King show, a cool half hour thing that was just a little too cool with the A/C. I was frozen after that. Each time my wet clothes touched bare skin it was like ice. But the show was cool, as in very neat, too. I took a lot of movie footage. I actually couldn't wait to get back outside to warm up.
We took off for a good lunch place that Dave and Suzy liked. I got the ribs and Ivey got a not very good hot dog. I had to ask about mustard and a worker told me the animals get into the packages if they get left out in the open. I actually saw an armadillo run from one bush to another while we stood in line for the food. That was really weird! Lots of ducks and other large birds bothered us as we ate in the !warm! outdoors. Ivey didn't like her food too much so she started in on my ribs. It was good food. I'm glad it wasn't burgers. In fact, I don't think I had a burger the whole trip.
Next it was off to see a movie under the big tree. The tree that has hundreds of animals carved into it. Here's a pic:
On the way to the entrance to this movie we had passed quite a few photo ops with strange creatures.
Here's Ivey monkey-ing around.
And another picture of some honorary bugs that were bugging me all day. The show was a 3D immersive movie that showed how tough it was to be a bug. And I thought it was tough just being around these two.
Our morning was almost over. We had one more stop to Dinoland to see all those dinosaurs Disney had hidden away. Hey Dave, that's just so old, y'know?
The nice cool indoor ride here was a time travel jeep ride 65 million years into the past, just minutes before the asteroid hit. I was still wet from the river rafting ride, 3 hours later. Then we found a store where Ivey went crazy with her money, bought some rubber band bracelets, started her collection of Disney pins (due to a generous gift of extra pins for trading from Suzy), and she got a huge tube of sour powder candy. 32 oz. of pure sugar. It was "food" so I said I'd treat for that. ;-) One of the things Ivey kept wanting was a battery fan with a water squirter. It would take her until the last day to get a fan, and then it wasn't the water kind!
There was a roller coaster ride that was good fun here in Dinoland. It was fairly small, so Ivey agreed to go on it. In addition to the ups and downs a normal coaster has, this one had a round car which spun around. Unknowingly to Ivey, I took a movie of her riding on it. She had her eyes closed more often than open, but by the end she looked like she was having a good time. She wanted to go on it again immediately, so the kids and I went together while Dave and Suzy sat for a bit to recover.
Here's a good pic of
Matthew and Ivey on the dinosaur Roller Coaster.
So after this ride we left the hot, hot park about 2PM. There were a few clouds in the sky, so that helped when it covered the sun. On the way to the bus area we stopped a few times to look at the various stalls selling things. Ivey was thinking of getting a hat, but one that she'd wear on other occasions than just Disney. (She never did get one, but modeled a few for the camera.)
The bus trip took forever again, had to stop at the other 2 hotels, our Boardwalk stop was last. But we stayed there for about 2 hours before taking off again for Disney-MGM Studios. I hardly saw Dave the whole time at the hotel, he was always going in the other room for a nap, or going to bed early. Dave was so tired after Animal Kingdom that we left him napping back at the hotel while everyone else went on without him.
We were within walking distance from the Boardwalk to Disney-MGM, but it was hot and took about 15 minutes to get to the front gate. We got a nice view of the river, watched boats going by and got some clouds cover to spare us some heat.
The Great Movie ride was the first ride we went on. While we were in line we watched a 15 minute film clip of various movies that were featured in the ride. My favorite was "Raiders of the Lost Ark," which Ivey had seen but didn't really remember. But my favorite part of the ride was the re-creation of munchkinland from "The Wizard of Oz." Complete with fully animatronic Wicked Witch of the West appearing out of billowing clouds. I thought that was really well done.
We spent about an hour waiting for that ride and afterwards met up with Dave at the Backlot Express for dinner. The service people weren't much on the organization or smarts area, so it took a while. A thunderstorm passed through while we were in there and it rained for just a few minutes. When we got out, it was, guess what!? Humid! And hot. Again.
After dinner we all went to Star Tours and then The Muppets 3D show. Star Tours always makes me slightly motion sick, but I enjoyed the Muppets very much. Especially the Swedish Chef (in the back of the theater as the projectionist) taking out the movie screen with a big ol' cannon!
When we got out of the Muppets, it was raining with a thunderstorm going on as well. We all agreed to spend a few minutes in the Muppet Gift Shop to keep dry and cool. Ivey got more candy, some sort of sour spray. I thought about getting the Muppet Show 1st Season on DVD, but I had preordered it a month previously and it was being delivered while I was at Disney. I thought we could watch the shows back at the room at nights, and then gift the DVD's to Ivey afterwards, but I knew it would be hard to get any time to watch them. So I gave up on that idea. We wandered around the backlot for a bit, then made our way out of the park. Enough for one day. I got a good sunset picture of the Tower of Terror across the river. This was actually the earliest Ivey and I ever left the parks.
Ah a better night's sleep on the couch, but I think I was the first one up about 6:30 AM, got the couch put back together and got my book out to read a bit before the others got up. Jessica was the first of the kids to get out of bed, and I had to wake up Ivey. I thought she'd complain but it only took her a few minutes to get up and start the day. We had cereal for breakfast, and then off to another bus to go to the Magic Kingdom for it's 9AM opening. We got there in time to watch the opening ceremonies. The train pulled into the station, Mickey made his speech, and there were pops as confetti showered out to the crowd.
We went first to Tomorrowland to go on the Buzz Lightyear ride. It's a fun ride where you shoot a laser at various space alien targets and you get points. I thought how well you did relied a lot on if you got a good laser or not, sometimes I couldn't see the dot so I couldn't tell if my aim was off. But it didn't seem to matter to Dave, who got hundreds of thousands of points to my tens of thousands. But it was fun and we went right in to do it again, since I thought I knew what I was doing. But Dave again got more points than everyone else put together. I think he'd read up on the ride and knew which targets to shoot for. When we got off the ride, Jessica got her picture with her favorite character: Stitch, who'd been causing havok all over the park.
And because it was her favorite character, the next attraction we went on was Stitch's Great Escape. It was the old "Alien Encounter" ride redone since it wasn't very scary. It was cute, and it was much better than the old ride. Ivey didn't like the part where Stitch eats the chilidog and burps in your face. She thought the onion smell was really gross.
Next up was the Mad Teacup ride. I thought twice about doing this, but Ivey really wanted to go on it and I thought I'd be able to handle the turns without getting motionsick. Jessica chose to come with Ivey and I, so I really turned the cup hard and fast as I could possibly go. I didn't get sick, but we went so fast I couldn't see anything outside the cup, it was all a blur.
One more ride was the motor cars. I really wanted to get Ivey on there to give her some driving experience. The cars had lousy steering, so it was good they were on a track. And waiting outside in line for this was almost unbearable. The heat combined with the motor fumes made me decide I didn't ever want to go on this again. I did take a movie of Ivey driving while I was the passenger, so her mom could see how much she could trust her (or not) with driving lessons in the future. Dave and Jessica came with us on this one, but Suzy and Matthew knew the truth about it and went elsewhere for the half hour it took.
By then it was time for Dave and Suzy to go off to their lunch date with a Disney Imagineer over at the Brown Derby at Disney MGM. They left the kids with Evil Uncle Teej the babysitter. So we went off to do our own rides. The TTA was a nice relaxing ride that moved you in and out of the other rides in tomorrowland. I got a couple of pictures here. Ivey kept asking if rides went upside down or fast. I told her this was about as boring as you could get (except for Carousel of Progress, as it turns out, more on that later.)
Ok, an end to boredom. We walked to the back of the park, and Matthew pointed out Mickey's Philharmagic show. He said it was really good, and Jessica agreed, so we hopped into that for a sitdown in the theater with another 3-D movie experience. Instead of sorcerer Mickey directing musical instuments to play for themselves, Donald Duck got ahold of the hat and tried his hand at it. It was a really good show. Lots of appearances by other characters as Donald gets transported into their movies, such as Peter Pan, and Aladdin.
Next we went to the Haunted Mansion. We bypassed It's a Small World because the line was too long (Ivey and Jess wanted to see it.) I took a pic of the kids at the back of Cinderella's Castle along the way.
The haunted mansion was cool, chilling, in fact! ;-) I had to ride with Jessica because Matthew and Jessica refused to ride together. I kept trying to remember how the other DisneyLAND rides were laid out in comparison, but it's been so long since I'd been there I've forgotten. I tried taking pics but the mansion was too dark. I did get a short film of the stretching pictures.
After that we sent Matthew to get Fast Passes to Splash Mountain. We spent the time looking around at the shops. When he got back we took off to get some lunchables at the Columbia Harbor House. Matthew did very well at buying Jessica's lunch, paying with the room card and everything. I got some chicken strips and Ivey had a sandwich (and one of my chicken strips.)
Next we tried to go see the Hall of the Presidents, but just missed the show. So we hopped over to the Frontier Trading Post and did some shopping for Pins. Ivey got a couple, one a Yin/Yang Mickey, and even I broke down and got a couple, one of a young Simba and young Nala. I just like cats. ;-)After finishing up there we tried to go see the Hall of the Presidents again. We had about a 20 minute wait 'till the 1pm start and passed the time with pictures and the kids played their nintendo. One of the cast came by to do presidential trivia to keep us interested, but that didn't last long. I thought the movie part was kind of boring, but the animatronic presidents were neat, and worth the wait.
It was after 1 PM and we went off to Splash Mountain. The Fast Pass line was still a 15 or 20 minute wait. The other line was over 1 hour. The park was starting to fill up with people pretty fast. Out in front of the ride you can see the boats going down the big flume/drop. Ivey was very worried about that, so Matthew and I teased her mercilessly every little drop that "This is it! This is the BIG ONE!" and we just went down a few feet. It was a long ride and Ivey was waiting for the worst for most of it. When the big one finally came she was like - "That was it? That wasn't so bad."
Now it was getting late and we had to meet Dave and Suzy back at the hotel. And with the 1/2 hour bus ride still ahead of us we were going to be a bit late. we hoofed it on our way out the front gates, but noticed the Pirates of the Carribean had no waiting, so we got sidetracked a little bit. That was a very efficient ride with getting lots of people on and off.
After that ride we found a water fountain for some dehydrating kids (and me.) and rushed out the park to get to the hotel to meet up with Dave and Suzy. I turned on my cell phone and found I had a message from Suzy, so I called and said we were still on the way. At the hotel we finally got to relax. Dave was gone asleep again. So the kids and I played card games like Slapjack and Pit. They kept accusing me of cheating and being able to read the cards, so when I got a Corner on whatever, I just quietly laid down my cards and waited for someone else to win. It was a fun way to spend a few hours before our dinner reservation.
We walked to Disney-MGM again, for the second evening in a row. We went straight to the Cafe and waited about 15 minutes for the table. The Prime Time Cafe was modelled like a 50's home with a bunch of TV's showing old 50's black and white shows, like "Car 54 Where are you?" The waitresses all had to act like a 50's mom and made you clean your plate and keep elbows off the table. I got in trouble with her when I wouldn't take off my baseball hat. She just stood there miming taking off the hat and I just smiled back and said "yeah, that's nice" but left it on. So throughout the meal she kept making remarks about how upset she was with me. It wasn't the most pleasant of meals, but the food was good. Ivey had a huge steak and managed to polish off that and ice cream for dessert. Suzy shared her milkshake with me. One of the lady managers was walking around the tables with a guy in tow with a clipboard and she started badgering me about the hat, miming taking it off, which I thought looked like a salute, so I gave her a salute right back, and that cracked up the guy standing behind her. He gave me a big grin, so I ignored the lady and the waitress after that. That felt good.
e-mail me: TJFredrick@aol.com