Day 3 - EMH @ DHS, and Dinner in the Castle
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|Tue, 05-14-2013 - 10:45am|
Chapter 8. A Magic-Hour Morning
Day 3. Saturday
Today we were headed to Hollywood Studios, for the first of several planned “extra-magic hour” mornings. So the park would be open to resort guest (including us) at 8am! Having found the room service situation a little stressful yesterday, we decided to do something much simpler today and grab some quick breakfast sandwiches from the Beach Club Marketplace. Brian especially detests most counter-service meals, but there just weren’t any other options so early in the morning. And even they didn’t open until 7am, so we still felt a little rushed.
But soon enough we were on the boat to DHS! Owen loved riding the boats all week, and we actually had really good luck with them, never waited more than a couple of minutes for one, and the boat captains were always a lot of fun. We made a quick stop at the Swan/Dolphin, and then we were there!
But again, I was disappointed to see how crowded it was! Morning Magic Hours are supposed to be almost empty but the whole entry area was packed with people already. It was a few minutes until 8am, but it looked like they were already letting people in. Brian and Owen were headed for Toy Story Mania, while Lily and I were off to do the thrill rides – Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Roller Coaster!
When we made our first family trip in 2008, Lily was tall enough, but ended up being afraid of the big rides, so we skipped them, thinking there was always next time. But by the next time, in 2010, I was 7 months pregnant. So while she had a blast doing all the thrill rides for the first time, I had to sadly sit on the sidelines and watch. FINALLY I was going to get to do them with her! It felt like this was a long time coming.
Fortunately, while the entrance area was super crowded, it seemed most were heading for Toy Story, leaving Sunset Blvd pretty empty. No idea how Brian and Owen would fare over at Pixar Place, but we were ready to ride! Except that Tower of Terror wasn’t. They were having some issues, but the CM seemed pretty optimistic that it would open soon, so we went on over to Rockin’ Roller Coaster instead (fortunately right next door)
I had never ridden this one before, and it was a lot of fun! You are being whisked across town to go backstage at an Aerosmith concert, and the coaster itself is a lot like Space Mountain. But more neon-glowy things everywhere. An adrenaline rush for sure! Tower of Terror was still not letting anyone in, but we went ahead and got in the short line, and within a minute or so we were moving – good timing indeed!
I had forgotten how much fun this one is, I hadn’t done it in years, probably not since college. I think it is Lily’s very favorite, she just loves the feeling of being weightless! She said she wished there was an express line that skipped the whole movie-part so she could just get dropped over and over again as many times as possible, lol!
We thought about doing one of them again, but by the time we were done, both lines were at 30 minutes already. It was still a little before 9am, so I decided to go ahead and line up for the Buzz and Woody M&G, thinking we would at least beat the masses, since that one tends to get a very long wait quickly. They wouldn’t be out until 9:15, and we ended up being first in line! I called Brian to come meet us there.
Turns out Toy Story had NOT been a hit with Owen. Again, he panicked in the queue, but never really got settled for most of the ride and was pretty upset by the end. He was still seeming a little shaken by it, and Brian was clearly a little drained from the whole ordeal. Afterwards, they had gone to their now-common fallback plan, and found Pluto. Again, without Lily. Oh well.
Soon, we were taken inside to get ready to meet Buzz and Woody. Owen was more nervous than I thought he would be, having done so well the characters up until now. But once he saw Lily going over to them, he was right on her heals! Another fun character experience, and this time for characters none of us had ever met before! The line was always so long, and Lily was just never quite interested enough to justify it. But Owen is a huge fan of Buzz, right after Lightning McQueen and Jake. And he seemed to get a lot of special attention from Buzz, so it was neat.
Next it was time to head over to the Animation area. I had very carefully planned our morning itinerary from here out, knowing that it’s easy to miss stuff here if you don’t, since so many of the attractions are shows that only happen at certain times. First stop was the Disney Junior show! They had just recently re-done it with the newer characters. The only ones that Owen would know (other than Mickey and friends, of course) was Jake. But that’s his absolute favorite, so I knew it was worth it just for that! He definitely got a BIG smile on his face when Jake, Izzy, Cubby, and Skully finally appeared! And even better, they dropped gold doubloons from the ceiling! Well, okay they were really gold circles of paper, but the kids had a blast collecting them.
I rushed us out of there a bit though, since I was hoping to make the 10:30am Animation Academy class. Lily had been really excited about this for several weeks. When we got in line, the CM warned us that it would be very close – we might not make it into this next show! I wasn’t sure we would have time to wait for the 11am one, so I was very relieved when we were the last family let in. Owen and I had to sit on a bench in the back with a lap board, instead of at a real desk, but at least we made it in.
It was a fun class, we learned how to draw Tigger! Well, Owen kind of did his own thing, but he stayed pretty well entertained with drawing at least. Brian and Lily had been up in the very front, and we all proudly showed off our drawings to each other at the end. We also watched the Magic of Animation show. Good, but for some reason I thought they would have changed it a little since last time. I mean, I like MuShu and all, but it seems like they could rotate out different characters every year or two.
We played around in the animation area for a little while, doing some of the computer activities. The characters meeting there were Wreck-it-Ralph, and Sorcerer Mickey. Both had a long line and didn’t interest the kids so we didn’t meet them. It was about time to head to lunch anyway, we had our first character meal today at Hollywood and Vine. The food is always pretty terrible here, and Owen wouldn’t know most of the characters, but there was exactly one character that I was hoping would make it all worthwhile. And we were certainly not disappointed!
Chapter 9. It’s JAKE!!
We had to wait a while on the patio to be seated at H&V, the kids were running around and playing, periodically stopping to press their face against the glass, on the look-out for characters. Owen was getting a little distressed that he couldn’t see Jake. I assured him that he was in there. Finally, right as we were being seated, I felt a tap on my shoulder from behind. I turned just in time to see Jake duck behind a nearby post.
I got Owen’s attention, and I’ll never forget the huge smile that erupted when he realized that Jake was playing peek-a-boo with him! It was as perfect as anything could ever have been. Owen was laughing hysterically, and totally awe-struck when Jake came closer for pictures and autographs. Definitely worth the whole meal for those few minutes.
The rest of the meal was uneventful, and the food was as bad as I remembered, but I’m still glad we did it. Owen wouldn’t go up and dance or join the parade though, like I had hoped. Lily always loved doing that when she was younger. I should have picked up on his discomfort comfort with being in a large crowd of people dancing with the characters... might have opted to change some plans later in the week. But oh well.
Afterwards, I had been planning to take Owen back for a nap, but he really wanted to stay to see the Beauty and the Beast show with Brian and Lily, so we did. Unfortunately we weren’t quite early enough to get the front row, but still got decent seats. He ended up really enjoying it. I should have figured. He seems to really like the shows, and we never had any trouble getting him to sit through one all week. Another thing I learned this week, don’t underestimate his attention span!
Time to head back now though. We had probably our longest wait of the week for a boat, maybe 2 minutes, lol! Sure wish the buses were this fast. Back at the hotel, Brian wanted to nap too, so I took Lily to the pool while they slept. Stormalong-the-Bay was open today, but it was pretty cool and windy. Didn’t want to miss any more chances though, so we hung out and explored for a while. I will say that the pool is a lot of fun, but it doesn’t have the same relaxing-vibe that both the Polynesian and Caribbean Beach pools did. I think it’s because it’s so tedious to get around, with having several un-connected pools, and only a couple of entrance/exit areas. But I was glad we got to spend at least a little time here today.
Chapter 10. A “Cool” Evening for the Castle
After everyone woke up, it was time to get dressed for Royalty! We were having our traditional dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table. Lily, having outgrown the Princess-costume stage, had chosen instead a fancy blue party-dress. And Owen was wearing simple white polo with khaki pants. It was actually the most dressed up I had seen him in over a year, so we all laughed a little at how cute he was.
As we got to Magic Kingdom, I suddenly wondered if we had dressed well enough for the weather though – it was downright chilly already! We did have the rainjackets with us, we could get a little warmth from them if necessary. And we did end up wearing them for a while later on. So much for April being pleasantly warm, so far it had either been as hot as summer, or cold. No happy medium. We took the train to Frontierland, at least it was working today – yay!
My goal for the evening was Adventureland, and we started off with the Magic Carpets of Aladdin. Being a Dumbo-clone, Owen was not scared at all, of course. That seems to be his type of ride. Next we did the Tiki Room. I hadn’t done it since it had gone “back to original management” (well other than as a kid). Overall all, I think I like this version better, though I did have a few moments of missing Zazu and Iago. Owen was a little nervous at first, but I think he enjoyed it.
We still had some time, so we explored the Swiss Family Treehouse. Owen was begging to ride the Carousel though, so we stopped there next on our way through Fantasyland before checking in at the Castle. We didn’t have a long wait to meet Cinderella in the lobby, but it was quite a while after that before we were announced to go to dinner. Several people that came in after us were called first. We always seem to have the worst luck with that here!
When we were finally called to go upstairs, we were seated in one of the side, elevated areas. Somehow, in all our previous trips we had been down in the middle section, so it was neat to do something different. Although, I’ll always be a little jealous of the tables right by the stained glass windows. We sure got lucky on our first trip here! Sitting right by the windows as night was falling, and the awesome dinner show that the Mice and Fairy Godmother used to do…But that was a Magical evening that will likely never be duplicated.
Just for Fun – 2008:
Anyway, back to the present. The kids were both in a goofy mood, and played a little more wildly than I would have liked with the swords and wands we were given. Hopefully they didn’t bother the nice couple at the table next to us too much. The usual procession of princesses started coming around. Neither of the kids are particularly interested in them right now, but smiled politely for a picture at least. Well except for Snow White, Owen decided to be humorously stubborn and not get in the picture, though much later he regretted it and shed a few tears over it even.
All in all, it had been a pleasant evening, but I was starting to think as we left, that maybe in the future I won’t quite consider this the non-negotioable must-do of every trip. Not having any little girls who are in awe of the princesses, or the Castle in general, and having done it so many times already, perhaps it’s time to try some other things. But good that Owen got to do it once I suppose. It felt like so much was different this trip. We were different. Things that had once been Magical, were “just okay” now. But we were also finding Magic in new, unexpected places. Again, I felt like I was learning so much. Lessons about life, lessons about our family.
I always underestimate how long this meal takes, and by the time we left, the Main Street Electrical Parade was already well-underway. We might have been tempted to stay and watch some if it hadn’t been so COLD! And we weren’t really dressed for it, plus I could tell the kids were wearing out.
Unfortunately, our bad luck with the returning-buses held, and we had a LONG wait. Such a long wait that by the time it came there was a huge crowd of people and it ended up being packed with standers. Since we had been waiting almost the longest, we got a seat though.
On the way back, both kids were falling asleep on my shoulder, even though it actually wasn’t any later than they are used to going to bed at home. And Brian looked like he was fighting to stay awake too. I had been surprised so far at how worn out everyone was seeming to be. We weren't doing anything differently than we had on previous trips...
But our plans for the next morning included another early-opening (EMH) at Animal Kingdom. Another 6am alarm.
I asked Brian if he thought that was wise, seeing the current state of our two kids, and how tired they had been all day. He admitted that he didn’t think it was.
Well, there was no point in going to Animal Kingdom tomorrow if we weren’t going to make use of the early-entry, since the park would be a little more crowded than normal for the rest of the day. But what to do tomorrow then?
We decided on Epcot. I’d have to re-arrange some dining reservations. And we had planned to do Epcot the day after tomorrow, but we likely wouldn’t want to do it two days in a row… and if tomorrow’s early Magic Hour was seeming unreasonable, it was likely that the other 3 I had planned wouldn’t work out either.
So it began. The great shuffle. After months of carefully planning every park day (taking into account crowd predictions and park hours), and coordinating all of our dining reservations (22 of them!), it was all about to fall apart here on Day 3.
Breathe. Just breathe.
As I was learning, we were different than we had been on previous trips. Our needs were different, what we enjoyed was different. Maybe it was time to break out of the mold. So much for my carefully made, color-coded, laminated spreadsheet of our itinerary. So much for my notebook full of daily touring plans. So much for my assertion that we WOULD be at rope-drop every single morning. The rest of the week was going to look VERY different than how I had planned it.
Hopefully we would be able to regroup and re-plan on the fly!