Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The 2006 Spring Training Disney Excursion Recap

by Cheddar Bay

Our 2006 Spring Training Disney Excursion began on Tuesday. We left right after DH got off work, and the trip down to my parents' house that night went pretty well. Luke didn't want to eat much at dinner, so I didn't get to eat much either after taking him outside during a meltdown in the high chair. We sat in the rocking chairs in front of Cracker Barrel and he acted as the greeter, much to the delight of several elderly couples passing by. Got to Brunswick around 11 PM.

We left Wednesday morning to head to Orlando around 9:45. Luke cried when we left (we could hear him screaming from inside the car; this was DH's first time away from Luke overnight, and he (DH) was not happy), but it didn't last very long (according to Mom). Had a hard time getting to Orlando. We were about 10 miles down I-95 when traffic came to a halt (that's about 25 miles from the Florida border). We never got above 10 mph, frequently not moving at all. We were also trapped in the far left lane with no way to see if an exit was coming up or anything. Over an hour after we left, we pulled off at exit 7, just *after* the traffic broke up and cleared. Yes, it took us 80 minutes to go 30 miles. Not fun. Finally got to where we could see what was going on not long before pulling off: one big rig had rear ended another. The one that did the rear-ending had the cab completely crushed. You could see and smell the gasoline all over the road (HazMat crew, sand on the road, all that jazz). The big rig that was hit had the rear trailer support broken. It was being towed, and the trailer was just resting on top of the back tires. You could see the smoke billowing off the tires and smell the burning rubber, pew!! Ate lunch at Sonny's BBQ at exit 7 and finally arrived in Florida 2 hours after we left (should have taken about 30 minutes). ::sigh::

We tool along I-95, coming up on Daytona (from my parents, to get to Disney, you take I-95 south to Daytona and hang a left on I-4 west). We're running about 45 minutes behind (don't ask how fasts we were driving to make up that kind of time), but no problem; there really isn't a set schedule. We lost the radio station we had been listening to since Jacksonville, so I started flipping stations. Found one that you could tell was about to finish up with a commercial, so we waited. Guess what we heard on the pre-music traffic report? "For those of you heading west out from Daytona, be advised that entire sections of I-4 west have been shut down due to brush fires. Traffic should clear after Highway 472." I beg your pardon? I don't know how else to get there!! We pulled off at the next exit, less than 5 miles from the I-95/I-4 interchange. I looked in the floorboards behind the front seats, I checked the trunk, I looked in the glove compartment. I can't believe we are in a car belonging to my father and there is no US Road Atlas to be found. It just doesn't happen! (We took their car and left them ours since it had the baby seat in it.) Technology to the rescue!! What on earth would we do without cell phones and Mapquest these days? I called my brother Jacob, told him where we were, and he gave us an alternate route that put us back on I-4 beyond where they said it would clear. Probably only cost us an extra 10 minutes, and we got to see some scenic Florida (ironically, it looks a lot like Brunswick).

Finally got there around 4 (should have been there before 2, snort) and checked in (can't believe they actually had a room ready). As we were emptying the car, I picked up my pillow and jacket out of the back seat, and lo and behold, there sat the atlas. I felt so stupid!! (See, I told you, every car my father drives contains an atlas.) We finally headed out to Downtown Disney around 4:30. We ate dinner at Rainforest Cafe (barely beat the rush) and did our usual scouting mission of pins and merchandise. This prevents us from buying things in the parks (and having to carry them around) that we can buy elsewhere. Bought a few things at Downtown Disney Wednesday night (St. Pat's pins in case they were gone by Friday evening (our next scheduled trip to Downtown) and a Jedi Mickey plush). Finally end of the day Wednesday. Whew!

We were at MGM Studios before they opened on Thursday; don't think I've ever done that before! Rockin' Roller Coaster rocked, as always, even if I did have to ride it by myself (DH hates roller coasters). Got to tell my favorite "Mom didn't think the ride vehicle racing off was real" story. When you leave the pre-show area, you end up in the queue line, which has a clear view of the "vehicle launch" for the ride. The vehicle takes off, or more accurately is catapulted, reaching 60 mph in 2.4 seconds (literally). When Mom saw that from the queue her first time on the ride, knowing that everything at Disney is not what it seems, she turned to me and said "that can't be real." Oh yes it is! (For anyone who has ridden it, you know what I'm talking about. Best part of the whole ride!) Anyway, most people get a kick out of that story, including the 14 year old girl I was telling it to. She seemed a little nervous about riding (her first time), but the story made her laugh, which was the point (she'd already seen one vehicle take off). I ended up riding before she did, so I don't know how she did; I'm sure she was fine, though.

Met DH at the Villains Shop, then went to the Star Wars shop, and we didn't buy a *single* thing at either place, if you can believe that. We usually drop big bucks at each of those stores, but not this year (and really not much last year, for that matter). Really just nothing worth buying (that we didn't already have; a lot of repeat merchandise from last year, which is unusual). Caught a late breakfast since we had 2:45 lunch reservations at Tony's at the Magic Kingdom (now that they have actual *reservations* and not priority seating, there are very few reserved seats available; only an 8:45 for dinner (um, no), so we did a late lunch instead). Saw the new "Lights, Motor, Action!" stunt show, which was quite fun. Learned a lot of cool things about how stunt cars are tricked out.

Headed out to the Magic Kingdom, rode the WEDway (excuse me, Tomorrowland Transit Authority ::rolls eyes::, it will always be the WEDway to me), and did Carousel of Progress before lunch. Tony's was fabulous, as always. Managed Buzz Lightyear an insane number of times (like 6 or so), rode the WEDway probably 4-5 times (which is not an insane number since it never has a line, unlike Buzz which routinely runs about a 45 minute line, but we use FastPass to maximize our rides), did the newly refurbished "its a small world," and The Haunted Mansion. I think that's it (Pirates of the Caribbean was closed for refurbishment; I hear they are installing a Captain Jack Sparrow AA). Caught the fireworks and the second parade, which was heaven, since most folks left after the fireworks, having already seen the first parade. Had to book it across the hub from Tomorrowland to Adventureland *between* the first parade and fireworks JUST for a graduation gift for Jacob after seeing someone else with one (he'd better like it!). Anyone who has been in the hub during those two events knows what a challenge that was. Running the medival gauntlet would have been easier!

Did I mention I had a blister during all of this? Yeah, that was fun. Yes, me, after all these years of going to Disney without even a hotspot on my foot, managed to get both a blister (I think my sock got wadded up on top of my left pinky toe; had a blister by late afternoon) *and* a sunburn (didn't follow my own rules: used sunscreen from last year (should always buy new each year, as it does expire), and didn't reapply at Noon). A mild sunburn, really. Just a tinge of pink and a touch of sting with the hot water from the shower. Gone by the next day and I didn't peel. Still, not the point. I am very careful to ensure neither of those things ever happen to me, and both did this trip. ::sigh::

Staying for the second parade was the best idea we've had in a long time (we usually leave before the parade to avoid the mob). Virtually everyone vacated the park after the fireworks, most having already seen the parade or thinking the park was closing. Heh, heh, heh! We got to play and shop during the first parade when crowds in the lands thinned out dramatically (everyone was in the hub or on Main Street watching the parade), we caught the fireworks (which are great from virtually anywhere near the hub or Main Street) just as they started, we split a Coke at Casey's while chatting with a very nice couple from Pennsylvania and watchcing the thundering herds vacate the park, and we got a prime spot right on the sidewalk on Main Street with only 10 minutes to go before the start of the second parade, directly in front of The Emporium, leaning against a tree even. Bliss! (For the first parade (or the only, if there is just one that night), you usually have to stake out a prime spot like that 45-90 minutes in advance.) And there was virtually no vehicle traffic when we left. Perfection! Got back to the hotel around midnight.

Slept until about 10 on Friday, St. Patrick's Day, then went to the game (Braves vs. Astros). A little bit warm out, but we've had far worse. Light breeze, no rain, and the occasional cloud bringing much needed sun relief (I did lather up with the good stuff that day, and we left before I needed to reapply). We stayed 5 innings. They were down 2-0, ended up losing 7-0. Glad we didn't stay for the whole thing. Back to the hotel to shower and head out to Downtown Disney. Stopped at the Italian place in the strip mall next to the hotel (we usually stay at this hotel, we'd just never eaten there before), and it was quite yummy! We will definitely be eating there again on future trips. Since we had done the "pre-shopping scouting mission" on Wednesday, we knew what we wanted to buy where (that we hadn't bought at the parks), so it only took about an hour. Caught two movies over on Downtown Disney Westside, V for Vendetta and Ultraviolet, then back to the hotel.

Checked out Saturday right at 11 AM. Had lunch at the Steak 'n Shake next to the hotel, then headed home. Had a bit of a traffic slowdown just south of Jacksonville, but made it in plenty of time for dinner. Luke seemed happy to see us, which was nice, though he sure didn't want to let us out of his sight after that (not surprising). Mom said that he didn't look for us at all until Friday, when he only looked around a little in the morning, but by Saturday, he was seeming a bit distressed at our continued absence. Guess we timed it just about right for his first time overnight sans parents.

Sunday was lunch with my paternal grandparents in Waycross, which is about an hour away, to celebrate PaPaw's 86th birthday, then headed home. Luke did really really well in the car, all things considered. I slept more than he did. Hit race traffic (or I guess non-race traffic, since it was cancelled due to rain) on I-75 around exit 195. That's about 30 miles from the exit we needed, and about 15 miles from the actual exit for the race. Sheesh! Hauled out the road atlas (compliments of my father; remember, we were back in our own car now) and hit some state routes. Trekked through downtown McDonough and Stockbridge before all was said and done. Finally ran into I-675, the road we were aiming for in the first place. Once again, I bow to Dad for teaching us to read a map, and read it well. Got home around 8. Thus ends our Spring Training Disney Excursion for another year.

Currently feeling: mousified

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like all things considered you had a nice little vacation! :)


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