Saturday, March 31, 2007

Disney 2007 Trip Report, Chapter 4

First, a quick response to Denise from the comments. I do know about package pick-up, but I've never felt like waiting in line at the end of a long day to get them from guest relations, particularly with a child in tow. When we've stayed on property, though, I have had our stuff sent back to the room, which was way nice! And I do mention both services in my Disney Tips packet that I give out to family and friends. :-) Thanks for reminding me, though.

Links to previous chapters:
Chapter 1: Departure and Arrival
Chapter 2: Downtown Disney
Chapter 3: The Magic Kingdom, Part 1

March 15: The Magic Kingdom, Part 2

We had done three of our four "must rides" that morning. Only one remained: Buzz Lightyear! And we used one of our patented tricks. If the Fast Passes are being handed out for an hour or so away from the present time, go on and get one. Then, get in the stand-by line. By the time you've waited and done the ride, it will be almost time for your Fast Pass return, so you get to ride it twice in a row! So the first time, DH, Luke, and I rode together. The next time, I let DH have some alone time with his son on his favorite ride, while I took pictures. It was a huge hit with Luke, just as we knew it would be. He loves Buzz! And just to convince us further that he really liked the ride, he absolutely pitched a fit when he had to get off. I mean, screaming and crying and plopped right down on the moving sidewalk. He had to be physically picked up and carried off the ride, both times.

Seems like we probably rode TTA again, and then it was time to start thinking about dinner if we wanted to try some place nice. I had tried making dinner reservations before we even came to Disney, but they were booked, so we thought we'd just get there early (4-ish) at put our names in for a hopefully short wait. We decided to take a chance at the Crystal Palace, which is an excellent buffet restaurant (so we could probably find something Luke would eat) that also offers "character dining," where Pooh and the gang come and visit the tables while you dine. We had discovered earlier in the day that he was not afraid of the characters (he wanted to go meet some, but the lines were already closed), and he loves Eeyore, so it was worth a shot. Except that we got there, and I waited in line a good 10 minutes to even get to the window to ask, only to find out that there is a wait of 60-90 minutes! No thanks! Now what? Well, one of our favorite counter service restaurants is right around the corner, so we'll just do that.

Casey's! They have *the* best hot dogs. I don't know what they do to them, but they taste better at Casey's than they do anywhere else in the parks, and they taste just like the ones you get at baseball games (gee, go figure). Nothing Luke would eat in the way of protein, so we went with french fries and a Goldfish cracker appetizer. Three foot-long hot dogs, three fries, and one box of Cracker Jack, please. One day without protein won't kill him, and we'll just do better tomorrow on that. But the best part, as far as Luke was concerned, is that you got to sit in the "bleachers" and watch Disney sports cartoons on a big screen. We sat on the visitor's side (since the home side was occupied at the time), and we even had an unusual visitor of our own! Luke found this both amusing and distressing. We had to assure him that it was okay for the duck to be there, since he kept pointing and almost screeching "duck! duck!" LOL And I will admit, having a duck (besides Donald) join us for dinner was a Disney first, even for me.

Finished eating, we all took turns letting Luke watch more ducks outside while the others in the party found the restrooms. While DH and he were waiting, they saw a father momentarily "lose" his son. At age one, the child was small enough to crawl through the bars when his dad glanced away. He didn't get far, of course, just to the other side. My son was rather distressed, though, when the man started scolding, saying "Luke, we don't do that! You have to stay on this side." ::giggle:: It took some time to calm *our* Luke so that he knew he had not done anything wrong.

Sometime in here, we received some bad news. The plan was that we would arrive Wednesday, do the Magic Kingdom on Thursday, then my brother would come up Thursday night to be with us at the parks on Friday and go to the game Saturday. But early that week, some auditors showed up for one of their infamous unannounced grant audits, so everyone had to stay (without some kind of serious reason to leave, and pre-planned vacation didn't count, apparently). They had hoped to be done by close of business Thursday, but it was not to be. Jacob still had to stay Friday. He did say that he would come up Friday as soon as he could get off work, but we were leaving Saturday afternoon, so I told him he didn't have to make that 4 hour drive just to see us for half a day. He insisted, though, so we agreed to just meet at the hotel Friday after we were done with the parks. I hated that he was going to miss the Rockin' Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, though.

So, where to now? Regardless of where, Luke had made an executive decision: he would be pushing the stroller himself (he had hardly ridden in it while we were there; we almost never use one at home, so I guess that shouldn't be a surprise). It took some negotiating to let Daddy "help", but we managed.

Anyway, now that we were all fed and happy, we decided to take a chance. We had done everything we "had" to do, now it was time to experiment. See, there was a ride I wanted to take Luke on, but I didn't want him to freak out on me. (And it's probably not the ride you think!) Back in Mickey's Toontown, they have a ride called the Barnstormer, which is a roller coaster designed *specifically* for children. As in, the height requirement is only 35", at least six inches shorter than any other ride. Based on what little evidence we've had to date (his love of swings and slides, enjoying being tossed up in the air, etc), we (that would be my mother, my brother, and I) had hopes that Luke would be a fellow roller coaster junkie. DH and my father most certainly are NOT. But I didn't want to take him on one too early and scar him for life. So what do I use as my test ride?

Pirates of the Caribbean! Hold on, hear me out. We already knew he could handle dark rides, and there wasn't anything particularly scary about the ride, since Luke is really too young to know he is supposed to be scared of the skeletons at the beginning. And yes, I admit, DH and I really wanted to see the ride now that they had added Captain Jack. But the real key was the hill at the beginning (that is about as much of a "thrill ride" as my husband can stand). If Luke enjoyed that, then I would take him on the Barnstormer. If not, then we'd forget the whole thing. The wait time on the ride was 40 minutes, but the Fast Passes were being handed out for after 8 PM, by which time Luke would have long been in bed, so we decided to chance it. I knew that the queue was pretty well themed, so maybe that would keep him entertained.

Under the circumstances, Luke did very very well in line. It was a long time to wait, and we were idiots and went down the right side of the queue (which I haven't used in ages) instead of the left. Turns out that the left queue has more to see, theme-wise, and I swear it is shorter as well (not in terms of less people, necessarily, but in terms of sheer length). I'll remember that next time. He got to play with his "light saber" (a small wand blinky I had stashed in the bag for just such an occasion), and the teenagers both ahead of and behind us found him as entertaining as he did them. BUT, forty minutes is just too long for a two-year-old to wait. He was just on the brink of a meltdown when we got to where we could see the boats, plus I swapped his current blinky wand (which was insanely bright and I knew would annoy the other guests) for a less obtrusive one, which he had never seen before so it kept his attention. But I wanted him to have *something* he could see in case he got scared.

We ended up in the front seat, which I was actually very happy about. That meant that Luke would be able to see without having to try to look around the adults (little kids have to sit on the inside), or over people's heads. But I didn't know about another change they had made to the ride. SPOILER ALERT: If you don't want to know about changes to the ride, skip to the next paragraph. Before you even get to the first scene, they have added a wicked cool effect. They have a smoke screen covering the cave entrance, and intermittently, they project an image of Davey Jones (head and shoulders) onto it, giving some kind of warning (I wasn't really listening, I was too focused on making sure Luke was doing okay). But there are different jets at different depths around the cave entrance, so it almost makes the projection look 3-D. It is a good 6+ feet tall, and it is so awesome! But here's the kicker. The boat goes through the mist, and the projection is not timed with the boats (since the boats themselves are launched by ride operators, not a timing mechanism), so it may be on or off as you go through. It came on and finished not long before we got to it, so we thought we were safe. Then, when we were less than 5 feet from going through the mist (remember, we're in the front seat), it comes back on. And Luke *freaks.*

If you have never heard a child scream out of sheer terror, consider yourself lucky. It is one of the most blood-curdling, nerve-jangling, heartbreaking noises I have ever heard, probably made all the worse when you know it came from YOUR kid. He did calm down almost as soon as we were through the effect, though he was still whimpering. I think he was just afraid it was about to eat him, or we were going to be stuck in there, or something. When we came out the other side, DH and I were both reassuring him, and we changed modes on his light wand to something a bit more vibrant to keep his attention on that (it had been just slowly changing colors, so we flipped it to one that blinked different colors instead), and we prayed that there was not another effect like that in the ride (there wasn't). So as we entered the first scene, everyone is looking around at the scene full of skeletons, and here we are in our bright shiny happy encouraging voices going "wasn't that silly? hey, we're on the beach! oh, look at the birdy!" (There is a seagull perched on the head of one of the skeletons.) Sheesh! And then came the moment of truth: the hill. You can hear it coming, the water falling, but even in the front seat, you *cannot* see it. We tried to tell him there was a slide coming (the only reference we could think of he might understand), but I have no idea if he understood. Then we plunged down, made a big splash (though we only got a few drops on us), and rounded the corner into the light of the fort bombardment scene. And Luke was grinning from ear to ear! YES!! Barnstormer is a go!

The rest of the ride passed uneventfully, and I was pleased that the inclusion of Captain Jack was not more intrusive than it was, though they did take away one of the in-jokes from the movie. Remember the parrot intoning "dead men tell no tales" in these long exaggerated syllables from the first movie? Yeah, well, they took that part out of the ride, so now that won't make sense. Just to warn those of you who remember the old version. Anyway, we got off the ride, and it was about 6:20. As we were walking out of the building, we were debating whether to try the Barnstormer right then, or to just go on and leave. The decision was made for us when we finally reached the outside: it was raining. Normally, we would just do the park and get wet while everyone else vacated. But the Barnstormer is an outdoor coaster, so it stops running when it rains.

It had been a long and exciting day, and we were not that far from the park entrance. So we went on and left. But Luke got one final treat: thanks to the rain, the parking lot was *full* of puddles! What better end to the day than to get to splash around to his heart's content in the puddles that Mickey so thoughtfully provided for the boy who loves water. Disney truly is magical! Thus ended our first day at The Happiest Place on Earth. And what a great day it was!

Next time, our Friday morning at Disney/MGM Studios. Link to Chapter 5.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the preview of POTC - We're planning on trying to take Katie on that one too, so I'll be prepared for it. :)


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