Monday, March 30, 2009

Disney 2009, Day 8: The Studios, Round 2

Sorry this took so long to finish up! And not many photos at all (I know that makes some of you happy and some of you disappointed). Let me put it this way: other than at the stunt show, I took 3 pictures all day, and one of them was of our parking lot row designation. It was a rough day, as you will see.

Saturday, our last day in Orlando for this year. We were set to spend a half-day at the Studios and then head back to my parents' house. But first, we had to load the car, which was an experience. We didn't want to leave anything that looked valuable in the interior of the car, but cramming everything in the trunk (even minus the food that we had eaten) was tough. DH finally managed to get it all in, bless him, with only the coolers left inside the car. Then we headed out to the park, arriving after 10 AM.

I would have been really upset at the timing of it all, but we had discovered a kink in the plan the day before. We had done the car stunt show already, and DH *really* wanted to take Luke to see the Indiana Jones stunt show, so we intended to catch the earliest Indy stunt show on Saturday, usually a 10:30 showtime. However, when I was looking at the time schedules Thursday night, I realized that the Studios time sheet I had picked up on Sunday only covered Sunday-Tuesday. So Friday, I picked up a new one, which showed the Indiana Jones venue hosting a cheerleading competition, so no stunt show at all. I was so upset! We had been so careful with the plan, trying to make sure we got it all in, and now this. Time for Plan B. Mom and I would hit the Rockin' Roller Coaster while DH took Luke to grab Toy Story Mania fast passes and then do Star Tours. Depending on fast pass return times, we would then either do lunch and then Toy Story Mania (TSM) or vice versa. I expected a 30-ish minute stand-by time for Rockin' Roller Coaster (RRC), so that should work great.

Except that there were people *everywhere.* I don't remember the last time we saw the parks so busy. DH had managed to convince me the previous night that all the cheer people would be at the event, so the park should not really be any busier. NOT! I should have known better, but I guess I wanted to believe that, so I blocked out my higher reasoning. Now, if I had bothered to think things through, I would have realized at this point that our original plan was absolutely NOT going to work under these circumstances. TSM is a brand new ride, the newest one at WDW, I think. *Everyone* would want to ride it. Plus, more people are eligible to ride TSM than RRC because there is no height restriction. Hello, the line for TSM is going to be *much* longer than RRC and they would be giving out more fast passes, so we should have gotten RRC fast passes and done TSM first! All I can do is blame it on exhaustion. I hadn't slept well, I was tired to the bone, we had been at this for a week, and my brain just was not functioning properly.

Consequently, we decided to go with the RRC-first plan, so Mom and I handed over our tickets (so DH could get the TSM fast passes), and we split up, only to find that the stand-by line for RRC had an hour wait. I call DH, but he insists that we go on and ride. The line is long and noisy and out in the sun, and just crawling. Ten minutes in, we are just to the point of the queue that has walls around it, so it would be difficult to turn back, when DH calls. TSM is giving out fast passes for 4:15 PM. (Remember, it is about 10:20 AM.) No good, we'll be gone by then. Okay, we'll get out of line, grab RRC fast passes (being given out for like 12:30 or something), and come get in the TSM stand-by line. "No, don't. It has a 90 minute wait. Just stay there." Plus, there was the little problem of DH having our tickets, so we couldn't get any fast passes anyway, and TSM and RRC are about as far from each other as you can get, so DH couldn't just run them over to us. He somehow convinced me to stay in line and do RRC, then meet them to ride TSM (hoping they would be down to a 60 minute or less wait by then), followed by lunch. I agree, but I am just miserably upset to the point of tears. I'm hot, I'm tired, there are about a zillion too many people, nothing is going according to plan, and I am not having *any* fun.

Another 20-25 minutes go by. We are not even inside the building yet. I remember all of the internal queueing they have room for, and I wonder if they have it open or not, but I suspect so. I hope Luke and DH are having some fun on Star Tours. We are way too far into the queue (up a concrete ramp, a good 20 feet in the air, no way to get down) to turn back when they come on the intercom. "Due to technical difficulties, the wait time for this ride may be longer than was indicated when you entered the stand-by line." I nearly burst into tears (I think a few actually leaked out; I know I had to get the tissue out of Mom's backpack), but there was really nothing to do but wait at that point. I texted DH to let him know that we really had no idea how long this would take and that we could try and fight our way out of the queue, but he kept insisting they were fine and for us to stay. He also was not directly answering my questions (like "what are you going to do while you wait" and "is Luke having fun"), so I should have known something was up. Again, I can only blame tiredness.

Then we got into the building and realized that most of the internal queueing was gone! They were using that for fast pass and single rider line entry, so pretty much, once you are inside, you have to wait for 1-2 batches of people (you watch a little movie before you get to the actual ride), and that's it. We walked *off* the ride 50 minutes after we entered the queue. I absolutely could not believe it. (RRC still totally rocks and is still my favorite Disney coaster. And all I could think for most of the ride was "I cannot WAIT until I can take Luke on this!") I texted DH that we were off, but it was after 11 AM, so we revised the plan. Eat lunch, then go get in line for Toy Story Mania and wait in it, no matter how long the stand-by wait time is. We go for the old stand-by, the Backlot. DH was even kind enough to remind me to take a picture of something I had forgotten to go back and photograph during our first day at the Studios. I imagine there are more of these around at the other various parks, but this is the only one I have ever noticed. And I couldn't help but smile at the latitude/longitude marked Mickey icon that *I* remember from my own childhood.

It wasn't until we sat down to eat that DH told me what had happened while we were doing RRC. I asked how many times they rode Star Tours, and DH was forced to confess. "None. Luke said he didn't want to." So let me get this straight, you two just sat around for nearly an hour and waited for us to get off RRC? I was so mad, I could hardly see straight. That was so NOT the point! We should have been doing *something* fun, either separate or together. If you weren't going to do a ride or a show while you waited, you should have said so, and we would have gotten out of line. It would not have been the end of the world. DH is looking pretty sheepish at this point, and I knew there was more. Spill it! Turns out that when I texted him to say that we thought the wait was going to be longer than they originally said, DH took Luke to get in line at TSM. He knew I would be upset if they didn't ride anything while I was over at RRC (smart husband!), and he knew I would not begrudge the two of them doing TSM, even if I ended up missing it. So they had a snack and got in line for TSM, thinking they would probably be close to getting on the ride by the time we got off (posted wait time was 75 minutes by this point). They hadn't been in line 5 minutes when I called to say we were done on RRC, so he convinced Luke to get out of line, *promising* we would come back after lunch. I had so many different emotions going through me at that point, I didn't know what to do. He wanted me to ride RRC, because he knew how much I loved it. He knew I would be upset if they didn't ride something while they waited, so he tried to make that happen, knowing it might cost me a chance to ride TSM. He was trying to do something nice for his son, and ended up ripping him out of line (though Luke was taking it remarkably well, hanging onto the promise that DH had made to do it later). I felt like the worst mom/wife in the world by this point. (Little did I know....) We ate, and then we all but ran across the park to Toy Story Mania. We had made a promise, and we were going to keep it!

But there were cast members standing out front. "We're sorry folks. Toy Story Mania is closed right now due to technical difficulties. Please come back later this afternoon." The doors were closed and everything. There were no fast passes left (not that it would have mattered, since they would have been for late evening even if there had been some). I simply could not believe it. All this time, all the waiting, all the planning, and now, at the last minute, we were going to have to break our promise to our son. I was absolutely heartbroken. What a crappy day this was turning out to be! I was probably even more upset about it than Luke, who was not happy, but he was doing okay all things considered. Now what? Do we just leave? No, I refused to leave without Luke getting to do *something* he enjoyed. We were already on the back side of the park, and there was a 1:30 Lights Motor Action stunt show. It was about 1 PM by now, so we headed that way. Got some more good pictures thanks to the DSLR and the mega-zoom lens. Some action shots of the cars:

I am especially proud of these motorcycle shots:

Some jet ski action (he swings on that thing to get from the asphalt to the jet ski):

And everyone loves fire, whether people or explosions (I was just a fraction of a second too late on the shutter, darn it!):

After that, we headed out. Luke was tired and whiny, and he wanted to be picked up. We refused, since DH had done a good bit of carrying him on his shoulders, particularly for the last couple of days. "You're a big boy, you can walk." A few minutes later, I think he tripped or something. I don't remember; there was some kind of meltdown as we were trying to leave the stunt show. DH finally relented and put him on his shoulders. We took 3-4 steps up the sidewalk, and Luke started *screaming* like he had been stung or something. DH puts him down, and it takes a few minutes to figure out what had happened amid the hysterics. It may have been March, but spring had not quite come to the Studios Streets of America. Consequently, there was a tree on the sidewalk with no leaves on the branches. We were so tired and focused on trying to leave and avoiding any further meltdowns, DH had walked too close to the tree and one of the branches had scratched Luke's face. (I am convinced that if the tree had had leaves, that probably would not have happened, but it was a slender tree, and without leaves, the branches sort of blended into the background.) It was barely pink, but it was close to Luke's eye. I'm sure it hurt, but I also think it scared him as much as anything. Great. Just great. I think it is past time to leave for this trip, don't you?

But I really didn't want to leave on that kind of note. I wanted to try and get in one more thing, so we went up the Streets of America and to the right. Since he had enjoyed the Philharmagic movie so much, I thought we might just have a chance to slip into Muppet-3D before we left. We rounded the corner, and saw a line of 40+ people sticking out the door! I have never, in all my life, seen a line out the door for the Muppet 3D movie. EVER! I could not possibly have been more shocked. Nor could I possibly have felt more like a failure. Pretty much just a rotten day all the way around, and not at all the way I wanted to end the trip, but there wasn't much else to be done about it by this point. We trudged out to the car, climbed in, and almost gratefully left Disney for 2009.

For the third straight year, Luke slept all the way to Jacksonville, but woke up right at dinnertime (there is a particular curve on the interstate that wakes him up every time), so we had to stop and eat without making it that last hour to Brunswick. Oh well. We got in, put a nearly exhausted Luke to bed, and turned in ourselves. We snuck in a little Guitar Hero Sunday morning, then left after lunch (at Spanky's, a local favorite) and arrived home to three very excited kitties.

So, overall, a truly excellent trip, except for the last day. And I have to say, Luke was as good as gold the entire time. That's not to say that he didn't require some discipline from time to time (usually for being too wild or too loud (yes, even at Disney!)), but other than when we were leaving on Saturday, there were no meltdowns of any kind, and we only got close when we broke our own rules (no nap or late snack). 99% of the time, he was an angel. We really could not have asked for better. We did lots of new things, we rode new rides, and we had a ball.

In hindsight, I will say that, for us, the trip was about one day too long. We either needed to stop at 6 park days with only one off day, or we needed an extra off day. 7 days with only one "day of rest" was too much for us. I know there are people and families who can manage to go "Disney Commando" for 7 days straight from park open to park close with no naps, even with little kids (hi Laura! LOL), but we are just not those people. We managed well with naps and a day off, and we had a great time. And there are still new things to be done on our next visit. We know next year may be the last time we have the luxury of going during early March (Luke will be in Kindergarten in 2011), and we intend to make the most of it. Probably not a whole week, but we will try to hit every park, and we *will* do Toy Story Mania and Indiana Jones if at all humanly possible. That's two primary targets for our 2010 Studios day already. What should be our secondary targets? Hmmm....

Please excuse me, I think I need to start planning our 2010 trip!

Currently feeling: all done


  1. I've enjoyed reading all about your Disney trip. What FUN! Suz

  2. Great recap. Don't beat yourself up too much about the off day - it happens to us all! :) Overall sounds like you had a great trip and those are some awesome LMA pics. :)

  3. I found a Frommer's pocket guide to WDW w/families in the "dollar" section of target the other day, and couldn't resist snatching it up. Actually, Sofia wouldn't let go of her new "gook" all thru the store and screamed when we handed it to the cashier for scanning... so I guess she's ready to begin planning too!! ;)


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