Saturday, June 18, 2011

Trip Report - Part III

Day 6.  Hollywood Studio.  At this point the crowds are getting worse and we are all getting tired, but we truck on to Hollywood Studios.  I like Hollywood Studios but it’s not my favorite park, so with the crowds I couldn’t get too excited about it all.  We didn’t do too much – Rock’n’Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror (my 4 year went on it!), and Beauty and the Beast Stage Show.  Mama Melrose for lunch under the Fantasmic Dinner Package.  Lunch was OK, nothing great, but OK.  After lunch, it was getting really warm; we all needed a break and pool time.  With the Fantasmic Dinner Package, we received a ticket into a reserved seating area in the Fantasmic Theater, meaning we didn’t have to return until 45 minutes prior to Fantasmic.  That was worth it, as general seating in the theater was full by 8:00 for the 9:00 showing.  We arrived early and had burgers at the dining locations along Sunset Blvd.  

Even though HS is not my favorite park, I give it tremendous kudos for theme.  The look of the buildings along Hollywood Blvd and Sunset Blvd are just amazing.  Love the art deco, 1930/40s old Hollywood feel to them.  Also, the Streetmosphere is especially excellent here.

Here are some random pictures from the day:

Student Driver, watch out!
Melvin!  Put me Down.

It was a chalk art kind of day.
Day 7.  FREE DAY!!!!  No plans, no dining reservations, no place to be…we just didn’t know what to do with ourselves besides sleep-in.  My husband and I took the kids out on Sea-Racers (two-seater boats) in the late morning.  This was a day to take care of laundry and move the in-laws to Wilderness Lodge.  You see, for some reason, they only reserved their cabins for 6 nights vs. 9 nights like us.  I think the logic was that they were planning to visit other friends while in Florida; however, when those plans fell through they wanted to extend their reservation at the cabins but nothing was available so they got into the Wilderness Lodge for 3 nights starting on Wed, June 8th.  What a pleasant surprise they had when they got there…they were upgrade to the concierge floor!!!  WL is such a beautiful resort.  I think our next trip, we should stay there.  Here are some random shots.  Pictures do not do it justice!

With Grammy and Poppy staying at a new resort, each child had to claim a night with the grandparents.  Tonight was my son’s night.  Earlier in the day my husband twisted his ankle and skinned his knee in an unfortunate scooter (Razor) accident (he was racing his daughter on her scooter, using our son’s scooter and didn’t stop correctly).  He called it an early night to rest so my mom, daughter and I went over the Magic Kingdom to watch the new castle display (the Magic, Memories and You) and fireworks.  The lighting effect on the castle is something!  I wish we had a closer view of it, as the viewing spot we had was in front of the railroad station and slightly obstructed by a tree.  
Day 8.  EPCOT.  Another late start for the day, but with a focus on World Showcase, arriving at park opening wasn’t as critical.  Snagged Test Track Fast Passes, then headed over to Sunshine Seasons for lunch.  This has got to be the best quick service location in the entire Walt Disney World complex due the size, variety, and freshness of the food offered.  Hit Test Track and Spaceship Earth before venturing around the world counterclockwise, starting in Canada.  I was preparing myself for the whining to start with the kids, as there’s not much to do in the World Showcase for their size.  However, my mom jumped in and got them EPCOT Kidcot Passports, as well as Duffy Bears on-a-stick (for lack of a better description).  Much to my surprise, the kids really enjoyed this and actually looked forward to getting stamps in each country.  My daughter colored her bear in each country.  My only complaint/concern here – Sharpie markers for kids?  Really?  I know Sharpie sponsors this, but Sharpies for kids?   Don’t they know that Sharpie marker doesn’t come out of clothes??   However, after my Grey Goose Lemon Slush in France, and Lemoncello in Itlay, I didn’t really care.

I love World Showcase.  There are so many details to be seen outside and inside the shops and pavilions.  I would venture to say 75% or more of the people that come to EPCOT don't pay attention to the detail and that is just a shame.  It's the details that make it so special.  Just think about the amount of time, detail, artistry, and imagineering that goes into making each country.  

I like the juxtaposition of this picture.
World Showcase & Future World 
Dinner that evening was Tutto Italia. 

The food was excellent here and the dining room is beautiful.  It was a little loud, though.  

Two bottles of wine and mucho food later, we rolled our way towards Mexico to watch Illuminations.  I really like Illuminations and venture to say it’s my favorite firework display at WDW.  I think the music, use of fire, water, pyrotechnics, lasers, and the globe is extremely unique.  However, because it’s so low on the Lagoon, you really need to stake out a spot early.  We didn't and only saw the top half of the fireworks display.  Still wonderful!

Day 9.  Hollywood Studios.  8 days in and everyone is now dragging.  We’re tired, hot and getting a little cranky.  Arriving to HS on a Friday during Star Wars Weekend didn’t help the situation.  Man, oh, man, it was crowded.  Undercover Tourist gave it a 1.2 out of 10…still trying to figure that out!  Anyhoo.  Fastpass return for Toy Story Mania at 9:30am was 5pm, so I skipped this and got Fastpasses for the newly opened Star Tours (I'm the FastPass runner for the family).  Fast Pass return at 1:30, much better.  Lunch was at 50’s Prime Time Café, and with the crowds we couldn’t do much before our reservation.  So, we watched the MuppetVision 3D (again…I grew up on the Muppets and love them), went on the backlot tour (hadn't done that in years), let the kids play in the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids play area, and wondered the Streets.  The kids were accosted by these two.  
Officer Peabody & Officer William Club

Break glass in case of

Onward to lunch at the Prime Time Café; and back to the resort for pool time and packing.  Of course, we didn't leave Prime Time Cafe without setting our table, stacking plates, and, in general, being harassed for elbows on the table.   

Day 10.  Magic Kingdom/Departure Day.  Packed up, bags checked and stored, golf cart dropped off and checked out, we headed to Magic Kingdom for the morning and early afternoon.  Our flight didn’t depart until 6pm, and we didn’t need to be on the Magical Express until 2:50.  Surprising for a Saturday, the park wasn’t very crowded.  We managed to do a few rides in Tomorrowland, plus one final run through of Haunted Mansion (now my kids favorite attraction) before lunch at with Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eyeore, and Piglet at the Crystal Palace.  The food here is nothing special, but decent and plentiful.  The draw here is the characters and they spent a great deal of time with each table for pictures and autographs.  

After saying our goodbyes to Grammy and Poppy who would be driving back to Houston, we picked up our remaining 18 snack credits at the Candy Store and dashed back to the Fort with plenty of time to spare.  7 hours later, we were safely back in our home and ready for bed.   
All in all, a great trip.  We didn’t see or do everything we hoped it, but we had an enjoyable time and created memories to last a lifetime.  

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