As we all got out of bed on Day 7 and put on our matching lime green Disney shirt (we didn't want anyone to get lost here at the end), it was bittersweet. On one hand, it was our last day, but on the other hand . . . we were going to Hollywood studios to do some of the kids' favorite rides and shows. After figuring out the auto-picture feature on our camera, Shealynn and I loaded everything into our car. With checkout at 11:00 am, we would be leaving our room for the last time when we walked out that morning. The plan was to stay at the park until 2:30pm, head back to the resort, jump directly into the loaded car, and be on the road headed toward Fort Walton Beach, Florida by 3:00pm.
After taking a few more photographs of the room as I walked out (sniff, sniff), we waited and waited and waited longer than we ever had that week for our bus. It was an auspicious start to the day. Finally, what seemed like 5 minutes (my gosh), we were seated in a clump of lime green near the front of the bus. We arrived just minutes after the park had opened (if only the shuttle had been on time . . .) The first thing the kids wanted to do again was the new Toy Story ride, so we used our previous knowledge of the park's layout and found the quickest, shortest route there. Holey Moley! The line was already way out the door. The "45 minute wait line from here" sign was still several switchbacks ahead. "X" that out of the plan for the morning. It turns out that the ride was actually BROKEN, and the people were just standing in line waiting for it to be fixed. It WAS a fun ride, but not THAT fun. As we were just about to leave the Toy Story area, Woody came out suddenly from a secret door. We jumped to the front of the line which was quickly drawing people from the broken ride line. For a toy, he was so tall, and like a true cowboy, he saved the day in Toytown. My kids weren't so disappointed anymore.
Next on our list of things to do before the crowds got too big: The "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" play area. Earlier in the week, we had a hard time getting the kids to leave this area, especially out of the elevated ropes and nets called the "Spider's Web." As we approached the entrance, we noticed no one was inside. Great! we'll have the "giant roll of film slides" to ourselves. The time was 9:35. The play area didn't open until 10:00. With 25 minutes to waste, we wandered around the Back Lot area of the park, the part of the park with few rides, mostly shows that didn't start for a few more hours. Much like the night we returned in the rain to that park, we felt like we were the only ones there. For the first time at Disney, we felt like there was nothing to do and no one to do it with.
We sat on a porch stoop that was set up to look like the set of the Cosby Show and tried to keep Tate and J's faces lifted. As soon as 10am came, we ran inside the play area. Jenna ran right to the back part where the entrance to "The Web" was. There was an employee standing there with a giant leave blocking the way. Because the web is made up of ropes, and the morning dew was still noticeable there in the shade, the ropes were deemed too wet and too slippery to use safely. I expected her to pull out a giant hair dryer and take take of the problem, but she was better able to withstand the twisted lip, sad face of my daughter better than I could. Instead, she was going to wait until the sun to dry the ropes out. Judging from the height of the surrounding buildings creating the shade and the current position of the sun in the sky, I figured it would be at leas 1.5 hours before the ropes felt the sun, and then another 20 minutes to dry them out. We were starting to feel like out last day in the park should have been yesterday.
As we left the dinner theater, we knew our time was drawing to an end. We had just used the last of our meals on the Disney dining plan, but we still had 12 "snacks" we had to use up. On our way to the last show on our agenda, the Beauty and the Beast musical extravaganza, we stopped at every snack kiosk along the way and, although we had just eaten, loaded up on french fries, carrot sticks, ice cream, and soda pop. We did manage to get several pieces of fruit that we could take with us and eat later. Just being able to exhaust our pre-paid food account made the day feel like a successful one, even though I was now walking around with 4 apples, three oranges, and a large fries in my hands.
The last show did not disappoint. The kids sang along with all the songs, cheered for the Beast, and booed Gaston. I believe Belle even blew me one last kiss as if to say, "thanks for coming to Disney, don't stay gone too long." It was the perfect send off. As we walked toward the exit for the last time, we talked about what our favorite part of the week was and savored the sights and sounds one last time. We especially noticed many families who were obviously on their first day. We felt excited for them, and hoped that their time was as great as ours was.
By the time we got back to the resort, the children were noticeably worn out from a full week of park hopping. They had been troopers and had forced themselves to garner the required energy to do more walking and physical activity than they were used to, right up to the end. But now, as they had been given the green light to relax now that the trip was over, they were ready to go home. We went straight to our loaded car and left the Disney property, waving by to the big Mouse as we drove through the giant overhead sign. It was 3:30pm. We had about 7 hours worth of driving to reach our stopping point near Destin, Florida, but withing 5 minutes of leaving the park, both kids were fast asleep in the back seat.