Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Disney day 2: Hollywood Studios

After a good night's sleep, we all got up for our second day at a DisneyWorld park, and our first FULL day enjoying one. On the laminated card for the day: Disney's Hollywood Studios, the sister studio to Disney's main movie studio in California. Not only is this park a working movie studio, but there are numerous rides and shows to enjoy. Mega-rides like the "Tower of Terror" and "Aerosmith's Rockin' Roller Coaster" are two such rides that we DID not have plans to get on. As we entered the park around 9am, we traveled down the main street toward the icon of this park, the giant Mickey wizard hat from Fantasia. The kids were excited about the day, and Tate seemed to be feeling much better.

The first show we took in was a live version of Clubhouse Mickey. The kids sang along while Mickey, Goofy, Donald, and Daisy, with the help of "Handy Manny" and the "Little Einsteins" gang planned a surprise birthday party for Minnie. She did SO not see it coming. She was genuinely surprised. After that we proceeded to roam the park, ducking into theaters here, shopping at kiosks there, releasing and replenishing our fluids. Then we decided to stand in the long line for a brand new ride recently opened: Toy Story. It's amazing how entertaining Disney makes the boring, usually uncomfortable, task of standing in line. Not only are all their lines indoors with plenty of cool AC, but there are such clever thing to look at on the walls, floors, ceilings, handrails, etc. For this ride, there was a giant Mr. Potato head that interacted with people as they weaved their way through the stiles in the "giant playroom."

Tate and J waiting with Mr. Potato Head

The ride itself came soon enough and was well worth the wait. With a series of Midway shooting games, all members of our family got to compete while we shot our car-mounted gun at the cartoon targets while we watched our scores increase on the display in front of us. I was proud to say that I kicked my 5-year-old daughter's butt (although my score was just half of what the posted high score for the day was.) I badly wanted to get back into the line to try to beat the high score, but devoting another 45 minutes to going through the line again was not a popular idea with the family, so I had to settle with being the best virtual sharpshooter in my own family.

As we exited the ride, we ran into Mr. Green Army Man from Toy Story. He didn't have much to say, but he did give us all a definitive "thumbs up." I could tell at this point that Tate was really forcing his usually natural smile for his photo with the character. The temperatures were rising, the humidity was becoming increasingly uncomfortable, and the streets were getting increasingly crowded.

Mr. Army Man was the consummate professional

We decided to take a ride on the movie "Back Lot" tour, where we could at least sit down and enjoy the breeze as we were taken through the working movie studio. At the conclusion of the ride, immediately upon exiting, we came across an encased Darth Vader suit actually used in the movie. While everyone from the tour was squeezing in close, anxious to get a good view and photo of it, I saw Tate cuddled up in the fetal position on the carpet at the base of the costume. It was then that I (as well as everyone else on the tour) knew that something was seriously wrong with this kid. We decided to break for lunch under a giant shaded pavilion.

You can see Tate's hat as he begins to rise above the dark side of the floor

During lunch, Tate was more content with laying his head down at the table, and he only picked at his food when I urged him to "lift his head and eat." His mother asked me if I thought his forehead felt warm, a very silly question, I thought, in light of the current temperature and humidity, but indeed it did seem un-Disneyly warm. And so there he sat while I finished up his (and his sister's) leftover food, something I'm quite accustomed to doing.

Behind the dining pavilion, there was a children's play area that was giant both literally and figuratively. It was the "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" area, and my two "shrunken" kids immediately got "lost" amidst the huge blades of grass. My daughter ran up and down the huge "spider web" (see picture below) that rose 30 feet into the air in between getting lost inside the cavernous catacombs of the giant stick in the middle of the area. Tate did a few things, but had little sustained energy and interest. His mother and I became quite concerned as his condition seemed to worsen. It seemed so unfair for such a beaming, energetic boy to be having such a miserable time at one of the most exciting, wonderful places in the world.

Caught with a smile in the Spider Web. Notice the huge blade of grass behind us

As we left the play area, we walked by the Star Wars "Star Tours" simulator ride. The line seemed rather short, but we forwent the experience so that Tate wouldn't have to endure any more line standing that hot and humid day. In that same area, an outdoor "Jedi training" show was just beginning, and I knew that there was a good chance Tate could be one of a dozen children who could be selected as part of the show. After only a couple of minutes though, with my daughter on my shoulders so that she could see above the crowd and with Tate's face buried into his mother's shirt, as the sun beat mercilessly down on us, we abandoned the show and decided to head back to our room at the resort and look into where we could take Tate for a physician's checkup. We did manage one last smile out of Tate as he sat on a Star Wars speeder with his little sis before we fled to the park's exit.

Tate wished he could have ridden this thing to a speedy recovery

Back in the room, we all enjoyed the sanctuary from the heat and the readily available cool drinks we had stored in our refrigerator, but no one in our family enjoyed it more than Tate, who immediately hit the mattress with his grimaced face and soft moans. After a short while on the phone, my wife had the name and address of an urgent care center just off the Disney property. As unfortunate as it was that we were about to take our son to see a doctor on our Disney trip, we were grateful that we had our own car to get us there and that we'd all be going together.

As we drove down the long, manicured Disney highways past the other parks, it began to rain heavily. Perfect! We weren't missing anything outdoors at the park we had just left, but it sure made it difficult to navigate through unknown streets. We soon found the facility and entered the crowded waiting room. We were told it would be a very long wait. Too bad we couldn't "Fast Pass" this one. The chairs were uncomfortable and the room was cramped. As bad as I began to feel with my bad back and neck, with my daughter sitting on my lap, watching back-to-back-to back-to back episodes of "Reba," Tate was feeling much worse. I felt horrible for him.

After what seemed like only 5 hours (3 actually), a nurse appeared from the "magical door to the back" and called out my son's name. I stayed in the waiting room with my daughter while my wife and son disappeared into the back. Tick-tock-tick-tock-tick-tock went the clock. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha went the laugh track on the television. I took my sleeping daughter and went to lay down in our car in the parking lot, where I figured we'd both be more comfortable. After about an hour, my cell phone rang. My wife was getting some antibiotic medicine at the small pharmacy behind the clinic. I drove around to pick them up.

I turns out that Tate had the infection Trifecta: an infected eye, and infected throat, and an infected ear. The pharmacy did not accept insurance, so we had to pay $300 cash for the liquid antibiotic, but at this point, it mattered not. I knew that the medicine meant that Tate would be starting to feel better soon, and that we'd be able to thoroughly enjoy our remaining 4 days in the parks. Tomorrow would be a new day!

I didn't realize at the time that I was only half right: tomorrow WOULD be a new day, but it would be a while, and a long ordeal, before Tate began feeling better.

This picture is worth a thousand words (and $300+ dollars)

We went back to the room and decided to just get a late dinner there at the resort. I stayed at the dinner table while my wife went to the buffet to get the her food. While she was away, my son threw up his first dose of medicine all over the dinner table. Luckily for me, I was able to quickly scoop most of it into my empty tea glass and wipe up the rest with napkins before anyone at the adjacent tables really had a chance to know what had just happened. As for me, I had lost my appetite. We soon finished "eating" and went back to the room for showers and clean clothes. We all went to sleep that night ready to leave that afternoon behind us.

Tomorrow was to be the biggest day for our kids: The Magic Kingdom. At this point, we could have used a little magic.


Anonymous said...

Ha,ha! That was cute!(Except for the doctor part!) blah blah blah!


--Tate,blogger's son!

Anonymous said...

Poor Tate. What a trooper, though! We did manage to have a really great time despite his misery.
I can't wait to hear what happened next.

Anonymous said...

Poor Tate!! It's just not fair to have to feel so bad, when you've been waiting 8 years for this dream vacation. So glad to hear you ALL managed to have a good time anyway, including Tate. Mom