Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Disney day 5: Re-Epcot and Re-Hollywood

The final three days of Disney involved heading back to the Epcot, the Magic Kingdom, and Disney Studios to try to do all the things we wanted to do but hadn't done yet. I'll tell you right now that we did not succeed. Looking at the property maps of all 4 parks when we arrived back to New Braunfelsland, we realized that, as much as we DID do, there were still entire sections of each park that we never set foot on. At least we have a reason to go back, huh?

The first of our "bonus" days, day 5, we returned to Epcot to finish touring the countries surrounding the World Showcase Lagoon. But first we took advantage of the small, early morning crowds and took pictures with Mickey, Minnie, Chip & Dale, Donald, Pluto, and Goofy in a character "ride." It was here where a nice Disney employee simply gave a Disney pin in the shape of a cherry to Jenna because she valued all of hers too much to trade. From here, we bolted over to the "Soarin'" flying simulator ride, where Jenna and I enjoyed "kicking" the heads of all the people and boats below our feet as we soared high overhead (it was all I could do to keep her from screaming and crying.) From there we did a "Figment of Imagination" ride, whereby we experienced a ride that stimulated each of the senses individually, after which, we had a chance to use our own imagination to transform our own physiognomies into alien likenesses.

Dad and J with a little Figment of the Imagination thrown in

After that, we raced over to another popular ride, the "Test Track." The ride puts you into an open car and takes you through several tests that every car must endure on the proving ground before hitting the market (all but the "insult test.") We had to literally drag the kids to this. They feared the ride, even after I assured them that their mother's driving was far more to fear than what they would soon experience. The 45 minute build up as we waited in line took quite a toll on Tate, as he imagined how horrible it was going to be. On board, Jenna was a good sport, putting her hands high in the air as we went through the corrosion test, the hot/cold test, and the ABS vs. no ABS test. Tate was clinging to his mother the whole time. I thought I heard him whimpering, "You're a better driver, you're a better driver . . . " It wasn't until we left the building for a lap outside around the building that the BOTH kids began screaming in terror. We never reached more than 65 mph, but the tight turn along the bank easily made it feel like we were traveling at 67 mph. At the gift shop upon exiting, Tate got a commemorative collector's pin.
Our Test Track experience caught by a candid camera. Notice the location of each of the kids' hands

After taking in the front part of Epcot, we decided to finish taking in the back part: the World Showcase. To increase the experience for the kids, we took the boat to Morocco, our third time to be there. We quickly hot-footed it to America, the halfway point through the countries. It was lunchtime, so we at hamburgers in America, then hung around to watch "The American Experience," a show hosted by Ben Franklin and Mark Twain life-like robots that tells the tale of how America was founded. While we waited for the show, a choir dressed in colonial garb entertained us in the rotunda. They were honestly the best live choir I've ever heard. Disney hires nothing but the best talent. The best part of America, for me, was walking through the museum after the show and laying eyes upon an actual top hat actually worn by Abraham Lincoln when he visited Gen. McClellan at Antietam in 1862. I've seen the pictures hundreds of times, but now I was staring at the actual hat, never mind the fact that it now had mouse ears attached to the peripherals (JK.)

My boy Abe, and his hat from the photo 146 years later

To make a long story short, the rest of that day, we went through the other countries the rest of the afternoon, getting stamps and autographs in each. Traveling through America, Italy, Germany, China, Norway, and finally Mexico, we saw Mushu and Mulan in China, and from "The Deadliest Catch, we saw the crew from the Northwestern fishing boat.

Mushu, Mulan, and Captain Sig Hansen and his crew of brothers

Later that night, we returned to Hollywood Studios to watch the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, a show the kids were eagerly anticipating since that had taken in the original trilogy prior to heading out on vacation. As we boarded the shuttle bus to head to the park, the rain started coming down, not uncommon in Orlando. To our dissapointment, the show was cancelled because of the weather. It appeared that the bad weather had driven most of the spectators away as well. The park seemed empty as we walked around in our "pre-purchased for one dollar rather than purchase them for eight dollars each" parkas (thanks Shealynn.)

Rushing to get to the Indiana Jones show in our rain ponchos. "Quick! I want a front-row seat at the 'closed' sign!"

We ended up walking right up to the front of the Star Wars Star Tours ride, a simulator ride that Jenna did NOT want to ride, especially after "Soarin'." We forced her on, and I held her head in my lap during the 10-minute bumpy ride. We still managed to save the galaxy, even without Jenna's cooperation.

J and Yoda, in no particular order

As we walked around the empty park after that, many of the kiosks, shops, and rides were closed. We ended up heading back to one of the gift shops that I enjoyed but felt rushed at earlier in the week, the Back Lot tour gift shop. Here, we browsed the goods as we shivered in damp clothes in the air-conditioned store. Night was falling outside. With the Star Wars ride behind us, and because our kids had also watched all 6 movies prior to our vacation, Tate and J were fully aware of the relation between Luke and Leah. It just so happened that for the very low price of $49.95, the store would put my kids' likenesses into a photo of the two galactic siblings. With the picture now hanging on our wall, I have to say it was money very well spent. Besides, what else were we going to do on such a cold, dark, empty night in the land of Disney? At least I know what my kids will look like in the future, should they decide to grow their hair out and wear bedsheets for clothes. I think the galaxy is in good hands.

Luke and Leah

After Queen Amidala and I, Anakin Skywalker, proudly watched our children pose, we hurried off to the hallmark event of the park: Fantasmic. We quickly realized that we were NOT the only ones in the park after all. Apparently, everyone took refuge from the rain in the huge outdoor studio where the grand evening finale would take place. A typically polite guide directed us toward the front row on the far left of the pavilion. I was carrying Jenna and Shealynn was dragging Tate. I felt we had the best seats in the house, as we had a prime view of all the characters on the boats as they entered or exited the half-circle waterway that spanned the theater.

Watching "Fantasmic"

The show itself was amazing, with its creative use of water theatrics, and thin water vapor curtains which were used as canvases for animation projections. Of all the amazing closings in each of the parks, this by far was my favorite. Coming in late meant that we had the farthest distance to travel when the show was over. After what felt like an eternity shuffling feet while carrying Jenna with my bad back and neck, dripping in sweat and more sweat, we finally reached the shuttle bus depot, and then our room, anxious for what day 6 would bring.

Jenna and I on the shuttle back to the resort. Who's sweating more?


Anonymous said...

I'm a little offended by your first paragraph "try to do all the things we wanted to do but hadn't done yet. I'll tell you right now that we did not succeed." What? Do you not remember the lamintated touring plans? As I recall, somebody went to a lot of trouble to break the ginormous Disney World into 7 digestable days. If you review the lamintated touring plans, you will see that not only did we complete our mission, but we did more than planned (except fireworks at Magic Kingdom, but I won't mention that.) Sure, there's lots more that we didn't see, but, did you really expect your children to ride Everest? I didn't think so.
Considering the weather, the crowds, the stamina of the kids, Tate's illness, the magnitude of the parks...I'm proud of our feat.

Although, I wouldn't have objected to staying another week!

kwkorpi said...

I'm quite proud of our feet, too! That was a lot of walking. My point is no slam on your extensive planning , but rather on the intense magnitude of the Disney parks.

I agree, another week would have cut into the "things we did not do" quite nicely.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you saw Sig Hansen and crew of the Deadliest Catch -- one of my very favorite shows!!! What were they doing there? LC

kwkorpi said...

Sig and his brothers were apparently there just to celebrate the survival of their most recent trip, and to spend a bit of their million dollar booty. He was in the Epcot country of Norway to sign autographs.

He and his brothers are fourth-generation Norwegian fisherman, so Disney was happy to accommodate them.

They are all so short in real life, but none-the-less still alive.