Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Florida 2013: Part 2: Disney Studios

They getcha’ almost before you’re in the gate, don’t they? We had barely paid our entrance fee before happening upon a kiosk selling hats. And, not your typical baseball caps, although there were probably a couple of those tucked into a corner somewhere. Here we have the Peanut wearing a Rapunzel hat, Meatball wearing the Sorcerer’s hat, and Bub wearing a Goofy hat. All very apropos, right?

Disney Studios is less about the rides and more about the movie attractions. Did I mention that it was muggy? This is not just a "healthy glow" that everyone is sporting, nor did we just spritz ourselves with a misting device. Nope. These desert rats are dripping with good 'ol sweat.

One of the first things we saw was the Indiana Jones exhibit. We got there in time to get a good seat. Mostly, Bub and I were trying to get on the same page, and it seemed like a good idea to let the boys sit while we hashed it out. The boys had never seen any of the Indiana Jones movies (but that changed after we got home when they watched the first movie with Bub and grandpa). We all look like we had just gotten off of a water ride, but it is sweat. That’s what happens to desert people in Florida humidity. This attraction was a lot of fun. The guy from Wisconsin (really an actor) was funny, the real tourists had a good time, the planned actors really did a good job with the Indiana Jones story, and the explosions were awesome. To a little boy, the explosions were worth the 2am plane trip.

Upon entering the park, we got a schedule of character appearances. Our lives had been consumed for about six months by Wreck It Ralph and Vanillape Von Schweets. Praise the lord that they were going to be at the park on the same day as us. We waited in line for quite a while, but it was worth it to see these smiles.

Here’s a random picture with Handy Manny. I like him. Nice guy. Speaks proper English even though it seems to be his second language. Good with tools. The boys weren’t very excited about this picture, but let’s be honest here, nobody was giving Manny the time of day. It was all about Ralph and Vanillope, Ralph and Vanillope. I forced them to get their picture with Manny so that his feelings wouldn’t be hurt. What can I say? I’m a mom.

Later in the day, we hit the Tower of Terror (which you can see in the background). Bub didn’t go on it with us which was good because it dropped like a broken elevator, and nobody likes to be barfed on by some screaming 50 year old lesbian. Peanut – the brave – actually got pretty scared. There we are in the corner. I’m trying to comfort a scared Peanut while Meatball, eyes wide, is having the time of his life. A year later, Peanut is still talking about how horrific it was! Meatball and I had a blast.

Bub and I were super excited about the Star Wars attraction. Of course, we hadn’t let the boys see the movies because they were too young, but that didn’t stop them from being completely fascinated, enthralled, and THRILLED. This ride was friggin’ awesome. The line to the ride takes forever, so they have created a whole experience while you wait. There were robots, R2D2, cool space stuff, and loads of outer space sounds (like laser guns, blowing up asteroids, etc).
Then, you get in the simulator, and oh my holy hell. It’s a 3-D thing with the seats moving around, too. You do actually feel like you’re flying in the space ship. Meatball went nuts. Absolutely nuts. C3P0 narrates/acts/talks the entire time, and each time you go, it’s a different experience. We went once, got off the ride, and got right back in line to go again. After the ride, there was a Darth Vader/Storm Trooper performing group outside.
We were too late for the boys to be the Jedi Warriors (but we’ll be sure to time this correctly on our next Disney trip). We ended up riding this space adventure three more times before the end of the night. Every time, upon exiting, the boys were going on and on about how stinking cool it was. One of the ride operators noticed and made a very big deal about how we deserved another ride without getting in line again. Not only that, but we were the only ones on the ride. It was for us and us only. I really like that about the Disney parks. Apparently, they give the ride operators the permission to make these kinds of judgment calls, and it makes the patron’s day very, very special, for sure. Here’s Meatball with Katie-the-Ride-Operator. Upon giving us the special treatment, Meatball decided that he loved her and someday he will go back and marry her. He was wooing her, big time, for as much as a six year old can flirt.

We rode a completely movie themed ride. Bub and I thought that we would really like it, but it was only OK. It went through the movie classics, and there was a pretty bad actress on board our car. It had potential, but it was only meh. However, Peanut was picked to be the honorary tour guide. Disney blazer and everything! Meatball got to wear the blazer for a moment, but Peanut got to stand next to our actual guide and point to a few things here and there. Pretty fun!

We left Disney Studios to have a late lunch/early dinner at Rainforest Café. This was at Downtown Disney which was very fun. Getting inside a building – any building – was awesome because the air conditioners negated some of the effects of the humidity. It didn’t bother me as much as it did Bub. Something about hot flashes and pre-menopause. Must be fun. Can’t wait…. Anyway, the boys were not overjoyed with Rainforest Café. We were seated in front of the elephants, and the trumpeting and movement kind of freaked the boys out a bit. Plus, they were tired from being in airports for 20 hours the day before. (Ok – not 20 in the actual airports, but we were UP for 20 hours….)

The Lego displays around Downtown Disney were super cool. And, I was determined to take pictures of lots of birds and identify them later. Yeah, the first part happened.

Back at Disney Studios after dinner, and we managed to find Woody and Buzz! We stood in line for what seemed like hours. Directly in front of us was a family from Peru. No little kids, but one very chatty guy in his early 20s. Turns out, he had been studying English for years. He wants to be a doctor. His dad said that if his English was passable, and the Americans could totally understand him, then he would be allowed to go to med school in the US. That’s why he was so chatty with me – he was proving to his dad that he could do it. I’ll tell you what: his English is better than some of the folks I went to high school with. By the time we got to Buzz and Woody, his dad was convinced.

We did have fun getting to the characters, but the characters themselves were awesome. Without saying a word, Woody convinced Meatball to push one of Buzz’s buttons. This, effectively, turned Buzz off. Then, we all made a big deal about how Meatball had broken Buzz. When Buzz was turned back on, he tickled and hugged both boys. It was a fun experience.

Florida 2013: Part 1: The beginning

My dad took us to the airport. We loaded everything up in his jeep and headed off. He had specific instructions to not let our pitiful garden die, not let the house flood, and not let the dogs dehydrate. All very difficult since we had a SUPER leaky faucet that required that we turn off the water main all of the god damn time.

On the way to the airport three hours ahead of schedule, of course, dad asked if we had watched the news. Well, we had been very busy taking care of last minute details, feeding the dogs, watering the potted plants, calming excited little boys, packing last minute things (like contact solution, glasses, stuffed animals, etc.), and giving dad any food that was going to spoil before we got home.
“What’s on the news?” I ask.
“Oh, something about flight delays.”
Sonuvabitch. WTF?

We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare only to find out that a computer glitch had delayed flights all over the place. Not just our airline, but EVERY airline all over the nation. For hours.
We were supposed to leave around 11am and arrive in Florida around 7pm. We left SLC closer to 3pm, arrived in Denver and had more time added on, and arrived in Florida around 2am. We took the shuttle to the hotel and fell into bed exhausted.

Well, this all really screwed with my plans. Yes – I had planned every possible thing so that we could cram as much fun into our trip as possible. We were supposed to be up at 7am and at Disney Studios by 9am. Instead, we had to go to the airport to pick up our car. We slept in. We made our lunch for the park. We finally got out the door with claims of “I can’t breathe!” and questions of “What’s wrong with this air, mom?” The humidity was quite a shock to the system. We had a good talk about the science of water being suspended in the air even though you can’t see it. By the end of this discussion, and by the time we had walked from the hotel front doors to the car, we were all dripping with sweat. UG!

We finally made it to Disney Studios, and the fun was about to begin. Here’s a shocker for you. Bub didn’t like having everything planned and didn’t understand why we couldn’t just walk hither and yon to which ever ride we wanted. It was very obvious to me that some sort of plan had to be used. And, Disney experienced friends the country over told me that a plan is necessary. Otherwise, loads of energy would be wasted walking back and forth with no reward. With two six year olds who whine. It’s not like the rides and attractions are right next to each other. And, she didn’t do any of the research to figure out what was kid friendly or what was actually going to be appropriate for us. She just wanted to do it on the fly. Um, no.

Florida, 2013 - Pre-trip

It has been over a year – literally – since we went to Florida. I just haven’t had the umph to share it, or anything, here. I don’t know why. So, here goes – in parts – a bit at a time.

As with EVERYTHING else, we were on a tight budget. We knew that it was going to be “interesting” to do all of the things that we wanted to do. That left us stressed and sad. We wanted to have a GREAT vacation for our kids. We wanted to do EVERYTHING, but we knew that we couldn’t. That part sucked. We had a few conversations with the boys, but mostly we had “conversations” with each other. Yes, conversations in quotes. Married people know that this means fight. Bub was against it for a long time because we didn’t have the money, but I was hell-frickin-bent on giving my boys Disney before they were too old to find magic in it. We got the absolute cheapest flight on an airline that I had really not heard of much, we knew that we would have to sit through multiple time share presentations so that we could stay in decent hotels for a cheaper price. We knew that we would be making PB&Js instead of eating out for every meal.

We told the boys that if they wanted to buy things, they would need to take some of their own money to do it. Now, this isn’t being mean. This is teaching them that money doesn’t grow on trees and that people need to work hard to have nice things. Here they are selling lemonade and cookies during our yard sale. (The yard sale was a complete flop, but the boys sold almost all of their cookies and drinks thanks to mommy’s FB account!)
But, spoiler alert, it all worked out in the end.