Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy Belated 40th Birthday WDW! - Oct. 2011, Part 2

We last left Michelle and I on our way to the Contemporary Resort for our 2 o'clock lunch reservation. Usually with Disney reservations you show up on time and still have to wait five to ten minutes but at the Wave we were escorted to our table immediately. We were seated in a very pretty dining room that was too ornate and didn't feel extremely fancy which is good since we were covered in sweat and park grime. There weren't very many other parties in the restaurant at the time so we felt like we had plenty of room and plenty of time. We had the Halloween Party at 7 so we had about 4 and a half hours to eat and get ready.

 Our server was very helpful and very friendly. Disney service always impresses me, and this was no exception. Michelle ordered the Magical Star Cocktail which looked delicious and came with a really cool lighted ice cube to make the drink change colors. For dinner I had the Multigrain Penne Pasta and for dessert I had the Creamy Indulgence trio. Everything was absolutely delicious. It was my favorite meal from the whole trip. I left completely satisfied with the entire experience.

 After dinner we caught the bus back to the Magic Kingdom and then transferred buses from there back to Pop. We went to the room and got dressed for the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. The year before, during our college program, Michelle and I had gone with our friend Bethany and we'd dressed up as girly as we could and worn tiaras so we went with the same idea for last year as well. We dressed up and I, at least, wore a Mulan headband from The Disney Store. I also wore a necklace that had a carriage and a slipper on it from Forever 21. It's my favorite so I had to wear it. Once we were ready we headed to the bus stop and prepared for an evening of fun. The main reason we go is to meet the rare characters that are out because we discovered during our program that the characters are hilarious. We looked pretty hot if I do say so myself while we waited on the bus.

We arrived at the Magic Kingdom to the awesomely spooky entrance with special lighting and fun Halloween decorations, went through the turnstiles, got our wrist bands (I still have mine), and our candy bags and then made the walk down Main Street. I love the Halloween Party decorations. They're adorable and I want to decorate my house just like them.
We made a lap around and headed toward the Haunted Mansion. The only way I could get Michelle to ride was if we rode it before dark so that's where we went first. On the way we stopped to admire the New Fantasyland construction (which is much further along now but for me it was an exciting thing to see since the last time we were there it was mud and metal frames). And we stopped again when we spotted Cinderella's Carriage being set up for photo ops for the night. And then finally we'd reached our destination. The Haunted Mansion.

We got in line for the Haunted Mansion just as the Halloween Party officially started. The fog machines started up and suddenly a woman walked out onto the Haunted Mansion lawn. She was speaking to people in line as they passed and just lounging on a bench. I'd never seen this before but I was informed that the woman was Madame Leota's sister, and that there were two sisters. They stayed around the Haunted Mansion all night and were a lot of fun.
We made it through the line and onto the ride after the usual bottle neck after leaving the Stretching Room. The ride went pretty smoothly until we reached The Graveyard Scene and then we stopped. We stopped for for twenty minutes. Yes, that's right, we were stuck in the graveyard scene for twenty minutes. I called my dad and filmed a short video (it was too dark to see anything) while we waited. If Michelle and I didn't already have the ride memorized we would have after that. We finally got off the ride and headed out the exit and guess who we ran into? Madame Leota's sister heading backstage through the exit.

She asked for my name and when I answered that my name was Logan she responded with "I love your steakhouse!" which cause a loud laugh out of me because I've been teased my whole life about the Logan's Roadhouse franchise so, of course, she would choose that to comment on. After Haunted Mansion, we took a lap around the park before we headed back to Town Hall at the front of the park and got in line for the Princes and Princesses. We'd met the Princes and Princesses before but this year Flynn and Rapunzel would be in the Town Hall with them so I was determined to meet Flynn for a third time. He's my favorite Disney Prince (followed very closely by Prince Philip). That line took forever. I'd say it was a good two hours before we made it into the room with them. Ahead of us in line were some adorable kids and once very witty guest who dressed as a Disney Parks Manager. It was brilliant. Finally it was our turn to meet the Royal Couples. First up was Snow White and the Snow Prince.

Like always they were adorable. And this guy looked a lot like the animated prince. While we were talking to them Snow White turned to the prince and teased him and then said "But he loves me, don't you?" and The Prince avoided answering. Snow was very quickly offended and pretended to ignore him as she signed my autograph book. He tried to apologize but was ignored so he smirked and added a heart on the page under Snow White's autograph and then signed his own autograph so that the page reads "Snow White loves The Snow Prince". It was completely precious and definitely something to remember. Next in the line was Rapunzel and Flynn.

Flynn was his charming roguish self and was quick to point out that we were in the presence of a very attractive man. We told Rapunzel that she'd better keep an eye on him because he was trouble and she quickly agreed. She also commented on how much she loved my head band and how she'd painted flowers like the one on my headband before. It merely reinforced why these two are two of my favorite meet and greet characters ever and really saddened me that Flynn was now only a special events character. And then we moved on to the final couple, Cinderella and Prince Charming. Brace yourself folks because Prince Charming isn't as classically handsome as the first two. Don't get my wrong he was adorable but he was more like Prince Goober (but we loved him for it.)

Adorable, right? He was very sweet and very in character, but everyone's reaction when they see him is...he's Prince Charming? Michelle made sure to show Cinderella my Carriage and Slipper necklace which she loved and gushed about to Prince Charming. They signed my book and then we took a picture and I almost walked off without my autograph book. Prince Charming caught up with me and held it out to me and said, very pleasantly, "You don't want to forget this for your Royal Library." Like I said, he was adorable but incredibly studly. All in all the two hour wait was worth it and we left with big smiles on our faces. We made our way toward the main Hub after that because I'd heard random villains were out greeting in the Hub and as luck would have it I'd heard correctly. This guy was greeting guests to the side of the Partners Statue.

He was very in character and totally hilarious. He made sure to show off for us and flirt as we posed and took the picture. He signed my autograph book with the sort of swagger you'd expect from someone who eats five dozen eggs for breakfast every morning. As we left he made sure to tell us our night couldn't possibly get better because we'd met the studliest man at the party. He was by far our second best character catch of the night. The top catch will come much later. Trust me, it's epic. After Gaston we headed toward the Fairytale Garden theater where my favorite Disney pairing was greeting guests.

We talked with Aurora about the blue light that was shining on her meet and greet location and how it made her dress look half pink and half blue. She made a comment about the Good Fairies picking the perfect spot for her to meet her new friends. She also commented on my Mulan headband and how much she loved it. I was reminded of why I absolutely adore Aurora. Every time I meet her she is so sweet and gracious and probably the Princess that hands out the most compliments. She's sweetness personified and I always enjoy meeting her. After that we headed toward Tea Cups to meet Alice and Hatter and while waiting in line we ran into some brilliantly costumed people. There was a team of puppeteers who brought their own Yips (if you have no idea what I'm talking about than please google them. They're awesome.) and there was a totally flawless Mary Poppins and Bert pair waiting in line behind us. They were my favorite costumes of the night.

Earlier in the evening when we'd walked by the Tea Cups we'd spotted Hatter headed back for his tea break and I'd waved at him as he passed which quickly lead to a stare down and a competition to see who could wave and walk the longest. He stared at me the whole time and waved and basically challenged me to keep staring and waving as well. It was hilarious. Well, when we arrived at the Tea Cups Hatter wasn't there and we stepped to the side to wait for him (which offended Alice and she pouted for a bit but quickly recovered.) When Hatter emerged and it was finally our turn to take our picture with him and Alice he pointed at me and made a face. "I saw you earlier! You were the girl who waved!" I was mostly shocked that he remembered and laughed and nodded that indeed I was and handed him my autograph book. And then it was time for our picture. Which is my favorite part of the story.

We were preparing for the picture and we had all turned to face each other and talk when the Character Attendent said "Turn around and say Tea!" which is what they'd been saying instead of Cheese. Well, we were already halfway facing the front so Hatter grabbed my arm and turned us all the way around so our backs were facing the camera and we all simultaneously yelled "TEA!" at the top of our lungs, which terrified this mom with a stroller who was standing behind us. The Character Attendant laughed and corrected herself which led to Hatter muttering "Oh, well why didn't you just say so in the first place?" We then turned and took a proper picture which still turned out blurry, but oh well. And then as we started to walk away Hatter said "Enjoy your breakfas--Oh, no. You can tell what mode I'm in." Michelle and I laughed very loudly at that. Hatter usually only appears at special events and the character breakfast at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian now so clearly he was used to character breakfasts and wished us a happy breakfast without thinking. He was perfectly adorable, and consistently one of the best characters to meet.

After that it was almost time for the party to be over, Sadly, and Michelle and I noted that there was one last Meet and Greet left. Just after meeting Hatter the last Castle Show of the night ended and Michelle and I ran to catch The Villains Mix'n'Mingle. We knew the Villains didn't meet guests for very long so we quickly picked our favorite and hopped in a line. For the end of the night the line built up quickly and the closer we got to the end of the alotted time the more I worried we weren't going to make the cut off. We were close I could tell. We would either just make it or we would be the sad people that had to hear the Character Attendant say "That's it for tonight, folks!" And while we're talking about Character Attendants can I just say that they have very difficult jobs. Never had I seen more adults begging Cast Members to bend the rules than I did that night. At least five different people in line asked if they could extend the meet and greet time a few more minutes. Or let a few more people through. And each time the Character Attendants answered them honestly they were greeted with a scowl. I tried to smile and let them know I understood there wasn't much they could do other than try to get people through quickly.

However we were part of the lucky few who got through just before the cut off. There was one more group after us and then the Villains had to leave. But I got my picture. My grand prize for all my waiting and walking and character hunting. That night I walked away with my greatest character catch to date.


She was perfect. They didn't have time to sign for autographs or talk, but as I walked by to take my place I managed (despite the rushing and my obvious starstruck-ness) to say a quick, "Hi!" And the response I got was a steely low pitched "Hello." that sent chills down my spine. Seriously. Maleficent is the absolute scariest Villain ever and I got a picture with her. I can now die a happy Disney nerd. After that Michelle and I left the park and as the guests left a very talented band played us creepy songs to end the night. And then came our last, most exhausting wait of the night...the bus. It took forever to board a bus but we managed to get one and head back to our room for a much needed rest.

Saturday was going to be a big day as well. It was Walt Disney World's 40th birthday! Which I will save for the next post. Part three coming soon!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Happy Belated 40th Birthday WDW! - Oct. 2011, Part 1.

September 29th through October 3rd, 2011, I was in Disney World with my former College Program roommate Michelle. On September 29th I showed up at the Raleigh Durham airport way too early and sat in the terminal forever. It seems I over planned my time and ended up waiting around for close to four hours. Eventually Michelle's flight came in and we waited for our flight together via Southwest Airlines. The awesome thing about Southwest is that there are no assigned seats. They have boarding groups. So Michelle and I were able to simultaneously order our tickets online while coordinating on the phone and as long as we stood in line together to board our flight we would be able to sit side by side. So that's what we did and we were happily next to each other despite ordering tickets from two completely different states for our two hour flight. I highly recommend Southwest Airlines. They have very affordable one way flights (which was important to me since I didn't want to have to worry about lost luggage).

When we arrived at MCO we followed the Magical Express signs to get us where we needed to go. This cross-airport trek involved us having to ride a not-quite-as-cool version of a monorail. But, as airports go, MCO is totally my favorite. The tram was actually really fun to ride and very roomy.

It was also a nice teaser for the rest of our trip. Once we reached the other side of the airport we went downstairs, through the bottom level baggage claim, to the Magical Express check in station which took up a good third of the bottom floor baggage claim area. We showed them our Magical Express passes and then got in line for our appropriate resort. There was a bit of a wait but it might have felt longer due to my excitement. We chatted with the people around us and the Cast Members nearby to make the wait go faster. Finally our bus arrived, but unfortunately it wasn't one of the adorable specially designed Magical Express buses. It was the standard yellow Mears transportation charter bus, but that was okay since they had the Magical Express video playing on the bus once we got going. That made up for the magic the actual bus lacked.

The video featured a wide variety of characters which surprised and pleased me. It was very cute and informed all of us of the advantages we had by staying on property and welcomed us to the resort. We stopped at two resorts before we finally reached Pop Century and I was very excited to see it again. I had never stayed there but it was where Michelle and I met for the first time the night before our College Program check in day so it brought back wonderful memories for us. We were ushered inside to the check in desk since we didn't have to worry about our luggage (Magical Express picked it up for us and would have luggage service deliver it to our room.) We only waited a few minutes for someone to be available to help us and check in was very quick. Michelle and I split the remainder of the room, and then I offhandedly mentioned to her that our next stop would be the Ticket and Transportation Center to pick up our Will Call tickets and the Cast Member that was helping us immediately said, "I could take care of that for you right here. Do you have your confirmation number?" He added my park tickets to my room key and then also put my Halloween Party ticket on a plastic room key card as well. However, we did end up having to go to the TTC anyway to pick up Michelle's tickets since she forgot her confirmation number.

We headed to our room in the 80's section at the back of the resort which faced the Art of Animation construction. The resort is open now but a year ago they were still working on the Finding Nemo wing. I stopped to take a couple of pictures before we went inside our room to refresh ourselves from the flight and the bus ride.

While we were in the room our luggage was dropped off so we changed quickly and then headed to the bus stop to catch a bus to the Magic Kingdom. From the Magic Kingdom we hopped on the Monorail to the TTC where Michelle picked up her tickets and then we hopped back on the Monorail to Epcot. Our plan was to ride a few things and then watch IllumiNations, but Epcot was far too crowded. That night was the official start of the Food & Wine Festival so the locals had turned out in full force to enjoy the festivities and the World Showcase was far too crowded. But we manged to ride Spaceship Earth and stop in Mouse Gear to do a little shopping. I needed a lanyard and little pouch for my room key, ticket, and Fastpasses. While in Mouse Gear I ran into one of my former coordinators who moved to Mouse Gear after I left. I spent a few minutes catching up with her before Michelle and I decided to leave in favor of Magic Kingdom.

We got a bite to eat and then rode our favorite attraction, the Carousel of Progress, before we headed to the Confectionery on Main Street and bought some yummy fudge, Celebration fudge and Pumpkin fudge.We took the fudge back to our cozy room at Pop Century and decided to go to bed a bit early since we had an early morning at Hollywood Studios planned for the next day.

We arrived at DHS at around 8:30 the next morning and waited outside the turnstiles for them to let us in. Once they did Michelle and I bought muffins and drinks and ate them while we waited for them to drop the ropes to open the rest of the park. Once the park was officially open we made a beeline to Pixar Place and got in line for Fastpasses to Toy Story Mania. Apparently a lot of other people had this idea as well because the line was already pretty long by the time we got there. But after about ten minutes we had our Fastpasses in hand and were ready to move on to something else.

We headed into One Man's Dream, which at the time was newly reimagined. Michelle had heard that added some artifacts from Horizons and was very excited to take a look at them. This exhibit was absolutely amazing and had so many things for us to fangirl over. There was a model of the multiplane camera, a recreation of Walt Disney's office, vintage photos, posters, models of park icons, artifacts from old attractions, and most impressively for me...Mr. Abraham Lincoln.

Being able to see the inner working of an animatronic was the coolest thing for me. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln is one of my favorites of Walt Disney's accomplishments and I love the legends that have formed around it. So this was the highlight of the exhibit for me. There was also a short film, and at the time we watched it Michelle and I were the only ones in the exhibit so we chatted with the cast members working that attraction a lot and had a good time being our ridiculously Walt Disney fangirl selves. We spent a little over an hour on an exhibit that was supposed to take half an hour at most but it was too much fun for us to care. After that we headed over to The Voyage of the Little Mermaid and watched that spectacular show. It's one of Michelle's favorites and she acts like a little kid every time, understandably so.

After Voyage we made our way to the newly reopened Star Tours. I was nervous about Star Tours initially because I loved the original so much, but I quickly decided Star Tours 2, while it wasn't better, was just as awesome. The queue was very well done! From the minute you walk in the themeing whisks you off to a galaxy far far away. There are droids that speak to you and windows that show well known characters walking by and references to the original Star Tours all around you. The ride itself was a lot of fun. The 3D was extremely clear and added to the quality of the attraction and Star Tours 2 actually made me less motion sick than the original. There's also a really cool interactive surprise on the ride that I won't spoil for those of you who haven't had a chance to enjoy it. By the way, the droids were my favorite part of the queue.

Next was Muppet Vision 3D, again something Michelle and I enjoy immensely. We quote it to each other quite a bit and always enjoy the "salute to all nations but mostly America." And then it was time to use our Fastpasses for Toy Story Mania which were good from 10:45 to 11:45. We got in the Fastpass line and accidentally got mixed in with the single riders due to some confusion amongst the Attractions Cast Members, but everything worked out for us and we were able to ride together. Toy Story Mania is always a blast and Michelle and I enjoy competing a bit too much. I'm not quite sure who had the better score but I remember it being an absolute blast.

Once that was done we headed straight for Tower of Terror. One of the best excuses to scream in any theme park. Michelle loves the 1930s themeing and I enjoy the fall. I always stomp my feet, shake my head, and scream at the top of my lungs while we're falling. I'm not sure why. After Tower of Terror we took a quick walk through the Planet Hollywood shop to visit the Power Ranger uniforms that were still on display (and had been repaired since the last time I saw them). While there I noticed some new additions from High School Musical 3, one of my favorites. So I stopped to take some pictures. We also noticed hand prints from Tom Selleck, Carol Burnett, and Chris O'Donnell.

From there we left Hollywood Studios and then took the boat over to Epcot and made a quick walk through the World Showcase. We stopped for a moment as we entered Future World to admire the AWESOME cranberry bog presented by Ocean Spray.

 Once we left Epcot we took the Monorail to the TTC and then made the switch to the Resort Monorail to head to the Contemporary for our lunch reservations at the Wave. Which is where I'll stop for now. We'll pick this up with our late 2 o'clock lunch on Friday, Sept. 30th, 2011.

Have a magical day! I'll be back to update you some more later!