Welcome to our Christmas 2010 Walt Disney World Trip Report! For those of you who have been following our Saga in our other reports, thank you for joining us once again! For those first time readers, thanks for opening this thread–we hope it doesn’t disappoint!
The trip began in its typical manner, under chaotic circumstances. Packing the night before actually went better than usual, as we had accomplished some packing ahead of time. We got to bed relatively early the night before, around 10:30 pm. The next morning we were up bright and early, with Sarah’s dad taking us to the airport at 5:30 am. We took one set of bags down to the car and were planning on going back up for incidental items, to do a once over, and to lock up the fort. The previous trip down, I told Sarah that I would just leave the keys upstairs since my hands were full. Unfortunately, in our apartment building, once the door shuts, you have to use a sensor (on our keychain) to open the front door. Here we are, at 5:30 am in 20 degree weather, no coats, locked out of our apartment building. We had to go back upstairs as our unit’s door was open, plus Sarah’s ID was up there.
The natural response to this situation is to buzz the call box of all adjacent tenants to see if they’ll let you in. Well, maybe this isn’t the natural response of everyone, as some of you may have more common courtesy than us, but it was 5:30 am, we were freezing, and fearful that we’d miss out flight to WDW. It was our natural reaction. Our neighbors either were undisturbed by the constant buzzing (in which case no harm, no foul), or chose to ignore (in which case I don’t feel too sorry for them). Not knowing what to do, we called the apartment’s emergency line. This line is reserved for situations such as gas and water leaks, but I felt missing a flight to WDW was fairly analogous, so we called and left a message. After more time passed, the gentleman who delivers the newspaper came by and let us in. But for him, I think we would have missed our flight. Add leaving our keys in the house to the list of things not to do before heading to WDW (add it to the list of things not to do whenever leaving home, for that matter).
Other than this, the trip down was relatively uneventful. There was one somewhat minor issue, but that was relatively quickly resolved: I couldn’t decide whether to order 2 or 3 sausage McMuffins with egg from McDonald’s. I decided to order 2, then see if I wanted another. I ended up wanting another, but was too lazy to wait in line again. Lesson learned there!
Sarah was selected for advanced screening in Indy, so she went through one of the WBI machines. I did a fair amount of research on WBIs, BDOs, SPOT, and the rest of the acronym soup involving advanced measures of airport security in law school, so I was sort of hoping to be selected for the screening to experience it first hand. (For those curious, my ultimate thesis was that whole body imaging was impractical due to its costs and inevitable ability of terrorists to circumvent it; I found advanced screening unobjectionable from a personal liberties perspective. Although I’m sure no one cares.)
Once through screening, we headed to our gate, and boarded shortly thereafter. We slept most of the flight there to conserve our energy. What seemed like 15 minutes later, we touched down in Orlando, and headed towards the DME area. In previous trip reports, I’ve commented on our inability to find this area despite heading there so frequently, and more importantly, having maps indicating how to get there. This hadn’t been an issue for the last couple of trips, as we had found it right away without the maps, but this time, I decided to follow my instinct, and disregard the map–with Sarah all the while telling me I was leading us the wrong direction. As a proud male who both refuses to follow a map and is seldom wrong, I can only assume the airport had been reconfigured since our last trip, as we were in the wrong area.
We re-traced our steps, headed to the other side of the airport, and boarded the DME shortly thereafter. Since we were staying at an All Star resort (Music) the first night of our trip, we were sandwiched in among Pop Warners parents and players. They must not have been too loud, as I was able to sleep. (I almost wish they had kept me awake, as I missed that DME video, which I love!)
This would be the first of two admittedly “new” DME bus drivers we’d have on the trip; this particular one drove to All Star Music, before realizing he had forgotten to stop at All Star Sports, and turning around–without dropping off us guests staying at AS:Mu. Not wanting to deal with any more of his brilliant moves, Sarah and I got out at Sports and walked to Music. Given the crowd that came behind us to check-in, I’m fairly confident that I’m right.
We met our friend, Nick, at the check in desk and then proceeded to our room to drop off some stuff before we headed immediately to the Magic Kingdom. I had opted to wear jeans and a long sleeve shirt that day given that we’d be in Indy part of the day, and that night was supposed to be cool, but I noticed that even during the day, I didn’t feel hot in that attire. Oh well, I thought, the next 11 days would be warmer.
We engaged in so many unique experiences and I’ve written so many thoughts on specific attractions in previous trip reports in the past that to do so again would be superfluous. If there was anything out of the ordinary or specific to this trip of which I think, I’ll discuss it, but otherwise, assume we rode attractions each day in addition to what is discussed…
First on the agenda was eating. We stopped at the best restaurant in the world, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. Actually, after two consecutive 10 plus day trips, I have to admit that Cosmic Ray’s has fallen a few rungs on my ladder. I just can’t eat that way for that way. My body is trained to be a lean, mean, killing machine, and Cosmic Ray’s food is more conducive to pudgy, groogy, waddling critters. Don’t get me wrong, the burger is still great, especially with a liberal assortment of toppings, it just isn’t something I can eat day in and day out.
We hit a couple of attractions before seeing the WDW Today Reunion group across from Aloha Isle. I wasn’t quite sure how Nick would take to hanging around with a huge group of Disney nerds, so I quickly said hello to a couple of the guys we know before we headed off. Nick had to leave for work shortly thereafter, so I figured we’d meet up with them at that time.
About 45 minutes later, that’s exactly what we did. This meet-up was at the Frontierland Shootin’ Gallery. Since we’re well aware that the Gallery costs additional money to play, we’ve typically avoided it. However, I must say that the targets look pretty cool. Had we any cash, we might have given it a whirl. I was a bit dismayed to learn that it didn’t keep score, though. What’s the point in a game that doesn’t keep score?!? I am not some 6 year old who needs to be coddled by over-protective parents and a society that says kids are scarred if they lose, I want the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
During our honeymoon, we met up with Henry Work, the developer for TouringPlans.com one evening. Shortly thereafter, I began writing for the TouringPlans.com Blog and working for TouringPlans.com on photo projects for the site. If you check out the mastheads at the top of each page, you might recognize some of the photos. With the exception of the Disneyland TouringPlans site and a couple other photos here and there, they’re mine.
In addition to designing all of the Mastheads for the Disneyland and Walt Disney World TouringPlans.com pages, I’ve been creating galleries for each attraction (click link and scroll down for an example) meant to give users an idea of what to expect from the attraction–from the time you approach the exterior to the time you exit the queue. At first, this didn’t seem like much of an undertaking, I figured I had a lot of these photos already, and could just harvest my computer’s photos. Unfortunately, that was not the case, which meant that that this trip, I would be making an conscious effort to take more photos of the attractions. While the task proved a fun challenge, it also meant taking a lot more photos, and with the already large RAW size of the D7000’s images, I found myself filling up my external hard drive in a hurry. So quickly, that by the second day of the trip, I was already contemplating ordering a new one from Amazon.com, and using Prime to get it to me in a hurry. Being a bit of a gambler, I opted against this. As you’ll read later, this may have been a mistake.
Anyway, at the gallery, we saw Henry (you’ll notice him in these photos as the one who is ridiculously tall) and he introduced us to Reilly, another TouringPlans.com staff member. After chatting briefly, I did some shooting–with my camera, before we headed on to the Haunted Mansion. The wait was something that seemed ridiculous to me (probably 20 minutes), but the entire group was doing it, so we thought, “what the heck.” It would turn out that a wait of 20 minutes would be pretty standard for the Haunted Mansion this trip. Odd, as I don’t think we’ve ever waited that long during the height of the summer season. I will explain my theory on this later.
We split off from the group after Haunted Mansion as it looked like it would be a long wait before everyone else got off the attraction. While we like doing group things, we were concerned with getting as much done as possible before my parents joined us two days later, as we predicted the pace would slow down then.
When we first started going to WDW together in 2006, it quickly became a tradition for us to go the Magic Kingdom the night we arrived, and start the evening by relaxing on the TTA. This tradition quickly died, as we started booking our flights earlier and earlier, and it wasn’t always advantageous to hit the MK on the first night. Not wanting to get away from our “roots” too far, we decided to do the TTA then, even if it was still daytime, and not our first attraction. As I’ve said before, the TTA is so much better at night. It’s nice during the day, but at night it’s next-level.
As we approached the return-station on the TTA, we noticed the group heading into Tomorrowland. We watched them as we exited the ride, and they queued up for Buzz Lightyear Spaceranger Spin. It seemed like as good of a time as any to rejoin the group, so we did. Managed to do TTA while they had waited–not too shabby!
We did more, both with the group and by ourselves, before meeting for the group dinner at Peco’s Bills at 6 pm. We had a room all to ourselves, which was pretty cool. Not so cool was that the only place to get the wristbands for the MVMCP was near Stitch’s Great Escape and the party was about to start right as we finished dinner! We had passed this location several times while wrist bands were being distributed earlier in the afternoon, putting it off because we’d “do it later somewhere else.” I swear there were multiple locations to get the bracelets in previous years.
To mentally prepare myself for the party, way back in September I began assembling tracks from the Main Street loop that plays during MVMCP. Shout out to MagicMusic.net, which helped me immensely in this process: http://www.magicmusic.net/blog/2/entry-207-mickeys-very-merry-christmas-party-msusa-bgm/ As the party started and we heard this music on Main Street, I think my heart skipped a beat. It’s one thing to have the loop quietly playing at my office on a Monday morning, it’s an entirely different feeling to hear it bellow from the Magic Kingdom speakers at the start of MVMCP on the first night of a trip. It was pure bliss. Seriously. As I thought there, I realized MVMCP was the key to world peace. Nobel Peace Prize committee, private message me for my address so you can mail my award to me.
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