Friday, October 1, 2010

Disney Madness, Part Two

Let's see, where did we leave off.

Oh yeah, Epcot! Gorgeous, fun, best food ever, drank like a fish, I can't wait to go back! Etc!

So besides Epcot, we had a brief visit to Animal Kingdom. We didn't spend as much time as we would have liked, for sure, since it was pretty hot and we were both fairly pooped (and I had a bit of a headache). We got to see some wildlife, like flamingos and spoonbills and crested cranes and gorillas (which are just awe-inspiring), plus the Tree of Life. I would have liked to see it closer up but it was hard to get to... what I did see was unbelievable!

This guy was posing for me

There are so many animals carved in here, I wonder if anyone's every seen them all!

I loved Dinoland, U.S.A., a love-note written to the days of Route 66 and the American road trip, complete with cracked and repaired blacktop roads and a theme of the end of the Dinosaurs. They also had Motrin, so they get extra points.

We also rode Everest, which turned out to be another favorite roller coaster! It's scary, but...




TR has been to Nepal, and says you'd swear you were there with the design! Those Imagineers, I tell ya. I mean look!!

Does that look like an amusement park to you? There are all these little bits of decor all around the park, including things you'll only see if you explore them. Those are definitely some of my favorite things at Disney, like the Hidden Mickeys, things that you'll only see if you really look. Like most things in life, it is what you make of it. You can go to Disney and just ride rides, or go for the good food (hello Food & Wine Festival!), or go for your kids, or just to relax, but you can also explore and see all the little things that have been left for you to find.

I like that option. I'm a big fan of the behind-the-scenes tour. I like knowing the hows and whys.

I definitely want to visit Animal Kingdom more next time, to spend a full day there and go on one of the safaris, and have more of the awesome barbecue at Flame Tree.

We visited Magic Kingdom a couple of times, occasionally by boat which was awesome. I love being on the water. (Note to Elise...when we all go together, and we SO WILL, we're going to have to rent a pontoon boat and bring a cooler, seriously.)

Magic Kingdom is definitely the "classic Disney" spot. There's Main Street USA, which greets you when you arrive and has windows emblazoned with the names of significant members of Disney history.

There's lots of shopping of course, and everything smells so good! There's lots of shopping everywhere in Disney, actually... a trip to Downtown Disney proved that for good and all! It's like Disney's mall over there, with the added bonus of Cirque du Soleil and Ghirardelli Chocolates.

The first visit to Magic Kingdom was also right around lunch time, and TR was looking forward to get some more of one of his favorite spots to eat there, Columbia Harbour House, so off we went! They have awesome fish, fantastic sea-faring decor and a birds-eye view for people watching and checking out the little Disney touches that are everywhere, like Tom Sawyer's fence - only half white-washed, of course. Another one of those things that you won't see if you aren't looking!

Like Epcot, there was a LOT to take in, but it was different in that it was more about classic Disney than innovative Disney. There were a lot of icons here, most notably Cinderella's Castle, which looks huge (a testament to those Imagineers), the statue of Walt & Mickey out in front of the castle, and rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan.

That crane on the left there was up and down all week, decorating

We explored a little bit that first day, riding Splash Mountain (no I didn't flash anyone) which was awesome and just thrilling enough at the end to elicit a good sold yelp. That drop is pretty steep! We also rode Pirates and Haunted Mansion a couple of times, though my eyes couldn't take it all in - the details are unbelievable! I loved the pirate ship sailing far off under the ghostly moon on Pirates, and the deeply creepy, almost unseen portraits of Gruesome Cousins of Yore that lined the walls of the Mansion.

We also went to see The Enchanted Tiki Room, something I've always wanted to see, and the Hall of Presidents, which made me want to stand up and cheer! There wasn't a dry eye in the house at the end of it all. I think all American kids need to see this at least once in their life, to remind them of who we are... or at least who we're supposed to be.

The best time, though, and really I can't believe how we lucked out, was the Halloween Party Thursday night. It's a special thing they're doing all month. There are jack-o-lanterns in all the windows, special fall/Halloween decor and gifts everywhere you look, and at night...

Oh, at night it's transformed!

We happened to go at just the right time. Thursday was a full moon, the Fall Equinox, and the weather was fantastic. TR & I both brought costumes with us, so I in my Pirate Garb and he in his Burner Fantasticness both got to run around and be admired (the kids LOVED his purple boots), and act like kids. Riding Pirates of the Caribbean, in pirate gear, with my brand new fancy shootin'-iron tucked decoratively away in my bodice, was definitely a highlight. I even got into character a bit, lightly threatening the loud girl behind us (she loved it, as evidenced by all the giggling).

We also rode Peter Pan, which charmed me utterly. As TR said, you could almost hear Uncle Walt telling the designers "no, make it FLY!".. and it does, over London, Nana, the Lost Boys, the Mermaids, Princess Tigerlilly... the whole 9 yards. We rode it twice in a row... the bonus of going to these after-hours things is there are practically no lines for anything!

The Haunted Mansion was, of course, totally done up for the occasion, with cast members dolled up and lurking, doing their best to give chills to those brave enough to venture inside... there was even a real live ghost hanging out and chatting on the front lawn! She was hysterical.

We attempted to take some professional pictures, though I'm not sure how they came out. Despite the nice weather it was still pretty swampy, and my hair was wet, so I'm sure I looked like a drowned rat; that's okay though... You'll notice a lack of photos, in fact, and this was on purpose. I took a few with my camera phone, of course, but I wanted to experience it all with my eyeballs, and avoid spending too much time on memorializing. I'll save that for next time.

There were special fireworks for the Halloween Party, too, and this is where they really went all out! The crane we saw all week working on the castle turned out to have been decorating and re-decorating every day just for this! Now THAT is dedication.

They managed to make Cinderella's confection of a castle into this evil-looking, acid-green monstrosity, a place you'd be afraid to visit even in the full light of day... and the fireworks were unbelievable. We watched from the circle in front of the castle, the moon full and riding high in the sky, grinning with delight. I know it's hokey, but that was when I truly felt Disney make magic for us... real magic, the kind that you can't explain or deny. I'm always one to rationalize myself out of true enjoyment; I can always see the seams on a costume, or the bolts on a ride, or the switch on the wall of a display. Disney makes it so that you not only don't see those things, you forget they might even be there.

Yeesh, I sound like a commercial. But so be it!

After the fireworks and some more rides, we found that once again, 5 hours had zipped by and we only had half an hour left! We raced across to Space Mountain, and let me tell you...


This was one of my favorite rides in the World. It's super fast, super fun, and though it's a bit awkward to get in and out of (especially when in a corset - yowza), it was unbelievably fun... and FAST.

Our last day in Disney we went to Magic Kingdom one last time. The weather was finally starting to get interesting, and we even managed a good solid downpour! I got to ride one more icon of Disney, the Jungle Cruise, which was hysterical and very Bob Hope. One more bit of fish from Columbia Harbour House, and one last go on Space Mountain...

And that was it!

It's kind of cool that the first ride of Disney was Spaceship Earth, and the last was Space Mountain... and our last Monorail ride was the green one, my favorite! I can't wait to go back.

Well that's enough for today I think... I have one more tale to tell, all about fast cars, palm trees, moonlight, music and fish tacos.

Next week!

Happy Friday, and I hope you had a wonderful week. Me, I'm aghast that a week ago right this minute I was riding Space Mountain. It feels so long ago already... I'm already back to my routine, although I seem to be more relaxed about it all.

I think this trip changed me.

Thank goodness!

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