Notes on D-World 9-20-08 Saturday

Our last full day here. Magic Kingdom in the works for evening, but day to be spent at Hollywood Studios with Mary and her sister Marg. Plans to ride Toy Story Midway Mania a couple of times. Everything else up in the air. Will probably grab book on the Box Office insanity at AFI store.

However, wake up with immense, pounding headache at 3:00. Plans to go up to Trading Post for WiFi dissolve when I don't fully wake up until after 7:30. Head still aching. Shower. Sit on porch to write, drink soda and take Advil. Tiny, 3/4 inch frog (or toad) hops timidly across the railing of our porch, right in front of me. Woodpeckers in the trees. Larger, orange and brown-speckled 3-inch toad that is apparently living under our cabin is not out right now, though we have seen him the last two nights coming home.

Sande makes scrambled eggs and heats up the remainder of the Macadamia-crusted chicken she got at Puck's the other night. Marg and Mary meeting us between 9 and 10. Should make the park by 11:00. Would have loved to get into a park super-early this trip, but at beck and call of Jen, who has to check us in if we want to get in free. So that ain't happenin'...

Girls arrive just after ten and we head straight out to Hollywood Studios. We are accosted by a cast member driving an antique-style vehicle, decked out in pseudo-Victorian wear. I never catch anything she actually says, as I am loading new film into my camera, but I do hear Mary say "And you look like Damn Edna!" The cast member thanks Mary for the kind words, and we split into groups. Jen and Sande head off to do non-thrillride things, while I whisk Mary and Marg away for the Tower of Terror and the Rock-n-Rolla Coaster.

Truth be told, at this point, in a buildup of stomach anxiety over the previous three days, I am nauseous as hell. I tell the ladies this before we get on the ride, and sure enough, in a first for me on any version of the Tower, I am close to puking several times with each elevation. Later I am told at the Dark Room Camera Store that the ride is now computerized to vary the series of raises and drops with every single trip, and I did notice the series was vastly different from the one at California Adventure. The other cool difference, besides the place being far larger, is that the car doesn't just set up the story and then start dropping. Here, the car goes up a couple of stories, and then it detaches and rolls forward through a zig-zagging hallway, before finally coming to a stop and beginning the true terror. It's a nicely disorienting touch. Despite the fact I am close to puking, I love the Tower here much more.

The wait on the Tower was a mere 20 minutes, but we stepped on in less than 10. So when we saw that the Aerosmith Rock-n-Rolla Coaster only had a 30-minute wait, you must forgive us for assuming it would be a nothing wait. In truth, thanks to a massive amount of Fastpassers showing up just as we got in line, it took us over an hour to get on the over-in-a-flash ride. The girls refuse to sit in the front car, though I politely offered it to them, but I am overjoyed because that is exactly what wanted to happen. I end up in the driver's seat of the superstretch limo, and a single-riding chickie crawls in next to me. Not her first time on the ride, but like me, first in the front row. Whereas the first time I thought the ride was OK but over to soon, this time I relax (as much as one can when their face is melting off at the beginning) and take in the flow of the ride. Maybe it's the front row thing (I prefer either the front or back on a coaster), maybe it's because there are no idiots throwing their arms up in my way, but I really enjoyed the hell out of the second ride, and have had to upgrade my opinion of it. We rush to meet up with Jen and Sande at the waters near Hollywood and Vine, but before we go get some lunch, I zip over to take some photos of a giant green brontosaurus on the opposite side of the water.

With its pleasant eyes and a mouth contentedly munching on water plants, this dinosaur seems awfully familiar to me. Assuming that there is some sort of soda fountain or gift shop built into the creature (this is a Disney park, after all), as I walk around to its side, I discover that the pleasant creature is actually an old love of mine: Gertie the Dinosaur, Winsor McCay's beloved prehistoric pet with which he largely introduced character animation to the world. I had already been snapping pix of the old girl, but now I am ecstatic. There are two Asian girls working the booth, one from Japan and one from China, and the Chinese girl, Anna, who notices the giant smile on my face, starts talking to me about it. Naturally, I go the film geek route and start blathering about Gertie, whose films I have always had in my collection, let alone my being a massive McCay fiend (so much so that half the time when I refer to Finding Nemo, I accidentally say Little Nemo). The stand the girls work is actually called Dinosaur Gertie's Ice Cream Bites, but I am looking for a Coke. Anna tells me there is some just around the corner, and then surprisingly leads me there. Clearly bored on their rather empty side of the park, she asks the other Chinese girl working the refreshment cart if she needs any help, and when she is told "No," she walks back with me to Gertie, where I snap a couple more pictures before returning to the group.

We grab some lunch at the Backlot Express, where my cheeseburger was far better than I expected, especially given the general unfrozen patty feel of other burgers in the theme parks. I zip to the Dark Room to grab more film and meet everyone at the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. I told Jen honestly that the opening portion of the show, where Indiana has to negotiate a series of traps while heading through a temple, was far more exciting than anything in the most recent film. The show is a lot of fun, though I can't imagine every watching it a second time, once the fix is in, and you know about the plant from the audience who gets a part in the show (we had him pegged almost from the beginning) along with a large group of real audience members. I did think for a bit about when Kit was training for the Waterworld show at Universal, though we only got to see him perform in the Terminator ride. Would have been cool to see.

The girls were unable to score us FastPass tickets for the Toy Story ride, since the next ones were for after 7:00 pm, and we had plans to be at the Magic Kingdom by then. So we dive into a projected 70-minute wait line and decide to deal with it. Sure enough, that is about how long it takes, though we have our own fun, chatting away and making jokes all the way through. It's not a wait if you are having fun and passing time with people you enjoy being around. More families would do well to learn this tip, since we are surrounded mainly by screaming babies who shouldn't even be on this ride and a lot of sourpusses who are clearing having a miserable time in their lives in general. Sometimes the sourpusses are holding the babies, and that's their own problem. Please don't make it mine. We are behind a group of two couples and a grandma with three toddlers between them, and the kids are well-behaved, but they keep having to drop out of line to take the kids to the bathroom or change them. Which is fine, but much of our time is spent with them asking our forgiveness while they pass us back and forth. Where I get riled with them is that they always seem to be looking the opposite way whenever the line lurches forward, and this becomes a problem only when it is time to leap from the first part of the line to where you pick up your glasses and move to the second part, where the FastPassers join the regular crowd. Because these two families screw around with their glasses so long, they get selected as the last to go through the turnstiles before the next group of FastPassers comes flying up the corridor to go through. As a result, because of their obliviousness to everything go on around them, we end up stuck at the turnstiles for an extra ten minutes while a mass of humanity rushes past us. It doesn't matter, as we soon enough get to the ride, where Jen claims that her "kicking my ass" remark was only delayed by a week, as she handily defeated me this time by about 8000 points and 5 percentage points on accuracy. (The battle, though, was much tighter through the first four rounds, with my best two first rounds ever.)

Mary and Marg decide to stay in the park for the Beauty and the Beast show, but the rest of us head back to the cabin. We watch a couple more episodes of Spaced while Jen and I ice our respective pained parts: her lower back and my ankle, which has swelled up again. Another problem: after three-plus days of stomach discomfort, I finally start throwing up. I decide to go back to the park anyway. The ladies call us when they are done and ready to meet us at the park. We head out to catch a shuttle, but one leaves the spot just as we are coming around the corner. We have to wait for the next one (about 10 minutes) and once we arrive at the dock, the same thing happens with the boat, as one takes off just as we walk up. In all, it takes us almost 75 minutes to make it from door to Magic Kingdom gate, surely a record on our part. We are almost wiped out from the time we arrive.

We head to the Burger Port area again to grab some food before planning our attack on the fireworks show. Jen grabs a veggie burger for me, which I eat completely unadorned by condiment or anything else. My stomach aches after even that simple fare, and while I don't let the group know it, I throw up again in the bathroom a few minutes later. We go over to Mickey's Philhar-Magic so that Marg can take in her first ever viewing of that show. The doors are just about to close for the next show, and so we skip the usual waiting process, and rush into some seats in the nick of time. Once we get out, just 8:30, Jen decides she is not going to make it to the 10:00 pm fireworks show, and so we head out. While I initially say I am going to stay to take pictures, my stomach and ankle weigh in, and I think better of it and head back with them.

There is apparently a huge fireworks spectacular planned for the waters just off the Magic Kingdom, in addition to the usual Wishes show, and so all water travel is supposed to shut down between 9:20 and 10:00. We are at the dock by 9:05, but there is no boat, and even the cast members are confused as to what to do with us. One of the larger boats finally arrives, loaded down with people trying to make the Wishes show, and once they deboard, it is about 25 minutes after the hour. The dock has to be clear, though, for the show, and so they load us up and send our boat out across the Seven Seas Lagoon. While we wait and eventually board, a series of Lite-Brite style displays featuring an enormous sea monster, an octopus, dolphins and King Neptune (amongst others) lights up the night in front of us. As we shoot across the lake near Fort Wilderness Lodge, we pass the displays in the darkness, with the lights all shut down on them, so that you can just make out the basic outline of the craft and the pilots seated on them. It is an eerie feeling, and there is a weird calm as if we all had just narrowly escaped sure disaster, even though it was a mere fireworks show. We get to the dock, and there are hundreds of people crowding the beach to watch the fireworks. I go to the Trading Post to buy some Tums, and while in line, a couple of women stand in front of me waiting to find out the price of the wine sitting on a shelf behind the counter. One goes to the clerk at the other counter to get the price, which is just over twenty dollars, which is all they have in hand. Without prompting, I give them a dollar to cover the extra, and I go to the other clerk to make my purchase. As I leave, I stop to see if they have enough, and with the tax, it comes out to $21.25. I give them another quarter, and they thank me profusely.

I go back to the beach, and the show starts as I arrive. The fireworks can be easily seen for the higher effects, but only a glow can be seen over the islands for the lower ones. After a couple of minutes, we decide it would be wiser to hit the shuttles before being stuck waiting with these hundreds of people for them, and go back to the cabin. Walking down the loop to our cabin, a car rudely and too quickly pushes through us in the dark -- going the WRONG WAY on a ONE-WAY LOOP, motherfucker -- and I yell at the car telling them this, only without the expletive. Once they park at a spot about twenty yards in front of us, I march up and tell them directly. The lady says "Yes, thank you. Yes, thank you" to my statements, as she is aware that they have done the wrong thing, but the husband decides to be an asshole. "Yes, we realized it when we decided to drive through the sign that said 'one-way', blah, blah, blah..." Jen glares at me, because she knows I want to react it, and I say "As long as you are aware of it..." When we get to the cabin, I say "I want to go smash his fucking window in" but Jen tells me to drop it. "The guy just had to be an asshole," she says. "The thing about those guys is that they have to live with it everyday." Minutes later, Mary starts up about wanting to do something to that guy's car, and I point at her and look at Jen, saying "See? It's not just me! It's not just a guy thing!" We all laugh...

Check out day tomorrow. We are not laughing about that, though to a certain extent, we will be relieved. We are exhausted from doing nothing.


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