Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Day 4 continued...DHS (Here comes the rain...)

During my last spellbinding report (well, other than the towel and window decoration mini-report), I told you about our great start at DHS. I was DisneyBounding as Princess Leia, our whole family fell in love with Rock n Roller Coaster right off the bat, and we met baby ducklings. Of course, no day is perfect, even if you’re at Disney World. My mission for this trip report (other than my obvious attempt to share family photos) is to let you know what worked for us and what didn’t work for us, in hopes that another family might benefit from our experience.

Here are some touring/itinerary notes, which might come in handy as you plan your own trip:
- Although the animation class used to be a “hidden gem,” as indicated in some of the forums, that’s not really the case anymore. The word is out and it’s quite popular. We went over to the Animation Building right after David and Kathryn rode ToT and made it into the waiting area for the next class. The waiting area was already pretty full and we needed to wait a while to go in as the class before us finished up. There were people behind us that ended up waiting through our class also, so I’m glad we went straight there after ToT and didn’t have to wait through 2 classes. The animation class is definitely worth the time - it’s cool. Warn any perfectionists in your family that there won’t be an eraser on the pencil and they need to try to go with the flow. My daughter is an artist and I love the picture my husband got of her as she was concentrating.

Here’s her Pluto. I know, right?

- As mentioned above, we only waited in line to meet Ralph. After the animation class, we went down to find him. He and Vanellope weren’t out yet and there was already a line that looked sort of long but as it turned out, it was just a 15 minute wait (and I think that included us waiting for them to start meeting). The Wreck it Ralph queue is sort of fun, so don’t be scared of the wait, especially if you get there before they start meeting.

I told Wreck it Ralph that we wanted to meet him since our last name is Reck. He went bananas with excitement when he heard our name and started pounding his hands up and down showing us how to pose for the picture. So we did. Perfect! Here are the Recks wrecking it up with Ralph….

- Some of our most fun PhotoPass pictures are from our DHS day. A word of advice, if a photographer asks you to be silly, you should totally go for it. Luckily for me, I just had to follow my kids’ lead…

- If you meet the Green Army Men and one of your dreams is to get a picture of your son with them, make sure you do that too…

- When we went to Star Tours the first time, it was our FastPass time and the standby line was just 10 minutes. I was going to use our FP anyway, but my brilliant daughter pointed out that we should do standby then come back through to do it again with our FPs. Of course! I’d even read that suggestion on the boards but I was so singularly focused on my plan that it didn’t occur to me. As it turned out, that was a fabulous suggestion because by the time we got back around to use the FP, the standby line was much longer. And....(I can't believe I forgot to mention this when I first posted)...I was chosen as the Rebel Spy the first time we rode!!! So fabulous. (And...I was hoping for a repeat of that later because, you know, I was dressed as Princess Leia so...DUH...of course I'm the rebel spy, right? Nope - just the first time, but that's still great!)

- If one of the outside shows is important to you, make time to go earlier in the day so if you run into a hitch you’ll have time to go again later. (See disappointment discussion, below.)

- Family traditions are fun. Back in 2009, we sprung for a Star Wars family portrait and we all four wanted to do the same thing this time around so after our first Star Tours ride, we posed again. This is our 2014 portrait which looks almost EXACTLY like our 2009 portrait. Except....now that I look more closely at this, I can tell that I look rather older and more worn out in this one. So...if I was a smart blogger I would post the 2009 version and tell you it's the 2014, but that would require me to go find it on my other computer and right now I'm very comfortable...plus you guys have already seen me without makeup in the other pictures...so....whatever. What was I writing about? Oh, yeah....our Star Wars family portrait tradition. Voila!

- Ponchos. Pack ponchos.

- We ate lunch at Starring Rolls because I’d read good things about the food. It was way too much food (we used 4 CS credits there instead of splitting meals like we did on other days) but it was pretty tasty, especially the obscenely huge butterfinger cupcake.

- We tried to carry my daughter’s cupcake with us for the rest of the day but that was a big messy fail in my Baggalini. (No photographic evidence of that, but trust me….if you really think you will want to carry leftovers, use a bigger backpack and bring plastic containers.) For those of you wondering why on earth I would even consider carrying leftovers…I don’t have a good explanation other than the fact that I have this thing about wasting money and food. By the end of the week I got over it….

Now for disappointment #1: my son and I were both very, very excited to see the Indiana Jones show. I thought we’d catch an earlier one but it didn’t work out (we were so busy re-riding Star Tours and such) -  but no worries, right? The shows happen all day long and we made it in time for seats way up close for the 4:00 show. Dennis was looking forward to it. I told David I was going to try to get picked as an extra. I jumped up and down like a crazy woman when they wanted volunteers and was chosen first off. So far, so good! Sadly, once we got in our outfits, the casting director said bad weather was heading in so they had to cut the whole show short. We went on stage in our outfits and “acted” a bit (really, nothing) but that was it. I’m in the red robe.

But, hold the phone sister! The casting director said that if we wanted to come back for the 5:15 show we could be volunteers then. My Disney math brain started buzzing. Our ADRs for Jedi Mickey were at 5:50. Hmmmm. I posted on the Lines App: “Fast! Tell me...how long does the Indy show last?” Got the answer - 30 minutes. (whew) Called the ADR line and asked “If I’m a few minutes late for my ADR will I be ok?” Got that answer - yes as long as you’re there within 15 minutes.

Good news for the family! We went on Star Tours again (so much fun!) - I think we got two more FP+s for this ride during the evening since nothing else was available that we’d want like RnR. Then we came back for the 5:15 show. Long story short - it was a total repeat. We got there early and got great seats, I got to be a volunteer, but they canceled the show AGAIN for weather reasons after Act 1. Same jokes, same spiel. My son said “Well...that sucked.” Yup - but we tried! In hindsight, the 2 hours we spent either waiting for the 4:00 and 5:15 shows to begin (so we could have good seats) and watching the same Act 1 two times would have been better spent elsewhere in the park. HOWEVER, this was a big thing for us so I’m actually glad we gave it our best shot.

H&V was fun because we got to see Chip and Dale as Ewoks, Jedi Mickey, Princess Leia Minnie, Stormtrooper Donald, and Darth Goofy.

The food was (of course) not entirely impressive, especially for two table credits, although none of it was BAD and I have to say the lobster mac and cheese was rather tasty. My husband still talks about it. Here’s a picture of the Yoda cupcake.

I insisted that my daughter pose with me in a lightsaber battle. Everyone had a paper placemat thing that you could roll into either a blue (light side) or red (dark side) light saber. My kids prefer the dark side, which is probably not a parenting “win” on my part, although it could just be that they’re way cooler than me. ;)

From a weather perspective, we lucked out because it poured while we were eating and wasn’t as bad when we got out (at least not at first). Our H&V dinner was a Fantasmic dinner so I had our passes for the first show. Back in 2009 I hadn’t seen any nighttime shows (Kathryn and I rode Spaceship Earth while Dennis and David took Illuminations photos on that trip) and it was a big deal to have one planned for this trip. Yea!

Except...not so much. It was raining off and on all afternoon and this led to disappointment #2. Sadly, the rain increased during the course of the evening so the 9:15 Fantasmic was cancelled and nobody (not even me...the insane Disney mom) was up for staying for the second showing because who knew if the second one would also be cancelled, we’d been there since 8:10 a.m. with no break...and tomorrow was Magic Kingdom.

Other than those two let downs it was a great DHS day.

Great but exhausting….we were very wet at the end of the day from all the rain, as you can tell from these lovely before (at the bus stop) and after (heading out of the park) pictures…(notice I'm smiling just as much at the end of the day because I am THAT MUCH OF A DISNEY/STAR WARS NERD - who wouldn't be on cloud nine when she's dressed as Leia and exploring Disney World???)

Regardless of our exhaustion, we found our new favorite ride that day (Rock n Roller rules!). I loved singing the wrong words to Aerosmith as I rode it although I didn’t realize until later that it’s “Dude looks like a lady” - not “You look like a lady.” I was a nerd in the 80’s. And that was before being a nerd was cool.

Anyway...we went back to the hotel and even though I missed my shot at a night show, I was secretly glad for the extra sleep. The next day was Magic Kingdom rope drop. If my family thought I was being a dictator for an early start at DHS...well they hadn’t seen anything yet!

But we were all going to have a nap tomorrow and I had a great MK touring plan. I wasn’t worried at all. I went to bed confident that our Magic Kingdom day would run perfectly.

Boy was I in for a few surprises…

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