Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day 5

Is it really over halfway through our vacation? Already? I swear, I could stay here quite a bit longer and be perfectly happy, thank you very much. But we have just a last few precious days to go and we’re looking forward to making the most of them.

Today was our final day at Hollywood Studios. I timed things a little better this morning and we did indeed make the park before rope drop this time. Oh, and we arrived early enough to be near the front of the line when they opened the park. That made all the difference in the world!

First thing, of course, was Toy Story Mania. This has quickly turned into Carissa’s favorite attraction, even more so than Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster. (Insert dramatic *gasp* of horror! LOL) We took turns playing against different people this time, yet no matter who played against whom Brian always came out on top. He has repeatedly earned over 150,000 points while I meander somewhere about 135,000 with the kids all trailing somewhere under 100,000. I know there are tips on how to earn more points in the games and now I’m disgruntled that I didn’t pay more attention to those tips when reading the disboards. Oh well, it’s still a fun ride, though I think we could all do without the extra spinning between rides. Ugh!

By the time we were done riding some of the crowds waiting for Fastpasses had died down a bit, though not entirely. Our return time wasn’t until 11:55am so we headed towards our next ride, Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster!
The line was non-existent and we were immediately herded into the preshow and then the short line to wait for a ride car. Carissa and I got to sit up front in the rollercoaster. She screamed the whole ride… and forget about putting your hands on the safety bars, she held them up in the air the whole time and loved every second of it. The boys loved it too. I think we have a bunch of rollercoaster junkies on our hands!

Next up was Tower of Terror but, given my not-so-favorable reaction to our first ride this trip, I decided to pass. Tristan did the same. Neither one of us wanted to spend the next hour feeling like we might puke at any moment. We waited in the gift shop for the others to ride. It didn’t take too long at all. They had a great time on the ride! Oh, and they found the hidden Mickey in the lights on the ride too, which they loved. Sheesh, I can’t believe Chase has us all looking for these things with him!

It was now 10am and we’d ridden all 3 of the major attractions at the park. The one other thing that both Tristan and I really wanted to do was to draw with an animator again. We headed to the Animation Courtyard and got there by 10:10am. The first drawing class didn’t start until 10:30 so we camped out on a bench and waited for it to begin. Tristan was hoping, yet again, that we’d get to draw Stitch, however we soon learned that we would once again be drawing Mickey. 2 drawings this trip and both of them are Mickey. Not that I don’t love Mickey, but I was looking forward to doing someone else. Well, the good thing was that this wasn’t Sorcerer Mickey like we had drawn before but instead was the standard face shot of Mickey. I really, really enjoyed drawing with the animator and would have loved to go back again and again. And I wasn’t the only one in our group who felt that way. But we had places to be and things to see so we moved on.

We had received a coupon yesterday at Epcot giving us a 20% discount on merchandise at the main store in each of the parks if it was used between 9am and noon. Now that it was 11 we started our way towards Mickey’s of Hollywood. We got waylaid real quick at Starring Rolls, where we picked up a cinnamon roll and chocolate croissant to share and a water to drink. The kids ate the cinnamon roll and I ate most of the croissant, sharing it with the boys at the end. We all shared the water – until one of the kids backwashed a whole bunch of pastry bits into it. EEEEEEWWWWWW!!! This reminds me why we usually get the kids their own drink. Ick!

With a little food in our bellies (at least enough to tide us over until lunch) we went shopping. We ended up just getting a few pins and Tristan’s much-coveted Vinylmation. He has been eyeing these the whole trip and finally ended up getting an Osborne Spectacle of Lights Vinylmation character. At least that way he knew what he was getting and didn’t end up with some junk character. Plus it’s a great reminder of the lights.

The kids hadn’t had a chance to go on Star Tours yet and now was just the time. The wait said 20 minutes but I think it was really a walk-on. I don’t know because Brian and I both sat out of this one since it’s a motion simulator. Instead he and I took a few minutes to peruse the Muppet and Christmas shops, buying a few little things along the way and having them shipped to our resort. My, how I love that little amenity!!! Staying onsite rocks! And now that we’ve stayed onsite I don’t know how we’ll ever visit again without it!

It was now nearly noon and we had just enough time for a showing of The American Idol Experience before lunch. I wasn’t really sure this show would be worth it but it was pretty good. The singers were all just so-so, but it was cute and fun and the stage there is amazing. They did a great job recreating the show. And if I were a singer that would be a very, very cool place to be!
Next up was lunch at Mama Melrose’s. We went there expressly for their flatbread pizza but I don’t think any one of us was impressed with it. We left lots of pizza on our plates and decided to pass on dessert too. But we did love the warm breadsticks with butter. AND our waitress suggested we add our name to the wall next to our table. We found a good spot and wrote “PIXLEY 09” on the wall, then took a few pictures.

Brian then mentioned how neat it would be when our kids took their families to Disneyworld if our name were still there. Here’s hoping…

After lunch we headed for the backlot tour. *snore* The only cool things about this were seeing Walt’s plane and some of the memorabilia in the ride queue and gift shop. That’s it. Besides that it was a colossal waste of our time. Oh well, you live and you learn.

We finally made our way back towards Pixar Place to use our fastpasses for Toy Story Mania. Man, this fastpass stinks! They send you part way up the queue and then merge you with the standby line. Sheesh! But we only ended up waiting about 15 minutes in line instead of 60 or more like the standby line was estimated to be. And the winner, again, was Brian. Imagine that! But it was fun and I really think that I get better and better at it as time goes on. The kids, of course, LOVE this ride and quickly proclaim it one of their faves this trip.

By now our day was winding down at Hollywood Studios. It wasn’t even 3pm, but we had promised the kids the chance to swim and we wanted to make good on that promise. So we waved goodbye to Hollywood Studios and caught a bus back to our resort. We quickly changed into our swim trunks and suits and then we walked around the lake to the pool.

From our room we can see the huge Mayan temple that is the identifying symbol of the pool. Unfortunately it’s a fairly decent walk to the pool, but I was able to grab some neat pictures on the way.

Brian, the kids and I all went on the water slide first. First and last for Brian and myself, as it’s nothing too exciting. We hung around in the pool a bit and then I got my camera so that I could take pictures of them on the cool Mayan temple. A little more swimming then a quick soak in the hot tub and we were done. The pool was a bit of a flop for us but now we can at least say that we’ve done it.

We came back to the room to shower and change but left Brian and the boys back at the arcade using up the 30min free game play card that came with our resort package. Once they returned they quickly showered too then dressed to head out to Downtown Disney.

We arrived at Downtown Disney just after 6pm and started out in the marketplace. Our first stop was the Design-Your-Own shirt store where we made a t-shirt for Brian’s dad, whose birthday we missed while we were here. It has a picture of Grumpy on it, his favorite character. It says “I’m Grumpy” in big letter under Grumpy and then we added “but I’m still the best grandpa ever.” We’ll be taking that home to him and hoping that he likes it.

After leaving Design-A-Tee we had to stop to get a picture with the Tweedledees on the side of the 12 days of Christmas store.

Next up was the Christmas store. I have looked and looked at all the Christmas items and just couldn’t decide what to get! I knew I wanted a souvenir as a Christmas decoration but just couldn’t decide which one. Tonight I finally decided to go with one and bought it. Unfortunately, I realized when we got back to the room that the ornament had a big mark on it. Now I’ve got to figure out how to return it before we leave and get a new one in it’s place.

Our next stop is one of my faves – Goofy’s Candy Company. Tristan had been drooling over this huge plastic tube that you could fill with all sorts of flavors of sour candy and he decided to spend some of his money on that. Chase did also while Carissa opted for a chocolate sucker instead. We held on to those because it was now time to head to dinner.

Dinner tonight was a Planet Hollywood. I thought I remember boats running in the waters at Downtown Disney but I couldn’t find any today so we hiked it. It’s a bit of a walk but it was nice to do. We got to Planet Hollywood early and checked in. They got us into a table within 5 minutes. If you haven’t been to the Planet Hollywood in Downtown Disney, it is HUGE. It’s this huge building shaped like globe and decorated to the hilt. Inside has all sorts of movie memorabilia. My favorite piece was actually outside – the “Jenny” boat from Forest Gump. Anyways, we were ushered up to the top floor, floor 4, for dinner. Our server here was fabulous, the best one we’ve had so far. The food was very good too. Brian was in heaven with a slab of ribs while I had some steak, Chase had ½ chicken and the younger two had chicken strips. If not for the fact that the restaurant is almost oppressingly loud, this would be the perfect restaurant. Our food was delivered very, very quickly and was obviously fresh off the grill, as the French fries and mashed potatoes were so hot that you couldn’t even eat them yet! So kudos to Planet Hollywood for that.

After all that food it was a surprise that we could actually eat dessert, but we gave it a try. Dessert was brownie sundaes and shakes and they were all very good.

We still had a couple of things we wanted from Downtown Disney so we headed back to the marketplace to shop. We walked through the Lego store
and Arribas Bros, where Brian got a Disneyworld pen he’d been eyeing. We also hit the big pin store

and got the kids a couple more pins for their collections, most of them at 50% off (gotta love that!!!). Then it was back to the bus stop for our return trip to Coronado Springs Resort. Very quickly we were on the road and headed to our warm and comforting beds.

Tomorrow’s adventure is our final day in Epcot, where we have to find a pickle and talk to a turtle. We’ll see how that works out…

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