The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

February 26, 2009

Disney World Trip Report, Part 5: The Disney Version of Christmas

Filed under: Wanderings — Brian Lutz @ 8:12 pm

Note:  If you missed them, the previous installments of the Trip Report may be found here:

Part 1: Getting There is Half the Fun, Right? (Traveling to Orlando and fleeing from the snow and ice in Seattle)
Part 2: Now with Actual Disney in it! (The Hotel Room, and the beginning of day 1 in the Magic Kingdom)
Part 3: Just Another Day in Never Never Land (The rest of Day 1, in which dreams purportedly come true if you sing about them for long enough)
Part 4: It’s the FUTURE! (Sort of.) (Day 2 begins in Epcot, with a trip halfway around the world in 180 minutes)

Yes, in spite of all appearances, I am in fact still working on this trip report.  At this rate, I’ll probably be finished with this somewhere around this time next year ot so (actually, that’s probably nottrue since this installment will put me roughly halfway through the trip, but when have I ever passed up an opportunity to take way too long to finish things?)   If for some reason you’ve actually been reading this stuff, you’ll recall that when I last left off, I had spent the first part of the day at Epcot first going through (most of the Future World rides, then spent several hours wandering about halfway around the World Showcase portion of that park.  As it was beginning to get later in the afternoon, it was now time to head back over to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (hereafter abbreviated as MVMCP so I don’t have to type that out half a zillion times or so.)  It is from that point that I will begin this installment of the trip report, found after the jump.

Merry Enough For You?

Mickey’s Very Merry (and Slightly Expensive) Christmas Party

After taking the Friendship boat across the Lagoon from Morocco back to the World Showcase entrance, I was headed back toward the gate to hop a monorail back to the Magic Kingdom for the remainder of the afternoon and the evening’s MVMCP. Since I was already getting a more than a bit tired of all the walking I wasn’t exactly rushing to get there, and a I made a couple of stops: The first was at one of the two gift shops at the front of World Showcase, at this time full of Christmas stuff.

There was no shortage of Mickey-themed ornaments in this store, and as one of a number of discounts being offered at this time, all of these were being sold at 40% off the regular price.  I thought about picking up a couple, but decided that getting them home in one piece might prove tricky, and decided to pass.

If for some reason you needed Mickey-themed ornaments for other holidays, they’ve even got those.

I also made a pitstop at Club Cool on the way out, which I had apparently missed when I had passed by there the first time around. In reading a number of other people’s  trip reports beforehand, I had heard of the Italian Beverly soda  mostly by its reputation, but I had not seen the true extent of the horror that the stuff seems to inspire among some posters at the DISBoards, where it seems to be regarded as a concoction drawn straight from the depths of the gall of bitterness to torment the living upon the face of the Earth. I tried it, and although the stuff was definitely a bit bitter for my liking (I’d describe it as being like a grapefruit soda that just keeps getting progressively more bitter with each passing second.) I didn’t think it was quite as evil as some people seem to believe. Not that I ever intend to drink the stuff again anytime soon, but if I needed to dupe – er, convince someone else to try it, I could probably handle another sip. As for the other flavors, I think I liked the Costa Rican Fanta the best. Oh yeah, and is it just me, or is the floor in this place always that sticky?

Anyway, after my attempts at refreshment by questionable means, I made my way out of Epcot, but not before pausing to take this photo with Spaceship Earth, which came after about three or four previous attempts that look even sillier than this one. And if anyone is wondering, yes I am wearing the same shirt as I was the previous day, as a result of the clean laundry shortage I had encountered the night before. Finally, I left Epcot for the day, and hopped the Monorail (is it just me, or do the  ramps up to the platform seem a lot longer than they actually are?) and made my way across to the Magic Kingdom. The first order of business was redeeming my MVMCP ticket voucher.

When I got there, the sold out sign was already out for the event, although since I had purchased the ticket beforehand this wasn’t an issue for me. This was around 3 or so in the afternoon, so I don’t know if they still had tickets earlier or if they had sold out days in advance. Anyway, after getting my ticket, I headed into the park. Of course, I managed to forget that this is a wonderful, magical place where a joyous parade of wonder and enchantment proceeds down the streets promptly at 3pm every day, and  as soon as I walked through the tunnel, I ran right smack into…

…Yeah, you guessed it, the afternoon parade. And with a lot less crowds than I had to deal with at yesterday’s parade, no less.  If I had known this when I was standing behind about fifty typically opaque people at the hub for yesterday’s parade I probably would have just skipped it yesterday and waited for today, but now that I not only found myself with much less crowds to deal with but also with a much better vantage point (from the train station,) the first thing that came to mind was to try to find some way to get around it. Ultimately, I gotinto the queue to ride the train, but as it would turn out, the next train didn’t even arrive until the end of the parade. Although it’s kind of  neat to watch the parade go by at least once, I have to say if I ever hear that blasted “Disney Dreams Come True” theme again I might just lose it.  Sure, I can understand having a nice upbeat tune about dreams coming true for something like this, but why the heck does it need to be about DISNEY dreams coming true?  Besides, if you’ve already been to Disneyland, and you’re at Disney World right now, what other Disney dreams do you need to come true at the moment? Magic Fastpasses? A night in the castle? To be at Tokyo Disneyland instead of here? But I digress.

Anyway, once I finally got on the train (and saw parade floats waiting at the crossing as we passed by) I got off at the Frontierland stop, where I saw this poster on the way out of the station. You can’t really see it at this resolution, but if you ever take the time to stop and read this (or do what I did and take a picture to read later) it’s actually interesting to read. The whole story of how Splash Mountain came to be, Brer Rabbit, and even how the place came to be invaded by thrill-seeking humans, is found here.  A nice little touch, especially for something that 97% of the people who pass by here won’t even stop to give a passing thought to.

Along the way, these performers were playing Christmas carols, and were actually doing a pretty good job of it, if I recall correctly.

Egrets… I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention.  These birds can be found all over the parks, and although there are actually Egrets and  Herons around where I live, they’re a lot more rare to see here than they are down in Florida for some reason.   And you almost always see them flying here, and rarely see them just sitting around like they do at Disney World.

Anyway, my main goal for the afternoon was to ride Big Thunder Mountain, which I promptly grabbed a Fastpass for with a fairly short return time. I was then getting hungry, so I ended up grabbing some popcorn, and settled down to watch the boats come down the falls on Splash Mountain for a few minutes. I then briefly thought about taking a ride on the Liberty Belle, but I got impatient while waiting for the boat to unload, so once I finished off the popcorn, I instead headed for another trip on the Haunted Mansion (which never had a long line on any of the times I rode it on this trip.)

This time around, the ride paused for a couple of minutes near the end, at the mirror room. I really wish this picture had come out. After getting off the Haunted Mansion the Fastpass return time for Big Thunder Mountain had arrived, so I went to use that. I found the lift hills on this to be rather noisy as well.

After that, I headed back toward Adventureland, and rode Pirates of the Caribbean another time (seeing a pattern here?)  I thought about going for another run on the Jungle Cruise at this point, but the line seemed rather long, and for some reason I didn’t think to grab a Fastpass. Instead, I decided to grab a Dole Whip (pineapple flavored soft serve that seems to be a favorite of a lot of Disney regulars) and went to the Enchanted Tiki Room. At the stand I got stuck behind some people who took roughly forever and a day to decide what to get and order, and then had two people carrying a big load of stuff when everything was finally served up. My order was a little bit simpler. As for the Tiki Room, I have to say that I didn’t care much for the New Management version with Iago and Zazu, but at least Disneyland still has the original.

It was starting to get near dusk by this time, so I headed over to the area near the castle where MVMCP wristbands were being distributed next, then went back toward Fantasyland, looking for a place to sit down for a bit.

Say, this one looks like a nice quiet place for a little rest, maybe have a spot of tea or something.

Wait a minute, what’s with this? It’s mad, MAD I tell you, mad!

More goofing off with the camera. Believe me, you DON’T want to see the outtakes from this one.

I next headed back toward Tomorrowland, where I planned to go to the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor to find a place to sit down for a bit. The wait was short, but as worn out as I was getting at that point I wasn’t exactly thrilled about having to spend ten minutes waiting in the pre-show area before getting in after going through the queue. Even after sitting down for a bit at the show, I still wasn’t all that enthusiastic about standing up at this point.  I gave some brief thought to waiting in line for the “Twas the Night Before Christmas” show, but ultimately decided didn’t feel like waiting (or more accurately, didn’t feel like standing for that long.)

By the time I got off here the evening’s decorations were beginning to show up throughout the land, and it was getting just about to the point where they were about to start clearing out the park for MVMCP. This was also just about the time when I realized I should probably give some thought to dinner, unless I wanted to be stuck with chicken nuggets for dinner. I eventually managed to follow the crowds all the way out the park gate before I realized that the line for the monorail was roughly a mile long at this point, and there wasn’t going to be much in the way of dining options that wouldn’t involve wading through that crowd (After giving this further consideration later on, I suppose I could have walked over to the Contemporary Resort from here  and grabbed something from the counter service place there, but I didn’t feel like walking there at the moment.)  Ultimately, I quickly returned to the park (I needed to use my MVMCP ticket this time since my regular ticket wouldn’t get me in anymore.) Finding food options to be scarce, I decided I was going to bite the bullet and just head back toward Cosmic Ray’s again for the Chicken Nuggets I had tried so hard to avoid. No pictures here, because it’s just chicken nuggets and fries, nothing anyone with three year olds hasn’t seen far too much of before.

By the time I finished off dinner, they had begun serving the complimentary (well, as complimentary as you get when you’re paying $50 just to get in the front gate for this event) cookies and hot cocoa that were part of the evening’s festivities. There was basically no line at this point, so I grabbed some and headed over to check out some of the entertainment.

There were entertainers set up at the stage in Cosmic Ray’s, but I think I ended up staying here for about twenty seconds total. I ended up fleeing the place just about the time I heard the words “High School Musical” from the direction of the stage.

I ended up heading for the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (or Peoplemover, for the various purists out there) next, since that seemed to be a good place to not stand up for a few minutes. I attempted to take some photos, but only a couple came out anything besides unrecognizably blurry.

At least this was one of ones that (sort of) came out.

I decided to head back toward Adventureland at this point, hoping to catch the pirate band that was on the schedule. Passing by Main Street, I saw that I was already about 45 minutes too late to catch anything resembling a good spot on Main Street for the Once Upon a Christmastime parade, but the parade was still about 45 minutes away.

Over in Adventureland, I saw that another of the cookie and cocoa stations was relatively empty at this point, so for some unknown reason I grabbed more of it. It was about halfway through the second cup of hot cocoa that I realized that no matter how merry the Christmas party might have been, hot chocolate and 75-degree weather just don’t mix.   

After a few minutes of waiting, the pirate band shown on the list of the evening’s entertainment arrived, and performed several appropriately piratey Christmas selections. After listening for a bit, I then went for another ride on Pirates of the Caribbean to pass the time until the parade was set to begin. It was here that the ride stopped running for about 10-15 minutes  just after they finished loading us up onto the boat. I was in the back row of the boat, and while we waited I struck up a conversation with a kid in the row in front. As I am inclined to do on occasion, I used the occasion to fill the kid’s head with stories, explaining that all the treasure on the ride was real (after all, do you think that Jack Sparrow would waste his time pillaging and plundering all that loot if it only LOOKED like treasure?) Unfortunately, I have to admit that the kid probably knew more about the PotC movies than I did (I’ve seen about half of the first one, that’s it.) Finally after about 10-15 minutes or so, the ride started moving again, and I went through for my fourth ride of the trip.

How to Get Into the Christmas Spirit Without the Need for Ghostly Visitors

How NOT to Find a Spot for the Parade, and blurry Paparazzi photos of Cinderella.

After I finally managed to get off Pirates of the Caribbean following the delay at the loading dock, it was just about time for the parade to start. I took one of the shortcuts from Adventureland to Frontierland to get across, but when I got there I found that the walkways were already jammed with people, and the parade was going to be showing up any minute. Since the street was roped off and it was no longer possible to get across, I settled into the one spot I could find for the parade:

Here. Standing on the fence at the Frontierland sign, presumably in a decidedly non OSHA-approved manner. All things considered, it probably wasn’t a Disney crime on the order of, say, setting fire to Mickey’s house or anything like that, but if any cast members had shown up there during the parade I probably would have earned a well-deserved good stern lecture or two. Somehow I got away with it (and somehow I managed to not fall to an untimely demise in the bushes behind the fence) and watched the parade from here. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a whole lot of good photos of the parade since my camera didn’t handle the low-light conditions well, but here are a few of the ones I did get.

As is the tradition in these parts, the nighttime parade always begins with the ever-popular “child placating blinkenlight-encrusted objects” cart…

…And the Once Upon a Blurry Christmastime Parade is now underway.

As with most parades, this one includes the usual characters, but I found it more interesting than most because there seemed to be a lot more obscure and uncommon characters here than in the regular parades.

Of course, you can’t do a parade without these two, right?

On the other hand, you don’t seem to see a lot of Scrooge McDuck nowdays (who happens to be one of my favorites after watching way too much DuckTales back in the Disney Afternoon days.)

I know that Christmas Parades are supposed to be all cold and winter-wonderlandy and stuff like that, but I felt just a bit sorry for all the performers wearing all these heavy jackets and festive-looking Arctic surival gear while the weather was well into the 70s (even at night) during this trip. Not that I was complaining about the weather or anything like that (after all, I could have been at home where things were below freezing and the roads were still a big mess from the snowfall on Saturday night,) but I can barely stand to wear a jacket when it breaks 55 here, and there’s no way I’d want to wear one in that weather.

For as popular as these two are, you don’t actually seem to see a lot of them for some reason…

Ever notice that Snow White’s float doesn’t seem to include anything particularly snowy?

And here it is, my blurry Paparazzi photo of Cinderella. For that matter, Prince Charming’s looking a bit like he’s been hitting the pixie dust before the parade too. If any tabloid editors are reading, I would like payment to be made in small unmarked bills please.

There was more of the parade, but eventually I had to remind myself to stop spending my whole trip staring at a camera screen, and put it away for the rest of the parade. Once the last float went by, there was a significant crowd filtering back into the rest of the park, and I ended up having little option but to go with the flow that led toward Fantasyland. After a brief pause to find a restroom, I ended up heading for the Haunted Mansion one more time to wait for the crowds to disperse a bit more (thus bringing the total number of hitchhiking ghosts following me home to 5, give or take a couple.)  After that, I went back in the direction of Fantasyland, but the fireworks were getting a bit too close to wait in any lines. I ended up just wandering through the area, then back around toward the Hub to settle down in a spot to watch the fireworks. I managed to find a spot that wasn’t too crowded, but was partially obscured by trees.

While waiting for the fireworks to begin, I had someone else take this picture, which might be the only not entirely silly-looking picture of myself that I have from this trip (yeah yeah, next time use Photopass, I know…) A few minutes later the fireworks began, and a young child nearby spent most of the show apparently frightened by the firework booms and screaming loudly. Other than that it was good, but I didn’t get a whole lot of good photos. Here are a few that did turn out though:

I thought this one in particular turned out interesting, although it was somewhat accidental. You can see the netting from the castle lights pretty clearly in the full size version.

When the fireworks came to an end, even though I could have stayed for a couple of hours more I was really starting to get worn out at this point since I had been basically going practically nonstop for twelve hours at this point, and decided to call it a night, but not before doing a bit more browsing in the shops on Main Street, where I grabbed a couple of t-shirts to stave off my clean laundry shortage.

Sure enough, the snow had come to Main Street, and it seemed a bit more friendly than the industrial strength stuff we were getting back home at this point.

As I left the park I made a call home to let my parents know what I was up to,and since it was quieter than the monorail station I opted to take the ferry back to the TTC instead. I managed to catch this shot of the castle and train station as I rode across the Seven Seas Lagoon (it took several tries, but I like the way it turned out.)

Once the ferry arrived, I made the far-too-long walk to the bus stop, and a bus back to the hotel arrived in short order. Fortunately it wasn’t too crowded, and since the Hilton was the first stop it didn’t take too long to get back. Following a nice hot bath, I went to bed, not really having much in the way of plans for the next day.

Coming up in day 3: Aw man, you mean I have to go to Disney World again?  Also, Chasing a wandering bag, and Park Hopping for Dummies,

1 Comment »

  1. […] World or buried under eighteen inches of snow to do much Holiday stuff, but I did put together this post on the Disney version of Christmas that some people may find vaguely […]

    Pingback by Coal is Overrated: The 2010 Sledgehammer Last-Minute Christmas Gift Guide « The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0 — December 22, 2010 @ 1:53 am

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