Category Archives: My Life

Weird Park Coincidences

It has been many years since my dad last went with me on a trip to Disney World. However, back when he did go with us every year there was always something we could expect to happen. Yes, there were the normal jokes we could always expect him to make. For instance, every time we were about to go into the Enchanted Tiki Room? He would look up to the sky and, regardless of the weather, remark that “It looks like it might rain”.

I was an embarrassingly high age before I realized he said that in reference to the scene when it rains in the show itself.

But no, silly jokes are not what this post is about. There was always something quite eerie that would occur. Whenever my dad would ride the Haunted Mansion, without fail, the attraction would stop while we were in the room with Madame Leota. If he was off riding something else while some of us got on the Haunted Mansion? It would work fine, or at the very least stop in a different room. I can remember a time when I thought it odd, because we had stopped in the next room, but then remembered my dad was a few doom buggies behind mine, and that he would still have been in the room. It turned into a Thing with us, always pointing out that yes, we did stop there, or when he wasn’t there, ‘Oh my gosh we didn’t stop in the room with Leota, Daddy, it must have been because you weren’t there!’

 

Has anything like this ever happened to any of you? Odd patterns that seem to happen with you at the parks? Surely I’m not the only one… because that would be even spookier.

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Filed under General, My Life, Theme Parks

The Haunted Mansion, and My First Disney Memory

The Haunted Mansion is one of my two favorite attractions at Walt Disney World. I could ride it over and over, I’ve listened to the soundtrack on repeat, and know all of the little trivia bits hidden throughout. However, this attraction and I were not always on the best of terms.

Rewind the clock to around twenty years ago. I say ‘around’ because I’m not sure if this was my first Disney trip I am remembering, or one when I was slightly older, but whichever it is, I was a tiny little thing. My mother was going to take me on this nice, air conditioned ride in a very pretty, big house. Everything was going well. I had been warned that it might be a bit scary, but that it was not real and that I shouldn’t be afraid. All right. I was perfectly fine with this. I even made it past the graveyard in the waiting line without complaint.

And then we walked inside.

And I looked up above the fireplace and saw the most terrifying thing I had ever set eyes upon in my short life. A painting of a skeleton. I burst into tears and my mother had to carry me outside.

Some people think back to their first Disney memory and remember meeting a character they loved, or something that was a lot of fun for them at the time. My first memory is of being scared to death by an attraction I now love. That’s close enough, right?

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Filed under My Life, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

The Return of Disneyfest

Last winter I started what I referred to as Disneyfest. This impressive-sounding title was really nothing more than me vowing to watch all 50 of the Walt Disney Animation Studios titles in release order, one a day, until I got to Tangled. It was loads of fun, and despite occasionally missing a day, I did watch every theatrical release in the proper order. It really is an interesting way to go through these things. It gives a bit of perspective and context that I missed, being born so late.

The only bad thing was that fifty movies were over far too soon! I wanted to start another Disneyfest, but of what? The straight-to-video releases didn’t exactly appeal. I could watch the shorts, I thought, but there are so very many of them! It would take forever! I would have to be crazy to want to watch those, right?

Well, apparently I’m crazy. Yesterday I managed to find a list online of every single Disney short in the order they were released. So, this is me putting my foot down. It is going to take a long time, yes, but I’ll do it.

I’m going to watch every Disney animated short, in order, as best I can.

Who’s taking bets on how long before I go crazy? (Or maybe that should be before I go… plane crazy. 😉 )

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Filed under Animation, My Life

The Tale of a Spontaneous WDW Trip

Last Friday my brother and I decided to go to Walt Disney World… that Sunday. For those who know me, a spontaneous trip to Florida (we live in Georgia) is not something I normally do. Our family’s Disney trips are normally planned nearly an entire year in advance, but he and I both had three days off from work and enough money, so we decided ‘what the heck?’ and went anyway. Saturday night we packed up, and the following morning we set out!

Just the two of us. Mind you, I have quite a large family, so it was quite odd to be going there without several other people. After driving for around nine hours through what we lovingly referred to as ‘A whole lot of Nothing’…

Seriously, between Atlanta and Orlando there is nothing.

… We finally arrived in Kissimmee! This trip being so sudden we were doing it as cheaply as we could manage, which meant no Disney resort for us. We stayed at a little Howard Johnson a few minutes from the gate. $40 a night… can’t really beat that anywhere, much less Florida.  After we checked in our options for evening entertainment were either: go swimming, or go to Downtown Disney.

We chose Downtown Disney.

My bff Donald.

It was around this time that I realized I had left my camera at home. Looked like my phone’s camera would have to suffice. My little brother, not wanting to take any pictures, was probably very glad about this. We looked around in the shops for a little while and then got hungry. Even though we were trying to go as cheap as possible… we could not pass up an opportunity to go to the Rainforest Cafe. It had been YEARS since we’d eaten there, as our grandmother isn’t particularly fond of it.

Dory joined us for dinner.

After dinner it was getting late, so we went back to the hotel and went to sleep. The next morning we needed to wake up bright and early, because we were going to the Magic Kingdom!

A sign that it will be a wonderful day.

Something about driving under that arch always makes me smile like a silly little kid. Oh, who am I kidding, I am a silly little kid. We were doing wonderfully on time, which is rare. Generally my family is trying to get children dressed and fed and out the door, which can take a while. With just my brother and myself we were pulling out of the hotel parking lot before 8:00 AM, without really trying.

Waiting for the tram... Remember when I said my brother didn't want to take pictures?

We bought our two-day passes and headed to the line for the single greatest attraction at all of Walt Disney World… the Monorail.

"Please stand clear of the doors..."

"...por favor manténganse alejado de las puertas."

We were doing really great on time at this point. We were actually going to get to the park before it opened! Unheard of in my family! That is… until they needed to add another monorail train to the track. We ended up stopping three times, for a grand total of around twenty minutes. This didn’t bother me so much, but there was one mother in the same compartment as us who was enraged! I don’t see how anyone could get so angry on a day that involves the Magic Kingdom, but there you go.

In the past when we’ve gone, as soon as we get into the park we split up. My brother and I run off to Tomorrowland to get fastpasses for Buzz Lightyear and ride Space Mountain, while the rest of the family takes the babies through some of Fantasyland. It seems like Fantasyland and Tomorrowland are popular places for early morning visitors though, so this trip my brother and I decided to head in the other direction, and went around to Adventureland.

Couldn't help but to stop briefly to get a picture of this though!

Heading to this side of the circle first thing allowed us to do something we have not done in many, many years. We walked right on to Pirates of the Caribbean. I told my brother it felt like we had gone back in time to before the movie came out. While on the attraction… it stopped. For around 20 minutes. This was turning out to be a running theme for the day. Once finally off of Pirates and back into the hot Florida air, we headed past the (closed) Enchanted Tiki Room. I had completely forgotten about it being closed still, so we were bummed out that we didn’t get to see it. Next on our list was Big Thunder Mountain. This was the point in our day when I nearly had a heart attack. No, not from the attraction itself, but from the fact that we walked right on to it. Literally. Once into the line we did not pause until we were at the little gate to wait on our train. This has NEVER happened to me, ever! It seems heading in this direction was really a great plan. We could have walked on to Splash Mountain once we got off of Big Thunder Mountain too, but my brother and I weren’t really looking forward to being wet so early in the morning.

Then it was time for my absolute favorite attraction at the Magic Kingdom… The Haunted Mansion. If you have not been there recently and haven’t seen the new interactive queue, you really are missing out. It was wonderful! My brother and I stood around playing with the different things for a few minutes (because, again, there wasn’t any wait in the line).

The Haunted Mansion only ended up stopping for around ten minutes on us. It seemed like our luck was beginning to look up.

Next up was Fantasyland. We did It’s a Small World, PhilharMagic, and then stared at what we could see on the other side of the wall. I cannot wait for the new area to open up.

I was hating myself at this point for not having a better camera!

It was around lunchtime, so we went to eat. This was when it finally sank in how not-crowded the park was that day. We walked right in to Starlight Cafe, stood behind one person in line, and had our pick of tables to sit at. If you’ve been to Disney before and have tried to eat at the Starlight Cafe you know how rare this is. Normally it is so crowded in there you can’t see the floor!

You know, Mickey Mouse is a star with a tail too...

We really couldn’t believe our luck. After lunch though was Tomorrowland! We rode Space Mountain, of course, and then hopped on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.

I beat my brother... by a lot.

After the Carousel of Progress, a few times around the People Mover, and Dream-Along With Mickey and we’d done everything we normally do over the course of a whole day… and it was just past one in the afternoon.  We hung around the park until a little after six when we decided to head back to the hotel.

The next morning we woke up, loaded our bags into the truck, checked out of the hotel, and headed over to Hollywood Studios. We ended up rolling into our parking spot at… 8:15. We had planned on how long it takes to get into the Magic Kingdom by nine, not how long it takes to get into Hollywood Studios by nine! So we had around thirty minutes to just stand in line. This though gave us a wonderful opportunity to plan out our plan of attack for the day. We knew we needed to leave in the early afternoon in order to get home at a decent hour, so we had to be prepared.

My brother offered to run to get fastpasses for Toy Story Mania as soon as the park was opened. He’s fast at these things. I on the other hand headed straight to the newly re-opened Star Tours.

It. Was. AMAZING. I loved the original Star Tours, and the new version is even better. I ended up exiting the attraction at the same time my brother walked over, having successfully scored fastpasses for Toy Story. He said that by the time he got the tickets the line behind him was already around an hour long. An hour long! For fastpasses! I sure was glad he is so quick!

We rode Star Tours together, then split up again. He wanted to go ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, so I went to the Magic of Disney Animation. Have I seen this show a thousand times? Yes. Do I already know everything they tell you there? Yes. Is it my favorite thing about Hollywood Studios anyway? YES.

My brother showed back up just in time to sit through the character drawing class. We drew Minnie Mouse. Or… tried to, anyway.

It would help if I could draw circles.

At last it was time for our Toy Story Mania fastpasses! My brother of course won. He always wins. To celebrate we went to Pizza Planet for lunch. We seem to always have lunch at Pizza Planet while at Hollywood Studios. How could you not though? Oh sure, some people talk about how much they adore the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, but for me being able to laugh that I’m at Pizza Planet beats anything else.

We finished up the last few things left we wanted to do – The Great Movie Ride, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, and another trip on Tower of Terror for my brother and it was time to, sadly, leave for home.

It was a lot of fun though. Not very crowded, no rain… maybe I should make more spontaneous trips down to Orlando!

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Filed under My Life, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World