Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Disney Parks Day 1, 2015 Disney Studios and The Magic Kingdom

So, despite my best hopes for getting to Disney Studios before rope drop on our first morning, we were a bit sluggish getting going, especially since everyone wanted to sit down and eat breakfast before we caught the bus. 

Jason was kind enough to carry my second camera, with a slightly wider angled lens than my own, for many of the park days, so some of his shots are mixed in with my own.

we still made it into the parks at opening! We weren't at the front of the crowd, but we were close enough to get into line at Rockin' Roller Coaster without a long wait as it opened for business.


Since Jason had never been to Disney, why not start him off on one of the biggest coasters of all four parks? 3.5 Gs on the first inversion is harder than a space shuttle launch!

I took the fifth wheel seat this time around. 

and I was clearly not up to full park mode yet, as I forgot to take my hat off before launch. You can see it flying off in the photo above. My only saving grace was that I always pin my head back against the headrest to keep from getting a killer headache. It flapped along until I could crane around the harness and grab it with my hand. I remember hearing Nick's screams and giggles and whoops and thinking, "This is why I'm here."

Sam spotted a stocking cap that, later that day, she wished she'd bought. 
(We went back the following night and got it.)

We also got the 2015 recreations off to a decent start after our first ride. 

2008 versus 2015

Which just goes to show you, the merchandise sticks around a LONG time in these places.

Next up: Tower of Terror

We had fastpasses for this, but as we emerged from RnR, we saw the CMs holding their little signs that the ride was down for the time being. We wandered up the street a bit but shortly thereafter noticed the CMs disappear, which meant they were back in business. 

This is not Sam's ride. She does it, once per trip, for the ride photo, and basically because it was Jason's first trip. She hates elevators, has a phobia about them breaking and falling, which, of course, is the entire idea of the ride here, with some fun Twilight Zone narrative thrown in for flavor. And it's gorgeously themed.




Also new to Memory Maker (the package that gives you all of the photos taken in the park on rides and by park photographers in a single price download) are videos. A little creepy to realize you're being filmed as well as photographed. It did catch me swatting Bob's arms out of my face before the photograph, though, lol. He's ruined more photos that way. 

After that, we had some time before our next fastpass and wandered over through the shops to One Man's Dream: The Walt Disney story for a bit.


They got rid of the monstrosity of a hat, but replaced it with a monstrosity of a stage. When can the Grauman Theater replica be enough?



For Dad: Spin and Marty!


We ended up at Toy Story Mania too early for our FP time anyway, so we took a few photos with the area photographer, met Mickey, and did the Great Movie Ride before circling back around to Toy Story. 

The instruction to "use the force" in one shot made me think they were adding something to the photo, but . . . nope.

Usually when they ask you to act something out, they're adding an overlay for you to find:

(the only shot of Grauman's inside that came out remotely interesting.)

Guess who played 5th wheel here?

despite renting a really nice F1.8 lens (HEAVY) for the trip, I managed to blur the only one I tried of Nick on the game.

We had reservations for lunch at Prime Time Cafe where we met up with Sabre for a bit before being called to our table.


our calendar reads 1952

After lunch we had our third FP at Star Tours. They've really amped up the little Jedi training thing, seems like it runs just about constantly all day long with throngs of younglings waiting for their 30 seconds of plastic lightsaber encounter with Vadar.

leaving Studios

We headed back to the rooms to nap so we could try and stay up until the 2 a.m. close at the Magic Kingdom that night. 

And a shower. It was HOT. 2015 will go down among all 8 December trips as the hottest on record. Blech.

arriving at MK at dusk

Sam doesn't quite fit behind Minnie's ear anymore. 

Fittingly, our first foray into the MK and Jason's very first time on Main Street, they were lighting up the Castle at that moment.

Since we'd used our FP on the first park, we sauntered around just taking in the Christmas decorations and decided to give the 25 minute wait at Haunted Mansion a go. 

It was closer to 45 and the heat was rough squeezed tightly in the queue inching forward. I don't know how those summer guests survive.

I was excited to get to try out how well the F1.8 would work on the super dark ride. Even down to as low as I could go hand-held, the movement of the car often caused blur but I caught a lot more ghosts this time that ever before!

We had only ever done Hall of Presidents once, in 2002, but with Jason, everything old was new again. And he's a history major with a huge presidential interest, so it was a must do

We didn't quite plan our timing right, since the main thing I wanted to do was get a good spot on Main Street for the Castle projection show and the fireworks, but when we emerged from HoP, we were trapped in place by the Electric Parade.

So by the time we got to the hub, moving five people into a good position was nigh impossible. We just squeezed into the side and Sam suggested we stay put. I pouted but didn't abandon them. These crowds are wall to wall people and finding a better spot where Sam wasn't completely blocked by tall people would have been tough even if we hadn't been delayed by the parade crossing. 

this is pretty deceptive. It looks like we are a lot closer to center than we actually are.

It wasn't a terrible angle for the projection show

But the shortcoming became immediately apparent when the fireworks started. They were at least 50% obstructed by our angle. Sam was bummed since this is her favorite show and they switch over to Holiday Wishes (different soundtrack) after tonight. 

After standing for the hour+ we were ready to sit for a bit. PeopleMover fit the bill.

In 2006 Nick was being a silly 13 year old. In 2010 a cocky senior in HS.
So I asked him to do whatever silly 22 year olds do this time around.

the flash was not his friend, but I got a good shot!

After that, we took in Carousel of Progress, the longest running stage show in U.S. history that debuted at the World's Fair in 1964. It was installed at WDW in 1975 and thus marks its 40th anniversary here.


The first three scenes have remained virtually unchanged, depicting 1900, 1920, and 1940.

Alas, the final scene originally was the 60s but no one could leave well enough alone and it's been updated several times, but not frequently enough to ever keep up. The last time they spent any money on it was what remains today, done in 1993, the same year Nick was born, envisioning the "House of 2000" and boy, does it show. I'd rather see the 1960s.

Post Carousel, we took in the Monsters Show, and since I was in both Monsters shirt and hat, I had a bit part in the show. 

The gang was flagging. It wasn't nearly 2 a.m. We agreed to ride Pooh and then head for Main Street and the exit. We made it to nearly 1 by the time we got to the room.




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