Saturday, September 17, 2016

Sammi's Belated Birthday Weekend Getaway

It wouldn't be a trip post without cloud photos from the window seat!

I was following the river before I realized we were right up on the coast!

Bill picked me up and I hung out at their place to work for the afternoon before we headed out for dinner at Disney Springs. Sam and Jason were headed from Sarasota after her class got out at 6, so they wouldn't be joining us until after dinner. I activated my park pass, we grabbed dinner at Earl of Sandwich, and played around the World of Disney for a bit.  


I had to have this magnet -- they're doing a retro mash-up of old Disneyland ride posters (Monstro from Pinocchio here) with Star Wars. 



Bill and Julie also wanted to get Sam a tiara she'd tried on when they attended the Flower and Garden Festival last spring, so we had stopped by the Arribas Brothers store in Disney Springs. I'd pulled up the photo she'd taken of herself so we'd know which one she'd liked and we found it. Julie had walked over to the shop counter with it in hand and he'd gone and gotten a boxed one for her and rung it up. I glanced over at the register and for one second I thought, "$15? Not bad!" before it hit me, without my reading glasses, that the register had an additional "1" in front of it. $115?!?

Julie sort of looked stunned. I said, "Oh, no. She's not actually getting coronated. No way."

So we returned to the display and selected one that wasn't quite THAT princessy for her highness.

And she loved it. She elected to save it for our second park day so we could all wear our ears to the MK on Saturday.


The next morning the five of us were out bright and early to hit up the Magic Kingdom for her 21st birthday!

I don't usually get to snap a photo of the gates because we're never driving ourselves and you don't get a clear windshield shot from the bus. We parked, hopped the tram from the lot, then hopped the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. You also don't have to do all of THAT from the bus, either!

I'd rigged up the GoPro on my hat to wear around the MK and at first, I wasn't sure where the "on" button was so you've got Sam turning it on and off for me until I got the hang of it. Here we are getting through the gates:

And with the early morning sun, I spotted that all of us (except Bill) were casting mouse ear shadows, we had to line up for a photo. Jason added fake ears for Bill!

All of the fall decorations were out in force


for a Saturday morning, the park was astonishingly empty

okay, not totally empty. All things are relative.

the birthday button girl

I have a new wide angle lens that I'm still getting used to but I'm really enjoying the fuller perspectives.

Off to Adventureland!

First ride: Pirates of the Caribbean

Now, this walk through the queue is pretty fun since there is literally NO ONE else around

but I don't wanna be a pirate! No trip is complete without Seinfeld references.

Next up, Splash Mountain! Sped up because, c'mon, you can still the queue and we aren't saying anything anyway. 

and here's the full ride-through.

The man and his little boy sitting behind me were interesting to listen to. Dad had convinced his son he was going to love it. Son was clearly not buying it. By the time of the big drop, he was crying. 

Bill, on the other hand, bailed out of the cheer pose too soon to brace for the splash. 

We walked around Frontierland and over to Fantasyland

this is one of the little spots in Frontierland with the bakery specialities. The big bakery on Main Street is undergoing refurbishment at the moment. 

As is the Castle...

Jason and Bill give it their best

and at about this point, the GoPro battery died. So I plugged it into the portable charger for the next hour while we cooled off at Gaston's Tavern, rode The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan, and had lunch at Columbia Harbor House.

Different from most trips, our choices of rides were entirely predicated on where there would be air conditioning, regardless of whether we really love the ride or not. Little Mermaid fit the bill. It also let me play with the F2.8 end of the new lens to see how clean I could get dark shots.

Post mermaid, our FastPass window for Peter Pan was open, so we hopped on and rode that before breaking for lunch at Columbia Harbor House with the masses. The crowds had finally shown up on a hot September Saturday at 1:00. The cashier saw Sam's birthday button and included a free little chocolate brownie cake for her gratis with the lunch order. 

We left CHH, shopped around the Haunted Mansion store Memento Mori, and decided to try riding it later at night since the wait was at 45 minutes and a lot of the queue is outdoors. We made our way around to Tomorrowland and got inside for Carousel of Progress for some more AC.

Then we headed out of Tomorrowland and into the Ice Cream Parlour. 

We ended up going back up to the Tomorrowland Terrace to find a cool spot to eat out ice cream. I hooked around to the restroom only to run directly into Tom Bricker and his wife Sarah walking the opposite way. I was so dumbfounded to have run into them in real life, I didn't say anything. I tweeted at him it was like seeing the Disco Yeti actually move. Sam was so bummed she didn't get to spot them. We follow them on their Disney Tourist Blog, Facebook, and Instagram. 

At this point, we were already seeing a lot of curb space being taken up so we chose a spot and baked on the asphalt waiting for the 3:00 parade. Julie and Bill had never seen this parade, and we decided to sit it out and then head for the resort room for a few hours to get out of the worst of the heat and humidity that was eating our brains at this point. We took turns popping into the Main Street stores for some relief. 



And it is a compulsion that I take entirely too many photos of any Disney parade, despite having a million other photographs of the same stuff. I can't stop myself.

Then we got out of Dodge.

I had gotten a super cheap room at All Star Movies for the night so we could cool off in the afternoon and collapse at night and still be nearby for the next morning. We'd gotten a text the room was ready when we were at lunch, so all we had to do was drive Sam's car over, wave our Magic Band at the room we were assigned and never set foot at the front desk!

We all put our feet up in the AC. I showered and changed to feel more human again, then downloaded the photos and video and we set out again around 5:30 that evening in order to make the Space Mountain fastpass window in time.

And then we made our way around to Frontierland to eat, only to discover if we did, I'd miss the castle projection show and fireworks, so everyone was nice enough to delay dinner so we could get back to Main Street in time for a good spot.

We made our way over to Cosmic Rays to grab a bite and everyone was just about falling asleep in their french fries, so we crossed out of Tomorrowland just in time to hit the Main Street Electrical Parade coming through. So much for a nighttime castle photo! 

we did manage a photo together at the train station, since Main Street was otherwise occupied.

caught a bit of the Electrical Water Pageant on the way to the buses. It's the longest running show at Walt Disney World, premiering when the park opened in October, 1971.

Once back at the resort, I wandered about taking photos in the dark before calling it a night.

We only spent half a day at Hollywood Studios the following day:

Star Wars is taking over

Our first stop after a bite of breakfast was Toy Story, which Julie and Bill had never ridden. The lines for more than a decade are prohibitive unless you have fastpasses, and they are hard to get. But this past year, Disney added a third ride and it's cut down tremendously on the stand-by wait. We took the 20 minutes to enjoy the queue, which we typically bypassed going through the FP line. It's scaled so that you are the size of a small toy in Andy's playroom

walls are up everywhere right now, with lots of construction going on for both Toy Story Land and  Star Wars Land 

Our last stop of the day after lunch and before hitting the road for Sarasota was he Star Wars Launch Bay that Bill and Julie had not seen yet. In the back, a free roaming Jawa spotted Sammi and decided she was his queen. They were roughly the same size. 

a few last street scenes on the way out of the park

We also had a chance to visit the beach and get our toes in the sand as well as do some shell hunting

This guy was beautiful and I would've taken him home

except, if you can tell, he was still occupado with a squishy!

and this little guy managed to scuttle across Sam's foot and freak her out

my little collection 

Sam's place is the orange bungalow behind the blue one

and this is Mittens (so named by Sam) who belongs across the street but comes over to visit.

On the way home, I ended up on the Owl Plane!

and one final window seat shot for good measure. 

I have no idea why these circles exist or why sections of them are lushly green in different patterns, but they are cool to spot because it means we are almost home. Where there is little humidity, the leaves are starting to turn, and the air is getting more crisp and more cool with every passing week. 

It's good to be home. 



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