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Friday, June 8, 2012

Disney World Middle School Trip - May 2010 - Day 3

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Day 3 of the trip - which was to be our last in the parks - was a big big day. 2 parks plus the big concert. WOOHOO this was going to be crazy but fun.

And speaking of crazy... in a rare instance of bad Disney planning, Matt & Mike decided that the first park of the day would be Disney Hollywood Studios (DHS). Why was this a bad choice? Our day at DHS just so happened to coincide with the grand re-opening of the new Star Tours (ST). The bad news - huge crowds expected. The good news - the predictions of huge crowds actually kept everyone who wasn't there for the big re-opening away, so it actually wasn't as bad as many thought it would be. I should say that the predicted crowds kept everyone else away except us.

Upon entering the park it was clear that Star Wars was the order of the day. As we entered we say Storm Troopers standing atop the entrance gate ordering the crowds around. Now I should say that Charlotte is a big Star Wars fan, and under other circumstances we definitely would have ridden ST (and undoubtedly will the next time we go back). For us though, the big ride we wanted to go on was Toy Story Midway Mania (TSMM). So our first priority was to get FPs for TSMM. The problem was, with all the crowd control stuff in place for ST we had to take a very roundabout route. Along the way we checked out the FP times for ST - and they were at 3:45. No thanks. Actually it was moot as we would be gone  by then anyway.

Trying out hats at the RnRC gift shop
We got to TSMM, picked up our FPs and as the standby time said 10 minutes we decided to ride. In reality it was basically a walk-on. It's also nice to walk through the queue area and see all of the cool details. I also pointed out to the girls what the queue area was supposed to represent and pointed out how the ride was set up like a toy and you go into the box of the toy. I always say that one of the problems I have with FP is that you often bypass the queue areas, and some of the queue areas are nearly as good as the attractions themselves.

One attraction that held a double appeal for us was Rock 'N Roller Coaster (RnRC). First, everyone was excited to ride. Second, it was on the SH. So we headed over to Sunset Boulevard. The standby line said 30 minutes but we couldn't get a FP anyway so we got in the line.The girls wanted to ride in the front so we had to wait a bit longer but it was still only 23 minutes. @ of the girls sat in the front and I sat in the 2nd row with the other. As always, the super-stretch was rockin'!

Stars are born!
We left RnRC and decided to check out The American Idol Experience (AIE) - another item on the SH list. When we got to the end of Sunset Boulevard, however, we discovered that, due to a special parade for ST, we quite literally could not get to the area of the park where AIE resides. In fact, we couldn't get across the plaza at all. So, we headed back up Sunset Boulevard. We could now get another FP. I suggested Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (TZToT) but the girls said they'd rather to RnRC again so we got FPs for that. We then watched the 10:15 showing of Beauty and the Beast - another item on the SH - even though we were a bit late.

The decided to use out FP for TSMM, but when we got there we were a bit early so we walked through Walt Disney - One Man's Dream. You never have to ask me to walk through this exhibit - I've always been fascinated with Walt Disney and I love looking at all the memorabilia. Upon leaving we ran into Matt and his group so we stopped and visited for a while. After that we used our FPs for TSMM. I was actually disappointed because my score was quite a bit lower than from our earlier ride.

With the producer after the audition
We then headed over to AIE to knock another item off of the SH list. I had done AIE in a previous trip and has a blast, and I hoped the girls would enjoy it as much as I did. Even though the girls were too young for the show (the age limit is 14 and they were all 13), they were still allowed to audition. And they all did an awesome job!

From there we went to The Great Movie Ride (GMR) but the line was too long. The kids were getting hungry so we decided to stop for lunch. With the crowds I was worried about lines, but we went to Starring Roles Cafe and the wait wasn't too bad at all. And the food was pretty good, with a good vegetarian choice for Charlotte (I know, this is the first I've mentioned she is a vegetarian). We also ran into Matt and his crew. Matt told me that they went to GMR and how there were Storm Troopers there hassling all the people in line by telling them to line up straight. It sounded like it was hilarious - too bad we missed it.

After lunch we went back to RnRC to use our FPs. After that we strolled down Sunset Boulevard and did some shopping. We made our way out of the park. Text up...


After leaving DHS, the girls were to meet up on a special bus that would take them to Downtown Disney (DD) with the other students who would be performing that afternoon. The parents, however, had to fend for themselves. A couple of us met up and hopped a bus to Saratoga Springs (SS). We told the driver that where we really wanted to go was DD, and that we had been told that the only way to do that was to take a bus to a resort and then hop a bus to DD, but if we went to SS we could walk. The driver said he would tell us the best place to get off in SS to walk to DD. Actually, a young couple on the bus overheard us and said they were doing the same thing, but that they had done it before and we could follow them. When we got off the bus some of us followed them to DD while others went off on their own. A couple of other parents and I wanted to verify where the venue was, so we went to check it out first. We found the venue - The Waterside Stage - right on the water just outside of The World of Disney.

We had some time to kill before the show, so I walked around DD and did a little shopping - mostly at the World of Disney. As the time for the show approached I made my way to the stage as some of the other parents started trickling in. I should note here that Charlotte had been complaining of hoarseness all day. As the kids started  getting ready it was clear that Charlotte was upset about something. I asked her what was going on and she said that she had lost her voice and was afraid she wouldn't be able to sing. I told her to hang in there and do her best, and I was sure she'd be fine. As the start time got closer it looked like Charlotte was getting more and more upset, to the point where some of the other parent's were asking me what was wrong with her. Finally, Matt took her aside and said something to her and I saw Charlotte laugh. She wiped her eyes, got herself together, and the show started.

And the kids were awesome! Charlotte told me that the groups who do shows at Disney are given very strict guidelines around how long they can play, and that most groups limit the number of songs that they play to allow for time between songs. Matt and Mike, on the other hand, orchestrate everything so carefully that they are able to go right from one some to the next and were therefore able to do more songs. And all that work paid off - the show went off without a hitch. And Charlotte sounded great. There was actually a sizable audience - I'd say that the parents of the kids only made up about half of the audience - and I have no doubt any of them suspected that Charlotte had been having trouble with her voice.

After the show we made our way to MK. The kids all had a special bus but the grownups had to make our own way. A couple of us caught a bus to the Tick and Transportation Center where we caught a monorail to MK. We got to MK just before 6:00 and met up with our kid. Once I re-connected with the girls the first thing we did was to get FPs for Splash Mountain (Slim). The FP time was 9:45. We then road It's a Small World (IaSW) with a 5 minute wait (the sign said 10). After that we were hungry so we headed over to Pinocchio Village Haus for dinner. We met up with Matt and his party there. Our groups joined forces again and left Pinocchio Village Haus together heading to Peter Pan Flight (PP). The line said 35 minutes at PP so we decided to get a FP instead (10:25).

We then all road Haunted Mansion (HM) Pirates of the Caribbean (PotC) together, with no line to speak of for either. After that Matt wanted to leave to accommodate some of the folks that wanted to go back to the hotel and swim, so I took his group of girls in with mine. We were near to SplM and the line had died down so we did that with a 10 minute wait. Since Matt left he gave us the FPs he had for PP which gave us enough for the 6 girls so I sat it out while they road.

For our last ride of the trip we decided n Space Mountain. The girls from Matt's group had FPs but we didn't, so we just waited in the 20 minute line. After that we strolled down Main Street and went shopping at the Emporium. We left the Park at a bit after 11 and headed back to the hotel where the girls went swimming.

Well, that pretty much concluded our trip. It was a short trip but a lot of fun. The kids had a good time, as did I, and the concert was awesome.

A couple of thoughts. First, one thing I learned on this trip... do the shows. We did a lot of shows for the scavenger hunt - something we rarely do on do on Disney trips. And we really enjoyed the shows. We saw several that I've never seen before and enjoyed them all. And not just the shows - also the other performers. Because of the scavenger hunt we sought out street performers and parades as well, and again it was a lot of fun to enjoy these aspects of the parks that we usually ignore. And speaking of the scavenger hunt - I know you're dying to know... the girls won.

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