Thursday, February 14, 2013

Disney - Day 4...and a Dilemma

Monday night, Sister called me with some big news: President Obama was going to be visiting our little town of Decatur on Thursday and she thought that she might be able to get the whole family into the event to see him. So, exciting! Of course, the problem with was that we were in Florida, 300 miles from Decatur and not scheduled to come home until Thursday, after Obama would be back in D.C., celebrating Valentine's Day with Michelle. We also had basically one thing scheduled the whole week, and that was dinner and a show on Wednesday night and I really didn't want to cancel those plans. So, we would have to drive back to Decatur after the show in order to do both things. We would be driving from about 9 pm until 4 am. I told Sister that we'd sleep on it and let her know in the morning.

Tuesday morning, we let the kids vote on whether they wanted to leave early, or stay at Disney. The Baby and the Boy were against going to see POTUS right off the bat. The Girl was more interested in returning, but the K had decided that he was going to have to be the one to drive all night and used his lawyer skills on the Girl to talk her into voting with the other kids. I texted Sister to deliver the bad news that we couldn't make it (I am in blue and Robert is the less-cool name of the K):

I felt sad to be missing seeing Obama, but we'd already seen Honey Boo Boo, which is essentially not at all the same.

So, decision made, we headed to Epcot. I think Epcot has the reputation of being the ugly stepsister of the Disney Parks. Naturally, I loved it most of all. Seriously. I went to Epcot (when I think it was still EPCOT) right after it first opened in about 1987. I was six, give or take ten years. My memory of that trip was that it was incredibly hot and we ate lunch in Morocco and the Disney cast members in that country were all Cuban or Puerto Rican, I guess because genuine Moroccans were hard to come by in central Florida. I'm sure that some of the rides were there, but we just went to the country showcase, as far as I remember.

Evidence that Epcot is a less popular park is that we got a parking space within easy walking distance to the entrance. I have parked farther from the entrance to Publix than we parked from the Epcot entrance. We scooted over to get fast passes for Soarin' which is one of the three popular attractions at Epcot. You have to be 40" to go on the ride because it's a simulation of hang gliding over California and not for little tots. The Baby tops out at 40.5" with her afro, but we were confident that she would make it.

Baby with an afro
That picture reminds me of what our nanny said about the Boy the first time she saw him as a newborn. She looked quite surprised and said, "Well, he sure does have a lot of hair for a Caucasian baby." Sorry about the quality of the picture below, but he was about four months and in need of a haircut:

No, no, no Daddy! Go get Mommy!

Sorry, back to Epcot. We got the Fast Passes, and then went to "The Seas with Nemo and Friends." We sat in a conveyor belt clam shell and zipped through a five minute recap of the movie. Hmmm. I'm beginning to sense a pattern. There were some actual real fish, though, so after the ride we checked out the real fish in the aquariums.

Yes, we drove 300 miles to see fish when we live in
Atlanta, home of the world's largest aquarium!

After Nemo, the Boy decided that he wanted to see Spaceship Earth, which is the ride inside the big Epcot sphere. We all agreed, specifically because the Boy picked it and he'd been a little wary of the giant ball since he saw it on Saturday during the fireworks. He thought it looked scary and that it might roll off its perch and chase us a la Indiana Jones. There was a line for this attraction, but I took the opportunity to hand out snacks and to remind myself that the ride had nothing to do with Scientology and was not called "Battlefield Earth." Like many of the other rides, you get in a cart on a conveyor belt, but instead of a movie recap, you see a brief history of technology and then a glimpse of how technology might be shaping our future.

One thing I haven't mentioned is the character experiences. One of the ways that Disney seeks to draw people to Epcot is that there are a lot of characters milling about and the lines seem shorter than the character meeting lines at the Magic Kingdom. This is a big thing that changed since I went to Disney as a kid. I don't think we saw any characters when I went to Disney. Oh, maybe I caught a glimpse of someone really obscure like Sneezy Dwarf, but that was it. Sometime in the intervening 20 years, meeting the characters became a big deal. Kids carry autograph books and try to collect as many signatures as possible from their favorite characters. There are character meals where you can expect that a bunch of princesses will show up and eat cereal with you, and there are designated spots where you can wait in line to have your picture taken with a character and get his or her autograph. Thankfully, the Boy and the Baby are freaked out by costumed characters so we didn't have to do any of the character encounters. This left more time for the rides, as far as I was concerned. Although seeing all the kids waiting in line to meet Donald, Daisy, and Minnie while we raced by to get to a ride made me feel a little bit like we were skipping the receiving line at a wedding and just eating the cake.

After Spaceship Earth, we headed to lunch in Mexico. Of course, it wasn't really Mexico, although we did get caught in a shoot out between rival drug cartels. Very authentic. We ate at La Cantina de San Angel, which was a quick service restaurant that wasn't too quick. During the wait, I amused myself by watching all the Louisiana folks in their Mardi Gras attire. Lots o' beads. Lots o' purple, green, and gold. Lots o' these shirts, which I had to research to understand:

So, this turns out to be a reference to your position on your Mardi Gras parade float so that your friends will know where you are. Good to know, except that the people wearing the shirts on Mardi Gras were at Epcot and not on parade floats at all. Oh, screw logic, laissez les bon temps rouler, y'all!

After Mexico, we pulled some fast passes for Maelstrom, which is a ride on a Viking ship. We had to kill about 45 minutes, so we checked out China, Mexico, and Norway and tried on lots of funny hats:

Senorita el Nina

Pappa har ganske flettene
Maelstrom was a fun boat ride through Norwegian history beginning with the Vikings and ending up in a fishing village that looks like Martha's Vineyard. The Boy didn't love it because you ride backwards for a little bit, but it was quite un-scary for those of us who don't mind riding backwards.

We were getting close to our scheduled time for Soarin', so we left the remaining countries unexplored and headed to "The Land" where Soarin' is located. We were early, so we hit a nice little agriculture attraction called, "Living With the Land" that toured riders (ain't no walking tours at Disney) through greenhouses and fish farms. Right before we got on the ride, Sister called. She was sweetening the Obama deal by offering to get us a photo op. I was flattered that Obama wanted to have his picture taken with us, but I told Sister that we were still committed to see "Fantasmic" and eat a buffet dinner at 3:30 at Hollywood & Vine. If you want to know, I was holding out for Obama to give me a pony, a back rub, and to name me Blogger Laureate of the United States. I would have even split the baby (not the Baby) and taken the pony and a facial, but he wouldn't budge. Ce la vie!

We finally finished up with Soarin' which was totally fun and the Baby did not fall out of her seat or have any problems despite being a mere 40". I could see someone getting a little freaked out because you're actually suspended in the air and there's a big IMAX screen in front of you so it feels like you are actually in the movie. Very trippy.

After Soarin' we retired to the hotel so the kids could go swimming. Our hotel's pool had a water slide and, oddly, a pool side macaw which squawked periodically. The Boy was very taken with the bird and said this:

The Boy: If I had a bird like that, I would call him Marv and if he got really noisy, I'd just say, "Shut it, Marv!"

By the way, he tried to say, "Shut it, Marv!" in a New York accent, but he just sounded like he had a speech impediment. I'm pretty sure that the Boy was born about 100 years too late because his future is really in vaudeville, probably in the Catskills.

I'm going to wrap up tomorrow with our trip to Disney's Hollywood Studios which you know better have been fucking awesome since we gave up seeing the President to go there!


  1. We flew cross country to CO. Was Andy's favorite activity cross country skiing or anything close to skiing? No. It was swimming in the condo pool with his friends. A pool no different than an Atlanta pool. I will say there was the novelty of the pool's being heated....but don't most Atlanta pools feel heated during our summers as well? 

    1. I totally know what you mean! When we went to Washington, D.C. the favorite activity was riding the escalator with my father. I could have flown Dad down here and taken everyone to the mall for the same experience at a much lower price!