Mar 25, 2014

Disney 2014: Day 7 (Hollywood Studios)


You guys. At this point, I think you've forgotten what my blog normally looks like. I know I have.

I'm glad you've liked these Disney recaps, but they're like the hardest things I've ever done. God forbid I leave out one tiny detail. Let's not fool ourselves. I know you wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I did.

Very Loyal Blog Reader Rachel From North Carolina got to the end of Disney Day 6 and said she felt like she'd earned a sticker for the back of her car.

Y'ALL. If you made it to the end, you really did earn one.

I really ought to award CEUs for reading my posts.

This one's not getting any shorter, is it.

Okay, so Thursday night after we'd gotten in from Magic Kingdom, Nick threw up several times. He was up late that night being sick, and on Friday, our last day in the Parks, he felt like he couldn't go out. My mom volunteered to stay back with him, and the rest of us took off for Hollywood Studios.

Actually, now that I think about it, I think Grayson, Nathaniel and Jake went early and the rest of us met them there in time for our FastPass to Toy Story Mania at 10:00, but it's been more than a month now. And I never got the details from Grayson, so he or my sister will have to add them in the Comments or we'll just have to go with my version of events, which let's just be real, that's what we do most of the time here anyway.

Toy Story Mania was our first priority for a FastPass, because we knew how quickly that ride fills up.

I'm so thankful for FastPasses, because I'm gonna say something that sounds whiny, but there's no time like when you're recapping your Last Day in the Parks to say it, so here it is: LINES SUCK. Especially when you're toting a toddler. I'm just speaking a harsh truth.

Disney does what it can with interesting artwork and the occasional video monitor showing a vintage cartoon, but long lines are long lines. And 30-pound toddlers are 30-pound toddlers. And, little-known fact: they weigh more when they haven't had a nap. SUBSTANTIALLY MORE.

Nonetheless, once you get up to the front of one of the lines, all is forgiven as you climb on the ride for that experience.

Amelia rode between me and my sister, and she was this tiny little tyke in that seat ... Sarah Ellen ended up trying to put her arm around her so that she wouldn't fly out and bump her head on the hard plastic seat at every turn, because the lap guards did NOTHING to help restrain her.

Clearly I was too busy taking pictures to be of any assistance with ensuring the safety of my child.

Even with one arm around Amelia, my sister nearly doubled my score.

I would show you some of the 45 pictures I took while we were on the ride, but you know what? I was wearing 3D glasses when I took them. Guess who WASN'T wearing 3D glasses. My camera.

Just call me Einstein.

When we exited Toy Story Mania, Jake was so excited to see the Army Men across the street.

AAAAAND, right there ON the street!

You know what that meant, Internet. A chance to make a mad dash over to our stroller, grab our OFFICIAL LICENSED DISNEY AUTOGRAPH BOOKS and dash back to get the Army Man to sign them.

His signature is literally printed in block lettering: ARMY MAN.

Right after we saw the Army Man, Amelia, my dad and I ducked into the building where you can meet Buzz and Woody. Once again, my memory fails me when it comes to reminding me where everyone else went, but it was just the three of us in line for Buzz and Woody for about half an hour. And THEN ...

Amelia was so excited to meet them! Well, 10-percent terrified, 90-percent thrilled.

We finished up with Buzz and Woody just in time to walk over to our FastPass time for the Disney Junior Live show.

Fun Fact about this show: NO CHAIRS.

You walk in and it's just a sea of industrial-grade carpet, and they pack you in like sardines. Young and old alike, you're all on that floor.

Here's the thing: I sit on the floor all the time at home. That's really not a dealbreaker for me. BUT. I'm not trying to see -- and my FOUR KIDS aren't trying to see -- a cast of characters on a six-foot-tall stage while we're sitting on the floor at home. If this was how much of the characters I could see, you can imagine how much less of them Amelia and Jake could see:

I'd say that this was the most non-sensical thing I encountered at any of the Disney Parks. THAT SHOW NEEDS SEATS.

The music was cute, the little special effects were well-done (bubbles from the ceiling? YES PLEASE) ... but it was hard for the kids to see the stage and hard for my butt to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In addition to The Big Five, the Live show also featured Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins and Jake & the Neverland Pirates.

Later in the afternoon, we walked to the very back of the park to see Lights, Motors, Action!

If you've never seen it, it's really worth making the effort. It's along the back border of the park, and it's really loud (if your kids have sensory/hearing issues, they might not like it).

They explain to you that they're recording the entire thing on camera, and their camera crew is spread out across the set. They interview the drivers as they switch the sets up throughout the show.

Lightning McQueen makes a cameo!

Our kids were completely captivated by the entire thing. Jake winced when the stuntman fell off one of the buildings onto a landing pad below.

The guys who drive the bikes and cars are really amazing precision drivers.

It ABSOLUTELY made me miss driving a manual-transmission car, zipping around like I used to. In my Eagle Talon TSi. Grrrr.

It wasn't all cars and motorcycles, though. There was a stuntman on a Jet Ski, too.

His sequence was pretty darn incredible. He rode up and down the "canal" a few times, then hopped up onto the ramp and off the Jet Ski just as a fire ignited.

 Everything was choreographed down to the second.

A second stuntman came riding in from the left on a motorcycle, and he skidded straight into the fire.

Even though you know while this is happening that it's all meticulously planned and that all the necessary safety measures are in place, it's more than slightly disconcerting to watch a man literally burning right in front of your eyes -- one who only a few minutes before had been speaking to everyone on camera.


Once he'd been fully engulfed for several seconds, they came in with fire extinguishers and put him out, and then they spent a couple of minutes explaining the technology used in his protective wear.

That wasn't even the grand finale. They wrapped up with a big pyrotechnics display featuring some of the cars that had started the show.


Those explosions and fireballs were exactly as big and impressive as they appear to be in these pictures ... actually, probably even MORE impressive in person. It was QUITE a show.

I thought Jake was going to just keel over.

God love him, look at how excited he was.

If only we'd been able to make our way down to those stunt drivers with our OFFICIAL LICENSED DISNEY AUTOGRAPH BOOKS, Jake's life would have been complete.

I mean, he hopped right up and gave them a standing ovation.

Once some of the adrenaline had exited Jake's system, he, Nathaniel and I went to ride Star Tours, which I'd never ridden before.

I'd love to tell you what Grayson, my dad, Sarah Ellen and Amelia were off doing at that point, but again, they'll have to fill you in. No clue.

I was busy taking grainy photos in a 90-percent darkened area of Hollywood Studios with my phone.

This ride might have been 3D, too. That probably accounts for the horrible quality of these pictures. Also, BUMPY RIDE.

Right after we finished up there, we met everyone else over at Honey I Shrunk the Kids, which is a really cute play area. Everything in it is oversized -- WAY oversized.

For comparison's sake, here's a giant fly next to a sour-looking-but-normal-sized couple.

It was nice and shady in there, and we probably stayed in there for about 45 minutes.

Once Amelia figured out she wasn't afraid to slide, that's all she wanted to do. Up and down, up and down, up and back down again.

It ran really fast, so Nathaniel actually liked it, too.

I feel like we spent a long time in there but didn't really DO much. Huh. The details escape me.


Turns out the tunnels in there are great for hiding. And Magic Bands? They have your resort information and cell phone numbers stored in them in case you get separated from your kids, which is great. But your kid has to be FOUND first to be able to have his band scanned to get the information. Not an easy task when he or she is hiding. On purpose. Purposefully.

Supper that night was fairly early, 5:45, I think, at Sci-Fi Drive-in. This was our first meal at Sci-Fi, and it's totally different from any of the other Disney restaurants.

It's actually set up exactly like a drive-in movie theater (you eat in booths that are built into the shells of classic cars), and they show old sci-fi movies while you eat.

If I had my preference? I'd say they should just show all Disney movies all the time. The sci-fi stuff was actually pretty disgusting to watch while you eat. But the food was good and the ambiance was fun.

Grayson and the boys closed Hollywood out with Rockin' Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror.

Now, I've pretty much left strangers alone up to this point. BUT. Please enjoy the passenger in the front seat with them on Rockin' Rollercoaster here:

Nathaniel's face here on Tower of Terror absolutely owns me.

It looks like he and the little girls to his left are holding hands.

Also, the girl behind Nathaniel, over his right shoulder? Gorgeous.

Again, Nathaniel with the literal hair-pulling.

But the girl in the back row? SHE TAKES THE CAKE. TODAY, TOMORROW AND NEXT YEAR.

We weren't sure if Jake would ride Tower of Terror, but he did! He rode it at least twice that night.

And I'm sorry, but this picture pretty much has it ALL. A lady with a look of terrified excitement, a couple kissing (What the WHAT?), a man who looks like he's on the couch watching Monday-night football, and my family. Who look fairly disgusted by the kissers.

Jake's second ride was less remarkable in terms of fellow riders, other than the one guy on the left who looked like he was trying to escape and the girls over there who were voguing.

Their side was a lot more boring. Eh, you win some, you lose some.

Anyway, after riding their hearts out that last night, they bought a Tower of Terror T-shirt for Jake and made sure to get a picture in front of the ride for me.

And I think that finally wraps up our Disney Parks experience.

We made it! We survived it, Internet!

One more post, which was our travel day home ... and it included a little unexpected detour back to Hollywood Studios.

But it won't be as long as these others have been, and guess what. On the other side of it, I have a great post for you. Something you've been waiting for since Christmas: my sister's guest post from her visit.

And it is GREAT.

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