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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

just one more day of magic

for our last full day in orlando, the hub and the bean decided to sleep in.  i don't know what they were thinking...who SLEEPS on vacation?  heh.  the old lady and i were all about heading out to catch the early magic hour for the hollywood studios park, and so we got up at 7 to get ready and hop aboard the bus.  the park was scheduled to open at 9, so that meant that our early access would start at 8:00.

i really loved staying at the grand floridian.  such a pretty hotel.

we somehow got lucky again, with the bus pulling up right as we got to the stop.  yay for us!

the entry to this park is pretty much just like that of california adventure.  felt like home.

it was about 7:45 when we arrived and got in one of the lines, but it was already super hot and humid.

8:00 came and went, and the lines went nowhere.  8:05...8:10...what the heck, disney?  i decided to ask one of the cast members walking by and she looked at me funny when i asked why the gates were still not open.  it turns out that the schedule we were given at the front desk when we checked in was just for that week...and because this was sunday, a whole new schedule was in effect.  there WAS no magic hour at this park on this day.  son of a...

we sat there for what seemed like forever, and then at about 8:45 they finally started letting people through the gate, but still didn't allow us to actually enter the park.  we were able to get in up to a certain point, and then we stood and waited until 9:00 on the dot.

and then as soon as the announcement was made over the loudspeaker, the line of cast members stepped aside and people scurried off in all directions.

most of them, including us, were headed towards the rock & roller coaster.  this is the best ride in the entire park, if you ask me.

it's funny - the ride is very similar to california screamin' at california adventure, which i don't completely love.  something about the way it takes off at the very beginning freaks me out, although it's a really smooth ride after that.  i'm weird, i guess.  but this one does the same thing, since the backstory is that we're in a limo trying to get to an aerosmith concert somewhere in l.a.

it was lots of fun, with that speedy takeoff, a loop plus a corkscrew.  we had a blast.  and of course, it lets you out right into a gift shop chock full of aerosmith memorabilia.

next up, the great movie ride.  it didn't have much of a line yet since it was early, but not much later it would have a posted wait time of over an hour.

the "wizard of oz" set is my favorite part of this ride, but i love it mostly because it's a nice long ride in some pretty fantastic air conditioning.

with our two top attractions under our belt, we decided to go grab some coffee and something to eat.

we watched the "beauty and the beast" stage show in what looked like a replica of our own hollywood bowl.

here, too, we got to enjoy a show that's been long gone from our disneyland at home - the muppet vision 3D movie.

it's christmas year-round in this little shop.  kids stroked that fake snowman like they thought it was going to cool them off for real.

isn't the entry to their star tours so way cooler than ours?  i hope this is an indication of what we can expect when disneyland's star wars land opens.

the old lady and i have fond memories of the little mermaid show.  it was one of our favorite things to see when we came back when she was the bean's age.

in the walt disney theater, we got to see a lot of fun memorabilia from disney history, along with a handful of walt's personal possessions.

 just past that was a replica of the entry to pixar studios.

something else that's become a tradition for us whenever we visit disney world is to have a meal at the 50's prime time diner.  we love this place for the throwback decor, the tables set up to look like anyone's dining room back in that era, and the menu full of nothing but comfort food.

except that when you're a party of two, you get a tiny table with none of the fun accoutrements.  boo.

 whatever.  we still enjoyed a really tasty meal, which i kicked off with a root beer float:

and "grandpa's crab cake."

since we hadn't really eaten much that day, i was starving.  and so i went with the "sampler of mom's favorites" - fried chicken, pot roast AND meatloaf, complete with veggies and mashed potatoes and gravy.  so yum.

afterwards, we browsed around the shops near the exit to see if there was anything that caught our eye.  the old lady likes to collect the alex & ani bracelets, and there were quite a few that were disney world exclusives:

i pointed this out to her and said "look, here's my urn for when you have me cremated."  she wasn't very amused.

one last look at buena vista street on our way out...

bye bye for now, hollywood studios!

our lucky streak with the buses held out for one last trip, as we hopped aboard and headed back to the magic kingdom.

we decided to ride the railroad, since it's also on the list of things we don't have at home anymore - at least not till sometime in 2017 or so when star wars land is finished.  not to mention, it's a nice ride to sit back and relax a little.

i don't think i ever showed you my magic band!  pink, of course.  i suppose it wouldn't be the end of the world if disneyland decided to adopt this technology.  it really is nice not to have to fumble for annual passes and credit cards and things.

one more castle pic, just because.

as we walked through it, i flashed back to the princess half marathon three years ago.  that was a really fun run, but so gross and humid.

we hadn't been in the park for very long when the skies finally opened up and rain poured down on us, closing a lot of rides and sending people to take cover anywhere they could.  i bet the shops make a ton of money during those florida downpours.

while we stood there and watched the rain come down, we realized that we were standing next to the fastpass kiosks that we'd heard about.  apparently, you can come to these things and check for available fastpasses to add to your magic band.

big thunder was the first thing we wanted to do once the rain stopped and the rides were cleared to start running again.

we were joined by the hub and the bean at last.

they wanted to check out the florida version of haunted mansion.

 i love "tangled."  this part of fantasyland made us feel like we were right inside the movie.

and just around the corner, we found the "be our guest" restaurant - beauty and the beast-themed, of course.

no one says no to gaston.

as we got in line for our second turn on the mine train, we spotted a cat peering at us through the fence.  i thought they only lived at disneyland, but it seems a few of them found their way to disney world, too.

their "pirates of the caribbean" is - well, lame.  no drops and it's super short.  oh well, we had fun anyway, and there was no line.  bonus!

as we made our way towards the park exit, we caught a bit of the main street electrical parade.  rumor has it that after the disneyland 60th anniversary hoopla is over, we may trade our "paint the night" parade for a return of this one.  i'd be happy with that - this one always takes me right back to being a little kid again.

i'm pretty sure we had dinner at some point, but it clearly wasn't very memorable because i don't have a single picture of it.  heh.  we hopped onto the monorail and headed "home."

inside, i found that my custom-painted perfume bottle that i'd ordered in the UK pavilion at epcot had been delivered.

and the bean spotted something interesting in the lagoon when she stepped out onto the balcony.  looked like our very own version of the electrical parade.

it was like a sweet little goodbye from disney world to us.  YES, just us!  ha!

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