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Japan – Day 15: Tokyo – Day 9

Saturday – April 22, 2017

Today was our last day in Japan. I basically wanted to use it to tie up any loose ends and see any of the things I hadn’t gotten around to. Though it was sad, I was ready for the trip to be over. Not for any negative reasons, but simply because it was time.

Stationary Cafe

I started my day by going to the Stationary Cafe. It had been on my list of places to eat breakfast and, being that I am a stationary nerd, I thought it might be cool. It took me a bit long to actually find the place because I kept screwing up the directions, but I eventually found it.

IMG_6853Stationary Cafe

When I saw the menu, it seemed very sparse so I ordered the only thing that looked good, a pancake. However, when I got my order, I was a bit shocked. The picture had clearly mislead me because what I got was not a pancake. Instead it was this tiny, somewhat expensive thing of custard or whatever. Angry, I ate it quickly, paid and left.

Miraikan Museum (Again)

Next I made my way back to the Miraikan Museum. Though I had been there yesterday, I had wanted to check out the Disney Exhibit but knew I wouldn’t have enough time to enjoy it. I ended up getting that at noon and was able really stroll through and look at every piece.

IMG_6796Digital globe at the Miraikan Museum

The exhibit focused on the art of Disney. Starting with the first cartoons in the late 1920s and ending with their most recent film, Moana. The exhibit had everything from concept art, storyboards, background paintings and original sketches from the most well known cartoons and feature films.

As I made my way through the exhibit, the somewhat bad mood I had been in from my shitty breakfast melted away. I kept singing the music from the various movies to myself and I suddenly had the urge to watch them all.

IMG_6879Entrance to The Art of Disney: The Magic of Animation exhibit

I don’t know if it was the link to my childhood, the powerful imagery or the subconscious awareness that this was the last day of the trip, but I started to tear up. I got through the rest of the exhibit and, as I expected, exited through the gift shop. Well technically no. I was led to the line that led to the gift shop.

I decided to skip it and moved on to the rest of the museum. I retraced my steps from yesterday to see if there was anything Dan an I missed. Now that I was on fresh feet and legs it was much easier to navigate. I soon found myself on the floor with the cafe, and since breakfast was a fail, I decided to get lunch.

IMG_6875Honda Uni-Cub

After eating I took one more pass before stopping in the main gallery of the first floor to lie on the benches provided and look up at the globe hanging from the ceiling above. I used the time to chill and figure out a game plan for the rest of the day.

After I’d figured everything out, I made my way back to the room to drop some stuff off, then headed to Shinjuku Loft. It was 16:00, when the show was supposed to start and I wanted to see what time the band I was going for was on. I was told not till 20:50 so I took the time to do a bit more exploring.

I forgot to add that there was a section where for 500 Yen you could test ride a Honda Uni-Cub, like the ones featured in the OK Go music video for the song I Won’t Let You Down.

Uniqlo Move + Muji

I made my way to Uniqlo Move, a concept store that had been set up a few weeks prior to my arrival. I wanted to see what it was all about and how, if at all, it differed from the Uniqlo stores I’d been to in the states.

As usual, I got lost trying to find it and had to resolve to a montage of walking in all the wrong places before asking for directions. When I did eventually arrive I was/am pretty sure I was in just a regular Uniqlo. Oh well.

I decide to see if there was a Muji nearby to kill a bit of time in. I found that there was indeed one near me and started to head in that direction. As I did however, what had started as a sprinkle was beginning to turn to rain. On top of that I was pretty sure I was, once again headed in the wrong direction.

I stopped into a ubiquitous Family Mart to keep dry and reassess my situation. On top of that, I took the opportunity to buy a clear umbrella, something that I’d wanted to get but not frivolously, only if I needed one organically. As it turned out, I needed one organically.

I then made my way to Muji. I walked around for a bit and saw that it was 17:30. My new plan was to be at Shinjuku Loft for 19:00 so I could watch a few bands before settling in for the main event. Thus I decided to head back to the room again to blog my day so far and chill for the hour and a half before I would set back out to the Loft.

Shinjuku Loft

We got into the Shinjuku Loft no problem and when we arrived there was a band in the middle of their set. I moved right to the front to watch. They were a fairly heavy punk band and were really high energy. At one point they did a cover of Rebel Yell by Billy Idol and later they covered Fight For Your Right by The Beastie Boys. Towards the end of the set the guitarist/lead singer stripped down to his leather underwear.

IMG_6888The 5.6.7.8’s at Shinjuku Loft

The second band we saw was another trio only these guys were a bit older. They were dressed up in suits and had nice hats on. They were a bit more surf punk and somewhat rockabilly. I really liked them and at one point the bassist did this thing where he used one hand to mim revving a motorcycle and the other, on his bass, to make the “revving sound. It was pretty cool.

The third band we saw was a bit more punk, however they too got did some rockabilly stuff. They covered Somethin’ Else by Eddie Cochran and ended with a cover of the Sex Pistols cover of My Way by Frank Sinatra.

Next was the piece de resistance, the reason I had come to the show, something I never thought would actually be able to happen. As if it were fate, for our last night in Japan The 5.6.7.8’s were playing! I’ve wanted to see them in concert ever since I hear about them but to see them in Japan, that was the best of the best.

Because there were too many bands, they played a relatively short set. However, with the exception of one, every song they played, I knew and basically were all the ones I wanted to hear. All in all a solid end to our trip.

 

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Japan – Day 12: Tokyo – Day 6

Wednesday – April 19, 2017

Knowing me and knowing that I like to get to things early, I woke up a little before 6 so I could leave by 6:30. The train ride was supposed to take about an hour and though the park wasn’t set to open until 8:30, I wanted time to scope out what I could (such as their “Downtown Disney” section) before they opened.

Despite the fact that Google had other plans for me, I listened to my app which took me exactly where I needed to go. I took two subway trains and one JR train. Before making the transfer to the JR I grabbed a quick bite to eat. Then, two stops later… I was there.

Tokyo DisneySea

I arrived at 7:33. When I got off the train I was instantly giddy. I ran back and forth taking pictures of EVERYTHING. I had no idea the JR would take me, basically right to the entrance. After getting pictures of the gift shop and the entrance to the Magic Kingdom, I made my way to Ikspeari (their version of “Downtown Disney”). Unfortunately however, that section did not open until 10.

IMG_6525Mediterranean Harbor at Tokyo DisneySea

After running around for a bit longer I eventually made my way to the Monorail station where I figured out that I needed to take it from where I was in order to get to the entrance of DisneySea. Weirdly, rather than being free, you had to pay to ride it. Fortunately, it accepted Pasmo.

Their monorails are fully autonomous; because of that I was able to sit right up front and pretend I was driving. The monorail made two stops, one at each hotel, before arriving at DisneySea.

I got out, ran down the stairs and immediately got in line to get a ticket. This was strange because I’m so used to already having my ticket before I ever arrive at the park. Regardless, the line moved quickly and I actually ended up paying with cash rather than putting it on my card (I actually have more than enough Yen to sustain me).

After getting my ticket, I got in line to wait for the park to open. While waiting I put on suntan lotion and looked at the park map. Before you knew it the park was open and I was ready to start my Disney day.

Tower of Terror

The first ride I went on was the Tower of Terror; it is one of my favorite attractions at Disney World in Florida. Also, because it is one of the closest attractions to the front of the park it was a natural fit to start my day. Also, because no one was in the park yet there was only a 10 minute wait. The 10 minutes was mostly due to the pre-ride show you watch.

IMG_6545Tower of Terror

Unlike the one in Florida which is Twilight Zone and Hollywood themed, this one is New York and African god themed. Basically this explorer guy Hightower-san, stole this tiki god thing and now he’s cursed. At least that was the gist I got from the pre-ride show; naturally it was all in Japanese.

The ride itself was pretty good, not as good as the one in Florida for 3 reasons, 1) it is not as tall, 2) it doesn’t do as much, ie. move forward through the “The Twilight Zone,” and 3) and it doesn’t drop as much in terms of, not height, but how many times it goes up and down. Nevertheless, Tower is always a good ride.

Aquatopia

After Tower of Terror I made my way towards the back of the park. Along the way I passed a ride called Aquatopia. I was going to pass it since it was a family ride, but there was barely any line and I knew I was gonna be there all day so screw it.

It ended up being as lame as I expected but who cares. I was trying to do the opposite of what I usually do and actually smell the roses, rather than pass them by.

Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull

Eventually I made my way to the back of the park where I found and rode the Indiana Jones ride.

IMG_6563Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull

When I got to the front of the 45 minute line, I met a guy named Russ who told me there was a single rider line. I told him I didn’t mind the queue because it was well themed but that that was good to know. We got to chatting before the ride set off and it turned out that he was from Attleboro, MA; small world.

The ride was basically a version Countdown to Extinction (aka Dinosaur) in Animal Kingdom. You drive a jeep through a temple and, rather than being chased by dinosaurs, you are chased by evil spirits. Also, you get to see Indiana Jones speak Japanese. Fun.

Raging Spirits

Right next to that ride is another Indiana Jones themed ride called Raging Spirits. It is a compact little roller coaster with a loop in it. The cars look like mine trains and there are two cars per train. They were running about 6 at a time so the line had a steady flow. Though short, it was fun.

IMG_6567Raging Spirits

When I got off the ride, I checked my email and finally I had something from Dan. Because I had told him I was going to leave so early and I knew he wanted to sleep in, he decided he’d meet me there. However, since he had gone out late the night before, I thought he might bail. To my pleasant surprise, he was writing to say he was on his way and would be at the park soon.

After reading the message, I figured out a game-plan; ride one more ride then slowly make my way to the front of the park.

Journey of Sinbad

The next land over was Aladdin themed. There I came across the Journey of Sinbad ride. I had no idea what it was but I figured I’d try it. There was virtually no wait and it ended up being, essentially a Sinbad themed It’s a Small World -slow boat- ride. It was very childish and again, all in Japanese but the message, from what I could understand was to follow your heart.

After that I strolled through the Little Mermaid section before heading to Mount Prometheus, the main feature (Cinderella’s Castle) of the park. This section, because it was steam punk themed was by far my favorite.

IMG_6583The Mysterious Island section of the park

One of my favorite movies growing up was 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. This section had a 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea ride so I was pumped. I hadn’t been on it since before it closed at the Magic Kingdom in Florida, so probably since 1994.

Knowing I didn’t have time, I decided to hold off and save this section for Dan.

Cut to me at the front of the park checking my email. Dan had written that he did not need to ride the monorail to get to the entrance of the park. This made me nervous that he was entering The Magic Kingdom despite the fact that I had warned him that he’d need to take the monorail to get here.

He then wrote back saying he was looking at a big volcano and not a castle so clearly he was in the right place. I walked over to the lagoon and sure enough, there he was. I later found out that rather than take the JR, Google had made him take a bus which must have dropped him off right at Disney Sea, rather than where I had been dropped off.

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Since I had just come from the Mysterious Island section of the park and had wanted to save Journey to the Center of the Earth to ride with Dan, that was where we went. When we got to the ride there was a 70 minute wait. I immediately grabbed Dan’s ticket and had him hold our place in line. I then went to the FastPass machine and came back with two FastPasses, that way we would be able to come back between 17:00 and 18:00 and skip the line.

IMG_6587Entrance to Journey to the Center of the Earth

Because Dan is not a Disney pro like I am, he was completely blown away by this concept. Despite the relatively long wait time, the line moved right along. Not only does Disney do lines better than anybody else, because they are themed, but having someone to talk to makes things go faster.

The ride was pretty cool. The ride vehicle was a sort of digging machine and you bore through the “center of the earth” until you reach the conclusion where you speed up a hill and erupt from the top of Mt. Prometheus.

Immediately following the ride, we were both starving, so we ate at Vulcania Restaurant. The place was really cool and the food was great. They had a sampler, which we both got, that had dumplings, rice, and other stuff I’m forgetting but all of which was great. After getting sufficiently filled up, we made our way to the nearby 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

I had been on the original 20,000 Leagues ride when it was at Disney World back in 1994. It has since closed down and so I was excited to ride it again. However, when we got to the ride vehicle, I knew something was a miss. The ride was more akin to the Peter Pan ride at the Magic Kingdom than a submarine ride that actually goes underwater. Regardless, the ride was kind of fun and was cool to check off the list.

IMG_6582 Queue for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Next we made our way to the back of the park to ride Raging Spirits. Since it was to be my second time riding it and Dan didn’t want to wait 45 minutes, we decided to do the single rider line. It probably ended up taking about 25 minutes so still a win. After we got off the ride, Dan went to the bathroom while I grabbed us FastPasses so we could come back to ride it later.

We chased Raging Spirits with a ride on Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull. Again we did single rider and again it worked to our advantage. After that we made our way to the front of the park to ride Toy Story. The line however was super long and for whatever reason we were unwilling to wait. Instead Dan got an ice cream and we sat and chilled for a bit.

Following that we explored a few of the shops at the front of the park. Naturally we took an infamous picture of us in Mickey ears hats. We then slowly made our way back to the the back of the park, along the way stopping to check out this DaVinci castle thing before getting back to the Mysterious Island section.

IMG_6621Blurry selfie of me and Dan in Mickey hats

There I grabbed an ice cream sandwich before we got back in line for Journey to the Center of the Earth, using our FastPasses of course. We chased Journey with Raging Spirits again (also with the help of FastPass) before grabbing food at the Arabian Coast Section of the park.

Again we both grabbed the sampler meal which was pretty good before making a game plan for the rest of the day using the park map and a Sharpie. Because we had seen it earlier and not gone in, we decided to go to the show at the Magic Lamp Theater. It wasn’t until the line started moving that Dan realized/pointed out that the show was probably all in Japanese. Sure enough, it was.

The show, as expected, was sort of childish, but a nice excuse to sit for a while. From there we took the electric railway from the back of the park to the front of the park and waited in line for the Teddy Rosevelt bar. The cool thing about this bar was/is that it is located on the SS Cloumbia, a “steamship” they have in the American Waterfront section of the park.

IMG_6647SS Cloumbia which houses the Teddy Rosevelt Bar

The bar seemed cool and I was craving a beer and a cheesecake. However, we were also pressed for time as the Fantasmic show was set to start at 20:00 and it was already 19:20. On top of that there was a line to get into the bar. While Dan held our spot, I explored a little bit of the boat. More that just a prop they had actually built out some of the decks where I got to have my Jack and Rose moment.

When I got back to the line we had barely moved. Since time was running out we decided to go to the lagoon only to find out from a cast-member on the way that, due to the wind, the show was not happening. We were bummed two fold, one because we had waited in line and bailed for nothing but also, because it meant we skipped the bar.

Toy Story Midway Mania

We once again rerouted and found ourselves in a 70 minute wait for the Toy Story Midway Mania ride. Once inside the building, the line was cool and a little bit lifted our spirits. The ride, as usual, was a lot of fun. Dan kicked my ass and the girl in the other car kicked both our asses. We chatted with her and her friends for a bit after the ride before doing one last thing each.

IMG_6646Toy Story Midway Mania

I wanted to ride the Tower of Terror one more time (this time at night) and I knew Dan still wanted to do the bar. I sped through the line for Tower. When it got to the part half way up where they fake you out by turning off the lights (knowing this was a fake out) I let out a blood-curdling scream.

What I forgot is that after the lights go off, they turn them back on. When the lights came back on I had an entire elevator of Asian people staring at me. Half started laughing and the other half started clapping; mission accomplished. After the ride I exited through the gift shop to find Dan waiting for me. Apparently, the bar was closed by the time he got there.

I was bummed that he had missed Fantasmic and the Teddy Rosevelt Bar. Oh well. For the most part the day was a good one and it gives us a reason to one day come back.

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MGM Studios/Epcot/Downtown Disney – Day 2

Sunday 8/10/14

Kyra and I started our morning by meeting our Mom and Dad in line for Toy Story Midway Mania. The wait was 55 minutes but the ride is, in my opinion, one of the best family attractions at any of the Disney parks. It is super interactive and literally anyone can ride it. Just as was the case with Buzz Lightyear, I dominated with a score of ~88,000 points. After riding that, we made our way over to Tower of Terror. The wait was only 40 minutes or so, so me, my sister, and my Dad got in line. My Mom went off and did other stuff as this would get her sick, or rather, give her a headache for sure.

HollywoodTowerHotelThe Hollywood Tower Hotel aka Twilight Zone Tower of Terror as seen from the queue.

Tower of Terror is another one of my favorite attractions. Not only is the ride fun, but the theming is Disney at its best. Theming is one the things Disney is known for. The sign is weathered and at night you can see the words “Twilight Zone Tower of Terror” appear glowing in front of the embossed Hollywood Tower Hotel. The queue leading up to the hotel plays eerie jazz-era music and there’s a thick mist on the grounds.

The deserted and cobwebbed lobby combined with the Rod Serling intro leading into the basement level of the hotel really helps to sell the whole atmosphere of the ride. You can go on drop rides anywhere, but I guarantee you none are as intricate as this. Rather than relying on our innate fear of heights, T of T really tries to impact guests on a psychological level. The ride as usual never fails to thrill and after it was over and we rejoined with Mom, we went across the way to Rockin’ Roller Coaster.

RocknRollerCoasterTheming outside the Rockn’ Roller Coaster ride building.

While we rode that, Mom rode another family favorite, The Great Movie Ride. Probably one of my favorite parts about Rockin’ is, again, the theming. Sure the launch makes your stomach drop and the loops are great, but the loading area is one of the best they have ever done. Set up on the night of an Aerosmith concert, guests are sent a “super-stretch” Cadillac limo. You board the limo in an LA parking garage then turn the corner into a deserted back alley before launching into the night.

I don’t know what it is, but something about emulating reality in a physical environment makes me really happy. Every time I go step into the LA alley and it’s “night time” and I see the first train launch, I’m a kid again. For that alone, the ride is worth it. After riding, we met up with Mom and decide to split up. Kyra and Mom go to the Back-Lot Tour, a ride I could care less about at this point, and Dad and I go on The Great Movie Ride.

Though the whole ride is fun, for a slow family ride, the part I was looking forward to the most was, ironically, the part that used to scare me as a child… Alien. Alien is undoubtedly in my top 50 favorite movies and before leaving for the trip I even had a craving to watch it that sadly went unfulfilled. What I love about this section of the ride is that you get put in the middle of one of the most tense parts of the movie, even if it is just briefly. My plan was to try and get a picture of the creature when it pops out from the ceiling, but I messed up my timing and didn’t get the shot. I could have tried again but the ride is kind of long and not really worth riding a second time just to try and accomplish this.

Starspeeder1000The Starspeeder 1000 inside the queue for Star Tours.

After getting off, Dad and I went to yet another favorite attraction of mine, Star Tours. Not only am I a Star Wars nerd, but the ride has been updated since last I was there and so I was excited to ride it. The queue was filled with even more nerdy details, like an arrivals and departures chart that displays in both the English alphabet as well as in galactic “basic”. The two other updates to the ride are that it is now in 3D, and travels to multiple destinations. This means that, in theory, every time you ride it, it could be different.

SingingInTheRainComparisonSingin In the Rain comparison.

As expected, the ride was good and after getting off we rejoined with Kyra and Mom. Next we made our way over to the Singin’ In the Rain umbrella. One of the small goals I had for this trip was to pose like Gene Kelly does in the movie. It was a dumb goal, but I was glad to accomplish it.

Sci-FiSnackBarSign for the “snack bar” at the rear of the drive-in.

After this we made our way over to the Sci-Fi Dine In Theatre. This is my favorite restaurant in any of the parks. I remember going to this one of the first times we went to Disney. The concept is a drive in theater with classic monster movies and old advertisements. I’m pretty sure we hadn’t eaten there since the only other time we’d eaten there, so it’d been a while. I had tried making a reservation using the Disney App but it didn’t let me.

So I walked up to the desk and asked if they had space for four and how long the wait would be. To my pleasant surprise they weren’t fully booked and, on top of that, the wait was only twenty minutes. The only down side was that instead of seating us in a “car” they were going to have to put us in a round table with an umbrella. Though not ideal, I was glad just to be able to eat there, and, as luck would have it, our wait was closer to five minutes than twenty. Also, when we were seated, they brought us to a car! I guess a group had just left.

Sci-FiDineInTheaterThe view from our car; kinda reminds me of Jack Rabbit Slims.

This worked out about as good if not better than I expected. The restaurant, though indoor is themed to look like it’s out doors at a drive in movie theatre. Again, I don’t know what it is about these false realities, but something about them makes me happy every time. We enjoyed the shows and the meal, and when the check came, Kyra and I paid the bill. We felt it was the least we could do seeing that our parents had paid for basically everything else.

—Hotel

After eating we promptly left MGM and took our parents back to check out our hotel. We showed them our room and took them on a tour of the grounds before making our way over to Epcot.

—EPCOT

SpaceshipEarthSpaceship Earth aka the Epcot ball, nothing you haven’t seen before.

The first thing we tried to do at the park was to see the movie Captain EO starring Michael Jackson. It had ran for a few years in the late 80s and early 90’s but was replaced with Honey I Shrunk the Audience shortly after Honey I Shrunk the Kids came out. However, after MJ’s death, they brought Captain EO back and out of the four of us, I was the only one to have seen it. Unfortunately we got to the park at around 7pm and that night it was closing at 9. Because of this, by the time we got to EO it was closed for the night.

WorldOfTomorrowI found this image on one of the walls while making my way into the park. I couldn’t believe I’d never seen it before, though I’m sure it’s been there since the park’s inception. It looks to me, like concept art for this Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow.

Since there was nothing much else we could do, we did the go to attraction, Spaceship Earth. SE is the ride contained within Epcot’s iconic “golf ball” or geodesic sphere as it is technically called. Spaceship Earth, though not very thrilling, is a staple of any Disney trip, and, unlike most who can’t be bothered to learn a thing or two on their vacation, I actually enjoy the ride and learning about the evolution of communication. Because this was basically the only thing the four of us could do, and none of us were interested in seeing Illuminations, the fireworks show we’ve seen a million times, we left the park.

—Downtown Disney

The next stop on the list was Downtown Disney as Kyra and I wanted to show Mom and Dad the Marketplace Co-Op. However, after a quick tour, I only had one thing in mind, beer. Ever since my trip to Celebration V in 2010, my first time in the Orlando area when I was over 21, I wanted to go to the Raglan Road Pub. So, after getting the green light, I bolted to it.

KilkennyIrishAleLiquid diet.

Raglan Road is an Irish pub that has live entertainment, step dancing or music, every 10 to 15 minutes. I really was just looking for some time to myself with my thoughts and with a couple of Irish friends. The two in question were twins named Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale. I enjoyed them and the entertainment a lot. Eventually, a duo went up and performed some songs.

I asked the bartender if they took requests and he said they did, handing me a turned over coaster and a pen. I wrote my request, Drunken Lullabies, on it and brought it up to the stage with a couple bucks. Unfortunately that song was not part of their repertoire. They instead played a different Flogging Molly song for me, but, being that I only know the one, this was of no use.

Hashtag#hashtag

After finishing my second beer and snagging the coaster I’d written on, that they would have probably thrown away anyway, I rejoined my family before we each went back to our respective hotels for the night.

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20th Anniversary Disney Trip – Day 1

You may have noticed that I have not posted anything in a while. That is in part because I haven’t had much interesting happen, and in part due to the fact that I knew I would have the following posts coming up. So, for those of you who don’t know, this past Saturday (August 9th) my family and I left for Disney World. This trip was special because it was the 20th anniversary of the first time we went to Disney World as a family back in 1994!

Now to be honest, I was not 100% excited to go on this trip. Though it is/was something 20 years in the making, I was still not thrilled to go. I’ve been to Disney several times since ’94 and to me, it’s gotten a bit stale. When I go on vacation, I like going somewhere new, and even though there were some new or updated attractions, overall, things don’t change.

Additionally, I have been jaded by age. Things I never gave a second thought to when I was younger, I now see as corney. I think and worry about how much power each ride uses and how much AC the park wastes by keeping doors open. I get bothered by all the stupid dorky people that go there and can’t help but roll my eyes at.

And lastly, I was afraid that I would be stuck with my family the entire time and not have enough time to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. However, in spite of all that, I couldn’t let literally years of thinking about and planning this trip ruin my vacation. So, here is how it went…

ArtOfAnimationSignThe sign guest’s first see upon arriving at the Art of Animation resort. The resort is split into four sections; Radiator Springs (Cars), The Little Mermaid (where Kyra and I stayed), Finding Nemo, and The Lion King.

We left Logan Airport at 6:05am. In the row behind us was a guy about my age I later found out was Johnny. While we were taxiing to the runway, he kept making stupid jokes to his sister. Stuff like, “I’m not gonna read 50 Shades of Gray, get it out of here.” They were stupid but funny and they kept the flight entertaining. Upon our arrival at MCO (at approximately 9:14am) I turned around and introduced myself and told him how much I appreciated his humor. It was a cool way to start the trip.

After taking the Magical Express bus to our respective hotels, Kyra and I stayed in The Art of Animation and our parents stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. After checking in, Kyra and I went to our room to find that there was only one bed. We called the front desk and in less than five minutes we were told a different room to go to; we didn’t even have to go back to the front desk. They sent the info to our “Magic Bands” (a bracelet with an RF-ID chip that serves as your room key and ticket to the parks) and by the time we got to our next room, our “keys” were programmed for that door. I was really impressed with how quickly and smoothly the issue was resolved. On top of that, our new room was on the other side of The Little Mermaid section, so now we had a view of the pool, rather than a view of the parking lot.

We finally got to our first park by 11:30-ish. Naturally, the first the first park we did was The Magic Kingdom. It is the quintessential symbol of Disney World and home to the new-ish Fantasyland expansion. Specifically, about a month or two ago the new Seven Dwarves Mine Train roller coaster finally opened, so it was not only new to us, but new to the park as well.

BalconyViewThe view from the balcony of our second room.

We tried to go right to the ride, but the attempt was futile. The 75-minute line overflowed out of the designated queue and back towards the carousel. Being that we were itching to get on a ride, we made our way over to Splash Mountian. This was going to be a big deal to ride because my Mom, who hates “thrill rides” was going to brave this one with us. The line was only 15 minutes shorter, but it was at least in the shade. Finally, after what seemed like endless bumps from the man behind us in line, we got on the ride. It was great as usual and really only gave my Mom a slight headache; could have been much worse. We (I) bought the on ride photo and we then made our way towards Liberty Square.

WheelWellHotelThis was at the back of the Radiator Spring/Cars section of the resort. I can only imagine they’re building Sally to put in place of where the box on the left is.

On the way, we ran into my Dad’s old friend Michael (which whom he had plans to golf later in the trip; additionally, we had plans to meet about him potentially hooking me up with a job, but more on that later) whom he used to work with at the Disney Store. Michael, who is now a big muck-a-muck at the parks, was there with his family (wife and two boys) as well and he and my Dad spoke for a while before they each went their respective way. The next thing we did was ride the classic attraction The Haunted Mansion. The wait was only 40 minutes and it went by pretty fast. However, when we got out, in typical Florida fashion, it was raining and lightinig. These cloud bursts never last too long, but they do make things uncomfortable. After dodging the worst of it in a nearby restaurant, we continued on to Tomorrowland.

FilmoreRadiator Springs is the section I would have preferred to stay in. Not only was it closer to the front of the resort, but the theming was way cooler.

There we configured our FastPass+ at the kiosk to include Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, and Space Mountain. We then slowly made our way over to Fantasyland because we had plenty of time to kill before our FastPass would be active. Eventually we got on the underwhelming ride and then made our way over to Gaston’s Tavern. There we got some snacks and drinks before going back to Tomorrowland. We were too early for our Buzz Lightyear FastPass, so we rode a family favorite, The People Mover. This was fun and relaxing as always and by the time it was done, we were able to get on Buzz Lightyear.

Sarge

I scored the highest with something like 400,000 points. The rest didn’t come close but regardless, it was a lot of fun. After that we were all pretty tired, as we’d been up since 2:30am, so we decided to leave the park. I made the mistake of saying we should try and find our brick (our family has one of the hexagonal bricks with our names on it on the path that leads to the entrance of the park) before leaving. We searched for a long time, but, not knowing the number on it, didn’t have a great idea as to where it was. After a few minutes, Kyra and I got bored and went back to out room.

LionKingSectionThe Lion King section of the resort.

After getting back, taking a dip in the pool (just me), grabbing some food, and walking around the hotel (just me), we made our way out to Downtown Disney. There we found the Marketplace Co-Op, a store I had heard about just before we left for the trip. The Marketplace is home to some exclusive merchandise that is potentially only there for a limited time. I had had in mind to buy three plates for Kyra’s apartment that I thought were really cool, so, upon finding them all almost right away, that’s what I did. I got the items shipped back to the hotel and then we moved on to the next store.

BeautyAndTheBeastPlatesThe three plates in question. Photos borrowed from the Marketplace Co-Op website.

Somehow somewhere along the lines we got into an inevitable fight about how we both envisioned the trip going; both visions drastically different from the other. This lead to tension, and after making a quick, angry jaunt through the Lego Store, I stormed off and got on a bus back to the hotel. Kyra and I reconvened over the phone, and, after getting a late dinner at the hotel, I went by myself back to the Magic Kingdom. Being that it was Saturday, they were having “Extra Magic Hours” meaning that for guests staying on Disney property, the park was open until 2am!

HipsterMickey“Hipster Mickey” art piece for sale at the Marketplace Co-Op.

Upon arriving at the park I bolted to the Seven Dwarves Mine Train ride. The wait was still 60 minutes, but, it was now dark and much cooler out. Before entering the ride, the Cast Member asked me what hotel I was staying at. This was to ensure I was staying on the property. I then began the wait. Eventually, at the main part of the queue, there were some mini-games. The first was a gem matching game that was much more fun than it should have been.

MineTrainTurnSeven Dwarves Mine Train roller coaster testing with no passengers.

All you had to do was fill a wooden crate with three empty slots with the matching gem color and shape with the gems floating by. It was a touch screen game and as the gems floated by, you dragged to appropriate one to it’s place. Once the crate was full, it lit up and made a noise. That was it, but it was a lot of fun for some reason. Plus it made you forget you were in line, so by the time you looked up, the line had moved substantially.

The next involved seven barrells filled with gems that were real, not touch screen. You had to spin the barrells and if you spun them fast enough, one of the seven dwarves images would be projeted on the ceiling. If you got them all spinning -a woman in line told me- an images of Snow White would appear dancing the center. Sure enough we got them all the spin and she appeared. The ride ended up being pretty short, but it was cute little coaster with a lot of fun theming.

WaterGoofeyWhile making my way out of the park, a Cast Member was using a brush and water to “paint” character faces on Main Street USA.

I finished with the ride at 12:43 so I decided to check out the line at Space Mountain. Upon my arrival it said 20 minutes, but surprisingly, the queue was out the building. It moved fast though, and I soon found out that the hold up was due to the Cast Members scanning room keys and “magic bands” to make sure you were in fact staying on the property.

Once this was done, the line moved pretty fast. This too was now equipped with mini-games. I got to play them a little and they were pretty fun too. When I got closer to the loading platform, a group of people behind me started a slow clap that seemed to envelop everyone. It really helped boost the energy of everyone in line. It’s stuff like that which only happens when you’re at a park late at night because that’s when all the die hards are there. The highlight however was finally getting on the ride. I always forget how much fun that coaster is. It’s not fast and it’s not long, but being in the dark with all the sharp twists, turns and drops, it still provides a thrill. It was a great way to cap off a long and sometimes frustrating day.

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The House From UP

I feel like I posted this already, however, I can’t remeber which things are things from my “real life” aka my life before this blog, and which are things from my current life. In any case, a very long while ago I found out about this and now (after having just watched Wall-E again for the 1st time is a long time) I am remembering about it and mentioning to all of you.

Long story short, if you watch the vid above, you’ll see that there is someone like me out there who wants everything cool from TV and movies to exist. They however, have more money and ambition than I because where as I can’t even get a prop made, they have gone and built a house. Not just any house, but the house from Disney/Pixars UP.

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A Hells Bells Christmas Carol

This is a mash-up of the song Hells Bells by AC/DC and Disney’s A Christmas Carol.

Last Christmas I was watching the movie and when it got to this part I immediatly thought of Hells Bells and this concept. I didn’t do a lot of editing so not all the parts sync up perfectly. However, I think it gets the point across.

No copyright infrindgement is intended to either AC/DC or Disney. I’m sure this video will probably get taken down or muted, but I figured as a tribute to the spirit of Christmas I would post this video.

Enjoy.

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Fall Winter Preview

I came home last night from a shitty day at work. I instantly turned on the TV and found that a show I had caught before and really liked, Toy Hunters, was on. For those of you who don’t know, Toy Hunters is like American Pickers* (which I also like and watch from time to time) but solely focused on Toys. It’s really cool to see what things people have, and what prices they fetch.

Watching this show gives me a greater appreciation for two specific things that I own that have great sentimental value to them, both of which happen to be related to Star Wars.

The first is an X-Wing fighter I’ve had since I was about 6 that was released by Tonka in 1995. I can still specifically remember the day my Dad bought it for me. We were in Toys R Us and though I forget how much it cost (for some reason $30 comes to mind, but that seems expensive for a toy of this size even today), I had had x amount of money saved up and my Dad said that if I correctly did the math that figured out the difference between what I had and how much he would have to chip in, he’d buy it for me. Sure enough I solved the problem and I got the X-Wing toy.

When it was new there was button on the bottom that would make laser sounds. Also, when you pushed down on R2s head, the ship would make a “light-speed fly-by” sound. The sounds no longer work, however pushing down on R2’s head still allows for the second feature to work; making the s-foils open into attack position.

The kicker comes in because over the past couple years I had been looking for my prized X-Wing toy in my room with no luck. My mom thought she might have even given it away. One day however, I came back from school for the weekend and sitting on my bed was the X-Wing. My mom had found it in a box in our garage and it now sits proudly in my room. I will never get rid of it and one day I hope to pass it on to my future nerd son or nerd daughter.

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Up Adventures

While watching the special features [on the Blu Ray] for Disney/Pixar’s movie Up, I was inspired to go on an adventure to “Paradise Falls.”* In one of the special features the crew of animators document how they went to the real location where the action in the movie is supposed to take place (specifically where the house is supposed to land) in Venezuela.

My crappy photoshop job of placing Carl Fredricksen at Angel Falls; the real location of where Up is supposed to take place.

After watching the special feature I was filled with “the spirit of adventure.” Seeing the crew hike up the tepuis combined with the emotion of the movie and the feeling of exploration gave me the idea to want to start a travel/tour company called  Up Adventures. The goal of this company would be to set up some sort of tour that vacationers could book which would allow them to explore the tepuis just like Carl, Russell, and Dug (the dog) do in the movie.

Just remember explorers, “Adventure is out there!”

*In Up, Angel Falls is referred to as Paradise Fall, probably because they thought the name was more fanciful.

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