Epcot: Part I

After 6 hours at Hollywood Studios, the younger crowd was spent.  We went back to the hotel and decided that I would take the older three to Epcot, while Bill chilled out, watched kid movies, and got the younger ones off to an early, and much needed, bedtime.

Jenny was most unhappy about being left behind, but her mood had been awful.  We suggested that a better attitude during the day would garner her more priviledges some other day.  She was much more pleasant the remaining days of our trip.

I didn’t realize the dial had been
rotated to the black and white selection.

Same thing, only different.


A little big.

The country after Mexico is Norway.  I didn’t get any pictures, because I was too busy talking to a young man who normally worked in that section.  It was his day off.  He personally escorted us through the Fast Pass line to the ride in Norway and stayed with us the whole time we were in that area.  We talked about Eric the Red and the scale of a model ship, which was erroneously labeled.

Then I pretended the kids were my older sister’s children, and we exchanged phone numbers.

Just kidding.

We did not buy any hats.


Germany.  St. George.
Notice that it’s getting dark?

Remember that the day did not
begin particularly warmly?

And when the sun went down, it was quite cold.

One of the first things we had done when we got to Epcot was to get Fast Pass tickets to the Test Track.  The ride time was 2 hours away, so we didn’t intend to linger long in the foreign countries.  The dropping temperatures also convinced us to keep moving.

Every 5 minutes, Billy kept reminding us of the time.  I told him we didn’t need to be at the Test Track right at the exact beginning time.  But he wanted to.  He actually ran the last 50 yards to get there right on time. 

This is the child who most closely resembles a 3 toed sloth when it’s time to get ready for school.

After the ride, we had 2 hours to go until the laser light show.  We went into a store, but we had seen all the stuff already, and we weren’t buying.  I found an indoor ice cream store…key word: indoor.  Bonus: they also sold hot chocolate.  We loitered.

A bad photo, but as we sat around I realized that
there was a whole line of characters waiting to be
met, photographed and hugged.  Character greetings
at the Magic Kingdom have very long lines.  Not as
many visitors to Epcot want to see Mickey Mouse.

Enjoying hot chocolate.

I let Fritz use my camera.
Katie has not learned how to eat without getting
food all over her face.

I let Katie take a picture too.
Fritz is Katie’s role model in eating habits.

Of course, I had to let Billy take one too.

I think after this, we went to Mission: Space, and then it was time for the laser show.  All of the good spots were taken by people who had dressed more warmly than we did, hence they did not mind standing around for 30 minutes in the freezing cold.  Fritz and I had a mediocre view, Katie had a slightly better vantage as I piggy-backed her, but Billy wormed his way in front of the adults blocking us and had a decent look.

Again, take any weather forecast with a grain of salt.  And if you’ll be out past sundown, be prepared for the lowest of the low temperatures.

As we hustled through the park (from beginning to end), I kept asking Fritz, “Did I lose anybody yet?”  It’s amazingly freeing to fly through public places without a stroller or pokey little puppies.  And when mom walks with a purpose, even the most wide-eyed 10 year old star gazer will step it up and stay on target.  As we strode, Fritz and I had a lively debate about whether it would be more cost-effective to lose a 9 year old, who still had 9 years left under our roof, or the 12 year old, who had more expensive needs (shoes and jeans, alone, are killing me for the constant replacement), but who would be out of the house in less time.  Fritz, understandable, argued in favor of losing the 9 year old over the 12 year old. 

And he stayed very close to my side.

Note: It was not I who wanted to meet and greet the characters.  Nor was it Fritz nor Billy.  It was mostly Jenny, and somewhat Katie.  Jenny spent some of her souvenir money on an autograph book (not the first one she saw, but the cheapest one she ended up finding…good girl).  I noted the accessibility of the characters at Epcot for future reference, and we did not go to them that night.  If you or your children want to get autographs of or pictures with the characters, I suggest you try the other parks first, and only do the Magic Kingdom lines if you have to.

Hollywood Studios

We’ve had a crack down here on people not doing what they’re supposed to be doing (that would be me, primarily).  This may seem like a no-brainer, but half-days for schoolwork for, um, three months, will put you behind schedule.  Really.
So, it’s my lunch hour and I’m hoping I can post pictures of another Disney day before I have to put my nose back to the grindstone.  Or rather, pick up the whip.  {It is now bedtime and I’m hoping to wrap up the first part of our vacation day…}

As I mentioned at the end of my last post, Monday was so exhausting that we took Tuesday off.  Bill and I went for a run, and then we all went to Downtown Disney, which is a shopping and restaurant district designed to part people and their cash.  There is a LEGO store there, and that is where most of my little fools bid farewell to their souvenir money.  I checked out the ticket prices for Cirque du Soleil and decided that my children will never see this show if I have to pay for it.
Wednesday dawned sunny but cold.  The 10 day forecast had predicted temps in the mid-60s, but every day, the reality became lower and lower.  We ended up having highs in the mid-50’s with morning temperatures in the 30’s or even lower.

And I left winter coats and gloves at home.  Brr.  We tried to avoid the shade.

The older kids wanted to go to Hollywood Studios, and friends had said the Toy Story Mania ride was a lot of fun, so that’s where we headed.  I went to get Fast Pass tickets fairly early (~10 am), and our ride time was something like 2:30 pm (and when we went for our turn, there were no more Fast Pass tickets available, so keep that in mind if you go).

No short sleeves.  Yes, Jenny is shivering.

One of the participatory shows allows kids to become Padawans.  It’s for kids ages 4-12, and of my 5 eligible children, only one was interested: Billy, of course.  Another note if you go, you have to sign your child up for a time slot, then they have to come back 30 minutes before the show.  But if you have a Star Wars fan, it is a lot of fun.

In line for Jedi training.

Listening to instructions.




And again.

And again.

And again…

And again.

Darth Vader cometh.

Billy bravely ready to fight evil.

Take that!


Not sure if this is a defensive or offensive move.
I think it’s supposed to be offensive..

The class stands firmly opposed to the Dark Side.
Check out the cutie on the far left.  Bad to the bone.

This happy face made standing in the cold worth it.

After this, Bill took the older 3 to an Indiana Jones stunt show, and I took the younger half over to see Beauty and the Beast, abridged.  Both shows were outdoor venues.  In the shade.  On metal benches.

“Indiana Jones”

Throwing punches.

We met up and ate our packed lunches.  I’m not partial to smushed sandwiches.  If I were to pack lunch for the office, I would guard it carefully or pack it in a hard plastic (reusable) container.  Throwing a sandwich wrapped in foil in a backpack along with 7 other sandwiches and snacks and water bottles guarantees smushed sandwiches.  Solution: Bill and I and Fritz opted for wrap sandwiches.  Same fixings, but in a large tortilla.  Doesn’t smush up like bread does.

After our lunch we split up again.  Bill took 4 off to some of the indoor shows while I took Billy and Katie, the Daring Duo, to ride the Tower of Terror and the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  Although I like for us to do things together, it’s not much fun for little kids to sit and wait for big kids to get off rides…nor is it fun for big kids to sit through things geared for a younger audience.  And going separate ways gets you through a park faster. 

The lines were blessedly short and we joined the rest of the family for a Playhouse Disney show that Mary thoroughly enjoyed.  The rest of us were happy to be sitting and warm.  By this time, our Fast Pass ride time was almost up.  We headed to Toy Story Mania, which is a larger than life 3-D video game, similar to the Buzz Lightyear ride in Magic Kingdom.  Mary really couldn’t figure out her gun, so I ignored her and focused on maximizing my score.

I dogged our group, by a landslide.

Very excited.
Very tired.
The whole place was made to look like you were the scale of
a toy soldier.  We liked the C9 lights…more like C9000 lights.


Having fun.

The “toy” scale carried through outside.  It was cute.


I asked Bill what in the world he was taking a picture of.
The army guys, of course.  They were well done.
As I said, cute.

We had been working hard to quell meltdowns in the younger crowd before Toy Story Mania, and I would have left but for those Fast Pass tickets. Also, unfortunately, we had promised someone we would stop by “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.”  As a final stop, that was actually rather nice.  The little ones just want to play, and this is a playground.

She wanted me to hold her up so she could
reach the PlayDoh to get it out.
Her heaven: a lifetime supply of PlayDoh.

The little kids were too scared to get near the ant.
Thank goodness the big kids aren’t too big to pose.

It was mid-afternoon, and we decided that the younger crowd had had it.  Or maybe we had had it with the younger crowd.  We saw what we needed to see, so we left.  I wanted to get a last picture in front of the centrally located hat, and a nice worker offered to take one of all of us.  You might notice that 2 people are highly uncooperative.

Shiny, happy people (not holding hands).

That day wasn’t over, but this day is, and I am signing off.

Magic Kingdom

I don’t think I ever blogged about the trip we took to Disney 7 years ago.  I wasn’t blogging back then (almost, but not quite).  I did write about it for an obscure magazine, but I doubt if more than one or two random readers saw it.

It was, in a nutshell, hell.  (The trip, not the article.)

Perhaps I will reprint that article here soon.  I can look back and laugh.

Anyway, it all started with trying to take the kids on the ride It’s a Small World, and the meltdowns we had from the get-go on the morning of the first day of our vacation.  Because of this, I insisted that the first ride on this trip be It’s a Small World. 

There were no meltdowns. 

Taking the ferry over.  Note the short sleeves.  It rained
later, but Monday was our warmest day the whole time.

When going to a large, public spot, we always take a photo
of all the kids to help identify them should they get lost.
Mary did not want to cooperate.

It’s a Small World.  No meltdowns necessary.

Just inane, repetitive singing.  Mary loved it.
It made us all smile.

Meltdowns came later.  Even the 3 year old can’t figure
out what her problem is.

That first day was pretty crowded.  There is a Disney Half-Marathon and Marathon which was the weekend before we went.  You know who had run in it, because they wore medals around their necks.  We saw Santa Claus, and he had a medal.  FYI: it took Santa just under the 7 hour time limit to complete the marathon.  Santa did not work for Disney.  He was just taking a vacation after the busy season.  He was not in uniform, but he did hand out Santa coins to the kids.  I forgot to get his picture.

Her face needs cleaning, but her mom is on vacation.


Never too old for a carousel.

Much happier.


Ready to win.

Right after this ride, we got in line for the Flying Dumbo.  We were almost up there when they closed it all down due to storms coming in.  It poured.  We saw lots of shows.  I regretting leaving my jacket in the car.

We kept thinking maybe we should just leave, but we were so far away from the entrance.

And then the rain stopped.

Then we had meltdowns.

Then they stopped.

Then another kid had a meltdown.

And then it was so late that we decided it would be stupid not to stay for the fireworks.

She will make me delete this photo when she sees it.
She wishes to destroy all evidence of her sourpussness.
That way, when she’s 30, she can pretend that
she was always perfect.  But I’m on to her.

The stockades.  Just punishment.

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House.
Would be a nice picture except for the rear
end of the man in line ahead of the kids.

Finally on the Flying Dumbo ride.


Blurry, but nice.  We’re waiting for the parade.
I am quite chilly and really wishing I hadn’t left
my sweater in the car.  I seem to be the only one though.

Bill got a good shot.  One good shot.  He took about 20.
Fireworks are not easy to photograph.
And you can never capture their essence, so why bother?

The thing is, you can’t really do all of Magic Kingdom in one day.  You have to come back.  Have to.

But 11 hours at the park with little children is much more than normal humans can bear.

We took Tuesday off.