Disney World December 2008 Trip – Day One: Travel, Magic Kingdom, & Disney Hollywood Studios

This trip is a bit different than most. First, I only planned it 3 weeks ago, got a great deal through Southwest and Expedia.com, and have decided that working 7 days a week for 3 months entitles me to take a vacation. I’ll be alone for some of the trip but my friend Connie is coming down so we’ll hang out a bunch, too. Finally, I haven’t planned much for this trip; I am really going to just be spontaneous and do what I want when I want and enjoy myself. So . . . here we go!

I got up this morning at 4:30; I didn’t sleep real well. The hotel was quite nice but I was too anxious and excited to sleep and so I found myself laying there tossing and turning quite a bit. I checked out of the hotel about 5 AM and got directions to the new airport. Of course I took a wrong turn and ended up at the old airport before I managed to turn around and find my way.

I usually like change but I don’t think I like the new Indy airport. It might grow on me, but security took much longer than normal and I found it to be a little too “upscale” feeling in terms of the boutique like stores and things. Plus, there was no Chick-Fil-A in the food court and that was quite upsetting. I did get 2 chicken biscuits at McDonald’s but it wasn’t the same.

I nearly fell asleep in the terminal waiting for us to begin boarding. I also almost tried to board a flight to Denver before I figured out what was going on. Its been a bit of a rough day cognitively for me, but I’ve not felt this relaxed on a solo trip in some time.

I like Southwest airlines a lot and boarding took all of 10 minutes. Everyone found a seat they liked and I had my row to myself. We took off a few minutes late, but the flight was wonderful. No turbulence, nice flight attendants, and good blueberry breakfast bars. I had two. Yes, I’m a giant fatso.

We landed and I quickly walked to the Dollar rental car counter. I seemed to find myself in line behind people who don’t have a clue nor speak much English all day. Patience, I remind myself, is a virtue. Unfortunately, its one I don’t have much of.

I got my rental car, which was a silver Hyundai Sonata. Very comfortable and easy to drive. I left the airport and headed towards Disney World! Both ladies at the toll booths I encountered were pleasant and I was in such a good mood that I conversed with them a little while handing over my dollar bill.

I managed not to get lost on the way to my hotel. I stayed at the Orlando Vista for 10 days in June and the deal I got on Expedia was too good to pass up for this quick weekend trip. I checked in; unfortunately the only room that was available was two queen beds instead of the King I had requested but I wanted to get settled so I took what was ready. I am not 100% sure but I think that am back in the exact same room I was in the last time I was here! Check in was smooth and the front desk staff was pleasant. When I told them about my June stay they brightened up even more and were even more friendly. “Welcome back!” she said as I got my key.

I went up to the room, grabbed the few things I needed, and couldn’t find the book I was reading (John Grisham’s The Appeal) on the plane. I was sure I put it back in my bag but it wasn’t there. So, I grabbed the other book I brought with me (James Patterson’s 1st To Die) and left for the Magic Kingdom.

I pulled into the parking lot and was waved into Minnie. I was able to walk to the TTA and walk right on to Monorail Green (or Lime or Lemon-lime, I don’t know what color to call it). The Contemporary DVC tower is really coming along and is much larger than I imagined it would be. If I were independently wealthy, I’d buy into that property but it just doesn’t make sense for a single guy to spend money on that when I can get better deals elsewhere.

I was in the park by 11:30 AM. I had hoped that perhaps I could eat at the Plaza Restaurant, but they had a 30 minute wait. I would waited and watched the Barbershop Quartet, who were performing Christmas songs and playing handbells really well but I was quite hungry. So I went to Cosmic Ray’s instead. My friend Connie’s nephews were selling Disney Gift Cards for a fundraiser and so I got a $100 one and was planning to use it for food. The cashier couldn’t get the card to work and I got a little nervous that I might have accidentally gotten ripped off. I got a double bacon cheeseburger and fries with a large Coke and wolfed it down quick before heading over for a ride on the TTA.

On the way there, I saw PUSH talking to some choir kids. The CM running the can was right out in the open, right out in the middle of the group, and yet no one noticed him. It was amazing to watch.

After that I decided to give Stitch’s Great Escape another chance since it was a walk on. I think I’ve narrowed down the problem; the concept is fine, the special effects are cool, and things go really well until Stitch finally escapes. At that point, not enough happens and things get really lame. I don’t remember Alien Encounter well enough to know how long the “dark” segment lasted but I do remember it was scary as heck and was not boring.

I then walked over and took in Monsters Inc Laugh Floor after about 10 minutes of waiting. It was OK, but not something I will do very often. After that, I walked over to Pirates of the Carribean, but first I got a Pineapple Float. The park was really not very crowded and I did not have to wait at all to order my Dolewhip; I did have some really obnoxious couple who were “just looking” and blocking me from ordering. Its the first day so I held my tongue pretty well. Sorry, Russ.

After I walked on Pirates, I decided to head back to the hotel for a nap. On the way out of the park, I heard a familiar voice singing and noticed several cast members directing traffic away from the center of Main Street. Right in the first little hub before you get to the Emporium, American Idol winner David Cook was recording his song for the Christmas Day Parade special. It was next to impossible to get his picture due to the way they had him situated but I tried. Connie is a HUGE David Cook fan so I of course called and emailed her immediately to tell her he was there, I was there, and she of course, was not. However, she is coming tomorrow so I may find myself in some big trouble.

I went back to the hotel and when I got to my room my cell phone was missing. I did start to panic and went out to the rental car to look; I knew I had just had it so it had only been gone for 5 minutes. It wasn’t in the car and so I asked the front desk if they’d seen it and also tried to ask the housekeeping woman on my floor but she did not speak English. I went back out to the car again and found it under the passenger’s seat. I guess it fell there when I was making that annoying U-turn you have to make to arrive at the Orlando Vista.

I took a 3 hour nap and headed over to the Studios. I parked in Stage 46 and walked briskly into the park. I headed over to package pickup and got my free 3D glasses for the Osborne lights. The cast member wasn’t very friendly and seemed confused about why
I only needed the one pair and wondered where the rest of my party was. I turned around and looked behind me and shrugged and said, “Guess I only need the one!” He said OK and I walked away smiling.

I grabbed dinner at the Backlot Express. I didn’t know they had started doing self-serve soda, but I am glad. I wish more places would do that! I then walked over to the very crowded Spectacle of Dancing Lights. I watched the dance one and I couldn’t take the claustrophobic feeling of all those people trying to take pictures and look around and pay no attention to the other 5,000 people packed into the Streets of America.

So, I walked over to see how long the line was for Toy Story Mania. 70 minutes was too long so I thought I might try to catch Fantastmic. It was 10 til 7 and the show was getting ready to start but they were at standing room only and my back was starting to hurt so I turned around and went to ride Tower of Terror instead.

This drunk lady sat next to me and kept grabbing my arm and screaming while we dropped and went up and down. She laughed the whole time and apologized for grabbing me but the alcohol on her breath was prominent. It was more funny than it was annoying, thank goodness.

I decided to head out of the park before the Fantasmic crowd let out and everyone raced for the exit. I drove to Wal-Greens and got a few things (Coke, dramamine, and some beef jerky) and then headed back to the room.

Tomorrow: Connie arrives, Dinner at House of Blues with our friend Nicole, and whatever else I want to do!

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