Double the fun : East & West coast Disney & Universal parks - UPDATED 5/30
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Wow what a day for you and Nest. I loved the tiger and orangutan tour you had and that tour guide on the rhino rally was hysterical. I would have never been able to go any of those coasters, so kudos to you both.
Twinkles are one of my favorite snacks so I am glad you got to try them.
I love your trip and can't wait to read more.
me and my family at katie's sweet 16
Check out my PTR.."This trip courtesy of the Mass Lottery..." checking in to PP on 8-21
I have so much fun reading your updates! You are such a great sister to plan all these things to enjoy with Nest! I can't wait to hear about the next day's adventures!
Originally Posted by DawnK
I love your trip and can't wait to read more.
Originally Posted by dsnytina
Can't wait to read more!
Thank you - really glad to hear all that! I'm working on writing my next entry as we speak - apologies it is taking me so long. One of my New Year's Resolutions is to finish this trip report by the end of the year. As I only got 12 entries written last year, and have 28 to go, I had better pull my socks up!
Originally Posted by Dlandmom2
That's just amazing that you hit all 5 coasters! At one point in my life I would've happily gone with you, but I think that point has passed...and you'd be lucky to get me on maybe one or two!
Originally Posted by DawnK
I would have never been able to go any of those coasters, so kudos to you both.
Originally Posted by dsnytina
You are so brave to ride coasters even though they give you the shakes!
Our main goal for the day once having reached the park, was hitting all five coasters, hence why we had to speed things up towards the end, just to be able to squeeze Montu in. I must admit that these days, I ride most coasters with some trepidation, where-as when I was younger, I was completely fearless (like Nest is now.) I hope to always retain a little bravado to enable me to continue experiencing coasters in years to come.
Originally Posted by Dlandmom2
I actually hadn't heard much about Busch Gardens until your update, so thanks for sharing! I didn't realize they had so many things to offer. The tour looked really fun and interesting. How wonderful that it became a private tour for you and Nest!
Originally Posted by ilovedisney247
What an amazing day at Busch Gardens! It sounds like a great tour! You got some amazing interaction and great photos too!
Originally Posted by chezp
Wow, what an amazing time at Busch Gardens - that tour sounds so good, we may have to look into that next time we're there!
Originally Posted by DawnK
Wow what a day for you and Nest. I loved the tiger and orangutan tour you had and that tour guide on the rhino rally was hysterical.
Originally Posted by Colexis Mom
What a great day you had at Busch Gardens! Love all your pictures!
Originally Posted by Cam22
I've never been to Busch Gardens, but your pictures of the animals, make me think we might need to do that some day.
I can't remember how I found out about Busch Gardens, I just know that it was some time ago . There is certainly a lot to do there - definitely more than a day's worth of attractions and activities , especially if you want to experience things more than once, and take one of their tours.
Glad our photos continue to delight!
Originally Posted by mushu22
We loved the tigers too. It was especially awesome being just three feet away from the ones we saw inside the staff only building. Being so close to them when they stood up, really brought home just how big they were. Absolutely magnificent creatures!
Originally Posted by DawnK
Twinkles are one of my favorite snacks so I am glad you got to try them.
We're super glad we got to try them too, and are big fans after that one and only sample
Little Brother & Big Sister
Last edited by Big Sister; 01-22-2012 at 07:31 PM..
Reason: Correcting typo
Our first day at Disney's Hollywood Studios, followed by the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party and Main Street Electrical Parade at the Magic Kingdom
I woke up on this morning and looked across at the clock, thinking it was 8.30am, but because of the angle, it turned out to be 10.30am. While I waited for Nest to wake up, I worked on my journal and grazed on mini Mickey puffy cheese crackers and Mickey pretzels.
When Nest did wake up, the first thing he did was lament that we hadn't done the washing the previous night, to which I replied that the fairies had done it. Sure enough, when Nest checked the rack outside the bathroom and the draws under the TV, they were full of neatly folded and freshly laundered clothes. (For safety reasons, I had woken Nest up the night before to let him know I was going to the laundry. He had momentarily woken up, looked around going, "Shopping? Shopping?", and promptly went back to sleep. Going by that reaction, I needn't have said anything! )
While Nest got ready for the day ahead at a relaxed pace, I walked across to the food court at Everything Pop to buy breakfast and some postage stamps. I wasn't all that hungry due to having grazed all morning on snacks, so I just got myself a bottle of super delicious and refreshing peach and mango juice along with a fruit cup consisting of rockmelon, honeydew melon, and red grapes. Having said that, I did buy another container of mini Mickey puffy cheese crackers for emergency snackas later on.
As for Nest, I knew he was very hungry, so I bought him the following:
· A turkey ciabatta: Lettuce, tomato, and turkey laid on at least an inch thick, on a chewy ciabatta roll, served with a side of crisps. Nest said the roll was delicious, but the crisps weren't; · A slice of tie dye cheesecake: I couldn't believe all the super bright colours this slice of cheesecake was made up of - I had never seen anything like it before, and thought it looked so awesome! I was a bit worried that all the different food colourings may leave a bitter taste in the mouth, but Nest let me have a spoonful, and it was soooooooo delicious! ; · A fruit cup; and, · A bottle of peach and mango juice.
On my way back to our room, I walked past a little girl standing next to a row of hedges. I must've been the first person who came by since she made her exciting discovery of a tiny little hummingbird. I stood there with her for a few seconds while she tried to spot it again, but it had moved on. It would've been awesome if it had've hung around, as Nest would've loved the opportunity to photograph such a beautiful little creature. (I remember him trying to capture them on film back in 2007, from the balcony of our room at the Grand Californian at Disneyland, but they were too far away )
Our park adventures for the day began at 2pm. We had decided to go to Disney's Hollywood Studios. On our way to the bus stop, we thought it was too much of an overcast day to venture out without any wet weather gear, so we quickly turned back to our room to get our brollies, as we had most certainly learnt our lesson the hard way in Sydney!
A bus to Disney's Hollywood Studios was there waiting for us when we arrived back at the bus stop. It was great to be able to hop right on instead of having to wait for ages while a large queue amassed. Just as good, was that the trip only took what seemed like five minutes as opposed to the Magic Kingdom's trip of 20 minutes.
I remember the sight as I got off the bus, as clearly as when I first saw it five years ago. The lightning damaged Tower of Terror hulked over the park off to my right. Much closer, was the park's large Christmas tree standing splendidly in front of the entrance, welcoming in both the season and all the guests. It was decorated with richly coloured blue baubles and gold baubles, lit up Santa faces, movie equipment themed decorations such as film reels and film cameras, and sparkling blue, green and red fairy lights (which were super beautiful at night.) As we walked towards the entrance, we could see a statue of Mickey standing on top of a pole peeking overhead, and glimpses of Hollywood Boulevard with its promise of glitz, glamour, and excitement, up ahead through the gaps in the entrance gates.
Later that night, we had made reservations for the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party in the Magic Kingdom. So we wouldn't have to go there via the Pop Century Resort to pick up Nest's camera gear, he had brought it with him to Disney's Hollywood Studios. So Nest wouldn't have to drag it around with him all day (it gets quite heavy after about five minutes ... well that's my experience, anyway ), we headed straight for Guest Relations to rent a large locker. While waiting to be served, we browsed through a rack of pins on the counter, finding two that we really liked - a multi-coloured jewelled Mickey head, and Mickey holding a black and white portrait of Walt. When we went to the bank of lockers to stow Nest's gear, we discovered that the Cast Member had accidentally given us a key for a small locker, so I went back to Guest Relations to exchange it for a key to a large locker.
Now much lighter on our feet, we called into a camera store on our way to experiencing the Tower of Terror. This was the first time this holiday, that I wanted to shop like crazy - there was so much stuff inside that I just had to have! While Nest was looking at cameras and related accessories, I was going nuts in the multi-media section, over the wide range of park DVDs and CDs available. There was a boxset of six DVDs covering the WDW and Disneyland parks, as well as the Disney Cruise Line (the latter of which I was particularly excited about.) There were also two single Disney park documentaries I unfortunately can't recall the titles of, and an updated double CD soundtrack of the WDW parks. Despite my excitement, I decided to just look this time around, and left my prized possessions on the shelf, certain I'd be back to get them before moving on to the next leg of our trip. (I never did make it back to that store to buy my much wished for purchases. Since being home, I have purchased the boxset of six DVDs though )
The main attraction for us at Disney's Hollywood Studios, was the Tower of Terror, so we eventually managed to drag ourselves out of the shop and continue up Hollywood Boulevard in the direction of the Tower, successfully managing to resist calling into anymore stores along the way. I must've left my sense of direction back in our room, as I got us totally lost, and had to resort to pulling out the guidemap we had picked up at the entrance, and use it in conjunction with the signposts up around the place. I blame my lack of direction that day on the huge crowds - it had to be them who were blocking my senses!
With the aid of our map and the park signposts, we eventually found ourselves standing in front of the wrought iron gates of the Tower of Terror - woo hoo! Unfortunately, the wait to this attraction was 45 minutes, so we got a fast pass each without hesitation, before moving onto the park's next super headliner attraction, the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith. Much to our dismay, we found it had broken down, and remained that way for the rest of our time in the park that day (we went back occasionally to check.)
I had heard a lot about the park's newest attraction, Toy Story Midway Mania, so we began the long trek over to Pixar Place ... and balked at the two hour waiting period - it made the 45 minute waiting period of the Tower of Terror's that we had originally fussed at, seem like small potatoes in comparison. As we couldn't see any fast pass options for Toy Story Midway Mania, we moved on (yet again) through the throngs of people, this time in search of Muppet Vision 3D.
My map reading skills need a lot of work (thank goodness I'm not into orienteering!!), as instead of continuing on past Toy Story Midway Mania and into the Streets of America where Muppet Vision 3D is located, I mistakenly had us retrace our steps - what was I thinking?! At this rate, I was wondering if we were going to be able to experience any attraction in the hour or so before our fast passes for the Tower of Terror became valid.
On our long journey through endless crowds of people in our quest to reach the Streets of America, we came across The Great Movie Ride behind the 122 foot tall Mickey's Sorcerer's Hat, the icon of Disney's Hollywood Studios park. We thought that as long as we were there, we may as well try our luck with experiencing this attraction - surely our luck would improve with this, our fourth choice!
I can't remember the posted waiting time, but it can't have been as long as two hours, otherwise we wouldn't have bothered with it until later. Having said that, I didn't realise just how lengthy the queue was due to the queuing area being under cover, until we actually experienced the long wait for ourselves. I estimated we probably waited in line for close to an hour! Nest wasn't impressed , but took the situation in good humour.
Desperate to actually experience an attraction before the day was up, we skipped looking at the celebrity handprints, footprints and signatures imprinted in cement outside the theatre for the time being, hurrying straight into the theatre foyer, which was decorated in an oriental theme.
As we (slowly) got closer to the entrance for the actual cinema, costumes and props from well-known movies were on display in glass cabinets. Items in question, were:
· The carousel horse Julie Andrews rode as the character Mary Poppins during the animation sequence in the movie of the same name; · An extravagant costume decorated with lots of jewels and peacock feathers, belonging to the Queen from Shakespeare in Love; and, · A costume from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.
The cinema itself was absolutely sardined with people! There were guide rails up indicating the direction of the queue, which reminded me of a cattle corral! While we all patiently waited for the line to move forward until it came time for us to board our vehicle, we watched a sequence of film clips on a continual loop, up on the big screen. Clips that stuck in my mind, were John Wayne's The Searchers; Footlight Parade; Singin' in the Rain; Aliens; and Mary Poppins. I absolutely love the Aliens movies, and the film clip they used in this attraction, included a fluffy ginger cat, which I seriously couldn't remember from the movies (I also love cats , so forgetting in this instance, was a big deal.) I asked Nest if he could remember a cat being in the Aliens movies, and he said no. That can only mean one thing - it's time for me to watch the whole trilogy all over again! (You know how you have to leave watching favourite movies and TV series for a while, before re-watching them again.)
Fortunately for Nest and myself, we ended up getting to skip a huge portion of the queue, as when a Cast Member called out for a party of two, Nest and myself weren't backward in stepping forward on this occasion! Entering the boarding area, we were met with a beautiful replication of the Hollywood Hills (including the world-famous sign) at sunset. Our waiting vehicle was parked near a row of palm trees lit up by streetlights. Up ahead, was the brightly lit display board of a cinema, beckoning us on a spectacular journey into the movies and promising "A cast of thousands! A sweeping spectacle of thrills! Chills! Romance!" Nest and I hopped in the car, buckled up, and were on our way under neons of pink, yellow and blue to the tune of Hooray for Hollywood!
We drove through scenes from famous movies, such as a huge tower formation of dancers from the fantastic 1933 American musical, Footlight Parade, Gene Kelly swinging around streetlights, umbrella in hand, from Singin' in the Rain, and Julie Andrews floating among chimney tops at night, singing Chim Chiminey from Mary Poppins. It was great to be able to view the scenes in this way, as opposed to through a TV or movie screen, as it felt like you were really part of them, as you were physically there watching the story unfold.
From that slice of magic, we then drove into a dark and dimly lit rough looking neighbourhood from the 1930s. Our driver told us such neighbourhoods were reminiscent in classic gangster films such as the 1931 film The Public Enemy, starring James Cagney. In the flat above the bar, you could hear and see the occupants' silhouettes arguing. Nearby, the hotel neon was flickering on and off, there were big movie posters pasted up on a brick wall, and a train clattered nosily on its way to goodness knows where at such a late hour.
Continuing on, we then entered an equally dark and dimly lit rough looking warehouse area, where two gangsters were having an argument. Unfortunately, we got a red light at the railroad crossing, and had to momentarily stop right there in the middle of it all. One of the gangsters, Bugsy Malone, starts arguing with our driver. Suddenly off to our right, the police appear in a classic car and start shooting. To escape the melee, Bugsy commandeers our vehicle, evicting our driver in the process. We made a quick getaway into the next town, with Bugsy telling us all to mind our p's and q's and we wouldn't get hurt.
We found ourselves in the old West - not as scary as gangster-ridden Chicago where we had been previously. A voice introduced us to the time period, and then to two of the genre's legendary stars, John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. As a harmonica played woefully in the background, we drove past a jail, general supply store, a hay barn, and the Sheriff's Office. As we progressed, John Wayne said, "That's mighty tough territory you're heading into, pilgrim - I'd think about turning back." Our direction must've been pretty bad for The Duke of all people to have said that! But then maybe he just said it as we looked a bit green and unable to handle such danger. I'm sure he wouldn't have had a problem with it himself As we reached a really dark spot, we came to a stop and Bugsy demanded that we hand over all our jewels and valuables. At that moment, the light in the room above the Sheriff's office came on, and someone cried, "There's the bank robber! Get him!" A change of heart suddenly came over Bugsy, with him saying, "Nuts to this - I'm out of here!"
Momentarily we found ourselves in complete darkness, save for some flickering stars. Then some small computer monitors came into view, and a voice rather gravely informed us that, "This is Aliens. You are with Sigourney Weaver on the spaceship Nostromo, and something has gone wrong ..." The grave voice continues dispensing the bad news, but I've stopped listening, my eyes widening (as if that would've helped me see any better in the darkness!), as I rode this ride back in 2005, and the uncanny realism of the alien that 'got' me back then, had stayed with me all these years, and I wanted to avoid it this time round. The emergency destruct sequence alarm in the ship then began sounding off, with red lights flashing, and parts of the ceiling coming down around us. All the while Bugsy was fussing, which I suppose is completely natural for someone quite a few decades out of their own timezone!
The next movie scene we were immersed in, was from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. We were in the secret chamber known as the Well of Souls, where Indy and his friend, Sallah, find the lost ark. Small flames were flickering at their feet, and the room's pillars had snakes coiled around them. Moving on, we then enter a scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The scene is lit by flame torches and dominated by a large statue featuring a generous sized gem. A voice informs us that the jewel is guarded by a curse, and those who ignore the curse, must pay with their lives. Bugsy doesn't think this applies to him, and rushes to the gem anyway. A cloaked figure guarding the gem warns Bugsy off, but Bugsy draws his gun and reaches for the gem, disappearing in a cloud of smoke. Our original driver appears from out of nowhere, attempting to fan the smoke away, but all this does is cause a huge fireball, before everything returns to normal, gem still intact.
Our original driver returned to our vehicle, and we continued on our way. We entered a dark passage, parts of which were briefly illuminated, allowing us glimpses of horror movie monsters from the 1930s and 1940s. I wished this part wasn't so fleeting!
We stopped momentarily in a beautiful jungle area, where Tarzan swung by us on a vine on our right, Jane was sitting atop an elephant on our left, and monkey chatter surrounded us - it truly was wonderful. Leaving the jungle, we found ourselves on an airstrip at night, in the final scene from Casablanca. Then we came to a small movie screen where we watched a sequence from The Sorcerer's Apprentice, where Mickey controls powerful waves of water in his dream where he is a sorcerer, and not just an apprentice.
Next we came to my favourite part of the entire ride - the set of The Wizard of Oz. We found ourselves in a simply gorgeous bright little village with the yellow brick road running through it. The small occupants were singing Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, while peeping out from windows and garden beds - it was all so cute and happy. Unfortunately, the villagers were premature in their celebrations, as the Wicked Witch's equally wicked sister appeared in a cloud of smoke, quite noticeably peeved at the villagers' role in her sister's demise. As the Wicked Witch's sister's powers wouldn't work in the village, she disappeared with a cackle in a cloud of smoke, to bide her time.
We followed the yellow brick road out of the village as the villagers sang us off. We came to a beautiful scene of Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion standing in a forest clearing, looking across at a super tall blue glowing castle, home of the Wizard of Oz .
From that magical scene, we moved on into the dark, and came to a very large movie screen. It was royal blue and scattered with gold stars, and in the background, an old timey organ played merrily away. Pretty soon, the stars disappeared and the screen came to life with an assortment of great movie moments, which probably went for around ten minutes or so - it was great to be reminded of such great movie moments, both classic and modern, in such a short space of time. As we began our brief drive back to the disembarking area, the screen turned to a flying bird's eye view over the Hollywood streets at night, with movie searchlights probing the sky.
Even though the wait to ride this attraction was hard going, I'm glad we got to experience the actual attraction itself, as I've read that it's to be closed down, which is a giant shame, as I really do love it. However, I have since read that the ride is just closing down to be updated, which is much better news! It's a shame that some of the scenes are going to be replaced with more up-to-date scenes from more modern movies though, but I understand to keep ahead of the game, Disney has to move with the times. Thinking about it more though, the movies that currently feature in this attraction, are all great in their own right - Disney has captured a snapshot in time of a lot of big movies which I'm sure have had an impact on nearly all of us at some stage or another. I personally think if changes to this ride have to occur, then they should be as extensions to the experience, not as replacements to existing scenes. I'll be greatly interested to see how this ride has changed, the next time I ride it. Unfortunately, Nest and I never got around to going back and checking out the celebrity handprints, footprints and signatures.
On exiting The Great Movie Ride, we continued our search for Muppet Vision 3D. We eventually found it, and saw that the waiting time was only five minutes, which was awesome after coming across such lengthy waiting times previously! We entered the attraction straight away, and as we started to watch the pre-show, I started to wish I had bought a pretzel from the cart outside to snack on, as I suddenly became veeeeeery hungry indeed (and I've always been meaning to try a big baked pretzel ... definitely next trip!) If only I had've remembered the emergency snackas in my bag! I thought it was clever to have the pre-show stretched over three TV screens that were joined together (ie. a character appearing on the far left TV screen, could walk through the middle TV screen to talk to another character waiting on the far right TV screen, for eg.) Before the screens had come to life, I'd been looking around the room, and noticed a fantastic sign that appealed greatly to my sense of humour. It was a play on the original Close Encounters of the Third Kind movie poster and Aliens tag-line, "In space, no one can hear you scream." This poster was advertising a fictional movie called Closet Encounters of the Worst Kind, with its tag-line being, "In space, no one can find their shoes." I cannot explain why I find this so hilarious for - I just do Two thumbs up to the person/s who designed it!
After the pre-show, we entered a beautiful theatre, took a seat, and the 3D show began. Unfortunately, my hunger must've gotten the better of me, as I unintentionally nodded off ... it was during Miss Piggy's scene as well! She sure wouldn't have been impressed! Good job I was wearing 3D glasses so that no one noticed! (Well I hope no one noticed!!) Before I went to sleep, I enjoyed Fozzie Bear's attempt at "cheap 3D effects", which turned out to be blowing an unfolding party whistle straight into the camera, making me automatically swerve when it came shooting towards me. I also loved how the theatre filled up with floating bubbles at one stage, though I cannot remember in what relation this was to the story. As we left the theatre in search of some much needed food, I thought to myself how we must come back to this attraction at a later stage in the next couple of days, but we never did manage it.
The first food place we came to, was the Pizza Planet Arcade, just across from Muppet Vision 3D. Unfortunately, they didn't serve anything we wanted exactly. Having said that, we did feel like cheese pizzas, but they automatically came with Caesar salads, which we didn't want, so we went in search of another food establishment. Nest did love the arcade aspect of this eatery, but games alone aren't going to stop one from feeling hungry.
Nest then had the excellent idea of hunting down the Studio Catering Company. We had passed it numerous times throughout the day while looking for other things, and it seemed like it would sell items we'd like, from the brief glimpses we had gotten. We found it incredibly hard to re-locate, despite it being in the Streets of America section of the park, where we were already located. Perhaps at the time, we weren't able to remember what it was called, or whereabouts in the park it was that we had seen it. While we were hunting down the Studio Catering Company, we came across an extremely loud live band. They absolutely butchered two of my favourite songs, which really irritated me, to put it mildly - I found their renditions of the songs disrespectful to the original artists . I know the entertainment Disney put on is all in a matter of fun, but this band certainly wasn't my cup of tea.
We eventually located the Studio Catering Company, and were served without having to wait, much to my appetite's relief! We both ordered up big (Nest more-so than me ... well he is taller! ) Nest had a chicken caesar wrap which came with apple slices and carrot sticks, chicken nuggets which came with apple sauce and a choc chip cookie (interesting combination! We shared the cookie), and a bottle of water. Somehow, a tub of strawberry yoghurt also made its way to the table. I had a small Coke and a "Grilled Vegetable", which came with a side of fries. The Grilled Vegetable, while not all that appetising to look at, was absolutely delicious! It consisted of grilled zucchini, roasted mushrooms, roasted red pepper, vine-ripened tomatoes, watercress, provolone cheese, and sun-dried tomato pesto, stuffed between two slices of basil asiago bread, which was then pressed pretty flat and grilled.
As we sat down to eat, a huge influx of customers came in - we had timed our visit perfectly! The setting of the Studio Catering Company wasn't all that interesting (it was like a huge metal shed with no walls), and we didn't have a good view of anything from our table (though through the fence we were sitting next to, we could see an over-sized supersoaker which periodically dribbled water, from the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure), but the food was fantastic.
By then, our fast passes for the Tower of Terror had well and truly become valid, so off we went. It was fantastic being able to bypass the super huge long line, but at the same time, I did feel a little guilty about it. The property was truly magnificent, and I hoped we'd have time to appreciate it at a more leisurely pace later on (unfortunately, we never did.)
As soon as we got inside the Tower, we were directed to the library door. Having worked in a library myself for the last 15 years, as soon as we were inside the Tower's library, I tried making out what books were on the shelves , but could only identify a four volume set of The Ladies' Companion, before the already dim lights were turned all the way off, and Rod Serling came on the TV screen to introduce the ride in the legendary style of The Twilight Zone.
On leaving the library, we wove our way through the darkness around huge pieces of machinery. Not being able to see any details, Nest came up with the idea of pointing his small back-up camera in random directions and taking photos. When we reviewed the photos at a later stage, we found a sign on one of the desks in the shadows, which said "It's easy enough to be pleasant when life hums along like a song, but the man worthwhile is the man who can smile when everything goes dead wrong."
Having made our way over the walkways, we came to a rest outside a service elevator door. We were arranged into rows, and eventually allowed admittance. When I went to do up my safety belt, I accidentally tried using the man's safety belt next to me. He said that usually he doesn't mind sharing things, but on this occasion, he'd have to decline!
Orlando's Tower of Terror is so different to California's. In Orlando's version, you're lifted up in the elevator to a particular floor, where the doors open, revealing the five missing people from the introduction. They suddenly turn into ghosts and wave to us. The elevator doors then close, and we're taken up further, with the doors opening again, revealing another floor of the hotel. This is where the Orlando version differs from the Californian version - instead of shooting back down the elevator shaft in varying drop sequences, our elevator car moves forward into the hotel. Seamlessly, the hotel disappears around us, turning into a starscape, save for a door directly ahead, a solitary blinking eye on our left, and a timepiece on the right.
Our car is then taken up to the 13th floor, where the doors open and we have a fantastic view of the park ... then we're dropped right back down the elevator shaft super fast! We were raised and dropped from various heights a couple more times. The drops all took place in the dark (we never made it back up to the opening door on the 13th floor though), so we couldn't judge just how high up we were, which made it all the more exciting. As our car retreated from the elevator shaft, the doors closed in front of us just as Rod was coming up on screen, which I was really disappointed in - I wonder if he was going to say something?
The souvenir shop was totally awesome - for the second time that day, there was so much inside that I wanted! There was a book about Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone (I had been after something like that for ages)various t-shirts (one with Rod on it!), and a fantastic pin, which was a TV set, the screen of which changed three times - Rod ; e=mc2 ; and The Twilight Zone logo. Our souvenir photo was hilarious, so I bought a copy, but left the other sought-after items for another time (what is with me?!)
As it was now dark and time was getting on, we made our way out of Disney's Hollywood Studios and onto the Magic Kingdom, as we didn't want to be late to check in for our Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party. On our way to the park exit, I could see that the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights which I had been going on to Nest about for months, had been turned on, as I could see the tip of a very tall blue Christmas tree, but that would definitely have to be for another day.
We collected Nest's camera gear from the lockers. While I was getting our deposit back for the key, Nest went outside the entrance and took photos of the full moon cloaked in a dark cloud (how awesome if it had've been behind the Tower of Terror!), followed by the Christmas tree (which had since been lit up by blue, red and green fairy lights, making it look so rich.) While I was waiting for Nest to finish, I was looking up at the moon, when suddenly something appeared from out of nowhere out of the sky, landed on the trunk of a nearby palm tree, and sprung up it like a squirrel! I know squirrels can't fly, so I assumed it must be a small bat. Luckily for my sanity, Nest saw a second one come in, to prove I was going nuts. It was an interesting sight.
Nest and I caught a bus to the Ticket and Transportation Centre, then transferred to a monorail which would take us to the Magic Kingdom. The monorail went through the middle of the Contemporary Resort, which Nest loved the look of, and informed me that that was where he wanted us to stay on our next visit
Arriving in the Magic Kingdom, Nest stopped to take some photos of Cinderella's Castle ...
... before we went to see if we could check in for the Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party. We were told to come back at 8.30pm, so we made our way to Friar's Nook in Fantasyland, where Nest got some chilli cheese fries and a churro. I didn't get anything, as I was making sure I had plenty of room for dessert
After Nest's refreshments, we went back to the Tomorrowland Terrace and lined up to check in for the Dessert Party - we were second in line. From then on, the evening got a little pissy We waited in line from 8.20pm, but weren't seen to until 9.10pm! We had absolutely nowhere to sit for all that time (unless you wanted to lose your place in line), and the stench from the nearby garbage bin was rather unmagical, to put it politely! Everyone was stressing out, as we had been told on the phone when booking, to check-in at 8pm, as the fireworks would be starting at 9pm. When we did come to check-in at 8pm, we were told to come back at 8.30pm. Cast Members had been going in and out of the section we were waiting to gain admittance to, but none of them said anything to us, and they were moving way too fast at this stage to ask what was going on. When a pair of Cast Members came to put purple wristbands on us, they were told to stop and promptly disappeared without explanation?! Peoples' agitation became really noticeable when we heard an unclear announcement come over the loudspeaker - none of us knew at the time that it was for the Main Street Electrical Parade that was about to start, and that the fireworks had been put back to a later time. We were all thinking that there should've been a sign on the dais, with the time of the Dessert Party printed on it at least, and/or a Cast Member stationed there, to be available for questions about the event. I understand hiccups are to be expected at first time events (it's my understanding that this was the first year this Dessert Party took place), but I wouldn't have thought to this extent.
Having said that, once we were all finally admitted to the Terrace, things went smoothly from there on in! A Cast Member showed Nest and myself to our table, and much to our huge relief, we had been given the best one available (it must've been the surprise the lady on the phone was talking about when I booked the event and told her it would be Nest's first visit to WDW )
On our table, was a placecard with a picture of fireworks erupting over Cinderella Castle, and "Welcome Carriage Family - party of 2", printed on it, with gold castle-shaped confetti sprinkled around it
While Nest set up his camera and tripod in front of our table, I hurriedly took photos of the dessert buffet before anyone got to it, then chose a selection of mouth-watering sweets for us both (I hope no one was thinking that I was just simply being super greedy, and that the two plates were all for me! While writing this entry and reminding Nest about the day, he told me he thought the plates should've been much bigger, to which I whole-heartedly agreed ) My favourite desserts turned out being the traditional cheesecake mini cup , chocolate mousse mini cup , the square banana crème tarts topped with a dried banana chip, cream and squiggle of chocolate , and the banana custard tarts topped with a swirl of cream . So yummy! So yummy! The chocolate truffles were really nice too . I didn't get to try everything ( more's the pity!), but other delicacies available, were: fresh fruit (red grapes, watermelon, honeydew melon, rockmelon, and pineapple), donuts, brandy snaps, chocolate-topped smores, crème caramels, orange & kiwi tarts, little custard tarts piled high with a variety of berries, lemon tarts, choc dipped strawberries, brownies, and mango shots. (I tried a mango shot, but I didn't like it. They were really well presented though.) I got us a big glass of raspberry lemonade each to go with our dessert. It had a bit of tartness to it, but the only other drink choices were milk, tea, or coffee. There was Coke too, but Nest doesn't like it, and I was trying to go with something different for variety. As we sat down to eat dessert, we could see the very tops of the floats as they went by. I don't think I was aware at the time, that WDW had an electrical parade going at that time of year, so I became very excited . As I've always wanted to see one of Disney's electrical parades, Nest and I agreed to catch a viewing the next chance we got
The fireworks ended up starting at 10pm - no reason to panic and stress after all! I so wish we had all known the revised starting time at the beginning of the evening, and that we'd have tables already allocated to us (therefore no need to be one of the first ones to rush in and attempt to score the best place), so that we could've put our evening to better use (such as catching a ride or two) and have been totally happy for the entire time.
The fireworks we saw, were the normal Wishes as opposed to the Holiday Wishes. All the lights went out, except for the castle, which was mauve with sparkling silver fairy lights. The opening bars to Wishes began, followed by Julie Andrews' voice introducing the show, telling us all that we have the power to make wishes come true, at which point a giant ball of light arced over the castle. A child then began singing Starlight Starbright, while silver waterfalls gently burst above the castle. At the crescendo of the song, another ball of light arced over the castle, and a giant blue star with an orange centre erupted into view. The star in particular was fantastic, and a firework I had never seen before.
The song faded, and golden waterfalls gently burst above the castle, with Jiminy Cricket beginning some narration, which was the lead-up to Tinkerbell's appearance As Jiminy says, "The most magical things can happen, and it all starts with a wish", you then see Tinkerbell fly from the castle and disappear off over Tomorrowland in her sparkly little green dress, tiny gold slippers, blue fairy wings, blonde hair, and silver wand. Because of our viewing position this time around, she flew right over us! This was the first time ever I was able to see her appearance up close, and I had my video camera at the ready. As she flew over, you could hear her wings fluttering, which I thought was a really nice touch. As I'm always so moved during firework displays, coupled with the fact that I knew I was going to be able to see Tinkerbell up close while she flew overhead (something I've wanted to do for years) my video of the moment was so crap, as I simply couldn't hold my camera still, I was shaking so much. When a mother and daughter standing next to us found out this would be the first time we'd be seeing the Tinkerbell part of a fireworks show up so closely, they got excited for us too!
A patchwork of the crispest screenshots I could capture from my video
After that little wish of mine came true, we then heard various other Disney characters voice their wishes while a selection of fireworks erupted over the castle, as if what they were wishing was being granted. Cinderella wished she could go to the ball, which was followed by multi-coloured bursts. Snow White wished that someday her prince would come, which was also answered in multi-coloured bursts, followed by a giant ball of light arcing across the night sky. Peter Pan wished he'd never have to grow up, which was answered with green starbursts, and following Pinocchio's wish to be a real boy, were green and red bursts moving erratically above. The last wish in this section, was Aladdin wishing for Genie's freedom, making silver bursts with orange stripy centres erupt overhead, followed by balls of light arcing over the castle from either side, and culminating in a giant star-shaped burst.
Jiminy Cricket introduced the next section, by saying, "Any wish is possible - all it takes is a little courage." Gold rockets then shoot up into the night sky behind the castle, and explode into gold, pink and orange bursts, which seemed to get bigger and bigger as the segment progressed, ending with two giant silver fans fanning out from behind the castle, and two huge multi-coloured bursts erupting overhead.
To the tune of ballroom music, delicate silvery gold shimmers burst over the castle, followed by huge stripy orange fireworks with twinkling multi-coloured centres. These were then replaced by orange planet shaped fireworks with pink rings, delicate shimmers, then loads of gold cluster bursts.
An instrumental piece from Beauty and the Beast then filled the air, while a couple of rounds of gold rockets shot up from behind the castle, met at the top by delicate shimmers and silver bursts with red centres. This segment was brought to a close by beautiful pink hearts and giant stripy orange bursts.
Jiminy introduced the next segment, devoted to Aladdin's Genie, by saying, "Sometimes wishes can be granted in the most unexpected way", while a jolly version of When You Wish Upon A Star played in the background and a ball of light arced over the castle. After two big bursts of blue fireworks, followed by two big orange bursts with multi-coloured sparkle after-effects, Genie's voice surrounded us, booming, "We've got some wishes to grant!" Then some rollicking music that I can imagine my Nan stomping her foot to, filled the night air, while three bunches of gold fountains streamed over the left side of the castle (which was multi-coloured for this segment), followed by the right side. More multi-coloured stripy bursts erupted overhead, followed by more gold fountains streaming over either side. Then from above, appeared loads of inter-twined red and blue ring shaped fireworks that I've never seen before (they reminded me of the ABC TV ribbon logo, for those of you familiar with Australian television stations), followed by multi-coloured planets with blue rings.
The castle then turned to a dark blue with large white stars over it, and red rockets shot up into the air from behind it, to the tune of The Sorcerer's Apprentice. As the tune gets more dramatic, silver and red bursts erupted over the castle.
As green waterfalls gently burst over the castle spires, I thought to myself, "How nice!", but then I heard the Evil Queen demanding to see her face in the magic mirror, showing that she's the fairest of them all, but when a sad face firework appears in answer to her demand (), things take a sinister turn for the worst, with rockets then appearing to the sound of thunder claps. As the Evil Queen continues her demands, giant green bursts erupt, followed by crazy green and purple rockets going every which way, orange bursts, and multi-coloured bursts to the tune of A Night On Bald Mountain. Must've been some kind of spell the Evil Queen was working on there! Her evil laughter fades off into the night air as gold bursts and delicate orange sparkles momentarily illuminate sky.
Once the danger has passed, Jiminy said, "You know folks, you gotta be careful for what you wish for around here, or you'll get yourself into an awful mess. Just when things look bad, fate steps in to see you through." He then begins cheering about the arrival of the Blue Fairy, which is heralded by two silver fans fanning out from behind the castle, then three giant blue starbursts with orange sparks, followed by orange bursts with multi-coloured ball centres. As the Blue Fairy says, "Remember, we must always believe in our wishes, for they are the magic of the world. Lets all put our hearts together and make a wish come true!", orange bunches of fireworks with blue bands erupted overhead (I hadn't seen these before, either - they kind of reminded me of sparkling bunches of hay!) As the Blue Fairy departs, Starlight Starbright starts up, accompanied by delicate orangey gold shimmers, arcs of light from either side of the castle, and silver waterfalls.
The grand finale was introduced by the sentiment, "Wishes will come true if you believe in them with all your heart. The best thing is, you'll never run out of wishes - they're shining deep down inside of you, cos that, my friends, is where the magic lives." Then the Wishes song begins playing, accompanied by what seemed like the contents of a fireworks factory! You had orangey gold waterfalls, gold rockets continuously shooting up from behind the castle at the crescendo of the song, followed by huge orange bursts, multi-coloured bursts, then more rockets. After that, the castle turns multi-coloured, while huge silver bursts erupt overhead. Then a cavalcade of light balls arc across the now sparkling castle from either side, with loads of orange rockets shooting up from behind. The climax of the finale was the sky above the castle being completely full of extra large exploding multi-coloured starbursts, with Jiminy saying, "See what a little wishing can do!" And with that, the castle momentarily turned an icy colour complete with sparkles. No other place does fireworks like Disney!
It was great being able to see the fireworks from the close proximity of the Tomorrowland Terrace (especially as Tinkerbell flew right over the area), but the best viewing area is from in front of the castle, where you can see the full effects of the designs - viewing them from the Tomorrowland Terrace gives you a skewed angle.
The castle continued to momentarily change colours after the fireworks display had ceased, which was beautiful to see.
We got our photos taken on the Terrace in front of the castle by a Disney photographer, before leaving the area. For some reason, we looked rather miserable in the resulting shot - I much prefer Nest's version he took of us with the aid of his remote control, a bit later on!
As we turned to leave the terrace, loads of people were swarming the dessert buffet, madly stuffing empty containers with all the leftovers. Nest and I didn't have any containers at our disposal, so we didn't take any leftovers with us.
Much to our great surprise , there was another run of the Main Street Electrical Parade slated for 11pm, so Nest and I staked out first rate places on the bridge leading into Liberty Square, near the Castle . After a bit of waiting, a bippy soundtrack soon brought the still night to life, and we could see some lit-up fairies skipping towards us, flourishing their wands and waving. Their outfits were outlined with fairy lights - there was a pink outfit, a blue outfit, a purple outfit, and a red outfit. As the fairies got closer, we could see that they were also wearing little hats with what looked like a single-stemmed flower protruding from the top.
Tinkerbell's float was the first one to come along. I wasn't sure what to make of it at the time, but on repeated viewing of my video, I interpreted it to be a clump of grass studded with blue flowers with white centres, orange flowers with yellow centres, pink flowers with yellow centres, and yellow flowers with orange centres. The blades of grass were outlined with dark green fairy lights, and the flowers shone brightly also. Tinkerbell was in what looked like a mini hot air balloon hanging off the tallest tip of grass. This tall tip of grass had a line of yellow lights going all the way up to where Tinkerbell was, to which I interpreted to be dewdrops. The basket was bars of green fairy lights, and the balloon looked like a collage of autumn leaves. Tinkerbell was wearing a green mini dress lit up with green fairy lights, her wings softly changed colour, and she was holding a glowing wand. There was a firefly following Tinkerbell's float, and swirling trails of pixie dust trailed over the float periodically, presumably lighting the way for the floats that followed.
Goofy was up next, driving a train, waving out the windows, and tooting the horn. The train blew smoke, which seemed to be coloured whatever colour the funnel was at the time. From a distance, the train looked multi-coloured, but as it got closer, I could see that it was red and silver, with gold embellishments, such as Mickey's head on the side, and green flags. The train was lit up further periodically, with swirling patterns of pixie dust.
Goofy's train was pulling a float announcing that we were watching Disney's Electrical Parade, in brightly coloured red, white and blue fairy lights. Minnie was standing at the helm, waving, and Mickey was at the elevated end of the float, conducting the parade music. Green, blue, red and gold flags flew behind Mickey in suspended animation.
Two cute little creatures followed on. One of the creatures was a little green, blue and white patched shelled turtle wearing gold spectacles and a red tie. The other creature was a little pink-bodied snail (complete with a cute little pink tail!) with silver antennas and a blue and green striped shell with silver edging. The blue and green stripes flashed quickly on and off, to give the impression of a spinning wheel. Both Mr. Turtle and Mr. Snail made funny noises as if they were speaking, and occasionally spun around in circles on the spot when they weren't making their way down the parade route. Two of my four bros love fast cars, and Nest and I imagined if they were asked to drive Mr. Turtle and Mr. Snail, and how they would probably try to race each other down Main Street in them, being frustrated that the creatures probably wouldn't go faster than 7mph!!
The next section of the parade was devoted to Alice in Wonderland. The float starting off this section, featured a giant royal blue-capped mushroom with gold underside and light green stem. Perched atop it, was a beautiful big butterfly slowly fanning its red and silver patterned wings. Sitting at the foot of the mushroom, was a smiling red lady beetle with silver facial features and antennas. The edges of this float were outlined in dark green fairy lights to simulate grass, and the side of this float was brought to more life by swirling patterns of pixie dust.
Following the mushroom, was a smiling gold blue-eyed bumblebee with green wings and legs, a red hat with a sparkling spray of silver protruding from it, and a flashing silver stinger. To a special buzzing version of the parade soundtrack, Mr. Bumblebee spun around in a crazy bee-like fashion, so he wouldn't miss greeting anyone.
The White Rabbit came dancing after Mr. Bumblebee. His apron-like coat was outlined in large white fairy lights, and had a large red heart on the front, consisting of small red fairy lights. Even his tail was lit up! The oversized illuminated pocketwatch (now there'sone for Nest's collection! ) he held, showed a time of what looked like 4.20. (In the background of my video, you can hear a little kid loudly calling, "RAAAAABBIT! RAAAAABBIT!" )
One of the features of the float that followed, was the light and dark purple striped Cheshire Cat sporting the biggest grin you've ever seen. Occasionally he'd disappear, and all you could see were his eyes and smile. The Cheshire Cat was sitting at the base of a giant green-capped mushroom with pink underside and orange stem. Sitting atop the mushroom, was Alice, waving to the people below and interacting with them:
· Are you sleepy? No? Well that's good - I think Snow White already has all her dwarves · Hello there! Are you a pirate? You're wearing a pirate hat, aren't you? Do you know what they say to pirates? Ahoy there, and other nautical expressions. It's true! (On viewing the video with me, Nest picked up on, "Are you a pirate?", and immediately started fussing. I'm not sure why Occasionally he goes around mimicking Alice's question ) · Mr. Turtle's lost. It's good advice that when you're lost, you stay where you are until you're found.
I thought it was good how they handled Mr. Turtle's breakdown. While waiting for Mr. Turtle to be 'found' (ie. somehow cross the bridge from the hub into Liberty Square), I swung the video around for a look at the castle, which was lit up a beautiful baby blue with silver fairy lights.
Mr. Turtle was towed around the remainder of the parade route by a small 'invisible' (ie. not lit up) buggy. He was wearing a gold hat with a red ribbon which had a silver feather sticking out of it. His shell consisted of red and gold patches outlined in silver. In-between these patches, were rows of flashing green and blue fairy lights. His funny speech patterns, which were very high sounds that suddenly went down very low, sounded as if he was lamenting about having been lost
Following close behind Mr. Turtle, was his friend, Mrs Snail. Mrs Snail had a gold body with a red and gold zig-zaggy patterned shell, and a single line of silver fairy lights indicating the coil contour of the shell. (I believed it to be a lady snail, due to the high voice. No, I don't believe I'm over-analysing things )
The last Alice in Wonderland themed float featured a giant pink-capped mushroom with gold underside and royal blue stem. Sitting atop the mushroom, was a big bright blue caterpillar smoking a gold pipe and speaking incomprehensible English. Behind the mushroom, was a big green frog with gold markings on its back. Occasionally his long pink tongue would flick out and catch a silver fly. (I thought it was funny how all three Alice in Wonderland floats featured giant mushrooms )
Bringing up the rear, was a lone lime green bumblebee with pink tail, flashing gold stinger, and green legs and wings. He was wearing a gold hat with a protruding bunch of silver sparkles.
The next section of the parade was devoted to Cinderella. The first float was preceded by dancing mice (not the ones that make you stand on a chair and scream, thank goodness! ) The lady mice were wearing dresses covered in dancing silver fairy lights, with still fairy lights around the waist, cuffs, and neckline of the dresses, as well as their headpieces. The gentlemen mice wore jackets sporting a flashing badge, and top hats. The jackets (including the cuffs) were outlined with still fairy lights, as were the rims of the hats.
Following the dancing mice, was the glorious pumpkin coach float. A smartly dressed driver sat out the front on the driver's bench outlined in green fairy lights. There was a flourishing green fairy light pattern leaning out to where the horses would've been (they must've been magical invisible horses on this night ) The 'flourish' and driver's bench was decorated with a single yellow fairy light rose. The pumpkin coach was adorned with rows of orange fairy lights. Atop, was a fountain of silver fairy lights. Single silver fairy lights delicately danced all over this float, not to forget the sudden bursts of swirling gold pixie dust patterns. A smiling Cinderella waved from inside her pumpkin coach, looking very beautiful in a gorgeous full length white gown sparkling with silver fairy lights and a sparkling tiara. Her Fairy Godmother stood outside behind the coach, waving to onlookers and swishing her glowing magic wand around.
Under a red fairy light edged canopy of silver fairy lights, gracefully danced four couples - men in smart suits, and women in beautiful ball gowns. The side of the men’s' trousers had a line of fairy lights up each outside leg, and their vests and cuffs were outlined also. The women had the lower parts of their dresses light up with fairy lights, as well as their neckline, the flowers holding up the bunched up first layer of dress, the big bow at the back, and their tiaras.
Even Cinderella's ugly sisters had their own float! It had the same canopy top as the dancers before then, but was centred by a large gold chandelier with candles. The railings of the float were gold and silver, with gold candelabras in each corner. Prince Charming was there, bowing and holding a red cushion displaying a sparkling silver glass slipper. The ugly sisters (one was wearing a pink dress, and the other a blue dress) bowed back and waved with their hankies, getting all flustered and excited in the process. Another canopy of elegant dancers followed.
The emergence of the Big Ben float, signified to me that we were now up to the Peter Pan section of the parade. Big Ben was decked out in twinkling royal blue fairy lights and edged in silver fairy lights. It's clock face was gold, and displayed a time of twelve midnight. Big Ben was surrounded by silver water fountains that danced up and down at various levels.
Peter Pan and Captain Cook sailed onto the scene next on waves of aqua blue accentuated with swirling patterns of pixie dust. The base of their ship was green, with gold rails. The decoration at the front was a glowing gold skull. The ships flags were red and white striped, held in place by silver ropes of fairy lights. There was a gold basket look-out on top. Out the back of the ship, was a cabin lined with gold lights, a green roof, and three lanterns hanging above. The ships steering wheel was totally covered in silver fairy lights, and sounds of canon fire surrounded them.
Smee followed behind in a red and gold rowboat, also on waves of aqua blue. Nest was very interested in the contents of Smee's brown treasure chest outlined in gold fairy lights, but they were never revealed.
We soon forgot about wondering what the contents of Smee's treasure chest were, when Dopey drove along, hauling three gold coloured mine carts with silver wheels, overflowing with gorgeous sparkling multi-coloured gems behind him, signifying the start of the Snow White section of the parade. Lime green patterns of pixie dust swirled along the sides of the mine carts, making them even more pretty than they already were. Dopey wore a green top with dancing coloured fairy lights all over it, as if some of the gems had rubbed off onto him. On his hat was a little search light, helping him along his way.
Snow White came dancing along after the gem train, along with three of the dwarves - Grumpy, Happy and Bashful. Her yellow skirt sparkled with dancing yellow fairy lights, and her blue bodice was illuminated with still royal blue fairy lights. Her red cape was brought to life with dancing pink lights, as was the bow in her hair. Her puffy white sleeves and stiff white collar were illuminated with still white fairy lights. All you could see of the three dwarves with her, were the dancing multi-coloured lights on their tops, and the searchlight on their mining helmets.
The last three dwarves (Doc, Sneezy and Sleepy) followed on the next float, mining for treasure in a cave. Gold glowing lanterns hang above them while they busily work away. There were multi-coloured gems everywhere, and their crates were overflowing with them and their tops sparkling from them. Patterns of pixie dust occasionally swirled over the float, bringing even more light to an already brightly lit float.
I absolutely love Disney's Pinocchio, so when I finally made out that the two figures dancing towards us next were donkeys (they were hardly lit up at all, except for their hats and just one trouser leg cuff!), I became even more excited than I already was.
Naturally, Pinocchio's float followed on next. Pinocchio was dancing in a pink and purple birdcage embellished with a touch of silver (this birdcage didn't have a front.) Lampwick, his friend who he met on his way to Paradise Island, stood dancing just outside. Behind them, was the blue and gold striped helter skelter carnival ride from Paradise Island. Behind that, was a big red apple that Pinocchio was meant to give to his teacher on his first day of school (which he never went to - smacked legs! ) Behind the apple, was a row of four giant-sized Indians wearing green and gold costumes. Thankfully, they weren't dispensing cigars to the crowd like they were in the Tobacco Row section of Paradise Island in the Pinocchio movie A banner of sparkling purple and orange flags ran the length of this float from above. More dancing donkeys followed this float, squealing.
Bring the Pinocchio section to an end, was a totally Paradise Island themed float. At the front, was a giant head with a gaping mouth, bulbous nose, rosy cheeks, blonde hair, and blue top hat. Rides featured were a smaller version of the blue and gold helter skelter, and a large ferris wheel with small boys in the seats. At first, I thought the ferris wheel was a snowflake, due to the snowflake-like pattern of silver lights! This pattern constantly moved, which gave the impression that the ferris wheel itself was moving (and to some people like myself, it gave an initial impression that it was a giant snowflake ) The oversized food on this float certainly didn't escape my attention! Near the front, was a giant green ice cream on a yellow cone, and at the very end, was a giant cupcake in an orange casing with pink icing topped with a red cherry. A banner of sparkling purple and orange flags ran the length of this float from above also, and patterns of pixie dust swirled below.
A giant dark green dragon called Elliot was the next on scene, accompanied by his friend, Pete, who rode on Elliot's neck. At one stage, Elliot showed everyone how he could disappear, and all you could see where these white eyes approaching, which was a bit spooky! Elliot had lime green markings in his dark green scales, sparkling pink and gold wings, pink spines, and a silvery-haired chin. The end of his tail was also pink, which he was carrying a gold lantern with. Occasionally Elliot blew smoke from him nostrils, but it wasn't because he was angry. Pete wished everyone a razzle dazzle night on passing, in an effeminate voice. I was surprised Nest didn't pick up on this on viewing the video with me afterwards, and add it to his swag of imitations, along with Alice's pirate question
The final float was titled "To honor America". It was an American flag fluttering horizontally in suspended animation, with silver fairy light fireworks erupting overhead. Swirling patterns of pixie dust and blue and silver stars sparkled madly along the sides of the float. A super giant bald eagle sat proudly at the end of this float, its wings moving ever so slowly and made up of thousands of little gold and orange fairy lights to give a brown effect. Either side of the float, Cast Members dressed smartly in George Washington outfits, marched patriotically alongside, bringing the parade to a close.
My anticipation of this parade was so high, and it definitely lived up to my expectations! Nest took awesome photos of almost every float , and I captured it on video to watch forever-more afterwards. I'm also glad I had recently watched some Disney animations, to help bring more meaning to some of the floats, instead of just thinking how pretty they were as they passed me by.
After the parade, Nest and I caught the midnight bus back to the Pop Century Resort. It was the first night I didn't hear people whinging about wanting to get a seat while having to stand. Great songs provided the soundtrack for our journey, such as Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond, Holiday Road, and Stayin' Alive. A Dad was singing along to Sweet Caroline, and his young son was repetitively begging him to stop. I usually sing along to Neil's songs also, but managed to resist on this occasion, in case Nest got the bus driver to stop, forcing me to walk the rest of the way back to our resort, getting attacked by flying bats along the way
On the walk back to our room, I showed Nest where there was an ice machine and two vending machines (I can't remember how I came across them myself, now - there must've been a sign up somewhere.) Nest didn't want anything, but I got myself a packet of Cheez-it, as I had the munchies for something savoury. Unfortunately, they weren't all that nice.
Nest went to sleep while reviewing his photos . I battled to keep awake while watching my parade video and waiting for the battery to go flat so I could recharge it. I had the Disney instrumental music channel on in the background as I got ready for bed. It was a bit before 3am when I was finally able to call it a night
Next entry: The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
The wake up and laundry story at the start was too funny!
One of the reasons I try to write my travel journal entries on a daily basis while on holiday, is so I don't forget little gems like this Sometimes I worry about the funny anecdotes that have been lost forever, due to me sometimes not being able to keep up with my writing
Originally Posted by Cam22
Another fun-packed day! Love the MSEP pictures!
Originally Posted by Dlandmom2
What a fun day! The dessert party looks yummy, but it's a shame they didn't make you aware of the changed times.
I'm glad you were able to see the Electrical Parade...it's my favorite!
Originally Posted by Colexis Mom
Great pictures! Sorry DHS was so crowded! Glad you had a great time at the dessert party!
Originally Posted by chezp
Sorry the Studios were so crowded and the waits so long and my goodness that was a saga getting into the dessert party, but apart from that, what a great day!
The dessert party certainly was very yummy - I wish I had room to eat a lot more! If I weren't so lazy (or should I say "busy" ), I would hunt down the recipes of my favourite dishes and cook them myself
Out of all the Disney parades I've seen, the Main Street Electrical Parade is now my favourite parade too
DHS turned out to be crowded any time we went, unfortunately . We never got to experience all the attractions (though we came close), or re-do our favourites multiple times. Looking at things positively though, that's just a definite excuse to go back and try again next time we're at WDW!
Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Before going to bed the previous night (or earlier that morning, I should really say!), I had set the alarm for 8am, as Nest and I wanted to be organised enough to leave for the Animal Kingdom park by 10am at the latest. I woke up during the "night" so massively tired, that I reprogrammed the alarm for 9am. I knew Nest wouldn't have minded, as that meant more sleep , plus the knowledge that we can get ready in half-an-hour if the circumstances warrant it. When the alarm did go off, I turned it off and went straight back to sleep. Unfortunately, there was so much noise near our room, that fate had me wake up permanently, 20 minutes later ... I was not impressed! At the same time, I was worried about it being early afternoon, and was momentarily relieved it was only 20 minutes later. Now there's a contradictory statement for you!
Admitting defeat, I got up and commenced work on the previous day's journal entry. I was sooooooooo , I could barely concentrate! Nest woke at around noon, which was my cue finally, to go over to Everything Pop and get foooooood! Nest had requested a turkey ciabatta, a side salad, a fruit cup and a peach 'n mango drink. I got myself a super delicious box of beef and broccoli (which also came with rice, mushrooms and lychees) from the Chinese counter, and supplemented it with a fruit cup and bottle of water. I dropped the tray back at our room, then quickly dashed around the corner for some ice to cool down my Coke with from the night before. I was tempted to get a chilled Coke, but didn't want to waste the one in our room.
Over lunch, we decided to have a super relaxation day, and not go to the parks until the late afternoon. We had pretty much been going full pelt for the last couple of weeks, and were finally conscious that we needed to take things down a couple of gears for the next few hours or so. We did feel a bit bad about the decision, and felt that we weren't making the most of our time at WDW, but we hoped it would be for the best in the long run. We spent the next couple of hours in front of the TV, updating our journals so that we wouldn't forget a second of the fantastic time we had had so far. At one stage, we heard what we thought was a squirrel in the ceiling, tapping his snacks in an attempt to break them open. Thankfully he kept the same meal times as us, and didn't choose to eat at an unsociable hour.
At 4.35pm, we changed our park destination from the Animal Kingdom, to Disney's Hollywood Studios, so that we could go and view the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. The bus was surprisingly packed (perhaps everyone else had had a relaxation day also), so we had to stand. Luckily it was only a short trip.
On arriving at Disney's Hollywood Studios, we headed straight for the Streets of America to see if the Osborne Lights were on. They weren't, so we hunted down a place to have dinner. Reading the dining options on our guidemap, we decided that the Backlot Express appealed to our senses the most, so off we set. When we got there, we were a bit worried, as we suddenly realised that it was 5.35pm, and our Times Guide and New Information leaflet said that the eatery closed at 5.30pm! We were SO by this stage though, that we couldn't bear the thought of moving on , and gingerly went in. To our relief, we saw a queue still at the counter, so we joined it.
For dinner, Nest and I both went for the avocado and cheese angus burger with fries and water option - just what our stomachs ordered!
We ate at the indoor seating area, which was themed as what reminded me of a workshop's break-out area.
By the time we had finished dinner, the Osborne Lights were well and truly on The Osborne Lights came about when Jennings Osborne would decorate his property with Christmas lights as a treat for his daughter each holiday season. As the years went on, Jennings Osborne's light displays got brighter and more extensive, soon becoming a problem with his neighbours. Disney heard about this dilemma, offered their assistance, and the lights have had a new home ever since.
While it was fantastic to see such a super beautiful light display spanning roughly two blocks, the circumstances were far from perfect. The streets were absolutely packed with people, and there were Cast Members everywhere shouting at everyone to move on and not stop while waving their light batons furiously!! I swear I am not exaggerating! It was so stressful - nowhere near the joyful experience I was expecting to initiate Nest into the magical spectacle with - we couldn't even stop to take photos!
We had no choice but to keep on moving. Eventually we were able to come to a stop on the edge of the display so that Nest could set up his tripod and begin to take photos He even showed me how to use my own camera for successful night shots - woo hoo! (Though his were still way better than mine ) Unfortunately, we ended up leaving the display early after having waited years to see them together, which I found bitterly disappointing, as there were people smoking and drinking all around us, making us even more grumpier than we already were (and that's with having had a big rest until late afternoon!)
Not wanting to go back to our hotel so soon, we decided to go to the Magic Kingdom. Seeing as Nest had all his camera gear with him, he wanted to video the Main Street Electrical Parade, followed by the Wishes fireworks, with his own camera and tripod (my videos are all hand-held with a bit of a shake to them ) Before leaving Disney's Hollywood Studios, we stopped so that Nest could take night shots of the Tower of Terror and Mickey's sorcerer's hat.
The line to catch the bus to the Ticket and Transportation Centre, then transfer to monorail, was so long, that we ended up catching the bus to the Contemporary Resort. From the Contemporary Resort, we got off and caught the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. It was hard being in such a beautiful deluxe resort like the Contemporary, then travelling through two more - the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian - when staying at a value resort, especially on top of the disappointment of that night's viewing of the Osborne Lights
We weren't surprised to see that the Magic Kingdom was absolutely packed when we got there. It was difficult to get good spots for Nest to video the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes fireworks, but we managed it (we scored the last spots outside City Hall) and had great views in the end, even though it involved a lot of waiting around. While waiting for the parade to begin, we snacked on popcorn and water from the vending cart behind us
After videoing the parade and fireworks, we called into Pecos Bill's in Frontierland, for a spot of supper. Nest had a chicken wrap with fries, a strawberry yoghurt, and a bottle of water. I had an Angus cheeseburger with fries (yes - for the second time that day! ) But this one didn't have any avocado ), an individual chocolate cake with coloured Mickey sprinkles, and a bottle of Coke.
Even though it was great to see the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes fireworks again, and seeing the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights was awesome if we ignored the negative circumstances, the surprise highlight of our day was bumping into Keith, our driver for Busch Gardens The three of us had a lovely chat about what we had been up to, and were excited to hear that he'd also be our driver for the coming Saturday's day trip to Big Cat Rescue It's funny how something as simple as bumping into a nice person unexpectedly, especially one you had only met a few days before, can bring so much joy to a stressful day!
We returned to the Pop Century Resort after bumping into Keith, as somebody had booked an activity for the following day which required a waking up time of 4am , so an early night was essential! (I say early, but it was almost midnight by that stage )
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* A positive spin
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is such a beautiful event dedicated to my most favourite time of the year, that it deserves a positive write-up So here is my account of what we were lucky enough to see that night, minus all the negative circumstances surrounding us.
We viewed the display from the bottom of the street, where all these blue angels with gold wings and halos, hovered above us. They surrounded a green and blue globe of the world, which slowly rotated under a red "Peace on Earth" banner.
The view ahead of us, was of a street lined with buildings drenched in fairy lights of every colour you could imagine. The building on our left corner, for example, was covered in gorgeous aqua green fairy lights, and the building on our right corner, was covered in multi-coloured fairy lights - not one building was the same colour.
Up the far end of the street, was the title banner of the light display, sparkling away in green, gold and red fairy lights. Down our end of the street, was a "Merry Christmas" banner sparkling away in silver fairy lights.
Strung higher than the aforementioned banners, were strings of wreaths and tolling bells, and a heard of golden reindeer jumping majestically from one rooftop to the next.
Each side of the street had a large spinning horizontal wheels of gold cherubs playing trumpets, located above a section of a building.
High above everything, was a canopy of red fairy lights joining both sides of the street together. Amazingly above the canopy, a big lit-up Christmas tree seemed to float in mid-air occasionally - it wasn't always visible.
Around about the place at ground level, were various lit-up 2D shapes, such as a train puffing smoke, Santa Mickey shaking hands with Santa Clause, a Snowman Mickey, Christmas elves, and toy soldiers. I also loved how ordinary 3D objects hadn't escaped from being decorated, such as a tyre swing, bicycles, and a phone booth.
Christmas carols that played in the background while we took in this amazing sight, were: Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, Jingle Bell Rock, Feliz Navidad, and instrumentals.
Back in 2005 when I first saw the Osborne Lights, as brief as the pleasure was, they didn't dance at that stage. Five years later, what a massive festive treat it was to see them do just that! When it came time for the dancing sequence, all the lights went off, a countdown began, and then to the rocking tune of Christmas Is Starting Now, sprang back to life and gave an unforgettable show.
All the buildings continually changed colours and patterns, with the effect running right down the block and back up the other side. The canopy of red fairy lights danced by breaking up into sections. There was a huuuuuuuuge Christmas tree at the other end of the street. Because of the way its lights danced and changed colours, it looked as if it was moving really quickly towards us, growing bigger by the second. Sometimes, an angel magically appeared above the tree. Even the small things weren't left out - I really loved how even the tyre swing lit up and danced!
Thankfully, we were able to have a more leisurely viewing of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, a few nights later
Next entry: A bed-ridden day for one, a packed 17+ hour day for another