Sunday, December 18, 2016

Disney Daze - Part Six

Hi guys! You know the drill, right?

So let's do the thing! 

First of all... the weather. 

Except for the heavy mid-day rain at EPCOT on Tuesday, we had enjoyed very nice weather in Disney World with moderate temperatures during the day in the low to mid 70s.  Pretty comfortable for the most part. 

But Friday saw a significant change in that pattern as the daytime high for that day never got above 60. Granted, nothing we couldn't handle with an appropriate amount of layering. Nevertheless, it was a decree of cold in Florida we weren't fully expecting to deal with.  

So Friday morning began with me shivering at a bus stop at Old Port Royale waiting for a bus. I wasn't too picky. Either a Magic Kingdom or EPCOT bus would connect me to the monorail when would take me to the transportation center where I would call the car care center to pick me up which you may remember from yesterday's Disney Daze post had been left for repairs.  

The first bus that came along was for the Magic Kingdom so I hopped on board.

I haven't addressed this before but I should note that Disney buses have music playing in the background, Disney music natch. Some buses seem to have the music louder than others. As we're in December, the music was Christmas songs usually sung by performers associated with Disney shows and movies.

The music on this bus seemed particularly loud to me. Maybe the early hour and the bitter cold made me less conducive to have Disney holiday cheer inflicted upon my person.

Suddenly, a loud, shrill beeping noise came blaring from the bus. I turned my head to see the driver frown at something, then he pushed a button and the beeping stopped.

A family near me were commiserating about the cold weather. Apparently they're from Michigan and they know about cold in Michigan. What was cold in Orlando FL is a pleasant day in Michigan. But still, one doesn't escape the brutal cold of Michigan just to enjoy the lesser cold of Florida. No, one comes to Florida for a haven of spring or even early summer in a nation otherwise gripped by fall or winter.

Suddenly, a loud, shrill beeping noise came blaring from the bus. Again. I turned my head to see the driver frown at something. Again.  Then he pushed a button and the beeping stopped. Again.

But within mere seconds, we could sense the bus slowing down as the driver eased our Magic Kingdom to the side of the road. The bus came to a stop as the driver turned off the engine. OK, this is not boding well but at least that incessant Christmas music was gone.

The driver advised us that we had to stop and wait for a replacement bus. It seemed that the check engine light came on. 

Ah, the check engine light found me, even when I'm not driving or in my own car. I think this might be irony. 

Then the Christmas music starts up again and I think this might be hell. 

Right, the bus can't get us where we want to go but it can still play Christmas music. As long as we have our priorities straight.  

Eventually we are rescued by another bus and I resume my schedule of connecting transports before I am finally delivered to the Disney Car Care Center and I recover my vehicle and return to the Caribbean Beach Resort.  But my problems with buses are not over yet. 

Today's plan was to get the family over to Hollywood Studios. We skipped our Mickey waffles since we had an early 11:20 lunch reservation at the 50's Prime Time Cafe. Then after we did stuff over at the Hollywood Studios park, we had a late dinner reservation at Mama Melrose's Italian Ristorante and we would cap off the evening with a show of Mickey's Fantasmic.   

So the family and I join others at the Old Port Royale bus stop as we waited for the Hollywood Studios bus to arrive. Other buses for other parks came and went but no bus for our destination. There's a courtesy phone at the bus stop and one of the other guests made a call to find out what was going on. After the call, he said he was told that the Hollywood Studios bus was running late but would be by in about 10 minutes. 

20+ minutes later and there's no bus. And my carefully crafted series of dining reservations and Fast Passes were falling to naught. So this time I made the call and found out something very interesting. The Hollywood Studios bus was not running late.
The Hollywood Studios bus was missing! 

I was assured that a bus was being sent right over and everything would be sorted out. I addressed the assembled throng at the bus stop (do 8 people make a throng?) to advise what was happening (yes, the bus is missing) but a bus is on its way (yes, I know they said before).  

After 10 minutes, not a single Hollywood Studios arrived. 

It was three Hollywood Studios buses. 

Feast or famine, eh? 

We finally arrived at Hollywood Studios but 90 minutes late for our lunch reservation at the 50's Prime Time Cafe. They were cool with the whole bus schedule debacle but we still had to wait about a half hour for a table.  I gotta say, once we were seated, the stresses resulting from various transportation woes were nearly all forgotten. 

This dining establishment is designed to look like a diner from the 1950's that is ostensibly run by a woman known as "Mom". Mom makes really good food but she runs a tight ship. For example, no elbows on the table. The wait staff are in character as tough but caring personas who are more than willing to bring you dessert but firmly expect you to finish your vegetables first. Trust me, this is a fun place to eat. 

The decor is all cutting edge stuff from the 1950s with black and white TV sets all over the place playing clips from classic TV  shows. 

And the food? Wow! I had a cheddar and apple stuffed pork chop that I would dare say was better than almost anything I have ever eaten before. My wife and daughter were just as enthusiastic over their fried chicken. For dessert, Andrea had an apple crumb bake which looked just perfect for a cold day like we were having. But Randie and I opted for the chocolate peanut butter cake and if I never have another dessert for the rest of my life, I might be OK with that because that cake was just too good to ever be topped.   

The problem with eating so much and so late was there was no way we would be ready for dinner before the Fantasmic show. With some considerable effort by phone, I was able to cancel that reservation and make alternate plans for dinner AFTER the show that evening. 

OK, I need to gripe a minute. While there are wonderful ways to manage your Disney experience online such as setting Fast Passes and dining reservations, one thing that can't be done online is cancelling a dining reservation. Nope, you gotta call somebody. And here's another glitch. If you cancel a reservation on the day of the reservation, they'll charge a fee of $10 per person. Yes, it could cost me $30 to NOT eat somewhere. In this case, I did not have a problem as I explained the delays with Disney's transportation so the fee was not an issue.  

Now... on with our day.   

To be honest, Hollywood Studios of Disney World's theme parks is probably in most need of a swift kick in the pants. The Muppet's 3-D show, the Great American Movie Ride and the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular are pretty much unchanged since our previous visits to the park. They remain enjoyable, especially the Indiana Jones show; but there's a sense that Hollywood Studios needs to be more relevant. 

Which is why its surprising that there's virtually nothing connecting to Marvel Comics. You can find Marvel merchandising everywhere but any actual shows or rides are not to be found. The changeover of Tower of Terror to a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction is a step in that direction but is still many months away from being realized. 

What is carving out a significant chunk of real estate at the park is Star Wars. The long time fan fave simulator ride Star Tours has gotten an upgrade (Finn and BB-8 are part of the ride's video segments) and there are other Star Wars related attractions including a light saber duel re-enactment featuring Darth Vader and Kylo Ren against someone who looks a lot like Rey and a lucky chosen member from the audience. 

Since this was our last full day in the park, we did some much delayed souvenir shopping. Here's something we did NOT get for Randie.

Yes, we were in Disney World for purposes of celebrating her birthday but yellow birthday mouse ears were a bit much for her. 

As a big fan of the film Moana, Randie had to get something from the film so she winds up buying Hei Hei, the chicken who is so stupid, it thinks rocks are food.   

And somehow, I wound up in a Disney Santa hat.

A Minnie Mouse Santa Hat. Not Mickey. Minnie. 

It takes a strong man to wear a Minnie Mouse hat. 

And me. I will also wear a Minnie Mouse hat. 

So this brings up to the grand finale for our stay at Hollywood Studios, Mickey's Fantasmic. Not quite as epic and large scale as the evening light show at EPCOT, Fantasmic is still nonetheless a brilliant and entertaining show, combining lasers, fire, video images, live action performers and, of course, fireworks, Fantasmic is major battle between Mickey Mouse and the dark, sinister forces that populate some of DIsney's most iconic films. Spoiler alert: Mickey wins. It was an amazing show.  

But things were not ending on a really high note as I had to call to cancel another dinner reservation. The lady on the phone noted that because I was cancelling this the same day as the reservation, I would be charged $10 per person. I protested that I didn't think this was fair as I was having to cancel the reservation because one of our party was sick. 


To be continued. 

Since today is Sunday which is typically a Doctor Who day, the 5 PM post (that's Eastern Time in the United States) will be a Doctor Who post as we look forward a week towards the Christmas special for 2016 and address the question of what makes a hero. And is the Doctor a hero? We'll chat about in the 2nd post for today. 

12 hours after that, it's Disney Daze - Part Seven. What illness has befallen the El family? Who is, in fact, sick? What of the journey back home? These questions and more will be addressed in the post coming up Monday morning.

Until then, remember to be good to one another.   

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