Sunday, September 27, 2009

Disney World: Day 1

Just Finished Reading: Stalin's Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith

And we're back . . . back from a very nice, 6-day vacation in sunny Orlando, Florida at the Disney World Caribbean Beach resort. We had a fabulous time and took lots of pictures. We even managed to bring back almost 10 pounds of Disney magic! (disclaimer: CC insists we didn't bring back 10 pounds of extra stuff, just that we packed stuff from our overnight bags into our checked luggage)

Now I'm sure you're all anxious to hear about the trip and our many adventures. Were this back in the 60's I'd be setting up the big screen and breaking out the slide projector for our major presentation. Since it's not, you get these blog entries and some pictures I have saved online that you can see in bulk here. There aren't any descriptions on them but I'm pretty sure you can figure out what's going on. (In the background, I'm uploading the pictures now and it may take time for all of them to be visible)

We didn't have any trouble with our flight out of Memphis. It was raining here (and in fact kept raining the whole time we were gone) but that only delayed our flight by maybe 15 or 20 minutes. It wasn't anything critical. We were fortunate in that we were once again upgraded to business/first class so when we finally were able to board, we had plenty of leg room and the usual great service in-flight.

Orlando has a very strange airport. It's set up a bit like a spider. There's a central hub area where everyone checks in and hands over their luggage and all that, but then you'll probably end up hopping on one of the trams that run to the satellite terminals. That's what happened with us. We arrive and start following the signs and find out we're hopping a train to the main building. Watching the ground from the plane I'm guessing the airport is set up like that because the area is so swampy. Maybe the ground isn't so solid in those spots between terminals.

We head downstairs to the baggage claim area and find the Disney section. You see, since we stayed at a Disney resort, they took care of everything for us. We checked in at the Disney counter, they took our baggage claim tickets and picked up the luggage for us, then had it delivered to our room so we could go right to the park. That's not what we actually DID, but we could have. Instead, we went to our hotel, checked in, got our room key card/ticket/meal pass and then dumped some of our carry-on stuff at the room. THEN we hit Magic Kingdom!

This is my second trip to a Magic Kingdom park and both times have come in the fall when Disney was gearing up for Halloween. As a result, most of my pictures from Disney World look an awful lot like the ones I took at Disney LAND. That's ok though. It's still a great place and we had a wonderful time.

Which rides did we see? Well first we had to stop and get a captioning device. They really come in handy. It's a small thing about the size of an iPhone or one of the fancier iPods with the video and stuff in it. In this case, a little infra-red receiver picks up a signal from the ride you're going on and the device displays captions for that ride. In some cases it'll also play amplified audio so you can just plug in your headphones and hear it that way. I used both methods, depending on the ride. Captions weren't very helpful in Hall of Presidents because you missed all the action by reading, so I used the audio in there. On the other hand, with all the background noise in Haunted Mansion, the captions are the better way to go.

Once we got the captioning device, we did pretty much what everyone does when they first hit Main Street in the Magic Kingdom: we went shopping! I purposely did not bring a hat with me on this trip so I could get a Disney World hat and that was mission number 1. Once we did that, we moved on to mission number 2: lunch!

Because we were staying at a Disney Resort hotel and we were staying for more than 5 nights, we got a meal plan for free. With this plan, you get 1 quick service meal (fast food) one sit-down meal (normal restaurant) and one snack for free every day. This comes in handy and can save you a LOT of money, especially if you intend to eat in the park where a bottle of water costs $2.50 and dinners tend to start around $30 a person. So lunch, quick meal. We grabbed a hot dog at Casey's Corner then headed for the rides.

We hit all of our favorites, including the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. We also watched the Hall of Presidents show, which they didn't have in L.A. and also It's A Small World. That's right, I actually went on Small World. We skipped it in L.A. (mostly because the line was so long) but there we were, smack in the middle of Fantasyland and no line. In fact, I even managed to grab 5 minutes of video from the ride. You see, you're riding down the middle of all the action. Some things are happening on the left, some on the right so if you want to actually see what's going on on BOTH sides the easiest thing to do is shoot some video and watch it later when you get back to the hotel. What was REALLY funny about the ride was the captioning. You've got all these little kid dolls singing It's a small world after all! OVER and OVER and then every 4th line It's a small, small world! So that's exactly what the captions say. Over and over through the whole thing.

One of my favorites of the day, and of the trip, was the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. It's essentially a comedy club type show featuring the guys from Monsters, Inc. Now, before the show, they'll spot people in the audience and put them up on the screen with some funny caption. They picked me out because of the shirt I was wearing and posted me up there with the caption reading "Will buy churros for everyone after the show." Then, the two characters doing the pre-show warm-up on the screen thank me and say that my generosity is greater than my fashion sense. Oh it was great! Lots of laughs and I was happy to be a part of it. I just wish I'd gotten a picture. Ah well.

Dinner that night was the Liberty Tree Tavern. Most definitely our favorite dining the whole trip. It's set up like a colonial tavern which means it pretty much looks like a Steak N Ale but the food was WONDERFUL! It's all you can eat and they bring it to your table for you, not buffet-style. They start you off with a salad and bread, then they bring in the good stuff. You get roast beef, roast turkey and roast pork tenderloin plus mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and green beans. Oh yeah, we ate good that night. And they will keep bringing plates of meat and bowls of side dishes if you want them to. Great place to eat if you're really hungry. And, of course, you get dessert too. I was WAY too full for that but CC had peach cobbler with the BEST ice cream on top. I had a little of that. Had to help out, of course.

And that was day 1. After dinner, back to the hotel and sleep. Lots and lots of sleep!

Don't forget to check out the rest of the pictures. You can find them over on Picasa here! And I'll keep adding pictures and blog entries until I'm all done!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm getting there, just be patient!

Currently Reading: Stalin's Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith

Yeah, I know, haven't been blogging again. I'll get to it though. Let me just get these other things finished up first.

While I'm working on those, check out this cute video . . .