Thursday, January 25, 2007

Walt Disney World, November 11-18, 2006: Day 5

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The day dawned bright and warm. And muggy, which felt really good on my poor lungs. Seriously, this stupid infection needs to die. Perfect for exposing ourselves to the elements. After a short bus ride to Typhoon Lagoon, and emergency purchases of shades and waterproof sunscreen, it was time to face the lines of other exposed bodies.

C: I likened it to the popular notion of nudist colonies: fantasy vs. reality. You quickly realize that you’re seeing way too much of EVERY kind of body, young and old, thin and thick.

There were some unfortunate bathing suit choices as well. Muffin tops are not a product of pants alone. Every bathing suit bottom on both men and women needed to be about two inches higher. People, your natural waist is not your enemy. I also realized that there is no such thing as a perfect body. How people look in clothes is wildly different than how they look in no clothes. Even the thinnest women looked gaunt and crepey. The only people who look truly good in bathing suits are the young. Women try their entire lives to look just as they did as a 16-year-old, but it really is impossible. And smoking REALLY doesn’t help. Man, a lot of people smoke.

But, the slides and attractions themselves were very fun. C:

We chose not to go on only the “Humunga Cowabunga” which is one of those “get in a tube and drop straight down 3 stories into a tub of water” rides that we tried in Edmonton and were not amused. It’s more of a “Dude, I am so going to impress you” rides. It’s a wedgie factory. Not comfortable. The highlight for me was the wave machine area, where a giant wave gushes at you every few minutes. I can sort of understand the “despite it all, our kids had the best time at the hotel pool” stories. It was a relatively relaxing trip. Then back to the hotel for a nap. Felt good.

I have to admit that I wasn’t in the best mood all day. It was the fourth day crash after having hit the parks for twelve hours a day the previous three days in a row. Also, being in a bathing suit makes me anxious and makes me feel too exposed. However, the park was very pretty and the new “roller coaster” waterslide was a hoot.

After showering and napping, thank God, we wanted to get all of our shopping for ourselves and everyone else done, so we hopped the bus to Downtown Disney for dinner and a huge amount of spending. We ate at the Earl of Sandwich, which was surprisingly good, despite the plethora of cranky hillbilly ladies. Man, in the past two days, we’ve seen more hillbillies than you can shake a stick at.

Now, if you’ve never been to the World of Disney, you’ve missed the biggest tantrum-inducing, consumer temple the brilliant merchandising minds at Disney have ever produced. The good thing about that store, though, is that you can get everything in one place. So, shopping accomplished, we wanted to see a movie as we haven’t seen one in, well, more months than I can remember, so we decided on Borat, and sweet holy God, it was so hilarious and excruciating. I won’t get the image of two grappling naked men out of my head. Gack.

We were so bloody exhausted by the end of the movie that we took the bus back to the resort and fell dead asleep almost immediately. There’s nothing like fresh sheets when you’re really tired.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Walt Disney World, November 11-18, 2006 Day 4

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

We again experienced that strange sensation of unexpected fatigue this morning after only being up until 1 last night. I mean, geez, what happened to us? We just couldn’t get out of bed. We scheduled Epcot for today, and left the hotel at around 10:30 AGAIN, getting to the park at 11. We left the resort without eating breakfast, but I at least remembered to get coffee, and man, what a difference. Now, Epcot is divided into two sections; Future World and the World Showcase. Future World is basically that, with rides on the furthest edge of realistic technology (differing from Tomorrowland in that TL is all fantastical inventions with little basis in current science; Future World uses existing technology in a fancier way than most people would see every day). (C: Or in other words it’s a place where science fiction becomes…science fact!) There are many rides and shows in Future World, the most important, in Christian’s mind, being Mission: Space. I don’t know if you’ve all heard about Mission: Space, but it’s quite the thing. It’s only two years old and is a bit of a leap in Disney ride planning. The ride building houses two enormous centrifuges, with four seater “cockpits” fixed onto the outside of each, containing seats, video screens and buttons and gadgets to seem like a shuttle command module. The storyline is that guests are new trainees for the flight to Mars, and have to help pilot the ship. Now, the ride is a motion simulator, but with one added feature. When the ride film shows the ship taking off, the centrifuge begins to spin, and creates the same G forces as a liftoff. The ride proved to be very intense, much more intense than Disney and most of the early riders anticipated, and much vomiting ensued, not to mention a few heart attacks and one very sad death due to a previously undiagnosed heart condition. Consequently, another version of the ride was added, so one of the several centrifuges doesn’t spin, merely runs the film and moves in a motion simulator manner. We had two very adorable and befuddled elderly people in our cockpit. However, I now realize that taking even the weenie side was a stupid, stupid decision. I hate motion simulators. Hate, hate hate. I used to be able to ride my beloved Star Tours over and over, but one ill-fated ride on Back to the Future at Universal ruined my ability to enjoy a simulator ever again. Thank God I hadn’t had breakfast yet as it would have been money wasted. Still, the graphics and set are pretty well done. At least, I think they are. I was a little too queasy to pay too much attention.

As we hadn’t eaten breakfast (see above), and had eaten nothing resembling breakfast in the preceding two days, we skipped the remainder of Future World and made out for the World Showcase, which is basically a thinly-veiled means of putting all the Americanized versions of exotic fare in one place in the guise of a permanent World’s Fair. It’s beautiful and charming and completely sanitized. Canada, the UK, France (with much joking about the proximity of the two, separated only by a mock English Channel), Morocco, America, Italy, Germany, Japan, Norway, Mexico and China, all boiled down to maple syrup and mounties, fish and chips, pastries and perfume, fezes and belly dancing, funnel cakes and presidents, fettucini alfredo and Carnival, beer and crystal, anime and sushi, trolls and Vikings, Acapulco and guacamole and, finally, acrobats and a pagoda. This isn’t quite the order of the pavilions, but we made it to them all, and loved every one of them. There was a particularly hilarious show in the UK about King Arthur, sort of, held in the street between the tea shop (Hobnobs!) and the heraldic shop, involving reluctant audience members dressed up and asked to ride imaginary horses, which the absurdly macho guy playing Galahad wouldn’t do. He only wanted to saunter. His poor wife.

But back to breakfast. Now, I’m a pastry whore. I’d give my virtue for a Napoleon. So, it was only logical that we had to eat in France, where nothing has ever tasted so good as the Napoleon (virtue intact, though), amandine, ham and cheese croissant and cheese plate we snarfed. I don’t know what it is about French pastry cream, but it’s sweet without being insulin-shock inducing, creamy without being greasy and filling without being gut-busting. The poor French boy CM that had to watch us eat must have had every evil, gluttonous American stereotype reinforced, and I totally don’t care. At the end of my life, I’ll remember those pastries.

Each pavilion has some real beauty, and offers a non-threatening way for xenophobic Americans to get a tiny taste of other cultures. I hope that some of the show makes other guests want to go to China, as I now want to do. We need our minds broadened. If only they served real Chinese food and not sweet n’ sour chicken, but one thing at a time.

There were some surprisingly authentic things about the pavilions, such as the astonishing mosaics in Morocco, commissioned by Disney and done by Moroccan artists sent by the Moroccan government as emissaries, a sod roof in Norway, sans goat, and some almost disturbingly young acrobats in China. Hello, bordering on exploitation, anyone? However, the almost appallingly awful El Rio del Tiempo in the Mexico pyramid sort of set the realistic meter back a few. Fortunately, the kitch factor made the ride quite enjoyable.

I actually could have done with a few more hours to linger more, but we had reservations at Le Cellier, the steakhouse in Canada. Thank God I listened to the other obsessive compulsives at the Disboards. Reservations were a must on this trip, even in the off-season. We wanted to hit one or two more rides before dinner, and the second of the three new rides at Epcot was open late, the new Finding Nemo attraction at the Living Seas. Both Christian and I were just so tickled by this ride. You hop into a clam-mobile, much like a Doombuggy, and ride past sets and rear-projected screens detailing the newest adventures of Mr. Lucky Fin, and it was just lovely, and sweet without being toothachey. And why do they have manatees? Oh yeah, because THEY’RE THE CUTEST CREATURES IN THE SEA. I love them so and want to jump in and hug and kiss them and make all of their problems go away. They make me want to cry with their sweet, innocent faces and auto-valve nostrils. Giant pooperheads.

Sniff. Anyway, we were so tired by dinner that we honestly didn’t know if we’d make it, but Godalmightlyinheavenabove, am I glad we did. I want to die by drowning in their cheese soup. The filet mignon was the best I’ve had, and yes, that includes Daniel’s Broiler, and the crème brulee sampler was, well, burnt sugar bliss. The restaurant is housed in a faux cellar, go fig, and was cozy and romantic and not at all designed to keep us awake. Lovely, but not lively. Still, wonderful and I’m glad we went.

However, shopping when exhausted already and ready to lapse into a meat coma is a really, really terrible idea. We did find some gifts, but had forgotten how to speak by the time we left. We were reduced to grunts and hysterical giggles.

But, a charming and happy, happy day all ‘round. I have decided that Epcot is groovy and neat in all things, even in, well, especially in the glossiness. We had some lovely conversations with CM in environments sort of vaguely like their home countries, and the day was gorgeous. A wonderful fourth day of vacation and third day in the parks. And we were only witness first hand to six tantrums. Still, until today I had never actually seen a child flail and thrash quite that dramatically. That kid should have a career on stage.

Tomorrow: Me in a bathingsuit at the water park. Gack. Be prepared for hysterical sobbing. The watusi cattle outside say good night.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

DisneyWorld Diary Day 3

Continuing on from last month (sorry, got distracted with December Drama), here's more of our Disney vacation diary:

Day 3
Monday, Nov. 13, 2006

It seems that staying up late the previously night has the unexpected result of making us tired the next morning. Go figure! As Magic Kingdom is really THE park, the original, the most magical and ride-packed, we wanted to spend a good chunk of time there, so that was our first park in the morning. Well, sort of morning. We made it there around 11. Of course, I had to get IN to the park, which was much more difficult than usual. I’m utterly cursed. My card didn’t work the previous night, and so I replaced it back at the hotel, and the NEW card didn’t work either. Growl. Thankfully, the CM just ran and got me a temporary card. All the rides were walk-ons AGAIN; Space Mountain, 10 minutes. Splash Mountain, 20 minutes, Winnie the Pooh, 50 minutes (although we didn’t bother to wait in line for that one. 50 minutes?? Forget about it). Yeah, what the heck is with that? We ate, and can I tell you, every place that sells burgers should have sauté pans of onions and mushrooms next to the ketchup. It took us a while to get going, but we also wanted to actually SEE the parks rather than merely run through screaming KEEP GOING!! WE NEED TO MAKE MEMORIES, DAMN IT! This time, we just watched other people do that. Can I just mention, though, that Christian apparently has a tantrum filter that I don’t possess? He also has a muffin top filter. Why do I notice these things? We did decide to keep track of all of the hilarious/terrible/memorable things other guests said while touring. The first one that we actually noted was yesterday on the Jungle Cruise when a woman said to her mother that her husband and daughter were currently on Pirates of Penzance. Of course, they were also the ones who held up the ENTIRE line so said husband and daughter could catch up.

I find Tomorrowland a little depressing if I’m in it too long, as the fine detailing and beautiful architecture of the other lands is so spoiling, so I made Christian leave after we saw Buzz (again with the crappy scores) and Stitch’s Great Escape, which was much more amusing than advertised, and made scornful comments about the “High School Musical” pep rally. We made the enormous mistake of using the bathrooms in Fantasyland (at 3 pm, prime tantrum hour) but REALLY wanted to go on Splash Mountain, my perpetual favorite ride, but we forgot our ponchos we bought for $.89 at Target before leaving home, so we had to beg for Mickey Mouse ponchos, and had to also swear that we weren’t just using them for exactly the purpose for which we WERE going to use them. I wanted to shake my finger at the little clerk and tell him that, if he had spent the first day of his honeymoon in wet underwear, and not for any good reason, that he would buy a poncho, too. The ride broke down, but we spent the half hour waiting (yes, whoopee do as the first time I rode Splash we waited two and a half hours) talking to an adorable and extremely well-spoken young girl and her younger sister, who kept us amused by stories of their hillbilly hometown. Other people were jumping ship, not wanting to wait for the ride to be back up again, but we knew that the line would be all the shorter because of it, and we should just wait. You know, I really am so cynical about some things, but that damn ride kills me every time. I’m usually grinning like an idiot and giggling at the bees and swinging, singing possums. Worth the wait. We had to leave the park at around 6, as we had a 7:50 pm dinner at the 50’s Prime Time Café at MGM, and then stay for the Extra Magic Hours.

I have to say that the whole Evening Extra Magic Hours, while wonderful and a really efficient use of time, they would have been much more useful when I was in my 20’s. I’m so old and fat that I have no stamina any more. However, dinner was delightful. The food was fine, but the diner is designed to look like 50’s kitchen interiors, and the waitstaff acts as your mother/sister/cousin and lectures you to eat your vegetables, gets mad if you tell on them (our waitress stole our silverware from another table and we were tricked into telling on her and boy, did we get an earful!) and generally acts like a louder version of a normal family. (Christian: I also accidentally touched a waitress as she was speeding by with one of my grandious, ill-timed arm gestures. For the rest of the evening she would yell “coming through” and “don’t touch me!” anytime she passed by to the kitchen.) Apparently, it used to be much more boisterous, according to our dining room neighbor. Guests would be made to stand in the corner, wouldn’t get dessert until they ate their vegetables, would have to sing a song about elbows on the table if caught, etc. It’s still a pretty hilarious place to eat dinner.

We made it on Tower of Terror, which is just such a brilliant ride, Rockin’ Rollercoaster (0-60 in 2.8 seconds, not 2.3.), Magic of Animation, the Great Movie Ride and browsed through the shops in the two hours we had remaining after dinner. I had a epiphianic moment when I realized that I need caffeine and Tylenol to make it through the evening. As I usually have an IV tea drip on most days of the week, I can’t figure out why it took me two days to figure out why I was cranky in the morning.

When the park closed, we made one of those idiotic mistakes that make your feet seem to decide that they simply no longer want to be associated with your body and suddenly hurt so much that you know for certain that they’re just torturing you because they can. We ended up having to make a huge and ill-advised loop around all of the bus stops because we went the wrong way out of the park gates. God, we were tired. We made it back to the resort and crashed like the sugar-crazed children we are.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

We cannot let the lorises down.

There is nothing on earth more calculated to pierce you through the heart than a tiny, big-eared mammal, neglected by the scientific and ecological community, brushing the edges of extinction and so rare that only one or two have ever even been photographed. Now, add 99 more of his or her strange and wonderful bedfellows, and you get this.

Now, it's not only the painfully adorable and absurdly fluffy that are in real danger of being lost to development, toxicity and deforestation. Take a long look at little Mr. Marsupial Mole. Furry, but odd and slightly disturbing. And yet, I still want to fly to Australia, find him in the desert, put him in my pocket and bring him home with me. I'll build him a habitat just like the one we built for Gwendolyn, except sandier. I'll pet his little leathery face and give him bugs on which to chew.

And Mr. Slender Loris? This guy is related to the peanut in my avatar, my favorite animal at the zoo, little bowling ball butt, Senor Stinky, Mr. Mouthful of Stuff that Makes You Itch. I cannot forget him, upon whom Golum is OBVIOUSLY modeled, right down to the opposable thumbs and long spindly middle finger. Him, I'll let sleep in my bed. He can use my blankie I've had since I was two. Those knobby arms need something cozy. I'll knit him a sweater, maybe. It's cold here in the winter.

Friday, January 12, 2007

We'll be visible from space.

This is the first of two hats I'm knitting for my England trip with the Jujinator.

Julie will wear this one, whereas my hat will be purple with a red pattern. This way, if one of us gets lost in a peat bog, we'll be really obvious to rescuers.

I am the beastmaster.

We rock the clicker training. I've already taught Fritz and Cyril to turn around in a little circle on command. Cyril picked it up almost immediately, which was surprising, not because he's not smart, but because he has the attention span of a long bean. The video is done in the style of crappy/blurry as we took it using the regular camera instead of the video camera, as the VC is no longer compatible with modern computers. It WAS cutting edge when we bought it seven years ago. This shall be a good excuse to buy a new one.

I shall wear a top hat and satin pants to lead my circus.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I'm a winner!

It depresses me how excited I am that I won Zuma on Sunday night. Is this the greatest accomplishment of my life? No, but still, I WON ZUMA! Take that, sun god.

In other news, I've started training the birds using a clicker, which, if you've watched The Dog Whisperer, you know what I'm talking about. But then, you've watched TDW and should be ashamed.

The theory is that you use the clicker as a "bridge stimulus" to let your animal know that what he's done is correct and a treat will follow shortly. Now, clicker training is heavily dependent upon the reward system, which only works if your animal likes rewards. Cyril will work with me and take his rewards for about five minutes and then he gets fed up and wants to go back to his cage. Pierre hardly eats anything and will only take a seed an hour from my hand, but Fritz, he surprised me. He let me work with him for a half hour and was such a little champ that, by the time we were done with our session, he'd let me touch his back without biting me and he would turn halfway around to get a seed.

I want to teach them all to play dead, pull a bucket up for a treat, pick up their toys and fly to me on command. I shall then open a circus and charge admission to earn back the money we've spent on bird treats.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Three hours I'll never get back.

In an effort to stave off escalating panic regarding the accident on my birthday and our insufficient insurance coverage, I tried to win Zuma last night by starting at the beginning to stockpile lives and try to get to the end with lives to spare. It's my life in a nutshell right now that I lost on my last life, on the last level, with four balls left. I hope this isn't an omen.