As I walk out to the busses, I'm really torn between heading back to the room or heading out. As I mentioned before, this is probably going to be one of the only chances I'll have to do this, and Sheri did insist that I go. Okay…rationalizing here…it's okay to do this.
Soooo…which park to hit...hmm. I'd really like to head over to Epcot one last time to see if I can sneak on Mission Space. I don't want to get there late and have to fight the masses leaving, however. I'll let the busses decide where to go.
Two minutes after I get there, here comes the Epcot bus. There were only about ten of us on there. We head to the big golf ball one more time…and I'm glad…I get to tell it goodbye. As I step off the bus at Epcot, I realize for the first time I don't have a stroller. Hehehehehehe…this could be fun! I head to the bag check and WAIT…NO BAG. :woohoo:. This could be really fun (Aaron who?). I make a beeline for the nearest ticket line, and they aren't even doing the finger scans…you got a ticket? COME ON IN!
I run through the Legacy cemetery, pass Spaceship Earth, and look at the wait times. Mission Space: 8 minutes. Hmmmm…I may be able to handle that. I'm now at a fast trot as I make the left turn towards the attraction. Epcot seemed rather quiet this time of night. I hypothesize that either A) everyone is over in the World Showcase for Illuminations; or B) everyone is at Magic Kingdom. WHO CARES??!! I'm here now, and I'm going to have some fun!
I make it over to Mission Space and walk and walk…I didn't even think of the single rider line (I'm a newbie doing it by myself…mind out of the gutters, folks). While waiting in line, they start filling one of the prep rooms and are short 1. Oh Yeah...I'm in! I become navigator and am with a family of 3 (only the 12 year old daughter had been on it, so I'm worried that we're gonna crash). Now, I start to remember what my brother-in-law said about this ride when he was down here back in August…claustrophobic, and you just ain't right after the ride. I quickly discount him as a wuss and harken back to my days at the Air Force Academy. Hell, if I can spend a classified amount of time in isolation during my survival training…if I can hold my cookies while screaming through a narrow canyon in a Huey doing 45 degree banks…if I can live through one of my own landings in a Cessna, then I sure as Hell ain't worried a bit about this ride.
And I was not disappointed at all! Absolutely awesome ride!!!! I had to be grinning from ear to ear when whe blasted off. I haven't felt 2+ Gs for a long time YEEHHHAAAAAAAA! Everyone in our capsule did their tasks exactly as planned, and I'm glad to say that when we went to manual control, I got us safely on the ground :cool:.
Okay...so maybe I didn't. Now, as for my wuss brother-in-law…well, he WAS on his honeymoon, so he may have been tired for some reason or another.
Okay…on and off in about 20 minutes. It's 8:55…perhaps Soarin' won't be too bad this time of night. Okay…all you WDW veterans can go ahead and laugh at me…it was still a 1 hour wait. I stand in line for a minute or two and decide that I'll wait to ride this with my lovely wife next time we're here.
By the time I get to the monorail, it is about 9:15, and I can see Wishes wrapping up. Good...I didn't really want to see Wishes without the family. I call Sheri on the ride over to MK to see how they're doing, and things are great. Sheri's packing, and Aaron's watching Toy Story on the DVD player. I hang up with her and sit back for a few minutes. I look at the MK parking lot as we near the TTC…still a lot of cars. I get off at the TTC and make the run down the ramp and the run back up the other ramp for the MK monorail. As I get there, one of the monorails arrive, and about 250 people sardined in the cars pop out…and about 20 of us get on. I'm starting to feel good again. Stitch hits his head again trying to get out at the MK, and I give Debbie a call to see if they're actually here. Yep! They're in Adventureland but heading to Fantasyland. She sounded fairly excited, so last night must not have gone too terribly bad. I'll meet them at Philharmagic. I head to the bag check (old habits are hard to break) and get in…
Now I know what it feels like to be a salmon swimming upstream. Folks numbering roughly the population of Maryland were heading out of the park, while I was trying to get on Main Street. I turn past the confectionary towards the castle and IT'S SNOWING!!!!!! I thought they only did that for MVMCP…this is so cool!
I run through Cindy's Castle and start looking for them.
Lexie and Austin get their eagle-eyes honestly. Debbie spotted me from about 70 yards. We give each other a real quick hug and start talking about a mile a minute. I explain why Sheri and Aaron weren't there, and Renee takes it really well...besides, no stroller means we can go a LOT faster. We talk about what to ride first. Mark had already ridden BTMRR but says he can be convinced to ride it again, and I start twisting his arm. Nah...let's see what the kids want to ride. We decide to head over and do It's a Small World first. On the way, Debbie tells me that she talked to RootmanDan earlier today.
In my mind, Dan (the "Main Moose"…the owner of lodgeboards) has always been ROWTmanDan, so it took me a second to figure out who she was talking about. She says that Dan asked what I was like, and the twinkle in her eyes told me that something was coming.
"Ohhhh, Dan" she said, "it's a good thing you aren't down here. His wife is sooo stuck up..."
"And you told him I'm a real ass, right?" I say, smiling.
"Nah...I told him you are just like you are online!"
I bit my lip...I very nearly said "great...so he thinks I was staring at your chest the whole time, then, right?!" I was worried that Lexie would have dropped dead from embarrassment had she heard me say that.
We get on IASW in no time, and I'm seated between Debbie and Mark. Renee warns me that I may need to wake her Dad up on this ride, and Debbie jokingly puts her head on my shoulder, pretending to sleep. I immediately start removing my clothes...I took off my sweatshirt (hey, it was starting to get a little warm in there...cue the porn music). We go through the ride, and I contemplate drowning myself in the water about half-way through to end the singing. Now off the ride, we talk about where to go next.
We start walking towards Tomorrowland and having a good time just walking and talking when Lexie (I think) notices the line for the Speedway was short (in relative terms). We hop in line and inhale near-lethal amounts of carbon monoxide. The girls are worried about being able to steer their cars, and I crack a joke about women drivers.
Yeah…the lodge ladies were preparing to attack for that comment.
We get in the cars, and I'm the last in line (behind Mark, who's behind Mare, who's behind Debbie...) We go around, and I enjoy the (cough) gentle breeze and the (gasp) sights. As we get toward the end of the ride, the others get out of their cars, while I'm first in line waiting. There's a little incline where I'm at, so I try finding the "friction point" where I can stay on the hill without moving.
Almost got it......alllllmooooooosssttttt goooooottttttttttt itttt....
I look over and see Debbie with this big grin on her face, and her and Mare (with an equally-evil smile) looking at the picture that was just taken:
Apparently, I didn't quite have the car stopped on the hill yet.
Debbie hollers out to me "You had such a serious look, I couldn't resist!" I wonder to myself just how soon that one would be posted on the Lodge (it was on there in less than a week). Hell, I've had a pic with a penis on my head in front of the word WOOD, so this won't be too embarrassing (I hope...unless she caught me picking my nose or something). I start up the ramp after them trying to look mad...
I don't think she was too scared of me.
We head over towards Buzz and see the line, so we decide to hit the TTA (I had never ridden it before, so I think they appeased my interests). Austin works his way toward me and tells everyone that I was riding with him. Debbie starts smiling...her son has a new bud. We ride it, and the trip through Space Mountain was really neat! While on the ride, we talk a little bit about what Debbie's husband does and other things and try to offer solutions to Mare's possessed digital camera.
Off of the TTA, we have a little fun on the escalator going down and then head over to Buzz. Again, I'm claimed by Austin. Cool...I'm sure he knows the secrets and where to shoot for the big points. Being the competitive freak that I am, I size up the competition. Mark was by himself, while Mare and Debbie were in another, and Lexie and Renee in another. I figure the Lodge Ladies would be the competition. We start the ride and
I look right a Debbie and start shooting her with my laser (I think I got 100 points for it).
We're going through, and I realize really quick that Mark is the one to beat, although Debbie closed her eyes and got a 100,000 target as soon as she got on the ride. Austin and I both start shooting Mark, who returns the favor. I start wondering if one of us could be blinded if we caught a laser in the eye (but I continue shooting him).
We save the universe and get off the ride. At the exit, they have a station to view yourself on the ride (and can purchase a souvenir pic, of course!). Again, I've got this serious look on my face, and I'm grateful that nobody comments on how stupid I look.
We exit and start making our way towards Adventureland for the Carpets and for Pirates. Debbie gives us a tour of the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station and sings praises about it. Hell, if nothing else, it's a short-cut to Main Street that nobody around us knows about.
On the way, Debbie comments about how Austin has taken a liking to me. I tell her that I had three little sisters, so I'm fine with it. Lexie turns to Austin and says "just think of what it would be like if there were three of me around!" That got me laughing again. Gotta love siblings!
We make it to Pirates and walk on (absolutely no wait). Renee isn't big on this ride, so she stays behind with one of her parents (I don't remember which one...HEY!!!!! IT WAS LATE WHEN I GOT BACK TO THE ROOM, AND I DIDN'T GET ANYTHING WRITTEN DOWN, SO THIS IS ALL FROM MEMORY...DEAL WITH IT!!!!!!! (okay...I feel better now). Not having to worry about Aaron jumping in the water, I take in the ride and notice a lot more of the animation this time.
We get off and head through the gift shop. Debbie, Mare, and Lexie gush over posters of Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp. I tried to make a comment about Keira Knightley, but it fell on deaf ears.
It's nearing Midnight (closing time), so we start heading back. The kids want to go on the Magic Carpets, so we get in line. I then notice that I'm the only one above the age of 13 that's riding this. Debbie looked surprised that I actually wanted to ride it. I didn't care...it was the Magic Kingdom!
We get on (one guess who I rode with), and we head up to the top. I see Debbie with her camera out, so I crouch down every time we fly near where she was standing until the carpets lose their magic, and we get off the ride. There is a little pin-trading going on with the CMs that are manning the attraction, and we spend a couple minutes trying to find a black pin-back on the ground at 11:55 pm (the latest report is that the back is still escaped and should be considered armed and dangerous).
We keep on walking back and stop at the Treehouse. Everyone but Mark and me head up (I've walked enough for one day...I didn't feel like doing a stairmaster). Mark and the CM have a really good talk about pins, and I'm just nodding my head like I understand.
They come down and look somewhat tired (can't imagine why). I look at Renee and marvel at how her legs have held her up this whole time...she's a trooper.
We cross the Adventureland bridge and arrive at the hub and...WOW! There are probably 15-20 characters out signing autographs and getting pictures taken..WHOAH! Not just the usual ones, either. Suzy and Perla were there, and Mickey and Minnie were together. Helluva way to end the visit to MK, if I do say so myself.
We stop at the Confectionary for a bit, and, after looking around for a couple of minutes, I tell Mark I'm going to head out to the street for a bit. I walk out and just absorb my surroundings. I hear one Mother telling her daughter (about Aaron's age) that she was so glad they came out and did this. I take in the lights...the smells...the music...the castle...and create an image in my mind that I don't want to lose. After about 5 minutes, I head back into the Confectionary and wait for the rest to finish paying for their items.
We head out of the Magic Kingdom for the last time of the vacation. Before the last goodbyes, we talk for a few more minutes. Mark shakes my hand, and Mare and Debbie give me a hug. I tell the kids goodbye, and I make my way to the bus stop.
Yeah, I'm glad I came out and did this too. 3 hours is nowhere near enough time to really get to know someone, but I earnestly hope that I cross paths with these folks again sometime.
I didn't realize I still had one ride yet this night. I get on the bus near the front and then give up my seat for a mother with a kid that was absolutely zonked on her shoulder (I got a nice comment from the bus driver for that act). We get on our way, and the driver says that it's X minutes and that she wants to get us there quick so she can get home too. in unison, the bus tells her to go faster. She says she can make it to the hotel in 5 minutes.
She asks if we will all kick in some money in case she gets pulled over.
We broke the sound barrier around the TTC and absolutely flew past the other busses. We were in the middle of passing a bus when our usual exit flew by. "No problem...this other way is faster!" we hear from the front. I have visions of the Knight bus from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and briefly look for the shrunken head (Take it away, Ern!).
We pulled in around 7 minutes after we left.
She got a huge round of applause!
I take my time going through the hotel lobby and walk down toward the Fantasia pool. As I enter Andy's room, I'm ready to go home and ready to come back already (weird how one can have those conflicting feelings at the same time). I get into the room, kiss Sheri goodnight and drift off for the last time in room 720 of the All Star Movies.
All we have to do is check out and get on the Magical Express for the ride home. Insert ominous music here.