Saturday, May 30, 2009

WDW 10-Year Anniversary Trip, Day 2: Part 2: Damnbo!

Part 1 is Here

We then went across the way over to it's a small world. I've heard rumors in the past about this ride having some pornographic material, and I couldn't believe it, so I had to go see for myself. I'll be damned if they weren't right. I couldn't believe the Walt Disney company allows this filth in its theme parks! You may want to avert your eyes and scroll down past the picture below if you are easily offended.

You've been warned.

No…I just can't post it here. Click here if you dare!

Thanks to "Earl" of the Trapped on Vacation podcast for pointing this out just before I left for the trip. I'm never going to think of anything else in the Mexico section of the ride. If you're not quite sure what I'm talking about…think of some innuendo that might fit what that boy is doing to his chicken.

We got off of IASW and head over to Liberty Square for the Haunted Mansion. This was another feeler ride for the boys. This time it was Sheri wondering how many people have tried doing it on this ride (sweet and innocent?). I think most of the ride is okay, but the graveyard scene with everything popping up behind the stones and the spiders on both sides near the beginning would freak Aaron out. We both agree to wait just a bit longer for him (less chance of ticking off Eric too).

We went over to Frontierland just as Woody's Cowboy Camp was starting. We watched it for a couple of minutes and both agreed the boys would love it. We snuck through the side stores and saw Splash Mountain going. We both started laughing at this because of Terry's (Teebee's) unit of measurement in her most recent trip report. Sheri notices a large capacity flash memory card on the bridge. We look around for a minute to see if anyone is looking for something and ask a couple of people who look like they've been sitting there for a while. Sheri wanted to take it to lost and found, while I didn't really know what to do (didn't want folks to think we're stealing it). We decide to give it to the nearest cast member (manning BTMRR entrance) who promised to take care of it.

While there, we decided to ride Big Thunder. The wait was only about 7 minutes. One of the women in front of us swallowed a bug on the ride (it was hard not to laugh). After we got off the ride, Sheri commented that she really hoped the folks who lost their memory found it. Then she realized what she said and started chuckling. We then walked over to Pirates and hopped in line for this one. With the walk through the queue, 7 minutes to the boat. I had seen the updated version in Anaheim already, but I kept fairly quiet to let Sheri experience it for the first time. Aaron loved this ride, and I'm sure Eric will too, as much as they are in to the Pirates' life.

Near the end, the phone vibrates in my front pocket and the ringtone for my Lodge friends is audible (barely). I contemplated just letting it ring for a joke but decided to answer it. It was Pat, and she was in the park. I told her we were look at a guy's hairy/charred leg, and she correctly determined what ride we were on. The reception wasn't too good in there, so I told her I'd call her back as soon as we got off the ride.

We hopped on the moving walkway back up to the gift shop when it starts making this awful noise. We all expected smoke to start pouring out any second. Luckily we made it to the top before it swallowed us up. As we walk through the merchandise area, I call Pat back. She says she's already at the entrance to Pirates, getting some water at a snack stand.

Yep, there she is. Before we left for the trip, I went back to one of Robin's trip reports where Pixie helped coordinate a stroller handoff between the Zurgs and the Delswife crews, and there was a pic of her in there. I saw someone that looked exactly like her, and she was talking in a cell phone, saying the same words I was hearing, but delayed about ¾ of a second (like a voiced-over movie from Japan). She recognized Sheri immediately from the Damnbo shirt. We gave her a hug (see, Tricia, I'm a hugger when I'm not chasing kids!) and talked about the basket. I asked how she pulled off the anniversary notes, and she said she sent a PM out to everyone on the Lodge.

Everyone???? Taking the inactive folks out, that was still probably around 200 folks!

Then she took a step back, looked at us, and said, "Where are the buttons?!!"

Crap! I knew we forgot something!!! We realized it on the Pirates ride after she called that we forgot to put them on. They're on the table in the hotel room, just waiting to be worn. We wore them for most of the rest of the trip…just forgot them at the worst time.

We shot the breeze with her for a few minutes and then parted ways (she had to head off to work). Before we said goodbye, though, we had to get a pic. Sheri gets ready to take the picture, and Pixie asks if it's okay to do a "bad" pic. I thought she was gonna give me a kiss!


And she kicks her leg up for me to catch it. It caught me so off-guard that I almost missed her leg. Then I thought she was going to jump in my arms, so I'm ready to catch her other leg, which never comes. Sheri snaps the pic right as I start cracking up:

I, of course, had to return the favor:

We start walking from Adventureland towards the hub when I bring up that we're getting close to Aloha Isle and that the wifey has never had a Dole Whip. Pat mentions that it wasn't open when she came by earlier. Besides, she noted that we hadn't smuggled in any rum to add to the snack.

I'm liking her more and more by the minute.

She then tells us when we hit Epcot to get the Gray Goose Slush in France. We may have to try that drink out (hint: foreshadowing).

We say our goodbyes, and she's off spreading pixie dust. I know you've got a lot going on, Pat…we've got our fingers crossed for you that everything turns out well with your crazy schedule!

We continue on and see Aloha Isle open YAAAAAAAAYYY! I had my first one in Anaheim (and my second one), so I know how good they are. I told Sheri to trust me as I ordered them for us. Sheri took one bite and said she loved me.

We sat down nearby and people-watched as we ate our Dole Whips. I think we sold at least 20 more of them from people seeing ours as they passed by.

Much to Pixie's dismay, we headed over to see the Tiki Birds next. Dunno why, but I like that show. Plus, it's close to where Jasmine often hangs out, though she wasn't there at that time.

It was getting to be around noon-time, so we started heading back to Main Street to eventually head back to the hotel for a rest. We stopped in the Emporium and looked around for about 20 minutes or so. Judy was in there, and we talked with her for another 5-10 minutes before heading over to the Confectionary. As we looked around, I saw the giant Mickey Rice Krispie Treats (12+ inches in diameter). I almost bought one of those to send to Tricia because she's been craving those things.

As we left MK the Family Fun Parade was just starting. My snapper wasn't working, and we had to wait something like 5 minutes for a bus (oh the humanity!). We were really lucky with the transportation so far. That would change in a couple days, however.

We got back and, in Sheri's words, we took the nap…Took The Nap…TOOK THE NAP!!! (This came from a passage in the Unofficial Guide about taking kids back for a rest). No kids, but we still crashed for a little bit. The phone rang a little before 3, and I saw that it was Heartland Community College's Testing Center. Uh Oh…that means that there's a problem with someone taking the optional final. I called back and found that someone who I swear told me they WEREN'T taking the final was there to take it, and I didn't have one there for them. Apparently the student told the workers I might be hard to get a hold of because I was at WDW, for, when I told her who I was, she wanted to see if I was having a good time down there! I asked them to make a copy of one that had not been taken yet and to let him take it. They were fine with that. I then checked messages and called the windshield place to schedule the replacement. Then I called Casey to make sure the house was still standing and that the cats haven't sacrificed her yet. I also asked her to unlock the Santa Fe's doors on Thursday for us.

The final part of this day is HERE.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Disney Podcast Show Updates: May 29, 2009

This one's being released just a bit later than normal as I was getting caught up on listening (and skimming one or two) of the shows. With Monday being a holiday, I missed 20% of my usual listening time in the car, so I was playing catch-up all week. Added to that, I have a 4 year old who is an absolute Star Wars freak (thanks to the Wii Lego game), and he dictated what podcasts I had to listen to while he was in the car (it had to be talking about Star Wars Weekends). Also, with the different release dates/times of all the podcasts, I was holding off a bit to try to get in a couple podcasts that release Friday morning. If you are interested in listening to any of these episodes, I have links to subscribe for most of these shows in my post HERE.

As always, please note that this again is not a comprehensive list of the Disney Podcasts that are out there. Mike Hamilton has created, which he periodically updates with new podcasts and removes dead casts. He also has the automated RSS (historical) feeds of the podcasts. This is more of a cross-section of what is currently being talked about…perhaps something may sound interesting, and you'll subscribe to listen to that topic.

Any and all comments are welcomed! Also, if you know of another podcast that fits here, let me know. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to head out to catch Up!

    • 5/22/08 – Episode 16, Trace takes over the control boards of the podcast, and chaos ensues! Okay, it doesn't, but he does change the podcast for a bit to elaborate on what he would do if he could create "Traceland". A couple of segments follow from Tracefest (see previous episode), including some good discussion on the Backstage tour. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that the most-talked about part of this episode will be a Princess wardrobe malfunction during the tour (which will probably increase the popularity of this tour by the male population ten-fold). They wrap up the show with voice mail. Next time you're at the Rose and Crown, say "Hey" to Lynda, who tends bar there and listens to the podcast. Time: 1:33:57
    • 5/15/09 – Episode 60, Tom Corless and John Rick have their usual pin segments and updates around the country. They also talk with I.P.L.S. #43, Kaitlyn Persico. Alex Maher, from a senior character artist from the Disney Design Group, joins Tom and John for an interview. Time: 2:05:51
    • 5/22/09 – Episode 47, Tairy looks at this day in Disney History. You'll feel a little Enchanted after listening to the last few minutes of this episode. . Be sure to check out her charity info at her page. Time: 11:28
    • 5/24/09 – Episode 42, Greg reinforces my need to learn more about the Disneyland resort by giving a good, detailed look at an extinct attraction over in Anaheim. Monsanto's House of the Future is the target when he steps into his time machine. Included in this episode is the audio from this attraction. Greg then provides several updates to what will be upcoming with the future of his podcasts, including this one and the At The Main Street Cinema podcast. I'd like to wish Greg the best of luck in the job search! Time: 33:15
    • 5/24/09, Episode 216, News Around the World leads off this episode, followed by audio and a discussion of Innoventions' newest display, The Great Piggy Bank Adventure, sponsored by T-Rowe Price. Also included this week is a separate download with the video of the display opening. Skipper Ben works on listener e-mail. The show is wrapped up with listener feedback. Time: 1:14:49 Video time: 9:57
    • 5/24/09 – Jim and Nathan use this episode to discuss how Disney reaches out to its guests/fans and how it has changed over time. Marketing strategies are the main topic here, including the use of a train for the upcoming film based on A Christmas Carol, the promotions used for Up!, and more. Also included is a talk about D23's new events that tie into the topic of the show. Time: 29:26
    • 5/23/09 – Episode 200, Everyone's neat and pretty for their 200th episode! In their words, they'll do everything they can to make this landmark episode not as bad as the other 199 shoes. A fascinating interview of Roy O. Disney conducted by Leonard Maltin is aired, where Roy talks about the Disney Studios' work during World War II (as a tribute to Memorial Day). A review of Up! is included, and the crew announces celebrations (and hopeful future celebrations in helping a listener plan out a marriage proposal in the Disney parks). Time: 1:18:32
    • 5/22/09 – Special Report, Mike and Mark talk about a recent bomb scare at the DCL terminal over at Port Canaveral…Mike was onboard the docked Disney Wonder for a tour of the ship when everything went down. Time: 11:38
    • 5/26/09 – Episode 313, After the tip of week and the featured attraction (Cinderella Castle), Mike and Mark review the Villas at Wilderness Lodge. A review of MousePlanet forum threads is included, and listener feedback wraps up the show. Time: 32:45
    • 5/28/09 – Episode 314, The host of MouseStation discuss at length the trend of seeing a little blue alien seemingly every time you turn around at the parks. Their main topic is Disney's use/overuse of Stitch at WDW. Time: 18:10
    • 5/26/09 – Episode 54, In this episode, they're going to go with the flow (no, not the Crush song from the Nemo show at AK). They discuss the Randy Pausch (former Disney Imagineer and famous for The Last Lecture) as well as a friend who is going through a situation similar to the Pausch family. They then segue to a talk about dreams in efforts to bring the discussion to a more happy place. They find themselves somehow talking about lipgloss and laptops, which moves on to the "celebration" theme at the American Disney parks and the Jackson 5. When they realize that they are absolutely stuck at how to wrap it up, they start tap dancing (I swear, I'm not making this up!) They end the show with music from Fox's new show Glee, which will eat away at your brain for the next 87 hours…I know, because I had just recently gotten the ?@#$@#$ Journey song out of my head from when I saw the show's premiere, and the cats have now put it back in (Thanks!) Time: 34:22 …strangers…waiting…up and down the BOOOOUULLEEVAAAARRRRrrrddd…their shaaaddowwwws…searching in the niiiiiiggggghhtt. ARGH!
    • 5/24/09 – Episode 95. This show has tributes from Wayne Allwine, the voice of Mickey Mouse, who recently lost his battle with cancer…there are some really good audio segments included in here. In the news and rumors section, they talk about the upcoming re-opening of the Hall of Presidents which will include an animatronic of President Obama and other changes, including George Washington having a new speaking part. This episode also includes the last edition of "What Were They Thinking" for a while…they talk about what might have been at the World Showcase pavilions. Time: 2:04:08
    • 5/24/09 – Episode 120, The force is with Lou and Glen Whalen as they host an in-depth, live talk from Disney's Hollywood Studios during Star Wars Weekend. The big winners of the Broadway tickets from last week's show are announced. The show wraps up with voice mail. Time: 1:35:35
    • 5/28/09 – Daily Disney Diary, This is the next segment in Lou's short vidcast shows. In this one, Lou looks at Star Wars Weekends. He starts with the Stormtroopers at the entrance to the park and continues into the park, with teasers from Star Tours, the Jedi Training Academy, the special parade, "stars of the saga", and the Disney characters in special regalia. Lou wraps up with some video from the very entertaining Hyperspace Hoopla. Time: 8:32
    • 5/25/09 – Episode 569, Matt, Len, Annette, and Newell take the show down the toilet, literally! They actually discuss the best and worst restrooms in WDW. Time: 16:16
    • 5/27/09 – Episode 570, It's Wednesday, and that means one thing for WDW Today…Listener Questions! Matt, Newell, Len, and Annette take part in this one. Reminder: May 31st is the date of the next live show. Check the webpage for more information. Time: 30:33
    • 5/29/09 – Episode 571, The whole crew (Matt, Len, Newell, Scopa, and Annette) tackle the issue of breakfasts, brunches, and lunches at WDW, with an extended review on the Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues. Watch out…Len's on a roll in this episode. Time: 22:26
    • 5/23/09 – Episode 32, Aaron welcomes his good friend, Courtney Lambert, to the show to discuss their most recent trip together to WDW. Included is a really in-depth look at the American Idol Experience, props to how Disney handles lost and found, and a reflection of a past trip to Disneyland. Also in the show is Aaron's take on some of the gangster portrayals in the Great Movie Ride. Time: 38:15

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

WDW 10-Year Anniversary Trip, Day 2: Part 1: Damnbo!

You wanna hear something crazy? We set a wake-up call for 6:45 am on vacation!

Wanna hear something crazier? We were both awake at 6:30!

Still, I laid in bed and waited for Stitch to yell at me. Though a lot of folks can't stand that wake-up call with Stitch, I kind of like it. Besides, it's the only one I've ever heard.

Having already showered the night before, all we have to do is wake up, fall out of bed, and drag a comb across my head. We were gonna head over to the Polynesian Resort for breakfast, which means we have to make a transportation connection. Best bet would be going to MK and grabbing the monorail. Sheri asked if I wanted to take the Dumbo plush with me that was in Pat's gift box (it had a clip). I had a few choice words for her.

We walk into Classic Hall and back out to the bus stops. As we enter the queue line for the MK bus, (snap), a bus heading to the Magic Kingdom pulls up. There are a few folks with us heading there for a character breakfast, but it was a quiet bus for the most part. We go past the toll booths for MK parking and notice that the cops had about 8 or 9 cars pulled into the center lanes. "Weird" we both thought. Past the Contemporary we go, where we could see some stuff being done to where the North Wing once stood.

And there's Space Mountain, and there's the train station, and there's Cindy's castle! I don't know about the veteran WDW travelers, but seeing the Castle and the station for the first time during a trip is just an awesome sight. That moment's short-lived, however, because we aren't going into the park just yet. The park opens at 9. We have 8:00 ressies for Kona Café, and it's about 7:20 now. We stroll over to the monorail, and I snap my fingers.

Here comes the resort monorail…less than 15 second wait.

We go through the Contemp (also fun the first time on a trip) and make our way around to the Poly. I soooooo want to stay here sometime soon! We head in and absorb the tropics for a second before heading over to Kona. We were about 30 minutes early, but they sat us down right away. I read about some of the not-so-good reviews of the Tonga Toast from Tricia's and Lindsay's recent TR's, but I had to try it. I had it at the Rainforest Café in Animal Kingdom last time we were down here and LOVED it. Besides, Sheri and I were channeling Bluto from Animal house and chanting "Tonga Tonga Tonga!" (Thanks for putting that one in our minds, Lindsay!). We order a pressed pot of the 100% Kona coffee, and I order the Tonga toast while Sheri orders the Macadamia nut pineapple pancakes. Our server, Fatima, looked extremely familiar, so we asked where else she worked. We wouldn't have crossed paths based on what she said, but I recognized the name, and Sheri recognized the face.

The food came out, and I was wondering just how the hell I was going to eat all that food and still be able to walk around today. Tonga Tonga Tonga!!!! The toast worked for me…absolutely loved it! Sheri and I swapped bites, and her pancakes were just about as good! Excellent breakfast there!

We have time, so we stroll around the Poly grounds for a few minutes before heading back to the monorail station. SNAP…you guessed it, here it came (Mary Poppins has nothing on us when it comes to snapping). We get to the Magic Kingdom and notice that the Stitch spiel is no longer there as you exit the monorail. We get past the turnstiles, and I figure now would be a great time to call Pat to tell her how much we loved the basket.

Ring…. "Hi, this is Pat."


"You're at the Magic Kingdom, aren't ya?!"

"How'd ya guess? Oh, and you just had to put Dumbo in there, didn't you, smartass?!!!"

We talked for a couple more minutes…she was going to be in the park around 11 to do some stuff and said that she'd call when she got there. I told her I'd have my cell phone on and would check it every few minutes because I probably wouldn't hear it ring.

"You can turn it to vibrate, can't you?"


"Well, why don't you just put it on vibrate and put it in your front pocket?"

That was just too easy.

"If I have it in my front pocket and it starts vibrating, I won't want to answer it for a few minutes!"

We hung up, and, about 20 seconds later (SNAP):

Not our video...blatantly stolen from someone else on Youtube (hey...their view count should increase).

I'll be honest...I absolutely LOVE this opening!

I looked to see if Donna (PandyPaws on the Lodge) was on the train…nope. We try something new…going in on the left-hand side. Know what? It's a lot like going in on the right-hand side. As we were leaving the front part, the dancers were just finishing up, and I couldn't help but wonder how they keep on dancing and smiling when they know almost nobody is watching them because they're screaming into the park. We wait until they get done singing and then join the herd.

As we're going down Main Street, we see CMs waving with the big white hands. I never realized they did this before. Luckily, we came in on the left because we were going past the Emporium. Our neighbor from where we just moved from has family working at WDW all over the place. Her mother works at the Emporium, and I'll be darned if she wasn't waving. We walked up to her and said "Hey!" We caught her off-guard. Stacy (our neighbor) told her we were going to be down there this week but didn't know when we would be at the Magic Kingdom. We knew she works only Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays, so today was going to be the best day to see her. We saw her less than 2 minutes into the park! We talked to her for a minute and promised to stop by the Emporium before we left to gab.

Onto Tomorrowland! They hadn't dropped the rope yet. Well, of course they haven't…I didn't (SNAP) yet (no, no vid link for a rope drop). As we walk up, they drop the rope, and the sprint to Space Mountain begins. We just sit back and stroll over towards there. I was kind of hoping to see Push the talking trashcan, but he wasn't out yet. We pretty much walked onto Space Mountain (with the walk through the queue, I'd say it was 5 minutes). After experiencing the refurbed ride in Anaheim last November, I didn't set my hopes up too high on this. It was good, but Anaheim definitely has the upper hand on this attraction.

We head out of Space Mountain and walk to do Buzz. WAIT! Stitch is standing just outside of this big weird-looking building (Carousel of Progress…never saw that attraction before today). You'd have to review the last trip report back in December of 05 to realize how many times we missed him. Sheri and I hopped into the non-existent line and got pics with him (Aaron's gonna be ticked when he sees those pictures!).

Oh yeah, I would like to personally thank each and every one of you for corrupting my wife. She wore her Dumbo shirt specifically for this day.

Sweet and innocent…paragon of virtue…MY ASS!

I love the shirt I'm wearing, mainly because of how they used the characters to spell out DISNEY. The 'E' was my favorite, and Stitch agreed.

We hop on Buzz for the first match. I won't say who won, but Sheri demanded a rematch with me on the other side. So we go on it again (walked on both times). This time I think I hit the 100K target that Debbie noticed in the first room. Again, I won't say who won heheheheheheh.

Looks like everyone went elsewhere again…the crowds are non-existent this morning. Again, the touring plans are out the window (sorry Len)!

We walk over towards Fantasyland and see Alice and the Mad Hatter out by the tea cups. Alice was hot! After gawking over Alice for a few seconds, we turned the corner, and I felt cold, like someone had sucked all of the happiness away from me. Like the blood in my veins had turned to ice. It was as though a dementor had just kissed me.

Dumbo was straight ahead.

For this trip, though, the attraction was called Damnbo.

I made sure we waited at least 20 minutes after opening before we went to Fantasyland…there had to be a line at Dumbo. Wifey more or less told me I was getting my butt in one of those elephants. Sorry…line's too long.

We decided to do Peter Pan next. Now that I've seen the movie, the damn ride actually makes sense! I rode it for the first time in December of 05 and wondered just what the hell the story line was. Let's see, we abduct kids from their bedroom but they're happy about it. A dog with a headpiece barks. We get to Neverland with Native Americans, a volcano, the very voluptuous mermaids, and a crocodile with a tick. HUH??? Did I forget to inhale some magical wacky weed as we boarded the boats? Now I understand its popularity!

Continued Here

WDW 10-Year Anniversary Trip, Day 1: Part 3: We’re Heeeerre

Part 2 of Day 1 (section A, paragraph 4B) is HERE.

It was getting close to the return time for the Soarin FP's, so we started heading over that way. On the way we saw this one:

Re-rode Soarin and loved it even more this time! Sheri contemplated getting FPs again, but I steered her away from them because we were going to be back in Epcot at least 2 more times. Now, the plan was to eat at Sunshine Seasons, but we weren't too hungry yet, and nothing tickled our fancy on the menu, though it all looked good. No problem. Hey, Living with the Land is a walk-on! So we rode that. I commented that I'd like to do the Behind the Seeds Tour sometime here…probably the one park tour I'd want to do most. (hint: foreshadowing).

Hungry yet? NOPE! Hey, there's no wait at Honey I Shrunk the Audience. Sheri completely freaked out with the mouse (won't ruin it for those who may not have ridden it yet). That one's getting better, but it's definitely a no-go for the boys at their age.

Hungry? Starting to…let's head over to Canada and see what we can find. On the way over there, we found Tinkerbell's garden:

Nearby was a water garden:

We kept strolling along, not worried about crowds or times or anything. The Magic Kingdom is my favorite park, but Epcot has become a very close second. We get to Canada and see Victoria Gardens. WOW!

There's nothing to eat here as Le Cellier is closed, but wow the gardens are beautiful here! We start walking back up to the promenade of World Showcase when I hear the wifey let out a shriek. I turn around, thinking that she got stung by a bee or something, and I see 2 characters from Brother Bear walking by and mimicking laughing at her (I think I heard actual laughing from within one of the costumes too). They snuck up behind her without her knowing it and walked right past her. You could say she wasn't expecting 6-foot tall bears to be walking by.

The Bambi crew was also out there.

Over to the U.K. We weren't sure if the fish & chips place was on the dining plan or not, so we walked past it. We did see several Pooh character topiaries there.

Hungry? YEP! How about France? Maybe, but let's keep looking.

Morocco? The Tangerine Café didn't appeal to us at that time.

Japan? Nah…too much Japanese food back home.

How about a burger at the American Pavilion?!! Nearly got slapped for that one. We heard Davy Jones singing Daydream Believer in the theater but had to crane our necks to actually see him (he's still short…just ask Teebee over at the Lodge). We snapped a pic, but everyone knows what he looks like.

Sommerfest…we were going to eat there later on…let's just do it now.

I had the brat (no kraut…I think the CM cringed and almost shed a tear when I asked them to hold the sauerkraut) and some black forest cake for dessert. Sheri got something loaded with kraut and a warm apple strudel. Mine was good, and her dessert was awesome.

We didn't feel like sticking around a couple more hours for Illuminations. We wanted to make sure we were rested up for tomorrow…the Magic Kingdom. On the way we saw another great topiary:

The DVC sign was calling my name several times, but our finances just aren't to the point where we should even consider looking into buying there. We couldn't even sell the Fairfield points for a profit (still paying that off), and we have lots of left-over points this use year alone.

The wait for the bus back to Pop was about 8 minutes. I got re-keyed (they had problems getting my DDP credits off of one of them) and found that we were in room 2451. We headed into the food court for a Mickey Rice Krispie treat fix and headed over to the 50s section. I know that some rooms have great views of all the fireworks at Epcot, MK, and MGM. I looked for our room and couldn't find it, nor could I see the fireworks. Then I heard a BOOM and knew that Illuminations had to still be going on. We went down another hallway where we saw a bunch of people looking and pointing. Yep, there are the fireworks! Oh, and right behind us is our room. We had to have one of the best views to see all the fireworks at the theme parks! I looked down, and a towel doggie was there looking up at us…our first towel animal ever!

This was all kind of secondary, however, because I wanted to make sure that, with us in another room, the flowers that I had ordered for Sheri would make it. That, and something else that I knew about but didn't quite know about.

I made Sheri open the door, and she immediately saw the bouquet of roses.

The card read:

It's a day late, but Happy Mother's Day!

It's a bit early, but Happy Anniversary!

It's right on time to say I'll love you forever!

All my love, Chris

Right next to it was the other thing that I was curious about…a basket from Pat right here on the Lodge. In those PMs that we were firing back and forth to each other, she asked if she could make a gift basket for us to help celebrate our anniversary. I offered to pay for it, especially since our anniversary technically isn't until June, but she refused anything from me. She said she'd make me look good.

She made me look great!

The first thing I saw was a stuffed Dumbo.

I started to get nervous.

Sheri didn't quite know what I was laughing about…she initially thought everything came from the Disney Florist. Then I explained to her who Pat is (I describe all you imaginary folks by your siggies…Pat has the one with Tink that changes the name bigger) and what she does for a living (works for Gifts of a Lifetime).

Along with the Dumbo plush were 2 Dumbo candy bars. Ya know, the first time RoutemanDan (the instigator of all the elephant stuff…too long of a story to add in here) and I actually meet, we're either gonna pummel the hell out of each other or buy each other drinks until neither of us can stand up and then go golfing like we're best friends and have known each other for years. Also in there were 2 Anniversary pins, a bottle of champagne, 2 glasses with Mickeys etched on them, a really nice picture frame and an autograph book.

I chuckled at the autograph book because we weren't gonna be seeing many characters on this trip.

Then Sheri opened it and noticed that the pages had stuff on them already.

It was my turn to be knocked over by the slightest breeze.

In there were greetings and well-wishes (and @#$^$^$^@$$!#$!#@$ elephant pictures!!!) from a number of the lodgers. Two things crossed my mind: 1) How in the heck did she pull that off?; and 2) I seriously thought I had ticked off more people here on the Lodge and couldn't believe how many entries there were in there. I was and still am at a loss for words with what y'all sent to Pat. I immediately wanted to call her, but it was past 9:30 already, and I knew she was going to be at MK the next morning. As we went through the book, Sheri was asking about who was who in there for the names she didn't recognize. Pat, what you did truly was a gift of a lifetime. Thank you so much for that. And thanks to the rest of y'all over on the Lodge for participating.

After staring at everything for a few minutes, we ate our Mickey treats, took showers, and watched the Cubs lose to the Mets (grrrr). We hit the hay well before we usually do (10:00 Central). I'd say it was a pretty awesome day, overall!

Tomorrow, we do the Magic Kingdom, and I face my arch nemesis in Fantasyland.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Disney Podcast Show Updates: May 22, 2009

This was a fun update as I added the Netcot podcast, which adds to the list to listen to. Also, many of the bi-weekly podcasts were updated in the past week, which I think nearly caused my iPod to almost start smoking as much as I listened to it. I had the thing on almost nonstop: while mowing, while driving, while walking to class, while sleeping, while eating, while showering, while… I can't wait for the monthly podcasts to update – my wife may very well just divorce me.

As always, please note that this again is not a comprehensive list of the Disney Podcasts that are out there. Mike Hamilton has created, which he periodically updates with new podcasts and removes dead casts. He also has the automated RSS (historical) feeds of the podcasts. This is more of a cross-section of what is currently being talked about…perhaps something may sound interesting, and you'll subscribe to listen to that topic.

Any and all comments are welcomed! Also, if you know of another podcast that fits here, let me know. Without further ado, heeeeeeeeeerrrreeee we go!

    • 5/15/09 – Jason and Tony use this episode to reflect on the recent Westfest 2009 experience and talk about the new "Friends of the Magic" online group. This episode is different from the vidcast episodes from the past…it's all audio this time. Time: 1:13:08
    • 5/15/09 – Episode 110, After news and the AllAboutTheMouseketeer Roll Call, Bryan and Jonathon invite several members of the online Disney Fan community to discuss WDW's new restaurant, Sanaa. Included in this roundtable is DVC owner Marissa Gordon, Glenn Whalen of the Passamaquoddy blog, and Ryan Wilson of the Main Street Gazette blog. Following that is the next matchup of THE DIISSSNNNEEYYYYY FFEEUUDDDDDDDD, pairing up Matt Hochberg of the WDW Today podcast and Studioscentral with Team Those Darn Cats, including Lisa, Jennifer, and "the whatchamacallit." The winner takes on Steve Swanson of the Muppetcast. Time: 1:41:37
    • 5/16/09 – Episode 70, Sorcerer, Jeff, Fantasmic, Imagine, and Pluto are back for their bi-weekly podcast. Jeff gives the news to start things off, with a discussion on how to save money for that much-needed Disney trip afterward. Pluto gives an "interesting" rumor on Disney and Swine Flu (insert Piglet joke here) and then teams up with his wife for a look at the Italy and German pavilions at Epcot (NOT Norway…you'll have to listen to understand). They then review a version of "Yo Ho" that you'll just have to listen to…once. The main event is an interview with Jim Henson's daughter, Heather. Rounding out the episode is the e-mail segment. Time: 1:21:38
    • 5/15/09 – Episode 60, Tom Corless and John Rick have their usual pin segments. They also talk with I.P.L.S. #42, Buddy Lique. THEN comes the long-awaited interview with a special mystery guest (hint, read the WDWNT update below). Kudos to the podcast for a great interview! Time: 2:06:53
    • 5/17/09 – Episode 46, Tairy talks about the story behind the oft-forgotten Lilliputian Land. This ultimately became the Storybook Land Canal Boats. Time: 11:18
    • 5/17/09 – Episode 22, Scott and Tracey bring home more magic when they invite Paul Barrie of the Window to the Magic podcast to Disney, Indiana and discuss how to keep the Disney "magic" with you when you are not at the parks. They also tune in to see what's playing on the town's radio station, WWED (there's an audio segment with Disney-related music). They respond to listener feedback to end the show. Time: 1:24:02
    • 5/17/09, Episode 215, In his usual style, Ricky starts off with a segment on news around the world. Skipper Ben follows with a review of Bolt, both the movie and the Blu-Ray package of discs (I may have to start buying Blu-Ray even if I don't have a player yet). After Ben's segment is a really good piano rendition of a Tomorrowland Favorite. The show is wrapped up with listener feedback. Time: 1:00:42
    • 5/17/09 – This show is Up in the air. Nathan and Jim discuss Disney/Pixar's upcoming release of the movie Up, including a review of the film by Jim. Spoiler Warning!
      Time: 44:30
    • 5/16/09 – Episode 199, After trying to stump Eric and updating the bracket in the Disney Villains Tournamant, the Mouseguest hosts set sail aboard the Disney Magic for some audio from a popular stage show. Time: 1:18:31
    • 5/18/09 – Episode 311, This is Tuesday's Short Subject show. After the tip of the week, Mark and Mike tackle the Liberty Square Riverboat in the Magic Kingdom (including its history from the dual boats Admiral Joe Fowler and the Richard F. Irvine to the current boat, the Liberty Belle). In the spotlight this week is the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Time: 37:02.
    • 5/20/09 – Episode 312, DisneyQuest is the featured topic for this week. The hosts go into much detail on the history of the attraction, from its inception in 1998 and give a review of its current state as well as its potential future. Time: 38:02
    • 5/15/09 – Episode 140, In its very first episode to be included in my podcast updates, Van provides some news from the parks and then gets into a Top 7 ranking of breakfasts at WDW. Van then takes on the two Toontowns (say that five times fast) and compares the WDW version to the Disneyland park version. Rounding out the show is topic-appropriate audio from Toontown in both parks. Time: 28:24
    • 5/19/09 – Episode 53, In this episode, it is humorously proven that cats HATE water with audio from the MK's Splash Mountain (but they kind of like a certain pixie on film). Jennifer and Lisa also talk about the newly-available theme park merchandise that's available online. The show is wrapped up with some more audio. Time: 34:10
    • 5/20/09 – Episode 47, The Travelears continue their recap of their monster trip to Westfest in Anaheim and immediate trip east to Walt Disney World. Think of it as an audio trip report from the parks! Time: 2:52:22
    • 5/17/09 – Episode 94. A short news segment is followed by my pick for the best interview of the week (maybe month…maybe year)…Tom and John have an awesome discussion with actor Lee Arenberg ("Hello Poppet"). This interview is also aired on the Disney Pincast. Time: 1:58:52
    • 5/17/09 – Episode 119. Lou begins with the news segment and follows that with one of the more interesting Top "Ten" (more like 42) theme songs for Disney World Attractions, with Top Ten guest host Tim "Dancing With Wolves" Foster. For you east-coasters, you'll want to pay particular attention to this week's trivia contest, as winners have a chance to win tickets to see The Little Mermaid or The Lion King on Broadway (Mermaid show Friday May 29th at 8 pm and Lion King show Saturday May 30th at 2 pm)! Time: 1:35:35
    • 5/18/09 – Episode 566, Matt, Newell, Len, and Annette talk about the Unofficial Guide (DING) stats guys' (Len and Fred Hazelton) recent data collection trip to Anaheim and the Disneyland Resort. Included is a review of some of the nearby hotels.
    • 5/20/09 – Episode 567, Matt, Newell, and Annette answer listener questions. Many questions revolving around music and DVC were in this episode, much to Mike Newell's chagrin. Time: 34:19
    • 5/22/09 – Episode 568, Matt, Newell, Annette talk with members from the Disney Mom's Panel, including Jody Grundig and Doug Ingersoll about what the group does and what the experience is like. Time: 22:20
    • 5/17/09 – Episode 197, another "Disneyus Non sequiturium…Paul's in the car on a long drive for a tux fitting, so he gives us more Disney music from his iPod. Good one for headphones! Time: 51:01

Thursday, May 21, 2009

WDW 10-Year Anniversary Trip, Day 1: Part 2: We’re Heeeerre

Part 1 is HERE.

We're landing north, which means we've got a good chance of seeing the Golf Ball at Epcot. The clouds were against us, however (they were in cahoots with that damn penguin). We landed, and Sheri and I both start chanting "We're Heeeeeerrrreee! We're Heeeeeerrrreee!" Though it was 45 minutes late, it was ONLY 45 minutes…the day is not lost at all. We jump off the plane and cruise to the tram to the main terminal. As I had memorized, we head to lower level, B-side and head over to the Magical Express check-in. "Hello…man…with…big…white…hand!" was all I could say when I saw the greeter. Sheri grabs a seat, and I get in my first Disney queue line. It moves extremely fast, and I wind up with one of the funnier ones. He asks if I brought Sheri with me. I told him that, despite my best efforts, she's here, too. We traded jabs for a another minute, and then he tells me to take her to the red carpet, hold her hand, and tell her to make a wish as we started down it to the bus queue.

Sheri was on the phone with her mother telling her that we made it and asking how the boys are doing. I try telling her my orders from the Magical Express guy, but she was too engrossed in the discussion with her mother. I half-way expected that guy to haul us back to the red carpet and make us do it again (he said he'd be watching). Sheri gets off the phone while waiting for the bus, and she asks me what we were supposed to do a few minutes ago at the carpet.


The bus to Pop arrived about 10 minutes later, and it's a Disney Cruise Line bus. Sheri was hoping that it would have been an official Magical Express bus, but, so long as it gets us there in less than 10 pieces, I'm good. On the ride over, Sheri asks if I made a wish.

Grrrrrrrrrr again. I told her that SHE was the one that was supposed to make the wish! I then think about what I would wish for and start smiling. Reading my mind, she says that our wishes would cancel each other out.

OUCH! First the bitch slap comment and then that!

While we're on the way, the bus driver has a soft-rock station on, and Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go started. Nothing like a little WHAM! to get you in the Disney spirit (that comment garnered a few laughs from the folks around us).

We pull in (We're Heeeeeerrrreee!) and head to the check-in. There's only 2 others in front of us…good sign. When we got to the counter, they said they had a room available (woohoo). I asked if it was in the 50s by any chance. Nope, the 70s. I look at Sheri, and she's fine with the 70s, so we turn to tell her it's okay, but she's already flying away at her keyboard. "I've got you in the 50's section, but it's not clean yet."

I fell in love with her at that moment.

We get our keys and head to the food court for some grub. I had a cheese steak wrap that was much better than anticipated, and Sheri had something that I just can't remember. I just remember that mine was better! Sheri hits the bathroom again, and I check the carry-on bag with the hotel, after waiting about ten minutes (someone cut in front of me).

The Unofficial Guide says that Epcot is the place to go to today, so we head out to the busses and hop in the Epcot bus line. Within a minute, it was there (it was like I just snapped my fingers, and there it was). We're there in about ten minutes, and we're ready for our first finger squeeze…wait…now it's just a single finger? How boring is that?

We walk into the Flower and Garden Festival. Though we've seen pics of the topiaries already, you have to be there to really see it.

Now, we sent out Tricia and her husband a month before us to tell us how things were. Unfortunately, on their first day when they went to Epcot, all of the fastpasses for Soarin' were gone. I expected the same thing.

The only thing was that it appeared that nobody else was at Epcot that day. It said there were fastpasses available at the tip board, so we scooted over to The Land to pick up fastpasses. We grabbed them, and the posted wait time was only 40 minutes. I looked at Sheri. Sheri looked at me. We both looked at the time. And we both darted down the standby line. Neither of us have ridden this before, so we were really looking forward to it. The wait was only about 18 minutes, and we were on.

This immediately became our favorite attraction.

This also meant something else…screw the touring plans (Sorry Len)! We're gonna do what we want when we want!

The Seas with Nemo was just next door, so we meandered over there and marveled at the gardens. Sheri took a couple of pics of the Nemo characters, but I was watching the gulls doing their "MINE!" calls. All I could do was picture Mark (Mare's hubbie) screaming back at them (Another Lodger (Mo) put that in a trip report late last year, and I can soooo see him doing that). We walked onto the clam-mobiles and rode it. Both Sheri and I caught ourselves "testing" the rides out to see how the boys would likely do on them. This is one the boys would like and the parents would tolerate. It's cute, but sappy.

Now, the first item on the touring plan was supposed to be Spaceship Earth. Neither of us has ridden it, and it was another walk-on (2:30 in the afternoon, and we're walking on almost everything!). The first thing that popped in my mind was to wonder who all had try to…ummm…well…oh what the heck, I'll just say it…do it on this ride with it being so dark.


That was kind of a boring ride, especially since we couldn't hear a darn thing Jeremy Irons was attempting to tell us. We had our heads contorted so our ears were close to the speaker, and he was still too quiet.

I was hoping to see the Jammitors (or the Jamminators, as Sheri calls them), but they had already wrapped up. We headed through the breezeway at Innoventions East and noticed a 5 minute wait at Mission Space.

Is that right? I've ridden the orange version (full spinning) and absolutely loved it. Sheri agreed to go on the green one (almost no spinning), and I went on with her. Walk on yet again. The green version was much more subdued than the orange one, but you still felt it a little. Sheri was green after the green version (it's not that easy being green, either). Test Track was next, and it was a 30 minute posted wait. The sounds in the queue were unnerving, but the ride itself was just as good as I remembered it, though Sheri thought the speed test was faster than when we rode it in '01, while I commented that it was slower.

We still had some time to kill before our Fastpass times were up for Soarin', so we head over to the butterfly garden.

The crowds were non-existent, which was perfect because we both felt that we haven't done Epcot justice and wanted actually experience it rather than just visit it. The F&G festival was the icing on the cake, as both of us dabble some in gardening. The size of these cockscombs floored us:

We both were amazed at the color of the flower on this tree:

The pic below doesn't do this topiary justice…Goofy is HUGE!

We found our way over to Mexico for our first drink:

The weather was perfect, we were on vacation, we were being husband and wife to each other, the scenery was perfect…we just took in the moment while sitting down at the Cantina de San Angel.

Part 3 is continued HERE.

WDW 10-year Anniversary Trip, Day 1: Part 1: We're Heeeerre

Remember that we went to bed around 12:10. 3:40 came really fast, and Sheri's alarm clock doesn't have a volume. It's always set to the "piss your pants" level. We were both in a deep sleep when that dang thing went off, and I nearly fell out of bed (seriously). While I try to get my heart rate under 350, Sheri (also on the adrenaline rush from the alarm) flies into the bathroom and the screams downstairs to get one final load of laundry going. I consider sticking my fingers into a socket to defibrillate myself when I hear Sheri saying something out loud. Great…she's finally joined the dark side and lost her mind. Then I hear another voice. Casey?

Apparently, she got home about 3 minutes after we woke up. She came in through the garage door quietly so she wouldn't wake us. Unfortunately, the laundry room is right next where you come in from the garage and, well, let's just say Sheri wasn't quite expecting someone opening the garage door at 3:45 in the morning. I almost had to defib wifey.

I hop in the shower and throw on the clothes that Sheri had ironed…still not sure why she did this…unless she wants to impress the airport employees at 5:00 am, they're going to be a mess approximately 30 seconds after we sit down. We're flying Delta for the first time, so we don't quite know what to expect. According to reports from the previous week, they emerged from bankruptcy, so I feel safe that they won't turn off the power half-way through the flight. Now, last night, the wifey wasn't feeling much like celebrating, so I decide to go a little low-key this morning. In the airport, Sheri asks if I'm feeling okay because I don't seem too excited.

Sometimes, I just cannot win and need to accept that fact.

I get back to my normal self once I realize Sheri is like a little kid. I start with the plane stuff and how I swear they made up the altitude because we were to fly at 32,000 feet. Anyone with any knowledge of air traffic control knows that FL320 is reserved for flights on a main heading of 181 degrees to 360 degrees and that ATL is clearly in a southeasterly heading. After watching several other aircraft depart before us, I start getting a little concerned. This must mean that we're on a ground stop for the inbound ATL traffic, which means the arrival gates are going to be swamped with aircraft. We were told 9 minutes. Ten minutes later, we were told it would be another 7 minutes. While waiting, I tell Sheri that it's probably going to be a fun approach, especially since we'll probably be on the ERLIN3 Arrival Route. She looks at me and says with a straight face "We haven't taken off yet…I can still bitch slap you." That caught me off-guard so much that it took me a good ten seconds to start laughing.

About 30 seconds later, the captain gets on the intercom with "here we go." While most think this is great that we get to leave "early", I'm a bit concerned about getting squeezed into a small arrival window.

Sure enough, about 20 minutes into the flight, we start doing S-turns (turn one direction 30 degrees, then the other direction 60 degrees then back to the original heading with a final 30 degree turn…they're used for sequencing and spacing of aircraft). To be doing it this far out can only mean that the approach controllers for Atlanta are having a helluva time trying to handle all the planes. I know by the turns that we aren't on anything that really resembles the ERLIN3 or any STAR for that matter. I see an aircraft at our 3 o'clock low (about 4,000 feet below us to our right), and we slow down to a crawl. ATC was probably going to vector us behind that one. Sure enough, that aircraft goes ahead, and a few seconds later, we drop like a rock and turn towards him. Okay, we're on final approa….WHOAH! Sharp right turn that had to be done manually (the autopilot doesn't do anything that abruptly), followed by a sharp left turn. We got sidestepped to the south runways, which are usually reserved for the southwest and southeast arrivals. My guess is that we were a little too close to the aircraft in front of us. We broke out of the clouds at about somewhere around 3,000 feet, and our location confirmed the sidestep over to 9R. We touch down and roll almost to the end of the runway.

And we sit...

...along with 7 other aircraft. We had to wait for departures on rwy 9L, and they were stacked about 10 deep. We knew we had to go soon because all of the taxiways off of 9R were full of just-landed planes, and you can't park on the runway! A 767 blasts off in front of us, and 7 planes scream across 9L and then perform a ballet of avoiding each other to get to their gates. We only have a 40 minute window to make our connection, and we landed 20 minutes late. We're supposed to deplane at the D terminal and make the connection at gate A-10 (about as far away as possible). We get off the plane and do a Chariots of Fire through the terminal. I'm looking for departure information consoles but don't see one. I glanced up at CNN on one of the TVs, where they were talking about a cruise liner sinking off the coast of Alaska. Any other time I would have stopped to see what that was all about, but we didn't have time!!!! No departure information until we get to the center of the terminal…crap, they're on time and boarding now! Wait…did that say gate E-11? It's close! Just one subway stop away!

Sheri had to hit the bathroom for a while but agreed to wait until we got in the air. We see no line to board and run up with our boarding passes, but they wouldn't let us on. Apparently our boarding passes don't have EQP on it, indicating that it's a different plane than expected with a different seating arrangement, so we needed to check at the desk.

The one with two lines of 40 people in it?

And the plane is supposed to leave in ten minutes?

I get in line and Sheri races for the nearby bathroom. The line does move fast at least, and we are issued new boarding passes with the exact same seat assignment.


We get on the plane, and Sheri is a little surprised at the size of it. She's never flown in a widebody before (we're in a 767). We sit down and wait for another 20 minutes before we push back. Our seats are on the aft part of the wing, and you can hear/feel all the hydraulics as they set the flaps. Wifey's getting a touch freaked out at the noise, I think.

Now, this plane is advanced in that it has a monitor in every seat back. It's not so advanced, however, to realize that it needs to alert someone on the flight attendant detail or ground crew when something's wrong. We sat down, and Sheri's monitor is showing a reboot with Linux commands. A pretty little penguin pops up in the upper-left hand corner (typical for a linux operating system). He looked like this:

They tell us we're 4th in line for departure. Yeah, right…we're in a 767, and a 757 is right in front of us. Tower's gonna get all the smaller planes out before us to avoid holds for something called "wake turbulence" (air coming off the wings of large planes that cause bad things to happen to smaller planes). I counted 12 departures before the 757 in front of us blasts off. We position and hold for a minute, and then we're off. The contrails off the wing were awesome! The captain hops on the intercom and tells us that, because of weather, we'll be coming in from the southwest rather than the northwest (they could have just said it was the smoke from the fire at the Florida/Georgia border). We'd be landing later than anticipated.

Now, the monitors in the seats offer GPS flight information as well as some basic programming. The two guys in front found trivia, and I got it on my monitor. Sheri, however, was still staring at that penguin.

I log on with my usual moniker for trivia: Mush (original, eh?) and proceed to come from behind to kick the entire plane's ass! The 2 guys in front of us got sick of getting stomped and switched to a showing of Planet Earth. The next game starts, and I annihilate the plane again! During the game we both hear this weird whooshing noise behind us that neither of us could identify. Come to find out, it was the toilet just behind our seats. I hit the toilet while Sheri tries her hand at trivia. I come back, and Mush is now 9th in the trivia standings. To top it off, I'm now sitting in front of the penguin from Hell. After about ten minutes of it, I shout "QUIT MOCKING ME!!!" to the monitor.

That got a few laughs from some of the folks behind us who could see what was happening.

Part 2 is continued HERE.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

WDW 10-year Anniversary Trip, Pre-Trip: Part 2

Continued from HERE

To further add to the insanity, we have Mother's Day the day before we leave. Oh, and my sister's graduation from Illinois State University in blind education on Saturday…the day before Mother's Day. Did I mention that we were having the graduation party at our place? AAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaa……….

Oh, and another sister just had a baby a few days before.

Oh, and the last sister was going to house-sit for us while we're gone (the residence halls closed, and she couldn't get into her apartment until the 20th, the day we get back).

We leave on Monday, and we've made it to Friday. This is where things finally get interesting (yeah…finally). Friday morning we awoke to find Shiloh in our backyard…literally! This was our first exposure to Tri-Valley's Civil War Day…I blogged about the 2009 version a few posts back.

While we were trying to get ready for the graduation party, they had the cannons going off every few minutes. The high school chemistry classes created pyrotechnics, and the history classes helped supply some of the troops. All the grades saw the battle.

I have a video of the cannon fire, but it's a bad vid. I was watching the Union prepare to fire their cannon without realizing that the Confederate was also readying theirs. I was zoomed in on the Union's troops when the South fired theirs (and they were about 50 yards closer to me than the one I was watching). Sufficed to say, it scared the crap out of me!!! For the next 20 seconds, you can hear me trying to suppress laughter after I about threw the camera in the air. You actually see the sky for a second as the first cannon is shot.

This was the highlight of the day…

1. The meat that was for the party wasn't ready…they had to grab it from scratch.

2. At 4:55, I'm running in to pick up the boys from daycare when a rock cracks the windshield on the Santa Fe. Too late to call it in for them to fix it.

3. Sheri and I about kill each other.

Saturday…graduation and the party at our house. It goes off well! Lots of relatives, including my Aunt Jean, who I don't get to see very often, and all 4 of us siblings together at the same time.

Oh yeah, Disney trip! T-minus 1 day. Casey spends the night at our place, and helps with the boys. Sheri pays her by fixing her an awesome breakfast! I notice that the crack in the windshield has actually spread about a quarter of an inch (yeah, I'm that anal that I could tell it had moved that small amount). That means we're taking my car to Iroquois County…the car that has tons o' crap in it from moving out of my office. It's a small Elantra, and it's gonna take the 4 of us as well as the suitcases for the boys for their stay. We get to Danforth and see Sheri's family for a while.

We planned on leaving around 6 pm. We got out of there a little before 9 pm. About 4 minutes out of Danforth, I look over at Sheri, and she's already near tears. Though I've been on a few trips where I've been away for 5-6 days at a time, she's never been away from both of the boys for more than 4 days. This one's gonna be 7 days. We were actually on the plane the last trip when she started missing Eric. Now it's both of them away from us, and she's not taking it too well. I do what I can to reassure her that they'll be fine with both sets of grandparents. The vacation is just not looking so hot right now to her, so I try talking it up and getting her mind off of the boys for a while. It kind of worked. Kind of.

We got home to an empty house as Casey let us know up-front that she would likely be staying at someone else's that night. Oh, those college days seem so far away sometimes.

We did that last-minute frenzy checking of bags to see what we're forgetting and finally crash around 12:10 in the morning.

Oh yeah, we're going to Disney World tomorrow, or today since it's past midnight.

I hope.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

WDW 10-year Anniversary Trip Report, Pre-Trip: Part 1

We're going back to some Disney in the blog! Don't worry...for who are not Disney freaks, there will still be tons of other updates. This trip occurred in May of 2007, for all those wondering. I'll warn you now that every trip report I wrote got longer and longer, and this one is no exception. To help with the readability, I'll be breaking up the days into multiple segments, so you won't have to block out an entire afternoon to read each post.

Cast of characters:

Me, 34, does not like elephants as much as y'all think (inside joke with all the Lodgers)

Wifey (Sheri), age withheld for obvious reasons

That's it…honest!

Well, we wrapped up our last WDW trip in December of '05 with thoughts of heading back for our ten-year anniversary. I initially wanted to do a cruise, but I knew that it wasn't going to happen because Sheri gets motion sickness in a parked car. Then I thought of splurging and going for a stay at Disney's Polynesian Resort, but, being an economist married to an accountant, we couldn't justify the huge premium of the Poly (in her words…mine would have been something along the lines of "marginal cost far exceeding marginal benefit"), especially when we weren't going to spend a whole lot of time in the hotel room.

Okay, so how about a Moderate?

Then we decided to build a house, and what started out as the Poly became a value resort. We had already stayed at the All Star resorts, so we decided to head over to Pop Century for a try. A stop at the AAA office, where I got to see my gorgeous agent Paula (Sheri decided to go with me to help book this one for some reason)...$200 later, and we had reservations! We put in a request for the 50's area, because Sheri wanted to be close to Lady and the Tramp.

At about 220 days out, we started piecing together our dining options. Being the consummate planner, I already had the parks that we would go to on each day to avoid the crowds, the menus from printed out, and the estimated number of steps to be taken each day, both for her and for me as we take different strides. We wanted to do one of the signature restaurants (2 table-service credits on the Dining Plan), and we initially thought about trying the California Grill. After looking at the menus and reading what some of the folks were saying about Jiko, we switched and decided to do the Cooking Place instead of Cali. Our biggest problem was determining what to eat the day we were going to MGM. None of the table service restaurants really piqued our interest. We decided to do an early dinner at the Coral Reef and then sneak out the International Gateway and boat to the Studios. I didn't like it that much, and Sheri was a little concerned about eating at a restaurant where the brother of the thing on your plate swims by and looks at you with utter disdain.

At 180 days, I call the dining hotline to start making the dinner ressies. First night was to be Le Cellier! No reservations available (damn). 20 minutes after the phone lines were open, and they're all gone?! The cast member thought it was really weird and talked to her supervisor (no prodding on my part…she was just wondering what was going on). Their best guess was that the restaurant simply wasn't in the system yet. I continue on with the rest of the ressies and get confirmation numbers for every one of them but the first night.

At their suggestion, I called back a half hour later, but Le Cellier was still not in. Called again the next morning. And the next. Same results. Hmmmm….okay, let's look at when we'll be in Epcot and try another day. 3 nights with nothing available??!!!! The CM checked every day for our trip and found that it had tons of openings the night before we leave. That pretty much concluded to us that it was going to be down for a small refurb (only 6 days). I hang up and talk to Sheri about it, and she nearly drop-kicks me for not getting it for our last night. I think she was worried that every reservation at Le Cellier for May 19th would be snatched up in the span of 4 minutes. Apparently the west coast was waking up about that time and would be slamming the system, not for CRT, but for Le Cellier on a Saturday night during a slow time of the season.

I am going to be in soooo much pain when she reads this.

I started to question our choice of the Coral Reef, too. It's nowhere near the International Gateway, and we'll be eating as soon as the place opens (3:30 Central time). Where to eat…where to eat…I suggested Cape May for the clambake, but she wasn't too keen on there from our last trip (it was our last day, and we were all starting to get a little tired…plus, Aaron wasn't feeling too well then). Morocco? Mexico? Spoodles? I called back and grabbed Le Cellier for our last night with a 4:50 pm check-in time. This cancelled our meal at O'Hana for that night. This one pained me…I wanted my lapu lapu! Still had the problem with the Coral.

Fast forward a couple of months to January. Sheri and I start committing a grievous sin by heading over to the Disboards for the sole purpose of looking up some dining information and for the Picture of the Day threads. It still strikes me as annoying as hell that there is actually some complaining in the POTD threads!!! Anyways…we hear that you can book the Fantasmic package and use the DDP to pay for it.

Score! Okay, I have to give Sheri credit for that one. Let the lovefest for Wifey begin.

I cancel the Reef, and we booked Mama Melrose's for a much later time. Wifey won out on the restaurant as I was lobbying for Hollywood and Vine. More on that later…much more!

Fast-forward a couple more months to late March. We had the old house sold, and we were dancing. Then the guy loses his job and, subsequently, his financing, which means we lose the earnest money as well as 2 weeks on the market. The stress was really piling up everywhere for both Sheri and me. At leasr we were under 100 days to this trip, and we both really start getting the itch to get down to Florida as soon as humanly possible. Early April has another offer on the house, but they wanted it at a price that was well below where we would accept (never got less than $6,900 away from each other). 2 primary mortgages, a second mortgage to avoid PMI, and a bridge loan…we've come down twice already on the price, and it's still sitting there after nearly 8 months on the market. Luckily, we've played it smart with our tax return and avoided spending it, so we're eating that away while we make any minor improvement we can think of and continue paying for both houses. Sheri's been fighting headaches seemingly every day and has been utterly exhausted from work, and I've put on almost 40 pounds from my lowest-weight point in late 2005 and am also exhausted, but I can't get my mind to shut off at all, so I'm up until around 1 am every night, and Aaron's up every morning at 5:40 am, so I'm averaging less than 5 hours of sleep a night. Result: nobody's happy.

Late April now…Sheri's buying everything possible on, and I'm liking what she's buying too much to consider asking her to slow down on the buying (she was getting some good prices on things). I knew Brisully (again, if the name's not familiar, they're user names at the Lodge) was going to be down there the same time as us. I got a PM from Mo on the 23rd mentioning that her, Todd, and the kids might be over at WDW and that there was a chance that the Badelves crew might also make it then too. I send a PM out to SyracuseWolvrine to make sure of the attraction he was working at MGM and found out that he had the day off when we were planning on being at that park. He offered to meet us anyway, but I felt bad about taking time away from him on his day off, and meeting up with him at his place of business at that! We shot for another time, but something came up, and he had to win one (literally) for the gipper in a softball tournament. I know we'll have other opportunities to meet up.

The week before the trip…it's finals week at ISU, and I'm going INSANE. Plus, the Department of Economics was to be moving to another building for a year (or two or three or four), and the University decided that we would be moving…yep, you guessed it…in mid-May!!!! Pixie (Pat) sends me a PM and asks where I'll be staying and when exactly I'll be down. We send something like 15 or so PMs back and forth over the next few days, ranging from a little gift basket to allergies…from handcuffs and whipped cream to booze du jour…from stealing roses from the Magic Kingdom to items I simply can't mention…from getting slugged by Goofy and Pluto to Latin pool boys (there were some very interesting posts there, to say the least). The scary thing is that I'm not making this up!!!! I've never done an illegal drug in my life; if I had, however, there's no way I could have come up with that! MUCH more on this later.

Also during that last week, Nick (ncligs) and I engaged in an AOL IM frenzy, and he mentioned that he'd be arriving in MCO from visiting Cindy and the kids/grandkids and wondered if we'd like to meet up for lunch on the 19th.

Let's see…potentially meeting up with Eric, Mare, Todd, Maureen, Pat, Brian, and Nick. I think I'll tell Sheri about meeting all my imaginary friends after we get down there (well, she has already met Brian and Mare, so only the rest of them are imaginary to her).

Continued Here… (ugh…even the pre-trip is long!)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Gettysburg in Our Back Yard!

Every May, the area just beyond our fence becomes a living classroom. While I'm not sure just how many years they have done this, the high school, along with people from all across the region, put on their "Civil War Days." The day before, there is nothing but a few log barriers set up. During the evening, everything comes in. I often come home from teaching my evening class to see two campfires going across the fence, and this month was no exception. The only real difference between this and previous years was that there were storms in the forecast. As they rolled in, I watched outside to see if they appeared to be safe. If the winds and/or lightning got to be too intense, I was going to let them head into our place. They all were fine and were outside within minutes of the rain passing.

The following morning we saw this:

From Mush's Blog

The high school girls dress the period as Southern Belles:

From Mush's Blog

The above 2 pictures were taken around 8:45 in the morning. It was really overcast, and the fog added a realistic sense of eeriness to the area. Over to the right in the football/band practice field, the P.E. class was learning the game of cricket...the teacher was even dressed up in the attire of the time. I tried to get a picture of it, but it was just too foggy, and all the attempts came out blurred.

Throughout the day, classes from other schools on field trips as well as people from all across the area came out to learn about the time period. They had people showing what life was like (medicine, military life, cooking, etc), and they even had Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis giving testimonies of their lives. I could be wrong, be the crowds looked to be a little smaller than last year, be it because of the weather or because of budget cuts at local school districts...I don't know. Regardless, they were out there in the fog, mist, and, ultimately, rain.

Around 1:30, the majority of the Tri-Valley student body, and (I think) a couple of the closest school districts head out to witness the re-enactment.

From Mush's Blog

To show how involved the school is and how well this is put on, the chemistry class sets up pyrotechnics to set off during the battle (you can see the chemistry students in the pictures and videos below in the prone position on our side of the battle) and many of the students take part on both sides of the battle. They set up the tents, go through practice sessions to learn how to load and fire the rifles, etc).

From Mush's Blog

The rain let up not too long before the battle was to begin. The picture above shows some of the final preparations prior to the battle.

The videos below do not do the sounds justice. If you put earbuds in and cranked up the volume to high, you'd probably be close to the sound but still not quite there. When you see the picture shake during a cannon firing, it should be pointed out that most of the time the camera was stationary. THAT'S how loud it was. Unfortunately, I can't blame all the moving on the cannons...I had the camera on the handrail of the deck and was moving it to try to capture the action.

Our neighbors (Barb and Bob) have the better view of the battle, mostly because they don't have the playground right in the line-of-sight of the field. I considered asking if the Confederacy wanted to set up a sniper in the tower. Some of the crew over on Bob's deck had a son on the field. He (Landon) was on the Confederacy side (you see him running back after the volley of cannon fire around 3:45 into the video above). So you don't think I was toying with the volume, I was talking to Bob, who was barely audible from about 40 feet away.

In past years, they had someone announcing what was happening on the field of battle, including the moves, strategies, etc. They had the auctioneer truck there (in the background near the school), but there was no announcing this year. in the video below, you see a cavalry being turned back and a forward movement by the South.

The North, superior in numbers this year, also advances to take up post behind one of the barriers:

From Mush's Blog

Below, the South sounds retreat and rallies behind their established line. The artillery crew provides cover as the infantry falls back. It was probably around this time that the pyro crew was getting frustrated. The weather must have wreaked havoc on many of their buried charges.

You can actually see a nurse out there attempting to tend to a wounded soldier on the North.

I think it was not long afterward that one of the buried pyro charges actually went off. You should have seen the pyro crew celebrating! I wish I would have gotten that on video.

Sufficed to say, Landon didn't make it.

At the very end of the video, the casualties got up, and a large round of applause ensued. Afterward, both sides cleared their weapons:

From Mush's Blog

The North won the battle this year. I'm not sure how they decide who is victorious from year to year. Regardless, I think it's an awesome thing for the school district to put on for the area. Hopefully this event continues to grow in stature and attendance every year.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Disney Podcast Show Updates: May 15, 2009

It's Friday, folks! In addition to being the end of the work week, it's time for the weekly update of Disney podcast episodes!

Please note that this again is not a comprehensive list of the Disney Podcasts that are out there. Mike Hamilton has created, which he periodically updates with new podcasts and removes dead casts. He also has the automated RSS (historical) feeds of the podcasts. This is more of a cross-section of what is currently being talked about…perhaps something may sound interesting, and you'll subscribe to listen to that topic.

As always, any and all comments are welcomed! Also, if you know of another podcast that fits here, let me know.

    • 5/15/09 – Episode 109, Bryan and Jonathon have a packed episode today. They start off with the news and the AllAboutTheMouseketeer Roll Call segments, including probably their most impressive addition…ME (okay, maybe not that impressive). After this comes the highly anticipated DISNEY FEUD!! Steve Swanson from the Muppetcast battles AATM's own Bryan Ripper battle. I won't let the cat out on who wins. Following the game is an interview with composer Greg Smith, who has worked on MANY Disney attractions, including WDW's Wishes and Disneyland's Remember Dreams Come True fireworks shows.
    • 5/8/08 – Episode 15, (Rated PG). One of Those Darn Cats finds her way over to talk with the Disney Dudes. Lisa joins the crew for this episode, where they give a trip report on their recent trip to Disney World. This trip was dubbed "Tracefest", where Trace celebrated the tenth anniversary of Trace's 30th birthday. Time: 1:28:46
    • 5/8/09 – Episode 59, Tom Corless and John Rick have their usual segments, including new pin releases at WDW and Disneyland. They also interview Hidden Mickey expert Steve Barrett, who is I.P.L.S. #41. Time: 2:06:53
    • 5/9/09 – Episode 45, Tairy recaps her Westfest experience and provides an update to her L.R.W.H. Blood Challenge to help the American Diabetes Association . Time: 12:00
    • 5/10/09, Episode 214, Ricky starts off with his news around the world and then gets straight into a look at WDW's newest attraction, Stitch's SuperSonic Celebration, complete with some binaural audio of parts of the show. Following that is a backstage pass on the Disneyland Prospectus, brought to you by Mark and Jay. Ricky then wraps up this show with listener mail. Time: 1:17:19
    • 5/10/09, Video Supplement to Episode 214, video of the Stitch's SuperSonic Celebration in Tomorrowland. Time: 5:16.
    • 5/10/09 – Nathan and Jim start out talking about the all-but-confirmed rumor of the update to Star Tours but soon take a tangent to discuss the Star Trek series and new movie. Live Long and Prosper. Time: 44:03
    • 5/14/09 – Mike and Greg are back together for this episode. After a recap of the recent Westfest gathering at Disneyland, they move to a discussion on the new Star Trek movie which moves to all sorts of topics, including what's being cancelled on TV, Dan Brown novels, and more! Following that, they get into the mail bag to answer some listener questions. Time: 1:27:27
    • 5/9/09 – Episode 198, The crew finishes up Dan's recent trip to Disneyland with his "non-believing" brother. Afterwards, a little music from Mulan is played to fulfill a listener request. Finally, they detail the upcoming last day of Mouseguest Experience as well as the segment on listener celebrations. Time: 1:43:59
    • 5/11/09 – Episode 309, Mark and Mike's main topic in this episode revolve around how to pass the time while waiting in the queue for attractions. Time: 53:33.
    • 5/13/09 – Episode 310, This is the water episode to beat all water episodes. Several water tips are given, and it ultimately leads into an attempt to bring water into every topic, which includes a look at Disneyland's Mark Twain riverboat, a revisit of Epcot's Le Cellier restaurant, and other short topics. Time: 52:20
    • 5/12/09 – Episode 52, A word of warning…don't listen to this episode on an empty stomach…The cats review Beaches and Cream and will leave you scouring for the nearest half-gallon of ice cream. They end the episode with some audio from Disneyland. Time: 36:37
    • 5/8/09 – Episode 46, Most of the Travelears crew is still partaking of their Disneyland/WDW combo trip and leave Ray to come up with an idea for the show. In a feat of dedication, all the participants STILL call in and discuss touring the theme parks with small children. Time: 53:31
    • 5/10/09 – Episode 93. The crew starts off with a review of Stitch's Supersonic Celebration. Also, you'll hear one of the more bizarre segments where they discuss their favorite smells at Walt Disney World. Time: 1:02:40
    • 5/10/09 – Episode 118. After the news and rumors segment, Lou brings on the Disney Daddy, Chuck Lionberger, for a discussion on strategies pertaining to getting those darn character encounters. After that, he brings back a long-lost segment called Fact or Fiction, and has 12 year-old listener Josh on as a contestant. Time: 1:28:38
    • 5/11/09 – Episode 563, With Pleasure Island closed, Matt, Mike, Mike, and Annette have a discussion on the "other" nightspot on WDW property, the Boardwalk Area. They discuss restaurants (leaving you hungry!), entertainment, and more. Time: 19:42
    • 5/13/09 – Episode 564, Listener questions with Matt, Mike, Mike, and Annette (Len's with the touringplans crew in Disneyland). Time: 36:00
    • 5/15/09 – Episode 565, With the economy causing people to become more conservative with their money, Matt, Mike, Mike, and Len (fresh from his Disneyland trip), revisits an older topic on how to save money at Walt Disney World. Time 20:44
    • 5/10/09 – Episode 196, Paul and Tairy enjoy a calm, peaceful excursion into Disneyland after Westfest is over. They go in with no plan and let the park decide what they'll do. Time: 52:63