My kiddos woke with stars in their eyes and renewed energy for their favorite ride, Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Roller Coaster. We boarded the first bus of the day from Bay Lake Towers and arrived at Disney’s Hollywood studios seconds before the morning open walk. If you’ve never experienced this, you need to understand how important these first few steps are. Imagine opening doors to an arena for thousands of pre-teen girls and they spot her sitting on stage hanging out. Yep, total stampede.
Once we hot-footed it down the main road and past Tower of Terror we knew we’d made it. They ushered us through without even stopping to hear how our stretch limo would be arriving to take us to the concert. My middle minion and I hopped in and shot out of there at breakneck speeds twisting and turning and twirling through a maze to avoid the awful traffic. A side note on this ride, apparently when you scream “Donuts” as you pass the large sign while sitting next to a stranger, might garner a strange look or two. It’s fine as a family tradition, though.
After we exited the ride, what did we do? That’s right, we ran around and headed back on it again…ah, and again. Did I mention we love roller coasters?
When we were done we headed over to Toy Story in hopes that we could manage to navigate the long que before anyone gave up. I’m happy to report my two boys begrudgingly obliged and we enjoyed our family competitive game of ‘who gets top score’. I was soooo close! Unfortunately, Mr. Knight beat me yet again by 2,000 points.
After comparing scores and arguing over why Mr. Knight won, not that I’m a sore loser, we checked out our trusty Disney app and discovered that there was only a ten-minute wait to Star Tours, so we flew over there. Unfortunately, the app updated by the time we got in line and it was now almost an hour. Since we had fast passes and dinner reservations at Epcot that evening, we decided to head back to our luxurious rooms and rest a bit.
*Note: Before we left on the trip both boys complained about our ‘napping’ during our last Disney vacation. On day two, they were begging to go back to the room to rest. Who’s old now? 🙂
We enjoyed our break and headed to Epcot. The rain followed us, but we managed to survive the rivers pouring through the sidewalk to use our Fast pass to Soarin. This is one of my favorite rides at Disney, and by far the best at Epcot, IMHO. It was pleasant and when we got off my husband said what he always says, “you don’t have to go to Egypt now, you just saw it.”
The rain was still coming down so Test Track was closed so we headed to Mission Space. I’ve never had a problem on this ride. Actually, it’s been one of my favorites for a long time, but today something was different. The ride paused while we were strapped in, and my son says, “wow, we can’t get out if anything is wrong.” After another minute, I found the closed in space and being restrained bothered me. Again, I’m not claustrophobic or ever had an issue with this ride, but all of a sudden I wanted off that thing. It was the longest few minutes on any ride, but I made it through and bolted toward dinner. When the suggestion was made later that night to return to Mission Space, I quickly offered another suggestion. One near panic attack a day is enough for me.
The rain turned to a downpour and we managed to walk to our dinner reservation at Tapo El something. To our delight, they were able to take us an hour before our reservation, so we happily enjoyed the respite from the rain in the warm, dry entertaining restaurant. My kids thought the dinner show was great and the food was amazing. My middle minion who doesn’t like steak said it was the best food he’d had in a long time. To our delight, we’d been so caught up in the ambiance and fun that we didn’t realize we’d killed almost two hours and the rain had stopped. Our one ride left was now open, and I’d promised the boys we’d try to ride it. The park was closing, but since we were hotel guests, we knew we could still ride during those precious Magic Hours. Unfortunately, the ride had been so long that all the previous Fastpasses were waiting at once. We opted for the line for single riders only, but even then, the ride took a while to get moving. It was fine with us, though. We knew it would take awhile and it was our last mission of the day.
We left Epcot that evening with smiles on our faces, and memories to last a lifetime. My objective of family bonding was accomplished, and we still had one more day. I laid my head down on my pillow and closed my eyes feeling relaxed and happy. Apparently, the Pixie Dust had been sprinkled on me and I was happy to fly away to happy dreams of what tomorrow would bring.
Despite the looming threat of the sub-tropical Storm Alberto, we decided to pack up and head to Disney. After an easy, and eerily traffic free drive down to Florida, we rose at an unseemly time in order to make those invaluable Magic Hours.
We stepped out of our one-night stop hotel into the darkness full of haunting insects chattering and thick humidity, warning that storms loomed nearby. There was no choice, though. Not when the infamous rare spotting of the Avatar Fastpass continued to elude us. Standing in a body constricting crowd at 6:30 A. M. is a minuscule price to pay when a highly sought after shiny new ride awaits.
I will say that it was worth each sweat slicked stranger, back aching, how-much-longer question. Avatar is by far the most endearing, imaginative, breath-taking ride full of swoops, slides, and sensory infused moments. An instant immersion into another world. I felt the expansion of my banshee’s lungs, it’s panting as it rested on a breath-steeling cliff overlooking an oasis of unparalleled beauty.
I must confess that for every inspirational moment on Avatar, the Na’vi River ride tumbled down a ravine of disappointment. It’s a Small World meets Pirates of the Caribbean in a Pandora setting. We were lucky enough to only wait for this ride for approximately fifteen minutes. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t bother riding it again. After all, that would allow fifteen more minutes to stand in the never-ending line for Avatar again. 🙂
With still more than thirty minutes left in our Magic Hours, we ride hopped across the park. By ten in the morning, we’d ridden everything we had on our family wish list, so we made our way out, tunneling through the crowds pouring in for their Animal Kingdom Adventure.
After dropping our car off at Bay Lake Towers and walking to the Magic Kingdom, we slipped onto Space Mountain with minimal lines and we realized we’d smoked our original plans by about five rides. What could possibly stop us now? We were on a roll. Ha! Never say that or the wicked queen will cast her spell. Oh, and was it a zinger. Our perfect day was zapped with the ray gun of frustration and ill-temperament as the Buzz Light Year line quoted to be thirty minutes exploded into almost two hours. When we reached the front of the line we discovered that twenty ‘groups’ were ushered through from the Fastpass line for every two in the standard lane. The Pixie Dust had worn off the patron ahead and he wasn’t buying this as a valid answer. To be honest, neither did I. Why not quote a different time on the standby clock then? Of course, if you know me at all, I was already loading the flight to my next adventure and forgetting about the turbulence we’d managed to navigate through.
The highlight of our day rumbled into the park faster than Big Thunder revved its locomotive engine in the form of rain. A ride we’d enjoyed for years became a novelty when a Victoria Falls downpour pummeled us while we chugged through the canyons and raced down the broken tracks of the old mine. It was one of those rare moments that we will never forget. The entire family laughed as we wrung out our clothes and sloshed our way to dinner. A cold, yet fantastic meal at the Plaza Restaurant. It has always been a family favorite.
When the day ended, and we shuffled our tired feet toward our hotel, we’d managed to ride twelve rides, including the unforgettable Avatar, stuffed ourselves full of scrumptious savory and sensational sweets.
There was still one more surprise for the kiddos, though. I’d upgraded our room to a theme park view, so we spread out in our two-bedroom luxurious condo and settled onto our balconies to close our nearly perfect day with a little Disney Firework Magic.