Walt Disney World 2005Mostly uninteresting morning stuff
Thursday, February 10, 2005
I won't dwell too long on the morning, except to say that after thinking it all over, I decided on Magic Kingdom in the morning, then Disney Studios in the evening. Mom had, as expected, decided to sleep in a bit today, and would meet me at Disney Studios. Oh, and I think my park endurance is starting to wane, as I was moving just a little bit faster than a snail getting myself cleaned up and out of the room.
Before leaving the room, I fetched the Spirit of Aloha tickets out of the in-room safe. I figured I may as well take care of the refund while I was walking past Guest Services anyway. (For those reading out of sequence, I had recieved a voice mail on Wednesday night informing me that the performance of Spirit of Aloha that I held tickets for had been cancelled for weather) I stopped at Guest Services and my initial thought was to ask to have the refund applied to my room charge account. As it turns out, the refund would be issues in kind with how the payment was made, which meant they processed a refund to my credit card, the same card that is standing behind the aforementioned room charge. Next best thing to having the refund applied to the room. I also note that the refund was processed in a swift friendly manner.Time to head to the Magic Kingdom
I then headed out to the bus stop where I got on a capacity crowd bus to the Magic Kingdom. Not a good sign, but then it was like 8:40 so what did I expect. The bus ride was fine until the turn right after Fort Wilderness, just as we started to go uner the monorial tracks, the skies opened up and it started to rain. By the time we got the park, the rain was coming down pretty hard. I decided to exit the bus and tough it out.
As it turns out, I made it to the turnstile just as the first steam train was arriving with the Disney characters, which meant I got there right for the opening dash into the park. I made my way down Main Street USA, and decided to use the "Eric Huelsman Magic Kingdom Tactic" This tactic plays on the fact that most people head towards either Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, or Dumbo. This leaves Fantasyland largely ignored except for the little kids running to Dumbo, and Dumbo was taking the day off. In other words plan states that you head directly to Fantasyland and get the relatively low capacity Fantasyland rides out of the way first, then head to the higher capacity ride. It worked well in Disneyland, so let's see how well it works here.
The rain continued to fall as I marched up and through Cinderella's Castle. I looked around Fantasyland and just as I thought, deserted. I'm sure the rain helped, a lot. I reviewed the plan I had made for touring the park, so I headed directly to Peter Pan's Flight for the first ride of the day. Hey, its my inner child coming out, and Peter Pan does develop a slow moving long queue.Peter Pan's Flight
As it happened, I walked through the empty queue and directly into a pirate ship barelyeven slowing down. It so happened I had my own private pirate ship, and off we go. The chief gimmick of Peter Pan's Flight is that your pirate ships 'flys' through the ride, not a usual behavior for boats. The ride starts in the bedroom scene, and you see dark ride track ahead of you rise up towards the window, then the track ends! Of course you are really following the overhead track, and I suspect Arrow had a large part in this dark ride system after seeing how the pirate ships are connected to the track. The ride tells the story of Peter Pan, with a flight over London, then over Captain Hook's pirate ship and all. It's not a long ride, but I always have liked it.
I exited Peter Pan's Flight, then having already done Phillharmagic the day before, I walked right accross to Snow White's Scary AdventuresSnow White's Scary Adventures
As it happened there was nobody in the Snow White queue, so I hopped into a mine cart and take a trip on this very ordinary dark ride that tells the story of Snow White. So we go through and see Snow White and hey upon my exit I realize the rain has stopped. Things are looking up.
I walk next door to Winnie the PoohWinnie the Pooh's Many Adventures
Let me get it out of the way now, I miss Mr. Toad.
The queue for Winnie the Pooh was just to the base of the ramp, which means it was hardly any wait at all.
Our honey pot lurches forward into the Winnie the Pooh building and past the subtle tribute to Mr. Toads Wild Ride. Winnie the Pooh is a gimmick laden dark ride. They have, in a very gentle manner managed to use a motion base type ride vehicle. In one scene where Tigger is bouncing up and down, so is your ride car, in another scene when the characters are on a boat in the water, your ride vehicle oobs back and forth like it were a boat out on rough water. Add to that a catchy soundtrack and while I would not call it a headliner attraction or a must-see, it is a good dark ride. ou may even notice another subtle tribute to Mr. Toad when your honey pot heads directly towards a mirror, reminnicent of the near crash that occured in Mr. Toad when the two ride paths came very close to each other head on. And I see that Winnie the Pooh is new enough that they thoughtfully placed a gift shop at the ride exit.
Now its time for some serious spin actionThe Mad Tea Party
I have long been a fan of teacups-style rides, or Tubs of Fun. Curiously although I have been on several teacups rides, I had never been on the real Tea Cup Ride until now. I enter the Mad Tea Party arena just as a ride is about to start and score the last teacup. I'm so happy I got a cup to myself, as, well let's just say that if you get stuck in a teacup with me you had better have a high spin tolerance or face thr dire consequences. I would have hated to bring a case of major motion sickness to someone's Disney day with the park having been open less than 40 minutes.
The area around the ride is decorated with teapots, and Japanese lanterns hang above the teaparty floor. In a unique note, the Disney Teacups actually have saucers, usually that little formality is left out of tea cups rides. I step into a cup, close the door, emit an evil grin and grab the Wheel of Spinning Delight.
And I don't know how long the Mad Tea Party ride is, I don't know what is around the Mad Tea Party, because it all became one big blur. I think I may have noted people pointing at me, but again I was spinning way too fast to know for sure. After a few seconds of absolute delight, I found out that this Tea Cup Ride is equipped with a diabolical feature that most aren't. This ride actually has working tub brakes. My cup went from spinning at just over 1,000,000 RPM to a dead stop in .00000001 seconds Wow, I'm impressed,
I exited the Mad Tea Party and I noted the time to be about 9:40-9:45. Yep, the Eric Huelsman Fantasy Land Plan, worked again! In fact I kinda got throuhg Fantasyland a bit too quick, because my next stop, Goofy's Barnstormer doesn't even open for about 20 minutes. So I went and grabed myself a Space Mountain Fastpass, and went off to ride another ride I usually skip.Tommorowland Indy Speedway
The wait for the speedway was posted at about 15 minutes, which was just the right amount of time. The line was just back to the turnstiles. The Indy Speedway features little racecards on a road course. Said road course has 4 lanes, of which 2 were open this morning. The ride boarding area is done up as pit row, complete wuth jersey barriers being used as fencing. All kinds of race car related flags fly over the attraction, a scoring obelisk purported reports who is in the lead, and there is even a grandstand for spectators. Instead of the constant queue movement that most car rides have, Disney starts ther ride off like a race, loading 8 (or 16 if all tracks in use) cars all at once, then disptaching in groups. After a reasonable wait I was shown to loading spot 1.
I think I may have found one case where Disney goofed up. With most car rides, they either have seperate unload and load areas, or they have the exiting riders get out of the cr on the opposite side as the riders getting in. In the case of the Indy Speedway, the cars pull in, then the people waiting to ride have to step to the side so the exiting riders can get through, then the oncoming riders load. It's a minor thing, but seems too stand out in a park where everything is fine tuned to the nth degree. I get into my race car, the leather belt is hooked, and off I go. The ride is not much different than car rides the world over, except with the ability to pass the cars in the next lane. I don't know if its possible to actually collide with the car next to you, but it does give the illusion of being able to pass very very close. I finish my lap, exit to pit row, and then exit up toward the grandstand before returning to the Tommorowland midway.
And its perfect timing to, as I walk around the perimeter of the Indy Speedway I arrive in Toontown just in time. Toontown may be the only disney themed area that is vastly different between the two domestic Magic Kingdom's. Out in California, Toontown has a Roger Rabbit Toon feel to it, and here in Florida its the classic Disney characters with a county fair theme.
Toontown in Florida is also mostly a character greeting venue, with the opportunity t0 meet Mickey himself in the Judges Tent, as well as 4 other characters in the Hall of Fame. If thats not enough you can tour Mickey's Mouse, Minnie's House or Donalds Boat. I decided to tour Goofy's Farm instead.Goofy's Barnstormer
I seem to recall that Goofy's Wiseacres Farm was originally a 'petting zoo' type attraction. Well the animals are gone, and I really like what Goofy has done with the place. It seems that Goofy has taken up avaition as a hobby, too bad he is not particularly good at it. I mean you can see the big goofy and airplance shaped hole where he flew right through his barn, and NOT through the windows or doors.
I entered the queue and walked through the deserted queue through the lower level of the barn, then around the farm and eventually to the coaster boarding area. There was absolutely no line for this, which meant another quick ride. Goofy has a most unusual biplane, in that it seats 16 people in 8 rows of two, whats more there is a wing mounted over every other row. I find tht my seating assignment has me in 4A (and 4B for that matter). I wait behind the gate and when the plane arives a the airport, I realize that I have been assigned a wing seat. The other passengers unload, and the gates open. I am happy to report that dispute the small size of the rider, and the large size of the rider, I was still able to fit comfortably into the covered wing seat. Just watch that you don't bang your head on the wing when planing or deplaing,and if you DO bang our head, watch your language, this is a family park.
Let me back up and say that Goofy's Barnstormer at Wiseacres Farm (hows that for a name?), is at its heart a kiddie coaster. It's a small rollercoaster that doesn't go up really high, and concentrated more on graceful turns than drops. That does not, however, make it any less valued on the coaster track record of a coaster enthusiast. Asside from the high level of Disney theming, its mostly a production model kiddie coaster that you can order out of Vekoma's catalog (I believe the model number is 700J), however Disney being Disney has made a few changes. For one there is that incredible theming, and secondly there are some changes to make the ride carry more people safer. At most installations this model ships with one train, Disney has added the required brake run and block safety system to be able to run two trains.. In this context they have one train loading and unloading while the other trainload is out experiencing the ride. They also replaced the friction based pinch-wheel tire drive system that is standard on these rides wth a conventional coaster chain lift. This means the ride can safely run in the rain, while a standard off the shelf model cannot. And when you get as much rain as Disney does, you don't want an attraction that doesn't stand up to rain.
Wheee! The Coaster Credit meter goes Ca-Ching, and the feature of the ride is flying through the barn. I exit the ride and head towards Tommorowland.
I head out of Toontown towards Fantasyland. I note the restroom buildig themed to look like a cartoonish gas station. I also note that the gas station has one of those antique style pumps withe the big clear cylinder. I also note the rest room key is floating in the middle of said cylinder. I suppose I'll 'hold it,
I get distracted on my way to Space Mountain, and I stop past Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe. I had heard that Cosmic Ray offers out of this world entertainment, and sure enough I caught a couple songs of Sonny Eclipse's set. I do like Rideman's thoughts of giving Cosmic Ray's a "Milliway's" overlay/retheme, its gonna be a hot new Disney movie, and you can't get too much more into the future than "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe"Space Mountain
Anyway, I go over to Space Mountain, the fastpass wasn't a big help as the initial lines for this ride had subsided, as I figured, but It may have saved me 5-10 minutes. I turned in my Fastpass, and slyly veered off to the open left hand track. All the times I had ridden Space Mountain, they had all been on the right hand side, now its time to take the left hand side for a flight.
The line moves pretty fast, and they call for a single rider. So I get expressed to the back seat of a rocket. I know the differences in the tracks are very slight, so slight as to not really be noticeable. All the main feautres are on both sides, the blue strobe light tunnel (whoa, we turn the other way all of a sudden), the drop that dives down alongside the lift hill, and the red crash and burn brake run. But Cha-Ching, I have the left side of Space Mountian now on the old coaster credit meter. (for more details on this attraction, see Day 5 of this same series)Buzz Lightyear
I exit Space Mountain and decidiing I could safely dispense wiht Carousel of Progress, TTA, and Stitch, I headed to Buzz Lightyear. I entered without a fastpass which is just as well becuase the line was not even near reaching the merge in point. In fact I pretty much walked right on. I was happy to get a spaceship to myself.
(For more details on this attraction, see Day 5 of this same series)
Gee, its about 10:30 and I have Fantasyland, ToonTown, and Tommorowland out of the way. I head towards the hub and take in a bit of Cinderellaa's Suprise Celebration live character show in the castle forecourt, before heading into Advnetureland for a snack.
The stop is at the Aloha Aisle, where I order up a Dole Whip Float. Thats a vanilla/pineapple soft serve swirl, sitting utop a cup of pineapple juice. It's a generous serving and my YUMMMMM! that really hits the spot. I eat my Dolw Whip while watching the Flying Carpets go by. I have already done most of the stuff in Adventureland multiple times on this trip already, so even thought the 5 minute wait for Jungle Cruise and the 10 minute wait for Pirates! seemed tempting, I pressed on into Frontierland.
Upon entering Frontierland, I looked at the situation, it looked to be a wash between which to fastpass and which to go ahead and ride. I decided to take the Splash Mountain fastpass with the hopes of maybe catching it during the hottest part of the day.
I got in line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and was aout 3/4 of the way through the deserted queue area when they had just started opening up the extra line area in anticipation for a crowd. I'd say less than 10 minutes later, I was in row 3 of a mine train. I decided to sit in the middle of the bench seat and I enjoyed the mine ride. For more details on Big Thunder see Day 5 in this same series)
Having ridden Big Thunder, I looked at the situation over at Tom Sawyer's Island. Hmm, a 20 minute wait for a raft to the island, then the time it takes to explore the island, then an undetermined amount of time to wait for return raft. I decided that Tom Sawyer's Island just wasn't in the cards for me this trip. Just as well Tom Sawyer's Island doesn't seem like it would be that much fun alone.
I did catch a show with what looked like the Grizzly Bears that must have escaped Grizzly Hall and were putting on a show in the middle of Frontierland. Cute show. Then I stopped past the Frontierland Shooting Gallery.
I have a soft spot for shooting galleries, and at only 50 cents, this one is relativley inexpensive. I hear it was a big deal when it was first installed, but now it seems to be standard IR light operated mechanical stunts. I hear that at one time an actual pellet shooting gallery was here isntead. Though in true Disney style the firearms are nicely detailed muskets, and the gallery countertop is covered in southwestern looking blankets to rest your arm on while you shoot the lower targets.Splash Mountain
Well target practice took up just enough time that I was able to return to Splash Mountain with what Zazu would call "impeccable timing" Again the fastpass line was not even back to the merge point, and so in hardly not time at all I was through the cave and onto the loading dock. I do feel bad for the trainee they had on the ride this day. The exchange startd out innocent enough with the trainee requesting that I step out of line and "Come this way". I mistook that to mean he wanted me to come to him for some reason. I'm standing there like "Okay, now what", then I hear the person who must have been the trainer almost barking at the poor trainee bellowing "You have to show them where to go!" In reality they were opening the second loading area. I'm still figuring out where courtesy and show figure into that exchange.
It so happens that said exchange causes the boat I am in to go out with a load of two, which I suppose is why the trainee invoked the wrath of fury he recieved. Again, the ride is a near walk on, so its not like anybody is being inconvenienced and besides wouldn't it have made sense if capaicty were the prime concern to not start actually loading boats from dock 2 until the guests are ready to start boaring from dock 2.
Anyway, the ride starts, and the anticipatin builds as you circle the mountain while climbing the multple lifts to the top. Splash Mountain loves to play with your anixiety over the coming big drop by putting in several smaller drops before you get to the big one. (Hint: when you start hearing the ominous cressendoing music as you climb the lift hill INSIDE the mountain, get ready for the big one) First its the Slipp In Falls which takes you into the mountain for the lengthy dark ride half of the ride. Its a version of Song of the South, particularly the part about Brer Rabbit and the Laughing Place. Another short drop takes you into the beehive (brer rabbit's laughing place), and its a wondrfully done lengthy dark ride with some catchy music. After a while you make a big climb inside the moutain then emerge to do the big drop down the front of the mountain. I was sitting in the front row, and didn't get real wet. You then curve around by the observation area where lesser parks would have installed a row of coin operated water cannons by now. You then go up a real slight incline and a real slight drop, I was briefly worried cause Journey to Atlantis has such a small drop in its ride that gets you surprisngly wet. Luckily that is not the case and you just go inside for the final Zip-a-Dee-Doh-Dah finale.
One last word of caution, be careful crossing the bridge that overlooks Splash Mountain, there must be a water canon of sorts set to trigger when the logs reach splashdown. The resulting spray lands in the middle of the bridge. I got wetter walking from the ride than I did on the ride. Not drenched mind you, but it can be startling.
I exited Splash Mountain, took care of some errands, took some photos, visited some stores, pressed some pennies, made sure Mom was up and then headed towards Disney Stuidos.Commute to Disney Studios
I followed the recommended commute to Disney Studios, which is to take the express monorail to the TTC, then a bus from the TTC to Disney Studios. I wonder if I would have been better off to take the resort monorail to the Contemproary and catch a bus from there. Anyway I exited the park and found a surprisingly crowded express monorail platform. A few moments later I was climbing aboard Monorail Yellow for a ride to the TTC. Monorail Yellow has its Stitch decal on the nose of the lead car. One could only hope that really happened as overboard as Disney is promoting Stitch.
I arrived at the TTC and followed the signs to the bus facility. Based on the wait for the bus I must have just missed the one prior, as all in all it took me about 1 hour to commute from Magic Kingdom to Disney Studios. The bus I rode to the Stuidos was pretty crowded owing mostly to the fact that an entire tour group got on en masse. Disney Studios
Mom and I met up at the Crossroads stand just as we had aranged. I ducked into Guest Services to get the Extra Magic Hour information. The brochure must not be on general display, but when I asked bout it, and then confirmed I was staying at a Disney resort, the cast member reached under the counter and produced the appropriate flyer.
We walked down Hollywood Blvd. and realized that both of us were feeling a bit hungry, and we didn't have a lot to accomplish at the park, so we headed to the 50's Prime Time.50's Prime Time
We were able to get a walk up seating at the Prime Time in under 20 minutes, so that wasn't too bad. Before I describe the experience, I must warn those that have not been there that what you read below might sound like rude or bad service, but it really isn't its all part of the schtick. You see the Prime Time is more than just one of those 50's nostaliga places, when you go to have dinner at the Prime Time, you are coming back home to eat dinner with your long lost relatives. As such, the staff are all your relations (Mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc) and you don't eat in a fancy dining room, no you eat on a 50s style kitchen table, while watching 50's TV clips on your very own black and white television set. The hey thing to remember is that you are at home, and the staff will treat you like you are at home, not like you are in a restaurant.
We waitied out our time in the Tune In Lounge, which is mre or less like a 50's living room with 50's sofas and yes you can watch the old tv clips while you wait. When it is time to be seated, you hear something like "Hey Bowers family, it's time for dinner!" We were then shown to a table.
It turns out our server would be our Aunt Elaine. She dropped off the menus and I pondered drink orders. Evidentally the bartender is dad, as you can order drinks from Dad's Liquor Cabinet" Elaine instantly gained several points from me when upon ordering a mixed drink, Elaine asked to see my ID, then looked genuinely shocked to see my age. Hey once you pass 30 getting carded is a nice experience. I realize it may be part of that particular eateries schtick, but it was the only time I got carded the whole week.
I looked over the menu while my nephew asked me to raise my legs up so he could sweep under me. (The floor was clean, that too is part of the act) The menu which features a variety of items that seem like they were common home dining choices awaits, and the menu has several motherly admonishements like "Elbows off the table", "Clean your plate or no desert"
Soon my electric lemondae arrived complete with its cool blue electric light up ice cube. I think I deserve a commision cause I know I saw more people order them after seeing mine. As other parties are seated you are introduced as "Your cousins from Ohio" or somethigng like that. As with most Disney dining rooms the tables are close together, and we actually struck up a nice conversation with the table next to us. Food orders placed, we settled back and Aunt Elaine put a caddy on the table with the silverware and napkins "Do your chores! Set the table!"
We had even more fun watching a group of teenagers get seated next to us. They had ordered milkshakes and the server broguht them both a glass and the metal shake canister. Before you ask whats strange about that, the glasses were empty, you have to pour your own shake. Their server laid on the schitck to the hilt.
After a nice dinner, I asked about desert and was handed a viewmaster. You look through the slides on the Viewmaster and you can see the desert selections in 3D. Neat gimmick. We opted for the Smores. Talk about instant return to summer camp. After dinner Aunt Elaine brings not your check, but the 'grocery bill'. We handed in our room charge card, and then she came back with my 'homework' "I'll be back to check on your arithmetic and penmanship" Its a really neat unique dinner, but I caution you that a proper mindset is needed.
After dinner, we headed over to finish up the last thing we had not seen on the entire left half of hte park, "Sounds Dangerous". But first I noted the wristbands were already beeing distributed at the top of the stairs for the ABC Theater. My mom had opted to use a wheelchair again today, and I was just getting the chair parked when a wristband distributor came down the stairs to assis tus. A show of the keys and the pplying of a couple wristabnds and we were on our way.
The ABC Theatre itself is a now disused theater where they used to have a headliner show that showed off chromakey by putting audience volunteers into famous scenes from ABC tv shows. It goes along wiht most of the older educational minded shows
Which brings us to Sounds DangerousSounds Dangerous
This shows venue used to be a hsow about sound effects. It was one of those shows where the played a movie clip, then drafted audience volunteers using various foley equipment to recreate the sound effects as the movie clip was played again with the sound muted. Then the movie clip was shown a third time, except with the new soundtrack created by the audience volunteers. You would then exit into a hands on attraction area where you could do much the same thing by yourself. A unexted star in the interactive exhibit area was (and still is) the Soundsations studios, which were private listening booths where up to 4 people went into a soundproof lightproof booth and put on special headsets. The lights would be turned off, and deprived of the visuals, your increased sense of sound, vivid imagination, and perhaps some special sound reproduction techniques caused you to FEEL what was going on in the audio recording. A memorable scene would that in the barber shop, where you might actually reach above your head to feel the clippers, and you for sure felt the hair dryer.
Sounds Dangerous is an attempt to present the same concept but to larger audiences in a higher capacity setting. You first wait in an outdoor holding area where monitors display text generated trivia questions about ABC TV shows, along with warnings about the loud volume and prolonged darkness of the show. You then get escorted into the theater, and in a pocket by your armrest you find a headset waiting for you. So instead of using a house sound system, you get all audio through a headset. They then tell you that you are about to watch the TV pilot for a new reality show "Undercover Live" where you go undercover with Drew Carry, thanks to high tech spy equipment. Not to spoill the story, but as one might predict the visual feed is lost pretty early on in the movie, plunging the auditorium into darkness, so that your mind can play the same tricks on you with the suggestion of the audio. Hey they even put in a barbershop scene.
That was uhm, interesting.
We then headed towards the Disney Studios arch, and upon looking at the show schedules, headed to the Magic of Disney Animation, the parks newly redone animation tour.
The tour had a posted wait of 15 minutes, and you wait in a covered exterior queue area. When it is your groups turn you are takien along an exterior walkway to the former animation building where you enter an auditorium. What takes place in the auditorium is a neat show that combines the action on two screens with the live presenter in the room. Yes they actually appear to converse with one another. The show featured the dragon from Mulan, and they try to get you to feel the background behind creating an animated character. Note that you don't get any technical knowledge about animation in the movie, but you learn a bit about how the character was developed storywise, and you get some reminsiing on the general art of animation.
The doors then open to where you used to actually take the animation studio tour. Of course there is no more animation studio in Florida, so the large workshop/studio has been converted into a sparsely filled hands on exhbit area, where youu too can 'paint' a virtual animation cell using a paint like program, or you can dub your voice into a cartoon, or you can take a personality assesment to learn which character you are most like. None of it actually tells you anything about how to make an animated feature, like the old tour used to endeavor to do.
Just about the only redeeming feature of the whole setup is an optional class you can take. Its a 10 minute class, for FREE even, where you get to sketch a disney character. I lined up and entered the classroom. Along the sides of the classroom they have couches set up for those who would rather observe Each participant gets a stool, a tilted drawing table, complete with an illuminated backlit work surface, a courtesy piece of sketch paper (that happens to have the park logo printed on it), and a pencil. You then draw along to the instructions given by the instructor who is also drawing the character with them drawing on an overhead projector. The character was Goofy when I did the class. I must say I am pleased with my handiwork, and at the end of the sketching lesson you get to keep your sketch ,but please leave the pencil for the next guest. The loaner pencil also has no eraser, so you better get it right the first time.
You then exit the anmation tour through an exhibit gallery and of course the obligatory gift shop.
Next up, I checked the show times, and figured that our next stop was"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire - Play It!"
We entered the soundstage and waited in its lobby. While you wait in the lobby they show clips from various episodes of the game show to keep ou entertainmed while you wait. Since mom wa using the wheelchair we got to wait in a different area. A few minutes before the show, we were lead through a doorway an onto the soundstage itself, waling down a pathway in back of the set itself, we were led not to the grandstand style seating that most of the audience gets, but to a section of floor seating. Then the rest of the audience is admitted. The set looks almost spot on like the millionaire set, down to the glass floor, which seemed to caus some people alarm when they were asked to walk accross it. The show ina nutshell is that you are the studio audince for a taping of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" the difference is the contestants are chosen directly out of the audience, and a park guest will make it into the hot seat. That person cannot however win a million dollars. You instead try to get a million points. The more points you win in the game, the better the prize you get in Disney souvenirs, usualy stuff that you can only get by being in the hot seat on the show. A person who would get the million point question correct gets a free Disney cruise.
The rules play as close to the real game show as possible, with the safe plateau levels and all, the big difference is that the "Phone a Friend" lifeline is not available, instead you get the "Phone a Complete Stranger" You opt for this lifeline, it is played just like phone a friend, except the person on the other end of the phone line is a park guest, who is not watching the show, chosen at random.
No one made it close to 1,000,000 and all eventually lost and had only made it the 1,000 safe harbour (which gets you 5 disney collectible trading pins and a show logoed baseball hat) But its not just the person in the hot seat having all the fun, each audience member is given a keypad with which they get to play along. Press the letter of the answer you feel is correct both speed and accuracy count. Before each round and at the safe harbour levels they display the top 10 scores on the big monitors. identified by your seat number which is posted on a plaque located next to your keypad. The first hot seat contestant is chosen b a fastest finger question (put these 4 items in order...), after that a vacated hot seat is filled whith the current high scorer from the audience. It's an interesting diversion, and admit it you always wanted to play along.
By the time we exited the show, it was almost time for the park to close for the day guests, so wristbands ready, we headed to Sunet Blvd. or I should say I headed to Sunet Blvd., mom headed to the gift shops.
Sunset Blvd is the parks thrill zone. I dodged the people trying to make last minute entries into Fantasmic! and instead headed to the end of the street. At the end of the street is the neglected, damaged looking Hollywood Tower Hotel.Twilight Zone:Tower of Terror
I entered the regular entrance and headed up the pathway opting now to visit the roped off exterior grounds of the deserted hotel. I climbed up on the front porch and say the cornerstone. 1919 was the opening date. The porch was empty so I made my way to the dust covered deserted lobby. Its like the hotel was suddenly abandoned and no ne even cleaned up or removed the old furnishings. I walked past the front desk, past the sitting room and up to the bell desk. Behind the bell desk I could see that the hotels elevators all seemed to be out of service. I didn't have much time to look around as I was being told to wait in the library as my room wasn't quite ready yet.
I enter a small library just as the doors are closed. Shortly after the doors close wee see a bolt of lightning and the lights go out, but oddly enough a small black and white television srpings to life, showing an episode ot The Twilight Zone. The tv clip sets up the story. The Hollywood Tower Hotel used to be THE place to stay in Hollywood, until one fatefull night in 1939 when the tower was struck by lightning causing extensive damage, including sending and elevator full of hotel guests plunging towards the basement, but wait, the elevators passengers DISAPPEARED! We then find out that that window is opening yet again, and this time it opens for us, we will be taking a ride in the hotels service (freight) elevator which is apparently still functioning, however that elevator is an express elevator to "The Twilight Zone"
The lights come back on and a secret panel opens. The bellhop apparently oblivious to what has just happened is leading you to your rooms via the hotels boiler room. You then wait outside the doors of the service elevator for the next available car. You see the car in front of you go up to the top, then slowly come back down. I mean the floor indicator wouldn't lie, now would it?
The elevator returns, the doors open and you start filing into the elevator. And what a freight elevator it is, it comes equipped with benches to sit on, and not only that the floor is tiered to provide stadium seating. I'm not sure how practical the lift would be as a freight elevator but alright, I guess. I take a seat on the bench and fasten my seatbelt. This ride used to have lapbars, but over the yers those were removed, and now you are held in with just a lap belt. Don't worry, it has an automagically locking buckle that can't be released mid ride, no matter how hard you press the orange button. The bellhop closes the interior gate, then wished you luck, then the exterior door closes.
Your elevator goes up a ways, and the doors open to reveal a normal looking hotel hallway with guests milling about. That is until the guests turn into ghosts and fade away, then the hallway itself fades away, leaving just the window at the end of the hall which eventually shatters.
The doors close and you go up some more, the doors reopen and you find yourself looking at a big starfield, you have no idea where you were then the starufeld appears to completely surround the elevator car. Recall that you are in an old fashined elevator cage where you can see all the sides of the shaft throught he metal grilles. Then the elevator car does not continue its way up, instead it starts moving out and stays level while moving forward through the starfield. Clearly something is wrong, and you are making your way for the Twilight Zone. Doors open as your car goes into another elevator shaft. What happens next is anybody's guess.
You see a randomizer has been installed on the ride, sure the elevator can do any one of a number of different routines, but no one knows for sure which routine the elevator will choose. The car may go up fast, it may go up slow, it may go down slow, it may go down fast, it may see to PLUMMET down, the sides of the shaft are apparently video screens which can show different visual effects. There is some commonality in that all the programs will take you up to the 13 floor at least once, where the doors will open and you can see outside the building and see that the hieght is no trick as you get a birds eye view of the park. All programs will also have the 1 drop fakeout while the on ride photo is taken, and at least one full plunge. I would hope that all the programs also feature at least one hop where the elevator flies to the top of the shaft at hyperdrive, then without warning starts falling again even faster, causing copious amounts of airtime.
At the end of the ride, the car starts moving horixontally again, this time backwards, the doors in front of you close, then the car rotates 90 degrees before lining up with the exit doors. You then walk through a lower level of the hotel eventually exiting through the hotels still operating gift shop. I took an immediate reride since it was a walk on both times. The second time however I had to wait at the bell desk to be admitted to the library. The hotel has a floor directory, its one of those jobs with plastic letters with tips that fit into a couragated, often felt covered surface. They are notorious for letters falling off, and this one is no excpetion. If you look into the locked case, you can see the letters that have fallen down form the phrase "EVIL TOWER U R DOOMED" Just another litte hidden gem.
Next up was Rock N Roller Coaster
The buidling next door to the Hollywood Tower Hotel happend to be G-Force Records. I snagged a fastpass before heaing through the regular line and up pas thte empty outside queue area and into the lobby of G-Force Records. You walk through the lobby and then it seems like any corporate recording studio. There is a historical exhibit on recording devices in the lobby. Real recording devices are shown, but those that read the museum style labels will not only find out what the item is, but will also be treated to a bad pun. Further in the waiting area you see the various recording studios along the sides, and another corporate style exhibit, this time with sound reproduction devices. Eventally you are allowed out of the waiting room and into the hallway leading back to the main studio. Then you are admitted into the observation room looking into a studio just as Aerosmtith is finishing up a rehearsal. Their stage manager admonsihes the for pushing the time what with having to get all the way accross town for a concert. The band then persuades the manager to invite all the people in the recording studio to the concert, to which she says that she is gonna need a fast car, a super stretch limo. You then exit the recording studio, go down a short hallway and out the alley exit of G-Force Records. (Mind you the entire attraction is indoors, and is also prepetually nightitme) Out in the dingy looking alley, a chain link fence keeps you away from the coaster track. Youwalk down the alley to the loading area. I'm not sure of the preshow idea really works. While the preshows were full with at least 5 preshows worth of people standing in line, they still cannot deliver people to the loading area fast enough.
As such I was able to "Choose any seat" so I chose the backseat. After they load the train, you pull out and take a lef turn where you gt stopped at a red light. A electronic traffic alert sign gives dire messages about the crowded roads, then the mesage changes t Rock On, your limo rools back about a foot, the light turns green, and WHAMO o-60+ in 2 seconds. Its one of those launched coasters, and during the course of your psychotic ride from the recording studio to the concert you will be flipped upside down three times, all while zipping in and around carbdoard cutout theming. You find the limo also has a sound system as you havea an Aerosmith song played while you ide. Its a really neat ride, however it still has shoulder bars, while a very similar style ride was greatly improved at my local amusement park by convering to lap bars. Rock N Rollercoaster isn't overly rough, but its not as smooth as say, Flight of Fear. The brake run is themed as the highway off ramp to the concert hall, and you are letoff at the stage door. You then walk the red carpet and enter the concert, well you actually enter a gift shop, but thats Disney. You then walk down a ramp back to the main path.
By the time I exited, Fantasmic had let out, and the walk on waits were no more, I used m Fastpass to get expressed through the exterior portion of Rock N Roller coasters line. I reallyt do not like this rides merge point, primarily becuase it cuases a long section of queue to go unusded, but I saw the person owkring merge has a closed circuit television so they send more riders up the ramp so that the interior quee area stays full. After the second ride (seat 2) I decided to find out what Mom was up to.
What Mom was up to was staying inside to stay warm. I mean it is bitterly cold and windy tonight. Man I am glad we aren't outside freezing our butts off at that Luau. I mean this isn't even pleasant.
Having done everything we wanted to at Disney Studios, we caught a bus back to Port Orlenas. We decide to pick up the packages that were being held for us at the resort's gift shop then decided to grab a snackat the food court (after I trekked back to the room with the packages and to get the mugs of course).
A word of caution about Riverside Mill foodcourt, avoid the pizza at all costs. Man that was just about the worst pizza I have ever had. Mom ate two slices I ate one slice the rest went to the garbage can. Luckily it was only a small pizza as I had opted for the alright but nothing special Chicken Parmagian dinner. I'd stick to the good grilled burgers at the foodcourt if I were you.
On our way back to the room we stood out in the hallway and watched a lively piano player getting the crowd really worked up and seeming to have a grand old time doing TV theme songs. We decided that we would check his act out tommorow night after touring Animal Kingdom. Tonight it was off to the room where I first viewing my digital photos on the room television set. Hey the newer larger TV's have front side A/V jacks that actually work. Just hook up your device, then keep hitting the channel down button on the remote, go below channel two and you start getting into the auxillary inputs, I think 3 more presses gets you the front side feed.
Then it was time for some extended sleeping, I mean Animal Kingdom closes at 5Pm, so an early start is essnetail.
See you tommorow for Part 7!