Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Another Day at the House of Mouse

by Pa Rock
Fun Grampa

Three parks today - two new ones and a rerun.

We began the day with breakfast at our hotel. Boone enjoyed a Mickey Mouse waffle. (If I could find one of those waffle irons, my Christmas shopping for Scott and Molly would be over! I'm still looking!) Nick went down to breakfast ahead of us and said that an alligator had crawled out of the river and was sunning on the sidewalk - but it was gone by the time Boone and I went down later. Maybe we'll get lucky in the morning and get out there before the hotel staff chases him back into the river!

Our first stop of the day was Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park. We watched some very talented street performers dressed like Hollywood starlets of the 1940's. We were also treated to a High School Musical 3 parade and outdoor music review at Hollywood Studios.

I found something else that I felt that Sebastian needed. As I paid for my purchase, the old codger working the cash register told me that I had been at Animal Kingdom yesterday. Amazed, I asked him how he knew that. His reply: "Your money is still wet!"

We spent some time in a Hollywood memorabilia shop. One of the signature items was a striped jacket worn by Dick Van Dyke in the movie Mary Poppins. It was sale priced at just $65,000! Unfortunately, it was a tad too small for me!

The second stop was Epcot Center which is well worth the trip to Florida by itself. We began by riding through the highlights of world history inside of the signature Epcot sphere. It is something that all school kids should experience, as well as their teachers and parents. After that we had lunch in the British section, we listened to a Beatles Tribute Band playing in a gazebo, and then walked around the lake and visited many of the national exhibits. I was drawn to the Moroccan exhibit and it seemed to grab Boone's attention as well. We saw the Islamic designs of the tile work, displays of Moroccan clothing, oriental rugs, and other items of Muslim culture. Boone said Morocco was "awesome!"

At Japan we watched three amazing drummers entertaining the crowd on in front of the five-story pagoda. There was also a "Tori Gate" next to the lake that let me share some of Nick's Okinawan heritage with him. We were in Africa heading to Mexico when the draw bridge connecting the two began to raise. Boone seemed to find that process interesting. Well, we all did! One of our final stops at Epcot was a Viking exhibit from Sweden. (I had visited a Viking archaeological sight on an island called Birka while in Sweden several years ago, and was interested to see what was in this exhibit. I wasn't disappointed!)

After exiting the Epcot Center, we boarded a large boat and cruised across the lake to the Magic Kingdom. While there we rode a Jungle River Ride in Adventure Land, and did the Buzz Lightyear Laser Ride in Tomorrow Land. Both were a lot of fun.

I visited with an older lady who was an official Disney photographer. She said that she and her husband moved to Orlando from Michigan after they retired to work at Disney World. She liked being a photographer because it paid better than some of the other park positions that she had held. She said that her husband, who is eighty, drives a bus for Disney! (I started checking out the drivers before boarding!) The photographer told me that there are some nice benefits that come with working at Disney - like free park passes for friends! That may be my next great adventure as a foot soldier in the American labor force.

Disney Humor:
Speaking of Africa, what is the capital of Africa?
Answer: A

Why is Tigger always jumping?
So he doesn't step on Pooh.

Disney Ripoffs:
The hotels sell refillable mugs for $14.95 that can be filled free in perpetuity at any of the parks. But, you take the mugs to the parks and they tell you that they don't know what you're talking about.

Many of the poorer tourists (like us) buy meal tickets in advance. They cover each person in the group with one snack, one quick service meal, and one sit-down meal per day. It is a very smart way to handle food expenses. The sit-down meal can be lunch or dinner. Yesterday we had lunch at a nice Chinese restaurant - Nick has shrimp and steak, and I had salmon - total bill was eighty some dollars. It was covered by the meal plan. The ripoff: Today we stopped at the Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios. Their meals were in the same price range as what we had yesterday. The staff there said that a meal would cost us each two meals on the meal plan! Scum! Later we stopped the Canadian restaurant at Epcot. They operated only on reservations made 90 days in advance. That ought to keep out the riffraff! Fortunately, the food at the British restaurant was superb, and served without any gimmicks.

Miracle at the House of Mouse: Remember my new digital camera that reacted badly to being washed yesterday? Last night Nick suggested that I take out the battery and photo card, leave the camera open over night, and see if it would dry out. Well, it did - and it works! Nick is so smart! He definitely takes after his dad!

One of our minor adventures today had Boone feeding popcorn to a mama duck and her three ducklings. He was quite popular!

We are still having a great time. We have one more day of touring the parks, and Thursday we will board the cruise ship and head toward the Bahamas. We are due return to the real world on Sunday - unless we get lucky and pirates hijack our ship!

More to follow...

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