So I may have been spaced-out, but I still knew enough to get us to Hollywood Studios for rope-drop.
The plan was to knock out the big rides – Midway Mania, Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, and Tower of Terror – before going back to Epcot around noon to meet up with DISers Jennifaerie and Rob…ifaerie? We did the patented Disney Speedwalk to Toy Story Midway Mania (wait – is that what it’s called in Florida?), grabbed FastPasses and walked right on. Florida’s queue has WAY better theming than ours in California Adventure (which is also almost entirely outdoors – boo!), so Patrick took lots of pictures:
I still really like Midway Mania, but I am coming to realize I will never top the score I got the first time I ever rode it – when I actually beat Patrick!
Next we ran to Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, followed by Tower of Terror. This is another ride that has WAY better queue theming in Florida than in California. Where Walt Disney World’s has actual cracked walls exposing lathe and plaster, California Adventure’s just has painted-on cracks, lathe and plaster.
Coming out of TOT we had to stop and take our now obligatory shot of DHS’ Carthay Circle Theater so we can picture it in our minds every time we walk by the hideous office complex that now sits on the site of the real theater.
After our second ride on Toy Story Mania (I think that’s the correct name for the DHS version) I was starting to get hungry and cranky, so we decided to eat there instead of waiting til we got to Epcot. DHS is a bad place to be when you’re a table-service snob trying to figure out how to use free counter service credits…. Fortunately, right before we left for our trip, I ordered the newest version of Kevin Yee’s Walt Disney World Menu Book so that at least I’d know my counter-service options should we have an unscheduled meal. Unfortunately, the counter service section on DHS reads like the menu at a middle school cafeteria: pizza, cheeseburger, pizza, chicken fingers, pizza, pizza salad, pizza burger, etc.
We ended up at the ABC Commissary.
Talk about uninspired theming – this is a prime example of what we dislike about DHS – it’s all half-a**ed Imagineering, like “We don’t have to theme this giant concrete box ‘cuz it’s supposed to be a soundstage” and “We’ll put in a low-grade food court and say it’s the commissary!” Plus, who wants to be sitting there in Disney, surrounded by unique entertainment options and imaginative diversions but frittering away their lunch watching a string of promos for ABC on TV?
Now when I say our lunch was the worst meal we had on our whole trip, it’s not because anything was cooked wrong or spoiled or whatever – it was just so aggressively mediocre:
After lunch I felt a bit perkier (and I have to admit I had enjoyed the closed-circuit TV’s featurette on Michael Giacchino, our fave Disney composer). Patrick dragged me to the Art of Animation show, which wasn’t as boring as I’d expected (kind of interesting how prominent a role Chris Sanders played in the interactive bits, considering Disney booted him from Bolt, [née, American Dog]). We did the Wall*E photo op and that’s about it.
We went back to TOT to use our FastPasses and then got stuck in the Boiler Room for 30 minutes due to technical problems.
Finally we got to leave and go to EPCOT to meet Jennifaerie and (just) Rob! Yaaaaaaaaaaaay!
We high-tailed it outta DHS and decided to take the boat to Epcot. As you prolly know, I luuuurve taking boats at Walt Disney World, yet I’d never taken the one to/from DHS. What a nice trip. I missed most of it blogging pix from our morning at DHS.
When we got into Epcot, Patrick stopped at the toy shop in the UK to get our Christmas stocking stuffers for our fambly that I’m not going to say what they were in case they are reading! Meanwhile, I plopped down in my new favorite place in Epcot – the set of wingback chairs in an alcove in the toy shop – to phone Jennifaerie (henceforth to be referred to as Jen to save on typing). Poor Tigger was cooling his heels in the character meet ‘n’ greet back there with NO visitors, so when he saw me he got very excited…
Eventually his pal Eeyore came along and kept him company at the Kidcot Station.
Next I ran down to fetch Jen & Rob in Canada while Patrick finished his shopping spree. I’m sure they were completely overwhelmed to have this large pasty creature in a floppy white hat run at them and begin peppering them with questions about their wedding. I wanted to be the first to get the scoop! To read the scoop for yourself, click here.
So once we’d picked up Patrick, the four of us hit the road for Spaceship Earth and the Super-Secret Siemens Lounge it contains.
Jen & Rob had come straight from checking in at the Polynesian and I think were only planning to stay for a little bit, but that pretty much went out the window. First we rode Spaceship Earth and got our little eCards from the Future.
As we exited the ride, Jen spotted the super-secret entrance to the super-secret Siemens lounge. Here’s our journey into the inner sanctum in pictures…
At the top of the stairs was a nice lady sitting behind a desk all alone. It felt like, I dunno, a sci-fi movie or something – this woman locked behind a secret door sitting there all alone just waiting for us to come along. Who knows how many years she’d been there!
The main attractions of the Siemens lounge are the swanky hotel-lookin’ bathrooms and the free soft drinks.
Normally there is apparently also a great view of the park, but since the rest of the lounge area was blocked off for an event, we were confined to windowless Free Soda Land. I think the Loneliest Lady felt bad for us, because she gave Rob a set of passes to… the Super-Secret GM Lounge at Test Track! AND we all got free Siemens ponchos for the rain (here I’d been scouring LA for ponchos before the trip, and now within a day of arriving we had four of them!). Hooray!
So off we went to Test Track. Our journey in pictures…
While Jen & Rob & Patrick spent time taking gag shots in front of the ball…
I spent about 10 minutes attempting to get a picture of a Test Track vehicle whizzing by the window at our feet at 65 mph (or whatever). With an iPhone. No matter how I timed it, the shot always turned out empty. This blur is about as close as I got.
The back of the lounge has another cool view – right into Test Track!
I also got a shot of this nasty ‘Vette for my dad ‘cuz it’s his favorite car… and our wedding colors!
The Loneliest Lady at the GM lounge gave us walk-on passes to Test Track and pointed us to the secret GM entrance to the queue. Righteous!!
We came out on the ride-operator side of the loading area and crossed the bridge to the queue, where our passes got us to the head of the line. And just as the people in front of use sat down in their vehicle and whizzed off… the ride shut down due to rain! Our VIP experience turned into 15 minutes of waiting and checking our watches, cuz Patrick and I had dinner reservations at Le Cellier. And everybody knows you don’t give THOSE up! Finally we decided we’d better not wait any longer for the rain to let up, so we got re-admit tickets, bid Jen & Rob farewell (but not for long, it turned out – those guys are like bad pennies!), and dashed out into the rain in our free ponchos.
In contrast to the perfunctory greeting and rushed dining experience we’d had at Le Cellier on our honeymoon, this time the hostess saw our bedraggled state and kindly offered us shopping bags for our wet ponchos and umbrella. Our server was in less of a hurry too, or maybe I just ignored the cues. But I still can’t figure out how they can be booked solid til December when half the tables around us were empty (I know, I know – they can’t fill them if they don’t have the staff… but they decided months ago not to fill them!).
Patrick decided to try their new set menu for Dining Plan users, which gives you an appetizer, entrée and dessert instead of just an entrée and dessert but doesn’t let you order any of the expensive cuts of meat. I wanted an expensive cut of meat.
But first I indulged in my favorite pre-dinner aperitif… a frosty chocolate milkshake!!!
He had some fruity nonsense and two baskets full of pretzel bread…
After pouting over the lack of maple crème brulee on the menu back in February, I have to admit I hadn’t missed much. But on the whole, our meal was really good. I had been expecting not to like it as much because Le Cellier is sooooooo hyped it couldn’t all be true. But it’s definitely way higher quality food than at the other 1-credit table service places (except Coral Reef).
When we rolled out of Canada the rain had let up, so we rolled over to Mexico just in time to see the mariachis, which I can safely say is the only musical group in Epcot I’m interested in. I don’t know why I like ‘em so much. Is it the flashy suits? We also rode Rio del Tiempo con Donald-o Y Sus Amigos, or whatever it’s called now.
Oh yeah – that’s what it’s called!
Can you see these pix, or are they too dark?
We actually got a really nice Photopass pic in front of the volcano before the mariachis booted the photog.
After he left, it was up to one of our fellow guests to capture this sensitive portrait…
On our way out of Epcot, Patrick showed me what he looked like before we met…
We walked down to the Friendship Boat dock and waited around for someone to decide they weren’t going to sue Disney because they tripped disembarking the boat, and then we were headed back to DHS. The plan was to get off the boat, get our car, and head for the Adventurer’s Club at Downtown Disney. But then I decided I wanted to see if Hollywood Hills Amphitheatre was open so I could take pictures of the Fantasmic! dessert party location for my buddies on the DIS Wedding board.
I forgot to put this part earlier, but when we were at DHS that morning, I decided one of us needed to sneak behind the roped off entrance to the amphitheatre on Sunset Blvd. and run into the closed theater to take these pictures. The way Patrick tells it, one minute we were standing by the rope talking about whether he was brave enough to duck under it and then next time he looked my way I was sprinting up the path. Unfortunately, my spy mission came to an abrupt end 10 feet later when I ran into the big honkin’ gate around the bend. D’oh!
So, cut to that evening and we decide to make a banzai run back into DHS to try to get those pictures. Except something funny happened – we discovered that Hollywood Studios is MUCH nicer at night! For one thing, there’s no sun beating down on you and heating up the huge expanses of asphalt….We found ourselves meandering around Echo Park Lake just looking at the pretty lights and taking pictures of buildings like these.
It was almost – dare I say it, romantic! As we strolled down Sunset Blvd. toward the amphitheatre, they were playing a big band tune, so we stopped and did a little swing dance in the street. When we got to the amphitheatre I learned just how far I’d been from the actual seating area when I hit the gate that morning – the path just goes on and on! The CMs were funneling people off to the left, but we ducked out of the crowd to find the patios where they hold Fantasmic! dessert parties.
I forgot it would be DARK out – we got one pathetic shot:
And then another funny thing happened: I heard myself saying that since we were there, we might as well stay for the show. Me! Ms. “Disneyland’s Fantasmic! Is Way Better So Why Bother?”! Fantasmic! is Patrick’s thing more than mine, and I could tell he wanted to see it even though he wasn’t letting on. We got really great seats about, oh, six rows up and just to the left of the section they reserve for the dinner package people. I think it’s cuz it was starting to rain so not as many people ventured out for the show. Actually, I’d heard Fantasmic! has a much higher rate of cancellation due to weather than IllumiNations, but that night they performed it through rain. The lady next to us told us to sit on one of our ponchos – good idea!
And Fantasmic! was great! The stuff on the island is WAY closer than at Disneyland, so it’s much more impressive. Of course they have a fakey steamboat instead of our real one, and no Columbia Sailing Ship or swinging pirates, but I think the Florida version makes up for it in other ways.
It’s still prolly my least favorite pyro show at the Disney parks (the creepy neon monkeys are a dealbreaker for me), but I enjoyed it a lot more than I ever have. Maybe after ours gets its new mist screens I’ll check it out again at Disneyland.
After the show we shuffled out to our car and then headed for Pleasure Island to wave goodbye (or, in our case, hello and then goodbye) to the clubs! (Now that it’s closed, I don’t know what we’ll do for fun when we want a bleary-eyed night out after an exhausting day in the parks!)
Our goal was to hit every single club so we could say we’d seen them before they closed. First up, Adventurer’s Club!
Patrick loved the theming. He took a panoramic picture of the view from above (but it isn’t stitched together yet, so all you get is this):
We would have felt like AC newbies any time, but that night we felt even MORE out of place because, of course, the club was packed with diehard fans paying their last respects (this was the Monday before it closed). Our first show was the one in the Mask Room.
It’s an amazing place – we couldn’t get any good pix cuz it was so dark. Apparently a bunch of the masks are from Imagineer Joe Rhode’s personal collection. But not these guys… our hosts… my tormentors…!
The Maid came in and hosted the show with the two masks, Arnie and Claude. They made jokes about people in the room depending on which mask they were sitting under, and, lucky me, I was under the “fertility” mask. That meant we got a lot of wisecracks about what a hot number I was (whohoo!) and what on earth I was doing with Patrick. They didn’t like his shirt. And they thought I should shack up with them. Classy!
I felt kinda guilty that I got to be part of that skit when there were probably a bunch of other longtime fans in the Mask Room who would have appreciated it more. Little did I know I was soon to feel REALLY guilty. The next major show in the main room, The Library (she types, cribbing from Wikipedia), was the Radiothon. We were jammed against the doors waiting to be let in, so we got to go all the way down front and picked some seats in the first row, in front of the cool organ.
OK, you can have a really dark pic of the organ…
…or a really blitzed-out one, but you can’t have a good one!
I guess the Radiothon is a mock fundraiser for the club (how ironic – and how cool that on the last night the conclusion was that the Radiothon had failed to raise enough money, hence the club’s closure!). This is about when we realized that we just weren’t that into the Adventurer’s Club. LOVE the concept, love the décor. Get that it’s supposed to be wacky and zany and kooky and possibly funny in its unfunnyness. But just didn’t fall for the style of humor. Maybe it’s better if you’re drinking? At any rate, I felt very guilty about that, and I felt very weird sitting in the front row because we got a lot of attention that by rights should have been directed at the real AC fans (e.g., the Maid did a fan/lap dance for Patrick). Who knows – the performers were probably picking on us because we weren’t that into it.
Toward the end of the show, Hathaway Brown came up to croon a sappy tune. I remember reading in one of DISer WDWPolyPrincess’ trip reports that she and her friend have a favorite Hathaway Brown. I don’t know if this was him, but I did get that he is supposed to be a Big Deal (if only in his own mind!).
So when he started serenading ME, I got a little, well, swoony! And then when he grabbed my hand, pulled me onstage and held me close, suddenly I BELIEVED in the AC! Hallelujah!!!
I was, of course, very embarrassed to be the center of attention, so I hammed it up by batting my eyelashes, raising my hand to my brow, and sighing dramatically…
And then the show was over. We funneled out past the bathrooms and back around to the Main Salon, where I was promptly spotted by… DISer rpmdfw (of Rob & Scott’s Big Fat Gay Disney Wedding fame)!
It was really fun to meet him and Scott in person – and in their natural habitat! Not only are they HUGE Adventurer’s Club fans, but they actually met there, and they held their wedding at the club six days later!
Moments later, DISer Tinkflash stepped over and introduced herself! It was so much fun! I really love that sense of community fostered by the DIS – and that no matter where you go at Disney, you’re bound to know someone else there!
Patrick and I decided we’d better get going if we were to see all the clubs on Pleasure Island that night. But the AC had one more surprise in store for us…. As we circled the upper lobby and headed toward the exit, a door opened behind us and the Butler stepped out to deliver to me a letter from Hathaway Brown! I don’t know how they managed it – pretty dang impressive!
It was actually addressed to Miss Weggie Wishmeyer. Perhaps the Adventurer’s Club aficionados among you can tell me the backstory there… or what this letter is about :
My dearest Weggie,
I hope this finds you at the Club. Graves has always been good about getting my mail out. I would have written sooner, but I cracked the wing spars on the Gypsy Moth when I ran into a freight train.
You’ll probably laugh, but I’m going to tell a little story on myself: I had just run out of fuel at 15,000 ft. Normally, I’d just glide until I found a clearing, but not this time! I decided to try and make Cleveland (another 800 miles). Well, the joke was on me! First, I hit a fog bank, then I hit the train. But I only missed Cleveland by fifteen hundred feet! I’ll be fine when the hand heals.
My only disappointment is that in an effort to gain altitude, I threw out all my food, water, and cologne overboard, but I refused to let go of the kimono I bought you in Hong Kong. I guess the additional weight was just too much. Sorry, I don’t think the bloodstains will come out.
Anyway, I’ll have the Moth back in shape as soon as I do a little welding with my lighter.
Remember—pookie bear needs cuddlewinks.
Higher and faster,
Then we were off to check out the other happenin’ clubs of Pleasure Island… and discovered there were no other happenin’ clubs!
First stop, BET Soundstage… which was completely empty! I’m not using hyperbole here, we were literally the only two people in the building. I couldn’t even find a bartender or a DJ!
We took the opportunity to stand in the center of the club and shake our booties to hip-hop, and then we shook a leg on outta there! I felt like apologizing to the security guard for leaving after only 5 minutes…
Next we tried the Comedy Warehouse, but we didn’t feel like waiting out front (by ourselves – there was no line) for the next show to start.
Off we went to 8TRAX!
There were maybe 20 people on the dancefloor. I’m sure it’s a fun place to party, but (much as I love it) ‘80s music just isn’t that interesting to dance to!
Next stop: Motion!
It was HUGE inside, which only made it sadder that there were just 6 people on the dancefloor.
At that point I realized that our ultimate destination – Ghirardelli – might not be open much longer, so I used the handy dandy GPS on my iPhone to get me a phone number. They said they were closing in FOUR MINUTES! We ran like we’d never run before, out of Pleasure Island, across the bridge, and through the Marketplace, finally collapsing in a heap at the feet of a bewildered Ghirardelli cashier and gasping out our order.
Once we’d shut down Ghirardelli, we ambled back over to Pleasure Island to take in the last club: Mannequins.
People say this place was the best club on Pleasure Island…
…I will have to take their word for it!
Finally we staggered out into the night, 18 hours after we’d started the Busiest Day at Disney EVER….