Easing in to Magic

Monday, September 28, 2009

Our first full day in Orlando started off slow. Apparently you cannot stay up till 4am watching football and wake up early the next day. We had a late breakfast, early lunch planned for Grand Floridian Cafe at 11:30 but by 10am all I wanted too see was the inside of my eyelids.

No worries. This was the first day of our three week trip. Plenty of time to ease into vacation mode. Besides, we never did see all those highlights of the Steelers/Bengals game. So we opted for a slow start to the morning. I endulged in a long, hot shower while GM caught up on all the Sportscenter highlights. A quick update to the blog (discovering something went awry in my latest program update necessitating an SOS to my techie guru), then we were ready for our first foray of the day.

We queued up Dave the navigator, telling him to guide us to Disney. The weather was warm and sunny. Just perfect, according to Grandpa Mohawk. We arrived at the Ticket & Transportation Center and Dave guided us right to our parking spot. (He's getting really good.) By the time we arrived, around 2pm, the handicapped lot was full but there were plenty of spaces left in overflow. The monorails were running, trams whizzing through the parking lot and in the distance the "toot toot" off the ferry serenading those few afternoon stragglers into the park.

It occurs to me that in my last hours of life, when I'm in that dreamy state of dwindling consciousness, this is where I'll picture myself. somewhere on the outskirts of Disney watching and waiting for those bits of magic to happen. There would be the shy child inching his way towards a character only to run hiding behind his mother when that character turned around and smiled. The couple wearing their groom and bride's ears holding hands as they tug each other on yet another trip around Space Mountain. There would be an overwhelmed child crying as she struggled to break free of her stroller. The dad exhausted from carrying all the bags as he trailed behind his family. And there would be the balloon sellers and bubble-blowing conductors lining Main Street trying to invoke a simple smile from nervous eager latecomers and tired patrons alike as they mill past. This would be my last thoughts of life, the good, the bad, and all the expectation of inbetween.

GM and I decide to savor the moment a bit longer and take the ferry over Seven Seas  Lagoon. The air is warm yet there's a gently summer breeze to keep it from getting hot. We glide past those little nature preserve islands and catch a glimpse of the Contempporary. Just around the corner, outt pops the new Bay lake Towers. The site impresses us both. It looks decidedly metropolitan. Like a city within Disney World. You'd think that would take away from the magic for nature lovers like us. I guess it's the dichomety of glittering citadel in the midst of wild islands and dressed up fairytale lands. It makes the BLT-Contemporary look unique.

We stopped at Guest Relations outside the park to pick up our annual pass renewals. We opted for that special DVC renewal deal that gives us the 3 month extension. While there we meet a very interesting cast member... Jessica. She takes note of GM's Baltimore Ravens shirt. She's a Buccaneers fan but also a football fan in general. We end up comparing notes on teams and shared rivalries. Jessica explains she's also a runner for ESPN in her non-Disney time. She's also celebrating her birthday this weekend and we compare notes about our plans for Food & Wine Festival. She clues me into the new "gift card bracelet" you can get in EPCOT. So now I have a plan for F&W Friday. No need to pull out a credit card every time at the kiosk, just flash my wrist.

We talk so long we lose complete lack of time. The music for the afternoon parade begins and we're still outside the park.

So we race through the gates hoping to get across the street to the Barber Shop. But the parade is beginning at the train station not ending there as usual. We're cut off by Town Hall. GM notices the dooors to the Barber Shop are closed. He scares the daylights out of us suggesting the shop is closed for the day. (Did I screw up with my research? Just how long have I been gone from the DIS?) Then I see a head moving beind the shop curtains. People are inside. Huge sigh of relief.

The parade, all restyled for the new Celebrate theme, is very colorful. Especially in a park decked with oranges and browns. It cmes to an end and we make a beeline for the Barber Shop. Inside a large family gathers for a baby's first haircut. The little boy sits on his dad's lap as three women (mom, aunt, grandma) and several kids surround him snapping pictures and video. This is a big occasion and the little guy handles it all like a movie star. Smiling at the camera, not even uttering a single cry of protest as Barber Mary deftly hovers about him snipping hair here and there. Giving a baby his first haircut looks akin to herding cats. You have to be quick, deft and willing to move because babies do not sit still for such a thing. The little boy gets a certificate of bravery and a set of mickey ears for his ordeal. His parents get a lock of his hair lovingly bundled up by Barber Mary and about 90 pictures snapped by his aunt.

GM notices his favorite barber Penny is not in the shop. He's told she's on lunch break but due back soon, so he opts to wait. I'm starving so sneak off for a hot dog from Casey's. Along the way I meet two interesting Cast Members. There's the old conductor walking along Main Street blowing bubbles on the patrons, especially the children. I watch as he stops to shower a little girl dressed as Sleeping Beuaty in a wheelchair. She squeals with delight and his eyes twinkle. I tease him later that he's a big ol' kid. He smiles and tells me that's the best way to be.

Then I see a young lady from Tennessee deftly untangling her balloons. She reminds me of that Disney figurine I added to our train garden a season back. She notices my hat. I've donned a feather, purple sparkly renaissance cap to keep in style with my dad. She doesn't quite believe me and I tell her just wait till she sees him. Speaking of which, it's high time I got back to check on him.

When I get back to the Barber Shop, Penny is busily chopping off GM's extra locks. GM is busy talking to a couple about his upcoming trips with family. He's bringing his brother down next week, then comes all his grandchildren in December. He's really excited about sharing the World with them. I hope things turn out well. When it comes time to color his hair Ravens purple, the topic turns to football again. Seems everyone has a favorite team they're following. Penny pulls out tthe magic pixie dust and tells GM to make a wish. From the topic of conversation I have an idea what that wish might be but vow to keep it to myself. I don't want to jinx it.

Purple Mohawk in place, we have fulfilled our requirement of the day.

We're not yet in ride mode, so I suggest we take the train to Toon Town and walk back. GM insisted he wanted to take long walks this trip. So we climb to the top of the train station annd go out to the overlook as we wait for the next one to pull in. Main Street is looking gorgeous with all its Fall Festival Wear. a sea of oranges and browns, with carved pumpkins and purple accents.


In the distance, there's a show at the Castle circle. It finishes just as a train whistle blows. Our ride has arrived.

So we leave GM's scooter tucked away in a corner and hop aboard the Walt E. Disney. We get a scenic tour of the jungles in Adventureland and the backwoods of Virginia, then a peak at the future area for the new FantasyLand refurb. By the time we get to Toon Town that warm Autumn sun has turned distinctly hot and the cool summer breeze has stilled. I worry perhaps this wasn't such a good idea after all. But GM insists he wants to walk.

So I offer him a handlebar to lean on and we slowly (and I mean slooooowly) meander up the path to Tomorrowland. Alice and Wonderland rleliefs are out for the Halloween parties. The path is half shade and half sun. Unfortunately it's a bit too much sun for me. But GM is doing fine and insists I stop babying him. I guess stopping every 10 feet offering him a drink was a bit too much. ;)

In Tomorrowland we stopped for ice cream which comes as a welcome treat for us both. A man calls out to GM and asks him if he's a Ravens fan. The shirt and hair are a dead giveaway. The man's family is from pasadena. As GM gives him the play-by-play of watching the game on Slingbox, his wife tells me her husband was dying to see it yesterday. I ask her if she heard about the Steelers loss. No she hand't but squeals with delight. (Yes, ladies and gents, this is a mark of a true Ravens fan... glee with a win and  even more glee with a Steelers loss. Sorry Pittsburgh fans, but seriously the Bungles?!!!.)

Enough sports for the day, we take the shaded path through the Noodle Terrace and the Emporium to get back to Main Street Station. I pass that balloon seller from Tennessee. She smiles, says hi but I just nod my head toward the main browsing the shop windows. She takes one look and laughs. I guess she knows what I mean now.

And there at the end of the road is the conductor, still showering his bubbles on guests as they stream out of the park. I guess everyone has been feeling the heat. Someone says it hit into the 90's today.

Once GM retrieves his scooter I suggest we get inside for a while. I remember the glittering site of Bay Lake Towers. It seems like such a welcome refuge from a park that feels just a bit too hot, too busy and too loud at the moment. Definitely information overload. So I suggest we take the walk over and grab a bite to eat at the cafe we had on our list to check out.

It's about 6:30pm now as we stroll along the pathway to the Contemporary. My aunt calls to check in. (No not the one joining me in a week.) This aunt has adventures of her own. She's headed to Vegas in a couple weeks and tempts me with talk of a cruise out of Baltimore in February. Travelitis must be genetic in my family. I make mental notes to check it out later. For now, I'm more interesting in studying what they've done with the Contemporary.

Last time we were here, they were in the middle of building the skywalk. Now all the rooms were finished and the parking lot pristine. GM admires the walkways saying they make him feel like he belongs here. Then we go up to the lobby of Bay lake Towers and I begin to feel unwanted. You need a keycard to get in and there's a security card quick to point that out. From the outside the lobby looks tantalizing. Is that a fountain I see inside?

Alas our stay there isn't booked until April next year. I walk away feeling so unworthy. But I console myself with the knowledgge that at least we do own enough points to stay there every year. And it's nice to know Disney is maintaining a bit of exclusivity for guests and owners there.

GM and I head up to the Tower Concourse instead. We chanced by the Contemp Cafe on a past trip and made a note to try it out. We study the menu, an eclectic collection of counter service and gourmet food. Our orders are placed via a kiosk and we grab a tray full of extras. I select a chocolate cupcake only to find it comes with a cherry-filling surprise. GM opts for the chicken/tomato & basil pasta dish and I opt for hot roast beef an potato & ham soup.

We sit down in the cafe watching the line to Chef Mickey's run down along the wall clear back to the  elevators. The cafe is quieter and a bit removed. The food is good and makes a good alternate choice for dining. At 9pm we head outside to watch Wishes fireworks from the overlook. People are gathered all along Bay Lake Towers, from the top lounge to the 16 floors of balconies watching. Someone has bedecked their balcony with orange Halloween lights. It looks beautiful and tranquil. I find myself happy to be going there and just a bit wistful it wasn't sooner.

By 9:30pm we decide we've had enough for the day. So we hop on the monorail, jump into the van and ask Dave to direct us home. He's not really sure what we call the Magic Kingdom parking lot but seems to know the way out, even telling us which lane to enter. He insists on taking us I-4, but we tell him to pick another route. So he guides us down Palm Parkway. He even gets us back to our exact parking spot.

My tech guru texts me that the website is working again. I guess this means a Disney trip in his future. ;)

Tomorrow's plan is not certain. I really want to explore our Marriott resort and GM has a hankering for the pool. So perhaps we'll bag all the itinerary plans and just wing it instead.

One last beauty shot of the day: