Life at Disney's Boardwalk (Home #2?)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Our itinerary called for breakfast at Kouzzina's, but by the time we arrived the place was closed up like a drum. I guess last night's late night was not conducive to an early start for me. I am, by nature, a nightowl. GM was up bright and early, as usual, but he never did make a good alarm clock for me. He's one of those fellas who hates confrontation to the point of extreme. Procrastination is also one of his most prevalent character attributes. Way back in the mists of time, when he and my mom were just dating and he had been working toward his Ph.D. she put that attribute to the test. She asked him if he was delaying finishing his Ph.D. so they wouldn't get married or delaying getting married so he wouldn't finish his Ph.D. My mom had the best way of motivating people by pointing out what really mattered to them. I wish I had her gift.

On the upside, GM's easygoing nature makes him fairly adaptable to changes. Especially changes that suit him better. So we opted for a quick lunch from the Boardwalk Bakery and a table with a view. It was cooler today, around low 80's. A welcome relief from the oppressive heat of the last two afternoons. Lunch consisted of tuna sandwiches, chips, fruit and muffins. The cost was well under $20 and the ambience near perfect.

Mid-day on the Boardwalk always seems to be a treat when we come. Most people are in the parks or the pools. A few families mill outside grabbing snacks or just strolling the boards savoring. You hear the ferry boats whistle as they glide from dock to dock. Every once in a while there's a bicycle chime as a daring family speeds past in one of those bikes-built-for-4. Today there are also some solitary joggers doing laps around the lake.

I notice Disney maintenance is also doing touch-up work on the BWV. The building over Thimbles & Threads is covered in scaffolding. On the road side, they are painting. Nice to see the place get a facelift.

After lunch, we decide to head over to the Studios. It's too nice a day to sit inside ferry so we opt for the walkway along the villas. We stop by one of those DVC kiosks and chat with the Cast Member. She tells us she's seeing more people interested in buying than just browsing. Her guess is that in this economy those without resources have already decided it's too much to even look into. She is also a Saratoga owner so we talk trips, resort preferences, and the new Treehouse Villas. (Something she loves having stayed in the original THV and not finding those split-levels to her liking.)

Our walk continues, past the Screen Door, then the Big River Grill. I try to get GM to go up to the CM working the desk and showing that purple mohawks are a bit more common than little green men. All the time I'm loving the atmosphere of the Boardwalk and thanking myself for that little add-on I picked up this summer. Next year, I tell GM, we'll come back to stay at BWV specifically for Food & Wine.

As we stroll past Jellyrolls, GM asks if I know where the name came from. He wants to wow me with his command of inane trivia. You know, the kind of stuff old men accrue and love to share in their grandpa years. I tell him no, and he launches into a story about the days of jazz and the musician who gave us the name - Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton. If you're interested in the history, there's a very good article on Wikipedia. I wonder if Disney realizes the adult connotations of the name?

Taking the pathway to MGM (sorry Disney's Hollywood Studios - I guess I must call it that now the Disney's changed all the signs), we stopped to survey BWV's pool areas. I never got to see it last year when I stayed alone. Much too busy going back and forth to the hospital. So it was nice to discover it new with my (now healthy) dad.


The pool wasn't crowded at all. Maybe about 10-15 people there? I must say the clown slide also wasn't as overpowwering as I've always heard. In fact, that face is a lot smaller than I thought. My only disappointment/concern is that lip around the pool. I'm guessing, like OKW, this is a pool that won't be seeing a zero entry or my favorite pool lifts for accessibility. My first love for SSR remains unblemished.

GM preferred the quiet pool by Community Hall. Smaller and only 3 people there. I expect when we return to stay next year, I'll be finding him at this pool while I zoom around the pathways outside.

The distance from Boardwalk to Studios is around 1.5 miles? In our scooters it seems very short and scenic. Going under the road reminds us of the walkway from Williamsburg's Visitor Center to Duke of Gloucester Street. The ferries glide past us, police boats zoom by, and a lone jogger continues her trek around the lake. (She must be getting a really good workout today.)

The only thing that unsettles GM is that the sun has turned just a bit brighter and hotter. He gets hit with a wave of lightheadedness and must stop in the shade a bit. One of the issues he has with his blood pressure meds is photosensitivity. He assures me he's fine, just needs to snooze under some trees for a bit. So while he snoozes under a grove by the Studios, I take pictures. Here's one of my favorite views:

Nap done, we get into the Studios around 1pm. The High School Musical show is playing under Sorceror Mickey and those street photographers are busy snapping funny pictures with guests. The crowds are "light moderate" which generally translates to walk-ons for most rides except for the big ticket ones like Toy Story Mania. That one has a 70 minute wait but FastPasses are still available.

GM and I have no park touring plan for the day. We never do anymore. Instead we look up the showtimes for Lights, Motor, Action. The last showing is at 4:30pm. That will be our marker for the day then. We have about 3 hours to meander.

Our first stop is a quick refresh break at the restrooms on Sunset Blvd. As far as bathrooms go, this is my favorite in the Studios. It has a nice big handicapped stall with a sink. Plenty of room for me to take my powerchair (and all it's stuff) inside. The worst bathrooms are the ones only slightly longer than a regular stall. That gives just enough room to drive a chair straight in then hope someone can hold the door closed for you while you turn around and lock it. The bathroom near Star Tours is like that. I'll have to draw up a map with the best and worst bathrooms in Disney for the blog.

Then we stop at one of those Pin Trading kiosks where I find something GM has been needing for a long time: a magnifying glass. The poor man cannot read fine print anymore, and I'm not always around to read those expiration dates on coupons. This one is made for "looking at the fine details of pins", but it has a sturdy construction. Glass magnifier in a solid steel Mickey head frame with a leather protective sleeve and all attached with a keychain clip. I have the CMs cut open the packaging, put it on GM's car keys and we all watch as he demonstrates its effectiveness on the park map.

The two CMs we meet are interesting people themselves. Michael is a retired cop from Jersey who speaks with a distinct Jersey accent. He tells us how he's been instructed not to say "How'ya doin'?" in favor of the preferred "Are you having a Magical day?" Yes, sometimes corporate policy gets very annoying at times. I'm sure somewhere in CM-Only circles there's a list of jokes about the phrase "magical day". Michael's sidekick is a young college student cast member (forgive me for forgetting her name) who hails from California and is an art student. Last year she studied abroat in italy then took a 2 week whirlwind trip of Europe. We trade tales about our London experience and her plans for the future. Disney, she tells us, is just the most inspiring place for a young artist.

After that, we head over to Pixar Lane to take in a few attractions. There is no line at Little Mermaid's 2:30pm show. They aren't even giving out FastPasses. As fairytales go, this one is my favorite. The music, the story, even the red hair of the heroine, all speak to me. It's a story of yearning for what you can't seem to have. Ariel yearns for legs and a life on the land. Prince Eric yearns for a girl who shares his heart and not just another royal match. And even the beloved father King Neptune yearns for his daughter's happiness. I've loved the story since I was a child, long before Disney took it over. In the original Hans Christian Anderson book, it was a sad ending. The Little Mermaid got her three days on land with her prince but failed to capture his heart. Instead, she lost hers and it made her the better for it. When the sea Witch told her the way to avoid her fate of eternal damnation was to kill the prince on his wedding night (he married the brown-haired princess from a neighboring kingdom who had nursed him back to health from the shipwreck), Ariel couldn't do it. She loved him so much she was willing to risk damnation so that he could be happy. For her generosity and true love, she was rescued by the angels who made her one of them.

As a kid  (growing up with arthritis and its crippling effects on my legs) I could relate to a mermaid's desires to walk liking everyone else, and to find that prince who shared my open heart. It always bothered me that the original story ended so tragically. So when Disney redid it, factoring in a father's magical love to make things happen for his daughter, and gave my little mermaid her happy ending I was forever enamored. If only real life gave us the ability to remove all obstacles that bar others' happiness.

Well here's a snippet of my favorite fairytale ending ever.


Next game a round of Toy Story Mania. I love this game, 100 times more than Buzz Lightyear. The decor inside is big, bold and you can tell Imagineers had a fantastic time designing it. GM is not as enamored only because he has yet to beat me in a dozen contests. He's tried everything from aiming for the high value targets, to repeated blind firing. I still bested him by 15,000 points.

On the way out, we stopped to see why a crowd was gathering on the street. There, on the lefthand side just as you leave TSM for the Backlot Tour you see this:

Now look up to your right. If you time it just right you'll get an amazing show.

Note: I've tried three times to upload the full video but my browser keeps crashing. So here's a tidbit just to give you a taste.


After Lighting Jr took his bows, we stop off at the BackLot Bar for some pre-show beverages. GM opts for a Sam Adams (helps nurse the disappointing defeat at TSM) and I go for a Strawberry Margeurita.

By 4pm, GM's eager to get moving again. He wants to see how the Osborne Lights decorating is going on Streets of America. The seem to have all the lights strung on every building. The globe is sitting on the ground where that giant tree goes. That area is blocked off for now. In 2 months we'll return with my siblings and their families. I hope the kids are as enthralled with the spectacle as we are.

From there, GM decided to be a little silly. There was a little singing in the rain:

Followed by his own stunt show outside LMA:

Our view this time  was one of the better ones. Upstairs, stage left center. We've sat down low before but there's just too much craning of the neck. As for the show, it wwas as loud, brash and explosive as you ever see. The Ballet routine makes us think we've seen this before. I think we've encountered these Florida drivers before on the Interstate.

The rest of the day unfolded quickly. There was a stop on Streets of America where Mulch, Sweat and Shears prepared for the upcoming victory of our beloved Ravens over the Patriots Sunday. (Just a gentle tease Pats fans.)


Then the trek back to Boardwalk whhere we started. GM noticed his power was on "E". He had forgotten to plug his scooter in the night before and was paying for it. So we decided to test the transportation system. I left GM at the ferry dock, (yes he had enough power to manage that distance) and went on by walkway. 18 minutes later I was in the Boardwalk lobby and GM was left waiting for another ferry. The one that just left ran out of spots for wheelchairs/scooters. I had time for a rest break then sat out on the veranda watching the ferries dock. GM made it off the 3rd ferry, exactly one hour after we parted.

We were hungry for dinner by this time. GM's scooter would not make it through EPCOT so we opted for Downtown Disney instead. Dave knows Downtown Disney. he even directed us straight to Lot A where we chanced to find the last free handicapped spot on the lot.

Leaving the scooter in the van, GM decided to walk with me over to Wolfgang Puck Express. We ate ouside where it was warmer. This is an interesting quasi counter service/restaurant setup. You order your food at the counter, fill your drinks at the self-serve bar than find a table and place your order number. Servers flutter from table to table, grabbing the numbers, setting your table (with real silverware) and then serving your food as your courses come. First course for us was salad. (My Caesar's trumped GM's mixed greens.) Then pasta (again I preferred my chicken alfredo to his spaghetti with meatballs). We had no room for dessert. But we did notice the impressive breakfast menu. I think this may be a good place to take my aunt & uncle next week.

By the time we finished eating, the breeze got a bit colder. GM opted to nap in the van while I ran into World of Disney for a bit of shopping. irst time I've been able to go in there all trip. I picked up a few Halloween items, dodged the crowd of suvenier hunters, and was back out to the car in time to wake up GM from his nap. Next week we'll go through the store more thoroughly together. The best time to shop at DTD is early morning on the weekdays. By mid-day and night it is packed with last minute shoppers.

Tomorrow we head to the Halloween Party.