Day 3: New Year's Eve '08 Edition
Thursday, January 1, 2009 (New Year's Day)

A new year and a new plan for the day. Seems word had spread we were back in town. Voicemail in the room contained a message from Manager Jason (the nice one who had run so much interference for me in October). he just wanted to say hello back before he left on his mini vacation. I make a note to catch up with him in Spring. CM Linda from Boma's (the transplant from Maryland I had my Girl's Night Out Reprieve with last October) called my cell phone to say hi. Esther was working the kitchen when GM went for breakfast. The only one I didn't get to see was Sundee from Community Hall. Alas our schedules never seemed to mix. She goes on duty at 2pm and I'm headed out the door to hop a bus.

Today I decide we should take 626.1 to see more shows he's never seen. MGM's Lights, Motors, Action! is just the high adrenaline show he'd like. So we head over to the bus stop to await a bus. Another scooter party is already there and it turns out they are also going to MGM. Time to split up again. This time I send GM and cousin to the park ahead of me and I head off on a mad dash through the resort to Grandstand. I figure the next bus is about 10 minutes away and on the first stop I have a chance of gaining some lost time.

I guess correctly as a bus pulls up 5 minutes later, mostly empty. I call 626.1 and let him know I managed to catch a bus and will meet them at the show. But just as I'm winding my way to the ticketing gate, I hear my cousin behind me. Seems he had a ticketing problem (it got erased) and had to stop at Guest Services to get a new one. That meant we all went through the gates together. We were about an hour early for the afternoon show.

Our first idea to kill time was to take the Backlot Tour. But when the wait time was over 45 minutes, we worried we'd miss the only showing of Lights, Motors, Action! So we chilled at the Backlot Bar instead. Got a couple chili dogs and I got my Stoplight Marguerita then waited. When they started letting people into the stadium we followed the line. Wheelchair seating for this show comes in two places. There's the bottom rows which are ground level and provide easy escapes but a poorer overall view. We prefer the upstairs nosebleed view where you can get the full perspective of the soundstage. Of course it means waiting for the elevator and the inevitable traffic jam that causes. But we end up center stage with a prime view.

The show is loud, fiery and extreme. It's no wonder my 6 yo nephew freaked out at it last year. But Cousin 626.1 is like a big kid grinning ear to ear at all the stunts. He declares he can do them too. Just not in my car, thank you.

From there we head to Narnia where I get a hankering to go home and watch the movie on our home theater. And then we head over to Osborne lights for one last look. We stay just long enough to hear a new dancing number... March of the Toy Soldiers. 

GM wants to get moving though. He's decided he wants to park hop this day.

Yes, it becomes a 3-park-in-a-day adventure. We leave MGM around 6:45pm and take the ferry to EPCOT. Along the way, Cousin and I meet a young film graduate who's left her family for the day and decided to tour solo. She was up half the night celebrating and had been out at 8am park touring. Clearly burning the candle at both ends. Poor girl peters quickly, mid-conversation.

From EPCOT we wind through World Showcase and stop off in England to see the holiday treatment of the square. Next comes a walk past the world's best Christmas tree, under the lit arcade and out to the monorail. We hop a train to the TTC where tiredness starts to wane on me. I exit the train and promptly forget where I am. I'm just about to pull out my bag for searching when I realize we need to take another monorail to the park. So down we zoom one ramp and up another to Magic Kingdom.

On our list for Magic Kingdom is Carousel of Progress, another new site for Cousin 626.1. But we're just in time to see the 9pm Wishes fireworks, so I suggest we cuddle up to our spot. This makes our 5th fireworks show in three days. I think I'll be dreaming them now.


We take in CoP next and explain the history of the attraction to Cousin. He marvels at all the authentic antiques in the various scenes. He's a remodeler and antiques aficionado. I just like the homey little family jokes. The nudge from wife Sarah for husband John to clean the oven. Husband John's rigging of a blender-turned-paint-mixer that explodes all over Sarah. It reminds me of those old inside jokes in the old Horizons ride. You know the bit where the young wife is chiding her workaholic husband to be home in time for the family birthday party. 10 years ago when I visited with my brothers they had a good laugh over that. Women nag, they said. Yeah, but I laughed harder when I realized the husband was late after all. Seems his young wife had good reason to nag him. It seems so funny to me how Disney Imagineers put so much of life inside their attractions. Those little touches of dialogue or even the twitching ears and waggling tail of the family dog. It makes you realize that despite our many differences and even during those bursts of impatience and irritation, people are really just the same. We get so hellbent on the slightest things when they're really silly things.

After CoP, Cousin 626.1 requested a ride on Haunted Mansion. We hadn't really been doing any rides this trip. My cousin and I did so many in October and GM was still taking it easy with that healing leg. I just wanted to avoid all rides outdoors at night. But Haunted Mansion has been a favorite of mine ever since they installed those special slide-transfer cars I can board solo. I did learn something troubling on this trip though. It seems we're down to 2 transfer cars. The third developed a malfunction and rather than fixing it, the engineers just replaced it with a regular doombuggie. I expect Miss Ginger (the CM who invented them) is not happy about that.

We do a little shopping after the ride to take advantage of the Post-Christmas sales. Tshirts are 40% off and Christmas stuff is half price. I picked up an Osborne Lights shirt at MGM and get a new bat-wallpaper shirt at the Haunted Mansion cart. For the first time all trip we close a park.

We were winding down Main Street at midnight just as the gates were closing. I take lots of pictures and video of Main Street. The Christmas decorations are as gorgeous as Halloween. Christmas music plays and snow falls over us. Turns out to be a great way to end a trip.

At the bus stop who finds us again? Yes it's Tom and Robin again. Robin proudly tells me she lasted until 3am the night before at MGM. She figured since we could manage 4:30am last year, she was inspired to hang on this year. Bashfully, I tell her we quit early all week. I guess I've let down my reputation, eh?

We compare trip notes and the conversation turns to weekend plans. See we are Baltimore Ravens fans, remember? And this Sunday brings the first Playoff game for our team. Game starts at 1pm Sunday and I already have a gathering planned to watch. Robin is set to fly her group home by 10am Sunday and declares the game is getting turned on at 1:15pm. We Ravens fans can be serious about that stuff. Another family in line at the bus stop plans to visit the ESPN Grill. More Dolphins fans start the trash talking. It's all good natured fun.

We share a bus ride home to SSR and the night draws to a close. It's pretty packed with standing room only on that bus so the driver decides to have a little fun. Rather than the usual "Hold onto the straps" warning, he tells everyone standing if they aren't holding on then they will experience a brand new attraction. All he needs to do is tap the breaks and they will fly forward in a remarkable simulation of the Tower of Terror meets Lights, Motor, Action! He says when they see the lights flash (making them flash twice himself), that is just Disney taking their picture as they fly through the window. But they shouldn't worry because Disney will be pleased to sell their pictures back to them for a low package price of $24.95 with wallet-sizes for their lawyers and nurses at the hospital. Everyone chuckles. I love it when even the CMs can play.

Day 4: January 2, the road home