NYE 2009: Day Two - Rocking Out in Hollywood Studios
and the Great TSM Smackdown

December 31, 2009

Sometime in the middle of the night, Cuz decided to crack open the balcony doors to let in some fresh air. We woke up in late morning to birds chirping, busses motoring past and a warm sun shining. The last day of the year and it was in the high 70's. Perfect pool weather.

So GM and I donned our swimsuits and headed for a snack at Artist's Palette. Cuz preferred to sleep in a bit longer. There was a fair crowd at the High Rock Springs pool so I asked the lifeguard on duty to call for the pool lift at the Grandstands pool. No problem, was the answer. The manager on duty was in the middle of something else but would bring it around in a few minutes.

With a few minutes to spare, I popped into Community Hall to say hi to my favorite camp counselor Sundee. I'd missed a chance to say goodbye to her during our family weekend a few weekends before. All my family raved about her and I wanted to thank her. I guess I spent a little longer than I should have catching up when 20 minutes went by. GM was waiting for me at Granstand with the lift. Better go.

Off I went for Grandstand and found GM (he had found Tom & Robin lounging poolside) but no lift. Uh oh. Check with the CM at the pool bar to see about calling a lifeguard. All he had was a phone to call Community Hall and leave a voicemail. So I walked back to HRS pool and the lifeguard on duty. By this time nearly an hour had passed since I had called for the lift. After a few tries even she couldn't get hold of the manager on duty. This was getting crazy and so not like anything I had ever encountered. Turns out they had different people on staff today and miscommunication ran rampant. One manager thought I asked for HRS pool and didn't find me there. Another didn't know there was a second lift stored at Grandstand. A quick word to Sundee and finally it got straightened out.

So on NYE while it was a frigid 30 at home, I spent the afternoon relaxing in the hot sauna watching the Hot Air balloon fly over DTD in the distance. Sorry no pictures. I was having so much fun chitchatting the afternoon away with our DVC friends (Tom, Robin, and co.) I forgot I had a camera. Our plans had congealed for the night. We were all headed to Hollywood Studios for celebration. And after midnight, Tom, Robin & I had a much-anticipated Toy Story Mania contest. His family vs the GM Posse. Much trash talk ensued. I had practiced a bit at home with my new Wii game, but Tom bragged about reaching a high in the 200ks. Robin was worried.

In past years, both our groups had done an EPCOT/DHS hop on NYE, but this year we both opted to skip EPCOT. Tom had dinner reservations at DHS and I really wasn't impressed with EPCOT's decorations this year. None of us were actually. The lack of lights and decor made the park look barren. Besides I still remembered the great bathroom hunt before 7:30pm fireworks at World Showcase last year. It wasn't an experience I longed to repeat.

So as the sun began to set, we all withdrew to ready for the evening's festivities. Cuz was well-rested and raring to go by the time we got back.

No issues to report with the bus. We got to DHS just after twilight. The tree for this park is outside the gates. Very colorful and bright with all LEDs and a film reel underneath.

 DHS Tree

Inside the gates, the crowd was building but not horrible just yet.

We were hungry so stopped off at the Backlot Bar and Studios Catering Co. for our celebratory drinks from one of our favorite bartenders.

Dinner consisted of heaping plates of fried beans & rice, pulled pork and beef sandwiches with a nice view of the crowd milling past.

After dinner, we did have just enough time for one ride on TSM just to brush up on those trigger finger skills. Then we just walked around enjoying the crowd and looking for a good fireworks spot.

The party was centered under the Sorcerer's Hat where resident live band Mulch, Sweat & Shears was rocking out the night. I was amazed to find a clear pathway reserved right between the crowd and stage.

The music was mindbendingly loud and the crowd thick. But by heading just a bit off the beaten track we finally found a perfect spot to camp for the night. One with no one in front and an open bar on the street behind. I don't want to tell you exactly where it was because I'd like to find it again next year, but here's a clue:

At precisely midnight, the band led the crowd in the countdown, noisemakers blew and the show began. Here you can enjoy it with us:

After fireworks it was time for the Great Toy Story Mania Smackdown...

They close off Pixar Place and the Chinese Theater during fireworks, so we waited with the crowd behind the hat. And that's where we heard familiar voices call out to us. It was a very excited Robin and all but one of her family. They had camped out by American Idol to enjoy the fireworks and were eager for our contest. A quick head count showed we had 12 people total, one notable person short. Can you guess who it is? (Hint: the phantom blob marks the spot.)

Great TSM Smackdown 2010

The participants in the Great Toy Story Mania Throwdown and their scores:

  1. Robin - 172,300
  2. Cuz - 162,500
  3. Lou (T&R's bro) - 149,700
  4. Elisha - 149,000
  5. Dan (T&R's eldest) - 145,600
  6. Me - 140,800
  7. Elizabeth (T&R's niece) - 131,500
  8. Melissa (T&R's sis) - 128,000
  9. Anthony (T&R's nephew) - 127,300
  10. Sarah (T&R's daughter) - 126,500
  11. Billy (Sarah's BF and a first time player) - 86,000
  12. Grandpa Mohawk - 103,500
  13. The Blob - 0

Turns out Robin had nothing to be worried about as she whooped us all. GM claims he helped clear the way for her riding shotgun and uncovering all the good targets, though. Sarah was most pleased with BF Billy who got roped into this contest on his first ever attempt. We have him special honors for that one. Dan crowed he had done much better before. (I guess he didn't like being whooped by mom.) As for Lou, he was just happy to have defeated his dear brother. Speaking of, where was Tom in that player score list?

He is the blob, there in spirit but not in person. Official word of the night was that he had given himself a time-out shortly before fireworks. Too much family time or maybe the pressure was just a little too much. I highly suspect all that trash talking exacted a toll on him. Oh well, there's always a rematch next year. What d'ya say Tom?

The T&R brigade daparted for a few more thrill ride runs while we spent the rest of the night exploring all the nooks and crannies of the Osborne Lights... One of the things I love best about NYE in this park is how empty the Streets of America gets. Snow continues to fall, the music plays, lights dance, but little by little people twindle off to their beds leaving the place to the Cast Members and diehard fans.

My tour of personal favorites begins with the blue & white courthouse, Cuz loves this one best for all it's symmetry.

GM loves the life-size Nativity. he had me take multiple pictures for use in next year's Christmas Cards.

I liked the view of a full moon rising overhead.

Cuz enjoyed finding some fellow moving lights displays. The fellow below is wearing a hand crafter (and very heavy) Mickey wreath on his head.

Meanwhile I headed over to enjoy the flickering fireplace.

What's so interesting to Cuz?

Affectionately referred to as the "noodles" by CM. Apparently insiders hunt for these every year. They are unique self-powering lights. This year you find them in the backyard BBQ section right next to some of this year's toys.

I went in search of the rumored "purple cat", the Halloween decoration mistakenly collected up in the move from Little Rock, Arkansas to Disney. Osborne Lighting Crew hides it some place harder and harder to find ever year. This perch was only visible if you just happened to look up in the right spot on Streets of America.

Our favorite places by far are on the side street of San Francisco.

There's the commercial side of the street...

Don't forget the Chinese Food Delivery...

Or that tire swing near Jackson alley...

How about a peek inside the Drug Store/Soda Shop?


And on the residential side of the street I learned of another best kept secret... GaGa's House. This dates back to Osborne Family tradition. Mr. Osborne's mother (Breezy's grandmother nicknamed "GaGa") always decorated her house in white lights only. This house remains decorated for her every year. And acoording to the CM manager I met lingering on the street, it has a mysterious quality. When all the other lights on the street will malfunction and go out during a bad storm, GaGa's House remains lit. No one knows why.

As pretty as these lights are the fun is in watching them dance. Enjoy...

At last it was time to say goodbye for another year.

Tomorrow, the weather gets cold and we check out all we haven't seen yet...

Day 3: New Year's Day 2010