So there I was, setting off to make my first official excursion into a park, selecting none other than the illustrious Hollywood Studios. I’m really trying to remember why I started with DHS. I know I had a good reason. I swear. Crowd calendars? Amnesia? I don’t know. Just assume I know what I’m doing, okay?
Continuing on a mission to not require a motorized scooter later in life, I opted to walk to DHS. I even measured the distance because I’m a weirdo and like to know facts like this: it’s 0.6 miles from the Luna Park Pool at the Boardwalk Villas to the turnstiles of DHS. You’re welcome.
Another personal mission I had for this trip was to get a crap ton of good pictures with my new camera I’d gotten for Christmas. It was my goal to get quality — even on dark rides! The smart thing to do would probably have been to test various settings and such at home before trying to capture the magic at WDW, but who has time for such pragmatism? So I decided to learn on the fly, starting on the Great Movie Ride.
The result? Operation: aborted, because I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to turn off the focus light, and I didn’t want to be that jackass interrupting the ride for everyone else.
(Spoiler alert: I still haven’t figured out how to turn off the focus light, so I eventually said, “fuck it,” and took pictures anyway. Sorry.)
I then headed down Sunset Blvd for my FP+ times at Tower of Terror followed immediately by Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster. After the coaster, I headed into the photo area to pin trade, naturally. But I was rather dismayed to encounter three young CMs crowded around a monitor, zooming in on various guests in the ride photos, and making fun of them. You try looking your best when G forces are riling up crock o’ pate and smoked salmon omelette from deep within you, assface.
As I shopped/pin traded my way out of the park, that bad CM experience was replaced by a rather remarkable CM experience: I was looking at the lanyard of a CM at Sweet Success when she noticed my necklace and exclaimed that she had the same one — and the matching ring. This is interesting only because the necklace is a vintage Minnie Mouse that my late grandfather gave me when I was six years old. And I never knew there was a matching ring. Now I have a new eBay goal.
I hopped on the bus to Animal Kingdom to accomplish another personal goal: see DAK after dark. In case you can’t tell, I’m full of goals.
I arrived right as the afternoon parade was ending, thus blocking the path to Harambe. And right as the path was about to open up, the skies did instead. So I ended up taking cover under the awning of a souvenir cart — just me and 27 of my new closest friends who apparently do not value “personal space” in their culture. SURE, LET’S JUST ALL TOUCH EACH OTHER. THIS ISN’T UNCOMFORTABLE AT ALL. IT’S LIKE THE WORLD’S LAMEST ORGY.
Finally, after what felt like hours though was probably just three minutes, the rain let up enough for me to bite and claw my way out of the pack and head toward… where else… Conservation Station. No, really.
You see, I had been told earlier that day that I was on a poster that was visible when riding the train out to Conservation Station. No more specifics were given than that. Pretty cryptic. Naturally, I was assuming that it was a Wanted poster with a picture of me and some gingerbread. Regardless, I had my camera ready, excited to capture just exactly what this mystery was.
And I missed it. I mean, I saw it. Barely, at the last second. But definitely not able to get a clear picture of it. And when the train arrived at the station, I thought, “you know, I have a lot of time to kill before dark. And I haven’t walked around Conservation Station in six years. I should do this.”
Yeah, I just remained seated on the train and rode it back to Harambe.
And then, as I sat there, I figured, “trains are nice, I have a lot of time, and a good picture of this poster would be cool…” so I remained seated. Much to the questioning looks of the train operator.
This time, as we came around the bend, I was ready! Sort of. Mostly. Not really. This is the best picture I could get. Yes, that’s a CM name tag with my name on it! You’ll just have to trust me, I guess. Or spend some quality time riding the train from Harambe to Conservation Station back and forth for no real reason.
And then, as the train approached the station at Conservation Station for a second time, I thought to myself, “you know, I have a lot of time to kill before dark. And I haven’t walked around Conservation Station in six years. I should do this.”
And again, I remained seated, to the even more stupefied looks from the train operator, and rode back to Harambe.
And then, as the train approached the station…
Okay, I’ll stop. I got off the train.
It being about 5:00 and all, it was most definitely time for an alchobeverage, so I walked leisurely on over to Dawa Bar and ordered some rum punch something or other that I was hoping would pack a punch. Instead, much to my dismay, I watched as the bartender simply walked over to a dispenser of pre-mixed blah. Pretty sure Bud Light Lime has a higher alcohol content.
Then, minutes later, a gentleman approaches the bar, asks for the same cocktail I had ordered, but asked that it be “made special.” The bartender gave a knowing nod and proceeded to fill a cup with the pre-made blah, and then topped it off with well over a shot of rum. And, because I’m nosy, I looked at the guy’s receipt he left on the bar — SAME PRICE. I felt cheated. I was honestly thisclose to blatantly asking the bartender for a free shot of rum on the side because obviously she had overlooked offering anything special to me! But I didn’t. Because I’m shy.That, and it was YETI TIME!!! I finished my lackluster drink and wandered on over to Anandapur, hopped into the single rider line for Expedition Everest, had a rocking, raging good time, exited, walked straight back to the single rider line only to find it was closed. WTF? Since when do they close single rider lines hours before park closing? Meanwhile, the stand-by line was 30 minutes or so, and I really wasn’t in the mood for waiting.
So there I was… at least an hour before real darkness, cold, wet, and sober. I considered heading over to Dino Land. Or maybe even something as expeditious as taking the bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge to hang out there for an hour or so. But ultimately, I was tired. And we’d be back to DAK later in the week anyway when it was open until 8:00. I could see Yeti After Dark then, right? Right. So I headed out, looking forward to the warmth of a bus and cheaper/stronger drinks back in the hotel room.
In hindsight, I feel like a DAK failure. I had hours to myself to roam around, do whatever I want, experience new things, revisit old things, and what did I do? I rode around on a train and bitched about weak drinks. The only thing I can say in my defense was that at the time, I was trying to take a more relaxed approach to touring. I was trying to feel like a lifestyler — there would always be more time. Only, I’m not, and there wasn’t. Le sigh.
Meanwhile, back at the Boardwalk, as I pin traded at the concierge desk on my way from the buses to our room, I for once in my life could hold my head high — I belonged there. I wasn’t merely some unwashed leper in off the streets looking to pillage the Boardwalk’s esteemed concierge desk. Nay, this time I was a guest. It was a pretty good feeling.It was only after 8:00 and seated at the Flying Fish for dinner that I was reunited with My Mother and aunt. Something tells me my day was way better than theirs. We caught up. I told them about the CM having my necklace, and my aunt was able to provide some more details — it seems my grandfather got the necklace at WDW on a trip he and my grandmother went on in the early 80′s. Hard to picture them at WDW with no kids!
After that late dinner, we parted ways, and My Mother, my leftovers, and I headed back to our room. You know, because we didn’t quite have enough food there.
Coming up: I make WDW my home office, I continue to struggle with camera settings, and more food makes its way into our hotel room.