Kill, Refurb, Marry: Disney Sidekicks

Kill Refurb MarryWelcome to another installment of Kill, Refurb, Marry, the ever-so-inventive game brought to us by This Happy Place Blog and Mouse on the Mind, AKA the only thing that I actually get off of my ass to write about these days. (Hopefully this will change soon, otherwise I’m going to start lapping myself in trip reports (already have ten days’ worth in the backlog!). Also, I should write something other than trip reports).

Anycrap, this month’s theme is Disney Sidekicks. So without any further ado, let’s get to the slaying…

Kill

Useless.

Useless.

Flounder. Mostly because I’m hungry as I type this, but also because he’s a pretty crappy friend. Dude, your BFF is about to throw her life away for some dumb boy she’s never met, and you’re all, “oh no. Stop. I can’t. Don’t. OKAY I’LL HELP YOU BECAUSE I’M ACTUALLY A SPINELESS JELLYFISH INSTEAD OF A DELICIOUS FLOUNDER.” Fucking useless. Friends don’t let friends make deals with sea witches without an attorney present. Bruce had it wrong the whole time; fish should not be friends — they should be food.

Refurb

Also pretty useless.

Also pretty useless.

Speaking of useless fish friends, how about Dory? If we could refurb her brain, I’m pretty sure Finding Nemo‘s running time could be reduced to a compact 15 minutes. It could be shown as a short before Frozen VI: Sorcerer Olaf — The Big-Assed Hat Returns.

Marry

This one’s pretty frickin’ obvious: Kronk. Same reasons as last month.

YUMMY.

YUMMY.

Oh, is that cheating? Do I need to have non-repeated selection? Fiiiiiiine.

I’ll go with Rajah. Who doesn’t want to have a giant kitty as your companion? He’s furry and ferocious all at the same time! Sure, he’s not as good at kleptomania as Abu, and I do value good thievery skills. But I’m going to stick with a feline as my chosen friend. His being a tiger and all, I figure I stand less of a chance of being labeled a Crazy Cat Lady just because my life partner is a cat. If you have a tiger, you’re not a Crazy Cat Lady, you’re a Cool Cat Lady. Right? Because if you say otherwise, you’ll be turned into a cat treat faster than my Siamese can land himself in an expensive medical predicament.

Purrrrrrrrrr.

Purrrrrrrrrr.

Kill, Refurb, Marry: Disney Villians Edition

Kill Refurb MarryWelcome to this month’s installment of Kill, Refurb, Marry, the ever-so-inventive game brought to us by This Happy Place Blog and Mouse on the Mind. Today we’ll be slaying and seducing villains! (Sort of. I mean, I’m assuming that if you’re marrying someone, there will be some intimacy going on, am I right? That’s how I’m choosing to look at it, because I’m a glass-half-full-of-evil-sexiness kind of person).

Let’s just move on before someone starts to psychoanalyze this too much.

Kill
DrunkatDisney. He’s a Disney villain, yes? Wait, you’re saying he doesn’t count? Damn, okay, then…

How about Hans from Frozen? He’s a pretty shitty person. He finishes other people’s sandwiches. Need I say more? (Plus I keep getting the below image sent to me by D@D, and I’m scarred for life).

DO NOT TRUST THIS MAN.

DO NOT TRUST THIS MAN.

Refurb
How does one refurb a villain? Is it like, “gee, Ursula, you’re almost the evilest, but you were dumb enough to be foiled by a 16 year old who thought giving up her entire life, family, home, and voice was a fair trade for a dude she’d never spoken to before. Next time, try a more foolproof plan.” Or are we angling more for the rehabilitation route of refurbishment?

StressedHookLet’s assume the latter, in which case, I shall seek redemption for Captain Hook. I think all he needs are some anger management courses, meditation, Xanax, and most certainly relocation. The poor guy just wants to hang out with his bros on the open sea, and next thing you know, this flying dick in tights is always harassing him, even recruiting gangs of unsupervised children to mess with him, ultimately having him amputated by a wild animal! Put yourself in his awkwardly large shoes — you’d probably be pushed to villainous insanity as well! Give the poor guy a break and a fresh start.

Marry
This is tricky, because there’s just so much sexy to choose from. Sure, you may also have to deal with some “negative” personality aspects that may accompany someone labeled by the entire world as a “villain,” but maybe they’re just misunderstood? Bad boys need love too.

How about Gaston? Ohhhhh, Gaston. AND HE’S FRENCH. Sure, he’d spend the tenure of our marriage more interested in talking about himself and throwing my books in the mud, but maybe that’s a small price to pay for someone so skilled in interior design and growing chest hair? Then again, I’m not sure I could afford him… do you know how much you’d have to spend on eggs each month?

I love this man and his spinach puffs.

I love this man and his spinach puffs.

Dr. Facilier? Creole is part French! And he’s a doctor! He can afford his own eggs! But then again, being followed at all times by evil shadow spirits would get old pretty fast. You sell your soul to the devil, and next thing you know, there’s always a third wheel on date night. Not cool.

No, I think it’s pretty obvious where my heart belongs, and that’s in the dumb yet affable possession of Kronk. That voice, those biceps, the cooking skills, and that tiny little manskirt he always wears. What’s not to love??? And he’s really not even that evil! It’s not his fault Yzma is a homicidal, power-hungry, highly fashionable loon. He’s just her loyal henchman. And hopefully, one day, he can be my betrothed. If he can speak Squirrel, he can probably learn French, right?

Kill, Refurb, Marry: Disney Parks Souvenir Shops

Kill Refurb MarryYadda, yadda, yadda… insert same old description of how this game works here. Refer to This Happy Place Blog and Mouse on the Mind. NOW ONTO THE GAME:

This month’s theme is SHOPPING!!!! AKA I’ll marry all of it, thank you. I’ve yet to meet a store I’ve not loved. Unless there were a store that only sold olives, Crocs, and Justin Bieber albums. I would most certainly risk breaking parole to burn the crap out of that store. Luckily for me (and local emergency responders), no such store exists at Walt Disney World.

However, in the spirit of the game, I have to pick something. So let me think…

Aha!!!

In the I’D RATHER HAVE A FROZEN SHOP INSTEAD OF THIS BULLSHIT category, the winner is:
The Planet Hollywood Super Store at Hollywood Studios

I mean, why, dear god, why?!!?! Who in their right mind thought this was a good idea, and is that person still employed with the company? The answer better be “no.”

Does anyone actually buy anything here? How does this store even make money? Who’s coming to Hollywood Studios, encountering this store, and thinking, “gee, we were dumb enough to have an ADR to Planet Hollywood last night, and I soooo enjoyed my meal there, yet I forgot to get a souvenir shirt to commemorate my frozen chicken fingers and Costco jalapeno poppers! Thank heavens for this random pop-up location of nothing but Planet Hollywood merchandise no where near a Planet Hollywood! Now I can get t-shirts for the whole family — and cups, too!”

This person should also be killed, in addition to this store.

Refurb:
Leota SignMemento Mori.

Needs to be bigger. Hands down. Who needs Tangled-themed bathrooms? I say take over that area for the expansion. Add dining while you’re at it. I need me a haunted meal. Probably Magic Kingdom’s first ever bar, as well. You know what we need more of? Fantasy suites that no one ever gets to stay in — throw a few of those in the Haunted Mansion — access via a secret passage in the store. Oh, and secret passages in the store. Real Fortune Tellers. A library of ghost stories. Death certificate printing station. I’m envisioning something the size of World of Mouse when all is said and done. Anything less is just not giving the Haunted Mansion the respect it deserves.

Memento Mori was a good start, but now that I’ve tasted the sample, I want the full meal. PLUS IT.

Marry:
Pablo JeanThe open-air market in the Mexico pavilion!

Okay, perhaps this is cheating, because I basically love the entirety of the interior of the Mexico pavilion, but hey! — that market is a big component of it! I love everything from the woven blankets to the over priced tequila bottles to the Three Caballeros merch. Why, it’s where I adopted my sugar skull, Pablo Jean! It’s one of the few stores on property where I keep a running wish list of items I’m going to slowly procure. Hint: 97% of them are Dia de los Muertos-related.

Te amo, Mexico!

An FAQ for Busch Gardens First-Timers, written by a Busch Gardens first-timer

In an effort to fully embrace my Florida residency and recent zeal for near-death experiences, I decided to take a walk on the wild side(TM?) and visit/sign up for an annual pass sight unseen to Busch Gardens. Allow me to share with you some information I wish I had had prior to my recent day trip north, as well as some additional facts and observations. You’re welcome, as always.

Q: How much does a pass to Busch Gardens cost?

A: I don’t know. It was confusing. There are apparently 27 different pass options/add-ons, and trying to figure out what the hell is what was not entirely simple. (Do you want to go for one day? Two days? A month? A year? You want to go to Sea World, too? How about Adventure Island, whatever the hell that is? A tour of scenic Tampa? Hey, you want to cut lines? How about a dining package? Premiere parking? You want to line-cut the line-cutters???). Not to mention factoring in any discounts such as FL resident, AAA, Southwest Rapid Rewards (yes, that’s a thing there), military, etc. I wrestled with this decision for about a month.

Ultimately, I opted for the annual pass at $156/year, or $13/month, thanks to their option for FL residents to pay over time. This includes free parking (otherwise $17/day) and a 10% discount on all food, drink, and tacky merchandise. Meanwhile, a one-day pass with no add-ons is around $85? So it’s like, yeah, I’ll buy 365 passes for the price of two. Thanks. My boyfriend, Mark, was considering joining me for the day, and with a Southwest Rapid Rewards discount applied, his one-day pass would’ve been $64.

Q: But don’t you have to pay for parking anyway in order to pick up your AP?

A: No! It was wonderful! I was ready to fight tooth and nail on this issue if necessary, but I simply drove up to the gates, showed the dude my voucher for the AP, and he let me drive on through. This is in stark contrast to Disney, who mandates that you have the actual, physical AP before they’ll let you start parking for free. +1 for the Busch.

Q: Is parking a giant free for all because it’s BG, not Disney, and therefor more like a third world Black Friday experience?

A: Actually, no. Just like Disney, there are sad human beings whose sole responsibility in life it is to wear neon orange, stand all day on asphalt, and point. Not only that, but the parking situation reminds me more of the Magic Kingdom than anything else: unless you plan on walking a mile, you need to take a tram from the parking area to the front gates. I was rope-dropping and figured parking in such a primo spot would mean I’d walk right in. Au contraire. I had to wait for and board a tram, just like all the other plebeians.

Q: So how was the process to pick up the AP?

This is what passes for "ears" at Busch Gardens.

This is what passes for “ears” at Busch Gardens.

A: Shitty, I tell you. As you approach the main entrance, there are three types of booths: 1) Self-serve electronic kiosks, 2) Guest Relations, and 3) regular human-manned ticket windows. The voucher for my pass instructed me to approach one of the self-serve kiosks where I would scan the voucher. I did so. An error message then appeared on the screen and instructed me to visit Guest Relations. So I headed over there, only to find that not a single window was open. Finally, I headed to the regular ticket window, as clearly that was my only option remaining.

I approached the window and handed the woman my voucher. She began to scan and process it when suddenly the National Anthem came on over the speakers, she stopped what she was doing, stood up, and wordlessly held up a single finger to me indicating that I would have to wait until the song was over and her patriotic duty fulfilled.

Now, I’m all for respecting the troops, our country, the right to shoot whomever we want with our legally owned AK-47s, but isn’t there a more polite way of going about this? A single finger point??? Not allowed by the Mouse! Surely this was my first sign that I was not in Disney anymore.

Q: I bet you were really missing MyMagic+ by now. Didn’t your wrist feel naked without your MagicBand?

A: I did, and it did. Interestingly, when I printed out my AP voucher, I was also offered to print a voucher for a free “wristband” to use for “touch to pay” purposes. A BG MagicBand! A BuschBand, if you will. Yet when I asked Ms. Americana where my BB was (I had handed her the voucher, after all), she replied, “oh, did you want that?” No, I was just handing you all of the recyclable material I had in my purse. “I don’t know,” I replied, “do I?” “Meh, it’s just a wristband thing. Whatever.”

A++ for salesmanship! At this point, I’d had enough of the one-finger-pointer and her “I’ve been on duty for all of 30 minutes and already want to kill myself” attitude, so I said, “whatever,” and left, sans BB.

Q: Sounds like your rope-dropping efforts were foiled by now. How screwed were you when it came to crowds?

A: Crowds? What crowds?? I had parked by 8:45, arrived to the entrance via tram by 8:52, and finally passed through the gates after AP retrieval hell around 9:07. Opening time: 9:00. Saturday after Thanksgiving. The only crowd calendar I could find that even acknowledged Busch Gardens’ existence said not to go on this holiday weekend. And yet…

… nuthin’. It was like a ghost town. Though, my friends that I was meeting up with, who had been before a few times in January, reported that this was pretty packed comparatively.

Fascinating.

Q: So, initial impressions?

A: I was actually pleasantly surprised. Maybe it’s because I had such low expectations, but I found their valiant efforts at theming to be rather charming! They have a variety of themed areas, from Egypt to some generic African area to Morocco. If I had actually grabbed a park map or done any research prior to writing this post, I could probably tell you more, but oh well. You get what you pay for here.

My only real complaint, aesthetically speaking, would be their insistence upon using classic crappy carnival games throughout the entire park. It’s rather distracting when you’re wandering through [insert name of sub-Saharan African country here] and there’s a bang-a-mallet-on-a-thingy-to-see-how-strong-you-are game complete with giant neon stuffed animal prizes. Theming fail.

Q: How about the rides? What did you end up doing?

A: First up, we went to Cheetah Hunt. I find the name of this attraction to be slightly misleading. Why are we hunting cheetahs in a park focused on animal conservation? Poor kitties. Oh, wait, we are the kitties. And we’re hunting. Or something. I don’t know…

We stood outside waiting for Cheetah Hunt to open for at least 20 minutes. Busch Gardens: not overly concerned with punctuality. Once we were let in, we walked right on.

Q: At any point, were you once again reminded that you’re not at a Disney park?

A: Oh my god yes: their loading process is nonexistent. It was insane. A veritable free-for-all. It was like the dark ages of the Southwest airlines boarding process before they started assigning numbers. You’d reach the head of the line, and then… whatever! Stand wherever! Pick a lane, any lane! Only a party of two and approaching a row that could fit five? Who cares about filling three extra seats!!! Let it fly! Single rider line?? What’s that?!??

I was aghast.

I mean, just the pure inefficiency of it all! Nearly 1/3 of every ride vehicle left the station empty. And try aligning yourself with your party if you’re an odd number and it’s two people per row — you end up standing in adjacent rows, constantly letting people ahead of you because the line length for each row was that varied. Sheer madness, I tell you.

Q: Okay, other than that, how was it? Give us a breakdown of each of the coasters.

A:

    Cheetah Hunt: Good. Long, classic coaster style with two people per row in a train of cars, has upside-down points, has a few bigger drops, but generally considered the least intense of the big guns at BG. What sets it apart from the rest are its “bursts.” Think: the first 2.6 seconds of Hollywood Studios’ Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster. AKA, the thing I hate most about RnR. And Cheetah Hunt has three of these throughout the ride, allegedly meant to simulate the cheetah’s acceleration as it runs and hunts. #Theming. Luckily, they’re not as intense as RnR’s, and by my second ride on Cheetah, I was less daunted by them.

    Montu: Pretty frickin’ incredible. You sit in a row of about five people, give or take, and your legs dangle freely beneath you, as the vehicle hangs from the track above your head. Montu is fairly intense with many upside-down loops and giant drops, though I found that the floating-beneath-the-track aspect makes for less of a jarring impression in my gut (thankfully). My only negative comment would be that I wish the harness were slightly more adjustable. It’s like finding a pair of shoes you love, but they don’t come in half sizes; the 9 is too small, and the 10 is too big. Well, I had the harness clicked down as tight as I could, but there was still enough wiggle room left that every time the full weight of my body was thrust against it, facing down over a dozen stories in mid-air, I was pretty sure I was going to slip out and die. Not the kind of thrill you want from a thrill ride. Whatver, I’ll just diet some more until I can click that bitch down one more notch. #Motivation!

    SheiKra: According to my coaster-loving friends, this is the biggest and baddest at the park. Its claim to fame is that it gingerly guides you 20 stories into the sky, tips the entire ride vehicle (three rows of about seven people across? Close to that?) 90 degrees to allow you to face the ground and contemplate your life for about five seconds before dropping your ass. No gradual slope — nay, a 90 degree free fall on a track. And after a few loops and swoops, it does it again (albeit at a lesser height the second time). I admit: I had my doubts about this one, but I managed to be talked into it. Pros: The views were astounding! Cons: Well, the impact only lasts a few seconds. You can handle anything for a few seconds, right? Sure, you can! Ultimately, I’d most definitely do it again. I would’ve gotten right back on again that day if it hadn’t taken me so long to stop shaking.

    Kumba: My favourite! Kumba is the twistiest of the lot, just running you through loop after loop after another upside down loop. It reminded me of the real-life version of every coaster I build on Sum of All Thrills. Highly recommended!

    Gwazi: AVOID AT ALL COSTS. My legal team is currently writing up our lawsuit against Busch Gardens; I’m citing trauma, emotional distress, and a dislocated neck (we’re pretty sure that’s a thing). Gwazi is BG’s old timey wooden roller coaster. I was warned that it was going to be a rough and bumpy ride, but I simply scoffed, “please — I consider Space Mountain to be a full body massage.” Well, if Space is a Swedish massage, Gwazi is a chimpanzee on bath salts repeated hitting you on either side of the head with lead cymbals as you try and maneuver a jackhammer through 30 feet of solid rock only to discover the secret lair of a troll who punches you in the throat. I’m going to go with “not recommended.”

Q: Regardless of your near-death experiences and legal woes, it sounds like you accomplished quite a bit! Was this thanks to FastPass+?

A: Surprisingly, no. I was worried that I’d regret not purchasing BG’s version of FP, but it turned out to be completely unnecessary — even on this “crowded” holiday weekend. (After waiting 15 minutes for it to fucking open) we walked straight on Cheetah Hunt. Then we were about to walk straight on Montu when it shut down due to technical difficulties, so as an apology, we were given FPs to any attraction in the park. Gwazi was initially shut down due to technical difficulties. We walked on SheiKra, walked on Kumba, got off, and walked right back on it, could’ve walked right on Falcon’s Fury had we desired (we did not; this is BG’s straight up, straight down free fall ride of 335′). When Montu was finally back up, we walked right on that.

The only lines we saw were for Cheetah Hunt later in the day (posted wait time: 65 minutes); we simply used our FP from Montu. And then Gwazi, when it finally opened, was 25 minutes (of time that would’ve been better spent convincing me not to go on Gwazi). Incidentally, these are the only two coasters whose ride vehicles are two people to a row, train car style. Coincidence? I think not. Perhaps if BG actually organized their load process and filled all seats in an orderly fashion, there’d be little to no wait at these attractions. Just my opinion.

Q: Wait, I thought there were animals and shit there? Why are we only talking about roller coasters and carnival games?

A: I was getting to that! Jeez. Yes, there are lots of animals — lots! And actually, I was quite pleased with their displays. You know how you can never see the fucking cheetahs on Kilimanjaro Safaris? Those assholes are always hiding way up in the farthest corner of their hill like they’re too cool for Animal Kingdom? Well, at Busch Gardens, the cheetahs are in an enclosure right off the walkway on your way to Cheetah Hunt! Just right there, next to you. Nothing but open air and some plate glass between you and some big kitties. Hell, you know how on the Maharajah Jungle Trek, yeah, the tigers are closer to you than the damn cheetahs, but still… too far away? Like, ten feet below you and hiding in corners? Not so at BG! Those cheetahs are right on your level, and they come up to the glass like they’re happy to attack you be there.

Now, whether or not this close approximation is in the best interest of the animals that we’re allegedly working to protect and help, who knows. Perhaps those cheetahs would rather have a hill to hide on. Whatever. All I know is, if you’re at Busch Gardens and hoping to see some animals up close, you won’t be disappointed! We got so close to a lion, we almost felt the mist of his urine as he was marking territory in earnest. Good times!

And look how close we got to this sad little homeless man:

Can I adopt him?  Or at least get him a warmer blanket?

Can I adopt him? Or at least get him a warmer blanket?

Q: Coasters: check, Animals: check. What about other attractions for people who fear death and large cats?

A: I guess? I don’t know. We were focused on the thrill rides and trying to catch the animals doing it.

Allegedly they have their own version of the safari ride, but we did not do that. And they have something called the Skyway (I think?) that takes you on a leisurely tour of the park from a happy little gondola in the sky, but that was shut down when we passed it as well. What is up with everything having technical difficulties there?? Is that normal? Are they the Pirates of the Caribbean of Florida theme parks?

Regardless, there seemed to be other things to do there. There was even a sing-along train ride! Though no one seemed to be singing, and there wasn’t anything Frozen-related about it, so is it even real?

Q: We’re over 2500 words into this un-authoritative view of BG, and you’ve yet to mention food or alcohol; it’s like I don’t even know you.

A: Don’t get your panties in a wad. I write what inspires me. The food there did not inspire me.

We paused around 11:00 for a beverage, and I was admittedly pleased that of the mere six or seven beer-by-the-bottle options this one quick service stand had, one of those was Kona Longboard. Well played, BG.

But the food? We had passed by some Colony House Something I Forget Its Name that boasted a buffet for a mere $16.99 (that’s like, less than 50% of Disney buffet prices), so we decided to check them out. Turns out it was dinner only, so instead we were stuck with their lunch offerings of pizza, chicken nuggets, turkey sandwich, or turkey club (which, in an utter dick move, substituted ham instead of bacon). So inspiring! Not.

But the real ass-kicker, the easiest way to send me into a table-flipping rampage: they had ketchup packets instead of ketchup pumps. WTF?!?! Who the fuck has time for that bullshit?! I mean, seriously. Ketchup packets are the worst things to happen to humanity since wedge-heeled sneakers (PICK SNEAKERS OR PICK A PAIR OF WEDGE SHOES; YOU CANNOT HAVE BOTH — GOD DID NOT INTEND FOR YOU TO HAVE BOTH). Who uses just one ketchup packet?? I use one ketchup packet per french fry. You end up spending a half hour just opening 39 ketchup packets, and by the time you’re done, your fries are cold, your beer is warm, and your entire table is covered in a layer of trash. That kind of life is not worth living.

Q: At least it was 10% off?

A: Oho! I forgot to tell you!

Q: Forgot to tell me what?

A: Go ahead and ask me what to wear/how to pack for Busch Gardens.

Q: Okaaaaay…. what should I wear/pack for Busch Gardens?

A: Nothing. You should wear something with pockets, sneakers with laces, and then bring nothing else.

Q: Um, this doesn’t sound overly shocking or abnormal.

A: The fuck?? Sure it does! My standard WDW uniform is: sundress (no pockets), flip flops, and a backpack containing my life. I can probably count on one hand the number of outfits I own that have pockets, I only wear sneakers to run, and I sure as hell never go anywhere without a purse of sorts. What kind of monster do you take me for??

Q: Okay, fine, so you’re a prissy bitch. What’s your point here?

A: My point is this: what do you encounter directly in front of you on every coaster at WDW?

Q: A sign saying, “this is not a real roller coaster”?

A: No, jerkface, a pouch in which to store your shit!

Never having been to any theme parks other than Disney in over 20 years, I simply assumed this rule was true across the board. It is not. At BG, there are no pouches, and you must instead secure your belongings in a locker each time you board a coaster to the tune of $0.50 a pop, or you can rent a locker for the day at $8. And even if you do this, you’re still stuck leaving your flip flops in a public cubbie hole next to the ride platform every time you board anything where your feet dangle. Ditto on sunglasses for every coaster.

Q: I’m failing to see what this has to do with you not getting discounted beer.

A: Hello! Because thanks to Ms. I Don’t Give A Fuck About Customer Service back when I picked up my AP, I never got the BuschBand, and thanks to the fact that I finally gave up on life and locked all of my shit in a locker way at the front of the park, I didn’t have my AP on me to prove that I get a discount.

Q: This sounds like a lot of finger-pointing for someone who proclaims to be highly offended by pointed fingers.

A: Bite me. You know an injustice occurred here!

Q: Whatever. You’re the one who wore flip flops to ride roller coasters.

A: COMFORT IS IMPORTANT WHEN TOURING, ASSHAT.

Q: This FAQ has taken a real ugly turn here.

A: I think we all know whom to blame for that.

Q: Uh, you?

A: I was going to go with MyMagic+, just for funsies.

Q: Are we done here, or what? Any other pearls of wisdom you care to share with us, or can we all move on with our lives?

A: Let me review my notes…

Okay, one interesting tidbit: at one point throughout the day, I realized that something was missing… something I’m used to seeing constantly when touring Disney: ECVs. There aren’t any at BG. And when you start to think about it, it makes sense — people in ECVs are usually the elderly, the injured, the handicapped, or “people of size” — none of whom are likely to be interested in 30 story plunges.

Q: That seems like a pretty broad-sweeping stereotype.

A: If your 87 year old grandmother still gets her rocks off to inversion loops, more power to her. But I didn’t notice much in the way of handicapped accessibility to any of these roller coasters, and as for people of size, well… the seats aren’t huge, and for safety’s sake, you really need to be able to be strapped in tight.

Q: Fine, whatever, you’re still marginally offensive. Anything else?

A: Well, in case you’re interested:
Miles walked: 6.66
Number of Pins Traded for: 0

Q: Seriously? Did you just trick us into reading yet another one of your trip reports by disguising it as an FAQ????

A: [crickets]

January/February Trip Report Day Eleven: THE FINAL CHAPTER, AKA Incessant, Never-ending Whining

Number of Pins Traded for: 8
Number of Miles Walked: 5.82

We’ve done it; we’ve reached the final day in this trip report from 1997 February. I bet some of you thought this day would never come! Well, to those naysayers, I’d like to blame my tardiness in the past nine months on the following (yes — in the same time it took me to write 11 blog posts, I could’ve created life; no, that wasn’t one of my excuses): being laid off, looking for a new job, moving to a new state, starting a new job, laziness, an over-flowing DVR, travel, sleeping, drinking, floating, and otherwise living life to its fullest. Moving forward, I’ll try and stop all of that nonsense.

So there we were, Tuesday, February 4th, waking up on our last day of vacation, always a shitty feeling, when I realized that I felt shitty for another reason as well: I was most definitely sick. Whatever had started sneaking up on me in the days before had finally overtaken my Courvoisiugh-weakened immune system. Twas not a good morning at all.

We packed up our belongings (no small feat, as you can imagine), leaving probably enough food behind to stock a local soup kitchen for a month. And another shocker: my suitcase came to 55 pounds.

No idea why my suitcase weighed so much.

No idea why my suitcase weighed so much.

One down-side of checking your luggage at the resort: they take that weight limit seriously (and I understand why — they don’t want to be hit with the overage fees), whereas usually at the airport, if I come in at 53 pounds, I can bat my lashes, remove a scarf to make it look like I tried really hard to lessen the bag’s weight, and then the ticket agent agrees to let it slide.

Not so with Disney airline check-in CMs.

So there I am, full body aches, opening my suitcase on the curb, desperately looking for anything heavy that I could actually fit in my carry-on, and finally ending up with a 50 pound suitcase and what felt like a 67 pound carry-on tote bag. FML.

Goodbye, Wilderness Lodge totem :(

Goodbye, Wilderness Lodge totem :(

Next up on the list of my first world problems (after figuring out what to eat for free breakfast in the Concierge Lounge, because you know it wasn’t going to be the oatmeal again): trying to see if the Concierge Level Concierge (CLC) could find out when and where Scoop was to be trading in the Magic Kingdom that morning. Sadly, that was a question beyond the magical powers of CLC. Useless!

No boats today.

No boats today.

As if my day couldn’t get any worse (woe is me!!!), we reached the boat dock only to find that no boats were running that morning due to fog. Back up the hill we trudged to the bus stop…

Once finally at the Magic Kingdom, we tried once more — this time at Guest Relations — to find out how to best stalk Scoop. This pathological liar pleasant CM tried to tell me that she didn’t have access to that information. “Bullshit!” I cried, and yet it did no good. (For the record — all they have to do is call the Character Hotline or whatever it’s called; it’s like their Batphone. They have this. WHY DON’T THEY USE IT?!)

We finally, finally found a random HELPFUL CM who was familiar with the Batphone and was able to tell us that Scoop would be out on Main Street at 1:00. Fat lot of good that did us, since we needed to be on the 1:00 UnMagical Express to the damned airport. FMLx2.

I want to be #1000!!!

I want to be #1000!!!

After a spin on Space Mountain, we wanted a leisurely turn on the TTA. Nope, temporarily closed. Sure, we were able to make our way over to the Haunted Mansion for a ride there, but you know what happened then? The ride broke down while we were on it.

Wait, that’s not the bad part — I LOVE being stuck on the Haunted Mansion. If I could, I’d rig it to crash all the time, just so I could start hanging out there, maybe I’d take a nap, maybe I’d wear my cat-burglar suit and sneak out of my doom buggy to explore unnoticed eventually crafting a small fort in a corner of the attic where I could spend long weekends and holidays, whatever — nay, the bad part was that just when I thought I’d have a primo opportunity to bulk up on my “quality” dark ride photos, our doom buggy stopped two cars away from the hitchhiking ghosts scene. Two cars! Two fucking cars!!! Instead of one of the best photo-ops ever, we got to be trapped at the tunnel entrance staring at the back of another doom buggy. I was getting fever rages.

Mutherfucker.

Mutherfucker.

The wildest ride in the wilderness!

The wildest ride in the wilderness!

After that, I mostly maintained my cool while we rode Pirates one last time, then Thunder Mountain, and then took the long way to Main Street via the train. And that was that. The end. Back to the Wilderness Lodge for our bus to the airport. Had lunch at the Chili’s and said goodbye to My Mother, as her flight to Boston took off a few hours before mine to Raleigh.

I then used my time wisely to sit alone at Chili’s, drinking two-for-one margaritas and tweeting with Chili’s social media folks about how much I love them and how lonely I am and how I don’t want to go home and can I get free drinks? They were pretty friendly, but that was a no-go on free margs. Bastards.

One last pouty face selfie for us with the damned crane.

One last pouty face selfie for us with the damned crane.

To put the cherry on top, as no one was home to collect me from the airport once I landed, I had to take a cab to our house 35 minutes in Rural Tobacco Farmland, NC. As if that weren’t a pleasant enough experience, I had the added thrill of having my cabbie comment, “gee… that’s an awfully big house for a young woman to live in all alone…” Seriously?! Seriously?!?! I don’t live there alone! I swear! I have a giant manly boyfriend and five pet honey badgers!!!! Honestly — who says that?! FMLx3.

My ferocious honey badger.

My ferocious honey badger.

Psych! Sh’yeah, like I’d really cap off the most amazing trip ever by moaning, groaning, and anticipating my rape and murder!

I know — let’s do the Scooby Doo ending!

… My cabbie turned out to be old man Withers from the haunted amusement park!

Nay, reality is the mega-happy ending. I must take this moment to thank My Mother for what was truly one of — if not the — most amazing trips of my life. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. To be able to spend 11 whole days in my favouritest place in the world with my favouritest person in the world, I am truly blessed.

Perhaps my lolly-gagging in the completion of this trip report was that I never wanted the experience to be truly behind me. Each month, as I wrote up another chapter, I was able to relive it, review the photos taken from that day, and be reminded just how special each moment was.

Now, I’m lucky once again to be embarking upon my next magical(TM) trip with My Mother — this very Saturday!!! Thus maybe it’s okay to finally end this story, because we’re about to make a whole new one :)

Mom, I can’t wait!!! I love you.

/non-snarky sentimental me

January/February Trip Report Day Ten: There’s no food left at WDW; I ate it all

Number of Pins Traded for: 21
Number of Miles Walked: 6.68

As we were getting dressed and primped and adjusting tiaras in order to head out for the day, our door opened. It was our Mousekeeping CM.

Immediate questions:
1. Why didn’t you knock???
2. Since when is 7:45 AM an appropriate time for Mousekeeping to come around?
3. Seriously… knocking? Are you familiar with it?

Our first question was answered for us when we realized that our Mousekeeper was deaf.

Follow-up question:
1. So… if you did knock, clearly you’re not going to hear a response. Is there a work-around for this? Maybe you leave a note prior to the guests’ arrival saying, “Hi, I’m your deaf Mousekeeper. I plan on busting into your room every morning before 8:00 AM, so unless you want to be caught naked, I suggest you put up your Do Not Disturb sign. After all, I’m deaf, not blind. Sincerely, Minnie.”

My Mother managed to communicate that we were almost out of the room and that she could come back in 15 minutes. Smiles and nodding all around. Well done. And Mom even left a follow-up note for our Mousekeeper, thanking her for all her hard work. My Mother’s a pretty swell lady.

Meanwhile, not all was perfect in paradise. I was starting to feel a little under the weather. I simply chalked it up to exhaustion and too much goddamned Courvoisier and kept on trucking. Stop number one: Club Lounge for breakfast — The World’s Best Oatmeal and lots of it. Stop number two: bus to Epcot.

But so delicious.  Also, free Mickey straws on Club Level.

But so delicious. Also, free Mickey straws on Club Level.

It was on this lovely bus ride that “under the weather” started to turn closer toward “PULL THIS SHIT OVER.”

Was it germs from some filthy child who insists on licking the handrails of WDW buses? Was it my lactose intolerance finally discovering the secret ingredient of the World’s Best Oatmeal (HEAVY CREAM)? Or was I starting to show symptoms of the nanovirus that my aunt was victimized by earlier in the week? I’m not sure, but all I knew was that I was not a happy camper. And if I didn’t get off the bus soon, people around me wouldn’t be so happy either.

Luckily we made it to Epcot without my ruining the vacations of dozens of families. After revisiting my breakfast in the privacy of a bathroom stall, we endeavoured to find something to help me. WDW Traveler Protip: most every gift shop sells medicines and first aid type stuff — it’s just hidden and you have to ask for it. $27 later, we had a small roll of Tums and two Pepto tablets.

Okay, fine, it wasn’t really $27 — but it wasn’t cheap. Damn you, Disney, and your taking advantage of the dairy-challenged!

Once things were under control, gag reflex style, it was time to have some fun!

Now, maybe you’re thinking, “Spaceship Earth is slow and soothing — you should head there!” Or “how about Living with the Land to gently ease you back into touring?”

To those suggestions, I say, “FUCK THAT, PUSSIES.”

We went on Sum of All Thrills, max level upsidedown in your face style. Because I am a goddamned rock star who’s not going to let a little thing like puking in an Epcot restroom (oooh — another First!) stop me from rocking. Rock on. Always.

After that, it was time to use our FP+ for Test Track where we vowed to make the most powerful and environmentally raping vehicle ever. Because rock stars.

Die, Earth, die!

Die, Earth, die!

You know who’s most assuredly not a rock star? The doe-eyed halfwit that we witnessed get called from the single rider line to join the twosome behind us. She then stood there, let them board the ride vehicle, and refused to climb in after them because they were strangers. She waited for the next ride vehicle to come along and got in that, attempting to sit in the middle seat in order to have the row to herself until a CM finally caught on that she was fucking up the very balance of world order here at Test Track, and she was finally forced to mingle with commoners.

WDW Traveler Protip #2: Single Rider Line means you will be seated with strangers. It does not mean “Princess for a Day; I’m more important than you; You don’t understand how hard it is to be this popular; #Privileged.” I’m sorry if this was unclear for anyone. (As an aside, if this was unclear to you, may I suggest that you do the rest of us a favour and just stay home. Like, forever. Alone. Please.)

Moving on…

I’m still holding a grudge from the first and only time I ever rode the Nemo ride — within months after it had opened thus still generating long wait times. I remember standing in that damn queue for what must have been over an hour (it could’ve been 20 minutes; I don’t remember, but for the purposes of this hyperbole, let’s go with multiple hours), so excited for this new attraction based on a movie I loved, and then…

…blah mixed with meh and topped with whatevs. Fuck Nemo.

Thus, when we thought to ourselves, “gee, it’s been like, seven years since we’ve experienced this attraction, let’s give it another shot” only to then see a 20 minute posted wait time, I once again said, “fuck Nemo.” We went on Spaceship Earth, instead. Judi Dench > crabs.

Sweet hair, bro.

Sweet hair, bro.

By now it was past 11:00, meaning past time to head on into World Showcase. Despite the fact that we had a 2:00 PM ADR at Biergarten and that I had also recently vomited, I was set on attempting the tip I’d read online about getting free chips and salsa at Cava del Tequila. Free food > common sense.

ThinkWe were lucky enough to score an actual table with chairs at Cava (another First!), though, admittedly, it was a table with a couch and four chairs, thus being slightly overkill for the two of us.

A waitress came over, and we placed our order for two margaritas and chips and salsa, which I did, indeed, get for free by showing the waitress that I follow them on Twitter.

Seasons then pass. Babies are born and learned to walk. A new presidential term is upon us. Then we receive our drinks.

By now, we were also joined by two attractive couples, willing to comingle with us in exchange for the four unoccupied seats at our table. With the waitress making a rare appearance, they put in their drink order, as well as an order for the chips and dip sampler — salsa, queso, and guacamole.

More calendar pages drift to the floor. Med students are completing their residencies. Sea turtles are passing away from old age.

Finally, a manager approaches. “Alright, I know you’ve all been waiting awhile — how about you just tell me what you had ordered, and I’ll make sure you get it ASAP.” And so we did, and so she did. Within minutes, our chips and salsa finally appeared. Then a bowl of queso. “You ordered queso as well, yes?” Um, no, but… “here, just take it.” Okay! Then the couples’ dip sampler shows up… minus queso. Insert guilty look here. Luckily, more queso is brought out. We’re all having a good laugh. We’re all enjoying queso.

Duck torture.

Duck torture.

In the time that it took a red supergiant star to phase into a supernova, our waitress mysteriously reappears, likely reborn into this world having vague memories of her past life as a waitress at Cava del Tequila. “You ordered a jalapeno margarita to go?” Um, no… “Just take it.” With that final offering, she was gone, lost in time like tears in rain.

And this, friends, is the story of how we got a free margarita, free chips, free salsa, and free queso from Cava. (We almost hit the trifecta with free guac, because our new friends only ate half of theirs and told us we were welcome to the rest. I was about to descend upon this miracle when a bus boy came by to clear their place settings. I was too proud to stop him and explain that I had plans for those strangers’ leftovers — one of my biggest regrets in life so far. That guacamole looked good.)

Now time for lunch!

Just kidding. We rode the Gran Fiesta Tour and Maelstrom (R.I.P.).

Then lunch time.

This was our First(!) time eating at Biergarten, and I was pretty excited. When I was served my tankard of beer in a glass so large I couldn’t lift it to my face with just one hand, I was even more excited.

I taught D@D everything he knows.  It didn't take long.

I taught D@D everything he knows. It didn’t take long.

I purposely scheduled our lunch as late as possible to be there to experience both the lunch and dinner offerings. However, I guess 2:00 PM isn’t a super popular time for lunch, so there were very few other folks in there with us. When they seated a charming young couple next to us at the communal-style table it felt more like when someone with the social IQ of an aardvark chooses to occupy the restroom stall directly next to you when there are 20 others available than it did “communal.”

But whatever — they were a delight to chat with. Turns out, they’re both big Disney fans, and they, too, follow all the same Disney blogs I do (I refrained from mentioning that I write a Disney blog; contrary to the pompous ass I come across as through my writing, I’m actually shy and borderline respectful in person). I really wanted to exchange Twitter handles as we were leaving, but see previous parenthetical.

Diba was kind enough to use the few clues I had to hunt them down on Facebook for me, but I figured sending out a friend request with the message, “I foooooouuuuuuund you!!!!!!!” probably wouldn’t result in a beautiful new friendship.

Perfectly sensible footwear for touring.  I'm only offended that she paired brown shoes with a black skirt.  Idiot.

Perfectly sensible footwear for touring. I’m only offended that she paired brown shoes with a black skirt. Idiot.

The food did not disappoint. I was in sausage heaven! And pickle heaven! And pretzel bread with beer cheese soup heaven! In fact, the only negative thing I could possibly say about Biergarten (aside from their determination to have you sit with (admittedly lovely) strangers even if there are 84 other empty tables in the joint) is that I think they strategically place the nudel gratin in an out-of-the-way place, not obvious in the order in which most people approach the buffet. The result? I didn’t find it until after I’d already eaten so much that I wouldn’t have entirely minded puking for the second time that day.

Mind you, I still ate the nudel gratin. Obviously. I just wasn’t happy about it. Well, aside from the fact that it was fucking amazing. Other than that, I was not happy.

We refrained from hijacking anyone’s ECVs and instead actually walked out of the park toward the Beach Club for some light pin trading and use of their bus stop to get us to Downtown Disney for the evening.

Once there, we hit up the Pin Hut in hopes of completing our Mine Train pin set — these were being offered at the time in mystery packs — two pins in each pack with a total of seven (duh) to complete the set. We had four out of the seven, yet the last two packs we bought had the exact same two pins in them. We decided to try for one more, and lo and behold — the same two fucking pins.

What’s up with this? I’m not new to capitalism — I know they’re going to make one or two pins rarer than the others so that crack-addicted fiends like me will keep throwing money at them in hopes of getting that elusive last pin in the set, but c’mon — at least mix up the common pins. Throw a little fucking variety in there! Ugh.

One last First for the day: I’d been meaning for awhile now to try Raglan Road’s bread pudding. I’d heard it was to die for, and I consider myself something of a bread pudding connoisseur (best ever: Commander’s Palace in New Orleans). Sadly, every time I’ve been dining at Raglan, I’m always too full by the end of my meal to order dessert. Surely, on this day in which I’ve eaten all the food at Epcot, this is the day that makes sense for me to shoehorn some bread pudding into the bottomless pit that is my stomach.

We sidled up to the bar, ordered a couple of drinks, and I ordered my bread pudding while My Mother ordered … umm… I don’t remember. I was a little preoccupied with the bread pudding and the breathing exercises required to power through consuming it.

And the verdict???

It was good.

I wouldn’t place it above ‘Ohana or Commander’s, but it was definitely quite tasty. And filling. Oh, my poor, poor stomach.

Side note: what the fuck is up with raisins in bread pudding? The person who first started this trend should be brought back to life just so that I can kill them again. Preferably by drowning them in a sea of poisoned raisins. Fucking raisins.

Speaking of getting angry at inanimate objects, it was time to head back to the resort for cocktail hour. One last night of choking down Courvoisier. And then never again. Never. Again.

Patrioticky.

Patrioticky.

By the time we got back to our room, after one last viewing of the Electric Water Pageant with Courvoisugh in hand, we were delighted and touched to find the following note from our new friend and deaf Mousekeeper, Hanna.

HannaNote

You bet your ass we took those towel animals, you bet your ass. Thanks, Hanna. You rock. You can walk in on us naked anytime.

January/February Trip Report Day Nine: English Literature, Tea, Martinis, and some sporting event thing

ToTNumber of Pins Traded For: 18
Number of Miles Walked: 6.64

Superbowl Sunday saw us running a wee bit late to Hollywood Studios that morning (because, let’s face it, who’s in a rush to go to the Studios these days?). We had FP+ for Tower of Terror first thing, and try as I might, I couldn’t push that bad boy back any further to give us some wiggle room. Now, I would completely understand if it’s just plain “sold out.” Sure, that makes sense — it’s a popular attraction, and here I am like an entitled asshole trying to have my pick of times a mere hour before showing up; of course that’s not going to work.

Except, that wasn’t quite the situation. I was hoping for a 9:45ish to 10:45ish window. Instead, my options were 9:15 AM to 10:15 AM or 10:05 AM to 11:05 AM. Because reasons.

Hidden Mickey at the ToT photo pick-up area.

Hidden Mickey at the ToT photo pick-up area.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not a FP+ foamer. I actually quite like the technology (when it works). How else would we be able to enjoy breakfast at the Concierge Lounge, not rope-drop, and still walk on Tower of Terror at 10:00 AM? (Definitely not “blind luck and an utter disregard for the safety of those around you as you throw ‘bows.” Nope. Not us. Never.)

Ultimately, we made it to ToT with five minutes to spare in our time window. Score — an attempt at FP+ spontaneity: 0, Us and shoving small children out of the way speedwalking: 1.

"Artsy" ToT shot.

“Artsy” ToT shot.

Glowy.

Glowy.

Around 11:00, we were starting to get hungry and arrived at the same conclusion that most hungry people come to when touring DHS: I do not want to eat at any of their quick service restaurants.

Luckily, we were able to score a last minute ADR at 50’s Prime Time Cafe where we enjoyed the ever-rare laid back Prime Time waitress — no lectures about elbows on the table here. Mayhem and anarchy. She let us get away with whatever, while we got to watch her harass other tables instead. My ideal 50’s Prime Time experience.

Speaking of ideal, I risked my lactose intolerance (no, that’s not the ideal part) to try the Peanut Butter and Jelly milkshake for the first time: yum.

Mom plays with her food and doesn't even get scolded. Anarchy rules.

Mom plays with her food and doesn’t even get scolded. Anarchy rules.

For what happened next… I’m not sure I can properly prepare you (no, not related to my lactose intolerance).

In keeping with the theme of “trying new things,” My Mother dragged me kicking and screaming toward none other than the American Idol Experience. In all of my years going to Disney, I’d never actually sat through this attraction because… well, why would I?

But that’s not the scariest part of this story.

Proof we were actually there.

Proof we were actually there.

Nay, the true shocker is this: I didn’t actually hate it.

I had always envisioned it being some sort of torture chamber where you were locked in an auditorium and forced to listen to seven-year-olds belt out the Star Spangled Banner while wannabe stage moms stood by and beamed at the closest that little Johnny Preciousbottom will ever get to realizing her his dream of a mediocre pop career that only leads to a short-lived run on Dancing with Stars and cyber bullying.

But instead, it was like, adults who could like, sing. I was impressed. Mind you, I was also skeptical. Are we sure they don’t work for Disney? I’m pretty sure they work for Disney, right? I mean, who else with real talent says, “you know what I’m going to do today? I’m going to waste an entire day of my vacation to tether myself to this dying and loathed attraction in the off chance that I can win a Fast Pass to be later insulted by Jennifer Lopez and the tens of hundreds of viewers who still watch American Idol.” Nope, not buying it.

Proof I was actually at the quiet pool.

Proof I was actually at the quiet pool.

Nevertheless, I was thankful for those audience plants in lieu of a nine-year-old’s attempt at “Let it Go.”

After taking in a few more attractions and some light shopping, we headed back to the resort for some quiet time by the Quiet Pool.* Frankly, this was also nearly a first for me. I know there are many, many Disney fans out there who swear by afternoon naps/rest/recharging, but I just can’t get on board with this. I am a child of momentum. Once I’m going — I’m going. Once you stop me, I’m stopped. Afternoon rest? You may as well just say, “I’ll see you at breakfast.”

*I think I’ve figured out what keeps the Quiet Pools quiet. They don’t heat them. We noticed this at the Quiet Pool at the Boardwalk Resort, though some claimed the heater was just temporarily broken. Yet as we got to the Quiet Pool at the Wilderness Lodge, it, too, was frigid. Coincidence? I’m starting to think not.

When waiting for a bus, it's best to pass the time by taking a selfie.

When waiting for a bus, it’s best to pass the time by taking a selfie.

In order to revive me from this state of rest, My Mother dragged my lounge chair to the edge of the ice bath known as the Quiet Pool, and dumped me in.

(The above statement is entirely fictional and used only to avoid boringness).

Next up in our plans (and our Firsts theme), it being Superbowl Sunday and all, we thought to ourselves, “what is the best way to guarantee not to run into any men or sports jerseys or buffalo wings?” Why, tea at the Grand Floridian, of course!

First things first: Mom needed a tiara as well, obvi. Luckily, in case you were wondering, the gift shop at the Grand Floridian sells a small assortment of regal refinery. Once the correct accessories were procured, we headed downstairs to the Garden View Tea Room.

Pinkies up! -- now with more tiaras.

Pinkies up! — now with more tiaras.

We used to do afternoon tea when I was younger — never at WDW, but at the Ritz in Boston, or random local tea houses we’d find on our travels. Thus, being no stranger to tea service, and this being the Grand Floridian, I’d admit that my expectations were set fairly high.

Ultimately, I would say that my expectations were mostly met. The service was impeccable (well, kinda. Sure, the hostess forgot to seat us, and then the waitress brought My Mother the wrong pot of tea, but other than that! And hey, our waitress actually asked me if I had had my hair done at the Bippity Boppity Boutique (I did not; I styled it myself), and I’m pretty sure there’s no higher compliment than if someone asked, “hey, are you the Cast Member who plays Jessica Rabbit?”, so I’m inclined to give the staff a break here), and the food was quite delicious.

My only two real complaints:

1. The tables. Some tables were reasonable. Ours was not. Ours looked like an antique end table designed to, at best, hold someone’s book, reading glasses, and a snifter of brandy. And don’t get me started on the ornate decor encircling the table, something I affectionately refer to as “that pointy shit that kept stabbing me in the thighs.” If the whole point of tea is to relax and savour your itty bity sandwiches over the course of an hour or so, shouldn’t they make the seating arrangements more comfortable?

2. THIS:

IT'S EVERYWHERE.  YOU CAN'T ESCAPE IT.

IT’S EVERYWHERE. YOU CAN’T ESCAPE IT.

Main Street Station.

Main Street Station.

After tea, we made our way up to Mizner’s Lounge for a couple of martinis, because nothing says “English afternoon tea” like gin at 3:00 PM. On our way, we passed the Teddy Bear Lady in the lobby. It was one of those wonderful moments when you get to prove to someone that you’re not crazy and/or a compulsive liar. See, Mom?? See?!?! I wasn’t making it up! There’s a very strange lady who hangs out constantly at the Grand Floridian — just her, her Miss Havisham make-up, and suitcases of teddy bears.

Not only that, but we made eye contact, the Teddy Bear Lady and I. It was special. Maybe one day I’ll work up the nerve (most likely after multiple martinis) to talk to her and find our her story. I bet it’s very Dickensian.

Speaking of grand tea and Dickens and martinis… NOTHING. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT IS NOTHING LIKE ANY OF THAT.

WHY?!?!? Because some douche bagel thought it would be a brilliant idea to turn the usually refined Mizner’s into an ESPN Club part deux: Grand Football Floridian location — complete with giant projector screens on either end of the room and a sea of temporary crap chairs and a revised menu featuring fucking hot wings that you just know weren’t even that spicy so like why even fucking bother. Fuckers.

This is the best I've got.

This is the best I’ve got.

Our timing was such that when we entered, we had no problem finding a table and non-folding chair. Yet by the time we were leaving, there were so many football-frenzied vultures seeking a table that we probably missed a great opportunity to earn some extra martini cash by auctioning it off to the highest bidder. Oh well.

It was time to really put on our thinking caps: where in the world could one go to avoid the Super Bowl? What kind of Narnia-like wonderland would exist sans televisions? This could be tricky. May as well head over to the Magic Kingdom while we continue to process this puzzle.

CarouselWe made it in time to hop on the last train out of Main Street Station and headed around to Fantasyland where we ambled about, going on an attraction here or there, catching Wishes from behind Cinderella’s Castle (lesson learned — other things I’m not great at photographing: fireworks), and hitting up the Haunted Mansion before ultimately making our way out.

One note about this last attraction: it seems the recent trend here is for teenagers of a certain ilk and mediocre IQ level to scream at the top of their lungs throughout the ride, because… they’re trying to scare other guests? They’re trying to prove to the world how obnoxious they are? They just realized that they’re going to peak in high school and be miserable ever after? I’m not sure. All I know is, there should be a new rule enacted: you scream on purpose inside the Haunted Mansion, you’re banned from the Magic Kingdom for life. I think that’s entirely reasonable, yes?

MSEPOnce we got back to the Wilderness Lodge, we were hungry again, naturally, so we decided to see what Roarking Fork counter service had to offer. Slim pickin’s if you ask me, but we each found an item or two and headed upstairs to the Concierge Lounge to begrudgingly choke down more Courvoisier gratis. By now, I was close to reaching my limit on how far I’d go to abuse free shit; I’m not sure how many more nights I could handle shooting sipping warm cognac.

Sadly, there was only one more night to go :(

Best picture ever. Credit: My Mother.

Best picture ever. Credit: My Mother.