Here is a nice view of the grounds at the Omni Hotel, where I'm recording all week long. It's nice at times to actually be able to do some recording 'locally' but I must admit it's often more difficult. I have to get up extra early (since I'm not actually staying at the hotel) and have to transport equipment every day. When I travel it's usually a short distance to the hotel (even shorter if the event if being held at the hotel).
This is the treehouse that we would always stop at when traveling to "The Ramch" back when I was a kid. It is an old hollow redwood tree -- they put a door on the front of it and there is a gift shop inside. I haven't beem inside for years. It seems that every time I go by it is closed. I'm not sure if it's closed for certain seasons or what, but it was closed on this pass by it as well.
Tradition dictates that we at least stop for a quick photo.
CU and I got the opportunity to go see the Houston Aeros play the Texas Rangers last Wednesday with Jason and Amanda. It was a great time. The Astros lost, but it was to another Texas team... so it's all good. :)
They say it couldn't be done, but we did it -- three major theme parks in one day. As it turns out, the last three weeks in January are the least busy at Walt Disney World. We went on Sunday, February 3, which is very close to that time. Add to that... February 3 was also Super Bowl Sunday. So we figured the crowd would be about as light as it would get for a weekend. We were right.
Since work was sending me to Heathrow, Florida for the week (which is located halfway on Highway 4 between Daytona and Orlando) we would take advantage of me being there and simply fly up a bit early and hit Disney World. That way we would only have to pay for the hotel for one night, and CJ's plane ticket. :) My plane ticket, and Sunday's hotel/car was on the company. Not too bad.
We got up early, went to breakfast, and arrived at Disney World around 8:30 am (a full half hour before they open). The parking lot was pretty empty. We had purchased a "hopper" pass the evening before, at Pleasure Island (the "nightlife" part of Downtown Disney). A hopper pass basically allows you to enter and exit any of the Disney parks for that day. It costs a little more, but it's worth it if you can take advantage of it.
We also had a game plan... we would start out at Disney Hollywood Studios (used to be called Disney/MGM Studios) first, as we figured that would be the least popular -- giving us access to everything we wanted. We would then hit Epcot and finish with the Magic Kingdom. CJ had been to the Magic Kingdom at Disneyland several times, and the one at Disney World isn't much different. Since the Magic Kingdom is almost always the busiest park we thought we'd save it for last. Plus, Hollywood Studios closed at 8:00 pm, Epot's World Showcase closed early (although the rest of the park was still open until 9:00 pm), and Magic Kingdom was open until 9:00 pm.
Disney Hollywood Studios: 9:00 am - 12:00 pm EPCOT: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm Magic Kingdom: 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Here are some photos of CJ outside Disney Hollywood Studios. In the first photo you can see the entrance to the left and the Hollywood Tower of Terror in the background to the right.
A lot of the following photos are for a co-worker of mine, Sandie. They may not be the best shots in the world, but they show "proof" that we were actually on the ride, as the photos taken are taken after we got into the event. Better photos, and more complete photos, will be made available on the Mr. Fuggs and Pugitta site when I get back to Houston.
The first ride we went on was STAR TOURS. We had almost zero wait for this as we pretty much raced to this location as the gates opened. :)
Here is CJ waiting in Row 5 for STAR TOURS. She was the first person in that row, which is the best seat in the house -- last row, in the corner (you get the best "thrill" in that seat -- a lot like sitting in the back seat of a school bus... you feel every bump).
Anyone else remember going on this ride when we were kids?
Outside of STAR TOURS we had to stop for a photo opp on a speeder bike. :)
The next stop was the Muppet Vision 3D show. Notice the crowd? I guess you can figure out we didn't wait in lines much at all. :) Also, it was a really good 3D movie experience.
The next attraction was the "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" playground sets. It was pretty cool, but just a walkthrough event.
Another cool photo opp with two of the characters from Disney/Pixar's CARS. They made sounds, vibrated, and turned their lights on and off.
Next was the Hollywood Studio Backlot Tour. Been there, done that... but it was fun to experience again.
CJ really wanted to check out the Beauty and the Beast show, so we did. It was 20-30 minutes long and pretty well done. A great rest for us as well, as by this time we'd been walking all over the place.
There were a couple of attractions that were not on our list. CJ doesn't like "drops" so rides like the Tower of Terror, or some of the roller coasters were off limits. We could have got those into the schedule, however, as the lines were still pretty short. But, we finished up our park visit just in time to catch a bus to EPCOT for phase 2.
We arrived at EPCOT and took the "must have" Spaceship Earth photos. EPCOT was a little more crowded than Hollywood Studios, but the most we waited for any ride was about 20 minutes for their most popular two rides.
Here we are in line at Test Track. It was VERY cool. You basically get in this go-cart type car and you go on a lame "test" course inside that is supposed to simulate testing conditions of a car (like breaking, cornering, going over bumps to test shocks, etc.). It wasn't until the car went outside that it got really fun... as the car went well over 60 mph on a short, curvy track. FUN!
Next was Mission Space where you sat in a small, confined pod with three other people. You had a viewport, control stick, and buttons you had to press during the mission. CJ was the engineer, I was the captain, and the other two people were... well... I can't remember right now. But the ride is fun. It's basically on one of those g-force simulators they put astronauts on. You know, the things that spin round and round and round until your face goes flat? Well, all we could see was the screen in front of us which had a video of a spaceship-point-of-view taking off. The g-force made it feel like we were really taking off. Cool ride. :) I think when we originally went to EPCOT (way back in "the day") this ride was nothing more than a round theater where you watched a movie being played on the round floor in front of everyone. It was supposed to be the back-end view of what it would be like to be blasted off in a rocket. They've really improved this ride. :) When you're walking into the ride, however, you'll notice they still have some of the same props. The second photo is a big round spinning chamber that I remember them having the first time I went on this ride as a kid.
We went to "The Land" and hit a ride called Soarn'... which was very cool (photo not here as it was dark inside). This ride had the longest wait... 20 or 30 minutes! But while everyone waited there where interactive games on four HUGE screens in front of everyone. Infrared cameras were pointing at us, and we we waved our hands and/or moved and leaned items would be affected on the screen. They had a bunch of different games -- a great way to kill time when you're waiting for a ride. The ride itself was very cool. You sit on a bench with a "glider" wing above you and you're surrounded by scenes shot from a helicopter... and it really does feel like you're flying. In fact, you could feel the breeze on your face and, as an added bonus, when you flew over certain areas, like a forrest of pine trees, you could actually smell the pine in the air. Very cool. No wonder this was the most popular ride there.
After "The Land" we went to "The Sea" and saw their super-crazy-ultra-large aquarium. Remember that place that had the "elevator" that took us "way below" sea level back when we were kids there? It's the place where there's a large tube that fills with water and the diver comes down from the ceiling once the tube is filled with water... well, this is that same place, just updated. We took a "Nemo" ride, which was cool -- they actually figured out a way to incorporate 3D animated fish in with the real fish. Seriously, you couldn't tell how they did it. It was a very cool effect. Again... you'll have to wait for my other photos to see those shots.
We took a tour of all the different "countries" and stopped off in Japan for lunch. The lake with all the "countries" around it is about a 1.5 mile walk. Fun.
Yep... more photos of Spaceship Earth. I don't really have any good photos of this ride on my iPhone, as it was too dark inside (and the iPhone doesn't have a flash) so you'll have to wait for my post on Mr. Fuggs and Pugitta for those photos (my Casio camera takes pretty good photos in the dark, but it doesn't wirelessly connect to my computer or Google Blogger, so I'll have to wait until I get home to upload those).
We actually decided to spend an extra hour at EPCOT since we've both been to the Magic Kingdom several times. By the time we got to the Magic Kingdom, however, the sun was setting which made for poor shooting conditions with the iPhone -- so you'll have to wait on those photos as well (I got a lot of good ones with my Casio camera). We went to the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, the Haunted Mansion (one of my favorites, and one that was updated with new technology recently), and, of course, It's A Small World (I seriously have NO idea why I always torture myself on this ride every time I got to the Magic Kingdom... I just do). We also got to see the SpectroMagic parade... which is a night time parade lit up with thousands and thousands of light bulbs, LEDs, and fiber cable. It was cool to see, as I don't recall ever really watch any of the Disney parades before.
And, of course, we also saw the "wishes" fireworks show, which is one of their best to-date. After the fireworks show we waited around until they opened access to Cinderella's Castle, as CJ really wanted to walk through it. We also stopped at a shop and purchased some useless crap for ourselves and others -- you know, pins and magnets and such.
Anyway... that's it in a nut shell. Look for more in a week, or so, on the Mr. Fuggs and Pugitta website.