Florida – September 2008

Day 7 – Orlando – Disney Hollywood Studios

Monday 28th September

The first thing I did this morning when I got up was to check the USPS tracking web-site to see if the letter we’d been sent with the theme park tickets had arrived yet. Alas, still the same status as last night. At this point I’m worried that we’re going to have to pay for the first few days worth of park entrances. I’d forgotten about it by about half an hour later when we got a call from Jennifer telling us that Kristen had been to the post office and now has the letter and was on her way down to Orlando. Phew! For the first time since we got to Florida, I started to finally relax a bit.

We had planned on meeting Kristen, who first had to met up with and collect Sandi, at the Disney Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney MGM Studios) main entrance at around 12:30. Due to a number of reasons, we ended up waiting at the park entrance for nearly two hours before we finally saw them disembark the tram from the car park. Sandi hasn’t changed a bit. With our tickets finally in hand (thanks to a host of people who worked together to make it happen) we entered our first theme park. We would have been followed shortly thereafter by Kristen Sandi and Dillon had there not been some sort of problem with their tickets that meant that they had to walk around to the guest services office to get it straightened out first. Fortunately, it was nothing serious and we met them inside after a short while.

We had a fabulous day at Disney Hollywood Studios. Although we’ve seen it all before (repeatedly), the kids had an absolute blast as we concentrated only on those things that they would enjoy and/or be able to participate in. Our first stop was the ‘Honey I shrunk the kids’ playground, where you’re shrunk down to the size of an ant and everything around you is enormous. All the surfaces are soft and child friendly but it was difficult at times to keep track of who was where. We’d actually lost Joey completely at one point but another Dad brought him back to us hand-in-hand. Joey had become disorientated and had looked at another man asking for Dad. ‘I’m not your Dad but we’ll not stop looking until we find him’ was his response. That was nice.

Next up was the Playhouse Disney live show. This is where an audience (mostly full of young children) would sit on the floor in front of a stage to be entertained by all the characters and puppets from some of Disney’s TV programs. Our kids were absolutely enthralled by it all and I saw for the first time that look of sheer wonderment on their faces as they interacted with the performance over the course of the half hour. I’d anticipated this moment and it was touching to finally see it played out in front of me.

Since we had Dillon with us, we wanted to try to get in some activities that would suit his age too. As we were over at that end of the park, we decided that the Back-lot Tour might be a good idea. All three kids seemed to enjoy this equally.

We had at one point during the afternoon bumped into a ‘cast member’, as the staff are referred to, and had asked what sort of rides might Dillon be tall enough for. He’d essentially told us that the only ride he could do was one for which there was an eighty-minute queue. As it turned out, this wasn’t true. Since the Star Tours simulation ride only had a 40” height restriction, we took him onto this and he really enjoyed it.

We felt that all the kids would enjoy the Muppet 3D show, even if Jennifer might not keep her 3D glasses on, so this is where we went next. Sure enough, it was a big success and the fact that we walked right in and they opened the doors immediately was a big bonus.

The day was dragging on a bit now and we wanted to make sure we got into the big amphitheatre in time to get seats for the main park closure show – Fantasmic. We found a place to sit to get a bite to eat (those huge turkey legs are delicious) whilst Sandi and I went to do the Tower of Terror. Again, there was practically no waiting for this ride, which was every bit of fun I’d remembered it to be.

The big finale show was spectacular and the kids were captivated by it all. Mickey Mouse was, of course, the big hero of the show and I couldn’t help but wonder to what extend we were now ‘hooking’ the kids onto the whole Disney thing. When you step back and take a look at the big picture, you certainly realise just how intoxicating and indoctrinating the whole process is.

We met Kristen and Sandi back at the house but only for a brief couple of minutes to offload a few things from her car. She said she wasn’t feeling 100% and decided to drive back to Jacksonville tonight. She may come back again later in the week when the crowds are less intense.

We had originally planned on taking the kids to Animal Kingdom tomorrow but we may yet do something else since it will just be the four of us now.