Friday, September 13, 2013

Unschooling Disney Day #2

       We headed to Hollywood Studios for our second day of vacation.  We arrived just before 9 (when the park opens) and found that they had opened it a bit early, not extra magic hours early, but a bit early.  I wasn't sure if this was going to be a good thing or not.  We like to arrive at the parks before they open so we can avoid waiting in long lines for our favorite attractions.  At Hollywood Studios they do have a stage show kids can participate in, if they sign up early.  Luckily, there weren't that people in the park yesterday and the boys were able to sign up for the 11:50 show.  Since it was only 9 we had plenty of time to walk around and check out some rides.  Toy Story Mania is one of the most popular rides at Hollywood studios and we have seen lines with wait times of 90 minutes.  So we decided to head right there.   We only waited about 20 minutes! 

      That was the only time we needed to wait for a ride or attraction all day!  Since the park wasn't that crowded we didn't need to cross and zig  zag around like usual either so we actually did a bit less walking than usual and took things at a much slower pace.  We took the boys on the Backlot Studio Tour for the first time ever.  We got a behind the scenes look at how movie props and costumes are made.  We got to see both sides of the facades, watch staged explosions, see how they make it look like rain, and look at old the movie vehicles they keep on hand just in case they could use them again.  We saw Herbie the Lovebug, a few ships from star wars, and a few planes they mocked up for the new movie Planes.   We walked through main street USA and saw the facades they use to actually film movies.  We looked at how they make these flat paintings appear real and three dimensional.  It's really quite neat.  From there we headed to Star Tours and then we stopped for a quick snack-- Mickey Mouse ice cream bars.  So yummy in the hot Florida sun. 

















        
     By this time the boys needed to get back to the Jedi Training Academy and get all checked in for the stage show.  They donned robes, listened to the instructions and us "parental units" waited outside for them to come out.  It was probably the only time during the day in which the sun was out for the full duration and there was no shade.  It was HOT, but the boys didn't seem to care.  They loved being on stage, facing Darth Vader and battling the dark side.   Alec made such a mean face and was so serious, the Jedi Master asked him if he had anything to say to Vader and he rambled off such a long string of words (we couldn't hear all that well in the audience since he didn't have a microphone), that the Jedi Master mumbled "well, you lost me on that one" into his microphone and we all laughed.  It was great!  They have been talking about getting up on stage to do this since our last vacation and it was the main reason we headed to Hollywood Studios today so that made me doubly glad.  After they battled with Darth Vader individually, they defeated him together as a crowd of Padawans using the force to push him back.  Once Darth Vader was gone they returned their light sabers and robes and received diplomas from the master to become younglings. 










        As soon as the boys were off the stage we headed to the nearest food building (that was air conditioned) and ordered a few chicken nugget meals for us all to share as well as free ice water.  Every place that sells food will also give out free ice water all day (if you bring your own re-fillable water bottle or mug they'll even fill up that for you).  We took our food and drinks with us next door into the Indiana Jones Stunt Show Spectacular and watched another great show.  It was shady and a perfect place to rest and cool off.  They took us behind the scenes to show us how they film stunts in the movies.  We got to see stage sets moving around, fog, explosions, battles where they guys were thrown from roofs and landed on cushions.  We saw old fighter planes and a mock up of the City of Cairo, Eqypt.  The boys loved it, especially Evan who has been wanting his own Indiana Jones hat and whip.  Like most Disney attractions, the show lets you out right near a gift shop.  Evan found his hat and whip and since it came with many other things he offered to share it with his brothers.  It was a rather large box and we didn't want to carry it around all day so we had it shipped (for free) to our hotel, another nice perk of staying on site. 





     Ian had been waiting patiently to ride the Rock n Roller Coaster so we headed into that part of the park and while the board said we'd have a 10 minute wait I don't think we waited much at all, maybe 5 minutes.  From there we got him to try the Tower of Terror again.  The last time we took him on the ride it was late at night and very dark so we convinced him to try it during the day.  He loved it! Though, the Rock N Roller coaster is still is favorite.  It started to rain and for once I didn't bring our ponchos into the park with us.  When we left the hotel in the morning our plan was to go to Hollywood Studios for a bit, then head to a water park, and then finish up our evening at Hollywood Studios... but this vacation I vowed to be flexible and not worry about plans.   By the time it started raining we had decided to stay at Hollywood Studios until it closed.  We wanted to watch the Lights, Motors, Action stunt show at 4, we had dinner reservations at the Sci Fi Dine in theatre at 5:30 and then we were going to watch Fantasmic at 8:30.  We went into the nearest stores to get out of the rain and walked up and down both sides of main street ducking into each and every store.  Amazingly enough the kids didn't really ask to buy anything either.  We finally decided to just ignore the rain and head to Star Tours since the kids wanted to ride again.  As soon as we left the shelter of the awnings it started to pour.  Luckily it was a hot day and we didn't mind getting soaked a bit. 
      After riding star tours we still had almost 2 hours until the stunt show and the rain wasn't letting up.  No one wanted to ride any of the other rides and we realized that the stunt show might not even go on if the rain persisted.  They can't drive around doing their stunts if the ground and roads are all wet, so we decided to head back to our hotel and cancel our dining reservations.  The boys wanted to swim in the pool so they changed and headed out to go swimming.  None of us adults wanted to swim in the rain so I told Evan to stay in the shallow end or else wear a life jacket.  He refused to do either and amazed us all when he spent the next hour or so swimming all around the deep end, going off the water slide, and having a ball.  I was amazed thinking back at how far he's come with his swimming this year.  I figured we couldn't deny that we now had another swimmer in our family. 
       We talked the boys into getting dressed and heading to the Magic Kingdom, we were going to try and see if we could get in for dinner at any of our favorite restaurants.  We weren't super hopeful though since we are a rather large party of 6, and while the crowds are smaller Disney always draws in vacationers.  Compared to Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom was mobbed!  I couldn't get over the difference in crowds.  We didn't get in at any restaurants so we grabbed a tray and got another counter service meal instead.  We were near Splash Mountain, which Ian really wanted to ride, and the sign said the wait was only 10 minutes so they headed on and walked right onto the ride without waiting.  It is a long 12 minute ride though so by the time they got off the ride we needed to head to main street to watch the light parade.  We stopped along the way for a snack and by the time we made it to main street there wasn't a single place to sit anywhere.  It was amazing to see all the people in the park at this time of year.  However, we've seen it where the parks are so crowded that you have a huge crowd at the parades and still have 30-45 minute waits for most shows.  After asking the boys they decided to forgo the parade and ride some rides.  We watched the Monsters Inc. comedy show, rode on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover.  They're working on Space Mountain right now and we were able to see the inside of the ride with the lights on while going on the people mover.  It was very neat. 

       By the time we got off the ride it was already 5 minutes to 10 and the park was closing at 10. They have their Wishes Nighttime Spectacular (the reason we came too the park tonight), but the boys decided they didn't want to watch the fireworks so we headed back to our hotel.  By the time we got into our room and all the boys got ready for bed it was already 11 and they were exhausted.  It was another great day at the park and for once being flexible worked out really great.    

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