Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Princess Arrives at the Kingdom - Princess Trip - Day 1 (Friday)

It’s here!!! It’s finally Princess Weekend!  I've been freaking out the past week or so, making sure that my costume is ready, my running Go Bag was ready, that we were all packed…..  Finally! I've been working toward this for a year and it is finally almost here…..

The drive down was uneventful, and as usual, we confused the guard at Saratoga Springs Resort by coming in the ‘back door’ off Broadway.  He directed us to the Carriage House, where we check in at the Online Check-In Desk with what was the CHATTIEST Cast Member I've ever encountered!  She didn't have an “Earning My Ears” tag, or I would have given her the benefit of the doubt. She just didn't listen very well. She asked if we’d been there before, which of course we said, yes, this is our 3rd time, but she proceeded to give us the New Visitor Talk (you know, tell us ALL about the resort…)  No matter how many times we said, “yes, I know about the spa” or “I love Artist Palette” she Just. Kept. Talking. Eventually, since we couldn't get her to  stop, we just let her keep going. 

I really wanted a ground floor, but none were ready, and the ones that would be ready soon were not in sections we wanted to stay at. We gave in and took a 3rd floor in the Carousel. It was close to the bus stop and very close to the corner of the building, so we could take the stairs up to our room and down to the bus. I came to regret this room decision.

Saratoga Springs is a gorgeous resort, although a lot of visitors don’t love it because it’s not all “in your face DISNEY!”, which is why I love it.

Saratoga Springs as seen from The Springs section Bus Stop
However, after staying at Wilderness Lodge, I may have lost a little love for SSR. I didn’t get the “Home” feeling this time.  I don’t know if that made me sad or not.

After unpacking, I took a few shots of our room for the blog, and then we got ready to go pick up the Event Bus to take us to the expo at Coronado Springs.

Studio Room with Queen Bed and Sleeper Sofa (Bathroom out of frame on left; patio out of frame on right)
I didn't’t take into account that our room was about as far away from the Event Bus Stop as it possibly could have been. This may be an issue on Sunday…

Yeah, that's right - I'm here for an EVENT!
While waiting for the bus, there was a group of about 8 other women there waiting for the bus and they were having a typical “Girls Weekend” type of fun. You can see them behind me in the photo. Selfies, group photos, lots of laughing and giggling. Just the kind of thing that Hubby hates. It didn't take long for his snide remarks to start. I told him that if was going to be that way, shut the F up and keep it to himself until the weekend was over. I refuse to let him spoil my weekend!

While standing in line, I realized that, because we took too long moving our stuff into the room, we were running behind schedule.  We had reservations at Liberty Tree Tavern (LTT) for lunch in a few hours.  We decided to go to MK first, then do the expo afterwards. Luckily, the bus stop for the parks was directly across the street. 

We got to MK pretty quickly and saw the crowds and I knew that this weekend was gonna be busy!

Oh my God, so many people!
It was so busy, they opened up the little Will Call/Guest Relations Gazebo under the Monorail line....

I've never seen this open!
A quickie photo at the front of the park, and we headed to Liberty Tree for lunch. 

I won't forget these memories for a long time...
At LTT, we checked in and waited not too long for our table. I kid you not, we were led to the George Washington Room AGAIN and we were seated at the table behind the Pukemanity Table of 2012.  After we finished laughing like hell, I had to take a photo.

The Pukemanity Table for 2012, and our current table 2013
Since The Kiddo was not able to eat last time, she was looking forward to this meal. For drinks we all got soda, and I got a huge water!

All cups at table service restaurants should be so big!
She and I ended up doing halfsies on a burger and the Pilgrim’s Feast.

Regular cheeseburger and really good french fries
Hubby also got the Pilgrim’s Feast. Both of us got extra mashed potatoes so the server (who was excellent, by the way) brought us extra gravy for the taters.

Turkey, stuffing, lots of mashed potatoes
Yes, that is a gravy boat filled to the brim with turkey gravy
For dessert (which usually we never do at lunch!), we all got Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake!  Like I said, The Kiddo had been waiting months to taste this thing, and she went to town on that bad boy!  I think next time I get it I’ll ask if I can have the ice cream on the side of the bowl, instead of on top of the cake – I don’t like soggy cake, and the ice cream melts too quickly for me. It’s still the best damn table service dessert I've ever put in my mouth!

Ooey..... Gooey.... Toffee..... Cake.....Delicious!
To let our food settle, we wandered over to Fantasyland, through the new Rapunzel bathroom cut-through and got in line for it’s a small world.

If you ever wonder how busy a park is, look at the wait times or the line for IASW - today is busy
After that it was back to the expo!  I was kind of hoping that Hubby and the Kiddo would stay at MK and I could go to the expo by myself, but they wanted to come with.

I stopped for the obligatory photo by the big sign before heading in to Packet Pickup, where these nice people handed me my bib, my bag check sticker, a program and my pin (that I pre-ordered). 

The Expo was held at the Coronado Springs Convention Center

Here's me!  9558 - The nice gentleman handed me my goodies
Event Brochure, Bag Check sticker, Commemorative Pin and Bib
I went to another station and picked up the commemorative ears that I ordered, but because I was so excited to register back in July, I read wrong, and thus I ended up with Kids’ Race commemorative ears….

Not what I thought I was getting, but they are cute. I can always replace the patch with something else...
After the ears, I went to a third station to pick up my shirt and goody bag. We got a cool mesh string sack this year that had a pin, safety pins, a temporary tattoo and a LUNA Bar, as well as a nice purple tech tee.

Tech tee, pin, LUNA bar, bag, safety pins, temporary tattoo and my bib

Closeup of shirt fabric and Princess pin

Close-up of commemorative pin I purchased

You get this bag when you get your shirt - it's for bag check at the race and it's HUGE!
Once all the official stuff had been taken care of, I did what all cool racers do – I found my name on the GIANT BOARD of names. I’m not kidding – this thing had to be 20 feet wide and 8 feet high, covered in the names of everyone who was running the half!  My name was down near the bottom, but I found it and got a nice photo.

Found me!
Next – on to OFFICIAL MERCHANDISE!  Oh, my. The line to get IN to the Merch section is huge!  I think we waited in line to get in for almost a half-hour. It was butt-to-front the whole time. Once we got inside, I grabbed what I knew I wanted because there was just no way to browse – it was way too crowded. I got everything that I wanted though:  Princess Ears, a vinylmation ‘medal’ (that I would later put on my stuffed Ursula at home), an “I Did It” tee shirt, car magnet and a 16oz reusable tumbler. Hubby was kind of freaking out about how much I was buying, but I had budgeted for ALL of this, and with my AP discount, I came in under budget, so all was okay!

Official Princess Ears, with tiara and train (on the back)

This is made for a Vinylmation, but I'm going to do something different with it

Front of "I Did It" shirt

Back of "I Did It" shirt - I like the trail of pixie dust stars creating a Mickey Head

Car Magnet

16oz insulated tumbler
I really wanted to browse the Expo and window shop but a) it was WAY too busy and b) I had the family in tow (and neither one of them window shop).  I did stop and get the commemorative giclee or whatever it was (think big postcard), and I was super lucky to have a fellow shopper find a black bondi band with a gold crown (to emulate King Triton’s crown that Ursula stole at the end) and the best part – it was on sale this time!  Only $5!

Black bondi band with gold tiara - $5
We headed out to the parking lot, found our waiting area and hopped our bus back to SSR to drop off my stuff. 

Saratoga Springs at Dusk

Potty break, and off to Epcot!

Getting off the bus, we saw that the race area over in the parking lot was set up. We had been wondering at what point the race route would come OUT of Epcot, so we decided to walk over and see if we could figure it out. We’d seen a photo that was posted on Twitter a month before, so if I could find that spot, I would know.

Well, we did find it, and we began walking towards the area that was the finish line. It was set up for the 5k, but the feeling of walking towards, then UNDER the finish line was really, really emotional. I had to just stand there and look at it for a while.

Finish Line
Tents for charities, etc
Where we will enter the Pre-Race area (I wish I took photos of me in front of each window...)
BIOFREEZE!!!  This tells me it must be the medical tent
Sure, they're empty now, but they won't be this weekend!
Looking back towards Epcot from the .1
Walking back to Epcot before Security Sam yells at us!
We walked pretty far past the finish line, looking at the finisher’s chute and all the tents set up, before turning around and heading back. I was getting the “we’re gonna get caught!” feeling, and sure enough, as we got just out of the race area, we saw a Disney security vehicle come by. They didn't stop us or even stop, but we got the message! Into Epcot we went. 

We ‘thanked the Phoenicians’ at Spaceship Earth, then headed to the all new Test Track. During the year-long refurb they redesigned the track (well, the aesthetics – the track is the same) to look like you are inside a computer (I’m so tired of people comparing it to TRON!) as well as reconfigure the queue (no more crash test dummies and loudness - now it's prototype vehicles and quiet).

About halfway through the queue, you are given a white card that has an RFID in it. You could also use your room key, we found out later.  You will use this card to ‘store’ your car data.

Ooooh, they spent so much on graphics...
You go into the Chevy (not GM now, more specific) Design Studio and stand in front of a display. If your group decides to do one car, you all stand in front of the same display. If you each choose to design your own car, you each get a display. The CMs were having a hard time conveying this info to a lot of people, so there was a lot of confusion when we entered the studio.

Using this touch-screen display, you can design your car for power, responsiveness, efficiency and capability.

My completely designed Test-Car (I love the flames)
When you are done, your car is saved on the white card and you are sent to ‘testing’. When it is your turn to get in the car, you tap your card on the card reader to ‘upload your car’, then you ride the ride as usual. Visually, this ride is very boring. It relies heavily on black light, and I miss the part where they did the hot and cold testing – I loved the warmth of that part.  But, never fear, the outside part is still there and it’s as fast as it’s always been. Our car usually gets up to around 64.7mph or so.

What is the guy behind me doing?
Afterwards, you can stop at a station and scan your card to see  what your ‘score’ was and compare it to other cars, including the highest scorer of the day. Of the three of us, the Kiddo won.

The showroom is still there, of course, but now they only have Chevrolet cars, instead of all GM brands.  There are also lots of hands-on techy things to do, like make a Chevy commercial or play a racing game with simulated cars and tracks but real steering wheels. It kind of messed with me, and I didn't like playing it.

Lastly though, there were 3 cars set up where you could take photos with them, which was kind of cool. You could add background things like fireworks or stars or whatnot, then email them to yourself. 

By now, we are getting pretty darn hungry! We’d goofed around so long at Test Track that most places were closed, but since we’re picky eaters, not food snobs, we were fine eating at Electric Umbrella. Burgers and nuggets at 11pm work for me.

Hubby and the Kiddo got nuggets.

Salty, greasy perfection! 
I got a burger.

Basic bacon cheeseburger and fries
When I snuck one of Hubby’s nuggets, it caused one of my fillings to come just the bit loose! I knew that I needed dental work, and I had been hoping to make it through this weekend, so I tried to eat soft food the rest of the trip (the filling is between my two front teeth!)

While eating, we watched everyone begin to file out of the park, since EMH was over at midnight, and soon we fell in line, heading back to the bus – I’m beat! Plus, I’m already breaking my rule of taking it easy and getting to bed early this weekend….