Sunday, May 29, 2016

MegaCon and Animal Kingdom Trip

Today was a combination of a Me Day and a Girl's Day Out.

*Out of respect to the kiddo and her friends, there will be no pictures of them included. I know, you're so sad*

A group of friends from the Kiddo's Anime Club at school were attending MegaCon today, although most of them had been there since last night. The Kiddo and one of her friends could only go on Saturday, so I volunteered to chauffeur them down to Orlando for the day.  I was somewhat leery of leaving them at the Convention Center alone, but she's 18 and no one wants to be shadowed by their mommy at a convention all day. So, once we got through what was truly the WORST traffic jam I'd ever been in in my life (seriously, it took an hour to drop them off once we turned into the Convention Center area...), I took off for the day.  I had a hot date with IKEA and Animal Kingdom!

First stop, IKEA.  I got there right about 10am, and though it wasn't planned, I "rope-dropped" IKEA! (I decided that this event just HAD to be shared on Twitter, so it got tweeted. And then I kept up the tweeting during the day; does this make me a Disney Blogger for real?!) After parking, I'd gone upstairs (planning to power through the showroom area to get back to the downstairs part), and was greeted by one of those retractable fencing things. A lady actually came out after a minute or so and retracted it so we could enter the show room (why the rope? Well, the restaurant is open early, so they don't want the showroom to be open that early, so they rope it off). Once I could enter the show room, I refused to follow the 'path' but instead just cut through rooms and areas left and right.  Once I got to the end of the path, I felt a bit stupid - there is a shortcut! (ETA, apparently, there are lots of shortcuts, according to that link!). You can go behind the elevator and right back down the escalator to the "get it yourself" section... That is a time-saver!!

Dude, if I wanted a HEMNES, this rope wouldn't stop me!
Anyway, once I got downstairs, I was on a mission to get a larger JARA Lamp Shade (the one we got previously was too tiny for the space I hung it), as well as a second HEMMA power cord. The one we got previously did not have a rocker switch to turn it on and off (for the life of me, I had no idea why one cord was more expensive than the other... that was why.).  Now that I had one with a switch, we could hang it in the kiddo's room for extra light. The shade and cord came to $19.  Love IKEA!

Once done there, it was time for Disney!  Neither Hubby nor the Kiddo enjoy going to Animal Kingdom.  The kiddo thinks animals are boring; Hubby doesn't like any of the rides there (roller coasters kick up his fear of heights and he doesn't like getting wet on Kali River Rapids). So, this was the perfect opportunity for me to have a peaceful ME DAY at Animal Kingdom without anyone complaining. I'd made FastPasses for Everest, Dinosaur and Kali River Rapids.

Avatar Floating Mountains - coming soon
Welcome to Animal Kingdom
At the turnstiles, I was denied entry - apparently my credit card had been denied for my monthly payment for our annual passes, so I had to make a pit-stop at Guest Relations and drop $90 to gain entry.Once that was cleared up, I was able to go in, but I got Cast-blocked about my drink (leftover from the trip down) - I had to throw away my straw, for the safety of the animals. Other than that, I was okay.

My first stop was to photograph my way through the Discovery Island Trails and then around the Tree of Life. (ETA, no I'm not going to bombard you with lots and lots of photos. Just lots of photos.)
Chillin' birds
Because of the traffic jam at the Convention Center and the payment snafu, I'd missed my first Fast Pass, so I used the FP machine right by the ride to find another time later in the day.

Once that was done, I headed to my second ride, Dinosaur. We rode this once, back in 2010, on our first trip to Disney.  I had a headache that day (when didn't I have a headache, back then?), so that skewed a lot of things.  I remember that it was loud and jouncy (jarring + bouncy), but that I liked the idea of it. So I decided to give it another shot, alone and headache-free.

Hey, what's that over there?
The pre-ride area was the same, with the big T-Rex inside.

It looks like the big dino is trying to eat the tiny dino
Once through the line, you still go into the room with the stupid paleontologist who wants to steal the special dinosaur. 

"I will eat your soul!!! Bwhahahahaha!!"
Mrs. Huxtable says "You will do no such thing!"
That face you make when you get in trouble with your mom in front of your crew
I was loaded into the front row of my Time Rover (or whatever) with what seemed to be a boy of 10, and his grandmother, who didn't seem all that thrilled to be doing this ride, but was doing everything in her power to stay relevant with this kid (he was very dismissive of her, while she was just trying to spend some quality time with him - I wanted to elbow jack him in the face).  Luckily, the Cast Member allowed me to keep a seat between me and him, or he probably would've gotten a faceful.

So, the ride was the same. The first 80% was fine. Then it got loud. Then it got really loud. Then it got jouncy AND loud. And finally, I just wanted to get the fuck out of the Time Rover.  Really, Disney, why does it need to be SO loud and jouncy? Like, it's painful.  But, I can say that no, I still don't like this ride, so I'm not missing anything by not riding it ever again (except for super-awesome Phylicia Rashad).

After Dinosaur I returned back to Kali River Rapids for my Fast Pass time, and I was able to use the cool new lockers they have available for use. They were free and you could use them for up to two hours.  I stashed all my stuff in there (especially my tech and good DSLR camera!), put a Ziploc bag around my small Samsung camera and got in line (I can't find those photos, but if I do, later, I'll add them).  The ride was fun, but I like raft rides. I didn't get SOAKED-soaked, but I got pretty wet.  Though, it's the weekend before Memorial Day, so as you can imagine, it was HOT outside. I think I dried off in about 10 minutes.

My original Fast Pass plan included Everest as my first ride. I missed that, of course, but I decided to see what the wait time was, and when I got over there, I discovered (or remembered) that Everest had a Single Rider Line! Score!!

I was still not sure about Everest (more unsure than Dinosaur).  When we came in 2010, I had a headache (as mentioned above). I didn't really stop to think what riding a ROLLER COASTER would do to a headache... Well, apparently, it made me nauseated.  I wasn't expecting the backwards part to roil my stomach so much, and by the time we got back to the station, I was practically jumping over the Kiddo, trying to get out - I was going to puke.  I stood there for a moment, and then I was okay. I went outside and stood near a trashcan, near DEFCON 5, ready to go. But then I was okay. We decided to go on another expedition - Expedition Bathroom.  I still wasn't sure if pukage was going to happen, but I would rather puke in a toilet than a trashcan or a bush.  I never did vomit, but it was literally like when you pour soda, and you're praying that it doesn't overflow, but it's thisclose to going over the edge that you can see the dome of soda? Yeah.  After dunking cold water on my head, I was able to leave the bathroom (and get a Sprite).  I hated Everest for years because of that.

But, like Dinosaur, I was willing to give it another shot. I had Dramamine this time, too!

I love how this altar/shrine thing lines up perfectly with the mountain
It's a beautiful ride
Arriving at the Mountain
I think my wait was maybe two minutes in the single rider line?   I was in a train under 5 minutes, and I was stuck with another 10-year old boy who thought he was too cool for school.

Why even bother with the switchbacks?
Here's hoping this ride doesn't end up like 2010!

You get a great view of Avatar construction from the top of the lift
Obligatory "Chewed-Up Tracks" Photo
Okay, so the verdict?  I like 90% of Everest. The backwards part does a number on my stomach, but it wasn't nearly as bad as last time (no raging feelings of puking on some too cool for school ten year old). Is it a must-do or me?  Not really.  I'd ride it if I was here AND the line was short.

By now, it was past 1pm, and I was ready for some lunch. Since it was nearby (and I'd heard lots of good things about it from various Disney Blogs) I decided to pop into Yak and Yeti Local Food Cafes for some Honey Chicken and a glass of ice water ($11.50).

Birds (and children) love this fountain
As it was the end of lunch time, I made the mistake of assuming there would be a nice assortment of seats to choose from.  Yeah, not so much. Many families were taking advantage of the shade and extending their mealtime (or hell, just sitting at the tables even though they weren't eating - a big pet peeve of many Disney goers). I ended up at a table near the fountain. I had a smidgen of shade, but not very much.

Honey Chicken (with nice veggies) and Rice
I'm not really sure what all the rave reviews were about... I've gotten better "asian food" at my local mall food court. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't the "oh my god this is the best evah!" food either. On the upside, they didn't try to gyp you with more veggies than chicken. But there wasn't enough sauce to unstick the rice.  This was a once-and-done for me.

The next on my park To-Do List was to go to Rafiki's Planet Watch.  Family doesn't care about animals, so there was never a chance to do this (without having to listen to them bitch about it, anyway).

I didn't bring any luggage today, thanks
I only had to wait a few minutes for the train before I boarded and we took off.  It was odd to sit on a train facing to the side, instead of towards the front (like an actual train), but I guess they only wanted you to see one side of the tracks.

I, of course, sat in the last car, so I could shoot out the back window
I didn't know what to expect at Rafiki's Planet Watch - since the family never wanted to go, I never really researched what was there. I knew of a petting zoo, some vets and some goats (in the petting zoo). I didn't know there was a walk to get to RPW!

(Yes, this statue has a blue butt)
I went in to the Petting Zoo for a little bit, but most of the goats gave no shits and kept walking away.

Do freshly shorn sheep confuse little children? They aren't "sheep-y"
I caught the end of a live show about anteaters, which was actually really informative and I wish I could have seen the whole thing.

He's so cute!
I don't think we could go inside with the llamas, but I just had to get a pic (I sent a selfie to my boss while standing in front of the llama).  See, at work, we have a lot of what I call "Drama Llamas" - people who make things bigger than they should be or just make life hard for everyone else. My boss and I regularly refer to these people as Drama Llamas, so I knew he'd get a kick out of the photo.

If only we could put all Drama Llamas in a corral, it would make my job easier
I finished outside, then went inside to see what was there. Apparently, there's lots of aquariums with bugs, amphibians, lizards, snakes and the like.

Ribbit, bitch
Munch, munch, munch
There's a head in there, surely, but I couldn't find it
My last stop, before heading back to the main area of the park, was to tinkle. Yeah, I know you wanted to know that, but it's a good set up for the cool photo below.  Yep, inside the stalls of the ladies room are plaques teaching us the "Scoop on Poop." Don't we all need a little reading material while on the throne?

♫ "Everything comes down to poo!" ♫
Back on the train, I realized I was running late for the ONE THING I really wanted to do today; go see Festival of the Lion King.  I hauled ass to get there, and luckily, they squeezed me into the Giraffe section about 2 minutes after the show started (they just asked what sound a giraffe makes as I was sitting down).

Let me in! I want to see the Tumble Monkeys!
What a gorgeous show, for a theme park!  Yes, it's a Disney show. But the quality of the gymnastics, singing, theatrics and dancing was amazing.  I literally took about 300 photos here.  I can't wait to come back (and get a much better seat) and see the show again!

Tumble Monkeys and Timon
Group Song
Yes! Dude with FIRE!
That's how my feet feel after a day at Disney, too
More finale
Pumbaa "float" (what do we call these?)
Simba Float
I took a trip through the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail before heading up to the Tree of Life.

Hey, how you doin'?  Me? I'm hungry...
Hubby absolutely hated It's Tough to be a Bug.  He swears it's because it's a stupid 3-D film, but I think it's because he didn't like the feeling of the bugs in the seat when we were there last time (at one point, he got OUT of his seat and stood at the end of the row until the show was over... but yeah, it's not about the bugs...)

Sign carved into the Tree of Life
The show is cute, relying on typical cheesy 3D effects, and physical effects like bubbles, sprayed water or a stinky burst of air.  The only part that bothered me (the first time) was at the end of the movie, when they "let the bugs out of the theater first" and you could feel moving bumps in the seat (imitating crawling bugs).  Knowing it was coming this time around made it easier to deal with.

Sadly, my day was coming to an end here at Animal Kingdom, but I thought that leaving at 5pm would be to early, so I decided to grab a snack at Pizzafari.  I got an order of Garlic Knots with marinara, added a cup of butter sauce, as well as a cup of ice water ($8.50).

I got a nice table in the corner (each room has a 'theme' but I have no idea what room I was in).

Garlic Butter Sauce, Marinara and Garlic Knots (a.k.a. Best Bread Evah!)
This was freakin' DELICIOUS!  The order was 6 large rolls, bathed in butter, garlic and shredded Parmesan.  Standard orders come with a nice (2oz maybe) cup of marinara.  They had a special garlic butter sauce this time, so I got that (and extra $1).  Between the two dips, I was in heaven!  I literally ate all 6 of these!  Best snack (hell, meal!) I've had at a counter service in a while!

Once I rolled myself out of Pizzafari, I had to leave Animal Kingdom. It was time (past time) to go back to MegaCon and pick up the girls.

Ah, Ah, Eeee, Eeee, Tookie, Tookie (bonus points if you get that reference)
Now, I should have learned from the traffic this morning that there would be traffic now.  But no, I didn't. I made the mistake of assuming it wouldn't be as bad because people would leave at different times during the day.  Nope. It was IN.SANE.  I think it was worse than that morning. At one point, there was a douche next to me with a bullhorn, and he kept pressing the 'alarm' button - you know, the one that sounds like a siren? - trying to trick people into moving out of his way. All he did was piss people off. Of course, he also had a window sticker that said "4 Doors for More Whores" so I could tell he was a classy, classy guy.

After sitting in this for about 45 minutes, the kiddo texted me wanting to know where I was. I told her to sit tight and I'd be there a.s.a.p!

I think it took me about 90 minutes to get to them, and unfortunately, I made the mistake of trying to get to WaWa for road trip snackage ($20). That took another 20 minutes!

Finally though, around 8pm, we were finally clear of traffic, back on I-4 and on our way home!! It was a great day, both with the girls in the car, and alone by myself. I wish I could score "Me Days" more often!