Thursday, December 23, 2010

The One That's Not About Disney

by: LaLa

Memories.

Joy.

Anticipation.

We spend a good bit of time writing about these three words here, as it relates to our vacations and time spent reliving happy moments with the ones we love the most. In a place that we all love dearly. But as I put up a 'last minute' tree the other night and breathed in the heady aroma that announces the arrival of Christmas, I was instantly and quite surprisingly transported back in time thirty years. And in that moment I was reminded that there is no time or place that brings about any greater joy, any more priceless memories, any more pure and unbridled gleeful anticipation than Christmastime.

Sweet, glorious Christmastime.

It all started not with a mouse, but with a spontaneous purchase. A whim, if you will.

For weeks our home has been fully decorated, inside and out. Ready and waiting to ring in the holiday season with its perfectly perfect white lights and painstakingly color coordinated ornaments strewn everywhere and anywhere they will fit. But as beautiful and convenient as our artificial tree in all of its decorated glory is, it felt like something was missing. Like I was doing it all wrong. At least as far as the decorating goes. So while I was out finishing up my shopping, I happened upon a sale I couldn’t pass up and picked up a small Frasier fir for less than the cost of an Arby’s combo.

Little did I know the memories that little purchase would evoke.

As soon as we got home, I went to work. I promptly set the tree up in the kid’s bonus room just off the kitchen and proceeded to decorate it in the exact opposite fashion of the rest of the house.

There were no matching ornaments and not a single white light to be found anywhere. Instead, I went with a multitude of old school C-7 lights in every color of the rainbow, as well as multi-colored twinkling lights. Once I was finished, I took a step back and took a deep breath.

And....cried.

One little tear.

The happy kind.

Because as I stood there taking it all in, my mind was immediately ushered back to SO many Christmases of my youth. As I watched the lights glow and dance and smelled the familiar scent that has always signified the arrival of Christmas, I was no longer on the verge of 40. I no longer had responsibilities. No longer had any grown up worries. I was five again, wearing my favorite ruffled flannel nightgown and I could feel the cold hardwood floor beneath my feet and hear my big brother’s excited whisper as we tip toed through the darkened house together, being ever so careful not to awaken anyone else. The anticipation was like a knot in my stomach and I felt as though I could hardly breathe the closer we came to our destination. But we were greeted with sheer unbridled bliss as we peeked into the living room and beheld the wonder of Christmas morning. In an otherwise darkened cold room, the multi-colored lights that shone like glowing Easter eggs reflected off the wooden floor and cast just enough light on the items below to send a five year old snaggle-toothed little girl and her seven year old brother into uncontrollable, giddy, quiet laughter. Christmas had indeed arrived, and it was everything we had hoped it would be. It’s curious that, for the life of me, I can’t recall a single gift I received that year. But I can recall perfectly, can still FEEL perfectly, every emotion I felt that morning and so many other mornings like it over thirty years later.

Looking back on all of those years, there was always so much joy in our lives at Christmas. And as a parent, I feel blessed beyond measure to be able to see that same joy reflected in my own children’s eyes at this time each year. Earlier today our daughter pleaded, “Mama, PLEASE make Christmas come faster, I can hardly wait for it!” She’s got joy, oh yes she does. And it mirrors ours exactly because as a parent, we take joy in giving good things to our children. You think the lead up to a surprise Disney trip is momentous, you ain’t seen nothing’ till you’ve seen us at Christmastime. My husband and I both turn into giddy, sneaky little kids around this time of year, but it’s not because of anything we hope to gain. It’s about giving good things to our children out of love and anticipating how happy it will make them. How it will make their lives better. How it will make them smile, or possibly dissolve into a fit of uncontrollable, giddy, quiet laughter in an otherwise darkened room illuminated only by the light from the Christmas tree.

There is so much joy that comes with being able to provide something that your beloved child desperately wants or needs and seeing them appreciate it fully, especially at Christmastime. I sometimes wonder if that’s the same kind of joy that our Heavenly Father felt as He gave us the ultimate gift, the gift of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ. I say that knowing full well that there is absolutely no comparison between anything we could give and what He gives us, His children. What He gave us with the ultimate gift. Because with the unwrapping of that gift, there truly is no greater joy on this earth.

It’s my prayer that each of you have a safe, wonderful, Christmas. One filled with joy and giddy anticipation as you relive special memories from Christmases past and make new ones to add to the priceless collection in your mind.

Merry Christmas, friends. May time spent with your loved ones at this special time of the year be filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Battle for my Wallet VII: Lost and Found

Chapter Four: I Found a Hair

One thing I really like about the Contemporary Resort is how easy it is to get to the Magic Kingdom. You walk out of your room, down the hall, hop an elevator, walk to an escalator, ride up a floor and voila. You’re in your first line of the day.

Easy peasy.

Whatever that means.

The park was opening at 8:00 that morning and we were boarding the Monorail at 7:30. And on that morning, the Monorails were running smoothly and quickly. Something which wasn’t happening a few days later. As we approached the platform from the escalator, a Monorail was coming into the station. I noticed the front was empty. I wondered to myself if we were going to score the front on our very first Monorail ride. But there were about 15 people in front of us. Surely one of them is going to snake us for it.

Honk if you know what happens next.

I can hear you in Macon, GA.

I can hear you in Boston, MA.

I can hear you in Biscuitville, TX. But that might just be the beans you had for lunch.

I watched with some trepidation as the folks in front of us moved onto the Monorail and not one of them asked for the front. I was harshly critical of them in my head, “Idiots! They could have had the front all the way around the Seven Seas Lagoon. So dumb.” Realizing I could still get snaked, and like the full on Disney knowitall I am, I leaned over the rail as we moved towards the entrance and I asked the CM if we could ride in front.

He quite literally snarled at me.

“We don’t do that anymore.”

I realized the reason why quickly and confirmed, “Because of the accident?”

“Yeah,” he said with unnecessary disdain.

Excuse me for not having been in WDW since the accident.

But truthfully, I was less embarrassed by that exchange and more embarrassed that I had been out Disney nerded by the 15 people ahead of me in line. I can only hope they were some of you.

Anyway, we got on the Monorail. We had our first “por favor mantengase,” and we were off to the MK.

One thing that annoys the cuss out of me is mechanical application of rules. Stupidly following the rules without stopping to consider why the rule exists or whether it could be amended without, you know, going to jail.

It was a morning EMH at MK. We came down the Monorail ramp and split up to go through security. Why? Because having not been in WDW in 2 years, I quite literally had no clue what I was doing.

There. I’ve admitted it.

I thought we could save some time by going in separately. Mrs. Z would take the kids and the bags and go through security. I would walk straight in to go rent a stroller for Li’l Z. As far as I knew, they were where they always were, on the right in front of the train station. I told Mrs. Z to go through the turnstiles and go all the way to the right and meet me in front of stroller rental.

So I come walking down the ramp at Disney Pace and smugly walked through the no-bag line and headed to the far right turnstiles. Marveling at my beautiful plan. Everything going swimmingly. Only when I got down to the far end, I didn’t notice the signage said, “Breakfast” or something like that. I got in line behind a handful of people and this little CM, we’ll call her Ricki Rules-Rule, asks me if I had a reservation for breakfast. I said, “No, we’re here for EMH.” Only I actually said it out. I didn’t verbally abbreviate. I don’t work for NASA.

Would that I did though.

She said, “I’m sorry, you need to go over there.” She gestured towards the completely mobbed turnstiles. I showed her my Key to the World of High Prices and Endless Aggravation and said, “Ma’am I’m here for EMH,”

She said, “The park isn’t open yet. This line is only for people who have breakfast reservations.”

Two things to bear in mind: it was 5 minutes until 8:00 and, in fact, the other turnstiles were passing people in. So the park was, in a word, open. But Ricki Rules-Rule would not budge. So I walked over to the sea of sweaty humanity in humidity and made my way through. As I stood there, silently steaming, I was reminded why we shouldn’t give clipboards and turnstile control to people making minimum wage. Ms. Rules-Rule is clearly training for a job with the TSA.

Once inside the turnstiles, I made my way to where I thought I could rent a stroller only to discover it wasn’t there. I asked a CM where the stroller rental deal was and she told me under the train station. But they weren’t letting anyone in yet. The train had just pulled into the station and they started the oh-so-annoying welcome show. I pulled out my phone to text Mrs. Z when I saw her walking my way. We watched the opening show and I considered how annoyed I was by Ricki Rules-Rule and then I thought better of it. It was the first morning of the first day.

She was just doing her job and all that. I purposed in my heart to not allow myself to be annoyed so quickly. Dumb things are gonna happen. Don’t let it steal my joy. The sixth floor isn’t a bad view after all.

You know why you don’t pray for patience, right?

You also shouldn’t purpose not to allow yourself to be annoyed by dumb people in Disney World. Because a test is gonna come. And right quickly at that.

The welcome show ended and we moved through the tunnel behind a lot of other people. I was stuck behind a very slow moving woman wearing mom shorts.  And the faint smell of maple syrup. I was blinded by the white of her legs. Her fanny pack was festooned with pins and whathaveyou. I didn’t see it, but I was sure she had a lime green Mickey head on her somewhere. Bonnie Budgetboard was moving slowly. But I was determined not to aggressively move around her. She was walking in that way large women do.  Kind of waddling.  Although it was only a few minutes after 8:00 in the morning, I could hear her thighs chafing. Her large lady waddle prevented a horde of us from getting around her in the tunnel.  Unfortunately, she was headed the same direction I was, and I remained behind her in line for the strollers.

It was as if she just decided in that instant that she was going to rent a stroller. She didn’t know what they cost. She didn’t know if she wanted a double or a single. She needed to know the price if she rented it for 6 days. No, 5. No, 7. No just 6. “What if I need a stroller in EPCOT?” “Do I get a dollar back if I return the stroller?” “What happens if I lose the stroller?”

I was actually amused by this spectacle. A long line was forming behind me and Bonnie Budgetboard was comparison shopping. I wouldn’t have been surprised if she got on her phone and called Orlando Stroller Rentals. I knew I was being tested.

But the test had only begun.

And before you shout, “Hypocrite!” I knew I wanted a stroller, knew how much it cost, knew what size I wanted and I knew there was no $1 back if I returned it. I just didn’t know they moved the rental location.

So the CM gives her the total and Bonnie asks if she can pay with a gift card. Or 7. She whipped out a stack of gift cards thicker than the stack of Mickey shaped waffles she ate for breakfast. I surmised that she put aside money for the trip by buying Disney gift cards in $50 increments. Nothing wrong with that I suppose. Only, she didn’t bother to consolidate the cards. I was incredulous.

But I was NOT going to get annoyed.

Or was I?

Mercifully, another CM opened a second register and I walked up and said, “Single stroller, 6 days, please.” I handed her my KTTW and she said, “thank you. Boy you did that real fast. Like you knew exactly what you were doing.” I said, “I had some time to think about it.” She laughed knowingly and glanced furtively towards her co-worker who was still swiping Bonnie’s various gift cards.

She handed me my pink stroller certificates and a receipt and then she realized she’d only charged me for five instead of six. So she had to void the transaction and start over. Because she couldn’t just charge me for another day. And then after she voided the transaction and swiped my card two more times, someone told her she should have just charged me for the extra day.

Then the stamp wouldn’t work. Well it did work, only she stamped the wrong date. I said, “no problem, I’m picking it up here, it’ll be ok. Just tell the lady you stamped it with yesterday’s date.”

No.

She had to stamp it correctly. Only every time she adjusted the stamp, she adjusted everything but the date. She changed the month. She changed the year. She changed the 1 to a 2. But she couldn’t get the actual date correct.

I suggested she pull the register journal.

She was un-amused.

Imagine that.

Eventually, she got me all stamped up and I headed around Bonnie Budgetboard’s butt and grabbed my stroller.

It was now 12:31.

Only it wasn’t.

Properly strollered up, we walked right down the middle of Mainstreet, USA. As we neared the castle forecourt, I suggested we stop and have our picture taken in front of the castle. Mrs. Z turned to me and asked, “Who are you?” You see, I’ve NEVER wanted to stop for such frivolousness before. On the first morning of the first day, ZZUB don’t stop for pictures. But I was overtaken.

We walked up the ramp and through the castle. Little ZZUB was AMAZED! She calls the castle in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, “our castle.” As distinguished from the one in Disneyland. Anytime she sees a Disney castle in a DVD or a picture she’ll ask, “Daddy, is that our castle?” So I thought it was probably important that she get up close to “our castle” on this our first morning of our first day. Walking through the castle she was taken back by it all. It was blowing her mind that we walked right through it and “it’s a real castle!”

To be 3. To imagine things the way you want them to be.

Coming through on the other side, Donald Duck greeted us. All decked out in his frontier clothing. Which was out of context in Fantasyland, but neither of the little Zs seemed to mind. They ran up to hug him and get their picture taken with the Main Duck. We’d been in the MK almost 30 minutes now and hadn’t ridden a ride. And somehow I was okay with this.

Our first ride was up on the left, Peter Pan. But not because ZZUBY wanted to ride it. She’s over the man in tights. Moved on. But Little Z wanted to confirm that Capt. Hook gets his from the crocodile and calls out to Mr. Smee for help.

Last summer in DL, we attended a character breakfast and Capt. Hook showed up. Which scared the mess out of Little Z. We have very funny pictures of her nearly crawling across the table to get away from the Hook. No fan of his is she! Throughout our planning for this trip to WDW, she asked us many times if Hook was going to show up at breakfast. At dinner. I assured her she wouldn’t have to see him anyplace we ate. In fact, the only place she’d see him was in Peter Pan’s ride. Where he’d end up getting eaten by the crocodile and he’d call out, “Help me, Mr. Smee! Help me!” Little Z liked that. “Daddy, can you take me to see Capt. Hook call out, ‘help me Mr. Smee’?” I assured her I would.

So onto Peter Pan’s ride we hopped. I was amused by ZZUBY telling her little sister that the bar was magic and would come down when we told it to. Together we ordered it, “come down, bar!” The ride through Peter Pan is always fun. A touch nostalgic. It’s one of the places in Disney World where I’m five again. In awe of the magic. Just happy.

It smells Disney in there. Have you noticed that? The a/c in Disney World, in the MK attractions especially, have a smell. A pleasing aroma actually. I noticed it a few times at the Contemporary as well. The doors opened and we were greeted with the Disney smell. It’s a smell that evokes a more carefree time.

Sounds. Smells. Music. Things. All carry me back into my head. Flying over the streets of London and over the mountaintops of Neverland, I was next to my mom and dad and my sister and I were watching our tube socks glow in the dark. I showed ZZUBY and Little Z how the white on their clothing was glowing. My pukas too. Peter Pan’s Flight is maybe 2 ½ minutes long, but it carried me back about 37 years. As it usually does.

Little Z got to hear Hook cry out for help from Mr. Smee and I got to spend 2 ½ minutes being little again. We exited to our right and walking out into the too-early-for-it-to-be-so-blinding sun, I turned back to inhale the smell one more time. Trying to burn it into my nasal memory. And now that morning’s ride on Peter Pan’s Flight with my girls is woven together with the other memories I have of Disney World. It’s been added to the fabric of my mind.

It comforts me to think 30 years on, ZZUBY and Li’l Z will again be on Peter Pan’s flight. With their kids. Ordering the magic bar to come down. Shouting with Capt. Hook, “Help me, Mr. Smee! Help me!” They’ll remember me.

It got cold here a few weeks back. It was the first cold of the year and I knew I’d need something warmer than just a shirt on. I hadn’t even gotten my winter clothes out yet, but I still had my fleece zip up in my closet. Hadn’t worn it since last winter and for some reason it didn’t get put up with my winter clothes. I reached back into my closet for it and pulled it on over my t-shirt. As I was zipping it up, I saw it. Woven into the fiber of my zip up. A light brown hair. Coarse and short.

It was Staff’s.

His hair used to get to the most unusual of places. I used to be amused by it actually. How I’d find a hair of his in my car even though he’d never been in my car. Sometimes on vacation I’d pull something out of my suitcase and it’d have a few of his hairs on it. As if he’d sent along a little reminder. “Dad, I want you to know that even doe you weft me home, I still wuv you so much.” Weeks after he died, we were still finding his fur balls under furniture. But we hadn’t seen any of his hair in months.

Seeing it again in my fleece stopped me. I pulled it out and held it carefully in my right hand, between my thumb and forefinger. I clasped my left hand around my right hand to protect it. And I brought it to my nose. To smell it.

But there wasn’t anything to smell.

So I just held it. And suddenly, it wasn’t the first cold day of the year anymore. No, it was anytime before March 20th. It was any day of any week of any month from 1998 until early 2010. I could hear his toes on the hardwood floors. I could see him built for speed in our back yard. Could feel his cold nose nudging my arm as he tried to get me up to let him outside. Could see him. Greeting me at the door. Licking the mess out of my face ‘cause he was so happy I was home.

It made me at once sad and happy. Which isn’t so common, you know? It’s not normal to feel both emotions simultaneously, is it? But I did. I was sad, so very sad to be reminded that he was gone. But I was also so happy to see that little reminder that he once was here. Loving us. Making us laugh.

Simple things bring me joy anymore. It’s not the fancy things. Not the expensive things. Not the elaborate things. The smell of a ride at Disney World made my morning. And the stubborn hair of my best friend reminded me of the twelve years of happy that dog brought our family.

Me.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Water, Sparks and Empty Parks

By: Great Biscuit

It’s funny how vacations can teach us things about one another that we never knew. As we stood in line waiting to board the gondola style Ferris Wheel, I learned something new about my mom. She had never been on a Ferris Wheel. EVER. In fact, she let it be known in no uncertain terms that she would not be boarding one now were it not for the puppy eyed pleadings of her grandbabies.

At Six Flags Fiesta Texas, the Ferris Wheel opens later than the rest of the park. Thanks to our ride timing, we were right next to it when it opened and were the first ones aboard that day. Another family hopped into the adjoining car and we were soon on our way. Hailee held Nana’s hand so she wouldn’t be scared and after a couple of rotations, Nana declared it to be a nifty thing. Once our ride was over, we got back on and went around a second time.

After that, we did a few kids rides in the form of a carousel and kiddie coaster before heading for some chow. We settled on Sangerfest Halle in the Spassburg section of the park. It has a German architecture and features a food court with several different types of offerings. (Tex-Mex, Papa-John’s Pizza, and German.) The dining area is built around a stage which features a show with the Looney Tunes characters. We settled for Papa Johns and were soon seated and eating.

It occurs to me that this would be a good time to give a discourse on the joys of refillable park mugs. Both Sea World and Six Flags offered them and both advertised you could bring them back all season. The difference is that at Sea World, you pay a buck for refills from the point you buy it on. At Six Flags, you get a wrist bracelet that gives you unlimited free refills on the day you purchase it and they are a buck on each subsequent visit. Oh that Disney would adopt a similar policy; if for no other reason, than the riled up flaming it would cause on a number of discussion boards.

Our afternoon activities focused solely on the water park which is included in admission, but first we had a slight detour on The Road Runner Express. This is a coaster which is fairly comparable to Big Thunder as far as speed and such goes. Nana and I took the girls on it and while my oldest was not thrilled, my youngest is a definite coaster junkie, making me one happy biscuit.

The rest of our day consisted of multiple floats around the lazy river, zooming down various water slide, and bobbing in the Texas shaped wave pool. (Texas shaped icons are quite popular down this way.) Nana and Papa left at six, while the rest of us stayed until the park closed.

There was some potential drama as the girls decided they wanted to go to the Jordin Sparks concert that evening in the park’s amphitheater. We had seen posters for it all day and seen the tour busses, but I had hoped to escape without partaking. However, the girls wanted to at least drop by, so after my parents left, we took them over and were advised there were still plenty of seats available on the grassy area. This actually worked out perfectly for us as we were only taking a brief detour through the area.

When we arrived, the girl doing the opening act was completing her set. At first I thought Jordin had lost a lot of weight as this girl seemed to be a skinny mini-me. But as she concluded her session, a boat load of roadies showed up to re-set the stage. There was about a 10 minute pause and then Jordin Sparks took the stage. We sat through one song. And that was being generous. Note to the idiot tour manager: when your opening act looks and sounds better than your headliner, you are not doing your job.

After the inaugural song, the girls were content to depart and we headed out to conquer some more rides. As the concert effectively drained the park of patrons, everything was a walk on for the next two hours. We re-visited many of the same attractions from earlier in the day and when at last we headed out to the car, the girls were tired, but happy. After we got all our crap stowed back in the trunk, we wished Six Flags a fond farewell and headed off. I pulled through Taco Bell to get properly caffeinated for the drive home and pointed the car back up I-35.

Perhaps the best insight into just what a great weekend it turned out to be can be found in my Facebook status when we returned: Back from San Antonio. Got stuck in traffic, smelled some penguin poo, touched a mammal, ate a nifty late night feast, got gas, went to sleep, ate a biscuit, rode some coasters, floated in a river, heard some music, drank mountain dew, ate a burrito and got more gas. All in all, I'd a say a near perfect weekend.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Preparing for Summer

By NicoleMarie

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “preparing for winter?” When I hear it, I have visions of Ma and Pa on Little House on the Prairie. Good ole Charles busts into the warm house, snow and wind coming in all around him, and he slams the door closed against the wind and smiles at Caroline. (I loved me some Michael Landon!) She has a hot meal waiting and a warm fire burning in the fireplace. Mary and Laura sit down with their Ma and Pa and eat some dinner from the crops that they grew and put away last summer. Everyone is happy and healthy because the family prepared for winter.

At my house, of course, it doesn’t really go down quite like that. Here, preparing for winter means we turn on the heat for the first time – usually in November – and wait with bated breath, praying we feel some warm air coming from the vent. If we don’t, we sleep cold that night and get the repair man over the next day. I shop at the grocery store for our winter meals, and the mall for our warm clothes. On an “as needed” basis. Except for the slight change in temps, winter is pretty much business as usual in Macon. In other words, there’s not much to “preparing for winter” around here.

But “preparing" for SUMMER? Now that’s a concept I can understand. Thinking about summer vacations, sleeping late, hot weather and humidity is easy stuff in February. It can’t get here soon enough when the trees are bare, the temps are chilly and the grass is dead. And preparing for summer at Disney World? Well, that’s even better.

I know I’ve already gotten us to Disney World in this trip report, but you’re gonna have to put it in reverse and work with me for this installment, okay?

Back up to February in Georgia, and lo and behold, Macon is getting some snow. It happened late one Friday afternoon in mid-February, and for about 18 hours, it was pure giddiness at the NM house.

To add validity to the “wintery-ness” of the situation, I have provided some pictures of said event for your viewing pleasure. (If there was EVER any doubt that we’re rednecks, it’s about to be removed. I’m sure there wasn’t, but just in case…)

Here’s what happens when the first flakes start falling from the sky. All the neighborhood kids end up in our yard bringing anything that will work for a sled. Nevermind that there’s not really any snow on the ground. And yes, the NMs are the little dorks with the laundry baskets. I’ve since heard I should have sprayed the bottoms of the baskets with Pam.

It’s obvious the sleds were a bust – because of that whole “no snow on the ground” thing – so let’s do what we do in nice weather: swing. Somehow, it’s more fun with snow hitting us in the face.

Finally, we get a little bit of accumulation, and the little NMs make a shout-out to The Mouse. Let’s call her Poly Minnie since she’s wearing pink Mouse ears from the Poly.

The sun finally sets, and with the promise of a teency bit more accumulation during the night, the little NMs head off to bed with visions of sledding in their sweet little heads.

Morning dawns and it’s actually very beautiful. I take a few pictures from the warm safety of my dining room and kitchen windows, and before too long, the kids are awake and ready to ride.

Oops. Doesn’t really work any better this morning. I can’t imagine why.

(This sad sledding sight is why the NM family boarded a plane to Lake Tahoe at Spring Break, while the rest of the world went South for some warm air. THIS is how you sled down a hill, peeps.)

Hmmmm. I’ve moved around so much that you might not remember where you are. It’s February 13th, a snowy morning in Macon, and I’m curled up in front of the fire with my laptop.

Preparing for summer.

How do you prepare for summer? Well, if you’re going to Disney World over the busiest week of the already busy summer, and there’s an opportunity to score some VIP Fastpasses that might make your park touring a little bit better, THAT’S how you prepare for summer. You get busy on that opportunity.

Through some conversations with LaLa, and then subsequent research on the Disney World website and the Disboards, I found out about a volunteer opportunity that was in the Macon area and would work for my family: Project Linus. As LaLa has already explained, it’s making blankets that will be given to children during a time of crisis. Not only did it appeal to my “sewing” side, (yes, I own a sewing machine and I know how to use it!) it was one of very few opportunities that accepted volunteer children as young as my 7 year old son.

Within a couple of hours, I had spoken with the Project Linus coordinator in Macon, and I had my marching orders for 8 blankets. The only problem? They had to be turned in by tomorrow.

Say what you want about the DIS, but there was a whole thread devoted to making no-sew fleece blankets, and I was sure that the NMs could knock this project out on this cold, snowy afternoon.

I took off to Walmart, bought the fabric for my eight blankets, came home and got to work. The NM Family Assembly Line didn’t really take off at my house, but my daughter and I got it done in one afternoon.

By the next day, the snow had melted, we had gone to church, we’d watched my son’s ball game, and we were within minutes of missing our “due date” for the blankets. We pulled into the driveway of a tiny little house in Macon. The Project Linus coordinator was a grandmotherly woman whose ENTIRE HOUSE was filled with stacks of blankets. The Disney partnership had given her more press than she had ever experienced. Blankets were everywhere! There wasn’t a single place to sit. This sweet woman and her husband welcomed us into their home, took our information, and shared with us a little bit about Project Linus. They were extremely grateful for the volunteers that Disney’s promotion had brought their way, and they congratulated my kids on their upcoming trip to Disney World. (My kids were – thankfully – gracious and did not say this was their 13th trip in five years.)

We left the Project Linus house excited and thankful. It was fun to prepare for summer in the middle of February. It was even more fun to do it in a way that wasn’t totally self-serving.

I can’t imagine how many people were blessed by the GAD promotion. The house I went into was filled to the brim with blankets for hurting kids in Middle Georgia. And that was just one project of many, in just in my area. These things went on all over the country. I think the whole promotion was a great idea.

An idea that ended up being REALLY great once summer finally came and we were hanging here.

With these crowds.

With VIP Fastpasses in our pockets. Those Fastpasses made the difference in our trip. We rode twice as many rides as we would have without them, and our pace was much more relaxed.

Yes, we prepared for summer. Who doesn’t want to do that? It was worth every minute.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Little Love Goes a Long Way

by: LaLa

Over the years, Disney has come up with a lot of different promotions. Some better than others. A few have reeled us in, but I don’t think any has ever had an effect on us like their Give a Day, Get a Day promotion this past year.

It was back in February, when we were in the midst of planning our trip, that I realized we might be able to participate in the promotion and be able to do some good for someone else…. while also doing pretty good for ourselves.

Let me stop right here and sheepishly admit that in the beginning, it was ALL about the Fastpasses.

Since we didn’t need a one day pass, once we completed our volunteer opportunity, we would opt for the Fastpass Exchange card. What is the Fastpass Exchange Card, you say? A little piece of plastic heaven, that's what it is. It’s basically a little like Universal’s Express Pass system, only COMPLETELY different. With way more restrictions. But still cool. And from the moment I read about it, I knew it would come in VERY handy on a summertime trip to Disney. We’ve been to Disney in the summer before and we knew from experience that the lines in June would be much longer than they are in October, the time period we had grown accustomed to over the years. And the more I researched and the more I contemplated, I was sure of two things. One: the Fastpass Exchange cards were the bomb diggity, and two: I would make it happen.

After doing a little more research, I registered our family for a volunteer opportunity through Project Linus. In case you’ve never heard of them, Project Linus is a non profit organization that takes in and then distributes hand made blankets/quilts to children who are going through a tough time. They are distributed on a local level through first responders/hospital staff, etc. It may be an illness or a surgery that they’re experiencing, the death of a parent, an accident, fire, any number of things. Obviously a blanket doesn’t come close to making up for any of that, but if those kids are anything like my kids, having someone who cares give them a soft little sump’nother, especially if some Disney characters are featured prominently on it, at a time when they’re feeling low, would be a very welcome gesture.

In other words, it was a project that felt right. One we could really get into.

So we set about shopping for material (which turned out to be a lot of fun, actually…I caught myself imagining the child who might wind up with our blanket and spent some time trying to pick out the perfect fabric for them) and turning our home into a makeshift no sew fleece blanket assembly line. We had eight blankets to make and while I did most of the cutting, everyone else chipped in and did their part. No free rides here at Chez LaLa!

While we were working, we took the opportunity to talk to our children about volunteering and helping those who need a little help. They loved being able to do something for someone else, someone that they would probably never meet, and it ended up being a great teaching moment for our kids. They really got into it. When the smoke finally cleared, we were now sure of two MORE things. One: our hands were MOST DEFINITELY made of hamburger meat, and two: it was all worth it because we were DONE, and well pleased with our accomplishment.



Of course, the Girl being who she is, wouldn’t dream of sending those blankets off to their destination without first including a proper note for each blanket’s future owner. …



After attaching the notes, we spent some time praying for the blankets’ future owners, whoever they may be. And whatever their situation may be. Then we packed them up and shipped them off to their destination. And in that moment, as my daughter sat pondering who might receive her handwritten notes and what more she could do to make a total stranger feel better, and what other places we may be able to volunteer, as much as I had been looking forward to getting my hands around those Fastpasses, all of that seemed trivial. Secondary. It was just icing on the cake. We really enjoyed our volunteer opportunity and made a pact to do more projects like that, together, as a family, in the future. It felt good to be able to help brighten someone‘s day, even if it was in a very small way.

And once we received our vouchers (redeemable at any Disney Guest Services window…for some kick butt Fastpass Exchange cards…enough for four full days of passes for everyone in our family, thankyouverymuch), it felt EVEN BETTER.

Awww yeah!

It was these vouchers that were burning a hole in our pockets that morning after Hurricane Lola swept through Disneyworld, leaving everyone in her wake pruned and craving ice cream.

So we got up the next morning and did the Happy Dance when we pulled the curtains back and realized the rain had moved out and that our day would be bright and sunny.

Yellow, even.

It was back to the Magic Kingdom and we couldn’t wait to get our ride on.

After pausing in the lobby that morning to let the kids do a little pin trading, we headed out front and caught the first bus we saw to the MK.

One of the things I was concerned about before we left was transportation to the parks from YC. Like most things that I worry about, it turned out to be all for naught. I don’t ever remember having to stand on a bus or having to wait more than a few minutes for a bus the entire week. The actual rides never seemed long either.

In short order, we were in the park and headed to Guest Services to redeem our vouchers.

The actual process didn’t take long at all and within just a few minutes, we were kissing those long awaited Fastpass cards hello and heading down Main Street while pinning on our Miss Piggy Honorary VoluntEAR buttons, ALONG WITH DH’s Happy Birthday button and our “I’m Celebrating” buttons.

We may as well have just cut to the chase and said, “We're desperate. Somebody please give us a free cupcake. Let us in the front of the line. Allow us to cross blades with Captain Jack Sparrow, although we don‘t think it wise. Pick us to bang on some bongos before Philharmagic (again) because we are so over the top desperate for ANYTHING you may throw our way that we’ve consciously decided to actually wear these….ridiculous things….hoping that some kindness may perchance befall us.”

But we didn’t say any of that. Because although we may look like dorks, we're not really. We just pinned stuff wherever it would fit and proceeded to walk down Main Street and take it all in.


Which ride did we hit first?

Well Space Mountain, of course.

There would be no waiting an hour or longer for us this time. No ‘no soup for you’ broken down ride announcement as soon as our feet graced a number. No loud Brazilians to spoil our mood. No, this time we simply handed the attendant our Fastpasses (the set we received the night it was shut down due to technical difficulty…no need to waste a pull on the ole Fastpass Exchange Card when we already had a set in DH’s pocket) and boarded.

We were on within about three minutes and I was quickly reminded why I love that ride so much.




After the ride was over, we stopped in the gift shop long enough to allow the Girl to purchase a cool as all get out Space Mountain pin for her lanyard. This was the ONLY thing she had said she wanted before we left.

A Space Mountain pin. After riding Space Mountain. She’s entirely TOO hard to please, that one.

I’m sorry. Is sarcasm not allowed here too? Just put it on my tab.

Over the last couple of years, our kids have really gotten into pin trading. It adds another fun element to a trip to Disney for us. I think it’s the thrill of the hunt that gets us. Plus we’ve discovered that pins make some very memorable souvenirs.

The rule in our house is that once someone conquers a ride that they’ve been previously either too small to ride or too afraid to ride, they get a pin from that ride in the gift shop immediately following the adventure as a reward. They look forward to scoring that pin almost as much as they do riding the ride, and it’s really fun to pull out their lanyards and look back over the pins they’ve acquired and reminisce about the circumstances that surrounded each pin coming into the fold. They remember EXACTLY where and how they got each and every one, and will tell the story for DAYS. Wearing a smile from ear to ear as the memories wash over their little minds.

Because the Girl conquered Space Mountain before we started collecting pins, she never received a pin for it. And on a dreary day in March she suddenly decided she MUST have one. And spoke of her need for it for the next three months. Until the day came that she finally rode it again. So we paused afterwards to let her pick out the perfect Space Mountain pin, add it to her collection on her lanyard, and then we rounded the corner. Not to move on. Dot org. But to move back where we came from. Dot com.

We were ready to get our ride on again.

Because we could.

FASTPASS EXCHANGE CARD, BABY!

This was our first experience redeeming the Fastpass cards and sure enough, as soon as we inserted our cards into the special FP machine set aside for us and us alone (and all the other honorary VoluntEARS, apparently), four beautiful little instant Fast passes (good for that exact time), shot out into DH’s waiting hand.

We jumped up and down and acted like idiots.

Then we hoofed it on over and rode again.

THIS time, the Girl and I were seated in front of a teenage girl who had, obviously, never experienced Space Mountain before. Throughout the ENTIRE ride, she scream laughed at the top of her lungs. The VERY top of her lungs. I have never, EVER heard anyone that loud on a ride and it was one of the funniest dadgum things I have ever heard. I will normally laugh out loud on most rides, but I laughed so hard I literally thought I was going to pee on myself on that one. Every time she’d start up, she’d make ME start up. And then I’d hear my daughter’s scream/laughter behind me. Then I’d start laughing again so hard my stomach cramped up and I involuntarily began to stomp my foot on the floor of the spaceship…car…thing. Without breathing.

We must’ve looked like a bunch of straight up lunatics. If the lights were on. But thankfully, they weren't so it didn't matter.

But if that’s how much fun lunatics have on a daily basis, I’m starting to think maybe it’s not such a bad gig after all. Sign me up for the loony bin.

After hitting SM twice, we decided to spread the wealth and ended up riding nearly everything in the park.





I think we were sitting behind ZZUB in this picture. Dude. From now on, PLEASE don't take off your Vote for Pedro shirt before the drop. You'll make everyone think something really weird was going on when they have to put the screen up over our ride photo because of your goofy self.

Luckily, we were able to ride most rides without wait because of our system. We had it down to a science.

When we first arrived in the morning, while the standby lines/Fastpass lines weren’t very long, we operated the way we normally would if we didn’t have the Fastpass card in our possession. By doing this, we were able to save our Fastpasses on the card (each one is only good for a total of six Fastpasses per day) and pull out the card when there were either really long lines or no Fastpasses left for the day.

Because even when all the Fastpasses for the day were distributed, we could still get them and get our INSTANT ride on.

I heart those Fastpass cards.

After making the rounds, we decided to grab some lunch at Columbia Harbor House. AKA: our new favorite CS place in all of Magic Kingdom.





The air was cranked up high, the food was delicious (best salad I had all week), and the help entertained our children with a game of checkers while we waited for our order. At one point I walked over to the table to see who was winning and the CM informed me, with a bemused expression on her face, that my son had been smack talking her.

Smack talking a random CM dressed in prairie clothes. About a game of checkers.

That’s my boy.

After lunch, we got hot on the Jungle Cruise then cooled off on Splash Mountain, grabbed a Dole Whip (what I’d give for one of those babies right now…) and decided to call it a day.

We were deliriously giddy as we left, for some reason. We were all soaked to the bone from our last stint on Splash Mountain, and since we hadn’t been able to get our picture taken in front of the castle yet, I knew it was now or never. It’s a tradition, you see. We HAVE to have our picture taken in front of the castle each and every time we step foot in front of it. To my husband's chagrin. So even though we were all soaked and sweaty and it was the end of the day, he humored me and we paused for a picture or two in front of the castle. Oddly enough, those are some of my favorite pictures of the whole trip because even though we look like a hot mess, we also look SO dadgum happy in those shots. Three of us in our matching red Mickey tees, and the fourth sporting anything but a matching red Mickey tee. All grinning from ear to ear.

We soon found our way back to the bus station and were on our way back to the resort. After a short but blessedly cool bus ride, we wound our way back up to the room and were taken aback to find a surprise waiting on us.

Some good friends of ours had arranged for a bag full of snacks to be delivered to our room, and we were all blown away by how cool it all was. There was a very cool Mickey cooler bag with our last name embroidered on the front and all the snacks were loaded inside it. Our friends were even thoughtful enough to include drinks with the salty snacks. Who thinks to do that? Not me, that’s for sure. If you haven’t figured it out yet, our whole family loves us a surprise and this was a VERY cool thing to ‘come home’ to after a full day in the parks. Besides the fact that the bag was cool as could be, there was TONS of stuff. We dug into the goodies as the kids shouted heartfelt thanks at the top of their lungs to our very sweet and thoughtful friends. Who may or may not have heard them. They were pretty loud. When they weren’t stuffing their faces with Mickey rice krispie treats and poppin’ open a cold drank. It was the perfect way to cap off a stellar day in the World.

As we kicked off our shoes and sat around snacking and relaxing, I felt very Yellow indeed. And in that moment I was sure of two more things. One, I was extremely grateful for good times and good friends, and two: unlike a lot of things in life, the Fastpasses HAD been all they'd been cracked up to be.

And with a full night on the agenda, I couldn't wait to put them to the test once again.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Battle for my Wallet VII: Lost and Found

Chapter Three: What We Need

Our check in was slow and painful. Not unlike watching Barack Obama struggle to answer a question without the benefit of a teleprompter. And after several minutes, I received some unsettling news: we were assigned a room on the sixth floor. For those of you who haven’t studied the floor plan of the CR, the sixth floor is the lowest level of rooms on the MK side of the building. It is right over the Monorail. It’s the equivalent of getting stuck in a middle seat on an airplane. It’s like getting seated in the back row on Soarin. It’s like getting a room in the Herbie the Love Bug section of the Allstarssomethinornuther. It’s a lousy location.

All the guy said was that our room was on the sixth floor. What I heard was, “none of your requests have been granted. You’re in the worst room we could give you. You suck! Your family sucks. Alabama sucks (perhaps it does if South Carolina’s beat down was any indication). All of your well made plans are destroyed! Your ENTIRE vacation is now ruined!!!"

Or so I thought.

I worked with a manager for quite some time to find a solution because the ZZUBs were NOT going to spend a week on the sixth floor. Like idiots. NOpeopleinCaliforniawhovoteforJerryBrown. But the CR was sold out and (if you can believe it), it was pretty late in the day.  There were no other rooms higher up on the MK side of the building. The best solution she offered was to let us move the next day. She even offered to let us keep our room until the new room was available. Promised me even that the transition would be seamless.

As if.

Out of options and tired of standing there, I agreed to go take a look at the room. Almost as an aside, she said, “if you do end up deciding to keep your room, just call back and let me know.” I looked at her and thought, “what kind of crack are you smoking?” She looked back at me and thought, “For a guy wearing puka shells, you’re not very relaxed, dude.”

Indeed.

I went to break the bad news to the girls. Not only were we stuck on the sixth floor, but there’d be no unpacking and getting sitched tonight. We’ll have to figure out what we needed and just leave our bags packed until we move tomorrow. For us, unpacking and getting sitched is the quintessential first day experience.

I’m not proud of this, but I was full on deflated. This wasn’t how I wanted to start our Disney trip.

And then an amazing thing happened.

We opened the door to our room and walked through it to our balcony.  It occurs to me that we walked straight to it.  And there we saw this.


And this.


And there wasn’t a thing wrong with the view. Not a thing which could be improved upon by five flights. Trust me. I confirmed this the next day.

Why did I think we needed to be higher up? Why did I think this wasn’t good enough? We walked around the room and kept going back out on the balcony and we were talking around whether the room would work for us or not. I was realizing that I’d believed higher was better for no reason at all. We were in Disney World for crying out loud!. We were in the freakin Contemporary Resort with a room facing the Magic Kingdom! Being 50 feet higher up wasn’t going to make that big a difference! I was so disappointed with myself. For several minutes I’d allowed myself to be one of those idiots, the people whose expectations are unrealistic.  Worse still, my expectations were also flat out wrong.

We prayed all summer for our trip. Our countdown chain had prayer requests written on it. So each night when we pulled a chain off, there was a request to pray for. Safe flights. No one gets sick. Make good memories. It was a good way to cover our trip in prayer as we counted down the days in anticipation.

One of my prayer requests was that we’d get the room we were supposed to have.

Which is, in fact, what happened. Even if I was too daft to recognize that. I thought it had to be higher up. But as I stared back at the Castle, I realized that we could move higher up and get still end up stuck next to a loud family. Or get a room with an adjoining door. Or have neighbors who improperly use their balcony for an ashtray. Maybe our room wasn’t higher up. But it was where we were supposed to be and better is one day in His house than a thousand elsewhere. If I may re-interpret a verse.

I was nervously pacing through the room, barely conscious of the fact the girls were jumping on the beds and talking nonstop. I decided we should just stay put.

And as I was making this decision, Mrs. Z was noticing the place was filthy. With a capital Ph! There was a good layer of dust on the furniture. That’s actually an understatement. The room was to clean what Barbara Boxer is to intelligent. What Joy Behar is to reasonable. What Brett Favre is to discreet. What Tiger Woods is to monogamous.  What Frickles is to math. 

The CR rooms have opaque glass doors to the bathroom. There was a greasy hand print that ran almost the entire length of the glass.  Which led to some discussion about what went on in there.  In the room itself, there was a hand print on the mirror and the doors to the balcony hadn’t been cleaned since before Jimmy Carter began his “superior to the others” post-presidency.

In other words, the typical Disney World housekeeping issues. But Mrs. Z was in the bathroom and she spotted something FAR WORSE. Worse than another two years of a Democratically controlled Congress. Worse than the words, "President Palin." Worse than Georgia’s football team even.

There was something brown sitting on the toilet seat.

Something.

Brown.
Sitting.

Lurking really.

Taunting us. 

Daring us to do something.

Mrs. Z was grossed out, disgusted and maybe a touch mortified.

But not touched by the mortified, thankfully.

Not me. Oh sure, I was annoyed as all get out, wondered whether the room had been cleaned at all. But in that moment, a preternatural calm had come over me. I figured the brown was at least near where it was supposed to be. It wasn’t like we found a little piece of brown on the phone.

Still. This was an issue which needed to be addressed. I know from experience not to call the “front desk” from your room. Because you won’t get the front desk at all. So I walked down to the front desk to talk with a manager about getting our room cleaned. I also wanted to let her know that despite the general state of disrepair, we thought the location was fine. The irony wasn’t lost on me either.

The manager was insanely nice about the problem and offered to send up housekeeping immediately. To VIP clean the room. Like that would impress me. She also offered to give me a credit on our room. Without my asking for it or implying we’d be expecting it. I thought was a nice touch. Not the credit, frankly, that was the least they could do.  I appreciated that she offered it without my asking. 

I told her we were heading out for dinner and we’d be back in an hour or so and would expect to have our room cleaned while we were gone. She assured me that wouldn’t be a problem.

And it wasn’t. We took the boat over to Ft. Wilderness for some dinner at Trails End. We like it there. The food is reasonably good and they have sweet tea. Plus it just flat out feels like Disney World. The ride on the boat was pleasant and as we rode we comforted ourselves that we were in the right room. It would be cleaned and as a result of the brown on the seat, it was REALLY going to be cleaned and a clean room is more important than anything, right?

Dinner was fine but it wasn't spectacular. The food underwhelmed a bit although we loved us some sweet tea.  In many ways, the night reminded me of a dinner in Chef Mickey's four years earlier.  The thing which was worrying me was vastly insignificant by comparison.  But it still felt like we were going through the motions.

By the time we were done with dinner we were ready to get back into our room and get unpacked and get sitched.

And there it was. Finally, on the boat ride back to our resort, I finally started to feel like it was our first night at Disney World.


And all that was good. The sweet tea at Trails End, the evening boat ride on the lake. Finding a spotlessly clean room when we returned. The fun that is unpacking in your hotel room. Being so glad to be back at the Contemporary again. Watching the new fireworks show on the balcony.



All of that was good.

But you know what was great?

I woke up early the next morning. Insanely early. Even for me. It was 5:00 when I woke up. Pitch dark outside. Too dark to sit on the balcony for some Bible study time. So I got dressed, brushed my teeth, grabbed my camera and my Bible and went in search of a well lit, but quiet place to spend some time with the Lord.

There’s a large lobby area on the 2d floor of the CR by the meeting rooms. I walked all the way down towards the far end, found myself a couch and spent some time hanging out with God, praising Him for bringing us back there.

At the Contemporary, I’m just a 12 year old kid who can’t believe I’m getting to sit on a couch and read the Bible.

It was still silly dark when I finished praying but I figured the sun would come up soon and I could score some sweet sunrise over Bay Lake pictures. But it was not to be. The sun wasn’t working on ZZUB’s schedule.

Instead, I got to creep around the CR. In the quiet. In the stillness. Just enjoying the solitude. The time. Alone.



We don’t get that in Disney World very much. When it happens, you should enjoy it.

Eventually, the Contempo Café woke up and I stepped in, bought my mug and filled it full with brown water served warm.

The coffee spilled down the side when I put the lid on. As usual. And after I’d wiped it off, I headed up two flights to our room. To eat some Pop Tarts and start getting everyone else up for our first day.

Mrs. Z got up and began getting ready and as she did, she realized her eye was now well enough to wear her contacts again. No wearing her glasses. No squinting in the sun. At the exact moment she needed it, she was able to put in her contact lenses.

Right on time.

And so our vacation began.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Sudden Induction

By: Great Biscuit

In my previous installment, the Biscuit clan had arrived at Six Flags Fiesta Texas to find a virtually deserted park. With two rides down and many left to go, we headed over to The Boardwalk area. The girls soon discovered a few kid-oriented rides which had no lines at all.


(What is the deal with the spinning bus?  Why does it seem that EVERY Theme park has this ride?  Do they just give that out free when you puchase three or more other rides of equal or greater value?)

While the girls were thusly engaged and safely under the watchful supervision of First Lady Biscuit and Nana & Papa, I took a side trip to catch me a coaster.

It had been a while since I was able to get my coaster on so I was really looking forward to a chance to ride the rails again. The closest coaster to our location was Poltergeist and it was one I had never ridden.



Because the ride was built after the park opened, the coaster itself is sandwiched in behind some other buildings. To make it accessible from the park, they offset the queue and the loading area quite a ways from the actual track and tucked them between a restaurant and the back side of the car ride. The affect of this is that you cannot see the track from the line or from the loading dock. (This is an important note for later.)

I shuffled my way though the endless rows of empty rails and trudged up the ramp to the loading dock. There was a train waiting when I got there and the gates were all open. I was TOTALLY loving this no-crowd thing! I joined the three people already on board and after a couple of minutes, and a few more folks had wondered up and gotten on, the bored and alarmingly sleepy looking ride operator closed the gates, dropped the restraints, gave a thumbs up and hit the magic button.

It was then that I discovered something. It is probably a good idea to take a peek a coaster in action BEFORE you get on it.

Poltergeist is not one of those normal, haul you up a hill with a chain, type of coasters. No my friends. This bad boy was a linear induction coaster.

Now don’t get me wrong. I LOVE these things and have ridden them many times. However, I do like to know ahead of time so as to properly prepare myself. If there had been a ride video of my face during said takeoff, it would have gone viral by now. My head was suddenly pinned to the chair, my eyes were bugging out of their sockets and my lips were flapping so far around the side of my head that I was experiencing the disconcerting sensation of simultaneously kissing both of my own ear lobes.

While other men may have been reduced to shrieking like a startled school girl, I am happy to report that I bore it with equanimity and quickly recovered. By the time we made it through the first loop, I had reeled in my facial muscles and took to waving my hands in the air and grinning like the Joker on tater tot day at Arkham.

In short, the ride ROCKED!

I pondered riding it again, but didn’t want to leave the girls waiting. Plus I was sidelined by an injury while exiting. I don’t know how I did it, but in the course of making my way out of the queue, I raised my left arm while cornering a turn in the exit lane and somehow managed to smack the tip of my elbow on the edge of a metal bar. This created a chain reaction which shot lighting bolts up my arm and clear around the side of my back. It was about the worse funny bone smack I’ve ever dealt myself. And it totally soured the mood for another ride.

After meeting back up with the family, I discovered First Lady Biscuit had taken the girls on the mini-swings. This was nifty with me as I am much more prone to getting ill on those types of spinning rides as opposed to twisting and turning coasters.

I don’t get it either.

I also discovered that from the vantage point of the bench in front of the Taz swings, you could clearly see Poltergeist.  In fact Nana Biscuit snapped the shot up above while I was riding it.  I guess I should have stuck around over here a few minutes after all.

When the girls were done with their ride, we all headed over to Scooby Doo Ghostblasters and shot ourselves some ghouls. This ride is kind of like a poor man’s Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. The concept is similar and both are themed. But the comparison pretty well ends there. Scooby is much shorter, a lot cheesier, not as nicely themed and doesn’t allow you to spin. The queue is limited when it comes to looking at anything interesting, and the ride itself seems a bit cardboard cut-outish. It’s a great way to enjoy some air conditioning, but that’s about all it has going for it.

After hanging with Mystery Incorporated it was time to go get a birds eye view of the park. (See panoramic photo in the last installment.) Little did we know that this simple act would become immortalized in the history of Biscuitdom.