Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Battle for my Wallet VII: Lost and Found

Chapter Five: Am I Even Here?

The interesting thing about Disney World is how you can be gone for a year, or in our case two, come back and feel like you never left. Things change, you get older, construction walls go up, you get new running shoes, a ride gets a new old name, your kids get older and still, it’s all so very familiar.

Right down to the idiots who are standing in line behind you.

I’m looking right at you, Sandy Solo-toes.

I’ve got nothing against people who choose to vacation in Disney World by themselves. To each her own, right? It’s not illegal or immoral or even un-Biblical, so I say, “have a time.”

Just don’t try to cut in front of me.

It occurs to me that Dumbo is the scene of a LOT of this kind of nincompoopery. I don’t know why. This wasn’t the first time we encountered the demonstrably idiotic. NOWisconsinpublicemployees. Sadly, I don’t reckon it’ll be the last either.

I moved our stroller over to the Dumbo area while Mrs. Z and ZZUBY got in line. Lil Z and I walked up to join them. I spotted her as we walked up. Sandy Solo-toes. You couldn’t miss her. The wide-bodied pasty white legs. The tucked in white t-shirt. The pin lanyard. The superfluous cuffs in her denim shorts. The cocky way she had her foot turned sideways like she was 13. When it was clear to everyone that she was decades away from 13. The sour puss which screamed out, “I’m alone and I’m mad about it!”

Seriously, you could hear her face.

She was, after all, a woman alone. In line. For Dumbo.

I swear I’ve written this all before. Can someone be so kind to read back through the previous Battles for my Wallet and tell me how many times we’ve had this happen?

Sandy Solo-toes saw me coming with Lil Z to join the other Zs and I swear she moved her corpulent back side to block us. And then looked away as if she was suddenly so interested in what? The bird poop on the ground. I suppose that would pass for interesting if I was the kind of person who stood in line. Alone. For Dumbo.

No matter. It was early in the day and early in our trip and ZZUB was still filled with mirth and good cheer. I offered her a cherry Pop Tart to move her Ruebenesque body aside so we could join the rest of our family.

I’m just kidding of course.

I’d never give up a cherry Pop Tart.

Not even if Rush Limbaugh was standing in line in front of me.

Speaking of porcine. That brother could use a week or three eating only celery, couldn't he?

I said, “excuse me,” to Sandy Solo-toes as we squeezed past her to join Mrs. Z. I don’t recall whether she responded. She acquiesced. Kind of. But she hovered on us like Jessie Jackson on a TV camera. Lil Z and I were now standing in front of Mrs. Z, so Sandy Solo-toes was right behind Mrs. Z. And by right behind, I mean clinging to her like a dryer sheet.

If Mrs. Z was the kind of person who stored up gas in the chamber and if Mrs. Z was the kind of person who unleashed the power, she could have knocked Sandy back with one good hot dog fart.

As we moved along, there’s a bit of a turn in the queue and as we got to it, Sandy Solo-toes tried to squeeze past us!

What on earth?!!

It’s Dumbo!!!!!


Although it was early in the day and early in our trip and even though I was still filled with mirth, I said in a big voice to Mrs. Z, “HONEY, STAY CLOSE TO US. THAT WOMAN IS TRYING TO SHARK YOU.”

Oh yes I did. Mrs. Z is southern so she’s more polite. She said, “ZZUB! She could hear you.” To which I said, “I said that so she could hear me.”

Sandy Solo-toes stayed back after that.

Which was the smartest thing she'd done since she poured herself into those sassy denim shorts.  With the cuffs.

After Dumbo, Lil Z asked if we could ride the carousel. I have no beef with the carousel per se, only that during a morning EMH, it seems foolish to waste time on it. And in trying to keep moving, I committed a MAJOR gaffe. What is now known as the Carousel Mistake. I told her, “we’ll ride it later.”  As we soon discovered, was that she and I had different understandings of the word, "later." I meant LATER, like that day, or even that week. She thought later meant, "right now?" 

First she started to cry.

But we headed to Pooh. The ride, not the bathroom experience. That’ll come later. I assure you.

They were doing some work on the Pooh queue but the ride was the same. I don’t hate Pooh. It’s actually grown on me. I used to hate it. But now I find it strangely endearing. I think it’s the scene with the cake.

From Pooh, we headed over to Tomorrowland and Buzz Lightyear. Since the year it opened, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin has been one of my favorite rides. However, it’s one of the few rides duplicated in Disneyland where I think they got the better version. When we were in DL last summer, we rode Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblasters almost as many times as Small World. But no matter, I still love me some Buzz Lightyear SRS. But as it turns out, I was off my game this first go round. I ended up just a cadetsomethingornuther.

After BL, we grabbed some water from the Launching Pad where absolutely nothing funny happened. Actually, while Mrs. Z was grabbing water, I walked over to Space Mt to grab some fastpasses for later usage. And then we rode the PeopleMover. I’m glad they finally changed the name, but honestly, they have sucked almost all of the funny out of this ride. I know it’s never been about the narration. But the narration used to be funny. Now it’s stupid. Not killing 130 year old oak trees stupid. Or holding a rally because 130 year old oak trees are dying stupid. And not even throwing toilet paper in 130 year old oak trees stupid.

It was more like accusing the press secretary of being out of the loop because she was undergoing another one of her wardrobe changes stupid.

As is usually the case, the ZZUBs made their own fun. When the PM gets to Space Mt. It’s dark. Insanely dark. So dark you can’t see no nothing dark. So of course we were screaming.

“Oh my gosh!!! It’s soooooo dark!!!!!!”

“I can’t see anything!!!”

“Mommy, are you still there? I can’t see you!!!”

“Am I still here? I can’t see myself!!!!”

After Peeps, we went to ride Pups. As in the Puppies of Progress. And once again, we’ve convinced one of our children that the dog is looking at her. That joke will never get old. 

Neither will Barack Obama's capacity to distort the truth.  Apparently.

I love the Puppies of Progress. Really enjoy the ride. But there’s something about that place that puts me to sleep. No lie. It’s some kind of weird Pavlovian thing. Or it just happens that it’s cool in there and I’m tired every time we ride it.

So after the Pups, we strollered up and headed towards the front of the park. We had a date with some Tonga Toast. We were headed from Tomorrowland towards the hub.

And then the Carousel Mistake was realized. You see, Lil ZZUB thought it had been long enough. It was later in her little mind and Lil ZZUB wasn’t waiting any longer. I looked at my watch and listened to her cry and looked at my watch and listened to her tears and decided there was a decent chance Kona wouldn’t give our table away if we were 10 minutes late. Once at the hub, instead of jogging left, we hung a right to head back to Fantasyland. There’s a walkway behind the castle and we headed that direction when I realized we never go that way and here was a view of the castle we don’t normally see. I passed off the stroller to Mrs. Z and I grabbed my camera for this picture:

Where you can clearly see a woman picking her nose.

I love me some Disney World.

We made it to the carousel and Lil Z got her ride on.

And then we strollered back up for the Disney pace to the Monorail station. We made it to Kona about 5 minutes after our reservation and no one seemed to mind.

But now I was full on hungry. Like Sarah Palin for attention.

I opened the menu and scanned the breakfast offerings. But I didn’t see what I was looking for. NOU2.

I looked again. And again. I could feel anger rising up inside me. “Danged Disney! Danged food police!!! Now they’ve taken Tonga Toast away, too?!” I closed my menu and wondered why we were even there. The waitress came to get our drink order and with full dejection I asked, “what happened to the Tonga Toast?”

“Nothing,” she said, looking at me as if I was dumb enough to pay rack rate.

“I can’t find it on the menu anywhere,” I replied.

She opened my menu and pointed at the top. Where if it was any more obvious it would be Michelle Obama’s butt.

I quite literally heaved a sigh of relief.

The Tonga Toast was every bit as fantastic as it always is. And for the most part breakfast was enjoyable.

But there was a dark cloud looming over the ZZUB’s otherwise cheery breakfast. Something wicked was headed our way.  Something which would alter our plans for the rest of the day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In Harm's Way

by Great Biscuit

Perhaps of all the vacation plans that a person can make, none are quite so foreboding as planning a trip to visit your Mother-In-law. Such was the second journey along I-35 that we embarked upon this past summer. My wife grew up in the Twin Cities. (That’s Minneapolis / Saint Paul for those of you who pay rack rate at Disney.) Her parents still live in those parts as does her sister’s family.

For those of you who did not suffer through my Disney TR, my wife is an identical twin. And no, she’s NEVER heard the Minnesota Twins joke so be sure you’re the first to point it out to her.

I’ll be standing at a distance.

For the sake of clarity, I have endeavored to come up with some sort of a standardized naming convention for the cast of this segment, as this particular forum lends itself to maintaining a certain degree of anonymity. While I considered nicknames, it seemed a bit cliché. Plus there is the fact that some of you who are familiar with prior writings know the cast by their given names already and thus might wind up in a land of confusion; which is apparently where this tangent has currently wandered. Thus, I will stick with the generally accepted abbreviations of FIL, MIL, SIL & BIL. (Father, Mother, Sister, Brother-In-Law respectively. Okay don’t get technical with me people. I know that if we are to follow the true letter of In-Law legality, BIL is my wife’s Brother In-Law and my “Sister-In-Law’s husband”, but I ain’t writing SILH as that’s just hokey. Besides as the Word says, “the two shall become one”, therefore, I fell scripturally cleared to claim my wife’s relational status for myself as well.) If you are of the type that has an aversion to abbreviations, then by all means feel free to interpret them as Phil, Millie, Sally and Bill. Because here at Zzubworld, it’s all about you the reader.

It occurs to me that the preceding paragraph was an entirely meaningless waste of time.

For this particular jaunt up I-35, we elected to take to the skies. This was for two reasons. One, I did not particularly wish to undertake a 21 hour drive. Two, I was returning home a week earlier than First Lady Biscuit and the girls and it’s a bit of a trip to come back and pick ‘em up.

We flew out of DFW, as Texans are wont to do, and winged our way north. I do not recall an abundance of detail concerning the flight, though I distinctly remember stopping in the airport before we boarded to partake of an Auntie Anne’s pretzel. What possible relevance that might have to our current tale eludes me. All I know is that we did eventually arrive at MIL’s house and headed to the basement. We got the girls settled into the family room where they would lay claim to the pull out couch while First Lady Biscuit and I took up residence in the guest room.

Rather than provide you with a blow by blow of our entire trip, and send up food porn of my MIL’s meat loaf, I thought perhaps a different tactic might be appreciated. Instead, I will offer up reviews of some of the attractions that we took in while in Minnesota which might be of interest to those considering a trip up that way. These will include Como Park Zoo, The Minnesota Children’s Museum, The Minnesota Science Museum, and The Mall of America. I’ll also include a few things that happened along the way, including one that will be in true spirit of Zzub.

And in the spirit of recent postings, (namely a lengthy intro combined with very little actual trip happenings and concluding with promise of things to come,) I think I’ll shift gears now and take this posting in an entirely different direction.

It seems to me that this would be an appropriate to begin the pre-trip writings for our 2012 return to The World.

This may seem a bit absurd to some, given the time frame we're dealing with. Indeed it does seem odd to be thinking that far ahead, even to myself; particularly given the fact that I’m not a frequent PTR fan. Yet I do have a reason for jumping into this vortex at the present juncture. That reason being? We are going to WDW with my BIL & SIL and their two girls. That’s right, we had such a great time in ’09 when my parents came with us that we are once again making our trip a family affair.

What’s more, we are actually looking forward to it.

As this particular portion of my I-35 TR will show, our two families love spending time together. People often mistake my BIL and me for brothers. We are both from Texas, have a similar look, have similar interests, both work as media techs at our churches, and we have similar personalities. In short, he tops of the list of folks whom I’d not only tolerate touring with, but actually enjoy the experience. And of course the lady folk, being twins and all that, are like two peas in a pod. Well, I guess technically they one point.


BIL and SIL honeymooned at The World in 2002 and I helped them plan their trip. (I’m happy to report that it turned out much better than my own doomed post-nuptial excursion.) They stayed at All Star Music and spent five very enjoyable days soaking up the Did’ney. They have wanted to go back since, but have not been able to work it out. In 2012, their two daughters are going to be the same ages our two were when we went. All four of them are already excited about it and want to discuss it often.

As one might imagine, we have not yet booked and are currently in the resort selection phase. I want us to be settled on a resort, trip date and trip length by the time they come to our house this summer. With 2012 being the 40th anniversary of the Magic Kingdom, the new Fantasyland expansion and the opening of The Art of Animation Resort, we need to book early.

As such, I am currently deep in the throws of Power Point creation. It’s pretty well a foregone conclusion by this point that Deluxe is out as an option for the entirety of the trip, however it may be held in reserve as a final fling for our last couple of nights. So now it’s down to picking which category (Value or Mod) and which property. I am creating lists of pros and cons, doing my best to approximate a cost breakdown (based on current pricing and offers), pulling together a TON of photos, and am really trying not to push my vote by the way I present the material. (Objectivity can be a bear.)

And of course there is the inevitable question of time. How long should we stay? How long can we stay? Their crew is looking at around 5-7 days, Biscuit and company are looking at 8-10 days.

How that all reconciles remains to be seen.

All I know is that I’m looking forward to it.

I need it.

Between my job at the call center, working at the church, and freelancing as an IT tech for my aunt’s company, I feel like life is a constant blur of deadlines.

This is a ride I can’t wait to take and it’s a ride I look forward to sharing here.

In the meantime, I pray that God may bless each of you. Have a great Valentines Day and know that you are all loved.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Bein' All Laid Back

by NicoleMarie

I’m pretty sure it takes a great amount of skill to be as slack about this trip report as I’ve been. As always, after the first few installments, the real world comes storming into the picture – busier than ever and determined to derail my efforts to finish this trip report.

But I am back in the conductor’s seat, blowing the whistle and rollin’ full force down the track.

For today, anyway.

Because it’s a nasty, rainy Monday morning in Macon, Georgia.

And what else to do I have to do but sit at my computer and write about a hot summer vacation in Walt Disney World?

Don’t answer that. Especially if you’re my husband.

So as has become custom when the trip report installments are about two months apart, let me get you up to speed.

We’ve driven down to Orlando without a clue as to where we’ll stay on the first night of the vacay. We ended up choosing the Hilton at Bonnet Creek and loved it. The next morning, we rolled into WDW and went directly to the IG gateway entrance at Epcot, where I met my smokin’ hot friend, LaLa, and her family, for the first time. It was a trip highlight FO SHO. After meeting the LaLas and gettin’ our inagural ride on Soarin’, we drove over to Kidani Village and checked into our 2BR villa. We “oohed” and “aahed” just like a redneck family from Macon, Georgia should. We took in Illuminations that night, said goodbye to ToonTown in MK the next day, and in my last installment, I told you about how the NMs prepared for summer by participating in the Disney Give A Day program.


Now you’re up to speed.

And where do we go from here? The topic for today is “Bein’ All Laid Back”. At Disney World. Even though there’s so much to do with four parks and two water parks and putt putt golf and resorts to explore and Downtown Disney and you could never do it all despite the fact that you’re there for ten days and eleven nights so you want to stay moving the whole time so you can get everything in.

Take a breath. Yes, that was meant to be a run-on sentence.

Because much like that sentence had no commas or semi-colons, or anything else that means “slow down a minute”, neither have most of our prior Disney vacations. And you know what? We TOTALLY wanted it to be that way. That’s how we roll. That’s what the NMs like. A fun vacation with lots to do.

But when you have 50 years worth of DVC points in your future, something just all of a sudden feels different about your Disney trip. You kinda get a “if we don’t see it this time, we’ll see it next time” mentality. Because you know there's a next time, (Lord willing) and it’s coming soon. So the next thing you know, sleeping in and missing a rope drop, or renting bicycles at Ft. Wilderness, or bailing on the evening plans for a night in the villa and a “free” movie from the DVC movie library, sounds as much fun as stockpiling FastPasses and dining with characters and standing with the crowds to watch Illuminations.

OK. I lie.

There is NEVER a time that riding a bike or sleeping or watching a movie will be better than watching Illuminations.

But you get the point.

We had been in the World for only a day and a half when we came upon our first “no plan” day in the itinerary. The first opportunity to “be all laid back.” And just like a typical NM, my DH woke up, brought me some coffee from Jahori Treasures, and immediately asked, “What’s the plan for the day?”

Dangit! We’ve failed at being laid back already, and it’s not even 8 o’clock!

Hmmmmm…that’s a great question. What IS the plan? That question becomes a little hard to answer when the goal is NOT to have a plan. But as we always do, we had several things in our back pocket that we wanted to try. We wanted to do some resort exploring – particularly the food courts because we’re rednecks like that. We wanted to rent bikes and ride around somewhere. We wanted to rent some boats. The possibilities are endless outside of the parks, but still within the Arches. (God forbid a million times we travel outside the Arches.)

So while the kids lazied around in their bedroom - watching TV, playing on their electronics and generally enjoying the fact that they weren’t being told to be dressed and out the door in record time – I logged onto my free internet connection and did some Disney research.

I love doing Disney research ANYTIME. But usually when I research a Disney vacation, I’m sitting at home, sipping coffee from a Disney mug, and wishing I was in the World.

Not today, my friends. Not today.

Today I was logged on from my villa at Kidani Village, and whatever activity my research led us to, was going to happen within hours. It was a dadgum good way to start the day.

Several possibilities were tossed around as we hung out, sipped coffee, watched TV, and I read my research aloud to anyone who would listen. But riding bikes at Ft. Wilderness was deemed the favorite option.

And thus, the plan for the day was born.

We would get dressed, take our car to one of the moderate resorts to try out the food court, (again she waves the redneck flag!) and after lunch, we’d drive over to Ft. Wilderness to rent some bikes.

Did we enjoy it? Did we feel like we’d missed out on the park action by taking a day off? Or did that set the tone for the rest of the vacation, and prove to us that we’d FINALLY entered a new phase in Disney vacations?

Stay tuned. Details at 11…