Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Like the Macy's Parade, Except FANTASTIC

So, if you can believe this, we're only on Day 2 of Le Tour de Disney. We actually spent it at Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM, as I came to find out) and I adored every magical moment.

{By this point, I was telling Disney employees--it's still hard for me to call them "cast members"-to 'have a magical day.')

We did as any light-saber toting, sci-fi loving American family would've done and sprinted to the back of the park to begin our Star Wars experience.

The "Star Tours" ride was honestly a little lame. And it was a simulator, which in my mind, simulates nausea.

Jackson, however, loved it. And of course, I pretended to.

Next, we moved outside to the Jedi Training.

Despite Brad's and my ridiculous and downright shameful attempts to get crazy and freak out so the Jedi Master would choose Jackson as one of his next Padawans, we (I mean, Jackson) were not chosen.

J was seriously bummed, but handled it amazingly well (considering it was a lifelong dream and I don't envision us returning to Disney anytime soon). Even without being selected, the whole training sequence was super entertaining and I found myself quickly sucked in by the force.

To combat the great sorrow, Papa led everyone into the gift shop and the Jedi Rejects picked out a souvenir to remind them of their great struggle with the dark side.

Jackson picked out Boba Fett (the bounty hunter) and was instantly happy. Plus, the ginormous AT-AT walker in the background was just plain cool.

At this point, I should admit that I know all the names of obscure characters and Star Wars vehicles without looking them up.

Because I am a dork.

Finished with simulators, we split up into two groups.

Brad, Lilly, & Grammy headed to the Tower of Terror.

Jackson, Papa and I jammed to the Rock n' Roller Coaster.

Thanks to Steven Tyler and his cool limo, it was tied for my favorite Disney ride. I did feel bad because Jackson audibly cried during the "fun," but he wasn't prepared well since I didn't realize it went upside down a few times in the pitch dark.


But he recovered and actually wanted to ride it again at the end of the day.

From all accounts, Lilly braved the Tower of Terror and will brag about it to anyone she can.

However, we couldn't convince her to ride it a second time...which didn't surprise me at all.

{Before I continue, I should mention I don't have ANY pictures of the best part of Hollywood Studios--the Lights, Motors, Action show. I was too stunned and amazed to do anything but repeat, "How in the heck do they do that?" about 50 times. You should see the show. Amazing}

After scaring the children silly (on the roller coasters, not the Motors, it was time to enter the land of Pixar and happiness and Toy Story Mania.

This ride was amazingly creative and just as fun for the adults. Plus, we got harassed by Mr. Potato Head himself. AND we got to wear 3D glasses. AND shoot stuff. Perfect.

I'm going to be very vulnerable and reveal yet another super lame thing I love: The Muppets.

I mean, love. I always have and I always will. Miss Piggy first charmed me in "Muppets Take Manhattan" and I remember many a Saturday morning filled with the Muppet Babies cartoons.

{You can all go ahead and walk away from our friendship now if you wish.}

So here are the kids with the Statue of Miss Piggy. Because I had to.

If you aren't exhausted yet (which I was, because Grammy, Lilly, and I RAN--not jogged, RAN--from the Beauty and the Beast show all the way across the theme park and crowds of people to the Lights, Motors, Action show. This was accomplished in my flip flops which are made for standing on soft beach sand, NOT athletic conquests.)

(My shins are still aching.)

But finally, the magical hour of 3 o'clock arrived and you know what that means: PARADE TIME!

This was considered a "Block Party Bash," which meant my beloved characters and shockingly-old Disney dancers parked their floats on Hollywood Blvd. and danced with us for awhile.

It was mostly Pixar characters and I don't believe I need to convince anyone that they are great.
The Green Army Guys were the lead vocalists/MC's and they were hysterical...even ad-libbed most of it.

Led by the Spirit, I let out a "whoo hoo" during "Celebrate Good Times." (If you can keep your whoo hoo to yourself during that song, something is sorely wrong.)

Anyway The Green Army Guy yelled right back at me, "Did you just whoo hoo me? Don't whoo hoo me!"

A Macy's balloon has never done that.
Lilly even got picked to come out and dance, but there was so much stinkin' ENERGY!!!!!!!!!!! that even she was a little overwhelmed.

I am just thinking about how much money someone would have to pay me to wear that costume and entice little kids to do the Macarena.

The amount is lower than you might think.

Now for my favorite part of each day:

You knew it had to do with food. The ice cream break. YUM. It was like a delicious encore to the parade.

Our favorite Ice Creamery (because there are many and it seems like I should lead you directly to the best one in case you visit) was Mrs. Potts at the Magic Kingdom.

They had full-on sundaes. Usually, we restrained ourselves and shared a couple of cones.

But in the interest of full-disclosure, let me reveal our order before the Spectromagic Parade (sometimes there are parades at night so you can watch TWO in a single day. Brilliant.)

*strawberry shortcake sundae
*brownie sundae
*chocolate milkshake
*rootbeer float
*chocolate ice cream with hot fudge sundae

After conforming to the shape of Mrs. Potts herself, we decided to start sharing sundaes.

Oh, speaking of Mrs. Potts, here are Grammy & Lilly at "Beauty and the Beast." (It was FAB.)

And our favorite talking, racing, cow-tipping, animated vehicles:

Dear Jackson & Lilly,
Those awful things on your feet are Crocs. I know Crocs are ugly. I know they are ridiculous, obnoxious, and plastic.

I completely understand that you will look back at this trip and a) complain about how they compromised your sense of fashion, b) wonder how I could've possibly let Lilly wear red Crocs with a pink bow on her shirt, or c) Photoshop them right out and tell you friends I was a much better mother than I actually was.

You did thank me for them after you were soaked on Splash Mountain and even told me they were comfy several times.

I know, that is no excuse.

In the same way that I've never forgiven Grammy for the Dorothy Hamill haircut, I understand that you may withhold your forgiveness as well.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Look What My 30's Have Done

*WARNING* If you know me even a little bit, several things in this post will be shocking.

I had to put *WARNING* in red because that is a double-meaning to *WARN* you that you will be shocked. (Shocked!)

Check out the amazingness of Cinderella's castle:

I will not lie: I got TEARY-EYED when I saw it from afar on the Monorail.


It was absolutely beautiful, more gigantic than I could've imagined, and gorgeously located in the middle of the Magic Kingdom.

If I ever travel to Europe and see the Sistene Chapel, I guarantee you I will not think of Mr. Famous Painter and then get teary.

But Disney World and it's castle made for a PRETEND person who is FAKE? Oh yes.

Let's zoom in closer:
I'm sure the alarm-bells are clanging in your tired head already.

Nicole, the Sworn Hater of All Things Character, is wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt and so are my offspring and husband.

Since Jackson's birth, I'd relegated character wear to pajamas because I cannot handle them on clothing any other time of day. In my mind, a Lightning McQueen t-shirt was only acceptable when tucked neatly under the covers for 11 hours where no one has to actually look at it.

But my inner nerd came out and I demanded that we all hike through Disney World looking every bit the part of lame tourists and total geeks.

And it was great!

The next sign of My Personal Crazy was that I absolutely adored the parades and shows.

In my former life, I was only gung-ho for upside down roller coasters and other thrill-seeking adventures not involving circular motions.

But I found myself checking the time and scheduling fun around parade and show schedules.

My favorite characters of the whole deal were Cinderella's stepsisters. They were evil and mean and heckled the crowd and even better actresses than in the movie.

Cinderella herself was amazing (of course) and Snow White was probably the most beautiful human I have ever seen. (Except this insanely gorgeous French model we met and I can't even describe her hair without getting teary because it is more magical than the entire Kingdom.)

Anyway, the princesses were unbelievable and had this wave thing that was so non-Miss America. It was like they were yo-yoing sideways while working on their Olympic Ribbon Waving routine. If you've seen it, you know what I mean.

Here is the Fairy Godmother, who Lilly also got to meet in person right outside the aforementioned castle. When she signs her autograph, she draws her magic wand and says "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo" like 17 times and makes you want to hug her and ask her about Jack and Gus like they are REAL PEOPLE instead of rodents.

She is that convincing. Or I am gullible...but either way we are all happy!

Now comes the fun part. I decided that for Halloween, Brad would be Peter Pan and I would be Wendy Darling.

The thought of Brad in green tights hopping around all night made me laugh to no end. Plus, I was excited about wearing a costume that wasn't form-fitting and closely resembled a bath robe.

However, Brad is so quick to laugh at himself, that he showed almost too much excitement about the green tights, so I had to ki-bosh the whole deal.

{I just realized I have no idea how to spell, kie-bosch, kybosh...}

Jackson loved Smee. I had no idea what his name was...just kept referring to him as Captain Hook's friend. But J gently corrected me and then I remembered that I've let him watch Peter Pan over 1 million times.

After the parade (the first parade of many parades), we headed to the world renowned Tomorrowland Speedway.

This was fantastic because it hadn't changed one bit since I was last there in 1982. Driving was something the kids took very seriously.

Thankfully, they have another decade before they are let loose on the streets. At this rate, Lilly will need the little guide rail in between her wheels for the rest of her life.

Before she'd proved that driving actually isn't her thing, they had handed her a driver's license, which she kept in her pocket and flashed around Main Street as often as possible.

I'm realizing I should clarify (with all these shameless photos of us in our character clothing), that since our return home, all shirts have been neatly tucked away in pajama drawers, only to be worn at night or in the privacy of our own closets.

After letting loose for a week and wandering around in clothing that screamed "Middle Aged Tourist Mom Nerd Reliving Childhood" I had to get back to my more sophisticated sweaty workout clothes and stained hoodies.

There is no telling how this picture of the Teacups made it's way into this lineup, but I don't really know how to delete it, so hopefully you can fully appreciate Brad working the spinner in such a way that he came out of there soaked in his own sweat.

Hopefully you can see these cute pumpkins:

More tomorrow!


Monday, October 26, 2009

Here We Go...

...with no promises to ever finish this project, I thought I'd start posting some of our pictures from the Happiest Place on Earth.

Here are my peeps in the airport (fake smiles...check!) and ready to go. They'd been eating, sleeping, and breathing all thoughts Disney for a few weeks and were finally ready to live the dream.

Our first stop (after grabbing FastPasses for some very important rides) was Aladdin's Magic Carpets. For me, the magical part was not puking while Jackson steered the magic carpets up and down with the finesse of a New York city taxi driver.

Lilly chauffered Grammy & Papa around and they lived to tell about it.

Next, we headed to one of my personal favorites, Thunder Mountain.

It had been 27 years since I'd crossed the turnstiles of the Magic Kingdom, and Thunder Mountain was one of my favorites.

{My VERY VERY VERY favorite, Space Mountain, was closed for 9 months for refurbishment while we were there. Yes, I was bitter.}

Anywho, Thunder Mountain lived up to my fantastic memories. Jackson and Papa took the initial ride together...

...and Lilly and Grammy screamed together.

Even though they loved it (we rode it at least 20 times throughout the week), Jackson NEVER stopped hating the part with the loud clacking tracks and the bats.

I sense Lilly didn't love that moment either.

After a billion rides on Thunder Mountain, we headed to the Astro Orbiter. Brad couldn't wait to pilot his own Vomit Comet.

At this point, it should be noted that I DO NOT partake in any rides that go around in a circle. I can't even watch the teacups without my stomach wretching.

Give me a roller coaster that goes upside down 10 times and corkscrews till I don't know which way is up, but SPARE ME the tilt-a-whirl effect.

{It started in the 80's when we were forced to ride backwards in the Way Back of a station wagon. That is just not natural.}

We moved on to Buzz Lightyear (not the same as ToyStory Mania...we'll get to that) and it was fantastic.

Love that it combines the greatness of a ride (well...sort of great, because I had great trouble steering and there is some iffy backwards motion) and the greatness of a video game.

Being that we've raised Jackson to treasure the Wii in his heart, this one was a hit.

The points competition among the adults became pretty intense, but the losers all found reasons to rationalize their sorry scores while the winners gloated and taunted the others for days.

Good times!

And more to come...

Another Teaser

Maybe it is the sheer number (300) of pictures staring me in the face that keeps me from even starting to post them.

So instead, here's a video of Lilly on Thunder Mountain.

The best thing about this clip is that this was filmed (Blair Witch Project style) on about her 20th ride on Thunder Mountain.

As you will see, the joy hadn't really diminished.

It's not exactly an Oscar contender for Best Cinematography, but keep in mind we were a) going fast, b) riding in the same car, and c) I am not noted for being able to photograph still-life, let alone roller coaster rides.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This About Says It All


I recognize that there is a lot of info I've left out in the past two months...

I've missed Ye Olde Blog, but haven't had time to give it any love.

And honestly, I don't have time right now...but I had to share a few of my favorite pictures from Disney World:

Having the best time in your life is really tiring.

And I'm not even including the photos I took of them asleep on the floor of the airport in the baggage claim (*SHUDDER*) because I can smell the filth through the screen.

{note: do not judge my hair. Splash Mountain does not offer blow dryers and/or styling products at the conclusion of the ride.}

So instead, here's one of them asleep in the waiting area of the airport.

Only barbarians would run their kids so hard that they were grasping for sleep anywhere and everywhere at the end of the week.