We started out our morning by posing with an awesome shrubbery outside the gates of Mike and Sully from Monsters University. My face looks all weird here because the sun was RIGHT behind the photographer and I was trying so hard not to squint.
The photographer then asked us to make a roaring monster face, and when we logged onto the Disney photo page we saw this:
...which gave us a chuckle.
We walked into the park and went first to the Animation Courtyard, where we knew Wreck-it Ralph and Vanellope would be doing a meet and greet at some point. Ralph and Vanellope weren't expected until 10:30, so we went in for an instructional session on how they create characters for cartoons, followed by a 20 minute step-by-step art lesson. Our task was to draw Dopey. I saved our drawings, but Tom requested I not share his ;)
So instead here's a random picture of Dopey.
Tom and I are both interested in the behind-the-scenes featurettes and how-to's of creating art and film, so this area was really fun. In fact Tom said it was his favorite part of the day.
We finished our drawings shortly before 10, so we got in line to meet Mickey again, but this time in his Wizard ensemble.
At this point, there was still no line at all for Ralph and Vanellope, so we debated what to do, and we finally decided to just start the line. It quickly formed behind us, but we were first to see Tom's favorite characters from our Disney trip.
The queue line for Ralph and Vanellope was pretty awesome I gotta say. Two screens showed the video games from the movie, and a "train departure" screen had inside jokes from the history of arcade and video games.
Tom LOVED Wreck-it Ralph (the movie). I've never seen him get so fond of a movie so fast...usually it takes quite a while for him to add it to his roster of favorite ever films. Of course, I grew up on computer games and he grew up on console and arcade games, so when we watch it, he ends up having to pause the tv every few seconds to explain all the fun references for him.
Note the Cybug in the corner, messing up the system:
This cute monitor showed the "out of order" sign, like you were inside the game:
From here, we walked over to the area where we had heard Mike and Sully appeared, and enjoyed their queue line as well, filled with all sorts of bulletin boards advertising collegiate bulletins for Monsters University.
Then we posed with Mike and Sully, who weren't very mobile. Heehee
We went to the Muppets area to see the Muppets 3-D. Some people online loved it, others thought it was outdated and bland. We thought it was fun and awesome, but then we really love the Muppets. There were a few surprises we didn't expect in it.
I took this picture while exiting of the awesome decor above the doors:
Next we went back to the front area of the park to go see the Beauty and the Beast stage show. It was pretty fun, though not as impressive as the two in the Animal Kingdom from the day before.
I kept my camera tucked away for most of it, enjoying the moment (unlike the two ladies in front of me who spent the whole performance glued to their smart phones...arrgggh) but I had to snap a shot when Belle and Prince Adam made their grand entrance at the end:
Gaston was the best part of the stage show though...no foam muscles on that guy's arms, and he had the deep booming voice of Gaston down too. A great lookalike.
At this point, it was time for our Fast Pass to ride the Tower of Terror. We loved this ride too...the awesome exterior made to feel like you're walking up to a hotel, the dusty and cobwebby hotel lobby interior, and then the enjoyment of the ride itself...being shot up into the air or dropped down several stories at a time during a random sequence that changes every time. There was a lot of screaming laughter in that "elevator." I definitely would have ridden that one again if we had time.
Tower of Terror is right near the Aerosmith Rock and Roller Coaster, which we've had several people positively GUSH about to us, so despite our ambivalence, we decided to give it a try after a snack of hot dogs. I clutched my Mickey hat in my hand as we sat in our seats, and made Tom promise me ten times that our backpack was tightly secure at his feet.
Well, I'm sorry folks, but I just don't get it. Maybe it's because I'm spoiled by Cedar Point roller coasters, where you legitimately can't clutch something in your hand and have it be ok by the coaster's end, but after that initial zero-to-sixty launch (which was pretty cool I must say) the rest of the ride was bland. When the ride was over we both looked at each other and shrugged. Leave the roller coasters to Cedar Point I think....Disney is for other things, at least for us.
As we walked back to the middle of the park, we saw Daisy Duck posing near the big wizard hat. We got in line...someone else in line said she's a hard one to catch in the parks. I dunno if it's true or not, but it was fun to get her picture either way.
We meandered over to Star Tours, which was pretty awesome. It was a short ride, but it definitely had the best 3-d of any ride we went on in any of the parks. We made it in to see the Indiana Jones stunt show just in time, also a fun show.
We then had a little bit of time before our next fast pass, so we decided to wait in the half hour line to meet Buzz and Woody from Toy Story. The line was pretty slow-moving, with screaming kids right in front of us, so we've had more enjoyable queues, but we met very few other full-body costumed characters at any of the parks who were as charming. Buzz and Woody saw our buttons, and we said "yeah! Our anniversary!!!" to which they started stomping their feet faster and faster and clapping their hands until we had a good ol' fashioned hoedown going on. Their handler finally jokingly said "guys! Quit jumping on the bed!" (the set background was Andy's bed) and they settled down long enough to take a picture.
This is definitely another favorite picture from our trip. I chuckle whenever I see it, remembering how fun these guys were.
We still had a bit more time before our fast pass, so we went back over to the Animation Hall area to see if we could meet Mr. Incredible and Frozone. Yep!
They were also really fun, especially Frozone, who did a handshake sequence with Tom ending in the "kaboom" hands.
Finally it was our fast pass time to ride Toy Story Midway Mania. Of all the rides and experiences at Disney World, we saw and experienced blissfully short lines...half an hour max on anything even when we were on standby...until this ride. It's definitely the hot ticket at Disney World right now. Earlier in the day, we walked by and thought maybe we'd give it a try before our fast pass time, but we were shocked to see a wait time of 80 minutes!! It was definitely the most worthwhile fast pass we selected on our trip as far as being a time saver.
The ride itself was pretty fun...a 3-d series of arcade shooting games with both of us "competing against" each other. Would it have been worth waiting 80 minutes for? Not for us. But we got in and out in about 15 minutes because of our fast passes. Woohoo!
We went to the studio backlot tour, which featured props and costumes from Disney movies. I snapped a quick picture in the "warehouse" area of these prop statues from Jadis' courtyard in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:
Our dinner reservations were for the Sci-Fi Dine in Theater, where we sat side by side in a car booth and ate hamburgers and fries while watching old trailers for cheesy and hilarious 1950s sci fi movies. We almost choked on our dinners several times while laughing.
Our final fast pass of the day was to see the pyrotechnic and waterfall show, Fantasmic, but we decided to skip out on the show and instead go check out Downtown Disney. Throughout our trip we had been told "no, we don't have that, but maybe they have it at Downtown Disney." We especially were in pursuit of a couple of shirts Tom had seen and wanted, and a silhouette-cutting booth that might be willing to do a silhouette of us with Mickey, like this one I had seen online that had been done in Disneyland:
Sadly no luck on either front, and Downtown Disney just isn't our kind of scene either. But it was a low-key way to spend our last night at Disney World.
Friday morning we ate a hearty breakfast at the resort dining hall again, walked around the gift shop, took pictures of the hotel decor, and watched some Mickey cartoons in our room before we boarded the bus back to the airport and home.
So what did we think of our Disney experience overall? It was the best vacation either of us have ever taken. Disney made every detail easy and fun, and everyone we talked to was so friendly and polite and helpful. By about mid-way through our trip, we were already pondering when our next visit might be. I've even already decided who the main characters are I'll be seeking out for my hat next time, as pointed out on this autograph frame at the gift shop:
So, as Mickey so aptly says, See Ya Real, Soon, Disney World!