Monday, November 20, 2017

Disney Day 2: Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, and a Wheelchair

Day 2 was Hollywood Studios!

When we were planning this trip (or really, when I was planning the trip) I asked our planner/Disney expert about each park (at the time I didn’t even know there were 4) and if we should visit each or just focus on a few. “Oh they’re all so special,” she said, “I’d really try to see them all.” And I’m so glad we did. We had four full days, plus two travel days, and our general itinerary was as follows (with our on-the-fly additions in parens):

Sunday/Travel Day: Magic Kingdom for the Very Merry Christmas Party at night
Monday: Hollywood Studios (+ MK at night)
Tuesday: Magic Kingdom
Wednesday: Epcot
(+ MK at night)
Thursday: Animal Kingdom
Friday/Travel Day: Magic Kingdom
(we ended up pushing our flight to Saturday when we had to fly out of Tampa to use miles, so I booked a cheap non-Disney hotel for Friday night and then we ended up staying at the park until close and I am SO GLAD we had the flexibility to do that because it was the best day).

But back to Hollywood Studios. I’m so glad we went to this park – it was fun and unique and had some really great rides. It was also the only one we didn’t stay at for a full day, so we slept in just a little after our crazy long travel day/party night (arriving at HS around 8:30) and came home a little early (by 5 p.m., the only night we managed that) to swim and chill before randomly deciding to go back out to Magic Kingdom (we used our Park Hopper ability almost every day, so that was a good buy for us) to eat dinner and watch the fireworks.

We ate breakfast in the room (we had a full kitchen and I'd packed some oatmeal and granola bars) and took the bus, which was fine once we figured out how to fold our newly rented stroller (we’d only ever owned cheap complicated strollers and this one was a dream). We had to go through the regular bag check line and I had a new appreciation for our amazing little walk to Magic Kingdom with its own private bag check that we always just sail right through. It wasn’t a big deal, I think we waited behind 4 people, but still Contemporary Hotel FTW. I’ll note that was the only day I brought a purse. It was just a little cross body, but I quickly realized I didn’t need it. Everything is on your magic band and your phone and James had the backpack with our few other essentials. My capri leggings had a side pocket (my faves I got from Athleta, but I got these for $20 on Amazon for the trip and they were great!) for my phone and I stuffed my purse in the backpack by 10 a.m. and never used it again.

And then we were in! And got a picture! I put our Memory Maker package to excellent use.

We started by aimlessly wandering the streets of Old Hollywood all done up for Christmas (Hollywood Studios was way cuter than I expected) when a surprise pack of Stormtroopers marched by with full gear and accompanying music. That happened throughout the day and made things super fun.

Once we bought Landon a Goofy hat and James some sunglasses (someone forgot to pack his despite several reminders), we wandered over to the lake, confused about what to do first. If you’ve never been to Disney before, it is a little overwhelming to walk in and feel like you should be DOING SOMETHING but you know you have fast passes for some things and there’s growing wait times for other things and you don’t really know where any of that is and it’s a bit much. We got in the swing of it by mid-morning and I didn’t feel that way again, but if you’ve never been before, know you’ll become an expert (or at least a fake one) pretty quickly and just start walking somewhere.

We were too late to hit up our Planner's favorite ride, Rock'n Roller Coaster because the line was already 45 minutes long, so we did Star Tours, the Star Wars ride, first because we didn’t have a Fast Pass and the line wasn’t bad. I was a little nervous when we all got in our seats and put on the 3-D glasses. Cora was only barely tall enough and had never done a roller coaster or ride before- would she hate it? Freak out?

And then it was rougher than I expected and James looked like he was going to puke, and I peered at Cora and she was BEAMING. She LOVED it. ”This is SO FUN MOM!” she yelled on repeat partway through, ”I LOVE THIS!!”

And that was a theme of the rest of the trip. James looking green while Cora yells how much she loves something over and over again.

We did Tower of Terror next. Our first Fast Pass experience (awesome!) and our first time not properly preparing the kids for a ride. I blame James since he was the only one who had done it before, but suffice it to say it was “not Cora’s favorite.” I think she was okay with the ghosts and the spookiness and even the falling; it was the bouncing back up and falling again and again in pitch darkness that made her decide it needed to be over. But we made it!

We had a Fast Pass for Midway Mania, but it was broken, so we got a replacement pass for any ride we wanted and used that to head over to Rock'n Roller Coaster, which now had an hour wait. It broke Cora’s heart to be too short, but James happily sat out with her while the big kids and I jumped the line and walked right on. And it was AWESOME. My favorite ride of the day by far. I thought Claire was enjoying it next to me, but when we got to the end she had tears pouring down her face. She did NOT LIKE that it did a loop and went upside down. She did NOT LIKE THAT AT ALL.

Claire in happier times, before we went upside down and she thought we were all going to die.

Still in denial, James used our Rider Switch pass to go do Rock'n Roller Coaster with Landon while Claire and I (her happily, me reluctantly) hung out with a still depressed Cora. Landon emerged jubilant and James green while we headed over to our first Table Service lunch at the 50’s Prime Time CafĂ©.

It was cute and good, but sadly Landon started internally combusting over the excitement of Disney and the emotional instability of being a tween. He basically turned into a whiny jerk for no apparent reason and remained stuck in that mode for the rest of the afternoon. Luckily for me, we’d already decided to split up for the two 1:30 shows: Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and the Frozen Sing-a-Long, so I took the cheerful girls and James took the crabby boy and everyone enjoyed their half hour.

Cora LOVED the Sing-a-Long and it was super cute. Clips from the movie with all the songs and Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf there to chat and sing along too. Cora was wearing her Anna dress and deeply believed that she WAS Anna. “Look Mom! I’m getting bigger” she cried out during “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” “Oh I am so beautiful,” during “Love is an Open Door” and “Oh I am getting SO cold” later on during Let It Go. It was awesome. While not play-acting Anna's part, she sang every word.

Claire also loved it, but refused to sing while I belted out all the songs I very much know by heart.

After our shows we met some characters – Sofia the First!

Doc McStuffins!

and Pluto!

and then went to Voyage of the Little Mermaid which was very cute. James still looked like was going to puke over at any minute and Landon was vacillating between awesome and awful at a furious pace so at 4:30 I called it a day, skipping meeting Olaf and going to the 5:00 Beauty and the Beast play I’d wanted to see in lieu of family harmony and the promise of a margarita by the pool.

So it was a shorter day: more of a 9-5, but it was perfect for our first one after a late night and with a tired tween and what turned out to be a super motion sick dad. The shows were great and Star Tours and Rock'n Roller Coaster remained two of our favorite rides. And while not necessarily everyone’s favorite, Tower of Terror is a classic and I’m super glad we did it.

Back at the hotel the girls swam while Landon moped in the room and James lay down gripping the sides of the bed like he was drunk. Both men rallied emotionally and physically and we decided to walk over to Magic Kingdom for dinner and to see the non-Christmas party fireworks show that our best friend Brandon had told us was simply spectacular.

We wandered to Pinocchio Haus for a pizza dinner and were contemplating riding a few rides during the show when Claire suddenly gripped my wrist and cried "my stomach!" Soon she was sobbing and hunched over and clearly in intense pain. We helped her get outside and were sitting on a bench trying to figure out what was going on when an employee asked if everything was okay. "Not really," I replied reluctantly, every facet of my being wanting to say "it's fine!" and make it so. "I'll go get my manager," the Pinnochio employee said. The manager Laura came over immediately. I asked where the nearest bathroom was and she pointed the way to the beautiful and new princess bathrooms in Rapunzel's village. "I'll give you some space, but I'm going to walk behind you if that's okay. Just yell if you need anything." After a few minutes in the bathroom Claire was pale and shaky, suddenly freezing and covered in goose bumps, and sobbing. We needed help. Claire wouldn't let me leave her, so I just yelled. Laura came in and within minutes she had us a wheelchair, a nurse's aid, a bottle of water, and directions to First Aid. At that point I'd figured out that Claire just had really severe gas pains that had basically sent her into shock. She was cold to the touch and so pale, and we were pretty far back in the park. Fireworks were going off every second overhead and there were a million people between us and the gate. We pushed forward, Claire shaking and crying in her wheelchair, and slowly snaked our way through the MASS of people watching and then leaving the fireworks show. It was a really crappy 30 minutes. We looped through First Aid, but now that I was pretty confident what was wrong there wasn't much they could do for her, so we just pushed on home. Once there, a hot bath warmed her up and she slowly slowly started getting better and was eventually able to sit up and then stand up. It was not the night we had planned, but she was passed out in bed, warm and comfortable, by 10:30 and we pretty much did the same.

The next morning as we were getting ready to head to Magic Kingdom for our first full day there I got a text from a someone at the Guest Experience Center to check on Claire. Somehow they had tracked down my name (I think all they had to go on were Claire and my first names and the fact we were staying at Bay Lake Tower) and cell number and invited me to text back or call. I did and she said that Laura from Pinnochio Haus had passed on our info and she wanted to check on us and also offer us VIP seats to the next non-party-night Fireworks Show since we ended up missing it the night before. You guys, it is not remotely Disney's fault that Claire's stomach flipped out on us and they could not have been nicer or more helpful the night before, and now here they were checking in and offering us a really amazing way to see the show we missed the night before. I texted back and we were set to watch the (seriously spectacular) Happily Ever After show the next night after our day at Epcot. Disney is magic.

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