Oct 16 Hotel switch & DHS

None of us were eager to check out of the beautiful Swan. We packed things up in the early morning, then sat on the balcony enjoying our last few minutes in paradise. Stitch took our breakfast order and went downstairs to the invaluable little cafe, getting us coffee, pastries and my favorite, granola with yogurt and fruit. It was about this time when Ursula went for her ill-fated dessert from the previous night and it ended up on the ground. I continually stepped in the spot until putting a washcloth over it.


I can't remember what was so funny but we were laughing really hard right before this picture.

I had purchased a navy blue messenger bag style purse from the hotel gift shop so I transferred all my purse items into that, and didn't use my favorite green hedgehog purse again for the rest of the trip. The new bag also was an excellent host for my growing collection of Disney pins. I had bought a few of them but was sure that I'd seen all the cute ones and didn't need any more. I couldn't have been more wrong! Never would have thought I'd be hooked on pin collecting and trading, but the more trades I did the more I liked it-- I was buying packs of cheap pins and trading them away for more interesting hidden mickey pins right and left!

After checking out on the phone I went to bring the car around and took Ursula's small but hefty bag with me. At some point after hauling it all the way to the car I found out it had wheels and an extendable handle! Stitch, Ursula and a strong bellhop came down with the rest of the bags and smoothly loaded them into the trunk, and we departed. Goodbye fair Swan, we are planning on coming back to you in March!
At the gift shop we also bought a road map, but it didn't show Disney property very well and it appeared that what we needed was just beyond the edge of the map. Useless! We tried to follow signs but managed to be going the wrong direction and had to turn around-- a major theme of our time spent on the road thus far. We finally got to All Star Music, and chuckled at the thought of two of our relatives choosing to stay at All Star Sports—the most hideous theme of them all-- simply because it was slightly closer to the parks. And when I say closer I mean that the giant oversize footballs are on the next lot over from All Star Music, you can see them and walk there in 3 minutes from ASM.

After the luxury of The Swan none of us were excited to be staying at a value resort. As we parked to go check in I said something to the effect of “Here we are with the rabble. Which is where we really belong.” It had Ursula laughing. We went to check in, it was fairly easy. It seemed busy but we only stood in line for a few minutes. We asked for a road map of Disney property and got a single sheet xerox that proved invaluable from that point on. Score! We got big birthday buttons with our names spelled incorrectly, and a “preferred” room, which was only about $3 more per night and offered ground-floor accommodations close to the pool, laundry, main hall and the parking lot. I was sure that it would be really noisy overlooking the pool, but once the door was shut it was fine. We were pleasantly surprised, it was cute. Things on the grounds looked to have had a fresh coat of paint. The pool is a guitar shape and has three caballeros in the middle squirting water. Not bad!


Giant suitcase train near Bell Services


We parked on the red carpet and unloaded our bags with bell services, (got blocked in briefly by a Magical Express bus, guess that is what the red carpet is for) and took off to find Target and have lunch at Taco Bell. Stitch needed a pedometer for credit in her gym class back home and was antsy to get it so she could start recording how far we'd walked each day. We also got some grocery items and a few various sundries, including a Halloween costume for Stitch. I needed nail polish remover pretty badly because my new pedicure had gotten scraped to hell when I'd tried to jump into the pool at The Swan in a place where it was really too shallow to do so. We were still at Target when we got the message that our room was ready. We were somewhat in a rush because we wanted to get back to ASM, get our bags and put our perishable groceries away, as we had early reservations for Hollywood and Vine at Hollywood Studios.

We did manage to get it all done though, and were happy with the newly remodeled room. The location was perfect, and as I said before it wasn't too noisy for being so close to the pool. We had a phone message waiting for us, and it was a really creepy recording from Mickey saying happy birthday.


The room was cute and clean, a recent remodel

With our new map we easily got to DHS and were in the park in plenty of time for our reservation. We even had time to go on The Great Movie Ride. It was pretty crowded, both lanes of the switchbacks were full in the theater, and it lent a great feeling of claustrophobia to be in such a throng. We watched the preshow a few times (it was good but couldn't it be a bit longer?) while waiting. The ride was better than I remembered though, and our “Mugsy” was a woman. She wasn't that great but it was cool that our gangster was female.



Perhaps the most fantastic ride exterior ever!



We spent a while taking pics and looking at the handprints in the cement there. Good fun!



Costume from "Shakespeare in Love"



One of the Carousel horses from "Mary Poppins," my patron saint of nannies 


We went to check in for Hollywood and Vine, which is a buffet. We got there right as it opened and all the food was tasty and fresh. There was a  longish line at the buffet for a while which was excruciating waiting for each person to slowly select their bun or spoon the stuff on the plate-- I'm much more a fan of a fast moving line especially when I'm hungry! We ordinarily wouldn’t have chosen to eat here, but it was part of the Fantasmic dinner package. You get dinner and preferred seating at the first showing of Fantasmic, and we were excited to get it. Mum was excited that the Tables in Wonderland card gave us 20% off the package. The TIW card was a great purchase, giving us 20% off meals at a lot of restaurants, and allowing for free valet parking while dining at the Disney hotels, which we ended up taking full advantage of.



Waiting for the check (big clue was the wallet).



After stuffing ourselves silly we went to the Animation Courtyard and walked right into the Magic of Disney Animation show with Mushu. It was pretty cute. While Stitch and I waited to go to the animation class Ursula headed off toward Tower of Terror to see about getting us all fast passes. Stitch and I ended up drawing Minnie, and we were both very proud of our drawings. We browsed the art shop for a while before going to meet back up with Ursula. It was really busy down by the ToT with people going to see Fantasmic. She reported that all the fast passes for ToT or RnR were gone for the day, so she just sat and had a frozen lemonade and dill pickle while she waited for us. “Got a birthday phone call from my brother Jim. He knew exactly were I was when I told him the street names at my current location [the intersection of Tower Street and Sunset Blvd].”





It was a fun game to guess which character was being drawn on this screen. And look, the 3 good fairies!



Stitch with her favorite character-- it is unclear whether that's the Stitch she brought with her on the trip or if she bought a new one and carried it along all day. 



Very talented!



Also very talented!



Love the Shag print in Art of Animation store. Ended up buying a completely different  print since Shag doesn't really go with my home decor.

We ambled up to the Fantasmic preferred seating area and still got really good seats about 7 rows back, near the center, even though we were there less than half an hour before showtime. Was sheer luck that the usher had us go down and start a new row though. The show was okay, it was pretty cheesy. While I was glad we'd seen it once, I didn't feel the need to come back and see it again while we were there-- much better to do things in other areas of the park that were nearly deserted! Stitch seemed to like the show but Mum and I were not as easily impressed. There were so many people there, we just stayed seated while the crowd pressed out of the gates. We'd rather sit and wait than stand and be shoved in a giant throng.


Rather neat cloud show in the evening sky



Soooo many people! There were half again as many sitting to our right side, too. But being on the end near the rope made us feel a little less packed in.



The sky was absolutely beautiful. Love the palm trees in silhouette, too. 



Sisters waiting for the show!






Impressive fire show with the dragon. 



Character jamboree, always fun



All in all Fantasmic is a good show to see once. Glad we had good seats. 

Even though there were tons of people going past the ToT, the queue was still really empty. Mum got a churro and we shared a couple bites, then headed into ToT! There was a rather chicken woman who was really afraid of the ride, but a bellhop had taken a shine to her and rode with us all, reassuring her the whole time. Was cool to ride with a bellhop but I wanted to tell that girl to shut up and quit being such a baby. Clearly it was getting her the attention she desired so I guess the act worked for her.


See the Bellhop and the annoying girl? We're right behind them.

 After exiting we went to see about RnR, but it was already closed for the night. Apparently the park closed at 8:30, but there was another showing of Fantasmic at 9pm. We weren't quite sure how that was supposed to work. We'd all rather have seen the later show and gone on some rides during the early show, but the priority seating was only good for the first show. Oh well.

We went back to ASM after going the wrong way out the exit and having to turn around. Stitch and I hauled the laundry over and got it started, then had a swim. The pool wasn't heated and it wasn't any too warm. There were obnoxious teenagers everywhere and a pervy guy videotaping a bunch of young teens in their bikinis. Stitch seemed to think it was okay because one of the girls apparently was his daughter, but both Ursula and I thought that was even creepier. We swam around a bit, found out there were no hot tubs (and I was sorely disappointed) and then did the laundry thing. I had had about enough of the guitar pool so I went in and got showered. By the time I was done it was time to fold the laundry and Stitch went in to get changed. As I was folding our laundry about 3 other women were in the laundromat chatting. They were all exchanging erroneous information about stuff and I just kept my lips zipped. The last thing I wanted was to spend the rest of the night explaining things to these people who hadn't done any research and thought that Citywalk at Universal was called “The Catwalk.”

We were all tired so we agreed to sleep in. We were finally going to get to the Magic Kingdom and it was EMH at night, so we didn't need to be there at opening only to be on our feet until after midnight.

Beds not as heavenly as The Swan. Slept anyway.


Sleeping Stitchy