Friday, October 26, 2007

Which crew would you fit with?

Which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? v1.0
created with
You scored as Serenity (from Firefly)

You like to live your own way and do not enjoy when anyone but a friend tries to tell you that you should do different. Now if only the Reavers would quit trying to skin you.

Coming on December 1, 2005:

Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? The Sequel

Serenity (from Firefly)


Moya (from Farscape)


SG-1 (from Stargate)


Nebuchadnezzar (from The Matrix)


Millennium Falcon (from Star Wars)


Bebop (from Cowboy Bebop)


Galactica (from Battlestar: Galactica)


Enterprise D (from Star Trek)


Monday, October 15, 2007

Day 4: Downtown Disney

We slept late and then packed up our stuff. The baggage hop arrived exactly on time, and once again they couldn't take tips! Checked our bags and off we went. (Breakfast at the Pepper Market first, of course.)
We decided to head to Downtown Disney to spend the last of our meal plan credits (Wolfgang Puck, yum!) and some money since we'd bought very little during the trip. We didn't spend much money in the end, but we did a lot of window shopping. There turned out not to be too much I *really* wanted to buy. Stuff I'd like, but it was just stuff. We did do a little shopping for presents for little ones, but not much else. Even the Lego store didn't have anything special worth buying! The only neat thing they had were regular, standard 8 bump bricks that had been engraved with "Disney" or "Orlando, 2007" or things like that. They were cute, but at $4 each, waaaay too much! We were pretty beat and decided to see if we could catch an earlier flight. Off to the hotel just in time to grab our bags from the check room and off to the airport. Southwest wanted too much money to change our flights to the earlier one (more than the flights originally cost), so we just spent a few hours at the airport relaxing. At that point we needed it! The flight was a little late landing back home, but we were home and in bed by 1 am. Work the next morning was a bit of a rough go though!

Day 3: Magic Kingdom

Okay, first up I have to admit I have a *LONG* history of biting off more than I can chew. But I only had a three day pass for the parks, and I was damned well going to make the most of it! I also am somewhat limited by my arthritis, and by this day, I was starting to feel it. But I wasn’t going to let that slow me down! First up: grab the train over to Frontier Land for Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We checked the wait time for Splash Mountain and it was only 10 minutes, so we head over to Big Thunder Mountain to grab a Fastpass. Except the wait there was only 5 minutes, so we just hopped on board! We both really enjoyed it, but Brian lost his button, ripped right off his shirt. He was glad at that point that he’d taken off his glasses at the start of the ride. Next up: Splash Mountain. We both loved it, and we got so soaked. We were in the very front and thoroughly enjoyed it. Brian would have preferred to have had his glasses off when it came to the big drop, but said it was fun. This was the first place we encountered the non-photopass photos anywhere at Disney. They were $18 and up and we couldn’t even get a good look at them first, so we skipped that. Then on to the Jungle Cruise (a *LOT* of fun) and Pirates of the Carribean. Followed up with the Tiki birds show, which was also a lot of fun.
Next we headed towards Tomorrowland to grab fastpasses for Space Mountain and lunch. You’ll note: we still haven’t seen Cinderella’s castle yet! On the way over to Tomorrowland we finally saw the castle. It was neat, but a *LOT* smaller than I expected. I was sort of underwhelmed by it in the end. We also passed the Haunted Mansion, which had just reopened that week from a long closure for renovation. There were no fastpasses and the line was over 2 hours. We skipped it and planned to come back later. On the way to food/Space Mountain, I got distracted by the Indy Car racing ride, so we did that first (a big disappointment) and then grabbed our Space Mountain fastpasses.
Lunch was really good and then Space Mountain! Brian had somehow forgotten that this ride is totally in the dark. And as usual, he sat down in the ride and tucked his glasses away. Big mistake. The ride totally freaked him out. So we slowed things down for a little while after that. Next up was the people mover transportation system (something nice and slow for poor Brian), then the Stitch ride. Then the people mover again (it was such a nice change of pace) followed by the Buzz Lightyear ride. By then our Fastpasses for Mickey's Philharmagic (3-D show) were up, so off we went. It was really cute, and I didn't get motion sick for once! We went back to the Haunted Mansion, but the lines were up past 3 hours, so we gave that a miss. After running quickly through a couple of the fun rides again (like the Jungle Cruise) we headed out. It was starting to rain, and we were parked out!
We decided to head to Downtown Disney for dinner at Planet Hollywood. So we asked at the transportation hub about how was the best way to get there, and were told which monorail to take... Except it was the wrong one! Thankfully we asked the castmembers at the train, and as an apology (and because I asked really nicely) they let us ride the monorail up in the very front with the driver!!! That was another big childhood dream conquered! So we rode it to the Polynesian hotel in an attempt to see if we could catch the luau dinner show (no dice) and then to Planet Hollywood. Dinner was good, but it was even louder than I ever imagined it would be. But oh what a steal on the meal plan! Back to the hotel to crash and pack. Or just crash...

Day 2: Epcot!

We spent the full day at Epcot and still didn’t get close to seeing everything. It was the extra magic hours in the evening (the park was open until midnight) and we still didn’t make it all. We didn’t quite make it to midnight either, but almost! It was 11:30 when we caught the bus back to the hotel. But back to the morning…

We paid for breakfast at the hotel’s Pepper Market and it was good. Eggs, homefries, muffin and bacon and we were stuffed and ready for adventure. Then we grabbed all our stuff (more on that later) and headed for the park. Once getting there we got a locker and dumped everything we wouldn’t need for the day. And then we started touring. The “golfball” really is as fabulous to see as you’d think it was. We went on many of the individual country’s rides (Norway was excessively roughly bumpy for being a gentle water ride, the Mexican one was really a fun atmosphere), and had a general walk around the park.
Next stop lunch, and I was starving at that point. So we get inside and I made a bee line for the counter only to discover that Brian wasn’t with me any more. I turn around and he’s back at the entrance waving at me. He claims he tried calling my name, but I didn’t hear him. I was a woman on a mission, and that mission was food. I’d walked right past Mike and Jan and everyone! My best friend from highschool, Mike, and his family were also at Disney while we were there, and they got to stay longer :) . We’d made plans to meet up with them that evening for dinner, and the stuff dropped in the locker was presents for their daughters and for Jan. It was fun for Brian to hand over the key and say they’d have presents later! They were just finishing lunch as we got there, so we didn’t really eat with them, but “promised to meet up later in the day”!
We headed off and saw the Canada pavillion show, and Brian cheated during the little quiz while we were in the holding area. Canadian trivia is a lot easier when you’re Canadian! It turned out that the guy running it was from Brantford (the next town over from our hometown) and there were a couple of newlyweds in the crowd from Cambridge (our hometown)! It really is a small world. The movie was really neat, and made me extra homesick. Good thing I was going to be going home in a week! I paid WAAAAYY too much for an Aero bar, but it was worth it. I did a little more shopping at the Great Britian pavillion, including more Little Miss books to add to my growing collection. It’s a sad thing when it’s cheaper to pay the inflated Disneyworld price for them imported from the UK than it is to order them directly from someplace like! I also picked up some Penguins (of course!) and digestives to have sent back to our hotel.
We wandered around and along the way also found out where I could get one of those “first time visitor” buttons. :) We had used our Fastpass (for about the only thing it was needed for) for Soarin’, a new attraction where it’s very much like you’re on a hang glider and it was time for that next. It was really cool! Then we did the Finding Nemo section for a change of pace, and even caught one of the feeding sessions for the aquarium. I would have liked to have stayed for the dolphin feeding, but it was almost time to go feed us! First though, we took the ride through “the land” and got to see all the neat agricultural projects they have going. The greenhouse was fabulous.
Then it was a character dinner at the Garden Grill with the full Butcher clan: Mike and Jan, their daughters Lauren and Megan and Mike’s parents Brian and Debbie. A character dinner is one where you have different characters come by the table and take a few minutes playing with the kids. At ours we got to meet Chip and Dale, Mickey and Goofy. The girls *loved* it. Except when Dale (?) tried to pantomime he was going after Megan’s cupcake… :) The food was good, the talk really fun and a great chance to see the girls fully enjoying Disneyworld. I’m sure this trip is one they’ll never forget. For us, we then went on Soarin’ again, and then headed to try to see something Mike had loved earlier in the day, which was unfortunately closed. The heat was finally starting to wear us down, so we decided to see if we could find seats to see the IllumiNations show from, and we lucked out. A nice comfy bench, where we sat and watched the show. We were a little further back than I might have liked, but we saw about 95% of it, and it was worth missing the rest to be able to just sit and rest for a while.
After that it was one LONG walk around the full park so we could at least say we’d seen each country’s pavillion. Stopped in at the UK pavillion again for another Aero bar to get us to the gates (and bus back to the hotel) and discovered caramel Aero bars. I think I’m in heaven, and I think I’m *VERY* glad they don’t sell them here. Then back to the hotel, and crashed for the night into bed.

Disney Writeup!

I finally went to Walt Disney World! This seems to be the year for me to be making trip to places I’ve always wanted to go. First Paris (and London, but I’d been there) and now Disney!

I *LOVED* it! I can’t wait to go back. And I’d go again in September in a heartbeat. I’m already trying to see if I can plan for it for next September, and for a longer visit! It was so not crowded, it was fabulous! We never waited more than a half hour in a line, and rarely used the fastpasses at all since they weren’t really needed.

Day 1: Up at 4:30 to catch our flight from little Islip Airport. Boy to I love that airport. It was so easy to just get up, grab the last few things, head out and only have a 15 minute drive to the airport. If we ever get our “town resident” stickers for the car (I didn’t know about them to apply in time) we will even be able to park for free there! Security was a joke (more on that later) and we were off to wait for our flight. Brian was doing pretty good (doped up as soon as he got up) and we were off to the races! The flight down was great, and at the end as we were taxi-ing to the terminal the flight attendant sang a full welcome song (three verses!) to the tune of Bibbidi-Boppity-Boo. We all enjoyed it. I had a two year old behind me in his carseat, and he was great throughout the flight. Off the plane and looking for the Disney Magical Express at 10:15.

Disney Magical Express rocks. In all the best ways. Way One: it’s free. Way Two: they pick up your bags at the airport and deliver them to your room. Not just to your hotel, right up to your room! Way Three: they’ve done a fabulous job of making it easy to find them once you do get to Orlando to get the bus to your hotel. Way Four: if you’re flying one of their partner airlines (we weren’t :( ) you get to check your bags in for your flight right from your hotel and they’ll even print off your boarding passes. Way Five: they can’t accept tips.

We got to the hotel, and easily checked in even though it was way to early to get our rooms. Got our passes and headed off for the busses to the parks. We got on the bus to MGM Studios at 11am. How’s that for quick and efficient! The only diappointment upon arriving at the park was that the Rockin’ Rollercoaster we’d really been looking forward to was closed for repairs. We spent the rest of the day there and saw most of the big attractions (Muppets 3D, Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, Lights Camera Action Stunt Driving show) and did many of the rides. We both loved the Test Track (and rode it 5 times over the course of the day) and I got motion sick on Mission Space. And we’d even taken the “beginner, less intense” version! Vertigo is, unfortunately, nothing new for me, so at least I knew how to handle it. We also enjoyed the Star Wars themed ride Star Tours enough to go back later in the day for a second run through. During the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular early in our day there, however, my camera stopped working. All it would record was a black screen. And yes, the lens cover was off ! :) It would still record video (with picture) so I did a little of that. But I was seriously disappointed to have my camera die on the first day. However, at some point in the afternoon, it decided to work again, and worked happily for the rest of the trip. Oh shucks, we had to go back on a few of the rides so I could get more photos! :P In particular I found a “hidden Kermit” at the Star Tours ride. It rained off and on for the whole day, but we didn’t mind. We’d brought our little emergency ponchos from the car, and it was certainly hot enough we didn’t mind getting a little wet! They do sell really nice ponchos at Disney, for only $7. We bought a set since they were much better than what we’d brought and didn’t end up needing them for the rest of the trip. Call it $14 in rain insurance, and money well spent! We didn’t get to see the evening finale show though since it’s in a big open ampitheatre with metal benches and a lightening storm had started. We got thoroughly soaked waiting to see if it would happen, and loved seeing everything. Dinner was at the Toy Story themed pizza place, and if you’re on the dining plan, that place is a steal! Our dinner *should* have cost us about $40, and only cost us two counter service credits! Score! The only bad part about dinner was discovering (when he pulled it out to use) that not only we, but also security at the airport had totally missed his Swiss Army knife on his keychain. We were NOT impressed, but like it has been said many times before, it really is “security theater”. Once they fully cancelled the evening finale, we grabbed the bus back to the hotel and to find our room. We lucked out and were in Casitas 1 and nice and close to everything! Our bags were there and waiting for us as we dried off, put the shoes to dry (and helped them along for a while with the blow dryer) and crashed for the night.

So a quick explaination of the meal plan since I’ve had several people ask. We got extra lucky and got it included for free as part of the promotion we booked the trip through. Going in September, their slowest time of year, has a lot of benefits! Otherwise it’s $38/adult/day of tickets. Kid prices are less, but I don’t remember exact details. If you’re someone who likes to graze throughout the day, it’s *NOT* for you. If you’re someone who likes to eat regular meals, it’s a steal. WDW is a theme park. They know you’re ‘trapped’ within the park and have to eat there. The prices aren’t terribly horrendous, I’ve seen much worse, but they do add up quickly, and are significantly higher than you pay “on the outside”. Included in the plan, you get one snack, one counter service meal and one full service meal per day per person. Use them whenever you wish in whatever order you wish. It’s all tracked through the one ‘key’ they give you that also acts as your park pass and room key and lets you charge things to your room. Do NOT lose this card! If you do even a little research ahead of time, you’ll make out like a bandit on the meal plan. The full service meals in particular can easily pay for the day’s cost in and of themselves. For each full service meal you get: a non-alcoholic drink (and usually free refills), an appetizer, your meal and dessert. We used it at Planet Hollywood on Saturday night, couldn’t eat everything (yum, strawberry cheesecake for breakfast!) and our tab should have come to a little over $100. Oh, and the meal plan also even includes the tip! (But we left a little extra.) Cost to us: 2 full service credits (and voluntary tip. Disney won’t say how much the tip percentage is, but it’s rumoured to be 12%, and the waiter said he didn’t mind it at all as he was guaranteed a decent tip that way. We asked. We’re like that.) Counter service credits usually include a ‘combo’ meal, dessert and a drink. At the pizza place, it also included salads. So, for two counter service credits we got two salads, two (large) individual pizzas, sodas and desserts. The pizza meals in particular were large enough that we agreed in future when we come back, we’d just get one and split it! The snack credits can be used all over the parks at most of the little stations for things like water or ice cream or things like that. Just ask first and they’ll be happy to tell you what they’re good for and what not. Our favourite use was for real, hand dipped ice cream just outside the Beauty and the Beast stageshow in midafternoon. Very little could have beaten sitting there in the shade enjoying that ice cream! Oh, and one of the neater things they sell at the park are water bottle straps that let you hang the bottle off a shoulder etc. At about $3, they were well worth it to buy and then just keep refilling one bottle at the water fountains. Most of which we pleasantly discovered have *cold* water!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A real post is coming...

I promise! I started typing it up this morning. But in the mean time, watch this, it's truly wonderful!