Sunday, December 6th, 2009

We were up and around early on Sunday morning since we had a big bunch of meets coming up throughout the day. Kevin's plan was to arrive before park opening and run straight for the barber shop to get his hair cut before the breakfast meet. I had a bagel with cream cheese and some juice since I didn't plan on eating at the bakery.

Once we were done, we drove up to the TTC and parked in the Minnie lot...a sure sign that we were extremely early! haha We were so early in fact that the monorail wasn't even running yet, so we had to take the ferry boat over to the Magic Kingdom. I wouldn't have minded so much except that it was FREEZING cold outside, and the decks of the ferry were very windy! When we finally reached the Magic Kingdom dock, it felt like it got 15 degrees warmer just because there wasn't any wind any more! We were just in time to get up to the entrance to Main Street, and were able to catch the entire abbreviated version of the opening show.

Once we hit Town Square, it was very obvious that the park was going to be completely packed all day! The crowd for the Jonas Brothers show was beginning to form all along Main Street and into the hub, which was accompanied by numerous people on very loud PA systems instructing them on what to do and where to go. But for the moment, we didn't have to get caught up in it.

Kevin went straight to the barber shop, where he was the third or fourth person in line. The ladies who were cutting the hair of the kids in front of him were taking their time, which was nice for the kids, but meant that it was taking extra time for me and Kevin! Once 9:15 rolled around, I wandered over to the Main Street Bakery to see if anyone was hanging around there. Inside, I found Tracy, Bob, Polly and Sean and Pam, but they were all almost done eating when I arrived. Since the Jonas Brothers crowd was blocking basically all of Main Street and the hub, I think we all assumed that the breakfast meet was being cancelled since no one was able to get to the Plaza Pavilion seating area.

I went back over to the barber shop, and it was almost Kevin's turn.

Uh oh! Kevin's not a happy boy!

Kevin gets a sprinkling of Pirate Dust

All done! And there's even a hidden Mickey!

I waited until he was done (complete with liberal sprinkling of pirate dust atop his red and green painted hair), then we went back over to the bakery so Kevin could grab a bite for breakfast. It was now time for the castle photo meet...yeah right, with such a crowd, there was no way that it was going to happen, but I wanted to check the meeting area just in case. I got as far as the hub and saw that the entire right side of the park was blocked off from there, so no one was able to get to the rose garden anyway. Oh well. So I went back to the bakery, where Kevin was just finishing up his breakfast.

Just as we started to make our way over to Adventureland, the Jonas Brothers were taking the stage in front of the castle. It was a pretty crazy sight to see, with all these people waving bandanas and going crazy for them! I couldn't even tell you a single song they sing, and the only time I've ever seen them on TV was in that purity ring episode of South Park! So we struggled our way through the crowd, passed the Crystal Palace, then went off into Adventureland...

...which was COMPLETELY DESERTED! hahaha It was so funny to have elbow to elbow crowds in one place, then 30 yards away, there was no one!

When we arrived at the Splash and Big Thunder meet, most of the group was already there...

...including Polly, who had gotten caught up in the Jonas Brothers fiasco and was sporting her own bright yellow bandana! haha After the prerequisite milling around and chatting, I grabbed a nearby CM and got him to take our photo.

The 13th Splash Mountain meet

The ride had almost no line, which wasn't surprising seeing how empty the rest of the park (minus Main Street) was.

I think the trouble maker log was behind me since the first two rows were Sean and Pam, and Kevin and Catherine!

As we exited, I saw Polly duck into the bathroom. I went ahead up to the Big Thunder entrance, but when it was time for everyone to join the line, we decided to wait for Polly since we didn't want to go without her. So when she finally arrived, we all burst out into applause! We quickly made our way into the queue, and found no wait at all. We were on the next train out, and took up the majority of a train ourselves. I ended up sitting in the back seat with Catherine, but didn't end up getting many good photos of the ride like I'd gotten in previous years.

The next meet was the Mardi Gras riverboat meet, which we were still unsure if we could pull off or not. The official meet schedule said to meet at the main entrance of the riverboat, so that was where the group headed next. While we were all hanging around, we saw part of the Christmas parade go by. All I saw was a giant cookie and Santa Clause...Jacie seemed excited by that :-) There was a good bit of confusion about when we could ride the boat and when we couldn't because of the Tiana's Showboat Jubilee show. Well, it turns out that the time of the meet was square in the middle of a chunk of time when the boat was closed for the show. Oh well. So as a group, we all decided to ride the Haunted Mansion first in hopes that we would be able to ride the riverboat afterwards.

The Haunted Mansion had a fairly hefty line, but long lines don't matter with a group like ours! I ended up riding alone, with Jack M. and Catherine in the Doom Buggy right behind mine. The ride went as normal up until I came to the room with all the staircases with the footprints, when the entire ride came to a screeching halt. That's not uncommon normally, but I bet we stayed in the same spot for at least 5 minutes, which really IS uncommon! It was funny to look around and see all the Doom Buggies behind me lighting up with people getting on their phones and tweeting "I'm stuck on the Haunted Mansion!!" hahaha

After a few minutes, the ride started up again, and we all got dumped out the exit. Some people decided to go ahead and wait for the next Liberty Belle cruise, but even then, no one was really sure if they were going to get to ride or not. So like last year, a small group of us decided to break off from the pack and have lunch at Columbia Harbour House. The group was me, Jack M., Sean, Pam, John H., Catherine, Patty and her daughter Janine.

Catherine and I left our orders with Jack M. (I got the chicken and fish plate), and Pam left her order with Sean, and the three of us went to stake out a table large enough for all of us. We had to scavenge around for enough chairs, but eventually we found enough. Then, just to be silly, we decided to set the table just like we were eating Thanksgiving dinner! haha So we got napkins, full sets of cutlery, straws and all sorts of condiments, and thoughtfully laid them out for everyone.

We were so proud of it that we had to take a picture :-) When everyone else arrived, we joked that we should ask John to carve a chicken nugget for us!

As for the rest of lunch, lets just say that it is best remembered with only a photo instead of video! And lets also just say that as of this year, this lunch has become an annual tradition for us! I'm pretty sure that my head was hurting from laughing so much by the time lunch was over!

Once we saw that the Pirates and Pineapples meet was rapidly approaching, we packed up and headed off to Adventureland. On the way, Catherine paused to joke with one of the Haunted Mansion CMs who was holding a "Haunted Mansion line starts here" sign.

After posing with said sign, we were on our way. Once we arrived at Pirates, we hung around in the little stage area just across from the main entrance. When Kevin arrived, he took great delight in giving us a tour of the stains on his shirt.

Luckily, Sean jumped to his rescue and offered up a Tide To Go stick so Kevin could get the stains out :-)

After a while, Jan, Mike and Jacie arrived with a huge bag of Mardi Gras beads! They were supposed to be given out during our Riverboat meet, but since that went kaput, they decided to give them out at the Pirates meet as "pirate booty." I ended up with a long string of beads, an Orpheus cup, and a long snake-like stuffed animal (which of course brought out the dirty old man in Jack M.!) The line was backed all the way out of the building and into the extended queue under the overhang. But we had a great time goofing around and taking photos while we were waiting.

Pam and Catherine warm themselves by the fireplace in the Pirates queue

Two times in the past, the RADP meet has sunk Pirates while we were riding, but this time (fortunately or unfortunately) our group was so big that we had to take two boats, thus thwarting all of our efforts to sink the ride.

After the ride, the whole group went over to Aloha Isle to grab some frozen treats. I ended up with a dish of vanilla ice cream...booooo on them for doing away with the frozen chocolate!

Tracy, Jack and John enjoying their Dole Whips

A lot of people chose not to get Dole Whips, which was surprising since usually everyone has one. Once almost everyone was done, we all went over to Space Mountain for the 4:00 meet. When we arrived, we were still about 15 minutes early - STOP THE PRESSES - A RADP meet began *early*??? Though we have gotten considerably better with our punctuality over the last few years, it's still really rare that a group our size assembles early for a meet.

But there we all were, standing around for about 15 minutes for the actual meet time to arrive so we wouldn't leave any stragglers behind.

When it was meet time, we all went in via the Fastpass queue, and were herded off to the left hand side of the ride.

Catherine says "I didn't know that they added a lounge during the rehab! How do I get there?"

When we were being grouped before loading into the ride, the CM was only loading everyone in groups of 5, which I thought was quite strange since the rockets hold six people each, but whatever. The right and left sides of the track ended up feeling exactly the same to me, which is nice since the left side used to always rattle me around more than the right did.

After the ride, a bunch of us decided to go over to the TTA and take a ride, and check out the way that they had to change the part where it goes through Space Mountain. I rode with Kevin, Jack M. and Bruce, and I wasn't a big fan of the changes they had to make. You can't see anything inside Space Mountain for a really long stretch, where you used to be able to see the loading area and some of the rockets. Now it's just a long, black tunnel. Oh well...I still love it just as much as I ever have.

After the ride, we all decided to head over to the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor since it was nearby and none of us had done it yet. We were the very last people let into the preshow, so we hung back and goofed around with some of the props at the back of the room.

"Ahh Monstropolis is just so lovely this time of year..."

Kevin tries to compact the trash in the Monsters Inc queue

I'm very glad that this show has progressively gotten better as the years have gone by because it was a real dud the first time I saw it.

When the show was over, people started to head their separate ways for dinner, but since Kevin, Jack M. and I were going over to Trail's End in a little while, we didn't need to leave just yet. We started off toward the Hub, but got sidetracked by taking photos of the castle. After a moment or two, Kevin asked what we wanted to do next, and I said Philharmagic. That sounded like a good idea to both of them, so we walked the long way around to Fantasyland via the little pathway off to the left side near Sleepy Hollow. We were the last three people let into the show, which was great timing since this "preshow" is so boring! Just a bunch of walls to look at.

Kevin and Jack are too sexy for their 3D glasses

After the show, it was just about time for the castle lighting show, so we hung around in the castle forecourt until the show was over.

The castle is still just so, so beautiful with all the lights on it...I hope they never take the ice lights away during the winter! With the show over, we decided to go ahead and catch the boat over to Fort Wilderness, even if we were going to be a little bit early. The ride over was nice, and we ended up sitting outside on the back of the boat.

When we arrived, we had quite a while before we could actually check in for our reservation at Trail's End. So we waited around...we went to the bathroom...we goofed around a little bit...pretty much just killed time in the area until everyone else showed up.


Ok, getting a little tired...time for VALIANT SITTING!

After a while we found Bruce and Marta, so we decided to check in and hope that Cathy and her husband showed up before we were seated. After another 15 minutes or so, they still weren't there, so we decided to get seated with just the five of us.

We were seated at a great big table near the bar, so we had plenty of room for all those empty plates that we started to accumulate! The food at Trail's End is awesome, and there is so much of it for such a reasonable price. I got a bowl of chili with cheese on top, as well as a piece of fried chicken and a bunch of yummy side dishes. And for dessert, I piled my ice cream sundae high with all the toppings they had! haha

When we were nearing the end of dinner, Catherine arrived. We had invited her earlier, but she said that she was going to dinner at California Grill instead. So it was a nice surprise to see her show up just to hang out. She had her leftovers with her from Cal Grill, which was a box with the remains of the cheese sampler she'd had for dinner. So of course, we joked about the cheese, she wrote the word "CHEESE" really big in crayon on the box, and we all had a nice time just hanging out and doing nothing after dinner was down the hatch.

It was approaching time for the Electric Water Pageant, so we settled the bill and started off toward the dock.

On the way out, we got distracted by a large stuffed bear in Crockett's Tavern, so we took the obligatory goofy photos of us slow dancing with the bear. Afterward, we made our way out to the boat dock. We were just in time since the parade was just starting to make its way by, so the boats couldn't go anywhere anyway. This was the first time I'd ever watched the whole thing from start to finish since I'm usually watching it while waiting for a monorail at the Magic Kingdom. While we were watching it, Jack M. noticed that he'd missed 13 calls from his teenage daughter, so he quickly called her back just in case it was an emergency. Turns out that all she needed to know was which trash bags to use after she took the trash out! hahaha He was quite relieved, obviously! At least it wasn't an emergency!

Once we were on our way, we got off at the Contemporary, at which point, Bruce, Marta and Jack M. made their way home for the night. Then Kevin, Catherine and I started off upstairs to the monorail. On the way, we ran into Jen and Jeff, but they obviously had their hands full with their son who was crying pretty hard about something. So we didn't get in their way, and went up to the sixth floor. While we were there, we decided to take a look around and see if we could find the five-legged goat in the mosaic mural. We walked all around it twice, and we couldn't find it. We even stopped a CM who didn't know where it was (but who told us to try and find the one tile that was out of place!). We finally gave up and went up to the monorail platform, only to see the five-legged goat plain as day right there on the column next to the monorail!

During the monorail ride back, there was more silliness and more laughing, including a conversation about the worst idea we'd ever heard for a Disney dinner show...the lawful pawfull of awful waffle falafel luau! hahaha Once we got back to the TTC, we went out to our car (conveniently still parked in the Minnie lot, so we didn't even have to ride the tram very far!) and went back to the Hilton.

On the way, I mentioned that Catherine hadn't gotten a chance to see my big photo book, and that she could come to the room and take a look at it if she liked. She said that would be cool, so she came in with us when we arrived. After looking at the book, Kevin once again discovered the joy of composing photos with his camera using the LCD TV in the room, so we ended up with tons of goofy photos of the three of us!

Friends don't let friends drink the Kool-aid

My favorite is one where Kevin appears to be smashing us like ants with a giant shoe! haha Too funny. Once we were done laughing hysterically, Catherine said she needed to go home and catch some Zs. Kevin jumped in the shower while I went out to the car with her. About halfway there, she discovered that she had left her awesome box 'o cheese in the room, so we went back to get it. With cheese securely in hand, I dropped her off at Saratoga Springs and went back to the Hilton for a few Zs of my own.

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