Monday, December 7th, 2009

Once again, we were up bright and early for the day. It was Hollywood Studios day, which meant that we needed to arrive relatively close to opening so we could make sure to get Toy Story Mania Fastpasses with a reasonable return time. After a quick shower and breakfast, we drove over to the Studios, and arrived just as the turnstiles were opened.

I went through the gate just fine, but when it was Kevin's turn, his annual pass ended up securely jammed inside the pass reader. After a couple of minutes of trying in vain to get it out and have it be in usable condition, the CM at the gate recommended that he go get a replacement pass issued. So I went on ahead and got in line at Toy Story Mania, and hoped that this wasn't an ominous sign for another "It's Tough to be a Kevin" kind of day!

When I arrived at Toy Story Mania, the line was enormous (just like it is every morning), so I got at the end of the line. It moved really quickly though, and I had my pass within just a few minutes. On my way out, I spotted Jack M., so I hung out with him for a minute. A little later, I spotted JD, then Brian, and eventually Kevin made his way through. He'd ended up having to get a whole new pass issued, which probably ended up for the better anyway since the new one he had just gotten at Animal Kingdom was crumpled and wasn't able to go through the turnstiles easily.

Once everyone was through the Toy Story Mania Fastpass lines, we all walked over to the Rock N Roller Coaster meet. This is always such a fun meet, and this year was no exception. For some reason, everyone seemed opposed to doing a group photo in front of the guitar this year. Why, I don't know, since we do one every year.

But I ultimately managed to wrangle everyone together for a photo, which turned out well. Once we entered the line, I ended up chatting with Carrie the entire time, which made the time go by even faster.


Here we see our marble molester of the year...Tracy!

I still love this ride, and even though it is starting to man handle you a bit, it's still a great ride, and light years better than similar Vekomas of a similar age.

After the ride, we all went over to Tower of Terror, and had a brief wait for everyone who was riding to show up. Jack wasn't going to go through the line with everyone since he didn't want to ride, but I convinced him to go through the line and chicken out with me so I wouldn't be alone. So he went, and there was basically no line once we entered the garden. The boiler room was similarly empty, with probably less than a 5 minute wait overall. When everyone finally got to the boarding area, everyone boarded except for me and Jack, and of course I got my annual "everyone riding Tower of Terror except me" photo. Jack and I were then escorted over to the regular elevator.

On the way down, the CM was chatty with everyone, and when the elevator was just about to arrive at the bottom, he told the man in the wheelchair in front of us that he was going to be the first one off of the elevator. Well, the man snapped and told him that he needed to watch the way he was speaking to him, and that he didn't like his attitude. The CM looked like he thought the man was joking, but then the man made some other comment about how the CM was being rude. At that point, the CM started to apologize, saying that he wasn't sure what he said, but that he was sorry. Once the doors opened and the old dude wheeled away, Jack and I stopped the guy and said that we didn't see anything wrong with what he said. I mean, he was just telling the man that he wanted him to be the first one out of the elevator...it seemed like a standard sort of direction that a CM would give to a guest. All three of us were perplexed by the man's overreaction.

So by the time we were out of the elevator, our group was on their way out within a minute or two. After the ride, the group quickly scattered into a million different directions. The next meet was at the fountain at the intersection of Hollywood Blvd, so some of us just went ahead over there. I ended up hanging with Jan, John and Charlotte, Jack M., Carrie and a few others. After a while, I ducked my head into the gift shop across the street, but didn't end up buying anything since the store was mainly clothing and purses.

Once the meet time rolled around, we wrangled everyone up and herded them into the middle of the street for a photo with the BAH. At just that moment, Kevin came bounding up, declaring that he had been selected to perform in the 2:00 American Idol Experience show! We were all SO happy for him since that was the show that we were planning to meet for anyway!


RADP with the BAH

Once the picture was taken, we all moved en masse over to the Great Movie Ride, where once again, we took up almost an entire vehicle. Our guide was beyond bland, which was so disappointing since we usually crack the guides up by how enthusiastic we all are! Oh well, maybe next time!

After the ride, we had a little while before lunch, so people headed off in different directions. A group of us decided to just go on over to the lake in front of 50's Prime Time and just have a seat and chat while we waited. I ended up sitting near Jack M. and Tracy, and we had a nice time just chillin' out and chatting.


Me with Jack...awww...


Me with Tracy...awww...

People gradually started to appear for the lunch, so once a big enough group had arrived, we walked over to the restaurant to check in. Since Kevin was going to be in the 2:00 American Idol show, he wasn't able to make it to lunch. Consequently, those of us who were going to be his "VIPs" needed to be done with lunch early enough to get over to the theater to be admitted to watch the warm ups. The first group they called was only for a group of 8, so Tracy, Jack, Amanda and Brian went in for one table for four, and Sean, Pam and I went in for the other. Jan ended up joining us as well since Mike and Jacie weren't with her that day.

To start off what ended up being an abysmal lunch, the two tables for four were in separate rooms! We had a big wall in between us and had separate servers. Booo!

So really, it was just me, Sean, Pam and Jan all having lunch together. But that happens some times, so I was willing to chalk it up to the restaurant being really busy. When our server first arrived at the table, I said that I thought that I wanted to get the souvenir cup with the blinking ice cube in it, but I wanted it with Coke instead of the specialty drink since I didn't think the specialty drink would be refillable. She then explained that the specialty one was in fact refillable, so I said that I would get that instead of the Coke. Before she left with our drink orders, she gave us "homework"...we were supposed to write down the name of every country in the world who's name began with the letter I.

After a few minutes, she returned to the table with our drinks...and mine was in a kid's sippy cup! I mean, seriously?? She knew that the "souvenir cup" was a sippy cup, so why wouldn't she say something when she saw an adult order it?? Not to mention that it was full of Coke instead of the special fruity drink that I had clearly told her that I wanted once I figured out that it was refillable. I told her no, I didn't want to be charged $6 for a drink in a kid's sippy cup, so she took it back and said she'd bring me a regular glass of Coke. I also placed my food order while she was there, and got the turkey sandwich. She asked if I wanted it with chips, fries or a salad, and I said fries.

While we waited for our food, we racked our brains to think up all the countries that began with I. After a while, we had accumulated nine countries. Just to see if we were correct, I pulled out my telephone and started to find a list of all the countries in the world. Well, the waitress saw me on my phone, and she snatched the phone out of my hand, telling me that I shouldn't be cheating on my homework! Ok, ok, busted. Then she put my phone into the front pocket of her apron and walked away! She helped the other table in the room, then completely walked away, all while still holding my phone!

After a while, we noticed that the other table of four that we were with already had their food, and were almost done eating, and ours hadn't even arrived yet. Eventually the food arrived, and it was pretty good, though I have never thought that the food at 50's Prime Time was something to rave about. After close to 20 minutes of the waitress walking around with my phone, she came back up to the table to clear some of our plates. Since she didn't seem to be interested in giving the phone back, I just reached into her apron and snatched it back from her. I can understand a little bit of playing, like...take the phone, make a scene about how I was cheating on my homework, then give the phone back. But to walk away with it and not even act like you were going to give it back? Heck no. What if she had dropped my phone? Or spilled a drink on it? I'd be without a phone! It just felt like the joking was taken a little bit too far.

So once we were all done eating, our checks arrived. And par for the course, mine included a charge for the fries that the waitress had offered me! When the waitress came back over, I very calmly pointed it out to her, and said that she had offered the fries as though they were included in the price of my meal, and that she didn't mention that they were extra. I also said that since I didn't ask if they were extra, I was going to pay it, but that I didn't appreciate being charged when she had offered them so casually as a choice. Ultimately she took the charge for the fries off the bill, but I was so DONE with lunch by that point that I just wanted to leave and get over to American Idol Experience. It's very rare that I have really bad service in a Disney restaurant, but she just rubbed me the wrong way too many times.

As we were leaving, we spotted the rest of the group and waved goodbye as we headed off to the American Idol Experience. When we arrived, we spotted Catherine, Tracy and Jack already in the waiting area, so we joined them. Soon we were escorted into the theater and got to watch the rehearsal. It was then that I realized...uh oh...Kevin was competing against a 14 year old girl! I was all but certain that that spelled doom for him, but I was still hoping that he'd do well! A while later, everyone else was let into the theater, including the entire rest of the RADP meet that had showed up to cheer Kevin on! It was so funny to see RADPer after RADPer flooding into the theater.


Kevin gets introduced before his performance

For his performance, Kevin sang Footloose, and did a really great job at it! Even though he sounded great when he sang Your Song back in October, Footloose had a much faster beat and got the audience much more engaged in the song, so I thought the performance overall was stronger. We also got a kick out of the fact that he had to sing the line "Jack! Get back!" twice, and that he actually had two different Jacks to look at when he sang that line! But of course, the 14 year old girl sang some Disney channel song and made the entire crowd love her. When it was time to vote, we cheered hard for Kevin, but it just wasn't enough to win over the 14 year old. Oh well...she really did do a good job, but it would have been extra nice to see Kevin perform in the big show at the end of the night. Maybe next time!

After the show, the whole group assembled at the Betty White bust, and all gave congratulations to Kevin once he emerged from the theater.


We still love you Betty!

It was nearing time for our RADP Refuel Pit Stop meet, so those of us who were opting for the "high octane" meet meandered in the direction of the Backlot Cantina. On the way, we decided to make a stop at Star Tours since there was no line. We were in the lines for the preshow video basically as soon as we walked up, and were out the door with plenty of time to spare so we wouldn't be late for the meet.

I had never even seen the Backlot Cantina, much less had a drink there, so it was interesting to find this little place that had hidden in plain sight for so many years! A bunch of us were already there, so we went ahead and got in line. I got a stoplight margarita, with strawberry, regular and lime margarita in it...yummy! When I was through the line, I went over to the seating area and grabbed a seat next to John.


John enjoying his Piņa Colada

Well all enjoyed our drinks, and had some good laughs thanks to the goofiness of the group (or could it have been the alcohol?? haha). We had particular fun with Catherine and her blinking ice cube! Toward the end of the meet, Shawna and David said their goodbyes, and headed out so they could catch their flight home.

Being sufficiently refueled, it was nearing time for the Toy Story Mania meet, so that's where we went as a group. We hung out under the big Speak N Spell again, in what seems to have become our official little meeting spot. We also had a lot of fun with the nook in that area...

...either with people hiding in the nook...


"C'mon, move it bub, there's a line behind you!"

...or taking funny photos while non-RADPers were in the nook (including one guy who was standing in the nook talking on his cell phone, followed by a line of RADPers behind him, apparently waiting to use the cell phone nook as well!). Ok, so it doesn't sound very funny when I write it out...guess you had to be there! :-)

At the meet time, we wrangled everyone into the queue, and the line moved fairly quickly. We had a few people who were in ECVs or wheelchairs, so they got routed through the handicapped line while the rest of us went through the regular line with the stairs.


The Toy Story Mania line is great for high-fiving!


Jan's got her game face on

For my ride, John was my riding buddy, so we teamed up to try and unlock a couple of hidden screens. We managed to get the alien rocket ship hidden screen, but couldn't get the barnyard scene one despite trying our hardest. Ultimately I won in a come from behind victory! Hooray!

The next meet on the agenda was the Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf meet. It was still quite a few hours away, so everyone split up to go do their own thing for dinner. Kevin and Catherine decided to go watch some Streetmosphere, and Tracy, Jack and I decided to go to the animation building and meet the Up characters. As we walked, we spotted Jack M. in front of us, so we called his name a few times. He didn't hear us so we started calling his entire name, with Tracy ultimately yelling "Hey you in the red shirt and red hat!" which somehow got him to turn around! So we had to rib him about how he knew what color he was wearing, but didn't know his own name! haha He said that he was going to head back to the hotel for a while, so he was going to skip out on meeting the Up characters.

When we arrived at the animation building, we popped our heads into the gift shop and looked around for a while. We tried to sneak in the back way to see the characters but there was a CM stationed there to tell us to go around through the main entrance to get to them. So we did, and found the longest line in the building to be for the Up characters. But I didn't care since I LOVED that movie, so they said they'd wait with me.

Pretty soon, I had my adorable picture with them, so we moved on.

Tracy spotted the Evil Queen on the way out, so we also managed to get a picture of both of them together striking the same pose. Little did we know that Sean and Pam were also in the building at the same time, but we didn't run into them. They said that they walked in right as we were posing with the Up characters, but lost track of us once we were done.

On the way out, we stopped in the kids toy store that's also in the courtyard so Tracy could try to find a baby gift. I played a game where you had some character figurines sitting around, and you had to put a cup over each one of them when you were given a clue. Like it would say "I'm wearing a blue shirt!' and you'd put the cup over Donald, and so forth. It was actually quite fun, and I think I played three consecutively faster games of it before we had to go.

Kevin's phone was dead, so we decided to just go up toward the front and check the Streetmosphere shows to see if we could find him and Catherine. We spotted them in the audience for a show that was ending right then, so we pulled them away with us when the show was over. Then as we left, there was another show going on near Hollywood and Vine, so they stopped to watch the end of that one as well. The sky was really getting dark, and there was some thunder in the distance, so I would have preferred to have just gone straight out to the car in case it started to downpour, but luckily, the skies never opened up on us. Since Catherine was headed over to Epcot, we offered her a ride over to the Boardwalk with us, so Kevin, Tracy, Jack, Catherine and I all piled into the car and headed to the Boardwalk.

I'd decided to head to Kouzzina for dinner that night with Kevin, Tracy, Jack, Laurie, Don, Charlotte, John, Bob and Polly, and we were still plenty early for dinner.


Jack and Catherine, causing a ruckus on the Boardwalk


Laurie and Don waiting for our Kouzzina seating

We all hung around outside the restaurant and chatted before dinner, where Catherine and Jack proceeded to make me laugh pretty much the entire time! When it was time for dinner, we bid Catherine a farewell and went inside, and were seated at a large table in the back of the restaurant near the kitchen.

I wasn't terribly enthused with the entree choices for dinner, so I decided to try two appetizers instead. I got the saganaki and the spanikopita, which were both delivered at the same time as everyone else's entrees. I wish I could say that I loved the food there, but I probably wouldn't go back if my opinion was based on the food alone. The saganaki was extremely salty, and while it tasted very good, I kept running out of water since I was drinking so much. Also the spanikopita was fairly good, though it was served on a plate covered in olive oil, which made it very, very greasy. But aside from the saltiness and the greasiness, the food tasted pretty good. Still not sure if I would go back or not. The company more than made up for the food though, so I had a great meal anyway.

After dinner it was time to make our way over to Fantasia Gardens. Kevin and I were the only ones from dinner who went to the meet, so we walked from the Boardwalk, between the Swan and Dolphin and across the street to the course. We were two of the last people to arrive since dinner had run a little long, but everyone was waiting for us. I thought that I had time to run to the bathroom, so after getting the attendant to restock the toilet paper, I made a quick pit stop. Of course when I came out, just like we did for Polly, everyone applauded for me! hahaha We quickly assembled for a group photo, then we dispatched ourselves four by four onto the course.


Carol models the new Chernabog painting in the cave

I ended up playing with Carol, John and Buff, and like always, I didn't even come close to winning. I still had a nice time, though there was a surprising lack of hijinx this year in comparison to the previous few years. Oh well...next year, I will up the ante on the hijinx! haha

With the mini golf meet dwindling to a close, Kevin and I headed off back towards the Boardwalk to retrieve the car. We were both pretty wiped out, so we just headed straight back to the Hilton and hit the hay.

Go to RADP 14 - DAY 6
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