Archive for April 22nd, 2011

Feeling Mousey (Part Three)

    When I got back to my room (after walking past creepy jester statue guy) after my time at Epcot, I thought I’d better figure out a type of itinerary for Hollywood Studios. It is funny, but when we took the kids when they were little, I had an itinerary down to the minute. I was a Disney nazi. But, it did save time standing in what my daughter, Alex, called the “Ride of Misery.”

 So, as soon as I got to the park, I went straight to the Tower of Terror. This was the one thing I wanted to experience at Disney World.

I decided not to take a Dramamine today. I took a 1/2 pill yesterday and although it said, “non-drowsy formula,” they lie.  The Tower of Terror was so much fun. When I got off the ride, I noticed that there was already a 30 minute wait listed on the board. I got there just in time. I headed over to the Aerosmith roller coaster and got a Fast Pass  because it was already a 30 minute wait. I had to come back at an assigned time period to ride it. I then went to stand in line at Toy Story, the most popular ride at Hollywood Studios. Oh Dear God, it was a 100 minute wait. So, I decided to get a Fast Pass. I got this instead.

Damn. I messed up. I didn’t even really want to ride the Aerosmith Roller Coaster. I had my head torn off by a maniacal roller coaster at Kennywood Park called the Steel Phantom. I didn’t want to die again. So, what to do? I decided to stand in line. For 100 minutes. Which is like almost two hours…This was going to be more fun…than a barrel of monkeys.

I do have to admit that it was a great queue. And the ride didn’t disappoint. It snaked through Candy Land, and dominoes, Chutes and Ladders, toy soldiers, Mr. Potato Head and other games that were enlarged, like this picture of Candy Land with the red queue bars in front of the wall. It really wasn’t a bad wait.

I then went back to ride on the Aerosmith ride. As soon as it started I knew I was in trouble. I put my head to the left and closed my eyes. I breathed through my mouth because I knew that one more loop would do me in. I hate roller coasters with loops. I was feeling pretty brave by this point, ready to experience what I couldn’t before. Well, motion sickness is not in your head. It’s real and I’ve lived with it all my life. I can’t even swing on a swing. I HATED the Aerosmith ride. Hated.

Disney boasts of the ride on its Web site, “Zoom from 0 to 60 mph with the force of a supersonic F-14, take in high-speed loops and turns synchronized to a specially recorded Aerosmith soundtrack and zip through Tinseltown in the biggest, loudest limo you’ve ever seen….The 3,400-foot-long track is more than a half mile of sudden accelerations, dips, loops and twists and turns.”

Well, you go from 0 to 60mph in 2.8seconds. That’s when I knew to shut my eyes and hold my head to the left. The picture that they take of each car, you know the one that you can buy at the end of the ride? Well, mine was hysterical. I should have bought it.

 I loved Hollywood Studios. I took my time and enjoyed all of the shows and street entertainment throughout the day. Muppet 3D was fun. I’m a muppet/Swedish Chef fan, so I was in my element.  The whole park was wonderful. It was a lot of fun. I got back at dark, walking past Jester and Jester junior. I quickly turned around, half expecting them to be right behind me. I scared myself..lol

 Well, hopped back on the plane to Pittsburgh yesterday evening and headed home.  I learned a lot about myself on my first trip. First of all, what was I thinking? I teach small children. Why in the world would I want to use my spring break to go where there were children running amok? 

 I think, though,  that I did great and now know that I can  travel by myself…if I HAVE  to.   Would I go to Disney again by myself?  Oh hell no. 

In the end, I think traveling solo is fine. But, I like to talk. I enjoy companionship, camaraderie. So, in the future, I will first see if anyone wants to join me. Then, maybe join a travel group. And if I still want to go bad enough, I can go by myself. Because, again, in the end, I won’t be lonely. Afterall, I will be with me. And I think I’m pretty good company. That’s  my new Puerto Rican attitude talking. I learned a thing or two while standing in lines.

Feeling Mousey (Part Deux)

 

   I set my alarm for 6:00. I had a hard time getting back to sleep after Ted Bundy delivered my luggage at my door in the middle of the night. So, I hit snooze a couple of times. I hoped to take a quick shower, get some breakfast at the Sassagoula Floatworks Food Court, and hop a bus to Epcot Center. I only had two days at Disney, and decided to head to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. I thought they would be best for me, the solo traveler. I had never been to Animal Kingdom, but  I knew from being a Weather Channel dork that the temperatures were supposed to soar to 94F, and there isn’t much shade or inside time at Animal Kingdom. So, I scratched that from my choices. Plus,would zebra poop stink in the heat?  Sorry zebra’s, you were the first animals I thought of. Anywho, off to Epcot I went. But, first, breakfast. I decided to get biscuits and gravy. I tried to behave myself and the eggs, bacon, pancake and sausage platter seemed too much for me. I got under the bus shelter and within 3 minutes a bus going to Epcot pulled up.

 The great thing about Walt Disney World is a thing called Fast Pass. Too freaking bad that I didn’t understand how it worked. Evidently, you can go to a ride and if the queue area is long, you can get a fast pass ticket to come back later. I was going to do that. By the time we got to Epcot, it was almost 9:00am. People are allowed in the park, so far and then you are stopped by Disney folks holding ropes. To hold us back, because people were on a mission. That’s when I first noticed Disney tattoos on people. Real tattoos with Disney stuff. Wow. I had no idea people were so obsessed with Disney. I mean, I know a teacher who has a Disney license personalized license plates. That means she is was the first one in WV who wanted one. How special.

 I didn’t know what the hell I was doing or where I was going. Was I supposed to be in a hurry. I thought maybe I should be. So, I decided to get to Test Tracks first, located on the left side of the map. You’d think that Epcot would be easy. The map is great. Except that the park  is s p r e a d out, making the map quite wrong.  You can’t use the Great Golf Ball spaceship Earth as a focal point because it is circular. You don’t know if you are coming or going. I decided to ask where most people are rushing to. “To Test Tracks.” one replied while looking at me like I didn’t own Disney stock. I guess I need to know where I was going. My bad.

 Well, the ropes dropped and people took off  like a bat out of hell. I walked quickly and it paid off. Well, except that there was a “single rider” line and well, I was right up front in no time. Score one for the loser by herself. The one without a Disney Tinkerbell tattoo. So, I rode Test Track, a roller coaster sort of thing by GM. After the ride, everyone got to see the new cars GM is coming out with. I fancied the new Camaro. But wait, people were rushing off to another ride. Damn. Why didn’t I prep for this journey?

 One thing one should never do is travel to Disney World during Easter. It is about the worst time to go there. So, of course, I go there. Another test, so to speak. Did I have patience to endure long, snaking queues? Could I handle being behind little screaming children who needed to get out of the heat, and perhaps fly back where they came from? Would I hit them? (Well, you just never know) I was lucky there wasn’t much of a line during the first ride. Oh, but that was the end of free time. It was crazy after that.

Ok, lunch time. The place was packed. All the food places were packed. I headed to the Land and ate at the Sunshine Seasons place because they use the foods they grow in their greenhouse as stuff on the menu. I ordered a turkey with monterey Jack cheese on foccacia with chipotle mayonnaise and a side of their potato salad. It was the best sandwich I have ever eaten. That or I was just really hungry. But, it was delicious. It was also the first time that I noticed people looking at me. Ahhh, they finally noticed I was a solo traveler. Well, apparently, if you are by yourself, you really shouldn’t sit at a table that four people can sit at, even if that’s all they have in the whole place. I even told a familyof three they were welcome to sit with me if they wanted to, trying to be nice and all. And the mom said, “Well, are you done?” Uh no, and I have lice. Please sit down.

After taking in as much as I could in Future World, I headed to World Showcase. By this time I was hot and miserable. It was 94F and World Showcase was out in the hot sun for the most part. People took advantage any way they could.

April in Florida. Yikes. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t get into World Showcase. I think it was because I was so hot. I got back to the resort at around 9:00. I had pizza and a salad (well, it was like a cup o salad) or more like an ice cream scoop o salad.) I had to walk past a statue of a jester back to my room. He was creeping me out because his eyes look like they are following you. His friend on a stick was creepy too.

 I had a bit of a culture shock my first day at Disney World. I always talk to strangers. I guess it is for all the times when I wasn’t allowed to when I was little. But, I don’t know much Espanol and a majority of the guests at Disney World were Spanish speaking.  A majority for sure. The nicest people were the Japanese, but I couldn’t understand them. I loved the British. They were fun.  I tried to talk to a couple from Scotland, but I couldn’t understand them at all, and they were talking English. I smiled, because I thought how much fun it would be if I broke out in my Appalachian dialect. “I’m so tard.” The Puerto Ricans were not friendly at all.  A bit arrogant. This whole “lost in translation” made me feel, well, …quiet. I can’t be quiet. I never expected this.

I headed to Hollywood Studios on my second and final day. This was by far my favorite. See Feeling Mousey (Part Three)

Feeling Mousey (Part One)

  When I decided that I wanted to take a solo trip somewhere, I thought hard about the places I wanted to go. My ultimate adventure is to take a train across Canada. To get ready for such a solo venture, I needed to pull up my big girl pants and journey on, alone. At first I thought I would go to the beach.  The relaxation would be nice, but it wasn’t how I wanted to test myself.

 Yes, I guess I felt the need to test myself. You have to understand that I was married for 25 years and really didn’t have to do anything by myself. I was a stay-at-home mom. I didn’t have to take out the garbage, although I was the weekly “house gatherer.”  I didn’t have to fiddle when my car started making noises like a mechanic was traveling under the hood of the car, banging on something that would soon smoke.  I didn’t do anything that inconvenienced me. I guess I pretended to be a princess. I made my husband check the air pressure in my tires about once a week because I have issues with my tires looking low. Everyone has issues. Mine are pronounced, however.

 Well, fairy tales don’t always come true, and next thing you know, you’re divorced after 25 years of marriage, you no longer can get by acting like a princess. I mean, there are limits to how long one can get away with that. (imagine Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane). One day, you wake up and actually have to work for a living, and make your own appointment to get your car fixed. And I think I’ve done well. Well, I still whine about garbage night, but really, I honestly don’t think I should do that one. But, someone has to, right?

 Ok, so I felt the need to scratch the beach trip off of my list. I needed to go somewhere that was filled with families, with couples ogling each other, and friends laughing and pointing. If I could get by a few days of being inundated by this test, I could go anywhere by myself.  Remember in Sex and the City, when Carrie went off to Paris to be with the Russian? She saw four girls walking by and immediately called home, lonely. And she was only there for like a day.  I didn’t want to be Carrie Bradshaw. I didn’t want to phone home and cry..in the middle of a train trip across Canada. No, I had to make sure this solo travel is for me. And so that is why I chose a harsh environment for a single traveler. I chose…Disney World.

 Say what? Yes, the one place where people don’t go by themselves. Disney World. I thought that if I had many “boo-hoo” moments, then solo travel would not be for me. So, I made my reservation, and decided to embark on a quest to celebrate my independence, to acknowledge that I had fortitude and perserverance to sit by myself at an eatery, and to leave and return still inflated. That was my goal.

 So, I made my flight and hotel reservation through Orbitz. Now mind you, I haven’t flown in 30 years. I have inner ear problems. But, I was ready. I had my gum to chomp on, my ear plugs and yawning techniques so the descent wouldn’t make me grimace in pain. After all, there would be no one there to listen to me whine.  I had to…..(worst phrase EVER)…..”Buck up.” 

Well, I did fine. I’ve been to Pittsburgh Airport plenty of times. I just never had to park all the way in section 19E in the extended lot. I could have hopped on the shuttle, but I was trying to toughen up, right? So, I strolled with my two bags and my lead laden purse all the way in my “clompy” shoes to the terminal…only to find that the People Mover was not moving..More walking. No problem, I can walk.

 Checking in was a breeze. Disney had sent me a voucher book called Disney’s Magical Express. And magical it was. They also sent me a yellow tag to put on my checked suitcase. Once in Orlando, I could bypass baggage claim and just hop on the Magical Express bus to my resort. How easy does that sound?  I was feeling pretty princess-like once again. Once at the resort, my bag would be in my room, waiting on me, or there shortly after my arrival.  Well, up to 3 hours perhaps. So, I packed things I needed in my carry-0n.

 My flight to Orlando left on time. I liked Air Tran. They are ranked the safest airline in the United States. I was feeling pretty safe.I sat wedge in between a man who was with his family, who were seated across the aisle, and a dermotologist from Ohio. We talked most of the way. The descent was pretty bad on my ears, and although this is funny now, I couldn’t hear a damn thing for a few hours after the flight. It was like the ear plugs were still in my ear. I am sure I was shouting to people. Poor Helen Keller.

 The Orlando airport was easy to manuever and great that I got to bypass the baggage claim. I could walk straight to my waiting Disney Magical Express. What efficiency. People from three resorts were jammed into a very comfortable thirty minute bus ride to the resort. For those of you who do not know this, Disney World is actually located in Kissimmee, Florida, not Orlando. Which is nice, because Orlando is the 3rd. most dangerous city in the United States. Really. I’m glad I was staying on Disney property.

 By the time I go to the resort, it was about 9:45pm. That was probably a stupid move on my part. I should have arrived early early to take advantage of the day. But, hey, you live and learn. But, it was a cheap flight with a safe airline, so I booked it. The check-in was quick and easy. The one thing that I couldn’t believe is that there was no wi-fi in the resort. AND there was a $9.99 fee for 24 “contiguous” hours. I thought that was a loop hole, because I had no idea what contiguous meant.  But, yeah, I want internet. Put it on my charge. Sure, two days at the Disney parks. Just put it on my charge.

 The Port Orleans French Quarter resort is inspired by New Orleans. The man holding the door open reminded me of the Mayor of Munchkinland, only a tad bit taller.  After check-in, they gave put beads around my neck, Mardi Gras fashion.   I got to my room and my suitcase was not there, smiling at me. Not to worry. They said it may take up to three hours to get my luggage.  I was surprised to see a fully refurbished ugrade. I was supposed to have a room with 2 double beds overlooking the parking lot. When I got to my room, it had a king sized bed and was beside the Sassagoula River, which was quite pretty. Upgrade. Yay!  There was also a greeting on my bed, created by the lady who had my room spotless each day. I’m talking spotless. Immaculate. Never in my life have I seen a room so clean. Of course, I didn’t know at the time that the room was totally re-done in March. I loved my comfy room.

I was starving. So, I changed out of my “It’s damn cold in West Virginia” clothing, and threw on some shorts and flip flops. I went to hunt for something to eat. The Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory is a warehouse where old Mardi Gras float props are hung. It was 10:30pm and luckily the place stays open until midnight. I decided to go with a meatball hoagie. Well, the meatballs were huge and one actually fell out of my bun and onto the floor. I sat and stared at it, looking back at me. Well, the whole thing was a mess and so I ate as much as I could with my 25 napkins, and gave up on the mess.  Time to get back to the room and plan my next day. I was heading to Epcot Center.

Oh, did I forgot to mention that someone knocked on my door with my suitcase at 2:29a.m.? Yeah, that’s what I thought. What’s worse, is that I was half-asleep and opened the door without looking  in the peephole. Just glad I had on my long buttoned down sleep shirt, because I obviously didn’t reach for a robe that I didn’t bring with me. I was half asleep. Glad the 3rd dangerous city in the United States robbers didn’t pretend to bring people their luggage at 2:29 in the morning.

 (See Feeling Mousey (Part Two)

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