Thursday, January 03, 2008

WDW Trip Report - Day 2 (EPCOT, Disney Studios)

Sunday was the only day that we had to be anywhere at a particular time, which was a shame since although I'd slept very well, JennySlash had not and was a bit tired. We still didn't rush, taking the time to have a little bite of breakfast in the room and to do some unpacking before heading off to Disney Studios. It was much cooler and we were planning on a late night, so while I stuck with long hiking shorts, I did bring a sweatshirt for later. I'm sure most people staying at the EPCOT resorts take the Friendship boats from their resort to the Studios, but we generally prefer the walk along the canal up to the park (takes about 20 minutes from the Boardwalk). We had time to take a few pictures of the Christmas decorations on Hollywood Blvd and duck into a couple of shops before lunch/brunch at the Brown Derby. We were seated right on time and lunch was quite good (the food there has always been some of our favorite), as was the service. From looking at the folks at tables around us, we were obviously not the only middle-aged couple taking a pre-Christmas vacation for just the two of us! Side note: if you haven't been to Disney Studios in awhile, you may be sad to hear that the Catwalk Bar which was behind the Brown Derby and overlooked the theater with the "Bear in the Big Blue House" show is closed (it actually closed just before our last couple of trips). It's a shame as it was a great quiet place to duck out of the crowds and have a cold brew before heading on to the next adventure.

While J is not a ride fan, we did go do the Backlot Tour together before we split up for a bit. The group they pulled from the audience was very funny in the pre-tour part of the show and almost as amusing was the German family in front of us on the tram that reminded me of the way folks from other countries often talk about Americans - loud, pushy, dressed badly, doing everything against the rules. The one change to the ride that I thought was a shame wasthat the old ride through the "neighborhood" of houses from sitcoms (Golden Girls, etc) has been replaced as the staging area for the new stunt driving show, so there's little left of interest in the backlot tour itself other than Catastrophe Canyon. Bummer. Afterwards we walked through the backdrop area of the park that has been covered in Christmas lights for the Osborne Family lightshow - looked like it would be pretty spectacular once it got dark!

After the Backlot Tour, we split up a bit as JennySlash did some Christmas shopping and I headed over to the Tower of Terror. The park was relatively crowded (not surprising as it was Sunday) and I hadn't gotten a FastPass, but the wait time for standby was listed as 40 minutes so I went ahead (and it actually only took about 20 minutes to get to the pre-show). This is one of my favorite rides anywhere, in part for the attention to detail in the hotel lobby (how do you make those cobwebs?!) and the Rod Serling pre-show. As a single rider, I hopped in front of a few folks and we were off. I was on the front row and with the time of day and time of year, the first time the elevator doors opened, the sun smacked me right in the eyes - pretty good effect! :-) I was happy to see that they had brought back some of the real hotel-looking souvenirs to the gift shop that had been missing the last time we were there, so I picked up a couple of plastic hotel door keyrings and a Do Not Disturb sign to go with the handtowel, memo pad and reception bell I'd picked up years ago.

I hit Star Tours just as the parade went by (always a good way to get a short line!) and picked up a Rebel Alliance t-shirt and a couple of other Star Wars souvies in the gift shop. I tried to hit the Rock'n'Roller Coaster after that but it was down (that seems to happen more to that ride than any of the others) so I took my second ride on the Tower of Terror and then met back up with J. I had talked about running my camera gear back to the Boardwalk as it was getting dark, but we decided to both walk back and rest for a couple of minutes before coming back for the evening. We stopped to get our armbands for the "Extra Magic Hours" first, then took a slow walk back.

It was getting a bit cold by the time we headed back as the sun was going down but we were pretty comfortable. The light show for the Osborne Family thing was very cool - they had them synced up to Trans-Siberian Orchestra (of course) and some fake snow coming down and the streets were totally packed with people. Very fun! Then it was off to dinner at Sci-Fi Dine-in, which is always a hoot. We sat in the back of the restaurant in the backseat of the car and had a very nice meal, although we were a bit disappointed that the veggie burger that we'd ordered on previous trips was not on the dinner menu. We always enjoy watching the movie trailers on the big screen and marveling at the number of the old schlocky sci-fi/horror movies we've seen (and how many we actually own on DVD!). After dinner I hit the single-rider line at the Rock'n'Roller Coaster and bypassed about a million people - couldn't have waited more than 10 minutes tops. R'n'R is a really good dark-ride coaster - my only issue with it is that it is too short. But I love how it starts you out going from a standstill to zooming in seconds and NEVER slows down. J met me in the gift shop and she picked up a cool t-shirt while I eyed but ultimately decided against a pair of drumsticks (I'm a really bad drummer and they would only have gotten me into trouble). We did a little more shopping, picked up some pins from under the Sorcerer's Hat, heard that stupid song from High School Musical 2 at least a dozen more times, took a last ride on the Tower of Terror and then we walked on back to the Boardwalk at around 10pm. We didn't do the Indiana Jones stunt thing or the Muppet 3-D show (which I really like) or the new stunt driving show, but we decided before we came down that we wanted to relax and not rush so I was pretty satisfied.

Christmas decorations on Hollywood Blvd

The Tower of Terror

The Boardwalk at sunset

More photos from Day 2 are available in the gallery here.

Next: Late night with Mickey at the Magic Kingdom

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