Sunday, April 28, 2013

Out Of This World In Many Ways

Walt Disney World
Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My foot felt better in the morning, but I didn't go for a walk as I had planned when I packed for the trip (I had planned to walk every morning because I had a 10K to walk on Sunday and didn't want to slack off).  Linda and I went to the All-Star Food Court for breakfast, and I got a cinnamon roll.

We took the shuttle to EPCOT for our Magic Morning day.  There were a lot of topiaries all over the place because of the HGTV Flower & Garden Festival opening the next day.  Test Track was down, but we got fast passes for later in the day.
Topiary at Entrance -- Time for BBQ!

Our first ride of the day was Mission: Space.  Hello, Gary Sinise!  We chose the Spinning option, although it didn't spin nearly as much as I remember from my first time (I was there for a soft opening in August 2003, and there were many people getting sick then).  I did feel like my face was peeling off, though.  We sent video to each other and to Bro from a program that looked like we were running from aliens on the moon or Mars or whatever.  

Test Track was up when we were done, so we got in the Fast Pass line, but the screen we were using froze when we were designing our car.  We ended up with a default red one instead.  The ride was fun, and there was a lot of interactive stuff available afterward, like using your car to race others on a digital track, and taking pictures which I never actually saw because I'm lame.  Our car reached a speed of 64.9 mph.
Designing Our Car

Yay!  The Jammitors!  They are EPCOT's answer to our Trash Can Trio, and they're fun, too.  I got a sticker.  I was happy.

Linda needed to see dinosaurs, so we went to the Universe of Energy.  I was thankful for the long-ish ride because we were sitting down after standing up for a while in the morning.  Ellen DeGeneres makes me giggle.  A dinosaur snorted at us.
Pluto and Linda
We shopped around World Showcase, and marveled at the menus showing the special food for the Festival, but none of it was available yet, so that was a bummer.  Or maybe that was a good thing, because we were preparing ourselves for a wonderful dinner that night already.  Anyway, around World Africa, there was a wood carver, but his name was not Andrew, as the sign told us.  He was actually Andrew's brother, named Justus.  He was carving an elephant figurine.  I had my eye on the hippos, and decided to come back later.  By the time we came back, though, Justus was gone, and I decided to wait until Animal Kingdom for hippo stuff.  I also wanted a wall hanging of 4 cool animal masks, but refrained from getting those. We took a lot of pictures of topiaries.  Here are just a few more of them.

My Favorite Topiary
The Longest Topiary

The Coolest Topiary
The fancy restaurant in France had a long wait, so we bought our lunch at Les Halles De Boulangerie et Patisserie.  Yum!  Yes, it was all baked goods, and everything looked divine.  We stuck to our Dining Plan, which is really cool because it includes a drink, an entree, and dessert.  Not everything is on the dining plan, but you can always add stuff if you'd like.  I bought a Croissant Du Jamon (ham croissant), a Frangiopone (almond pastry), and a decaf cappuccino.  The CMs at the counter (most of them) were actually from France, so I made sure to say "Merci!"  Yes, folks, I took 3 years of high school French so that I could thank people in Orlando, Florida.  We sat outside when someone offered us a table because they were leaving.  Merci beaucoup!  Linda had a Napoleon for dessert and it was nice and flaky, like my croissant.  If I lived in France, I'd be fat on croissants and food made with lots of butter.  

Japanese people took this picture for us.  I'm not kidding.
We walked around World Showcase some more, and took pictures of more topiaries.  I heard drums again, so we stopped in Japan and listened to Matsuriza.  They play Taiko!
 I was happy again.  Then, of course, more drums were playing when we arrived at America.  We stopped to watch the full show of the Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps.  It was really neat to see them gather a bunch of kids and have them recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  We then went inside to see The American Adventure, and who should be performing in the lobby but the Voices of Liberty!  Drums and a cappella in one day?  Heaven!  I was tired and fell asleep during the actual show.  As we were leaving, one guy said that one of the American Spirits looked like Burt Reynolds.  
Feeling Patriotic

Smokey the Dragon in China

Back to walking around World Showcase....we bought some jewelry made of beads, which themselves were made of recycled Disney paper.  Even the "bag" that Thais used was actually a Disney map, taped up into a little paper bag.  So neat!  Thais was very nice, and said that everyone thought that the beads were Brazilian because her name tag shows that she's from Brazil.  She wants to come to Los Angeles some day in the next year or so.  Yeah, come on over and visit!

In Germany, we bought our Dining Plan snacks at the Caramel shop.  I bought a Werther Chewy Caramel.  Danke!  (That's pretty much all the German I know.  That and "Schadenfreude").Then I decided it was time for me to have some alcohol, so I got a mango margarita in Mexico.  When we sat down to have our snack, I also downloaded a panorama app and took this lovely picture.
View of the World

We then went to The Seas, which I hadn't seen since they added the Finding Nemo effects.  They're pretty much the same ones that were added to Disneyland's submarines, but on this ride, we ride in clam shells.  We checked out the animals in the aquarium, and saw that a dolphin exhibit was about to start, so we watched Rainier match figures of Atlas, Wall-E, and a ferris wheel to whatever the trainer taught him.  Rainier loved showing off for everyone.

Then we walked back to the entrance, and couldn't figure out how to get to the Boardwalk.  We talked to a security guard, then after walking a little bit, decided to go back into the park to catch the boat to our destination.  Oy, if I had just planned this better, we would have done much less walking, but I guess I got my exercise in for the day after all.  We found a restroom at the Boardwalk Inn and changed into more appropriate clothing for dinner, then went to the restaurant.

Flying Fish Cafe is a favorite of our friends, so when we were making our reservations in advance, we planned our days around the available restaurants, as well as the Magic Hours for the resort guests.  Flying Fish was the first reservation we made.  It was the only one on our list that takes up 2 dining plan points, but we didn't plan on using any on the first night, so we saved it for this night.  We were not disappointed at all.  Not during the entire evening. While we were looking at the menu, I was trying to point out the Mac and Cheese.  Linda thought I said "Korean Cheese".  Is there even such a thing?  Our server, Tony, was wonderful to us. The decor was whimsical.  The food -- Oh my goodness, the FOOD!  So here's what we had, and as per our dining plan, we had a drink, an entree, and dessert.  I also added soup because I just couldn't resist it.  
The Fish are Flying with Parachutes!

Sherry's soup:  Soup of the Day:  Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque with Florida Rock Shrimp, Winter Squash, Leeks, 5-spice Creme Fraiche, Prosciutto Cracklins and Mustard-Chive Oil.  So, so worth paying the extra coin.  I now don't want any other butternut squash bisque but this one.  
Bisque of Joy


Linda had Native Rainforest Pepperberry and Wattleseed-crusted Kurobuta Berkshire Pork Tenderloin with Leek, Fontina, and Truffle-laced Trofie Macaroni & Cheese, Grilled Aspargus with Kiln-dried and Fresh Black Mission Fig, Port Wine, Balsamico, Bermuda Onion, and Trumpet Mushroom Compote.  Linda was very happy.  I had a taste of the Mac & Cheese, and it was way yummy.

I had the "Surf and Surf" Oak-grilled Herb-glazed Florida Coast Cobia and Laughing Bird Shrimp "Scampi" with Wilted Greens, Caramelized Cipollini Onions, Young Squash and Carrots, with an Elephant Garlic and Vermont Butter Sauce.  Divine.  I wasn't able to finish all of my vegetables, but I did a pretty good job with it.  I wanted to make sure to save room for dessert.
Surf & Surf


Linda had Caramel-Chocolate-Brioche Bread Pudding with Vanilla-Praline Gelato, Spicy Pecan Brittle, and a Cinnamon Anglaise Sauce.  I did not try it, but she enjoyed it very much.

I had the signature Flying Fish Cafe "Caramelized Banana Napoleon" with Crisp Phyllo Banana Mousse, Creme Caramel, Exotic Fruit Coulis, and Bitter Chocolate.  It was beautiful.  It was delicious.  We were in foodie heaven.
So. Very. Yum.

Tony and Sher
Tony told us that we were the happiest customers he's ever had, so we totally made his day.  I asked him if the Executive Chef was present because I wanted to pay him my compliments, and he didn't think so.  I don't know how Tony missed him, because he's, like, 15 feet tall or something.  Tony opened his eyes and found Chef Tim, and brought him to our table.  We raved about our dinner and told him about our friends recommending the restaurant.  He remembers our friend because our friend doesn't like cilantro.  So he calls our friend "Mr. Cilantro".  Linda and I now call ourselves "Mr. Cilantro's Entourage".  I asked to see the menus again so that I could write down whatever we had, and Tony let me take both the regular and the dessert menus home.  Yay -- free souvenirs!  

One Last Look

After basking in our happiness for a while, we took the Friendship boat back to EPCOT.  While on the boat, we were told several times when the last boat would leave.  As we got off the boat, one of the passengers asked the CM, "What time is the last boat?" just to be funny.  I laughed.  I was happy and full.  

We walked to the area between Japan and USA to wait for Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.  If I wasn't already so happy and full, I totally would have bought the pumpkin spice funnel cake that was being sold nearby.  It smelled really good, and the combination of pumpkin and funnel cake was quite tempting, but I couldn't eat any more that night.  We had a great spot for Illuminations, and we enjoyed the show.  Thank you to my friends for the viewing spot recommendation!
Linda, waiting for Illuminations to begin

We were so happy that we didn't care much about our long walk back to the shuttle.  I was on a quest to find highlighters (to highlight where we'd been on our maps), and we stopped in the last store by the park exit.  CM Michele gabbed with us for quite a while about weather and her experience of being terrified on the Dinosaur ride at Animal Kingdom.  She was amusing.  We were tired, and when we got back to our hotel, put our feet up against the wall.  Ah, that felt good.

This was my favorite day of the entire trip.  I heart EPCOT.

Happy Girls on a Happy Day
Line of the Day:  "Her face is kinda messed up."  -- Little Boy at Snow White and the Seven Dwarves Topiary

Sunday, April 21, 2013

F is for Florida

Walt Disney World 
Hollywood Studios
Monday, March 4, 2013

Happy Birthday, Cindy!

I got up at 4:00 a.m. to go to Linda's and pick her up.  I couldn't remember the numbers of her address in the proper order, so I passed her house before calling her and turning around to get to the correct driveway.  We parked at The Parking Spot on the roof, which requires you to use your entrance card again for the cheaper rate. We talked to the guy in the elevator about "accidentally" closing the door on people for whom we actually didn't want to wait.  We didn't ride the same shuttle as him, though, because it was red and gold and mentioned the Trojans on the back, and I refused to get on, since there was another perfectly good shuttle bus right behind it.

LAX wasn't very crowded, even though it was a Monday morning.  I wanted to get there early in case the federal sequester would affect the staffing, but it was OK.  I somehow got myself in line behind a family with full-size containers of shampoo, and they were pretty much unpacking a bunch of their carry-on luggage to get it all onto the x-ray belt.  It's good we got there early, or I might have been even more annoyed than I was already.  Oh, and yes, they got through with the full-size items, and also re-packed on the other side of the x-ray machine.  I bought a kid's lunch at the La Brea Bakery kiosk for later.  As the Virgin America attendant called the different boarding groups ("A for Awesome"), I eagerly awaited what they would call us, being in boarding group F.  He disappointed me and called All Boarding Groups instead.  So, of course, I had to mention to the guy that I wanted to hear them call us something, and they said that they were supposed to say "famous" or "fabulous" or "fantastic" but forgot.  Hmmm...perhaps "F is for Forgetful".  Actually, I wanted them to say some other "F" word/phrase, but that was just between me and Linda.  The interior of the plane was pretty. I like the pink lighting and the leather seats with the pillow-ish headrests.  I had an issue with the touch screen, but that's because I'm hella lame.  I ended up adding way more music than I needed to my playlist on the Virgin screen, but that's OK.  At least I didn't have to worry about missing the last part of any movie, as Linda was afraid the guy in front of us would do as he watched one of the Spider-man movies.

Welcome to Orlando, Sherry!
When we arrived in Orlando, what should greet me in the airport lobby, but a picture of my girl Ariel!  We followed our directions to get to the Magical Express line, where we met Zeenat  (her name rhymes with "peanut") and Jan.  I don't know why I didn't get a picture of Zeenat.  She was really cute and friendly!  We got on our bus and I ate my kid's meal (PB&J sandwich with carrots, a little brownie and apple juice), and I saw a guy get on with his luggage.  This sent me into an immediate worry mode because I thought that ME was supposed to get our luggage for us.  I knew that they would deliver to our room, but I was worried that we had misunderstood and we were supposed to pick up our luggage first.  But no, everything was fine.  You know I had visions of us being without luggage a la Liz in Boston.  Then I got jealous of all of the people on the Disney Cruise Line bus because I wish we could do that, too.  But that will be for another day, I hope.
Rock Inn

We arrived at the All-Star Music resort, and met Ryane, whom was on her third day of training at the hotels.  Her trainer was Edward, and they were both very nice.  Ryane really likes Earl of Sandwich, but since we now have one in Anaheim (yay!), we didn't plan on going there.  She circled it for us on the map anyway.  :)  Linda and I had made our reservations for our dinners ahead of time, and Ryane told us how to work the rest of the dining plan that we had purchased.    We then put in a good word for Ryane and Edward, and headed for the dining area to get our refillable mugs before walking to our room at the Rock Inn.  The room felt even farther than it actually was because we had walked around the wrong side of the building, and my left foot/ankle/knee was really hurting by this point.  We considered getting a wheelchair for me, but I decided that I'd be OK for the evening.  I love all of the musical themes in the room, so much so that I hopped into the shower to show off the curtain.

Cue music from "Psycho"

This looks really familiar
We walked to the bus stop and got in line with a woman whom was standing by herself.  We had decided to make Hollywood Studios our first park since the Magic Hours for resort guests were in the evening for this day, and we didn't really need to spend the whole day there.  After all, we come from the land of the real Hollywood, so it's not much of a big deal to us, except for the rides that we don't have in Anaheim.  

Sorcerer Mickey Topiary

At DHS, the Sorcerer Mickey topiary looked like Elphaba from Wicked. After figuring out the map (honestly, why was this so hard for us?), we made our way to the Tower of Terror.  Yes, I know that we have one in Anaheim.  But I love Florida's version.  I rode it in 2003, and it was the first Tower I ever rode, so I was a bit disappointed when the one in DCA wasn't the same.  While in line at the Tower, we talked to a guy and his son about the ride.  They had never experienced it, so I coyly said, "It's an elevator."  Tower of Terror is not as creepy here in the line as it is in Anaheim, because there is only one floor, and the ghost girl or whatever isn't running around behind the walls.  The ride itself is way better than ours.  I know that an elevator isn't supposed to move horizontally, but that is what makes it so awesome for me.  Linda conceded that WDW's is better than DCA's.  This would be the last time that she would concede as such.  Yes, it was only the first day, and the first ride.

Riding the Elevator
We didn't have reservations for the evening because we were saving one of the dining plan credits for the next night's restaurant, which required 2 points instead of just one.  So we ordered gourmet hot dogs at Fairfax Fare, which looks like LA's Farmer's Market, but a lot smaller.  Linda's hot dog had mac and cheese with bacon and truffle oil on top.  Mine had pulled pork and cole slaw on top.  They were yummy.  Linda ended up getting free hot chocolate because their machine broke down and she had to make it out of a package by herself.  So they gave her 2 of them.  I don't know what it is with Linda getting hot chocolate for free <giggle>.

I wasn't sure that we should do a coaster ride right after dinner, but we both felt OK and we were too hungry to wait until after the coaster to eat.  So then we went to the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, which was pretty much a walk-on because of the Magic Hours (we had to show our Key to the World cards to get in line).  KICK ASS!!!  The cast member dude at the end of the ride yelled at us, "YEAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!" just like a rock n roll fan should say.  This became the line of the day (LOTD was done in tweets for the trip, and will not have its own separate blog entries).  I so totally love that ride!  We got a picture of us on the ride, and I also bought a cool shirt for myself with snaps down the back.  It's black and white and totally me.
Aerosmith in the studio

Linda is a huge movie fan, so she wanted to go on The Great Movie Ride.  I only cared about going on it so that I could see Joseph Fiennes for a second.  While we were walking to the attraction, music from the score of "Shakespeare In Love" was playing around us, and I was very happy.  I got even happier when they showed the snippet of the movie at the end of the ride.  Our tour guide was Rebecca, and we got held up by the gangsters.

That was really all that we wanted to do, as I didn't really feel the need to see The Little Mermaid show (they didn't have any during Magic Hours anyway).  But we saw people in a line at one of the studio set entrances, so we asked what it was about.  The CM told us that it was The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow, and there were some really cool special effects, and Johnny Depp shows up and it looks as if he's really there.  Well, OK, then!  It was pretty cool, but the singing mermaid was a bit creepy because it just showed her head instead of her whole body.  I didn't feel like Johnny was actually there, but that's OK.  I was amused by his Captain Jack-ness, and my favorite line was when he talked to the Jolly Roger head: "Thank you, Inexplicably Floating Skull in the Sky."

Linda needed to take a picture of a dinosaur before we left.  The dinosaur was pink and big and I have no idea why he was in that lake, but it made her happy.  

We took bus #2 back to the hotel.  The most crowded one.  But our luggage was there and we were happy.  I iced my foot in preparation for the next day of much walking, while writing in my brand spanking new pretty journal.  

WDW Line of the Day:  "YEAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!" -- CM at Rock 'n' Roller Coaster

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Answer

I had the day off yesterday, so I did lunch with Mich at Wood Ranch BBQ, and after some shopping, I went to the movie theater for "42".

  • I liked Harrison Ford's portrayal of Branch Rickey.  He had his reasons for wanting to bring a black baseball player to the major leagues, first saying that money is green and that's the only color he cares about.  But, of course, he had another motive, and it was quite touching.
  • Whenever anybody stands up for another person's rights, my heart swells.  I think that's why I love movies like this: a lot of people were behind Robinson's rise, and he could not have done it without people like Rickey.
  • "He's a Methodist.  I'm a Methodist.  God is a Methodist."
  • I also liked the way that Rickey asked Robinson if he could control his temper when the racist remarks were going to eventually start.
  • Chadwick Boseman was a great choice to play Jackie Robinson.  He has the charisma and an awesome chemistry with Nicole Beharie.  I rooted for the 2 of them from the moment she got his call from Brooklyn.  He also had me crying several times when he reacted, or restrained himself from reacting, to the prejudice against him.
  • I heard an interview about why Robinson was chosen instead of a different ball player (it was touched on in the film, but the interview revealed much more).  I was hoping to hear about it in the film, but I guess they didn't want to stray from Robinson's story.
  • Alan Tudyk did a great job of making me want to punch him in the face.  Actually, all of the actors did a great job of getting me really emotionally involved in the film, whether it be my  loving the romance, hating the racism, or feeling pride for those who changed.
  • The scene with Rachel seeing a White Only restroom was particularly telling, because she had never had the experience having grown up in good old Pasadena, CA.  I'm glad I live here.
  • "Must have been that elongated heel bone that made him hit it like that."
  • The shower invitation scene was hysterical.
  • "You're medicine!"
  • Poor Pittsburgh.
  • Inspiring.  The audience applauded at the end.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and I recommend it highly.  Go see it!  Go Dodger Blue!  

Friday, April 19, 2013

DLR LotD 04/12/13

Disneyland Resort
Line of the Day

Friday, April 12, 2013

"The pointy things are in the wrong places." -- Jenn, watching the Pinata Girls in the Soundsational Parade