Monday, December 31, 2007

Eating our way around EPCOT

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I was in such a hurry to get the last post out that I neglected to mention that when we got back to the room, these cute washcloth puppies on our bed greeted us. We even saw in someone else's window that they had a whole range of animals...including a turkey. =)

BTW, I am feeling better now...thank you for the well-wishing comments. I was sick pretty much from the day I got off work until just before Christmas, so it was a real bummer. The day of our church's Festival of Lessons and Carols, I stayed in bed all day until it was time to go sing (and do a short solo). I made it through, somehow!!

Monday before Thanksgiving, we started off by heading to EPCOT. We weren't going to try and ride Soarin' or the new Finding Nemo additions to The Living Sea...we were just there to hang out. And eat. Here, Michael enjoys schoolbread, from the Norwegian bakery. What's schoolbread, you ask? Oh's a sweet bread filled with custard and topped with coconut icing. Fantastic!! He's sporting a hat because direct sunlight completely drains him. It's like reverse solar energy!

For lunch, we ate at Tokyo Dining (and I actually liked the seaweed salad! I think it was nazhiki...don't ask me how it's supposed to be spelled.) They've just redone the restaurants in the Japan pavilion, and the food (and service, natch) was splendid. Take a look at that roll covered with unagi (eel)!! I've never seen eel so thick on a roll before. Our waitress suggested this one, since we couldn't decide. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Always trust your server, people. They know the food. My favorite part was watching all the cute Japanese girls' eyes grow wide as I thanked them with polite Japanese. ("Arigato gozaimasu!") They don't expect English speakers to learn Japanese and taking that extra step to learn the "proper" form of thanking a stranger always impresses.

While we were in the World Showcase, we did get to stop by and listen to a couple sets from one of my favorite a capella groups, The Voices of Liberty. They are absolutely amazing. I always get there early and plop down at the very front of the "red circle" on the floor of the American pavilion, ignoring the stares of people sitting on comfortable benches. The circle's directly under a dome, so the acoustics are phenomenal. We also wandered to the Mexico pavilion to ride the updated Rio del Tiempo, now Three Caballeros themed. It was very entertaining, but not as entertaining as the cast members loading the ride when they saw my Three Caballeros pins! "¡Los quiero!" they all exclaimed (I want them!) several times.

Two points if you know where the zeppelin below comes from (or if you remember any of the symbols on the banners in the background):
EPCOT has a cool retrospective stuffed away in a corner of Innoventions right now (near the Coke refreshment stop). They even had original uniforms.

In the afternoon, we headed to Disney-MGM Studios (soon to be "Disney's Hollywood Studios") to try and catch the High School Musical Pep Rally. I know...but what can I say? We're suckers for cheesy musicals. We didn't make it in time, but we did get to see it later in the week. Well..."see" is being kind. Michael was standing behind a 6'5" man with a child on his shoulders, who kept telling his other child (who was just in front of me, on my knees, beside the behemoth...I dove down to the ground in the only hole I could find), "Ryan! Get in there!" everytime crowd participation was called for. "Ryan" did not want to participate, and no amount of his dad's "Come on, Ryan! Sing!" whilst clapping his hands could move him. Michael told me later it was a good thing I dove in the hole, because the only chance the kids behind the jolly green giant had to see anything was over my head.

Ah, but the real reason to go to MGM is the Osbourne family Christmas lights.

Several of the streets are covered with them, and every few minutes there's a show where they are coordinated with music blared from speakers. The best is Christmas Eve/Sarajevo by TransSiberian Orchestra. HARK how the bells.... And, and appearance by Fabulous Cast Member #2...random security guy walked up to me and handed me a Disney pin! It was from the millennium celebration, but no matter! I could trade it for any pin on a cast member's lanyard!

When we arrived back at our hotel room, our terry puppies greeted us with a bound!

Food, glorious food! Woefully late, I continue to slog forward with blogging about the Thanksgiving Disney trip....

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Carol for Boxing Day

Please don't try to sing along...the words totally don't go with the meter...

In the days before Christmas, the season gave to me...

12 days Sudafed taking
11 dozen cookies baking
10 boxes ornaments hanging
9 phone wires dangling
8 hours jury serving
7 components for beading
there were earrings, too...

6 Christmas parties
5 more days of Sudafed!!
4 choir rehearsals
3 scarves for knitting

2 crates for office moving
...and a gross of ornaments on the tree.

Maybe I'll make more time to post next year...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Disney Arrival

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I'm desperately trying to find time to write about our fabulous Thanksgiving trip to Disney. At the rate I'm going, I'll be blogging about putting up our first ever outdoor Christmas lights (last night) sometime in February.

I was a little worried about crowds in the parks, but we actually went to WDW last year for our anniversary...which is in June. (Impending house purchase and expired passport nixed the trip to Italy or Spain I wanted.) It was really crowded, but because we are smart and DH is a walking map, we never waited in line over 25 minutes that I remember. And we only waited that long for a couple rides. Anyway, crowds were larger than when we usually go (September or February), but they were less than in June. And we got to see all the awesome holiday decorations. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We decided to listen to the DJs preaching impending airport doom and actually get there early (which, for us, means arriving an hour and a half before our departure time, rather than leaving the house an hour beforehand as we are wont to do). It turned out that it only took us a whopping 20 minutes to get through security, although the line was backed out to the Atrium. In fact, I think it took us less time in Atlanta than it took us in Orlando on the way back! The flight was uneventful (except we were taken by surprise by Spirit Airlines' policy of making you pay for snacks...even water!) In Orlando, we boarded the "Magical Express", which meant we did not have to touch our luggage from the time we checked it until it arrived at our hotel room (that, and we got to watch "Aladdin" as we traveled =). We stayed at Coronado Springs, which is the nicest of the Moderate resorts.

After grabbing some lunch, the Florida sun had already soaked into our brains, because against my better judgment, we went to a water park. See, we buy our Disney tickets in 10-day, non-expiring increments, and those passes always come with about six days of water park admissions, which we rarely use. So even though Blizzard Beach was closing at 5:00, and it was about 2:30, we headed over. It was actually not that cold, except the concrete. By the end of the day, I wasn't sure I could feel my toes anymore. It was a lot of fun, though, and we got to ride as many rides as we wanted due to the complete lack of lines. (Yeah, NOVEMBER at a water park will do that.) I did remember why I like Typhoon Lagoon better, though: less hills to climb and more waves in the wave pool.

I have no pictures of this expedition because DH said he wanted no photographic evidence that he drug me to a water park in 65 degree weather. Did I mention that we were both nursing colds as well? I even skipped choir practice the week before, I was feeling so much under the weather. (This is all foreshadowing, in case you don't recognize it...remember: Your Key to Quality Blogging.)

The next day, we got up and headed to The Magic Kingdom. Here we are on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (or, "The People Mover", as I am inclined to call it). We had a grand time. We wandered around, we did stuff we love, like watch the Dapper Dans perform.
We got to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean a la Jack Sparrow, and the updated Haunted Mansion (spiffy!) Here's a terrible picture of Captain Jack, who shows up thrice in the ride (along with cameos from Davy Jones--tasteful, I promise, and the coolest of effects--and Captain Barbosa):

We also rode Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, which is like being inside a giant shooting gallery (but with lasers!!) I did slightly better than DH:

Oh, yeah. That's an order of magnitude difference, for those playing along at home. =)

That afternoon we took a break from the park and headed over to The Grand Floridian for tea...after all, the park was going to be open, with Magic Hours, 'til THREE AM!!! I sadly have no pictures of the tea, which I suspect is because I was too busy snarfing the yummy treats, but it was just as lovely as last time we went. We got unexpected benefits by being the last seating, as our server let us have as much of the dessert course as we wanted (Awesome Cast Member Example #1). I even got to try the famous trifle, which is normally not part of the "standard" tea (usually you have your choice of strawberries and cream or two mini-tarts). Unfortunately, DH started to feel really bad during tea, so we were going to head home after ogling the decorations at The Grand Floridian. However, by the time we got back on the monorail, he was starting to feel a little better and suggested we go into the park "just" to see what the castle looked like lit up:

After that, we rode Pirates again, Haunted Mansion again, and Small World multiple times again. That hubby of mine: He loves him some Small World. Check out the new Pirates sign in the moonlight:

By that time, my all-time favorite Disney parade was starting...

I really can't watch this parade too many times. I even love the parade music. And look at the beautiful floats!

Some of them change color!

My favorite part is trying to get the little fish to wink at me (I was successful, but due to the jumping up and down and waving required, I have no photographic evidence =)

If you, like me, cannot get enough're in luck. This was just the first day and a half!!

Old Geek-outs