Saturday, November 25, 2006

Satiating the Mouse: Day 4, Disney-MGM: Shows and shows and shows

We put off the visit to Disney-MGM until Monday so we could avoid Super Soap Weekend -- Rosie O'Donnell crowding the streets, and Luke and Laura renewing their vows. Ack. Barf. Best to avoid the place.

Instead, we opted go go the one day that the Backlot Tour was closed, but after Journey Into Narnia: Creating the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe re-opened. The crowds were fairly light, and after having breakfast at the hotel, we arrived just after the 9:00 opening. We hung a right on Sunset Blvd., and beelined to the Tower of Terror. Kim didn't want to go on it, so she went to get fastpasses for the Aerosmith roller coaster while Kevin, Krys, and I waited in the 20 minute line. I was surprised Krys wanted to ride this one, but she did. I think she felt like she missed out when Tres, Kevin, and I went on it at California Adventure a couple years ago.

Except for the featured yo-yoing, the ride is surprisingly unlike Californias. The pull-back from the launch point, the push forward on the fifth (?) floor, the phantom image of ourselves ... they're all different enough to make the Florida version a little better than the California one.

It made Krys nauseous. She whined about stomach pains for the next three hours. Toughen up, kid, we got more rides to go. She wasn't up for the roller coaster, though, so Kim and Kevin went on it while we people watched. Once they were done, we strolled up to the Beauty and the Beast show. It was entertaining, but if you didn't know the Disney version of the story, you'd think they cut out too much, which would make it very disjointed.

We next visited Mann's Chinese Theater, checked out the footprints in the concrete, checked out the fur jacket worn by Lucy in the Narnia movie, then went on the Great Movie Ride. Yawn. Pretty cheesy.

Krys still wasn't feeling good, so we stopped at Backlot Express for lunch and to chill out. None of us were very hungry, so we split a basket of chicken strips and a couple desserts. Krys and Kim decided to go back to the hotel; I reminded them that they'll need to catch the bus at 5 from the hotel in order to make our 4:50 dinner reservations.

Yes, you read that right. I told them to leave 10 minutes after dinner in order to get to dinner on time. I think I was starting to get sick or something at this point.

Kevin and I planned to catch the Indiana Jones stunt show, then the Lights, Motors, Action show, which gave us enough time to wander Mickey Avenue for a bit. First, we ran over to the Aerosmith roller coaster to use the remaing two fastpasses. I'd have enjoyed it more, but my head was pounding, and the music, inversion, and corkscrew didn't help.

Next, we stopped to see "The Magic of Disney Animation," but that would have made us late for Indy, so we skipped it. We then wandered through "Walt Disney - One Man's Dream," but skipped the movie at the end, and high tailed it back to Indy. Somehow, we'd gotten our timing wrong, and missed it. I think my sense of time was really failing me now, because we rode Star Tours, which was a bit longer of a wait than it should have been, because the Indy show had just gotten out. Star Tours is, as far as I can tell, exactly like the ride in Disneyland.

Then we went on to Lights, Motors, Action. I don't know how they can make flying cars and burning motorcyclists boring, but they did. Yawn.

We got out of LMA at 4:45, and headed over to the 50's Prime Time Café for dinner. the crowds made us late -- about 5:10 instead of 4:50, and as I called Kim to ask where she and Krys were, Kevin pointed out that I had told them to leave at 5.

I was feeling pretty queasy now, and had a headache, so the 1950's television shows, furnishings, and bar that looked like it was right out of my grandparents rec room were extra surreal. Fortunately, my delay in arriving put us on a waiting list, and we didn't get seated until after Kim and Krys had arrived, at around 5:45.

The premise of this themed restaurants is that "mom" is serving you dinner, and you'd best clean your plate and keep your elbows off the table, or she'll make you stand in the corner. Apparently, I looked ill enough that they didn't want to make me eat all my pot roast, but I didn't get any dessert. OUr waitress turned out to be going to school to be an elementary teacher (in Florida), much like Kim (in Washington). In a manner of speaking, our waitress broke the fourth wall to discuss the differences between Florida and Washington's standardized educational assessment testing. Very, very strange.

I left the planning of the rest of the night up to Kim and Kevin. We wandered for a bit, and stumbled across the Narnia presentation -- no line, starting in about 8 minutes. We were led into a cozy waiting area, about twice the size of my garage. A few props from the movie lined the walls, but the prevalent feature of the room was a large, red, double-doored wardrobe. After a few minutes, the lights fell, the narration began, and the wardrobe opened.

Nod to wardrobe was tunnel-like for about 10 feet, and opened into a much cooler, snowy, forested area. A screen showing clips of the Narnia movie was on the opposite side, but the atmosphere was so breathtakingly realistic -- if you can call an indoor stage set of a fictional location "realistic" - that I reversed myself against the flow of the crowd, went back out of the wardrobe, and back in, just to experience the opening-up of the forest again.

I stood by the lamp post as the "making of" trailer continued, then an actress who was a dead ringer for the White Witch, on a "cliff" overlooking the forest, made a brief speech. We were then ushered through the forest and around the corner, where the trees gradually got greener and the floor less white, until we were in a snow-free, lightly forested area where we could see more props from the movie, including the sled. This fully immersive experience was one of the neatest things I saw all week.

Next -- and I know it was my illness talking now -- I talked the other three into seeing The Voyage of the Little Mermaid. You remember the live Mario Brothers performance making the rounds online? This was very similar, except that the peformers' black outfits were a true dark, dark black, and the stage was lit with black light, so that the puppets really popped off of the black background. Only Ariel and the prince were live actors. Fun show.

Then, to end the evening, we headed into the Fantasmic theater to catch the show. Unlike Disneyland, where Fantasmic is performed on the water and can be seen from several not-very-good locations, Disney-MGM built a huge ampitheater for it. While Disneyland had to build the show to fit around the infrastructure, Disney-MGM built the infrastructure to fit around the show. I think it made for a better show.

We headed back to the hotel at about 10, had a late snack in the Pop Century café, then off to bed. We have one day left, and discussed where we wanted to re-visit. Animal Kingdom was boring; Disney-MGM was less than a day full, and was full of shows, not rides. So, on day 5, we'll head to the Magic Kingdom in the morning, and Epcot again at night.


Kevin said...

Ahh and don't forget that I got to watch Monday Night Football till it ended at midnight like it is supposed to.

travisl said...

Oh yeah, good point. I should also mention the implosion of the marriage at the table next to us. That'll be my next post.