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Keane and Jenny's "D23's 2011 Magic and Merriment" Trip Report, Part 10 of 10

Days 8-10 and Final Thoughts

Index (M&M is D23's 2011 Magic and Merriment Event)

Jenny and Potato Head
Jenny and Potato Head in Toy Story Midway Mania.
Cast:
Who: Me, Keane. Disney junkie, scribe of this report.
     BYPT Jenny. Enabler to said junkie.
     BYPT Cathy. Jenny's help this trip.
     Karen. My GPS. (A Garmin nuvi 1390)
     (BYPT. Big Yellow Penske Truck. In case you needed to know.)
What: Christmastime at Disney World. Again. But different.
Where: Walt Disney World, Port Orleans - Riverside.
Why: It's Christmas at Disney World, and D23's Magic & Merriment event.
When: December 4 to 14, 2011

<Disclaimers>
All Disclaimers from Part 1 still apply.
Thank you.
</Disclaimers>

Day 8, Monday, December 12.
Last Day

Well, this'll be different. Jenny's flight leaves at 6:45pm, which means I won't be leaving at some ungodly hour of the morning, but in the afternoon.

I pack, and take the Christmas decorations down. sniff. Did I mention the Alligator Bayou buildings in Port Orleans have no elevator? Even though I have more stuff going home than I did coming, there seems to be less stuff in the car. Hmmmm... Maybe I'm just more efficiently packed.

It turns out Jenny can't pack everything in her bag. She gives me her AP Calendar, the ornament from Magic & Merriment, and a bag of chocolate, all of which will get crushed in her already over-packed suitcase.

No problem. There's a chance we may meet up on the way home anyway.

It's going to be a DHS morning, because I'm going to go beat Jenny's butt in Toy Story Midway Mania (TSMM). For all the handicaps I have to endure in Buzz, I get to play the first game without restriction.

Of course, she's only been on the attraction once, so I have the tactical advantage. HAhahahhaha...

We get to TSMM at 9:30, and the fastpasses are already for 1:05pm, and get one anyway. We get in the standby line. Wait time is 45 minutes, but the line wraps around the outside of the building, the longest queue line I have ever seen for TSMM.

The line moves quickly. Even though it's a fairly long attraction, it's ride throughput must be pretty high. There are two tracks through the attraction, and I still think they could have two completely different sets of games, or at least the same game themed differently. Of course, it might invalidate the high scores at the end of the game, but I'm sure you could work around it somehow...

They have an new queuing technique. At the place they admit fastpass'ers, if you're two in a group, you go up the right, shorter queue, rather than the one that doubles back at the top of the stairs. You literally pass 50 other guests. Since the vehicle holds 8 guests, they use you to fill in the odd seats in the vehicle. So when 5 or 6 guests are in a party, they'll take a pair from the alternate line and fill seats 7 and 8.

They don't ignore you. Every once in a while, they'll seat two sets of two in a car when three or four are in a party, and 5 or more are next in line, which seems to happen quite often.

Even so, doing it this way still saves us tons of time not waiting in line, and it does solve the two guests trying to pass other guests in the narrow queue problem.

At the end of the ride, we are redirected into the handicap load area and have to walk the extra 50 feet. On our way out, we pass some more efficiency CM's, taking counts for some reason. Same types as the ones we saw at Test Track. I wonder what kind of data they're collecting.

Oh, I beat up Jenny 145,300 to 85,000. I am afraid of the type of handicap when we use our fastpasses...

Toy Story Midway Mania
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Almost right next to Toy Story is Voyage of the Little Mermaid (VotLM) so we stop in, and even though there's a long queue, the theater can hold a lot of people... Ariel and her thingamabobs get legs (did I mention Ariel in the elevator on the way up to the castle suite had legs?) and the rain falls at the end of the show. We get out, and rain has started falling sometime during the show.

A CM at the exit is yelling, "The overhand at the exit is not a rain shelter, there are other guests still trying to exit the theater." lol.

Voyage of the Little Mermaid
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It's raining, and we're standing in it, and decide The Great Movie Ride (GMR) would be a great thing to do right now. Me, Jenny, and about a couple hundred other people. Since the rain started while we were in Mermaid, we're late to the party, and near the hat, hoping the line moves quickly. Nope, not moving quickly.

So the CM's are reconfiguring queues to get us out of the rain, and change from using the center doors as the entrance, to the doors by the end of wing on the right.

Those in front of the line outside knows this, since the CM's at the door told them, but those further in back do not. So halfway down the line order breaks down and some SG goes to the center doors, only to be directed to the door on the right wing. Chaos ensues, and it's every man/woman for him/herself to get out of the rain. We move up in line 15 places. Half-way through the queue, they reconfigure the vast number of queues in this place, and we move up another dozen places. This is important, since when we get to the CM podium, we are the last two boarded on a vehicle.

And board they do. Six per row. The guests before us had to squeeze down a little for us to fit.

At the Wizard of Oz scene, is your standard four-car/2 CM arrangement of vehicles, and the CM in the front two cars is doing the part with the wicked witch. Her two cars are empty. Why are they cramming us into vehicles when there are empty cars?

Because the empty two cars in front of us weren't there when we started. I wonder if it was put on the track to solve the overflow from the rain.

We pass the place where Jenny broke it the last time, and make it through without incident. She sighs with relief. (Actually, she may have kicked me and gave me a snide look when I mentioned she didn't break it this time. I can't remember which.)

The Great Movie Ride
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We both have one of those receipts that has a 20% coupon at a couple of stores in every park before noon. So we go to one, and I pick up a couple of gifts, and they take the coupon. I mean tear it off my original receipt. Bummer. Well, Jenny has one too.

We go to the other store, and I pick up a t-shirt. I give it to Jenny since she has the 20% coupon. Mmmmm, I think I'll stop right here.

The stores are already running out of merchandise, at least in popular sizes. Like large. In the second store, both Jenny and I have CM's checking to see if they have merchandise in a particular size.

And there's still two weeks until Christmas. We'll try Downtown Disney later.

We decide to go primeval and devour a turkey leg, and we do. No flipping knives or forks (no waiting in line, either), and we rip into it and eat chunks of turkey with our bare fingers. Might have weirded out the veggie crowd, but another guest came up and asked if we thought it was the best thing we ever ate...

Sunset Blvd
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It's 12:10, and have an hour until our fastpass becomes valid. Star Tours! The Brazillions are here too, and the queue winds outside. Longest I have ever seen it. Still, Disney must have the ability to just crank up some simulators, and the line moves rapidly. It was fun.

So fun, we did it again. This time I had the Incredible Hulk in front of me. 3-D glasses or not, you can't see through other people.

I did notice that the left lens was tinted green, and the right lens was tinted red. I also noticed that the lenses didn't seem to be polarized when testing against my dark glasses. I will investigate further the next time I'm there... :-)

Star Tours
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We pass through Streets of America in the day, on the way to TSMM. I find we are stopping in the second gift shop for Backlot Tours for some reason. Ahh, a pressed penny machine. Jenny's addiction needs to be fed. She needs all three. She has the cents, but not the quarters. We get the quarters.

Disney Hollywood Studios
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On the way back to TSMM to use our fastpasses, Jenny decides I have to shoot with my left hand, and aim with my right, which is more difficult than you might think. Still, I come from behind to win 118,600 to 107,000, and my accuracy shoots up from 27 to 40%. This only proves that accuracy has nothing to do with score. :-) Even only getting less than 120K, I am still the high scorer in the car. Amateurs. Jenny breaks 100,000, promoting her from a bunny to a beaver...

Toy Story Midway Mania
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We walk across the park, and stop in under the hat. We check the pressed penny machine. I honestly can't remember if she got any. I think she already had the ones in that machine. (And don't think this is the first machine we checked where she already had the selections inside.)

We exit, and grab the tram to Stage 47 in the parking lot. We're going go to downtown Disney for stuff we couldn't find at DHS. (A Cars Christmas stocking, and a couple of t-shirts in large.)

Oil leak
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We get to DtD, lots 1 and 2 are closed. So I park in lot 3, very close to World of Disney. Now, you have to know that Jenny would rather stay out in the 95 degree sun, then go into WoD. Or shop in general at DtD. We go into WoD, and lo and behold, there are pressed penny machines she has never seen. Two of them. She has none of the six. So, I go to the register to enable her pressed penny addiction, and get both quarters *and* cents. She gets done with all six, and spies another machine, of which, she has none. sigh.

Jenny is able to find her stocking and a couple of other gifts, and I can find the same t-shirts I want, but not in large. A manager type calls the warehouse on his radio, and we there's no joy. CM's are going to hate the next two weeks if they've running out of merchandise now.

Freebie!
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We decide to get a bite to eat before I take her the airport, and I hit the road. We go on over to Wolfgang Puck Express, and order a couple of margarita pizzas. Now I swear, when I first had this pizza over in the West Side (in Puck's regular restaurant), and it was called a tomato and cheese pizza. Maybe 10 years ago?

We head back to the car, turn Karen on, and take Jenny to the airport. We say goodbye to the World as we head for the Greenaway.

sigh.

There's an uneventful trip to MCO, and I tell Karen to keep the Southwest Airlines drop-off as a point-of-interest. Jenny is kicked out of the car, and I take the Bee Line to the Turnpike.

Did a lot of driving this trip, and with the credit card problem at the Shell station on the way in, I didn't have a completely full tank. I can usually make it to Gainesville, but with the BYPT trip, two trips to the airport, and numerous times I drove to the parks, I had to stop at the Okahumpka Oasis.

Sun sets about 5:30pm. Drive on until about 7pm, and stop in Lake City for the night. I'm 1010 miles from home.

Mileage:187
Moving Time: 2:48
Moving Average: 67
Stopped 11:59
Overall Avg:62
Total time 3:10

Day 9, Tuesday, December 13.
On the road home, day 2.

I want to travel today. As far as I can. Start at 4:30am central. 50 degrees. I can pick up WGN and WBBM in Chicago, but can't pick up WLS anymore when down South. Then the sunrise happens and the AM band mostly goes away.

70 miles from Macon, it is 43 degrees, and I'm depressed. The sunrise happens, and it'll be sunny all through Georgia. At 7:30am, I hit 164,000 miles on the odo.

Various pictures on the road home
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Lisa is working today, and Andy doesn't get up until about 8am. I am through Marietta before that. I will mail Lisa her potato chips and cookies. Sorry about that guys.

11:30am. Call Jenny. We will meet in Lebanon for lunch and give her her stuff. We both pull into the restaurant parking lot at the same time, a little past Noon. Have lunch, give her her stuff, and say hi again to Hank the Wonderdog. On the way back to I-40, Jenny calls and tells me one of my tail lights is out. Oh good. Welcome back to the real world.

I get gas at the Shell station right next to the I-40 ramp. It's 51 degrees, 485 miles from home, and I'm wearing dark glasses. I backtrack on I-40 a couple of miles, then exit North on TN-109. This by-passes Nashville by 20 miles and cuts 25 miles off my trip. So even if it's slightly slower route, it still saves me time, gas and the aggravation of Nashville traffic.

5:00pm. Things go quickly and smoothly until I hit Louisville during rush hour. Right at 5pm. It isn't the I-65 traffic that makes me come to a complete halt, but the I-64 detourees, *&(@$)% drivers who dart out of line then dive back in before the exit, in front of a semi. Those that can't make it back into the exit lane, *stop* on I-65, forcing the rest of us to slow down. Don't they have Troopers here? They could make a fortune writing tickets. Oh wait, they do. Traffic is slow until we get to I-265, the detour for I-64. There's a fender bender involving three cars, and a cop ahead writing a ticket. All of which causes traffic to slow even more.

sigh. And I was doing so well.

7:45. I stop for the night, 180 miles from home. I am in Lebanon, Indiana. I stopped for gas earlier in the day in Lebanon, Tennessee, and ended the day getting gas in Lebanon, Indiana. (Oh got fuel too. It was a Steak and Shake night.)

Note to self, I have to leave WDW by about Noon, or I'll spend two night on the road instead of one.

Mileage:857
Moving Time: 12:16
Moving Average: 70
Stopped 26:35
Overall Avg:67
Total time 12:43
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Day 10, Wednesday, December 14.
Home.

Lebanon is 2.5 hours from Chicago. The place I stayed at had one of those single cup coffee makers as well. Am I going to have to start bringing my own brewer?

I am home by 7:30am, slipping in just before really heavy rush hour traffic in Chicago. Another trip is over.

sigh.

Mileage:147
Moving Time: 2:15
Moving Average: 65
Stopped 3:38
Overall Avg:63
Total time 2:19
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Final thoughts:

What a difference a year makes.

My December 2010 trip was the low point of my trips to Disney World. Frigid temperatures, rain, among other things.

This year proved to have four above average trips, with the major D23 events (this trip and the one in May) topping my best trips list. This year also included a trip with Mom in September. Yes, I've healed. Thank you.

So my year of memories was also a year of doing something different at the World.

This trip, like my past December trips, was to celebrate Christmas. It was also the trip where I decided all of you who thought I'd enjoy Tower of Terror are liars and untrustworthy. :-) I'm sorry I missed RADP 16, but in the end, couldn't justify the extra days at the start of the trip. I did catch up with some of you at the Tomorrowland Terrace meet.

The trip started pretty low on the fun meter, with the blow out on I-65. But in the end, the thing that made the trip was Magic and Merriment.

Yes, it cost $235 a ticket. But if you look at the backstage tour "Holiday D-Lights" ($173, Disney VISA 20% discount, including tax) plus the ticket for the MVMCP ($60, AP advance purchase price, including tax) and you have already met the same price as M&M, but with less content, such as the continental breakfasts, the Disney Archive presentations, the Parade Barn tour and the visit to that prized piece of real estate, the Castle Suite. (I have to admit, the Castle Suite thing was a big draw for me. :-))

The event gets a thumbs up from me. Jenny too, I think. Of course, we're both Disney geeks, so take it for what it's worth... :-)

(Yes, you have to include the cost of being in D23. This is the fourth D23 event I've attended this year, so amortize that over four events.)

Disney Thank You Card
Disney's 2011 Thank You Card.
Port Orleans Riverside was okay. I never did quite figure out how the buses worked, though. At Magic Kingdom, there are different bus stops for both Riverside and French Quarter, but a couple of times, we went to POFQ, too. Sometimes our bus stop would be the first, and other times the last.

The few items I had at the food court was okay. I didn't eat at Boatwright's this trip, I mostly ate dinner in the parks.

A preferred room is preferred for a reason, and for some of the far and distant places I've been put, I really liked being close to the food court and the bus stop. :-)

Assuming they're rehabbing POR by building number, it is quite possible that the room I was staying in has already been gutted, and all the pictures I have of the updated room are already outdated. sigh.

Again, only anecdotal evidence, but Cathy must carry some bad transportation mojo. Bus service was pretty darn sucky while Cathy was there, and then typically more than efficient after she left. Had to wait for a boat, but 90% of the buses were at the bus stop waiting for us (or came within a minute or two) and both times we took the monorail we walked up the ramp and onto a monorail without stopping.

I also find it highly suspicious that of the three BYPT trips Jenny has made this year, two of them coincided with D23 events down at WDW. She claims innocence, but one does have to wonder...

I filled in a lot of pictures for the web site. Next project is to update and redesign all the WDW theme parks on the site, something that hasn't been done in 5 trips. Also got the pics Jenny wanted of a meat meet for her website. I may start selling prints soon, stay tuned.

The weather overall was almost perfect. It did rain a couple of times, but they were of short duration, nothing like my August trip. It got cool a couple of times at night, where you needed a sweatshirt, but it wasn't like last year where you needed a heavy coat, hat and gloves...

I'd give this trip an A+. And I'm ready to do it again! :-)

Thanks for reading everyone, 'cause I'm done!

Keane

End Part 10, Keane and Jenny's "D23's 2011 Magic and Merriment" Trip Report
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Video Index:

Note: The video this trip was taken on my Canon G12, not my Sony HDV camcorder. So, there's no image stabilization, and the sound is a little inferior. All of the video is hand held. Sorry about that.
Recommended is the 1.5mbps (864x480px/29fps) versions, but I've also included 512kbps (432x240px/15fps) versions (click on the "low" following the link) for slower connections.
Sergio
Sergio
14.1MB, Length: 1:14, Bitrate: 1.5mb/s
4.75MB, Length: 1:14, Bitrate: 512kb/s
Sergio (low) is the latest entertainment in Italy. He's listed on the Times Guide as a mime, clown and juggler.

If there's any justice in the world, he'll swallow that whistle...
Cinderella's Holiday Wish
CHW
80.7MB, Length: 7:01, Bitrate: 1.5mb/s
27.1MB, Length: 7:01, Bitrate: 512kb/s
Cinderella's Holiday Wish (low) is the story tie-in to the Castle Lights.

Just past sunset, the Fab Four come out to the fore-court stage and try to decide what to do with the castle for Christmas. Well, it's Cindy's castle, and when it's your bat and ball, you get to make the rules, right?

She wishes the Castle to be covered in ice, and Fairy Godmother (with the help of all the guests) lights the castle. The Castle lights then remain on for the rest of the evening.

The actual event happens at 5:10 if you're looking to by-pass the show.
The Magic, The Memories and You
MMY
114MB, Length: 9:55, Bitrate: 1.5mb/s
38.1MB, Length: 9:55, Bitrate: 512kb/s
The Magic, The Memories and You (low) is a pretty amazing show. The images and artwork are projected onto the castle from several different places, making the castle come to life.

This version has the Christmas extension in it. A mean CM made us move up (even though were were in a legal viewing area), so the initial part of the video moves a lot. It settles down after the first 90 seconds.

Oh, and let me add, I still hate all you parents that put a kid up on your shoulders and block the view of those behind you. Most inconsiderate SG's...
2011 Candlelight Processional
2011CP
67.6MB, Length: 5:53, Bitrate: 1.5mb/s
22.6MB, Length: 5:53, Bitrate: 512kb/s
This is a couple of clips from the 2011 Candlelight Processional (low).
2011 Osborne Lights
2011OsborneLights
105MB, Length: 9:11, Bitrate: 1.5mb/s
35.3MB, Length: 9:11, Bitrate: 512kb/s
The 2011 version of The Osborne Family Spectacle Of Dancing Lights (low) removed several objections I had about the show in it's most recent iterations. They have more control over the lights, and have learned darkness is an okay part of the show.

Problem was, there were large sections of the displays that weren't working. It was raining on and off, so maybe there was a electrical problem, or they just blew a controller.

This video contains three dancing sets.
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End December 2011 Trip Report - Part 10.

Jump to: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10

Revisions:
  • 01/14/2012 - Page Added
  • 08/25/2012 - Updated to v3
  • 12/31/2012 - Update to v3.1
  • 09/01/2014 - Update to v3.2