Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Thoughts on Star Wars Weekends...

First off...WOW!  I hadn't been to SWW in about six years, and I could not believe how much more crowded and popular the event had gotten.  Back in the day, when I went, there were a few limited edition pin sets, and now there is an entire "Darth Maul!"  Six years ago, you had to get outside an hour before hand to make sure to get an autograph, and now, people are getting there at 3 AM to get wrist bands and fast passes for a guaranteed meet and greet!

Based on that, my first tip for anyone visiting is GET THERE EARLY, especially if you want to get an autograph!  And I don't mean an hour early--I mean EARLY.  Especially if you are visiting on a weekend with a "big star."  Darth Maul and Boba Fett were on our weekend, so the lines were extremely long. It didn't help that DM was only doing one session a day, whereas most stars do at least two.  The lines for both celebrities were outside the gates, and wrist bands were available for a guaranteed meet and greet.  You could opt to wait stand by, but if you did that, there were no guarantees.  You could waste a large chunk of your day hoping to get to see someone only to find out it wasn't going to happen.

 My second tip is HAVE PATIENCE.  Lines are long, unless you get there right at opening.  If you get there after 11, expect extremely long waits.

There were 3 lines outside the gates.  Two were for the two different celebrities and one was for the exclusive merchandise.  We were there on day 1 and day 2 of the event.  The line for the merchandise was a 2 hour wait most of the first day.  On the 2nd day, there was no wait to get in to the merchandise tent.  But the line to check out was about an hour.  If you are wanting one of the special name tags, expect at least an hour.  If you are wanting to do the storm trooper or the carbonite figures, make an appointment.  People without a reservation were not getting in.

Lines for characters are (surprise!) long.  We went to Chewy first thing and waited.  The park opened at 8, and he didn't come out until 9:40.  Because of his delay, we were lucky and were given a "front of the line pass" to see any other character.  We chose Darth Vader.  Word on the street was Chewy and Darth were the longest waits, though it seemed to me SW Minnie and Mickey were the longest.  At peak times, you are easily looking at 2 hours to see your favs.  There are a few characters walking around--Storm and Clone troopers, Sand People, and Jawas.  However, they don't come out until after 11.

Crowd at park opening--MADHOUSE!  
Another change that was a "thumbs down" in my opinion was the switching of characters.  What do I mean by this?  Take C3PO and R2D2.  They were inside the merchandise tent and were routinely switched with Luke.  There was absolutely no schedule as to who would be inside the tent at what time.  We waited three times, and wound up with Luke every time.  It was very frustrating.  It was the same way with Boba and Jengo.  If you were in a 30 minute line, waiting to get Boba, he might leave before you got to the front.  The last time I went each character had a specific schedule so you knew when you had to be there to get each one.  Much easier for the guests and much less frustrating.  We never did get Boba or C3PO and R2.
Our son, Camp, with Darth Vader

I will say that every character played their part and did a great job.  It was hotter than Hades out there and they were all jumping around, posing, and interacting with guests.

We didn't do either of the shows, because again, the waits were ridiculous, and it was too hot to stand outside in line with a 7 month old who inherited his Dad's pasty skin.

We did get a special Darth Vader cupcake inside the merchandise tent that was unbelievably delicious.  And my husband did pay to have a storm trooper made in his likeness.  Yes, we had an appointment.  We didn't buy any exclusive merchandise, as the storm trooper was his big splurge.
Vader Cake

Oh, and if you get a chance spend some time watching the characters at the opening of the park and on the stage in front of the Sorcerer Hat.  The storm troopers are especially funny.  I love how the writers gave them so much personality!

Good luck, and may the force be with you!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Coolest App Ever!

Okay, I am totally in love with this new app Disney Memories HD.  It's FREE, yes I said FREE on the Google Play Store for Android phones.  It's a photo app.  Basically, on the right half of the screen, there is a Disney character.  You position your child on the left side of the screen, and voila!  Instant photo with Mickey, Donald, whoever.  There are LOADS of characters to choose from.  And if that's not enough, you can deck your subject out in Mickey ears, sunglasses, all kinds of accessories.  There are even borders to add onto your photos.  And you don't have to take a photo--you can always use these on an existing photo. Again, I say, AWESOME.

I'm figuring this might come in handy just in case Captain Cranky Pants is afraid of characters.  I'll just snap a few of these and no one will be the wiser.

We are still tinkering with it, but I'm going to share our first attempt here with you.  Hopefully, with some practice we'll get it perfected before we head to the World!  And of course, we won't be taking Camp's picture with him in his exer saucer.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Almost here!

Time has gone by so fast!  It's almost time to leave for the World!  Little man turns 7 months on Sunday (Cinco de Mayo), and we think he may be cutting teeth.  What a fun 21 hour trip this is going to be.

I, being the Disney fan I am, wanted to make sure he had some "first trip to Disney" duds.  A wise person on  the passporter boards suggested I not invest too much in onesies, because if my son was anything like hers, I'd be covering all of those onesies with bibs due to an onslaught of slobber.  Smart lady.

I visited my local craft store, went a little overboard, and $40 later--voila!  I now have some of my very own bibs.  I don't think it would be too hard for most folks to figure out it's little man's first Disney trip, since he is only 7 months old, but now they'll know for sure.  And I'll have a great memento to keep to remind us of his first Disney trip!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Can someone help explain it to me?

I love pin trading.  I have a great time doing it, and I hope it is still around when my son is old enough to trade pins.  But I have not been able to get into the Vinylmation thing.  I get it--like how it works--but I don't really get what the fuss is about.  They seem like a pain to lug around the parks just to trade.

Do you trade the vinylmation figures?  And if so, what keeps you trading them? 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I heart Epcot

So, I was going to make a few of my dining reservations yesterday, and I realized we'd be spending most of our time this trip at Epcot.  When I think about it, I think we spend a lot of our trip time at Epcot.  It's mostly for the food.  I like a lot of the restaurants around the world, but a lot of our favorites are at Epcot.  Of course, we love just about any of the "fancy schmancy" restaurants in World Showcase.  We try to eat, at the very least, at one of those during our trip, usually two.  But we also love Garden Grill and some of the "faster food" places in the other countries. 

This time around, since we are traveling with a six month old, we didn't want to book too many dining ressies.  But when it came time to pick 2, guess what?  Yep, both at Epcot.  We're headed for Le Cellier to get the cheese soup and Garden Grill to get a nice, family style meal and visit some characters.  Provided our little guy isn't traumatized by people dressed up in larger than life, overwhelming costumes.  We shall see. 

If you could only pick 2 restaurants around the world, where would YOU choose to eat? 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

For the win! Buzz Lightyear Tip

I am super competitive.  About everything.  Even when it's something I've never done before.  I still want to win.  So, nothing made me happier than when Disney opened Buzz Lightyear.  It's like a game and an attraction all in one.  But even at Disney, I still want to win.  Things get ugly when my competitive nature comes out. 

I figured out early on that the items that were farthest away to shoot, moving, or just plain difficult, got me the most points.  Only problem is, if I'm riding with someone who wants to control the car with the joystick, I can't always shoot those.  And I have to be honest and say, I'm not really the best shot. 

But I read a new tip recently, and I'm dying to try it out.  Apparently, if I just hold the trigger on the gun in the shooting position, it continuously shoots.  I'm already dreaming of the points I can rack up to beat my hubby on our upcoming trip.  Any readers out there who can confirm this strategy will get me a win?  I figure it's worth a try!

I also figured I'd pass it on.  Now, if I can just figure out a way to beat everyone at Toy Story Mania, my life will be complete. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Budget Dining Tip!

This is a tip I read a long time ago from a book, or on the internet, or who knows where.  But it's one my family uses as much as possible.  It doesn't work every day, because well, some days your touring plan might now allow for it.  But if you want to save a little on dining, even if it's only a couple of days on your trip, give it a try.  Hey, at Disney prices, skipping a full sit down meal could easily save a family of 4 $100-$150, which isn't chump change! 

I always make room for some granola bars in my luggage, whether I'm driving or flying.  In the morning, we wake up, head to fill up our refillable mugs, and munch on our granola bars while we wait for the bus (I have to eat first thing when I get up, so I need something to munch while en route to breakfast).  Then around 10:00, we have a somewhat large "brunch." If you want to do a character breakfast, get the latest time you can.  Proceed to eat like a pig.  It's vacation.  You can do it. 

We've found if we eat a late breakfast, we can then hit a slightly earlier dinner--say around 4, and we wind up able to skip lunch altogether!  Of course, I have a back pack full of snacks, just in case anyone gets hungry between 10 and 4.  We are early risers, so we are usually back in the room by 9. 

It may not work for your family, especially if you have very young children who have to eat often and can't do an adult style pig out on the buffet.   But it's saved us quite a bit of money over our years of touring.  A few extra dollars in my pocket means more Dole Whips for me and more souvenirs at Tatooine Traders for my hubby!