Tuesday, July 22, 2008

One Man's Dream...Literally

I've been doing morning theme park visits, and today hubby decided to join me. Since we both work from home, we can juggle our schedules around some playtime as long as we make up for it later. I've been wanting to try Toy Story Mania, the new ride at Disney Hollywood Studio, so we figured we'd rush over first thing in the morning. We could grab a Fastpass and kill some time on Tower of Terror or The Great Movie Ride till our Fastpass time rolled around. In theory, Toy Story Mania has a Singles Ride so we might be able to get a bonus ride that way too. In practice, it opens and closes based on the phases of the moon, and it doesn't move too fast even when it's open, so we weren't counting on that.

We wanted to arrive a little bit after opening time so the major crowd would be cleared out a bit. Since we have a AAA parking pass, we knew we'd be able to get a good spot without having to arrive the moment the parking plaza opens. We made it shortly after nine, and as we approached the gates we could see it was going to be an ultra-busy day. The turnstyle lines were still backed up past the ticket booths. Oh well, we had our plans: get Toy Story Mania Fastpasses, kill time (preferably at Tower of Terror) till our FPs can be used, a lunch at Sci-Fi (we'd made ressies for 11 a.m.), and then bail.

We hustled to the Toy Story FP machines, which had lines almost as long as the ride itself. Somehow we made it through, then hustled to Tower of Terror, as hubby had sworn to me that its standby line never gets that bad. Maybe not when he comes to the park late, but at this point it was already sitting at half an hour and poised to keep an upward climb as more droves of tourists headed to that end of the park. Grudgingly I agreed to wait since I knew it would only get worse. I figured that we could get a Tower Fastpass before lunch and ride it again on our way out.

Next up, we decided to go back to Toy Story to see if the singles line had opened. They need something like the Bat Signal so you could tell from any part of the park rather than having to hike over and find out. On the way is One Man's Dream, a collection of Disney-related models and memorabilia, capped with a movie about Walt Disney's life. I'd been thinking about stopping in at some point if we needed to kill time...at the very least it's air conditioned, and I do enjoy the memorabilia. It brings flashbacks to Sunday nights gathered around the Radiation King brand television set watching the Wonderful World of Color. I figured we'd do that later, but as we approached I noticed the greeter at the door beckoning people inside.

That might not sound like an enticement for most people, but something clicked in my mind. It's the Year of a Million Dreams giveaway, and I've heard that when the Dream Team is doing a giveaway in a less-traveled attraction, the greeters will sometimes wave people in. They won't say why, but if you're savvy you will heed their siren call. I told hubby, "I think we should see One Man's Dream now."

He looked at me as though I was nuts, but he knows there is usually a method to my madness so he tailed me inside. Sure enough, there was the Dream Team! They had on their white "we're giving away stuff" vests and were shouldering black gift bags. It turned out that they were giving away the best gift for a crowded day: Dream Fastpasses. Sometimes they give away lanyards or hats, but the Fastpasses are perfect when line times are rapidly rising and the park is a wall of sweaty humanity. With a Dream Fastpass, you get one ride via the Fastpass line on all the FP attractions. In the Studio, that includes some good stuff like Tower of Terror, Rockin' Rollercoaster, and the ever-popular Toy Story Mania, as well as assorted other stuff like Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Star Tours, and the Indiana Jones and Motorcars stunt shows.

We proudly donned our Fastpasses; our day's schedule had suddenly been rewritten. It was funny to watch other guests come in after us and look confused as the Dream Team asked them to step aside so they could get their awards. Amazingly, I think that a lot of people come to WDW totally away of the Year of a Million Dreams giveaway. I guess it shouldn't surprise me since Fastpasses have been around for years, yet I see people constantly who have no idea what those are either.

We ended up getting three rides on Toy Story Mania: singles line (in the brief period it was open...and our luck continued, as hubby and I somehow both ended up in the same car, which is virtually impossible as a single rider), regular Fastpass, and Dream Fastpass. Before lunch, hubby got Tower Fastpasses, so we got in two more rides there. We saw Little Mermaid and did Star Tours too. When I'm there in the off season, Star Tours usually has no line; with the July crowd, it was actually up to half an hour. We did Rockin' Rollercoaster too; the standby there was something like 75 minutes.

Our lunch at Sci Fi was very pleasant. Their food is nothing to write home about, but you eat in a "drive in theater" at tables shaped like cars. They show all sorts of funny trailers for bad 50s sci fi movies. My favorite was "Plan 9 From Outer Space," since I love Ed Wood. I had a burger and hubby had pastrami.

If we'd gone with our initial plan, we would probably have been out of the park shortly after noon. With our new freedom to ride everything, we ended up sticking around till nearly 3 p.m. Problem was, we could see dark clouds forming in the sky and hear the distant rumble of thunder. A Florida afternoon thunderstorm was brewing, and it looked like it would be a close call on whether or not we could make it to the parking lot before the heavens let loose.

Fortunately luck was still with us. We made it to Kitt and were out on World Drive headed back to Celebration before raindrops started spitting on the windshield. What had started out as a two-to-three-ride morning whirlwind had been drawn out into nearly six hours of park time and three rides on Toy Story, three on Tower, one on Rockin' Roller Coaster, one on Star Tours, and the Little Mermaid show. Not bad for mid-July, especially with countless tour groups lurking around.

It made me think of one Dream Team member's comment to another guest. A few more people had walked in behind us, and I heard him tell them, "Guess what you won today? You won the gift of time." A perfect description of Dream Fastpasses for sure.


MikeC said...

What's the AAA Parking pass?

Barb said...

A pass for a special parking area that you can get if you buy tickets and/or a vacation package through AAA (exactly what you have to buy depends on your local AAA office).

Denise in PA said...

Wow, Barb - how awesome!!!! I we get "dreamed" when we're at WDW in September!

MikeC said...

Thanks for the answer. Now I have an off-topic question. In the few years you've kept this blog, you seem to have strayed away from the general Celebration Info. This is understandable, as there is only so much you can say.

However, I was wondering if you'd be willing to update your "villages" post by adding details on the various condo complexes. Particularly, I'm looking at townhouses in Siena and perhaps Georgetown. There are a lot for sale right now, so I'm wondering what the hidden problems might be. Is it just the market in general, or is there something I'm missing.

My wife and I looked at houses there in May. East Village and Artisan Park are our favorites so far. Just curious if I'm overlooking something. Thanks!

Barb said...

You've got a couple of things going on with Sienna and Georgetown. First is the general economy, and second they were both apartment conversions vs. being originally built as condos. I do know some people who live in Sienna who like it...you just need to pick your unit carefully.

Between East Village and AP, I would definitely go with EV and I don't just say that because I live there. AP had a lot of investors; EV is more of a "homey" area.