Monday, May 18, 2015

Outdoor Survival: Florida Edition

I dragged myself into the office today to deal with three team members outs, hundreds of e-mails to go through, and a half a dozen reports that never got finished last week.  It must mean one thing:  I have returned from vacation.

After a few years of cruises to soothe the savage beasts, my wife decided to plan an entire week around the Disney parks in Florida. She snagged up a six-day passes they day before Disney put their annual price increase in, and arranged to share a condo with her cousin and her family.  Two Fridays ago we loaded up the van and made attempt at a convoy with the family for the 18+ hour drive to Florida.

First, my complaints:
  • Florida needs to be nuked from orbit.  Between local drivers that made Pennsy drivers look like considerate experts, and a genuine lack of a work ethic if you don't have a mouse-related name tag, I found nothing native that was worth saving.
  • The only thing keeping me from nuking Florida from orbit:  Wawa (with Yuengling) and I have a few transplanted relatives that live in the state and I don't want them to die.
  • All stereotypes are originated by some misguided generalization based off of a small portion of that population.  Walk around Disney for a day, and you'll find those people. 
  • Outisde of the folks at Wawa on US192, a Denney's outside Savannah, and a great Bob Evans in Fredericksburg, Virginia, we couldn't get decent food service, whether it was delivery, restaurant, or fast food. 
  • I'm not a proponent of eugenics, but if we were to begin forced sterilizations and lobotomies, owners of selfie sticks should be the first group. 
  • The stretch of I-95 between Fredericksburg and Washington DC is so ill-conceived stretch of road imaginable.  The hotels around the Fredericksburg Convention Center during should provide a special room sign for any yankees staying the weekend, "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave."   I've been stuck on the Garden State Parkway in the middle of July with no air conditioning and had a more pleasant experience.
Normally, I would have included my reading list and such beforet the trip, but in hindsight, it was smart to omit it.  Between 87% of the driving and twelve hour days at the parks, I just didn't have energy for more than collapsing in the shower and putting my feet up.

I did play one late night game of Magic with my wife's cousin's son, but that was a lot of proxies for a tired mind, and Maja did teach everyone Zombie Dice.  Another vacation, another unloved copy of Settlers of Catan.

My only reading I managed to do is skim over the copy of Savage Showdown I printed up before we left.  This should work for the skirmish campaign that I'm planning for the summer, although I may scale it back a bit more, or steal a few pieces to add to T.I.A.R.A.

So, what did I think about the vile lands of the mouse?

In order of preference:

#1 Epcot:  Epcot surprised me, not because I liked it, but that my wife and kids LOVED it.  We did get stuck on Spaceship Earth for ten minutes.  

Announcement:  "Our time travels have been momentarily delayed."
Maja:  "Did Doctor Who break the TARDIS again?"

A ten-minute rainstorm shutdown TestTrack, and people leaving the dry confines of the line to go out into the rain got us thirty minutes closer to a very cool experience.  The kids loved Nemo and the aquarium and THE LAND gave us plenty of time to sit down. 

We had already spent hours more than we had scheduled there, so we figured we would casually glance through the World Showcase and head home.  With storm clouds brewing on the horizon, I spied a shop called The Toy Soldier, and in my one truly selfish moment, decided we should visit it. 

I was quite miffed that there was an extensive selection of Doctor Who, Sherlock, Beatles, and Rolling Stones gear inside, but not one single toy soldier.  There was, however, a "cast member" stamping kid's passports for the United Kingdom in the back of the store.

Perhaps we can discover information on the Carlysle Expedition here?
And with 75 minutes before the park was to close, we began a mad dash to get the girls' newly purchased KidCOT passports stamped at all eleven countries in the World Showcase.  While I don't understand the appeal of watching a show like the amazing race, I now appreciate why people participate in it.   By the time we got to Morocco, all of us were running to each nation, finding the KidCOT center, and dashing out.  It was the greatest family activity of the entire week, getting stamps, dodging rain drops, and overflowing with enthusiasm. 

At 9:00pm, The IllumiNations: Reflections from Earth fireworks show was beginning, and we only had one country left: Canada.  Once we finally found the location at 9:05, we arrived to an empty room, and two Canadians trying to go home.  But true to their genetic make-up, they reopened their supplies for the final stamps of the night.

Mission Accomplished.  We slept like rocks that night.

#2 Magic Kingdom:  The girls are four and six, so we spent three days here.  Princesses and other characters were the order of the day for one day, but we discovered Millie was tall enough for Splash Mountain.  Millie loved Splash Mountain so much we went on it six times.

My wife, not a fan of heights or getting splashed, was not such a fan...
We did have a breakfast in Belle's Castle (overrated and horribly overpriced) and the girls got to go on every ride they wanted at least once (Maja's favorite, ironically, is Space Mountain, on the opposite side of the park from Splash.  She got on that three times.)

I never did get to the Hall of Presidents...

#3 Animal Kingdom:  The safari is well worth the wait, but we skipped out on their  Junior Woodchuck nature version of the Epcot passport.  Asia felt so dirty that I expected scenes occurring from the Hangover 2.

Again, we were foolish to block a small amount of time for our last day for this park, so after some much needed time inside for the Finding Nemo: The Musical, and some ice cream, Maja and I attacked Expedition Everest three times (twice via FastPass) before we left the Disney property for good.
Maja is a fan of the Yeti

#4:  Disney: Hollywood Studios:  In another five years, I may want to revisit this park.   The girls aren't interested in Indiana Jones, Star Wars, explosions, and Maja was too small for the Aerosmith roller coaster, so it was lots of long lines for kids rides, shows, and Disney Jr stuff.  The line was quite manageable for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, so we did get on that a few times.  My wife hated it.  Millie was done with it after two rides.  I found it mediocre after the first try.  And Maja, she loved it to death.

After a week in the scorching Florida heat, we all felt like Maja looked at breakfast in Georgia on Saturday morning.
Maja, star of the Hangover 4
The wife is looking into possibly a cruise with our friends Wooly and Jenny for the next vacation... in 2017.  Thank God.

No comments:

Post a Comment