Disney Day 1 – The Little Mermaid is Cool

Something we quickly learned about Disney World: It’s huge.

I mean it; it’s really, really big. Douglas Adams describing the Universe doesn’t touch the scale of Disney World (ok, maybe not, but damn it’s big). They have an internal bus system that connects all the parks, resorts, and other attractions so making our way to Hollywood Studios involved finding the right bus stop at the resort, waiting in a line, riding for 20 minutes, and not once leaving Disney property. Next you wait in another line to have your bags checked, and then another line to get into the park proper. It takes about an hour from the resort to the park, and this was consistent for each park.

And we hadn’t eaten or had coffee yet, but entering the park proper shoved all thoughts of the lines and lack of food out of my mind. You walk through the gates into a courtyard that leads to Hollywood Boulevard. It is convincing, with curbs, sidewalks, store fronts, street lights; the whole bit, no details spared. In the distance is a giant Mickey Mouse wizard hat from Fantasia, and in either direction are glimpses of what the park has to offer.

We headed to a small stand to get a fast foodish breakfast sandwich, and I had a truly bad cup of coffee that I ended up tossing after a few sips. We didn’t have a plan besides explore and enjoy and that is what we did. It also set the precedent for the rest of the trip; explore and enjoy.

In no particular order:

  • Tower of Terror. Iris did this alone as I’m a giant wimp and wasn’t ready for any thrill rides at that time. I was able to watch a neat street show that had a bunch of kids participate while I waited for her to return.
  • Star Tours, the Star Wars themed ride was pretty damn neat. Iris insists that it’s not a roller coaster type thing but the way they did it sure feels like you are zipping around. I could probably look up how they did it but I don’t think I want to know, I’d rather keep the mystery.
  • There are three behind the scenes style theme shows throughout the day and we were able to see all of them. “Lights, Motors, Action” is all car stunts, explosions, and gunfire. A total guy thing with a bonus Lightning McQueen cameo. “Indiana Jones” is exactly what you would think it is. “Studio Backlot Tour” gives you an idea of how they do some of the effects and was the most ridelike of the three shows.
  • Fantasmic was the first big showcase event for the trip and wow, it was amazing. These are done at night near the time the parks close. Three of the four parks have these kinds of shows in the evening (Epcot and the Magic Kingdom being the other two), but this one is my favourite.
  • After Fantasmic Iris took us to the line for the Arrowsmith roller coaster. I was, hmm, hesitant? Reluctant? Scared shitless? Yes, scared shitless, that’s it. I toughed it out and stayed in line, getting more and more nervous as we got closer to the actual ride, but there were two little kids in front of us and I figured if they could do it then I could. This was our first real instance of the line being part of the show as you are kept entertained (distracted?) the entire time. We made it to the front of the line and I’m sure my heart was doing 180. I’ll leave it to Iris to explain this from her point of view as it’s all a blur to me:

Going on a Roller Coaster with Dave is quite an experience. Me being a thrill seeker in that department and taking great joy in the crazy ups, downs and upside downs it was interesting to watch someone who is the complete opposite. We start off by looking at the roller coaster which in Disney are hidden and you can’t quite see how scary they are except for the screams of excitement from the passengers. Dave takes a deep breath and we go into the lineup. There are young kids regaling in the excitement of doing the coaster a second or third time and how much fun it is. Dave looks at them like they are from a different planet and the fear sets in. He is doing his best to keep his cool and is doing lots of deep yoga breathing trying not to think about what is coming next. Then we are at the front of the line and getting into the coaster. One thing I had told Dave is the ride is more dangerous with the amount of safety restraints that they put you in. Well, this one had a belt and an over the shoulder device to not let you fall out in case you went upside down. That did it for Dave. The words I can remember him saying as the roller coaster took off was: NO, NO, NO, GOD, NO, NO, NO, OH GOD WE CAN’T BE GOING BACKWARDS, JUST BREATH, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO. Then we stop and he looks at me like I am a crazy person for being so excited to have gone on such a ride. Lesson learned from this adventure: Dave definitely hates Roller Coasters.

  • We did the Toy Story 3-D ride after this to calm me down. Silly fun was had.
  • At one point early in the evening it started to rain lightly so we darted into line for the Little Mermaid show, thinking it was just a way to stay dry. We were wrong, the show was so well done and interesting that I realized Disney plans these parks for all ages. Nothing is meant just for kids, there is something for every age group. What we thought was just a dry spot to kill time turned out to be another great show.
  • Iris booked us an early dinner at the Sci-Fi theatre. Imagine a 50’s style drive-in. The booths were cars all facing a central movie screen showing B-Movie style Sci-Fi clips. The room perimeter was a night scape with stars all around and city lights off in one direction. A very cool experience.
  • As it was Christmas they had the New York city area covered in lights with fake snow being blown over the us and a themed music show to go along with it. It seemed like the whole park was shoved in here at that time as it was overly crowded, but everyone was polite.

We were in the park for a long time and it turned out to be the perfect preparation for the next day.

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