Wednesday, 5 December 2012

When You Close Your Eyes Then You Realize Any Dream is Possible

Uh oh, it looks like Brer Fox and Brer Bear are causing some commotion downstream. Please stay seated in your log boat...and don't be concerned that I went for a bit with no posts. This one's epic and full of magic and pixie dust.
On Thursday, November 22 (aka Thanksgiving for America, who knew?), Rhys and I went to the Magic Kingdom early with two ambitions: watch the Magic Kingdom open and ride the Jungle Cruise until we couldn't take it anymore. We missed the opening song and dance due to morning extra magic hours, but we accomplished our second goal, and made a few new cool skipper friends to boot! Rhys and I completed ten Jungle Cruise expeditions, taking breaks for snacks, meals and the washroom but being allowed to remain on certain boats with certain skippers, and once being walked on after being made Junior Skippers (Skipper Chanel, this means you). We were joined by another Canadian Lyndsay, after which we completed ten more tours of the exotic jungles of Asia and Africa before calling it a night and dining at Ohana and trying to avoid speaking in puns.
Our 7th Jungle Cruise of the day,
 and our second with the magical Skipper Tyler.
Sunday the 25th, Rhys and I dressed in our Winter finest and attended an early Mickey's very Merry Christmas Party, beating the incoming herd by getting our bracelets early before taking a festive ride on the People Mover. We had miraculously gotten a dinner reservation for the new and very fancy (and very booked) Be Our Guest Restaurant in New Fantasyland. It was just as fancy and magical as it seemed, and we were blown away by just being able to be there to experience it all. The icing on the cake (or cream puff, as that's what dessert was) was the rest of the Christmas Party, including Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, Holiday Wishes fireworks, the Celebrate the Season castle show and as much free hot chocolate and cookies as we could handle, all over the park. Oh, and it snowed on Main Street USA. It was twelve different kinds of magical. Christmas should always start in November.
Entrance to...
Christmas magic!
So many kinds of Canadian Christmas magic!
On Tuesday the 27th, the ladies from Canada merch got together to make ourselves only slightly more gorgeous than our usual lumberjack selves and went over  to Coronado Springs resort for the Disney Internships and Programs 2012 Winter Formal: Imagination Celebration. Basically, an excuse to get fancy, get free food, dance a little and line up to meet characters. Our fancy selves met Captain Hook, Cinderella and the Mad Hatter and the free food, including a chocolate fondue station, was delightful.
There's a solid chance I'm taking over your castle in March,  Cinderella.
The next evening, an early release from work allowed me to meet Briana, Sam and Bailey for dinner at the Rose & Crown Pub in the United Kingdom pavilion. We bought tickets for the dinner package of the Candlelight Processional, which started a few days before. The celebrity narrator of the night's event was my hero and god, Neil Patrick Harris. Canada had been on NPH watch all week. He was spotted in France a few times, but there were no reports this year on visits to Canada. The processional itself was very festive, if not a little more biblical than I thought Disney would allow, and NPH was charming and stunning, as expected.
Our "Psyched to see NPH!" smiles
I've breathed the same air as Neil Patrick Harris.
Life  = complete!
After the event was over, I went over to Animal Kingdom Lodge to unpack five days' worth of stuff and wait for my mom to arrive, her plane landing late at night and her arriving, via exceptionally slow Magical Express, very early in the morning.No matter!
We got up at a reasonable hour, and, after enjoying a quick service breakfast at The Mara (the quick service restaurant of Jambo House), we boarded a timely bus to the Magic Kingdom. With the exception of a brief visit to Downtown Disney at the start of my program, Mom had never been to the Walt Disney World Resort before. Magic Kingdom was a fantastic place to start. We were able to ride the classics, like Peter Pan's Flight, it's a small world, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Prince Charming's Regal Carousel and Splash Mountain (twice on that last one). New Fantasyland was conveniently open for our visit, so we were able to pop in and take in the sights, as well as ride Under the Sea.
Mom meets the Dapper Dans, at least two of whom sang
her Happy Birthday earlier in the year. MAGICAL. 
We also squeezed in lunch at Tony's Town Square and the Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade. We stayed just long enough to watch Cinderella's Holiday Wish, in which Minnie, Mickey, Goofy and Donald discuss with Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother how Cinderella Castle ought to be decorated for the season. It's magical. Then we were off to Sanaa, the table service restaurant at Kidani House for a lovely and relaxing dinner and back to our home at Jambo House for bed.
Dinner at Sanaa, the only reasonable meal portions on property.
The next day, Mom and I were off to Hollywood Studios. As any day at Hollywood Studios should, we grabbed a Fast Pass for Toy Story Midway Mania before carrying on with the rest of our day on Sta Tours, the Great Movie Ride and Muppet Vision 3D, taking in the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Our lunch at 50s Prime Time Cafe kept us unreasonably full for the rest of the day (tip: you'll never be hungry on a Disney Dining Plan), and we put in time meeting Mr. Incredible and Frozone, Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey Mouse, Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope Von Schweetz (from Wreck-It Ralph), and Minnie Mouse before watching the Streets of America light up with the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. We were able to relax a bit and take in the view of the zebras, giraffes and cranes from our balcony, as well as enjoying the hot tub.
"That's Wasowski, with one I." Get it?
Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope Von Schweetz at the end
of the Game Central Station queue
We went to Animal Kingdom on Saturday. If you're keeping track, this was only my second time at Animal Kingdom since my arrival, and I cannot figure out why. That park is magical! We saw Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Musical, as well as taking in the Flights of Wonder show. We went on a Kilimanjaro Safari (WAY more complicated than the Jungle Cruise), and went on Dinosaur and the Primeval Whirl in Dinoland, USA (first time in my program!).
True Story: The Yak & Yeti serves neither yak nor yeti for lunch.
Since Animal Kingdom closes early, we took off to get ready for La Nouba, a Walt Disney World Resort-exclusive Cirque du Soleil show, for which my Family Holiday Celebration book allowed me a considerable discount. In a word, it was amazing. And our cheap seats were amazingly close. Another magical day!
Sunday, we were up before the sun to get to Epcot for 8:30 in the morning, as we were participating in yet another cast-discounted endeavor, the Keep Moving Forward: See the World, Share the Dream tour of World Showcase, done on...wait for it...SEGWAYS. YEAH. We did a terrifying 45-minute lesson on getting on and off the Segway, stopping the Segway, turning corners and not rolling backwards down hills, followed by a hearty American breakfast at Sunshine Seasons (and grabing a Fast Pass for Soarin') and back on the Segways for a (now totally professionally ridden) Segway tour of the eleven pavilions of the World Showcase. The majority of the pavilions were still roped off, with World Showcase not opening until 11 each morning, so we were able to stop for pictures and free roaming time in Italy.
Not as easy as it looks, but no one fell!
Not even me in Canada!
Our tour ended slightly after some enthusiastic waving from the Canada merchandise cart (Sam, Briana, this means you) and some Segway-induced stumbling back over to Italy for lunch at Via Napoli, after our magnificent ride on Soarin', of course. After taking in half the World Showcase by foot while making our way back to Future World, we went back to our resort for some downtime before heading back to Epcot for the evening. We rode Spaceship Earth, dined at Teppan Edo in Japan,  and rode the Seas with Nemo and Friends before catching the extended, Holiday edition of IllumiNations.
Monday morning, we took in breakfast at Boma, in our very own Jambo House, and took off to the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa via the monorail for some sight-seeing. Their epic holiday gingerbread house is out for viewing and smells delicious, as well as the resort being just as opulent and Victorian as ever.
That's not forced perspective.
The Grand Floridian's tree doesn't fit in the frame.
We took the boat over to the Polynesian resort for Mom's first Dole Whip and headed back to the resort for dinner and one last hot tub before a very sad trip back to the airport. I went to Games later to prevent the inevitable depression and lost horribly at Splash Mountain Sorry, three times.
I've been back to work for the last two days doing very strange 8.5 hours shifts, waving at Segways and handing out stickers like a boss. I also missed visitors from Hamilton today whilst being busy elsewhere in Canada. Boo!


Note: It's Walt Disney's 111th birthday today! On that note, the Keep Moving Forward tour is named for a Walt quote: "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."

Thanks to: The enthusiastic Jungle Cruise skippers of the (Disney) world, and the crazy number of Cast Members who complimented me on my Doctor Who shirts over the course of my vacation. Who knew there are so many friends I haven't met yet?