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Florida 2012 Journal – Hollywood Studios, Star Tours & Toy Story Midway Mania
Feb 25th, 2012 by Jessica

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hollywood Studios, Star Tours & Toy Story Midway Mania

Remember when I said that people rarely get the opportunity to stay in the Yellowstone Suite?  Not only do they not stay in the suite, but Florida is cold so infrequently that they never turn on the heater.  NEVER.  By 2:00am, my throat had swollen so badly I couldn’t swallow.  We were covered in dust and pollen and awful odors from the heating ducts that caused such a major allergic reaction in my head that by the morning, it turned into a full blown illness that plagued me for the rest of the trip.

Meeting the Mad Hatter

Meeting the Mad Hatter

As if I hadn’t been up most of the night trying to figure out how I was so sick so suddenly, Mickey and Stitch woke us up at 6:00am again.  We sent our portrait clothing to the laundry for pressing and left just before 7:00am via water taxi to the Contemporary and then transferred to the Monorail to go to the Grand Floridian Resort.  We were the first table seated at 1900 Park Fare for their Supercalifragalistic character breakfast, where we met Pooh, Tigger, Mary Poppins, Alice and the Mad Hatter.  The staff presented us with a keepsake placemat and two Happy Anniversary chocolate cupcakes.  We ate one, then promptly gave the other to the Bell Desk when they kindly shipped our souvenirs back to the room for us after breakfast.

The bus took us to Hollywood Studios where we rushed over to Rock ‘N Roller Coaster only to find it shut down for maintenance.  We grabbed a fast pass for later and crossed the park to ride Star Tours twice in a row.

The first time we rode Star Tours at Hollywood Studios we got to see the following scenes: a confrontation with Darth Vader, scanned the vehicle for the Rebel Spy, flew through the forests of Kashyyyk with the Wookiees, received the holographic message from Princess Leia, and then traveled through the oceans of Naboo. Only the finale section was new for us, and was one of the better clips. In this one we not only saw Jar Jar Binks, but we were almost eaten by an undersea monster (with his tongue pressing against the view screen), and then we crash landed in a hanger where another ship’s nose broke through the class viewscreen. This Naboo scene did the best job of selling the 3D for the ride.

Rock 'N Roller Coaster

Rock 'N Roller Coaster

Due to the short waits, which were a far cry from the hour wait at Disneyland, we got back in line to ride it again which only took about 5 minutes.  The second flight started off the same with Darth Vader and the spy. We then got caught up in a pod race that we won, which was followed by the message from Leia. One more light speed jump and we were part of the war above the planet Alderan.

After our adventures in Star Tours, we sat down for Muppets 3D and followed it up with some fun pin trading, then walked over to check on the times for the Lights, Motors, Action: Extreme Stunt Show.  The Disney Mobile Magic app for Android on Verizon had mistakenly shown the stunt show wasn’t playing that day.  The park attendant told us that the official Disney Mobile Magic app had nothing to do with Disney and that it was always wrong.  At this point, I began wondering why Disney kept putting its official name on stuff that has no affiliation with Disney whatsoever.

We walked around for a little bit and grabbed fast passes for Toy Story Mania.  We were shocked to see they weren’t until after 5:25pm which was about 7 hours from then!

Dessert at Hollywood Brown Derby

Dessert at Hollywood Brown Derby

We decided to have lunch at the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant which was a real treat.  We enjoyed dishes like lobster bisque, crab spring rolls, chicken ham dish, pork tenderloin, three way chocolate and grapefruit cake.  It would have been $115 plus the $20 tip for that meal, and it was delicious.

I made the mistake of picking up some Benadryl at the advice of my sister due to my exploding allergies.  She warned me that it might make me drowsy, but I didn’t expect it to literally knock me flat out.  It was the only allergy medicine available in the park.  At 1:20pm, we sat down for the Lights, Motors, Action: Extreme Stunt Show and I took the Benadryl.  I loved the start of the show with the stunt driving and the close encounters.  It was pure adrenaline!

After the show we used our fast passes to ride Rock ‘N Roller Coaster but to our dismay, the inner lights were out and the ride actually stalled while we were on it.  A little bummed, we shopped around for a bit and picked up some Mickey head ice cream bars as a snack.  I was able to check out the Pin Trading Station before we hopped on the Great Movie Ride.  By the time we sat down for the Beauty and the Beast stage show, I was asleep at the wheel.  I slept through the entire stage show.  Andrew somehow managed to get me up the stairs and out of the theater.  We sat down with a cookie and a snack, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

We decided to keep me sitting as much as possible.  Andrew decided to ride Star Tours again but as a solo rider, leaving me to nap on a bench nearby. The third flight included Darth Vader, the spy, pod racing, Leia, and the journey in the oceans of Naboo. No new scenes on this trip.

On the final and fourth ride the story finally switched up a little bit. It began with a chase alongside the Millennium Falcon and TIE Fighters, a message about the spy, we joined the snowy battle on Hoth, received a holographic message from Yoda, and then finished up in the oceans of Naboo.

Toy Story Midway Mania Scores

Toy Story Midway Mania Scores

By then it was 5:30, so we made our way over to Toy Story Midway Mania and I’m glad I was awake for it, because it was one of my favorite rides of the entire trip!  You sit in pairs on either side of a four-person cart, two on each side.  The cart swings and flips and stops you in front of shooting gallery 3D screens where you compete against your cart partner in mini games with a toy gun you fire by pulling a string.  It is incredibly fun and competitive!  Andrew kicked my butt of course, but I loved it.  At the end of the ride, it displays your score on a large screen and shows you your prize.  Andrew got a cat with his score of 197,400 while I nabbed a beaver with my 126,000 points.

Antipasto Plate at Mama Melrose

Antipasto Plate at Mama Melrose

We walked over to our dinner reservations at Mama Melrose’ Italian Kitchen.  We were a few minutes late past 6:00pm and didn’t realize the restaurant actually closes at 6:00pm.  When we arrived, the staff celebrated because they were finally able to seat the last patrons of the day.  We had the antipasto for two as an appetizer.  I had the panna cotta and the sirloin while Andrew enjoyed the chicken parmesan and chocolate cake.  The total bill would have been $90 plus the $15 tip.

We made our way back to the Wilderness Lodge by bus and found our laundry had been returned to the front closet in our room ($22).  We ordered room service just to use up the dining points, snacked a little bit and crashed hard at 8:00pm.  The long days and the allergy problems were really starting to drain us down.

We definitely agreed on our Favorite Thing of the Day: Toy Story Midway Mania

Did you know? There’s a lot more to this story!

Flight to Florida & Universal’s Royal Pacific Hotel
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios & Arriving at Walt Disney World
Visiting the Magic Kingdom & The Richard Petty Experience
Water Sports & The California Grille
Hollywood Studios, Star Tours & Toy Story Midway Mania
Epcot & Around the World Segway Tour at the World Showcase
Our 10th Wedding Anniversary
Animal Kingdom, Mini Golf & The Yachtsman Steakhouse
Our Final Day at Disney & our Private Illuminations Cruise
The Missing Towncar & Our Flight to Phoenix

Flickr Photo Collection of Our 10th Anniversary Trip to Florida
See the Wilderness Lodge Yellowstone Suite Video Walk Through
See my Richard Petty Ride Along Experience Video

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In Loving Memory of Olly
Oct 13th, 2011 by Jessica

He was my baby. My loyal companion till the very end. I loved him so much, and will miss him tremendously. Goodbye, sweet Olly. May you forever rest in peace.

My sweet baby Olly (July 20, 1999 - October 13, 2011)

My sweet baby Olly (July 20, 1999 - October 13, 2011)

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Olly at the Table
Sep 25th, 2011 by Jessica

Olly, waiting patiently for lunch scraps. This is how he begs.

Olly, waiting patiently for lunch scraps. This is how he begs.

Just look at that little chin.  Pathetic!

Just look at that little chin. Pathetic!

Andrew gave in and felt bad for him... as always.

Andrew gave in and felt bad for him... as always.

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Lucky and Olly in the Sock Drawer
Sep 14th, 2011 by Jessica

Lucky and Olly in the Sock Drawer

Lucky and Olly in the Sock Drawer

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Olly to the Rescue!
May 15th, 2011 by Jessica

So there I was, casually cleaning up the kitchen after my absolute failure of an attempt to make a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.  Andrew is off having fun at a Transformers meet-up which is rare – he is almost never away from home without me.  The kitties are all sound asleep in the bedroom.  I opened up the cupboard above the microwave to put away the sugar bin like I’ve done 51,937 times in this house over the past decade.

Sugar Cupboard

Sugar Cupboard

I’m not quite tall enough to see what’s in the cupboard, but I noticed a little brown-grey something in the way where I intended to place that giant bin of sugar on the counter.  Without thinking at all, I reached up and grabbed ahold of what I figured was a piece of cardboard or a bag snippet from the flour or sugar left over.  Instead of crumpling in my hand as I expected paper or cardboard would do, it started buzzing and FLYING AROUND THE KITCHEN, dive-bombing me repeatedly.

My mind went IMMEDIATELY to scorpion, because those are the only creatures I’ve ever found inside my house that I couldn’t cope with.  Fortunately for me, it only took me a second or two to realize that scorpions can’t fly.  Thank god.  It couldn’t be a scorpion.

After screaming bloody murder for about two minutes and scaring the wits out of all of the cats in the house (Cheetoe is still under the bed), I finally found the culprit hiding in the corner by the front bay window.  Notice the fuzzy enlargement which is due to the fact that 1) I was too scared to get any closer to it and 2) I was still shaking from all that screaming.

Mr. Locust

Mr. Locust

Olly, the brave soul that he is, crept out from hiding to see what had me all worked up.  He immediately went to work annihilating (read: batting randomly at) this cupboard imposter.  After only a short (7 minutes) period of time playing with it, he gobbled it up like an afternoon snack he had ordered at the neighborhood cafe.

Olly to the rescue!

Olly to the rescue!

Olly’s always been there to rescue me when bugs are involved.  I still want to know…  How in the world did this massive locust get inside the cupboard above the microwave?  I wonder how long he was living there?  *shivers*

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Lucky Terrorizing Olly
Aug 28th, 2010 by Jessica

Lucky Terrorizing Olly

Lucky Terrorizing Olly

Andrew discovered this scene while passing by the bedroom closet this morning.  Olly had knocked over a laundry basket with clothes to be dry cleaned and was napping comfortably inside.  Lucky decided it would be fun to terrorize him.  He proceeded to lay down next to it and using the wall as leverage, shoved his arms far beneath the basket and started poking Olly through the holes.

This went on for several minutes while Olly blatantly ignored him.  Eventually Lucky got tired of trying to be a pestering little brother.  He got up and walked away, leaving Olly to sleep peacefully.

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Hello Olly
Jul 26th, 2007 by Jessica

There just aren’t words…. 

Hello Kitty

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Our Alpha Male: Olly
Aug 21st, 2006 by Jessica

OllyOlly is our household alpha male.  He’s definitely in control and calls all the shots.  At 7 years of age, he does whatever he wants, whenever he wants to do it. 

I’m definitely Olly’s main human.  He follows me around the house, forces his way onto my lap, and meows at me when he wants attention.  When somebody comes over to visit me he’ll push his way onto me and claim attention so that my friends can’t get a word in edgewise.

His favorite thing is catnip, along with anything that has Andrew’s scent on it.  Olly will roll around on the bathroom floor rubbing up against his washcloths.  He enjoys doorjam sliding (that’s when you jump up the door jam and slide down like a fire pole), licking dirty dishes out of the kitchen sink, consuming anything plastic and dumping garbage cans.

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Olly: Incognito
Feb 15th, 2006 by Jessica

We discovered Olly with his face stuck in a bouquet of flowers and a nose full of pollen. Caught… yellow faced and red pawed, right in the act!

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Straight From The Hollywood Hills
Aug 16th, 2004 by Jessica

My sister-in-law, Amy, and I went to Los Angeles this weekend to celebrate her birthday. We left on Thursday night and drove to Blythe, where we stayed overnight at the Hampton Inn. Friday morning we got up early and drove into Burbank, where we waited in line to see The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (much more on that later).

After seeing the taping, we checked into the Hilton at Universal City. The gentleman at the front desk was nice enough to provide us with a complimentary room upgrade to the Executive level on the 20th floor.

Notice the seriously awesome view of the Hills. The staff was very nice to us for our entire stay, and exceeded our expectations for sure! The hotel had a modeling conference going on, which Amy and I both thought was probably a scam to these 10,000 people hoping to ‘make it big’ in Hollywood. I hope something good came out of it for the participants.

We took a quick swim and ordered room service, then watched the opening of the Olympics and I stayed up long enough to watch us fly by on three zoom pans across the opening sequence of The Tonight Show! *lol*

Saturday we went to the Universal Citywalk for some souvenir shopping. We at at the Saddle Ranch Steakhouse for breakfast, where our very cute waiter sang Happy Birthday to Amy and gave her a free Slab of Chocolate cake.

Then it was off to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County to see the gem exhibit. First we stopped in the Pavilion of Wings to see the butterflies, which were beautiful as expected!

Here Amy is holding a caterpillar that one of the keepers was telling her about. Isn’t it cute?

The gem collection is quite a sight – thousands and thousands of minerals and gems are on display. It is one of the biggest collections I have ever seen, and Amy sure seemed to like it too. I bored Amy by taking a million pictures, but I think she was happy cuz she got to see ‘shiny stuff’. =)

Next we stopped off to see the infamous Hollywood Sign. You’d think it is prominent and can be seen from everywhere, but it is quite difficult to find. This picture was taken from the top of Beachwood. We had to illegally park in a red zone with our emergency flashers on long enough to take a shot (this is with a 300mm zoom lens, no tripod). Lots of other tourists were doing the same thing we were. I’d hate to live on Beachwood!

For Saturday night we watched television, napped, and talked until the wee hours of the morning. Sunday we got up around 8am and took off for Phoenix. We stopped at the outlet mall that is 100 miles east of LA, 50 miles west of Indio, for some shopping. We picked up more souvenirs and were off to home sweet home!

I’d like to thank Amy again for joining me in California for her birthday. I think we had a fantastic time!

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© 2013 Jessica M. Green