Sundry information, thoughts and links to sort us out

Friday, September 7, 2012

20th Anniversary Trip, pt. 2: Star Wars Convention

After five days at Disney World, our anniversary vacation continued in a galaxy far, far away as we attended the world's largest Star Wars fan convention, Star Wars Celebration VI, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

On Thursday the 23rd, Duncan, Derek, Bruce, & I arrived at the convention center around 9:30am & immediately started taking in the sights. From the parking lot pillars decorated to look like R2-D2, to the giant inflatable Death Star over the escalator, to the hundreds of costumed fans in attendance, there was a lot to see! Once in the building, we were directed to a big hall where we were given lanyards for our passes & schedule guides for the weekend, & got into the LARGE line to get in to the main hall.  A woman dressed as Princess Leia (Empire Strikes Back era) was in line in front of us & posed for pictures. Convention Center workers were pushing a coffee cart up & down the lines.  We were cordoned off in rows, they let us in one row at a time when the hall opened. Each row cheered as they got let in - although many of us in the other rows cheered for them as well!

We started out in the dealers hall looking at all the many fascinating booths filled with cool stuff, & made a brief detour to the food court for a midmorning snack. Then it was back to browsing & taking pictures of all the cool costumes & nifty things we saw. Most of the costumed characters we encountered were fellow attendees who had gone to great effort & produced some of the most spectacular, interesting, creative, & often-times incredibly accurate outfits you'ver ever seen - plus they were also, to a person, the nicest, friendliest people you'll ever meet, all of them graciously agreeing to pose for photos, just glad to share their enjoyment of the event. In addition to all the expected characters - Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, & so on - we also saw the 11th Doctor, several Star Fleet officers, & Bender from Futurama, & many others. Just one big, happy universe!

We also stopped in the R2-D2 Builders Club room. It was fascinating! They had tons of astromechs either exactly like or at least based on the famous droid! Most were complete, but some were open so you could see the workings, & some were even being worked on right there in the room. We posed for pictures with R2-D2 in front of an Endor landscape as well as in his get-up as a waiter on Jabba's Pleasure Barge. There was also a replica of Han Solo in Carbonite - I took Bruce's picture by it! Bruce was really intrigued by the concept of building a droid, too - he picked up a lot of flyers.

Our main event for the first day was the Bounty Hunt. Duncan, Bruce, & I were signed up as a 3-man team with Derek as our "special consultant." We checked in at the Bounty Hunt Muster with all the other hunters.  The teams were given packets containing Star Wars-themed puzzles. The solution to each puzzle was either the name of or a clue about a Star Wars character on whom there was a bounty. Also in the packet was a guide that told us where to find each of those characters - they could be anywhere in the convention center! We hunters had to collect at least 4 bounties from the first packet to get the second packet with the higher-value bounties in it. To collect a bounty, we had to go to the locations the guidebook gave for our quarries, then we had to look for the person with a red "bounty hunt" ribbon on their convention badge - trickier than it sounds in a convention center full of people! - when we found them, we had to call them by their Star Wars character's name, & sometimes even complete a challenge (like answer trivia questions) before they'd stamp our book to prove we'd claimed our bounty.

When we'd collected 4 from the first packet, we went back for the second - these were not only higher value bounties, they were harder puzzles. We split them up like we'd done with the first packet, trying to solve them as quickly as possible. It was during this round that we remembered we'd brought Bruce's laptop for just this reason! We happened to be sitting near an outlet & the convention center had free wifi, so he booted up & we kept working to crack the puzzles. We were relying heavily on Duncan's Star Wars knowledge to figure out the ones where the answers were clues rather than names & he came through big time - from the first three letters of one clue he deduced that the bounty had to be Lando Calrissian! The guide said that Lando could be found outside one of the theaters, we knew exactly where it was & hustled that way. We found the lady playing "Lando" & she said we were the first team to find her, plus she was super impressed that we got it from just 3 letters.

We had to hike a long way past "Lando" to locate our hardest-to-get bounty. I don't remember which character he was, but he was way out down by some conference room that was over the mezzanine, through a set of doors, & then around the corner because it was a divided hallway at that point with even numbered rooms on one side & odds on the other &, of course, we'd come out on the wrong side! This was also the guy who made us answer trivia questions to get our bounty. We did it, but at this point we were getting pretty nervous because we had 2 hours to complete the hunt & there were only 20 minutes left, plus we still had to hike all the way back to Bounty Hunt HQ to check in! We really hustled it & checked in with 16 minutes to spare. While I was guzzling down cold water & playing Legos with Derek, Bruce & Duncan went back over the remaining puzzles. They solved one more & the bounty was nearby! We sprinted down the hall to find the person & get our book stamped - Derek was really worried that we wouldn't make it back in time, I tried to console him with the reminder that we were already checked in & these were just bonus points - we got back with 42 seconds to spare! More importantly, when the points were tallied we took THIRD PLACE! We got a trophy & several rare action figures as our prizes - & we probably have to discard our presumption that we were the least geeky people in attendance.

On Friday, Derek went back to Disney World with Debbe while Bruce, Duncan, & I returned to the con. We met up with Duncan's friend Phil - who is not only a Star Wars afficiando, but also the vice admiral of our fleet in Star Trek Online - Phil was in uniform as a clone trooper with the 501st Legion. We had a great time watching them gather the group for their Rebel Unit photo - you wouldn't believe how many people were there in amazing costumes! After the photo, one of the unit members (dressed as Luke) proposed to his girlfriend (dressed as Leia) - she said yes.  It was also fascinating to see all the R2 units milling about the convention.  The R2-D2 Builders had many life-size radio controlled models & were steering them about the convention center - they beeped & interacted with people just like the famous droid does.

After we met Phil, we split up to attend different panels.  Bruce & I went to see Anthony Daniels - he plays C3PO - who had actually shown up earlier that morning & crashed the queue line waiting to enter the convention center, posing for pictures & signing autographs for fans.  His show was hilarious! He pulled people from the audience to serve as his "panel of experts" & then he took questions from the audience. Any he couldn't answer, he pitched to his panel - when one panelist answered one question with "because George Lucas hadn't thought of it," the entire audience booed! Mr. Daniels was outgoing & funny, he shared a couple personal & touching memories from filming, & we got to see some behind-the-scenes footage. I was also really impressed with the sign language interpreter for the show - she had the very nuances of C3PO's personality down, she moved like him & her very expressions conveyed the depths of the dialogue when they showed scenes from the movies.

Next we went to the Costume Masquerade. If you thought the general attendees were impressive in costume, you should have seen those competing for prizes! We had seen one of the competitors - Darth Maul - in line that morning. His costume was incredible! There were also two ladies who had made a Bantha costume (think "wooly mammoth") that they wore like a horse costume - one lady as the back legs & the other as the front - they danced across the stage, so cool! James Arnold Taylor, who voices Obi-Wan Kenobi on The Clone Wars cartoon, was the emcee for this event & he would come out & pose with or otherwise cheer on anyone dressed as Obi-Wan. One Asian girl had a spot-on perfect costume representation of him. One girl came dressed as Jedi Tinkerbell & her "bio" said that Obi-Wan was her mentor - it was funny & cool at the same time to hear James read "faith, trust, & pixie dust" in his Obi-Wan voice! The cutest moments were a little boy, probably about 2 years old, dressed as young Luke Skywalker in a perfect, child-size replica of his Tatooine outfit, competing in the Younglings category, followed by the same boy coming back in the Galactic Apparel category with his parents dressed as Uncle Owen & Aunt Beru.

We wrapped up day 2 at the con with a performance of Star Wars in 60. Convention officials came through the audience warning us that, if we attended this show, we would most likely not be able to get into Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker)'s panel later on the same stage since it would probably fill up before we got out. We chose to stay & we're really glad we did! The troupe of about 12 actors performs ALL SIX Star Wars films & the little-seen Wookie Christmas Special with minimal props & costumes in just about one hour - it's hilarious! They run around with folding chairs on their necks when they're flying X-Wings - one guy held two window screens beside his head to be a Tie-Fighter - they use squirt guns & shout "choo-choo" when they're supposed to be shooting blasters, & they put all sorts of over-the-top nuances & innuendo into the well-known dialogue. When they finished, they did it all over again in 60 SECONDS!  Plus, this was the same stage where we'd seen Anthony Daniels earlier, & once again the sign language interpreters were great & almost as funny as the show itself. A fantastic choice of show, we had a blast!

Saturday, we returned for day 3. First thing we noticed was that it being a weekend day definitely made a difference - attendance had to have at least doubled, it was crowded! We did a little browsing in the dealers hall & then split up again. Duncan went to a costuming panel while Bruce & I went to the Super Secret Panel With Seth, Todd, & Matt (the guys who make Robot Chicken). This was the second running of this panel so the "super secret" part was already out: they've got a new show coming out, this one backed by Lucasfilm, called Star Wars Detours. They ran a lot of clips, it looks super cute, plus the guys themselves are pretty clever & funny & they told some great stories. But the best part was the surprise guest who crashed the panel: George Lucas!! Yes, Master George himself! Everyone - all 2500 people in attendance - stood & applauded raucously. Master George talked about the great job the guys were doing on the new show. It was SO AWESOME! Really glad we attended this second session because Master George was only at the con on Saturday, & I believe he only crashed one other panel, so we really lucked out.

(Duncan had texted me that George was spotted at The Clone Wars panel & might be on his way to our panel, but I didn't see the message until The Master had already walked out on stage & I had grabbed my phone to text him. I wrote back, "He IS!! You missed it bro!")

Next we took in the Star Wars & NASA panel. It was pretty packed, they asked us to cram together to make room for last-minute arrivals. The folks next to us were very gracious & made room for Duncan when he joined us because the panel he had wanted to attend was full. This session had four NASA scientists talking about how Star Wars had inspired their careers & spurred some creativity on NASA projects. They also talked about how desperately NASA needs funding & urged people to write their congressmen. Then they took questions from the audience. This was actually the best part of the session because the topic became a lot more relatable, but they'd waited until there were only 10 minutes left to open the floor. So, sadly, this panel was not as good as it could have been. I also heard later that the panel organizers didn't know until they got there that they would have a room with a projection screen & a computer, so they had not brought any videos or presentations. Getting to see footage from the Mars rover or something would have been cool.

Then we went to get in line for the evening panel we wanted to attend. We got sodas on our way & sat playing a couple rounds of Edition Wars while snacking on nuts & granola bars. Fun!

The evening panel we went to was Smuggler's Gambit. It was the debut live performance of a Star Wars radio drama like the ones that used to run on NPR back in the late 70's. The story centered on Han Solo & Chewbacca, hence the title, & took place after Star Wars but before The Empire Strikes Back. The actors were all voice talent from many projects including The Clone Wars. They received the script at 5:30pm & took the stage at 6 to do the show! They also had a master sound effects guy adding Star Wars sounds (like lightsabers). It was amazing! They were so good & were all obviously having a blast, it was great! After the show, they took questions from the audience, & there was some discussion about whether the performance would be available for purchase - which, hopefully, it will! There was strong support for a return of Star Wars radio dramas & many of the actors as well as the writer said they'd totally be up for it. One little girl asked why there were so few roles for girls in the show & the writer told her he'd write a role just for her to read in the one they want to do at the next Star Wars con, & that he'd let her read it herself if she came!

Sunday was the last day of the convention. Derek decided that he wanted to spend the day with daddy, so he came, too. This was our wrap-up day, the day to get everything done that we still wanted to do. I bought a couple t-shirts & Duncan got some figures for his collection. We also posed for pictures in several iconic settings: on a speeder bike in Endor, in a snow-speeder on Hoth - we had done the interior the Millennium Falcon & the Hoth Sick Bay the day before.

Then Bruce & I went to get in line for the Closing Ceremonies. It was crazy full! We were glad we got there earlier to ensure we'd get to get in! Convention officials came by & announced that we were at capacity & if anyone left, like to go to the bathroom, they had to show their unopened pack of 3-D glasses to prove they'd been in line before we reached capacity. Then they decided to escort us to the bathrooms in groups, like in elementary school. Good thing since we'd been sitting there for almost 2 hours! We got into a couple conversations with the folks around us - one about continuity & what's canon & not canon in the saga with the girl in front of us, & one about media covering the con with the guy behind us (who was media, covering the con for a tech blog in Arizona). A couple Jedi also started dueling alongside the line at one point - it was cool.

The Closing Ceremonies, on the other hand, were not. Of the five panels I chose for us to attend, this was the lamest. When we first got into the theater, the DJ's who had been warming up the crowds for one of the other stages all weekend were now in this theater warming up the crowd. They pulled 4 people from the audience to represent the rebels & 4 to represent the Empire & had them compete in a dance-off. The Empire ended up winning & it was actually fairly cool because they had this little kid who couldn't have been more than 5 & was dressed up like a Sith lord & man could he really dance! But after that, all that happened was the guys who had been the hosts for the three stages came together & briefly reminisced about all the fun they'd had all weekend. They showed a video montage that was actually pretty cool & then they announced that Attack of the Clones & Revenge of the Sith are coming out in 3-D just two weeks apart next fall. We got to watch the 3-D trailers, which were fun. Then they brought out the woman in charge of organizing the whole convention. She announced that the next Celebration will be held next summer in Germany. An oom-pah band came out wearing liederhosen & playing the Star Wars theme & marched around the room. Then the hosts told everybody to grab beer & pretzels on their way out. That was it. Lame.

We closed the day with a quick walk around the 501st Legion's room where they had many of their awesome costumes & sets on display. Duncan had paid to get his picture taken with Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine) & had to go pick it up, so he & Bruce made one last run through the dealers hall while I waited in an alcove with Derek. Then we headed back to Coronado Springs Resort, picking up dinner on the way.

After a nice rest break at the hotel (during which time, I started packing), we regrouped as a family & went to the Magic Kingdom to get some Sorcerers' Quest cards for Derek & watch the fireworks one more time. We got a great spot right in the plaza in front of the Cinderella Castle, bought some popcorn, & settled in for a wonderful time. There is something magical about the fireworks every night, but your last night in the park it seems even more special.

The next morning we checked out of our hotel, left our bags with the Magical Express people, & went to the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast at the Grand Floridian. This was our last character meal & our last planned meal in the parks. It was amazing - such tremendous, yummy fare - plus visits with our hostess, Mary Poppins, as well as Pooh, Tigger, Alice, & the Mad Hatter. After breakfast, we went into the Magic Kingdom long enough to get one more set of Sorcerers' Quest cards, & then Duncan went to return the rental car while the rest of us headed to Disney's Hollywood Studios. We rode Toy Story Midway Mania & then headed to Star Tours. Derek wasn't feeling up to riding that, so he & Debbe waited for us, then when we were done we sat with Derek while Debbe & Duncan (who had caught up to us) went on the ride.

Then Bruce & I headed back to the hotel to meet our Magical Express. As it turned out, even though we had an earlier flight than they did, Debbe & family caught back up with us not too much later. Then, one of the bus drivers offered to take us all on an even earlier shuttle, since he had room, so we all ended up with some nice family time at the airport. That sounds like a joke, but it isn't. We did some last-minute Disney pin trading in the Disney shop, then had a great time looking at Harry Potter stuff in the Universal Studios store, & nerding out in the NASA shop. Finally, we just chilled on some benches in the food court, wrapping up our great vacation with a spiffy bow.

It was the perfect way to celebrate our milestone anniversary - we had a wonderful time!

Monday, September 3, 2012

20th Anniversary Trip, pt. 1: Disney

Last summer, Bruce's sister Debbe called to tell us that Star Wars Celebration VI - the world's largest Star Wars fan convention - was being held in Orlando & started the day after our wedding anniversary. She proposed that we take a trip to Florida & combine visits to Disney World & the convention to celebrate- we readily agreed! So last month we spent 9 days in Orlando with Debbe, Duncan, & Derek - & our friends Wayne & Abby - as we marked our milestone 20th anniversary.  It was awesome!

First, some logistics. We stayed at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, because early research had indicated that would be the Disney partner hotel with the convention. It wasn't. In the end, Disney decided not to be a convention partner, but we didn't find that out until we got there & we had been on a deadline to book our rooms in order to get the convention rate. Coronado Springs is near Animal Kingdom & is accessible to the rest of the Disney community by bus. This made getting to parks & meal reservations tricky to time. It was also difficult to connect up with friends & family since we couldn't easily predict when we would arrive anywhere. Disney opting not to be a convention partner, also meant there were no shuttles to the convention & we had to rent a car - that was an additional expense we were not counting on.

That said, Coronado Springs Resort is a nice place to stay. The theme is "Old Spain/Mexico" & it has a lot of quaint southwestern/pueblo-type decor. Our room was very comfortable & sufficiently appointed. The staff was very gracious & always helpful. Our fridge spontaneously defrosted itself the first night we were there & maintenance was quick to respond & replace it. The concierges went out of their way to help us figure out convention shuttles (obviously there were none) & other transportation needs. Our room was very close to one of the "quiet pools" & a short walk from the very cool family pool. Plus, we were right next to the guest laundromat - I was very happy when I found that since I had been washing our clothes in the tub up till that point (the tub had a clothesline for just that purpose, too).

Coronado Springs Resort is very spread out. The lobby, gift shop, & restaurants are in the main building. The rest of the guest buildings & pools are situated in a loop around a small lake.  We had to walk past 3 other buildings & across a bridge to get to the lobby from our room. The Disney buses actually loop through the property - there are four bus stops so that guests can get off at one closer to their building, as necessary.  We were stop #4 & our unit was very close to it, so that was convenient.  But on the morning we were aiming to make Early Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom (remember, that's the closest Disney park to Coronado Springs) we waited 40 minutes for a bus & missed half the early hours.  If we'd known Disney was not going to have a partner hotel for the convention, we would have chosen a more centrally-located/convenient place to stay, but Coronado Springs is not a bad place in general. If you do choose to stay there on your next Disney visit, you'll be comfortable & well-treated - allow extra time for the buses, & be sure to get pizza at the Rix Cafe in the main building, it was the best pizza we had the whole trip!

OK, so we flew down on Saturday, August 18th, arriving about 10:30am. We met the Magical Express & got shuttled to our resort. Debbe & family had flown down from Columbus that morning, too, arriving about half an hour before us. They were staying at the Boardwalk for the first part of the trip, though, so we had to coordinate meeting up, which was tricky. Thunderstorms grounded the boats from the Boardwalk, so they went to the Magic Kingdom, but we were already heading to EPCOT to meet our friends Wayne & Abby.

So we revised our plans & opted to spend time with our friends before meeting up with Debbe et al at our dinner reservations. We had a great time with Wayne & Abby riding Spaceship Earth, Soaring, and watching Turtle Talk with Crush - one little girl got up to ask a question of Crush & she was so nervous she just said "the sun goes down at night & the moon comes up" & Crush replied, in totally surfer dude speak, "True," now every time we say that, we say it like him! We also went to Soda World, where you can sample colas from around the world, & completely unexpectedly ran into Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) in the hallway. She had a Disney Photopass photographer with her so we got a picture! It had been raining off & on most of the day, so we think they just moved inside to stay dry since that back hallway is not a normal character spot!

Then we hustled to make the Disney bus system work to get us to Downtown Disney to meet Debbe & the gang for our dinner at T-Rex Cafe, which was lots of fun! After dinner, we went back to EPCOT, intending to meet back up with Wayne & Abby, but they were at their own dinner reservation & Derek really wanted to go to the Magic Kingdom, so that's what we did.  The Magic Kingdom has this new interactive game called Sorcerer's Quest where kids get collectable cards & then have to go around the park & unlock special messages from Merlin & try to save Ariel with the spells on their cards. That's what Derek wanted to do. We opted to just get ice cream & then go back to our room because our travel day had been tiring.

We spent the next day at Disney's Hollywood Studios. We finally managed to get the whole group together: us, Wayne & Abby, & Debbe, Duncan, & Derek. We rode Toy Story Midway Mania & Star Tours several times. We met up with Pooh Bear at his character spot in the Art of Animation exhibit! We had a fabulous lunch at the Sci-Fi Drive-In. Then we split up so Derek could get some rest, & Bruce & I stayed with Wayne & Abby at Hollywood Studios. We rode the Tower of Terror & the Rock & Roller Coaster, & Star Tours & Toy Story again. We watched the Voyage of the Little Mermaid & the Beauty & the Beast shows. Then we wrapped up the day with a fabulous dinner at the 50's Prime Time Cafe. Our waitress Quinn was an absolute hoot, we loved sitting in her section, she was so friendly & funny. The meal was yummy & best of all was spending some quality time with friends we hadn't seen in far too long.

The next day, Monday, was the day we attempted to make Early Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom. Even though we got there with only about 20 minutes left before the park officially opened, that was still enough time to ride Expedition Everest while the lines were short. Wow, that is a rough ride! It was fun, but I am thinking I am getting too old to get jostled around like that. What a sad commentary! We went on the Kilimanjaro Safari Expedition & saw lots of amazing animals. Then we went to Pooh's character spot & saw Pooh Bear, Eeyore, & Tigger. We also went to Camp Minnie Mickey & got our pictures taken with Safari Donald & with King Louie & Baloo from The Jungle Book. After that, Debbe & Derek went back to the hotel to rest while Bruce, Duncan, & I took in the awesome Flights of Wonder free-flight bird show. During which, my camera died. I managed to get pictures of most of the gorgeous birds, though. Then we went to meet Debbe at the hotel, eat our left-overs from T-Rex, & figure out getting a rental car.

On Tuesday, we went back to EPCOT. Bruce & I had a lunch reservation at Le Cellier in the Canada portion of the world showcase. Before we headed there, we rode Journey into the Imagination with Figment, went on Mission Space, browsed some shops, & watched the Canada movie. Lunch was fantastic! We have a tradition of having steak on our anniversary, but we'd planned a different meal in the Magic Kingdom, so we squeezed our tradition in a day early. The staff at Le Cellier is incredibly cool, the food was fantastic, the couple at the table next to us said they always go there for an early meal & then walk it off in the park in the afternoon. After the meal, our waitress brought us a tray with a piece of white chocolate on it that had Happy Anniversary & a Canadian maple leaf printed on it. So sweet! After lunch we walked through the World Showcase looking at the shops & the sights, rode the Maelstrom in Norway & the Three Caballeros in Mexico, & then met up with Debbe & family to play a little in the Innoventions Pavilion before dinner. We had a family meal reserved at the Garden Grill in EPCOT, which was awesome. Farmer Mickey, Pluto, & Chip & Dale all came by to say hi & pose for pictures. Our waiter was hilarious, when he saw how much we liked the steak, he brought us more, but we were all stuffed. He told Bruce if he ate it, he could have dessert. Bruce managed to finish all but one slice, so the waiter gave him a special kids dessert to go!

Wednesday was our anniversary - 20 years, hard to believe! - & we spent it in the Magic Kingdom. First was breakfast at the Crystal Palace - easily one of the best breakfasts in the park - with Pooh Bear, Eeyore, Piglet, & Tigger all stopping by to say "hi." Pooh Bear gave me a kiss, & Tigger saw our anniversary pins & applauded us while bouncing happily. The waiter brought us an unexpected dessert of chocolates & a strawberry cut like a rose with a dancing Pooh Bear painted on the plate in chocolate!

Breakfast was a family event, but afterward Bruce & I went off on our own. We rode the Haunted Mansion, the Enchanted Tiki Room, Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, & Splash Mountain before taking the train back to the front of the park where we had booked lunch at Tony's Cafe. They had decorated our table with streamers & confetti, our waiter Casey was super nice & took pictures of us - especially when we shared spaghetti & meatballs just like Lady & the Tramp! The chef even made us gelato sundaes for our anniversary.

After lunch we rode the people mover & strolled about the park before getting back on Pirates of the Caribbean. The Disney Photopass photographer who took our picture outside the ride tipped us off that a parade was going to be starting so we watched that & then met up with Debbe & clan for a bit. They rode the Tea Cups while Duncan & I took pictures, we did a bit of the Sorcerer's Quest, then we all rode the carousel.

After that, Bruce & I headed into the castle for our dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table. It was awesome! We had a brief audience with Cinderella, who congratulated us on our anniversary & posed for photos with us, then we were seated up in the dining room. We dubbed ourselves "anniversary corner" since the family at the table to our right was celebrating the grandparents' 36th & the family to our left was celebrating their 14th. Our waiter Gustavo was funny & helpful, our food was excellent, & we got a magic wand & a sword to take home with us. Plus Snow White, Princess Aurora, Ariel, & Belle all stopped by to say hello & offer congratulations (& the nice family next to us graciously took our photos with all of the princesses so we could both be in the shots)! After dinner, we strolled a little bit, had our pictures taken a couple of places, & then Bruce said "I'm ready for the Carousel of Progress." This was a bit of a joke since it's a ride where you just sit still, in air conditioning, & watch an animatronic show for 20 minutes - it was the right ride at the right time after all that food!

We wrapped up the night with reserved seating at the Tomorrowland Terrace for the fireworks. Yes, our 4th sit-down meal of the day was an all you can eat dessert buffet! Oh my, it was tasty, but we were already so stuffed! I was content just to have decaf tea & melon, but I did try a little of the chocolates, too. There's a Photopass photographer staffing the fireworks dessert buffet, so we also got our picture taken there. But the best part was definitely the shows! The Magic Kingdom has added a new show called "The Magic, The Memories, & You" which runs before the fireworks. They take hundreds of pictures taken by the Photopass photographers in the park that day & project them onto the castle in time to songs from the movies - it's absolutely awesome, a breathtaking creation & fantastic use of technology to really share the Disney Magic! The "Wishes" fireworks show followed & was fabulous, as always. The best part was that I found out Tinkerbell is really in the show. No, seriously! I always thought it was just a firework aimed to fly over the castle like she does at the beginning of Disney movies, but she came right out of the tower spire & flew over the Tomorrowland Terrace & we could see her smiling & waving as she went right over our heads! (You may say it's just a girl in a Tinkerbell dress sliding on a wire, but I say it's really Tink, they just put her on the wire so she doesn't get caught up in all the excitement & fly the wrong way! Clap your hands if you believe in fairies.) As we were riding the bus back to our hotel, Bruce said, "This was truly a magical day."