November 4, 2005

Scott and Dominica’s fifth day in Walt Disney World. We are starting to really miss our pets. Dad says that Oreo is missing us and got a little sick two days ago but is doing okay in general. Mr. Humphries has been eating but has not been drinking as much as usual and has not been making the “mess” that he normally makes when I am around. So we aren’t sure how he is feeling. But we are guessing that he is fine and is just inching towards hibernating because the house is cooler than usual and we aren’t there to wake him up during the day so he sleeps more than usual.

Since we did the Animal Kingdom yesterday instead of doing MGM we decided to go over to Disney-MGM Studios today. We slept in a little and went out to catch the 10:10 shuttle. Our Internet Access is rough again today. The hotel has admitted that the hotel itself does not have regular Internet access so they are in really rough shape. We are doing all that we can to keep the updates coming but it has been really tough. To make things extra tough, Audblogger who is the host of Audioblogger.com which is who we use to give us access over the telephone to SGL 2 and Blogger is down today and for who knows how long so we are not able to do any “during the day” updates until they come back online. What terrible timing that is. Anyway, we were waiting for the shuttle for about twenty minutes before we decided that they must have forgotten us (again) and we went in to the hotel and had them call the shuttle company and have a shuttle come back for us. So we got our day off to a really slow start because we didn’t get to leave the hotel until almost 10:50. That really sucked. We had wanted to get started at 8:10 but just couldn’t do it but had gotten out of bed and had gotten moving just to get outside and find out that we had to wait for fifty minutes because the shuttle didn’t bother to get us for the second time in three days. Ugh.

It was closing in on noon by the time that we final managed to get over to Disney-MGM Studios. We had been planning on being here at opening time at 9:00 am but that sure didn’t work out as planned now did it? The first thing that we did was ride The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 4 – don’t ask about the 4 I have no idea why they added that to the name. It is the same super boring ride that it was many years ago but now they added a few more ups and downs and added a little more force so it actually pulls you right up out of the seat. And this is where the problem came in. At one point while floating above my seat my cell phone worked its way through my pocket so that I ended up coming down on it and smashing the front of it in completely. Now that made for an expensive ride. For the time being the cell phone is still working but it might not last very long. It didn’t make for a very fun day knowing that that had happened and knowing that I am going to have to deal with that very soon. At least it didn’t completely kill the phone or we would be having a much worse time.

After the Tower of Terror we went to MGM’s single good attraction: The Great Movie Ride. I should mention that Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Rollercoaster was closed so we couldn’t even go on that if we wanted to. So we can’t tell you anything about that but the Ralston’s said that it was a lot of fun. The Great Movie Ride is the only “Disney” ride in all of MGM Studios. It is the classic audio-animitronics that made the park famous and the only ride that shows the quality craftsmanship that Disney used to have. The ride is a great combination of prebuilt ride with live actors interacting with it. It is great for both children and adults. I highly recommend it if you bother to go to the park at all. Personally I feel that the entire Disney-MGM Studios has become so poor that it isn’t better than just sitting at home doin’ nothin’. And that is compared to going for free. It is definitely not worth any amount of money, in my opinion. As I put it to Dominica: “If Disney-MGM Studios was free and located in my backyard, I don’t feel that it was worth walking out the door to go to.” At least not to do the rides. The overall construction of the park is gorgeous and incredibly themed like the other parks are but it has no shade and no good place to sit and people watch with a good cup of coffee. So it looses a lot from that respect as well. Both Magic Kingdom and EPCOT have so much “extra” stuff that makes them so fantastic. Great gardens and fountains and benches and vistas and details. They feel like places where people are hanging out and being social. They encourage you to stay. But MGM gives me a creepy feeling like everyone is racing around trying to get on a few rides and wants to run out the gate as quickly as possible. No one hangs out. The park doesn’t have the living village kind of feel like the other parks have. Dominica agreed with me that it has a completely different feel and that it does not have the casual, relaxed, hanging out feel of the other parks. She agreed that it seems like everyone is trying to ride the rides that they want and trying to get away as quickly as possible.

After lunch our first stop was at the new Drew Carey in Sounds Dangerous. This isn’t a ride but a a movie with no picture that you listen to on headphones. “What, you mean it is like listening to a CD?”, you ask. That is correct. It is a twelve minute audio recording played back through cheap and often broken headphones. If you had the recording on CD you could have a much (and by much I should say extremely) better experience listening to it at home. Only, I should point out, that if you were to have it on CD the recording would be so dumb and lame that you would never pick it over something better such as that old Bee Gees album or an SGL Podcast. To make matters worse, and I go into detail on this on the podcast, it is difficult to find headphones that work and the ride people don’t help you in any way. It was just plain awful. Disney should be extra embarrassed about this ride.

Then we went on to the Muppets 3D movie. I have seen this one a number of times and remember, more or less, what it was like when it was almost new. It was much better then. The theatre is wearing out and the film is too. It used to be the most advanced 3D movie and the only one to mix the movie with real life theatre effects like spraying water on the audience, dropping soap bubbles, having audio-animitronics on the sides and back of the theatre and having a live cast member interacting with the movie. But now these effects aren’t as good as their counterparts at the other parks. So it loses a lot of points there. Dominica likes the movie but I am not much of a Muppets fan (I love Treasure Island and A Christmas Carol but could take or leave all of the other stuff) and so the theme of the movie didn’t do too much for me. I don’t think that it is bad but I don’t think that it is good either. And there is almost always a bit of a wait just because it is a movie and you have to wait for the last movie to end before you see it.

We went on to do the Backlot Tour. The sign at the beginning of the ride said that the wait was only twenty minutes so we figured that it was a good time to do the ride. Nope. The wait was actually fifty to sixty minutes. Then when we went on the ride the first section of it was broken and we didn’t get to see it. In actuallity this isn’t quite fair to complain about because I am familiar with this part of the ride and it is quite boring so this actually served to make the ride more lively and fun. But even so, so much of what made this ride good has been removed that it isn’t fun to ride anymore. At least not for either of us. The catastrophe canyon section is neat and fun but it only lasts one minute or less in a thirty minute tour. The Disney backlot is no longer a part of a functioning studio so what used to be an actual studio backlot tour is now just a weird mockup of a backlot tour. It is weird and irrelevant now. Ho-hum.

By this point Dominica finally agreed with me that the quality of MGM Studios had dropped so dramatically that it wasn’t even worth spending any more time there. There were a few things that we would have liked to have done yet but the crowd management there is very poor because such a high percentage of the things there are stage shows which cause you have to wait a lot before the show starts to make sure that you get in and then wait between shows because you can’t just bop from one to another that it takes forever to do anything and we didn’t want to waste the day waiting for just one or two shows to start. So we left the park and went to the Animal Kingdom Lodge to eat at Boma once again. Last night’s dinner was just so amazing that we couldn’t resist going back and trying it again. We didn’t get the same waitress but Maureen did see us come in and did stop by to talk to us. Everyone was very excited that we were back two nights in a row. They have a different menu done in such a way that you could always eat there any three nights in a row and always get a somewhat different menu. Very good for vacationers who a fortunate enough to have discovered Boma and to have gotten reservations. We had another amazing dinner there. The highlight tonight was an African fruit salad that we just couldn’t get enough of. The salmon was better tonight too. But everything was just wonderful.

We made a quick run to the Magic Kingdom after dinner so that Dominica could watch the Cinderellabration that has been brought over from Disneyland Tokyo. This is a special show held at the castle in the middle of the Magic Kingdom where Cinderella is crowned an official Disney princess. The show was better than I had expected although obviously targetted towards young girls. Dominica was very excited to get to see it, however. She was very happy that we had gotten to go.

On the way back to the hotel this evening we made some special reservations so that we know that we will get to do some exciting dining before our trip is over. We have had such a good time with our dining and only a so-so time with much of the parks themselves that we don’t want to leave very much of that to chance as many top Disney restaurants and food venues fill up quickly and often a lot in advance. We are scheduled to have a special character dinner at the Crystal Palace on Main Street USA with Winniw the Pooh and friends from the 100 Acre Woods tomorrow at 4:30. Then we are scheduled to have afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian Resort at 2:20 on Sunday. We are really excited about both. It should be a lot of fun. Especially being checking the Flickr-cast/page for cool pics coming from our early dinner with Pooh. I am sure that we will manage to get lots of great character pics. We had so much fun at the Garden Grill that we have to do it again.

We got back to the hotel by 8:15 and took it easy tonight. There is a sixteenth episode posted for the SGL Podcast and SGL 2 just celebrated its 100th posting. There is a new video on OurMedia although we haven’t managed to do too much exciting with the videos yet. I hope to work on fixing that tomorrow. Unfortunately it looks as though SGL 2 will be getting no additional audio posts anytime soon. That is very sad as we were having a great time getting up to date news out all throughout the day.

Tomorrow we plan to go to EPCOT in the morning first thing and do all of the non-traditional stuff up in the World Showcase starting around 10:00 having hit the last few things that we wanted to do in Future World before that. Then we have to get over to the Magic Kingdom in the early afternoon and will be there until quite late. Tomorrow Dominica and I have a rematch on the Buzz Lightyear Spin ride so be looking for that score to be posted as well.

One final note: SGL 2 is taking audio again and it looks like we might be able to get the news out to you tomorrow after all. Cross your fingers. I just did a test post (#101) and it went through.

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