Day 11: It’ll always be MGM to me (COMPLETED)

Let’s try this live(ish) blogging thing, now that it works!

Shirts from yesterday and today:

  • An exhausted Ariel saying “I wanna be where the people aren’t”
  • A man wearing a shirt that said “real men wear mouse ears”. The humor stemmed from the fact that he wasn’t actually wearing mouse ears.
  • A Disney-stylized, rainbow castle, but not the iconic Cinderella one. Caption: “I’d rather be at Hogwarts”.
  • A T-Rex, holding a Mickey-shaped balloon and a pretzel. Caption: “Wrong Park”.
  • A variant on an earlier shirt: “My favorite Disney Princess is my spoiled wife”, combined with presumably-his-wife wearing an “I’m a Disney Princess” shirt.
  • “I work so I can afford my wife’s Disney habit”.

This park is definitely different than the others, which I realize is kinda the point, but the different sections are impressively themed. Oversized toys adorn the Toy Story section. Galaxy’s Edge is as much about the decorations and atmosphere as it is the rides. If you’re not getting a Blue Milk to drink, you’re getting a Coke in a bottle shaped like a thermal detonator.

Smuggler’s run was a great teamwork ride. We didn’t do so well the first go-round, so we tried again due to the short wait. We did a bit better, but it made me wish I could ride it with some friends who played Star Wars  video games that required the sort of skills which would improve how far we got. Sadly, there’s been a falling out, so I’ll have to imagine that this had happened somewhere in a parallel universe. We’ll be back to galaxy’s edge later.

Keeping in theme with interactive rides that are assisted by my decades of video game preparation, Toy Story Mania was our next stop. A 3D gallery shooter, this game was well done; one of the few times 3d wasn’t annoying and genuinely added to the experience. That my score was triple the next highest person on our group was impressive, but the fact that it was only half the highest score on the ride for the past hour? I had feelings…

Next up was Mickey’s Runaway Railway. Now, call me crazy, but naming your train company “Runamok Railroad” is the kind of ridiculousness that would make me wary of insuring it. Goofy didn’t seem like the sort of individual who would have passed his train conductor certification, either. Mickey and Minnie, knowing all this, why would you ever sing a song declaring that nothing could go wrong? While on the hour-long line for this ride, the family behind us had the child trifecta – one walking by herself, one being carried but slightly agitated by the heat, and the last one was asleep, waking up just as the family got to the ride queue. We agreed that it should be possible for the rest of us to nap while waiting on line. Anyway, this trackless ride moved between set pieces that I would definitely consider to be well done.

We had a bathroom break, during which I paid my cable bill. then, off to Tower of Terror.

Another hour wait. I wonder if anyone else did what my sister did and offer to clean it. There were plenty of cobwebs and accumulated dust. One person behind us on line indicated that the cobwebs and dust are real, and that the area is cleaned in a way to enable the dust and cobwebs to accumulate naturally. The ride itself felt a lot more tame than I remembered. The Twilight Zone branding seemed more muted than I remembered; this was unsurprising since Disney made their own movie for the ride, and The Twilight Zone is owned by rival Paramount. I can sum it up by saying that there were zero Twilight Zone themed items in the gift shop; I looked and asked, but not a logo in sight.

Next up, we were back to Galaxy’s Edge for the most expensive souvenir I’ve ever purchased: a build-your-own lightsaber. The idea is that it’s more of an interactive experience, not just a diy kit, and on that, they largely deliver. A set of Cast Members took their roles seriously. The main individual (in full costume) gave the “You are Jedi, the galaxy needs you, this is the first step in your journey…” deal. I wish I’d taken a photo of the apparatus they used to pass around the different colored crystals; it was memorable in its appearance. After that, a few other Cast members (about a 1:3 ratio to builders) took out trays which contained all the build components reflecting the chosen style (there were four to choose from and were decided upon beforehand). From there, it was a reasonably-simple twist-and-snap style of assembly. Ambient audio and a bit of fog from the walls assisted with the immersion of the experience, which took another ten minutes or so from this point. Lizzy and I were done before most other builders, an unsurprising result considering we were the most ‘seasoned’ builders I recall seeing. At the end, the Cast Members took our completed hilts and did a QA check to make sure everything fit together properly. Once done, they inserted the tested units into a fitted slot. Some more “and now, you are ready…” from our main performer, and when the lightsabers came out, the blade appeared. A bit more “go in peace, builders”, and on the way out, a padded carry case was provided.

Lunch for the day was courtesy of the 50’s Primetime Cafe. The diner holds to its theme, with black-and-white TVs in the corners playing TV episodes of the era, complete with some TV static. Tables have the silver edges, era-accurate posters adorn the walls, and the wait staff  gacts the way you think they would – the waitress from another table, seemingly in her early sixties if I had to guess, took exception to any and all elbows on the table. I am glad that most restuarants have a sampler; they are excellent for people like me who want to eat all the things.

I’ve achieved a bit of a reputation for eating more than most other people on the trip with me, but it was most poignant at the diner, as both Lizzy and Beatrice had extra fried chicken that I had no problem finishing for them.

Star Tours was also visited and enjoyed;  I hadn’t seen it since the 2011 refresh. It was definitely a “grass is always greener” sort of a situation, though; I remember the OG Star Tours having that “We have Star Wars at home!” vibe, since Rex didn’t appear in any of the movies while flying us through non-canonical set pieces, but now that the ride involves C-3PO and events from around the events of “Rogue One”, the difference was definitely an improvement, but strangely palpable.

Next up: Muppetvision! So, I remember doing both this one and “Honey, I Shrunk The Audience” back in ’95, and I remember being terrified by “Honey”, but loving “Muppetvision”. I stand by Muppetvision being awesome, more so now that I am older and I got a chance to watch the 2015 series “The Muppets”.

We did a bit more shopping, when I bought my other souvenirs: additional color crystals for the lightsaber. While Lizzy got a complete set of all available colors, I stuck to the two colors not available in base builds. While green, red, and purple were all options for builds, orange and white (and black, if you happened to get one in a red container as they’re distributed randomly) were only options for purchase after the build, so I got those. Lizzy and I decided that we wanted to take a few photos with our lightsabers, but neither of us could recall a one-on-one lightsaber battle where there was a green and a blue fighting against each other. So, I put the red crystal in mine, and was glad I did…because it didn’t work. This was the first time I could recall a souvenir requiring tech support, so I headed into the store where Lizzy bought it, receipts in hand, and spoke to the Cast Member manning the wall where the crystals were being sold and asked what I should do. I demonstrated the issue, and she concurred. She took the crystal and my lightsaber “backstage”, about six minutes later she came back out with my red-glowing lightsaber in hand. She indicated that she too verified that there was an issue with the crystal and just swapped it out for me, which I super appreciated.

Lizzy did a bit more shopping, and was kind enough to get me a Sprite…more specifically, a Sprite that came in a Star Wars themed container. Once she came back, we headed over to Rise of the Resistance. This ride is notable because of how relatively complex it is. The queue line is a part of it, the elevator is a part of it, the small theater is a part of it, even the Cast Members who are a part of crowd control and guidance are in full costume and character. It’s a very well done experience, and is of little question why, two years later, the attraction is still causing issues with queuing and wait times (regular line waits were in excess of three hours throughout most of the day). It was definitely memorable and enjoyable, and in another three years once wait times go down to a sane level, I’d definitely recommend giving it a go.

Lizzy and I headed back to Tower of Terror as she wanted to look for a particular article of clothing, and I wanted to look for some Twilight Zone paraphernalia for dad as earlier discussed. We wanted to be on that side of the park anyway for the closing show. There was an interesting projection mapping effect on the Hollywood Tower Hotel, but that was a side thing, as it turned out. The main area where we went did multi-building projection mapping, which I thought was a bit of a mixed bag. It was well done from a technical perspective, but it felt like it was essentially a sequence of movie trailers more than anything else. I wish I could better explain why this one seemed different than the Magic Kingdom show, which also showed movie clips but somehow felt less forced…but I can’t, so I’ll just say that it was good, but needs tweaking. That being said, I did appreciate them using the hysterical “Pull the Lever, Kronk” scene from “The Emperor’s New Groove”.

We left via the Skyway; I went right to bed. We were going to be up early tomorrow.

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