Day 8: Taco Tuesday

I was super appreciative that Bob and Eileen let me use their washer and dryer while I stayed over. I didn’t have a lot of laundry, but it’s amazing how much even 14 days of clothing starts to get heavy when packing. Being able to avoid carrying 21 pairs of socks was as wonderful as not having to deal with the Disney Laundromat. I put a load in the night before, but I folded and repacked in the morning. It was a generally low key morning; Bob made breakfast and Eileen left shortly after it. She wouldn’t be home until after I’d left; while I assume I will be seeing her again at some point before I leave, I wasn’t anticipating seeing her today. One of the grandchildren was ‘home sick’ today…this claim was contested as the day progressed.

Bob drove me to the hotel so I could get my park pass and room key. According to Lizzy, there was at least some potential that the room would be ready beforehand as well. When we got to the gate, it was a bit awkward. I handed them my ID, but the reservation was, apparently, under Lizzy’s name. This would have been a problem if they required her ID, which was approximately 36,000 feet in the air at the time. Fortunately, my ID + her name + reservation number from the e-mail was enough to convince the guard that I was okay to stay.

The Art of Animation hotel is one of the ‘value resorts’, the on-premise property is clearly oriented for those with young children. Still, it’s clear that even the entry level locations are built to impress upon entrance. I spoke with an individual to get the park pass and ask if the room was ready; one out of two isn’t bad. After getting all my paperwork together, Bob, his grandson, and I went to Epcot to have lunch and kill some time.

When I was nine, my family took our first vacation to Disney. In retrospect, I’m particularly impressed with how my parents managed to make that happen at the time. With a week’s notice, dad booked a rental car, off-property hotel, Disney park passes, and airfare for four. This might not seem like a major thing now, but go ahead and try it! However, do what he did, and do it without the internet, without a cell phone, and without a credit card. How’d you do? …that’s what I thought.
This trip included the oft-recounted tale of having tacos in Mexico. When we did the World Showcase, we started on the opposite end of the showcase with the intent of ending up in Mexico. Seems logical, but as the day progressed, the time got away from us. We got to Mexico just as it closed, but an empathetic Cast Member conjured up tacos, nachos, and cinnamon twists, informing my dad that the stand was closed and that he couldn’t take his money. Well, to right this injustice, I got tacos, chips, guac, and a margarita before doing literally anything else. Then, the photos were taken and sent to my mom, my dad, and my sister, with the caption “First. [expletive]. Thing.” It was a good first stop at the park.

Lizzy enjoys wearing Disney-themed clothing as a matter of course. I, on the other hand, am ambivalent and would happily wear a black T-Shirt and jeans every day for the rest of my natural life, given the option. While unsurprising, it is clear that I am in the minority with respect to my feelings in this regard. Somewhere between one-third and one-half of the people here are wearing Mickey/Minnie ears. Ride and other souvenir shirts are common sights, but some people have particularly amusing things they’re wearing. One clearly-preganant woman was wearing a shirt that said “snacking for two”. I can’t remember the other one right now, but there were more than a few maternity themed tops I saw. One couple had a his-and-her set of tops where the man’s said “We’ll always be friends forever, won’t we?”, and hers said, “Yeah, forever”, quoting the Fox and the Hound. Another couple had his-and-hers shirts where one said “Ooglybear” and the other said “Schmootziepoo” from Monsters, Inc. A third had his-and-hers Mickey and Minnie ears; ‘Minnie’ had one of those lace veils coming from the back. On the flip side, one guy who was by himself had a shirt that said “single rider”. I’m sure it’s far from the last of the amusing Disney tie-ins I’ll see here, but while I wouldn’t exactly consider myself persuaded, I am glad that so many people are enjoying expressing themselves via their outerwear.

Shae came to pick her son up after we ate. Bob stayed with me a bit longer to help me address something else that happened: they wanted my fingerprint at the gate when I presented my ticket. And admittedly, I did it when we went in the park the first time, but I was really perplexed about that….and, not the biggest fan of biometric data being collected. I did a bit of reading about it over lunch, and like everyone else whose databases have leaked on to the dark web, those databases “weren’t collecting PII”…so, they do offer an opt-out, which they don’t tell you about (it’d have been nice to know that it was going to be necessary in the first place; not even the guy giving me my ticket told me), but you have to sign up for it and then they need to take your photo, and I’m okay with that, but I wish I didn’t have to Google for it after I did the fingerprint thing the first time. It wasn’t a huge deal, and at some level I do understand it (the concern is for people buying 10-day passes when they intend to stay for 5, then sell the other 5 days to someone else)…but it definitely was a turnoff and I was glad that Bob was willing to be patient as I dealt with that matter.

Bob and I hung out for a little bit longer, then we went to the hotel. Shortly after arrival, I finally met up with Lizzy, her sister, and her parents. We compared notes regarding flights and things, and I got one of those refillable mugs for the trip. Her plan was to go to Disney Springs and do some shopping. Personally, I’m not much of a souvenir guy, but I wanted to shuffle things around in the room as to ensure Lizzy had enough space to put her her things as well. The room is very well decorated and coordinated, but it’s easily the smallest I’ve been in so far on this trip, and yes, that includes the first night hotel. Space is at a premium everywhere; there are no closets, and the only additional furniture besides the beds are the table and chairs, and the TV stand that has three drawers in total. As a single traveler I could make do by using the second bed as a shelf, but I do anticipate Lizzy and I wanting for elbow room over the course of this trip. The room is also in the most distant building from the pool and the front desk; I’m glad Lizzy didn’t book the “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” rooms, but apparently there’s ‘tiering’ even at the value resorts.

I went outside to blog; three days to catch up on was going to take a while and I wanted to make sure I got it all in. I sat outside to do so; the bench I sat at was a smoking section. I sat next to a guy who is here with his fiancee from Knoxville, TN. We had a good discussion about life and relationships and things of that nature. Apparently, I not only look like an IT guy be having an IT guy’s laptop, I sound like an IT guy “because of how I communicate”. I…I choose to believe that was a compliment? Anyway, my shirt smells a bit like cigarette smoke (he smoked three while we talked), but I think I may spend a bit more time blogging on smoker benches just as a way of meeting other vacationers here.

I got on a bus and headed to Disney Springs, where Lizzy spent some time doing a bit of shopping. There was already Christmas music playing. I wasn’t interested in doing much shopping, but it was as good a place as any to get dinner. We did so, during which I caught her up on my Florida trip so far, the hotel drama, and so on. We did a bit more walking, and headed back to the hotel.

I put in 5.5 miles and nearly 17,000 steps today…and it’s not even a “real” park day.

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