DDC 2013 Trip Report: Jan. 11 at DHS

In line at Toy Story Midway ManiaDay two of the DISDads Convention was our second day at Disney Hollywood Studios. I’d had Guest Services at Port Orleans-Riverside put our tickets on our room keys, so that we could use the new RFID turnstiles. Unfortunately (as we would discover repeatedly over the next few days), it appears that Guest Services doesn’t quite have the mechanics down for properly coding tickets onto the RFID chip in the new room keys. The RFID readers threw an exception, but we were admitted to the park after our cards were skimmed by a CM with a handheld card reader.

We followed our usual divide-and-conquer plan, but after the problem with Mikaela’s wheelchair at Jedi Training Academy back on Wednesday, she came with me to get the Toy Story Midway Mania Fastpasses while Miriam and Jon headed to JTA signup. Then, just as I was pulling the TSMM Fastpasses, I got a text from Miriam telling me to, “Come to JTA signups NOW!” It seems that this time, the Cast Members handling signup didn’t think there would be any problem with a child in a wheelchair participating in the show – but Mikaela had to be present to sign up.

Luckily, we were still able to get back to Toy Story in time to make a standby ride before the line got too long. After Toy Story, it was time for a breakfast – and more importantly a coffee – stop at Starring Rolls. Suitably fortified to get on with the day, we headed for Echo Lake and looked around for fellow DISDads to join us on Star Tours. Sadly, we didn’t get a group picture, and I can’t remember who all was there with us. I know that Ian and his family were there. This is what I get for waiting too long to get my trip report written. MikaelaRnRCWhen we finished our ride, there was still some time to kill before the kids needed to check in for JTA, so we decided to head to Rock-n-Roller Coaster.

As you’ll recall, Jon measured less than 1/4″ too short to ride on Wednesday. So on Tuesday night I’d made a run to Wal-Mart and picked up some shoe inserts. This time, when we got to the ride, Jon measured just fine at the beginning of the line. We proceded through the standby line, Jon getting ever more excited – he couldn’t wait to go upside down! And then, just as we were moving from the last of the single-file queue to the loading area, a CM pulled Jon aside and said that they needed to measure him again. This time, they decided he was too short, by maybe 1/8″. I talked them into letting Mikaela ride alone, even though she’s only 10, and Jon and I waited for her at the gift shop. Jon was devastated. It was very lucky that he had JTA to look forward to, or I fear we would have lost him for the rest of the day. While we were picking up Mikaela’s ride photo, the CM who was putting the pic on our PhotoPass heard her say that Tower of Terror was her favorite ride. He took out a business card, scribbled something on the back, and told us we should give it to a girl in the Tower of Terror gift shop that he described for us. More on this in a bit.

MikaelaVaderNext, it was back to Echo Lake for JTA check-in. Just like we’d suggested a couple of days ago, Mikaela was able to access the stage via the wheelchair ramp for Star Tours. She got a kick out of taunting Vader about having been beaten back by a girl, and the crowd loved it. 🙂 Jon really got into his battle with Vader too, and I still love his patented “duck” move, which involves dropping all the way down into a sort of catcher’s squat. I’m not sure Vader can even SEE him down there, let alone strike him.

BackdoorPassMikaela was begging to head back to Sunset Boulevard for Tower of Terror, and Jonathan wanted some more playground time at Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. So we split up. Mikaela and I had a fun ride on Tower of Terror, than decided to see if that card from our buddy Austin was any good. We found Deli easily, and gave her the card. She sighed and said, “he really shouldn’t be doing this.” But nevertheless, she led up through a service elevator behind the gift shop, right to the front of the line, waiting to board an elevator to ride Tower of Terror again! It was the perfect dose of pixie dust after the frustrations at Rock-n-Roller Coaster.

By the time we were through that second Tower of Terror ride, Miriam was texting saying that Jon was wiped out. We decided to meet up at the front of the park, and just head back to Port Orleans for lunch. I relaxed in the room with the kids, while Miriam made a run to Riverside Mill to pick up lunch. We were pleasantly surprised that all of our food from Riverside Mill was fresh and tasty. I had a really good turkey sandwich. And the kids napped HARD. We let them sleep, so that they’d have some energy to deal with Fantasmic!

The first thing we did when we got back to DHS was to get some dinner. I’m generally not a fan of DHS quick-service, but I’ll admit to being pleasantly surprised by my burger from Rosie’s (I think it helped that I wasn’t expecting much). And Miriam was able to track down a frozen margarita to go with her meal. Even the kids ate pretty well. I think we all enjoyed the cool breeze after what had been an unseasonably hot day. As soon as we were done eating, we went to get in the queue for the Fantasmic! late show. The line was already running halfway down Hollywood Boulevard. But luckily, we weren’t standing still for too long before the line started moving. This is the thing I like least about Hollywood Studios. There has just GOT to be a better way to manage that traffic. They had a huge queue of people moving into the theater before it had even cleared from the early show. And they don’t seem to move the crowd from the early show out of the theater very efficiently at all. Of course I shouldn’t complain too much, because in that chaos we ran into (almost literally) Terry and his family, and encouraged them to come join us to watch the show. (We found out later that Nate saw us too, but just assumed that we were leaving from the early show).

That crowd was quite challenging to maneuver through with Mikaela’s wheelchair. But we made it, and we rewarded with quite good seats. The wheelchair accessible seating is in the back and toward the center-left of the theater. It’s really an excellent vantage point for watching the show. Mikaela loved having a friend to watch the show with, and I had the privilege of playing security blanket for Terry’s youngest, who was a bit scared by parts of the show. We really had a great view of everything, and somehow I managed to get substantially worse pictures than I’ve gotten at any other time I’ve seen the show. I’m not entirely sure how I managed that. But overall, it was a great end to a fun day. We briefly considered trying to squeeze in another ride on Tower of Terror during the EMH night before heading back to the resort, but we had a big day ahead of us on the 12th – Animal Kingdom, dinner at ‘Ohana, and the LIVE on-location DISDads Podcast!

One thought to “DDC 2013 Trip Report: Jan. 11 at DHS”

  1. Sounds like a great day. The backdoor pass was a really special piece of extra magic. It’s that type of thing that I really associate with disney magic. Do you know if similar things ever happen at other theme parks? If they do it’d be interesting to hear about it on the other side of Orlando podcast.

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