Wow, has it really been two months since I updated this trip report? Yikes! Sorry about that. With our Disney Cruise trip coming up in just two weeks, and with the MANLAW requiring that this trip’s report must be completed before I can take the next trip, I guess I’d better get cracking!

Thursday morning started bright and early, waiting at the turnstiles at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. My plan for the morning was pretty simple – no Toy Story Midway Mania rush. In fact, no rushing at all. Take it slow, enjoy the low crowd level, remember to look up and down and take in all of the detail, and take lots of pictures. I did walk to the front of the crowd, waiting for rope drop, so I could get that amazingly unobstructed picture of the Hat (which I still think is an abomination that ruins the view of what should be the REAL icon of Hollywood Studios, the Great Movie Ride/Chinese Theater). But when the crowd dashed for Pixar Place, I instead headed back down Hollywood Boulevard. I was hoping to get some pictures of the Citizens of Hollywood street performers, but no such luck. I don’t know whether it was the low crowd level or the cold weather, but the Citizens were nowhere to be found.

I took some pictures as I worked my way toward Sunset Boulevard. I entered Rock-n-Roller Coaster via the single-rider line, and got to ride in the front car for the first time with virtually no wait. After that, I headed over to a walk-on ride at Tower of Terror. Unfortunately, cell phone coverage at Tower of Terror is pretty bad – otherwise I might have managed an impromptu meet-up with fellow DISDad Berne Doyle, who I later found out was exiting Tower of Terror just as I was entering.

I wandered around and took some pictures, got a cup of coffee, and then headed toward Star Tours for my first group ride of Reunion. As the crowd of Reunion attendees outside of Star Tours swelled, I noticed other park guests stopping CMs to ask “who the people with the red lanyards” were. It was cool seeing the Star Tours queue fill up with Reunion participants – ultimately, I think we filled at least three Starspeeders. I spent some more time wandering around, taking pictures and randomly running into other Reunion folks, watched MuppetVision, rode The Great Movie Ride, and then decided I needed to head back to the resort for a nap if I was going to be able to enjoy the evening.

My timing was a little off, and I arrived at the Polynesian too early for the Give Kids the World fundraising event. I really wanted to take a photo tour of the monorail resorts all decorated for the holidays so I headed for the monorail. I got some really nice shots at the Grand Floridian, Contemporary, and back at the Polynesian. Unfortunately, after wandering around for a bit back at the Poly, I couldn’t find the event. Instead, I stumbled upon the gang in the Polynesian Concierge Lounge, including Len Testa, Tom and Sarah Bricker, Scarlett Litton, and many more. I enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine and Wishes in the Poly Concierge Lounge, then excused myself to join some folks I’d arranged to meet up with for a late dinner over Twitter.

I met @DragynAlly, @njoysiscaretti, @WDWSoloMeets, @DisTourReviews and @jeffswear for dinner at The Wave, which is next to the check-in desk at The Contemporary. I didn’t really know what to expect there, but I was really impressed with the food. I had the short ribs, which were served atop a terrific parsnip purée. The short ribs were cooked perfectly – fork tender, rich and flavorful. I also couldn’t resist the Creamy Indulgence dessert trio. But the real highlight of the meal for me (aside from the company) was probably the Organic Beer Flight. It included samplings of three different organic beers from the Orlando Brewing Company: Blonde Ale, Pale Ale, and Brown Ale. All three were excellent. The Blonde had a crisp, clean taste. The Pale ale was richer, and a bit citrusy. Finally, the Brown ale had a deep, full-bodied flavor, and was a touch malty/sweet). The beer flight was a GREAT bargain at $7.25 for the three 7.5 oz pours. I also really enjoyed the conversation with my dinner companions – I ended up spending a lot of the next couple of days with this crew. It was a late night, but well worth it.

Next up, BabyCakes NYC, Epcot, Scorpion Flight, and Illuminations Dessert Party!

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