Monday, November 15, 2010

The Troublemakers Go to Walt Disney World (Part 2)

I guess I do have some more to say about our Disney trip. I was just running out of gas big time towards the end of Part 1. The tail end of a thirteen hour shift will do that to you.
Before I get to the story I want to mention a big, huge thing that I neglected last time: I got new shoes.
This is my first pair of grown-up shoes, by which I mean they are not skate shoes or boots that were purchased from a store that also sells hair dye and punk CDs. I bought them at Sears. And they are AMAZING. We did more walking in our week at Disney than I have probably done all year, and I did not suffer any back or knee problems at all. I feel like an old, old man having to write that; but it’s just how things are now. I need arch support. So know this: Phantom Troublemaker now officially endorses New Balance sneakers and if the New Balance company would like to send along a few pairs in, say, a nice purple and green; I will gladly produce a song about them. What the hell rhymes with “balance”?

Okay. So I left off at the end of the Pub Crawl Monday night.
For some crazy reason, Mrs. Troublemaker is much more interested in shopping than in wandering around amusement parks. It is absolutely insane to me that we got up on Tuesday morning and drove to an outlet mall instead of immediately going to one of the four Disney parks, but this was her vacation, too. I’ll have to admit that when Garmin sent us to the wrong place and we lost at least an hour and a half of the day driving too far I got pretty fucking jerky, but it was from the culmination of all the little (and not-so-little) things that had been bothering me. She bore me out like a trooper, let me stew for a while and moved on. And spent an amazingly small amount of our money.
Lil’ Troublemaker was perfectly content to hang out with his grandparents in the room, which was good because we didn’t want him all worn out before the big Halloween parade.
If you don’t know, Walt Disney World has a month-long Halloween celebration every year. On certain nights throughout October the Magic Kingdom will host Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. The whole park is redone in Halloween lighting and spooky touches will be added throughout the park to add a Halloweeny feel, like a creepy lady sitting outside the Haunted Mansion:
Or a ghoulish barbershop quartet roaming the streets of Frontierland:
It’s an amazing time no matter how old you are, and the best part is the parade that runs through the entire park. They do it twice each night and it is easily my favorite parade ever. We wanted Lil’ Troublemaker rested and at full readiness for fun.
When you have a three-year-old (and a wife), you have a limited amount of time each day to do any given thing, and that amount of time is a constantly varying factor. Were it up to me, we’d get to the park at opening time every day and stay until people with mouse ears on shiny badges escorted us out. When other folks with less tolerance for crowds and heat and giant, anthropomorphic animals with safari hats on are accompanying you; you have to be accommodating. I get that.
We wanted to make sure Lil’ Troublemaker didn’t hit his limit before we even got to the big Halloween party, so he stayed with the in-laws while me and the missus went to the stupid outlet mall and then went to her favorite park – Disney Hollywood Studios.
Hollywood Studios is great for a whole lot of reasons – the Tower of Terror, the Aerosmith coaster, Fantasmic!, Star Tours, the Indiana Jones show – everything there is pretty awesome. It is also one of two parks that serves beer, and I had one as soon as we got in. I’m not typically an “I need a drink” drinker, but after my meltdown that morning I wanted “something to take the edge off”. We had some lunch and I downed my cold, relaxing adult beverage and it had the desired effect. I think it was mostly psychological though, because I believe I sweated it out in about five minutes. Normally I can feel one beer a little bit, but I was stone cold sober pretty much as soon as we stood up from the table.
Me and the missus spent a relaxing few hours just wandering around Hollywood Studios. The crowds were light and we were able to pretty much ride stuff whenever we wanted. As a matter of fact, I think the longest we waited the whole week was about fifteen minutes for the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom.
Naturally we went on the Tower of Terror a couple of times. There were so few people that I was able to get some awesome interior pictures that would normally be impossible:

The inside of that place is super-creepy with no people in there.
After that we got to see a new attraction beside the Star Tours setup: the Star Wars Jedi Training Academy. They do a stage show every so often and the deal is that a bunch of kids get toy lightsabers so a guy in a Jedi costume that is much nicer than theirs can show them how to duel. Then Darth Vader shows up with a couple of typically incompetent Stromtroopers to ruin the day. 
The kids have to use their new lightsaber skills to fend off the evil Sith Lord and save the galaxy and I cannot wait until Lil’ Troublemaker is old enough to do this. I would have pushed my mom of a cliff to have the chance to fight a real, actual Darth Vader when I was a kid. Granted, once he actually showed up I probably would have run away and then felt really bad about the whole Mom not being able to fly thing, but holy crap.
I remember going to a Toys R Us Grand Opening when I was a kid and they had a little mini-parade with the real Mister T and some Care Bears and probably Spider-Man because that guy is a total media whore and shows up everywhere (seriously – and people make fun of Lindsay Lohan), but the high point of the event for me was Darth Vader walking out of that stock room. You’ve got to understand - I was still young enough that I didn’t understand how Mister T got all the way from wherever he did the Mister T cartoon to Tucker, Georgia so fast. Because he always did the live-action “Here’s Today’s Lesson” or whatever thing at the end of the cartoon. But that magic paled in comparison to seeing the most evil person in the universe up close. Why we don’t have pictures of that I’ll never know. My parents always took pictures of dumb shit like birthday parties and trees. I do think there’s a picture of me with a big, plastic Fred Flintstone at Carowinds, though.
Sorry. Got off track there.
Me and the missus wandered around Hollywood Studios for a few hours and then headed back to the room.
Lil’ Troublemaker’s Halloween costume was Robin – the Teen Titans version. 
He was Batman last year, but that costume is obviously too small now so we gave it to one of our friend’s kid. He’s young enough that it fits, but I am not afraid to tell you that I am not okay with my kid being Robin to another kid’s Batman (at least not a younger kid). Cyborg? Fine. Beast Boy? No problem. Raven or Starfire? He’s three – we’re not ready for that yet. But Lil’ Troublemaker is second fiddle to nobody. So that other kid – he was Bat-Mite. Because that’s how my brain works. I also went crazy trying to find boots for the costume. Robin does not fight crime wearing Buzz Lightyear sneakers, so neither does Lil’ Troublemaker. I finally found some rain boots in his size that were acceptable. Green gloves were too tall an order, though, and I had to admit defeat on those.
So we got Lil’ Troublemaker into his costume, got our stuff together and headed for the Magic Kingdom and the best Halloween party in the country. I think the Robin costume was a key element in keeping our son excited about things. He was so happy to be going out wearing it that we probably could have gone for dinner at Sizzler and he would have had a great time.
We arrived at the Magic Kingdom shortly after it reopened for the Not-So-Scary Party. All of the lighting was spooky colors and Disney-themed Halloween music was playing over the speakers. 
I cannot even begin to describe how awesome it is to be in that place and see the full appreciation they have for (a family-oriented) Halloween. It’s the same giddy feeling you get when you haven’t seen the Original Trilogy in a while and the opening theme kicks in and you see that crawl start to go up the screen; you know – nerd chills.
The Disney folks were thoughtful enough to hand out trick-or-treat bags at the entrance to the park. They were generous with them, too. I think we each ended up with two or three of them – and they were full by the end of the night. The employees handing out the candy at the various attractions weren’t shy about just handing out handfuls of candy – no stinginess, here.
The first parade was scheduled to start shortly after we arrived, so we settled down on one of the curbs right at the front of Main Street, USA to watch. I got pictures of our great Disney Halloween surroundings while we awaited the arrival of the parade’s first member – the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow:
Yeah. We kind of missed that photo op. His horse’s ass looks spooky, though, right?
While we were waiting, I had the opportunity to make what might be the most ridiculous purchase of my life. If you’ve ever been in the Man Room or have been following this blog for any amount of time that statement probably strikes you as being either extremely unlikely or simply unbelievable. Trust me. Due to the fact that I am a huge sucker for family time, my son, Disney, Halloween and things that light up or glow in the dark; I spent fifteen dollars on this:
A fucking balloon. And I don’t regret it one bit because Lil’ Troublemaker wanted it and loved it once he got it. And it still lives in our living room, albeit in a much-reduced condition:
Here are some of my favorite shots of the parade:

So awesome.
Once the parade was over we wandered around the park for a while. Our first stop was Mickey’s ‘Toon Town so that Lil’ Troublemaker could visit Mickey and Minnie in their houses. Or, apparently, so he could try to make off with anything that wasn’t nailed down.
Which it all was, thankfully.
Lil’ T had been on his first ride at the Animal Kingdom the day before; it was the flying dinosaur ride in Dinoland that’s basically the same as the Dumbo ride. He got a kick out of that one, but right in the middle of ‘Toon Town is what I am always going to remember as the best ride ever: Goofy’s Barnstormer. It’s a kid-oriented roller coaster and the first one that our son had ever been on. He loved it and we had a blast and I’m not ashamed to tell you I teared up a little bit when we asked him who he wanted to sit with and he picked me. Don’t feel bad for Mrs. Troublemaker – she gets plenty of voluntary kid time. Somehow he just knew this was a Daddy thing.
Give Mrs. Troublemaker a break - even kiddie coasters are a challenge to take good pictures on.
After the best roller coaster ever we went to the Haunted Mansion to see if the lines were at all reasonable. There’s no way you can skip the Haunted Mansion when you’re in the Magic Kingdom for Halloween. There was no line, but Lil’ Troublemaker had no interest in it. Mrs. Troublemaker really didn’t either so I proceeded alone. I was thrilled to find out that they’ve redone a good portion of the ride but hadn’t removed anything that I could recall. I’m not going to give you specifics, but two parts of the ride are significantly better than they were before and I think all of the music has been remixed and updated. Purist, don’t get upset. I am as old-school and conservative as it gets where leaving rides alone is concerned and I thought everything was great.
After making sure Mrs. Troublemaker didn’t want to go through, we headed back towards Main Street, USA. We wanted to be sure and pick up whatever exclusive Halloween merchandise they were offering this year. We got some great mouse ears:
and a hat that I can’t show you the picture I took of it without inviting physical violence from my wife who is lovely even when she is wearing an orange witch hat and making the goofiest face I have ever seen in my life.
And then enjoyed dinner at a Tomorrowland eatery, the one with the animatronic piano player that I had completely forgotten about but was utterly charmed by the entire time.
We finished dinner with enough time to do a little more walking around before heading for the exit. We were all tired and ready to get some sleep so we could get up early and return in the morning for Lil’ Troublemaker’s big birthday at the park.
Unfortunately, we got trapped by the second parade of the night just as we got to the front of Main Street, USA and Mrs. Troublemaker just about had a panic attack. The rest of us just sat back and enjoyed the tail end of the parade again.
Until next time, stay creepy,


  1. It was the NEXT night we got trapped & I freaked out. We were trying to get back before birthday night wake-up. Note to everyone-when Disney has a sign out that says EXIT with a huge arrow,you're still never leaving.

  2. I couldn't get Beau to go to Disney's Halloween this year because he thought it was lame last year. But from your pictures it looks like Disney significantly spooked it up a lot more this year. I'm sad that we missed it! :( Glad you guys had a good time though!

  3. Anonymous (whoever you are) - You're right. We didn't see the Halloween parade twice. That's what I get for writing these things two weeks later at three in the morning.
    darkermasks - It's really great. I can't imagine anybody being too jaded to appreciate it. They'd have to be one grumpy old poop.