Wednesday the 21st we went to Hollywood Studios. Madelyn, Robin, Jill, and I headed straight to the Tower Of Terror and rode it, then headed over to the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Madelyn hadn’t realized it went upside down, and got nervous enough she didn’t want to ride. Robin was going to stay with her but I volunteered to – and was glad as both Robin and Jill thought it was more bone rattling than before. We headed over to Toy Story Mania! where the rest of the family had gone on multiple times, and went on again with us. It’s a great interactive shooting game, and the boys loved it. Next we headed over to Muppet*Vision 3-D and everyone liked that, but next was the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, a very big hit, especially with the boys. We split up after that, and Tiernan, Melissa, Ava and I took in the “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” Movie Set Adventure, good for little ones. Then we met up with everyone and most of us headed back.
Later in the afternoon, Jill and I headed over to Downtown Disney with Melissa, Dominic and the kids. They had lunch at McDonalds and we went to the Wolfgang Puck Express where I had a Italian panini and Jill had tortilla soup and a chicken pesto sandwich. Jill took off with Madelyn, Melissa with Ava, and Dominic and I went with the boys. Ever since I’d told them about Ridemakerz custom remote control cars, they’d been very excited to go, to the point of making sure they had enough money for it (I’d asked about prices when Robin and I scoped out the area). They were fascinated by building the cars – I joked with Dominic that we could have snuck out for a pint and they’d never notice.
Once the kids were out for the night, Sue came over to watch them and Melissa, Dominic, Robin, Jill, and I took the boat back over to Downtown Disney to have dinner at Paradiso 37 (37 for the countries of the Americas cuisine they have plus 37 varieties of tequila). Jill and I shared some queso and chips, then I had a salad and some seafood fritters while she had a trio of sliders. They also did a number of incredible tequila cocktails, especially the Corzinger (Habenero Lime Juice, muddled strawberries and Tequila). We had a long enjoyable evening as the dusk crept in around us.
Thursday it was finally Magic Kingdom time. After the big opening, Melissa, Robin, Jill, and Madelyn headed straight to Space Mountain while Sue, Dominic, and I took the other kids to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, which Jill and I had really enjoyed when we were there last. The kids all loved, and we went on multiple times. When the girls had finished, Robin, Jill, Madelyn, and I went to the other side of the park and waited for it to open so we could ride the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Once done we grabbed Fastpasses for Splash Mountain for later, then I headed back to the kids. They were waiting for the Astro Orbiter. I wasn’t sure what it was (you can’t see it from underneath), but went on anyway. Not a good idea, I was queasy for a while after that. We went to Fantasyland next and the kids rode some rides, then I met up with Jill. She’d gotten both of us a Fastpass for Space Mountain so we could ride it together, but it was shut down. Instead we got a drink and did a little ornament shopping before meeting up with everyone at Splash Mountain. Everyone but Sue and Ava headed in, and it was a big hit.
Robin, Jill, and I headed back after that, Robin got lunch from The Artistâ€™s Palette while Jill and I had all the Asian leftovers that had been piling up. We relaxed in the afternoon and I finally got the chance to do some reading. Everybody got together for an early dinner at the Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney. Jill and I shared a salad and the BBQ chicken wrap (ok, but sauce was way too sweet). The kids enjoyed the surroundings, and we got big family photos later without too much fuss.
Everyone was scheduled to return to the Magic Kingdom, but I wasn’t feeling so great and stayed in the room. It turned out to be a good idea, as when I finally logged in for the first time in two days I found we’d gotten 7 offers, including some way below and way above the listing price (the guy we’d countered had countered again, but below our threshold). I called Jill to check in and affirm we’d take the highest, then called our agent. The great thing about house buying and selling now is you can do everything online (although not every firm does). No hunting down a fax machine, I was able to sign the contract right from my netbook. When everyone got back, Melissa, Dominic, Robin, Jill, and I headed out to the hot tub.
Friday was our day off, no kids, so of course we slept in while they returned to Hollywood Studios. Robin, Jill, and I met up with Sue and Dave and Kelley and John for lunch at Fulton’s Crab House. I had the crab club sandwich while Jill had the shrimp po’ boy and we split a salad. After lunch Dave and I took a bus, walked some, rode the monorail and caught a van to get to the Richard Petty Driving Experience, where my birthday gift to him was riding shotgun in a NASCAR stock car for several laps while I watched. He said it was his favorite part of the vacation, and I was glad he enjoyed it so much.
For dinner Sue, Dave, Jill, and I went over to Raglan Road, where after a long wait they seated us in the bar (reservations don’t seem very helpful in Downtown Disney on a Friday night). Thankfully the food was good – I had a grilled meat sampler, and was surprised with lamb and housemade sausage to like the steak the best. Jill had a burger she really liked, and they had some good beers on tap. Melissa and Dominic had made it over and ordered food outside, but Dave and I headed out.
I’m the guy who checks to see what bands are playing, and got quite a surprise this time – a band playing I really wanted to see and they weren’t really playing near here (Richmond on a weeknight doesn’t count). So after our five minute walk to the House of Blues, we got in to see Porcupine Tree on their second song. Their new CD is their second concept album in a row, and they were opening each show with it. Dave seemed to enjoy himself, but headed out after Jill showed up during the second set. I’d bought three tickets in case Dominic wanted to go, but he wasn’t interested. And after everyone else had called it a night, Jill decided to join us. I enjoyed both sets, but the punch of Anesthetize II: The Pills I’m Taking followed by Lazarus (a great song I was hearing live for the first time) was the best part. On the walk home, we picked up some Ghiradelli ice cream, the chocolate was very good.
Saturday morning we didn’t have to get up early but did to say goodbye to everyone and help them head off (they were all on the same flight). We relaxed for a while and had breakfast before packing up and heading to the lobby. We headed to the airport on an earlier bus and despite a very long security line still were at our gate with ninety minutes to kill, so went back to the next set of gates as they had better food, including a Nathan’s. A hot dog with cheese and coleslaw was new to me, but very tasty – too bad the hush puppies they had were not. The flight back was fine, although Jill’s bag was damaged. The house feels very different now – both the way it looks and we’re starting to detach (the buyers had done a home inspection that morning). Jill wasn’t feeling great, so she had soup and I had a turkey sandwich, then we watched a lot of TV.
Sunday we picked up the dog, then I headed to the National Mall for the Earth Day Climate Rally. I got there in time to see Passion Pit, nice dance pop. Reggae legend Jimmy Cliff played all his hits, then The Roots took over (I believe they’d been scheduled two years ago, but were rained out). They started with a set of their own stuff, then my favorite set of the day with all star singers, including Mavis Staples, Patrick Stump (ex-Fall Out Boy), Joss Stone, Bob Weir and Robert Randolph with Booker T on keys. John Legend came out for another set with them, but it was from a new album coming out this year and all unfamiliar. Much better was Sting with the Roots, doing a predictable setlist that was still pretty fun to hear: Fragile/Driven To Tears/One World/Message In A Bottle. Before Sting, James Cameron gave one of the more inspired speeches of the day. Then I headed back, made another sandwich and we watched some more TV.
Also, all photos are here.