Year of a Million dreams. MGM, er, Hollywood Studios

During our Disney trip, WDW was in it's "Year of a Million Dreams" campaign. There were all sorts of give-aways going on around the park from shopping sprees, to the deluxe, super-special prize: a Night in Cinderella's Castle. I have to confess that I was campaigning for the night in Cinderella's castle prize. When I was waiting to get into the Magic Kingdom, I tried to look very enthusiastic and excited and wonder bread-ish. Since I wasn't with a family, I probably wasn't going to get that prize, but a girl can dream, right?

I digressed. So, anyway, Friday morning of our trip--that would be day five--we woke up tired, but the adrenaline of being at Disney (with an agenda) got us up and going. We caught the shuttle to MGM and were there when the gates opened. I didn't have a lot of pre-concieved notions about Hollywood studios (as it is now called), but we had our trusty guidebook with us and knew that first and foremost the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror must be ridden. We bee-lined to the TTTT and got in line. We were one of the first groups and the ride wasn't quite ready--we saw one area lit up that shouldn't have been, but honestly, I wouldn't have known it. I was hesitant about this ride--you travel to the top of this huge tower and get dropped several times--free-falling in an elevator shaft, people! The decor and ambiance of the ride won me over and the ride itself sealed the deal. I LOVE THE TWILIGHT ZONE TOWER OF TERROR!!! We rode it once, then ran to get Fastpasses for something and then went back to that area--Tuan wanted to do the Rock'nRollercoaster. After Space Mountain, I wanted none of that, so I decided to go back to the TTTT. As we entered the antechamber to watch the pre-movie, some Disney folks shuffled by me. When the little movie ended, they stopped us and said we were lucky visitors to the park, because we had won Dream Fastpasses!!! A dream Fastpass gives you one clear shot into each of the main attractions without waiting. I was pumped, but at the same time, I thought--"Oh, no! Tuan's not going to get one!" Nevertheless, getting that was pretty awesome.

I re-met Tuan and told him about it. Even though he didn't have the DF, it worked to our advantage nonetheless because I could still get regular Fastpasses, which meant he could use mine and we could double up on FP for him. (It made sense, trust me).

Hollywood studios was and is a bit of a blur because I never got my bearings about where things were. It was one of my favorite parks/days, though. We did the great movie ride which has scenes from Mary Poppins (!!) and The Wizard of Oz. So fun. My favorite surprise, though, was suddenly coming up on a Pixar Street. It was very Toy Story themed with monkeys, crayons and army men all over the place. That was just amazing.

There was a Prince Caspian show/exhibit (you could actually meet Prince Caspian--cheesy), but you were able to go into Aslan's How and see a short film about Prince Caspian followed by an exhibit of costumes and props from the movie. We could have stayed in there for a while--WETA's work is so cool.

For lunch, we ate at Pizza Planet--being a Pixar fan, it was just so cool--the coin machine Aliens were all over the place in there--so fun! We found Luigi's garage where you could have your photo made with McQueen and Mater--we did it from a distance to avoid the line. (for Johnny, of course)

We rode Star Tours, watched the Stunt Driving show, toured the backlot, watched Muppet Vision 3-D. One really cool thing was the Honey I Shrunk the Kids play ground. It's going to be fun to take Johnny in there! The Toy Story Arcade is the newest and most popular thing going right now. The avg line was NINETY MINUTES! I can't imagine holding out for that and thanks to the Fastpasses, we didn't have to. The waiting queue was pretty phenomenal. You were literally in Toy Story land and everything was from the perspective of being a toy. The ride was great, too--you go through a virtual arcade and shoot a gun at different games hosted by Toy Story characters. It's amazing, amazing, amazing.

The Indiana Jones Stunt Show was amazing, as was the afternoon's parade which had a lot of Pixar characters. We actually finished up our main rides at the Indiana Jones Stunt Show--when it ended, the temperatures had dropped and it was getting dusk. This worked out splendidly because it was time for the Osborne Family Christmas Street Pary (not those Osbornes--I was concerned, too). This family in Ark had a lights display that wore out it's welcome with the neighbors and Disney bought it and plunked it onto one of their fake streets. It was amazing--when night fell, all the lights came on and there was this giant Christmas block party happening. Music was playing and the lights were twinkling and the snow was falling--yes, indeed. Disney had seven snow machines dropping the fluffy white stuff on us. So cool! (So, for all of you who gloated, we had snow, too--and it was dry and warm).

Our day at MGM ended with watching Fantasmic--a crazy lights/water/character/fireworks show in an outdoor lagoon amphitheater. The premise of it is cheesy: Mickey is threatened by all the villains and somehow by wishing and dreaming he defeats them. The execution was incredible, however it was scary. I was surprised that there wasn't a disclaimer, because I would have totally freaked out had I seen that as a kid.

As we left the park, we were completely in a mass of people exiting. It was after eight, which meant suppertime. We trucked over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. There are two African themed restaurants there. Jiko and Boma. Jiko was the upscale one where we had reservations, but when we saw Boma, we asked to switch and our very wish was granted. Boma was an African Buffet and so fabulous! There were Hummuses galore, fantastic foods that reminded me where a lot of our southern cooking comes from, great soups, and of course, divine desserts. The southern influence got us tickled when I was eating a corn and spinach souffle/casserole. "Tuan, this is amazing--it's like cooked cornmeal" "Paula," replied Tuan, "You're eating grits." It was actually very close to a corn casserole. I highly recommend Boma to anyone who enjoys fun, adventurous food. The kitchen was open behind the buffet and you could see the food being prepared. We so enjoyed our meal, and I pitied the man who sat next to us and ate spaghetti and meatballs (Disney offers bland options for the unadventurous). What a marvelous meal he was missing.

We had to engage in the whole "you can't get there from here" bus shuffling and caught the shuttle to Downtown Disney. We walked around a bit there before heading back to the room. I think we got in around eleven. Tuan and I had been in constant motion for fifteen hours. Our feet ached, but we'd had a blast--and one day remained!

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