Disney Cousin Fall Trip: “I’m So Glad You’re Here” 9/15/2017

Hey everyone! I was back at Disney World this weekend, and it was (as usual) amazing. I was joined, by my cousin Tom, and we fit in all four parks and a lot of fun. Arrival day, however, proved tricky.

If I’d been by myself, I’d have simply changed, and headed to a park for the evening. But, Tom only had a 2 day park hopper, so it left us trying to figure out other things to do. I’ll get there.

I had a noon flight and left my apartment at quarter to nine, and was settled in with a mimosa and a basket of chips at the airport bar by 10:30. Lovely. I boarded a quick and comfy flight at 11:30 and landed in Orlando at 2:30.

It was, to almost the minute, two hours from touch down to the resort. A record for me on Magical Express. It was an hour and a half from disembarking. My past two experiences have been longer. I got to Port Orleans Riverside, I’d gotten our room notification before even boarding, but I wanted to make sure we were synched in properly, due to the many reservation changes over the week and the hurricane, so I went to the front desk, got directions and made sure I was good to go.

I changed, and decided to head to the bar. I knew Tom was on the bus so I had some waiting. I chatted with my bartended, the lovely Spencer, who also gave us a ton of drinking tips (seriously, she was awesome, if you find yourself at River Roost, tip her big.) When Tom arrived, he also had a beer and then we headed back to the room so he could changed and we discussed our dinner and evening options.

We wound up at Disney Springs for dinner, Tom eager to try Frontera Cucina.

Guys.

Guys.

This food! We skipped drinks, due to neither of us having eaten much and deciding that we wanted to Trader Sam’s later. But we immediately ordered the Queso Fundido. I then went with the Shrimp Mojo and Tom had the chicken tacos. I also ordered the mashed potatoes, because I can’t help myself.

All of it was incredible. Rick Bayless is one of my all time favorite Top Chef judges and when he won Masters my mom and I actually cried. To finally get to eat in his restaurant was very exciting and that it is so good, is just another layer.

Also, even though I’d forgotten my card, the waitress gave us the 10% AP discount, which was very nice of her.

We then walked around Springs a bit, hit World of Disney to get a baseline for shopping and then hopped a bus to the Contemporary, because it was there and that way we could ride the monorail to get to The Polynesian.

Trader Sam’s was full, so we sat on the terrace and ordered drinks. I had the Krakatoa Punch, and Tom had a Dark And Stormy, and we got to watch a bit of The Incredibles playing by the pool and catch all of Hallo-Wishes as it burst over the Magic Kingdom.

After about 40 minutes on the terrace we were welcomed to the main bar where we switched to beer, chanted to appease the Tiki Goddess Uh-Oa, and overall admired the kitch and fun of the place.

We took a Lyft back to our delightful Royal Room, which we have decided is both absurdly tacky, and amazing at the same time. (Tom supports my “Disney as a viable alternative to Vegas for non gamblers” theory, thus, a tacky themed room totally fits.)

Overall, it was nice to not feel like I needed to rush around, and to have someone else to decided where to eat. (I 100% would have wound up eating food court tater tots because I couldn’t decide if Tom hadn’t said that he wanted Mexican.) And Trader Sam’s is always a good time.

We were quite proud to have clocked a boat, bus and monorail before even setting foot in a park too.

We then settled in and I wrote this report and we got ready for our big trek to Pandora in the morning..

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Top 5 Disney Duets

Guys! I’m leaving tomorrow. With a collective 10 hours of holding for cast members (all of whom were super courteous and helpful, and frankly a lot of folks are dealing with bigger fall out from Irma than having to wait a week to ride Flight of Passage) and tonight I’m going to see War Paint, so I though it was a good time to talk about duets.

A duet is, quite simply, a song sung between two people. They are often, but not always, romantic in nature (all of the ones on this list are…) and often they take place in the climax of Act II. Some of classic Broadway duets include, “People Will Say We’re In Love” from Oklahoma, “Friendship” from assorted Cole Porter projects but mostly Anything Goes, “For Good” from Wicked, “What You Own,” from Rent, and the ultimate Act II duet “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors.

5. “I See The Light” from Rapunzel

I see the light

I remember the first time I heard this song, when Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi sang it at the Oscars. I was already deep into crush land with Zach, because I’d been watching Chuck and learning that he could sing, whoo baby. Anyway, the song, it’s beautiful and illuminates (ha!) the relationship between Rapunzel and Flynn so perfectly, as well as walking through their journey. This is the fulfillment of what they both want more than anything before. And those lanterns.

4. “Once Upon A Dream” from Sleeping Beauty

Once Upon a Dream

There are few things in the world I love the way I love the moment where Aurora and Phillip waltz through the woods together. It’s so lovely, and this perfect little song about feeling like you know some one and being connected by fate and love. Ugh, it’s so beautiful.

3. “Something There” from Beauty And The Beast

Something There

I have deep affection for the music from Beauty And The Beast and “Something There” is certainly up there in the “songs that sometimes get forgotten.” A big function of the duet is often to move us emotionally from one place to another with characters. This does that, almost as clearly as anything.

2. “If I Didn’t Have You” from Monsters Inc.

Monsters Inc

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how much I love Billy Crystal, and I also love John Goodman, and I love the sort of old school-ness of both of them, which is captured in this delightful bff duet between Mike and Sulley from Monsters Inc.

1. “A Whole New World” from Aladdin

A_Whole_New_World.png

In the intro I described “Suddenly Seymour” as the ultimate Act II duet. It is. It is the best one ever written in my very very unexpert opinion, however, Howard Ashman and Alan Menken also wrote the second best Act II duet ever for Aladdin and it’s “A Whole New World.” Aladdin and Jasmine’s magic carpet ride around the world is delightful, romantic and soaring. Also, Lea Solanga.

Runners Up: “Love is An Open Door” from Frozen, “If I Never Knew You” from Pocohontas

 

Arrival

Annalise is finally here! So excited for everyone to meet her! (This whole thing was supposed to be her story once upon a time)

The Marina Chronicle

Time moves differently here than it did in Dovetail, and I’m grateful for it. I’m busy almost all day, helping Elodie and Master Cameron, who runs the medical tent. I’m learning loads about herbs and potions and basic spells to help heal wounds and banish infection.

“Low magic,” Elodie teases me, but it’s such a relief to feel useful for once. At Dovetail I used to walk the halls and grounds and listen to everyone chatter about things that I didn’t care about and really didn’t matter at all, but at camp it’s like everything has a purpose. Count Caleb left about a week after we arrived, explaining that it was time for him to go home.

I miss him, and I know my father does. He’s been restless lately, like he knew something was going to happen soon. Of course he was right, since today everything changed. Two scouts…

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The Great Comet, Digressions, and The Nature of The Epic Novel

natasha

It’s been over two weeks since I saw Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet Of 1812 and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the implications of something like, adapting a few chapters of an epic novel into an Avante Garde rock opera. I was listening to the OBC yesterday and started thinking about how epic novels in general play with subplots.

The digression is a staple of the epic novel, and sometimes they can be a delight, and sometimes they can be a slog, and sometimes completely forgettable.

I’ve never read War And Peace the epic from which the digression that inspired The Great Comet is drawn but I’ve read others. (Les Miserables, Great Expectations, Gone With The Wind, The Lord of The Rings, hell at the moment I’m working through The Stand, which, whether it was Stephen King’s intention to write an old school epic or not, certainly reads like one.) And not all digressions are created equal. I know now that when I read War And Peace that this one will stand out to me, but whether it would have done anything without The Great Comet is hard to know.

Some digressions I love? The extended flashback to Waterloo in Les Mis where Thenardier saves Marius’s father’s life, which leads to Marius becoming the protector of Eponine and Gavroche (oh, did you not know that Gavroche is also a Thenardier child? Well, he is.) and deep guilt at their deaths. Scarlett and Rhett’s trip to New York & Saratoga in Gone With The Wind (Where Scarlett gets pregnant with Bonnie.) Anything where Pip was at school in Great Expectations.

Some digressions I can’t stand? Tom Friggin Bombadil, anything about Marius’s family history not connected to the Thenardiers, anything about Ashley Wilkes that isn’t directly illuminating how Melanie Wilkes is The Bomb Dot Com.

Anyway, that’s been in my head lately. As for actually reviewing the show? I don’t think that I understood enough of it to that. I really enjoyed The Great Comet, it’s a remarkable piece of theater and I’ve fallen very in love with the cast album, but it’s also strange and more than a little bit odd and deeply overwhelming in certain ways.

Disney World Weekend Preview!

I was suppose to go to Walt Disney World tonight! However, there’s kind of a huge hurricane heading to Florida, so I’ve rescheduled for next week. I’ll 100% do a trip report. (You guys seem to like those, and they fill up space here, and I love writing them, so WOO!) But I thought it might be fun to talk about the stuff that I’m looking forward to doing.

This trip will be different, (they all are), but also, I’m going with my cousin Tommy! You all know Tommy from our Holiday nerd discussion topics, and this trip is my graduation present to him. (Oh god, I didn’t PAY for the whole thing…but like, planning it, and I paid for parts…)

Animal Kingdom:

PANDORA! The origin of this trip was so that I could see Pandora without being bogged down by the other things that Juli, Dom and I want to do in November. Then Tom decided to tag along and the rest of the trip took shape.

But I’m hugely and unbelievably excited for Pandora. For the rides, for the atmosphere, for the food. Because of how often I’ve gone to Disney in the past few years, I’m psyched for something that’s completely new to me to be on the agenda.

But I’m also excited (as always) to try to convince anyone of the greatness of Animal Kingdom. I lovvvveee it!!!

Epcot:

FOOD AND WINE! It’s food and wine festival, so we’re planning to spend Saturday evening at Epcot. Graze for dinner and we HAD a late reservation at Rose & Crown, that I sadly wasn’t able to duplicate, but I’m goinna try for a table there anyway. If we can’t get one, chances are my old friend Spice Road Table will probably be able to take us.

Since we’re likely to wind up in Epcot at Lunch Time on Sunday too, I’m not too stressed about getting everything I want at Food And Wine.

Hollywood Studios

I’m hoping to Rope Drop Sunday’s EMH so that we can get the rides in early without many lines. Since there are only like 5 rides open over there right now, I don’t see this as a problem area.

Mostly, I’m excited to do Star Wars stuff with Tom. Much how I was excited to do Star Wars stuff with my siblings and Joe in February. Star Wars is important to us, the movies and lore filled our childhood.

Also, I’m going to be wearing my Poe Disneybound…so….I have to take a picture with BB8.

Magic Kingdom

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party! This worked out really well. My original plan was to fly home Sunday night so I didn’t have to take a day off work. This would have meant no real Magic Kingdom time. (I probably would have hopped over and ridden Haunted Mansion and Pirates.) BUT once Tom decided to come, and we learned it was a party night, this seemed a no brainer.

When Juli and I went to the Halloween party, we had a great time, but missed a lot of it because of our dinner at Be Our Guest.

While I don’t regret this, I’m excited to actually walk around and see the party this time. Plus the short lines it provides means plenty of rides.

While I had inititally planned on a reservation at Skipper Canteen, due to me really enjoying eating there before, and Tom and I both being affeciandos of pun based humor, but again, I wasn’t able to get a reservation (Bummer) but again, we’ll try for a table.

I’m definitely dressing up. Torn between Party Poe (the difference between Party Poe and Poe Disneybound? Chest piece!) and Dapper Haunted Mansion Outfit…it’s a very difficult call…

Other Things:

We were booked at Port Orleans French Quarter, with a River View Room, when rebooking I wasn’t able to get that, or anything, which was at first a huge bummer. BUT THEN! A second call got me rebooked! And not at French Quarter in a regular old room, but at Riverside, in a ROYAL ROOM!

Ordinarily these cost about $100 more a night, but because of the rebooking, it won’t. Also, it’s princess themed.

I’m kind of freaking out about it.

My plane gets in at 3 on Friday and Tom’s gets in at 4:30. He doesn’t have a park pass for that day, so I have some ideas about how to occupy ourselves that evening that don’t involve the parks. Disney Springs is a possibility, I mean, it always is.

But this is also a prime opportunity to do a low pressure, tons of fun Monorail Bar Crawl.

When I did this before I was on schedule because I wanted to be back in the park, and had a Fast Pass. This time, however, no schedule, which basically means lots and lots of time to hang at Trader Sam’s, and to even try to get up to California Grill to watch the Fireworks. (Which will be Hallo-Wishes, which we will also see on Sunday…but you know, beggars and choosers ETC.)

Overall I’m really excited and while the date change is causing us to fly by the seat of our pants a little more (something I’m not great at.) I’ve planned and gotten to know the resort enough that I’m not overly anxious.

Fever Dreams

Hey, I AM building a mythology here…in drips and drabs!

The Marina Chronicle

I didn’t sleep much, but I did find plenty to do, not much of it good. I decided to go to the medical tent when I first woke up. It was a bustling place that smelled oddly good, like sweet things boiling.

“Lady Marina,” Elodie walked over, “can I help you?”

“I,” I swallowed, “I wanted to see if anyone needed any help.” She smiled.

“Of course,” she said, “I have to go to patrol, and Master Walker has finally gone to sleep, but someone needs to look after The General.”

“Is he alright?” I asked. She frowned. “He’s not still bleeding?”

“No, the bleeding stopped, thank the gods,” she mumbled, “but he has a fever.” She walked me over to a cot. General Martin was asleep on it. “I think the wound is infected, I can’t do much about that until the fever passes though.”

“I can watch him,”…

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Right Back Where We Started From

The past few weeks I’ve been rewatching The OC. This came out a desire for comfort food TV…and to remind me what I love about the teen soap genre as I attempt to write my own through the prism of epic fantasy. (The Marina Chronicle, get on board!)

As I worked my way through the dramatic glory that is season 1, the self aware diminishing returns of season 2, the super slog of grossness of season 3, and the delightful breath of fresh air of season 4, I was struck by a few things.

The first is how refreshingly low stakes the show is. Everything stays very personal, to the Cohens and their world, and for at least the first season and a half, the problems themselves aren’t terribly epic.

The second is how the show rolled with it’s various punches. Not every show handles becoming a pop culture phenomenon that well. (I’m looking at you Glee) Not every show figures out where to cut and run on troublesome storylines (Trey Atwood, Newport Drug Dealer and Attempted Marissa Rapist). Not every show figures out which recurring cast members should become permanent so perfectly. (Summer Roberts, Taylor Townsend).

And finally, I want to talk about Ryan Atwood. And Ben McKenzie as Ryan Atwood, and Ben McKenzie’s chemistry with Adam Brody. And Peter Gallagher. And Kelly Rowan. And Mischa Barton. And Rachel Bilson. And Melinda Clarke. And Willa Holland. And Autumn Reeser. (Do you see where I’m going with this?)

The OC is about a group of friends and about a family, but it’s seen through this kid. This kid who takes the opportunity of a lifetime and becomes someone special. (“He’ll always be a bad boy!” “BUT HIS HEART! IT IS PURE GOLD!” – My cousin Tommy and I last Sunday as we watched the last few episodes of season 3. You’ll be hearing from Tom more, in the coming weeks, as we’re going to Disney World together next weekend.) It’s about opening up to trust and love. As hard as it can be to emotionally square Marissa Cooper’s death (it’s still not a great choice.) I always loved the idea that as an adult, Ryan was about to move on to someone who could appreciate his steadiness rather than take advantage of it. (Also, Taylor Towsend is the best, I might just feel this way because she’s pretty much Proto-Blair Waldorf).

And that final moment, when leaving his fancy pants architecture job, he sees a kid like himself sitting worried, and calls out, “Hey Kid, you need some help?” It’s the perfect ending to this story, which while it is a TV show, so follows a lot of different people, is primarily about Ryan Atwood breaking a cycle and starting a new one.

Next on my Teen Soap rewatch? I’m knee deep in Gossip Girl. I watched season 1 in two nights.

It’s sooo good, you guys.