As I said in the first part of today's blog post, my wife and I were to meet Michael (Explore the Magic) and his family at the Magic Kingdom for the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. We made it to the park around 6PM and were faced with a sizeable crowd to get into the park.
Well, the sizeable crowd was to get through the bag check not necessarily the park. I am really starting to hate the bag checks because I have to open all these little pouches in my camera bag and after losing stuff in the past two trips I am now paranoid that something is going to fall out. Plus, you have the added pressure of all those other impatient people standing behind you in line and the security people aren't always the most nice and understanding people.
After making it through bag check it took no time to get our tickets fed through the machine and cross through the turnstile. Then we just stuck out our arms and got the wristbands that told Disney Cast members that we belonged in the after hours, hard ticket event.
We decided that we'll make our way to the Haunted Mansion. I also took some pictures on the way over to Liberty Square, the home of the Haunted Mansion.
As we got into the line, we saw Michael and his family coming out of the Haunted Mansion. We got his attention and they decided they'll ride it again. We let the line pass us until we caught up with them. The line moved relatively quickly and we got into the Stretching Room before we really knew it. I must say that it was very humid outside at this time.
I have to say that positioning in the stretching room must make a difference because I noticed a considerable difference in the new audio effects in the stretching room today.
Once we got out of the stretching room and joined all the other people pouring out of the other stretching room (you know they have more than one don't you), we waited to get on our doom buggy. Well, nothing is simple with us. The ride broke down for a considerable amount of time and Michael's kids didn't like sitting still so much. They got a bit antsy. Eventually, the ride started up and we were quickly on our doom buggy. My wife rode with Michael's wife and daughter and I rode with Michael and his son. I knew that I wasn't going to have much luck taking pictures but for some reason I tried again anyway. This time the audio was not screwed up as we passed through the new staircase scene.
After getting off the Haunted Mansion it was decided that we'll be going to Toontown so that we can get pictures of the kids with Mickey and Minnie. My wife and I decided that we'll get pictures with them too.
We stopped quickly to take a picture of the sign into Toontown when it started sprinkling. Before we knew it, the sprinkling turned into pouring. It became every man, woman, and child for themselves. My wife ducked into the women's bathroom and I did the men's. That was the closest place with shelter for us to get our rain coats on. Plus, I needed to stow my camera to try and protect it from the rain.
After getting some wet weather gear on, we booked it to Minnie's house and regrouped with Michael and his clan. We were quickly informed that Mickey and Minnie would be in the location where you normally can line up to meet all the other characters and Princesses in Toontown. So, we hauled butt over there and get very wet in the process. Fortunately for my wife and I we had raincoats, but Michael and his wife did not. I don't think the rain bothered Michael much (until he was in air conditioning), but I could tell his wife wasn't have the most fun standing around getting wet and sitting in wet clothing.
After standing around for what seemed like hours, Michael's wife was able to find out that Minnie and Mickey were at the Judge's Tent outside Mickey's House. So, once again, we batted down the hatches and ran back through the ran to our next destination. This time, the Judges Tent. At this point, I found it too much of a pain to bag and unbag my camera. So, I'm running through the ran hunched over my camera shielding it from the rain like a running back does with a football.
We made it to the Judges Tent and most of us were soaked to the bone. So, now we were standing in a well air conditioned space in wet clothes. I must say that my floppy hat that I bought shielded my face from the rain very well.
We stood in line for ages before we got to go back and meet with Minnie and Mickey. Michael gave his camera to his wife to take pictures of their kids while he took my camera and took pictures of me and my wife with Mickey and Minnie.
After getting our pictures taken, a Disney Cast member escorted us through some back stage hallways to dump us back to the store we started out in to avoid the rain. After waiting for about 30 minutes, Michael and his wife decided they were going to head to the Guest Relations department on Main Street and ask to see if the could get a refund. Enchanted and I decided that we were going to go to Cosmic Ray's and grab some food and hopefully ride out the storm.
For you see, we spent over $70 for the hard tickets and like everyone else, we were staying in the park until they kicked us out to get our money's worth.
Once we made our way into Cosmic Rays, Enchanted found us a table and I dropped off all my wet stuff (coat, camera bag, tripod bag, etc) so that I could order us some food. First, I stopped off at the restroom. After all that cold to warm and back action, my bladder shrunk to the size of a pea and was screaming at me.
Inside the restroom there were more people changing their clothes into something dry than were using the facilities for what they were designed.
After taking care of that little order of business, it was off to order our food. The guy in front of me was having trouble because the cash register wasn't registering any of this meal credits nor would it let him charge his meal to his room. I must say that considering everything that we were all going through, he handled it splendidly. Eventually, his room was charged for the meal and he went on his way.
The poor kid behind the register was a bit frazzled. I joked with him that he got a tad more business than he was expecting for this party.
After getting our food, I made our way back to Enchanted who was holding our table. When we were about half way through our food, Michael called to tell us that the Guest Relations people told them that the weather reports were saying that the rain was going to blow through and therefore they were still wanting to do the fireworks, but they'll be late. He informed me that they decided to stay and wanted to know where we were. I told him that we were still at Cosmic Rays and would keep an eye out for them.
Unfortunately, the overhead announcement said that the fireworks were soon and we still didn't see Michael nor his crew. So, we ended up heading out looking for a spot for ourselves. As soon as we parked ourselves in front of the Rose Garden my phone rang and it was Michael. Apparently, I was right in front of them. We met up with Michael on the path inside the Rose Garden and the location wasn't ideal but wasn't horrible either.
So, we setup the tripods and got ready. Michael's wife ended up buying some dry clothes and changed then she took the kids to get some candy and my wife went with them.
Just as Michael predicted, it started raining again because we had setup our tripods. So we ducked into the covered areas in the Rose Garden to ride out the rain. Unfortunately, the rain didn't stop before the fireworks started.
A nice Disney castmember was giving us advice on camera settings and I got a couple shots that might be good, but I had two things working against me:
- Rain on my lens
- The smoke wasn't blowing away which was creating a screen shielding the fireworks from our view
After the fireworks were over, we decided to find a place for viewing the parade. We got a space to setup our tripods, but cast members kept stepping in front of us. I'm sure they didn't do it on purpose, but I would figure all the flash bulbs going off in their eyes would've deterred them from standing where they were.
I hardly got any decent pictures of the parade. Our location was sub-prime and there was a bright spotlight right across the street from my camera and that was throwing off my exposures.
After the parade, we walked over to the front of the castle for the stage show. Michael and I setup a few paces back of the castle near the partner statue so that we could get some good composition of shots. I really liked the stage show and I tend to avoid them like the plague. The soundtrack was quite entertaining and the lighting effects were cool.
After the stage show, Michael and his family decided to head on home. They offered us a ride back but we decided to stay because my wife wanted to do some more shopping and I wanted to do some tripod pictures of the park.
I ended up setting my tripod up in a few locations to take pictures of Cinderella's Castle and Tomorrowland. I think I got a couple good shots of the Castle framed with the Partner Statue in the shot.
After about 30-40 minutes taking pictures, we exited the park. Even after delaying our departure as much as we did, the line to get on our bus was still pretty long. Once we were on the bus, we ended up having to stand on the ride home. My wife and I were pretty amazed at the people who just ignored those people who should've been given their seat (i.e. pregnant women and older people). I can understand it, we were all tired and wet, but still, it was kind of rude. Maybe I learned all about that courteous behavior from all those years of taking public transportation.
We did eventually get ourselves back to the resort. This is one of the awesome reasons you want to stay in the Grandstand section of Saratoga Springs. You are the first stop which means we didn't have to stay on that bus standing any longer than we had to.
That is how this day ended. Two very soaked people got an interesting evening with an friend and his family and maybe got a couple nice pictures to remember it with.
Remember folks, once you underwear is wet, there is nothing left but to have fun! So, keep it grumptastic and enjoy the ride.