Rockin’ the Birthday Dots

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Mickey Mouse turned 90 years old this year, and all across the Walt Disney World Resort, where I was lucky enough to enjoy a recent lovely vacation, there were tons of opportunities to meet Mickey and Minnie in their birthday wear (not to be confused with birthday suits, which would be an entirely different and altogether terrifying experience.)  Both Mickey and Minnie are sporting some fly new threads for the occasion, a white suit for Mickey and a white sundress for Minnie, both liberally sprinkled with multi-coloured dots.  There are also some black Minnie ears available in the shops, likewise adorned with rainbow-hued polka dots, because this is Disney, and of course there are.

We get asked all the time if we’ve met the park OGs, Mickey and Minnie, and the answer is no, never, not a once.  My husband and I go to Disney World and we meet Kylo Ren, Chewbacca and BB-8.  We stand in a two and a half hour long lineup to meet Jack and Sally of The Nightmare Before Christmas (worth every one of those 9,000 seconds!)  We hang out with Wreck-It-Ralph and Vanellope Von Schweetz, dine with the Beast and rawk out with Vampirina.  And I once nearly overturned a tavern table in my zest for sprinting outside and directly into the bulgy, waiting arms of Gaston.

Character Collage

But Mick and Min have remained elusive.  Something to rectify on our next trip.  For now I’ll just have to satisfy myself with these nails that rock both Mickey and Minnie’s birthday dots.  To the next 90, young mouse(s)!

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Where the F*@! You Been?!: A Disney Vacation Explainer

Ah, friends, I am so sorry – I went and did the thing that annoys the ever-loving stuffing out of me when other bloggers do it, which is drop completely off the grid with nary an explanation for the prolonged absence.  And so I apologize, with the weak justification that I was at Disney, because of course I was at Disney!  Just trying to wring as much value as we possibly can from our annual passes (and at 20 in-park days, including a whole host of other little discounts, I think we’ve done quite well on our investment.)

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We stayed at the Port Orleans Resort French Quarter, a quaint little resort styled like the very cutest and cleanest bits of New Orleans.  I’ve wanted to stay here since Disney built it and its much larger sister resort, the Riverside, nearly 30 years ago.  We somewhat recently soldiered on through a Disney accommodation debacle at Pop Century; the poor experience had actually soured me a bit on all Disney properties, so I was feeling a little nervous about what we might encounter at this smaller, older resort.

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I really needn’t have worried, because we wound up having a fantastic stay, and we loved every minute we were there.  The French Quarter’s older, meticulously maintained buildings and grounds – densely arranged, and occupying a fairly tiny geographical footprint – make the entire resort feel solid, protected and a little hidden.  I liked its sense of small city intimacy and the attendant quiet, both in terms of between-unit noise (virtually nil, but for the faint flushing of those insanely loud air toilets) and the general level of ambient hotel noise.  Plus it was just an adorable little cityscape to call our home for seven days, and the sea serpent water slide at the pool was bitchin’.  Also, powdered sugar-dusted beignets, fried chicken on a biscuit at the food court and swingin’ jazz gators in the streets.  Who wouldn’t love staying here when all that goodness abounds?

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We spent six days doing all of our favourite Disney things, and also trying out a number of fun new experiences.  We ate some incredible meals in-park, at our resort and, of course, at Disney Springs, which is basically a theme park of food, alcohol and merchandise.  We always try to hit up Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ for night one cocktails and southern vittles; our vacations never feel as though they’ve really started until we’ve cozied up out on the screened-in porch with a basket of hush puppies and a couple of moonshine cocktails.

Homecomin' Cocktail Collage

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We tried out a number of new eateries and lounges.  We ate – and mostly enjoyed? – a lot of weird snack food.  One afternoon we wiled away a couple of rainy hours in an honest to goodness tequila cave – La Cava del Tequila – in the Mexico Pavilion.  The queso and quacamole were excellent, as were the margaritas.  And yes, I do fully cop to a Disney margarita problemo – I’m powerless in the face of vacation cocktail hour; does your sanity good!

Tequila Cave Collage

Lest you think all we did was eat and drink (and that’s certainly what both our waistlines AND wallets are currently suggesting) we also rode a record best 21 rides one cold and rainy day.  We hit up the Haunted Mansion five times over two visits and improved our scores on Toy Story Midway Mania over four total rides.  We rode Slinky Dog Dash, the newest and hottest ride in any of the parks, twice, including a last-call ride that put us in the second last dog of the night.  I had a small stroke when I saw that my favourite part of the Peter Pan ride – it’s not even part of the ride, just a small teddy tea table tucked into a corner as your flying pirate ship heads out of the waiting area and into the Darlings’ bedroom – had been removed and replaced with a jumbled pile of toys.  I burst into tears at the sight of it.  I’ve been fascinated with that little table arrangement since I was a very small child; its absence was genuinely upsetting.

Rides Collage

We met a number of cool characters, including Edna Mode of The Incredibles and Mike and Sully of Monsters Inc.

Characters Collage

Our favourite meet-and-greet, though, was with Vanellope Von Schweetz and Ralph of Wreck-It-Ralph.  Vanellope was SO excited to check out my new Wreck-It-Ralph ears, and Ralph was just excited when my husband commented that he looked as though he had lost a few hundred pounds. 🙂

Ralph Collage

Hmm, let’s see, what else?  I got You’d by Darth Vader at Hollywood Studios (I was sitting by a window having a little break when I looked up, and Darth Vader was just staring in the window at me.  I threw him a nervous little wave, and he spun around and stalked off.  That entire family is so freakin’ WEIRD, man.)

One morning when I couldn’t sleep (I get frazzled about flying days out from my actual flight, making sleep in an unfamiliar place pretty much an impossibility) I got up and filmed a solo walking tour of our resort.  Look for that video on our YouTube channel sometime soon.

We watched some phenomenal stage shows (the Nemo show at the Animal Kingdom is incredible; live music, acting and puppeteering at a level that will make you question how you can be seeing something so beautifully produced and performed in a theme park) and incredible fireworks displays.  Much to Mr. Finger Candy’s delight, we played a solid 10 or more hours of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, completed two games and amassed over 20 free packs of cards.  That’s what you call dominating, kids!

Rainy Sorcerers Collage

So that’s where the f*@! I’ve been, once again with apologies for just up and disappearing on you.  I promise now that I’ve gotten that Disney out of my system for the time being, I’ll settle down and get back to the serious business of nail art, literary takes, bath, beauty and wax reviews, and of course planning for our next Disney vacation, perhaps once again at the French Quarter.  And hopefully by that point the teddy tea table will be back. 🙂

Disney Girl Challenge: Woah-o-oh, Vampirina!

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Well, would you look at that – actual nail art on this nail art blog!  However, owing to the fact that my brain now seems to be permanently stuck in Disney auto-pilot mode, you know there’s gots to be some House of the Mouse in here somewhere.

This is Vampirina.  She may be blue, with pointy teeth, but she’s just like you!  Or she’s like the three to six-year-olds who are her target television audience, where she has a cute namesake show about her family’s spooky adventures in Pennsylvania.  It’s a Disney Junior production, though fairly new, which means the kids haven’t quite lost their wee minds over Vampirina and her friends as much as they have over, say, Doc McStuffins or those weirdo PJ Masks critters.  Give it time; I feel like this one is going to be big.

I’m a good 35 years off Vampirina’s targeted age range, but I just find it utterly adorable.  Vampirina Hauntley’s a spooktacular little baby goth, and she’s the kind of thoughtful, self-possessed and totally normal kid anyone would be delighted to call their own.  That she’s a blue-skinned, pointy-toothed vampire from a strange country filled with unfamiliar customs is a metaphor for anybody who may think of themselves as an “other,” although the show doesn’t whap you over the head with its message of acceptance and friendship and understanding.  Or maybe it does and I’ve just been brainwashed after staring into Vampirina’s unmoving purple eyes for too long (my one complaint with the show – the animation is flat, although the rich colours and design of the show are straight out of a Tim Burton movie.)  It’s a terror-ifically delightful and non-irritating children’s show with a kind heart, a great message and a colourful gothic look, and I love it for it, child(-at-heart) or no.  Also, James Van Der Beek voices Vee’s father, Boris, Lauren Graham her mother, Oxana, and Wanda Sykes Vampirina’s 473-year-old gargoyle best friend, Gregoria.  It’s so insanely charming.

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I nearly gave myself a case of the battys when we walked out of a ride on a recent trip to Hollywood Studios and Vampirina was right across the street holding a character meet-and-greet!  We jumped into line and didn’t feel the least bit weird about the fact that we were the only adults around. 🙂

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And oh my gosh, she was SO cute!  On the show, Vampirina plays guitar in a band with her human friends Poppy and Bridget.  The Ghoul Girls thrash out in Vampirina’s stone tower bedroom, and Vampirina’s all about those rawk fingers.  She actually got so excited here after we asked about her band that she nearly stuck her devil horns straight up Mr. Finger Candy’s nose!

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Is there something wrong with us that we’ll stand in line to meet real life plushie representations of fictional animated characters?  Yeah, probably!  But it’s a lot like Vampirina unlocking her inner ghoul – it feels good, so we’re doing it.  Family motto of the last 365 days, actually.  So glad we got to meet this cutie – one day it will probably pay off in cool-loser Aunt Sandra stories for some delighted six-year-olds. 😉

Vampirina Collage 2

What a Character!

On our Christmas trip to Disney we met an absolute ton of characters.  This was partly a function of the crowd levels – the lineups for the meet-and-greets were usually half that of the rides – but also because we just wanted to meet a bunch of our favourite Disney characters; nothing more complicated than that!  Pretty radical departure from when I was a kid, when I had absolutely no patience for the plushies.  Mind you, I was never one of those kids running in terror from Tigger, but I also never felt the need to meet any of the characters either – might have cut into precious Haunted Mansion time, that.

We enjoyed some amazing character interactions, and I’m so glad we decided to take the time to try something a little less ride-oriented and a little more fun-oriented this trip.  I’ve already shared a number of these meet-and-greets, if not all the photos, but what I haven’t already driven you crazy with can’t make you any crazier, can it? 😉 I mean, maybe you were ready two weeks ago for me to shut my yap about Disney already, but that doesn’t seem likely, now does it?!

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Meeting Buzz Lightyear at the Magic Kingdom was a total trip.  We had just stepped off his popular namesake ride, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, each of us bearing Galactic Hero certificates on account of our maxed-out scores, and there he was!  Just waiting to pose with a couple of overgrown dorks.  To infinity and beyond!

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Stitch!  Of Lilo & Stitch.  Or as I like to call him, Mr. Luvah Luvah. 😉

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Us and Chews.  He was our first Star Wars meet-and-greet at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and I thought my husband’s head was going to explode from childlike delirium.  He’s also got mad envy that I received a hug from Chewbacca and he did not.  Apparently righting this transgression warrants an immediate repeat visit (man’s got worse Disney stoke than I do, if that’s even possible.)  But you know, he’s kind of got a point – he’s the lifelong Star Wars fan, not me.  He really should have been the one on the receiving end of a Wookie embrace.

Blog Kylo Ren

Bahahahaha!  I love this picture – we look like we’re being reprimanded.  Which we kind of were?  Emo Kylo Ren here had no effs to give about either of us, stalking around for a bit before declaring us Resistance sympathizers.  Then we took some pictures and then he kicked us off Star Killer Base!  It was the weirdest meet-and-greet, truly.  I just found him wicked intimidating, and the second we walked into his area and he strode over to us, all black cape and inexplicably hot respirator helmet, I forgot all about my plans to pinch his burlap dress-covered butt and just stood there like a goof (just kidding; always keep your hearts and your parts to yourself, kids, unless someone explicitly says, “Lay ’em on me.”  Bloggers and fictional space fascists would do well to heed this advice, too.)

Blog Cruz

Alright, now this is more my speed of meet-and-greet (wah-waaaaaahhhhh)!  Although this was less a meet-and-greet than a meet-and-pose, on account of the fact that Cruz Ramirez up there, badass girl racer star of Cars 3, was really more of a prop than an interactive character.  All the same, I love Cruz’s gym trainer-on-uppers routine, and anything to get into a shot with THE one and only Piston Cup (he done what in his cup?)

Blog Star Lord and Groot

Over in the Guardians of the Galaxy meet-and-greet, we met and greeted Star-Lord and wee little Baby Groot.  I know Baby Groot, who messes about adorably with that pile of spaceship parts laid out in front of him there, is the main draw of this meet-and-greet, but I loved the guy playing Star-Lord – he was such a delightfully amiable dude bro, all affable exasperation and cocky banter.  The actor playing him, while looking less like Chris Pratt than some of the others, had his voice and mannerisms down PAT.  Totally delightful!  And yes, yes, you. are. Groot.  We know, buddy, we know.  You literally speak of nothing else.  Just like me and Disney!

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Not a meet-and-greet, but this entire photo op was such a hoot – just us, another totally game family with some thoroughly mortified/delighted teenagers and a PhotoPass cast member having a whole lot of fun messing around with a bunch of Star Wars props.

Lightsaber Battle

Speaking of, huge props to the PhotoPass photographers who took all of these awesome shots.  We have so very few photos that feature the two of us in one shot, and so we tacked the Memory Maker add-on onto our vacation package.  That allowed us unlimited access to any on-ride photos (always so attractive, those) as well as any photos taken by Disney photographers, including these cool meet-and-greets.  It should be noted that Memory Maker is not the most inexpensive of add-ons.  However, knowing we had a bit of money on the line really encouraged us to utilize the crap out of Disney’s photography services, leading to all sorts of fun, once-in-a-lifetime moments like this one.

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BB-8!  Quite the chirpy little devil.  Mr. Finger Candy looks pleased as punch to be standing beside such an adorable little droid.  He was rather cute, and according to the attendant who was working his meet-and-greet and speaks Droid far better than I, he liked my Sally mouse ears. 🙂

Warm Hugs from Olaf

Olaf the snowman, straight chillin’ in the Floridian sum-MMMMMERRRRRRRR!  Or actually, no, the Floridian winter, but to a Canadian, it might as well be summer.  And just for the record, Olaf gave, and received, some very nice warm hugs.

Blog Beast

And the Beast, of course, was an unbelievably gracious host, receiving us in his study following our Christmas evening dinner at Be Our Guest.  I’ve outed us before on this one, but it’s worth being not-at-all embarrassed anew – I curtsied and my husband bowed, and we are gigantic goobers.  Wouldn’t want it any other way. 🙂

Smooches from Stitch

Stitch Nail Collage

We met Stitch, the Elvis-worshiping, ukulele-playing little alien from Lilo & Stitch, on our Christmas trip to Disney World, and it was one of the very best moments of our entire fantastic vacation.  Stitch is a scampy little troublemaker under the very best of circumstances, but he was extra sassy during this character meet-and-greet, briefly bro-ing down with my husband before dismissively RASPBERRYING him in favour of giving me hugs and licks and kisses. 🙂

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And I don’t look like I mind this one bit (because I don’t!) but I can’t say the same for my husband, who was seriously side-eyeing this amorous little bugger putting the moves on his wife!  Not to worry, sweetie, I’m not looking to trade one barely controllable, blue-garbed weirdo for another. 😉

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I think this manicure turned out so well!  I like to think I was inspired by Stitch’s little crush, because he actually sort of looks like himself here and not like some sort of hideous mutant creature.  Progress!  And we couldn’t get out of the parks without picking up a couple of items in Stitch’s furry blue likeness, including these cute socks (can’t EVER have too many novelty socks, in my estimation) and a tiny clip-on Stitch, right, who rode around on my husband’s backpack for a few days.  Today his magnetized claws cling to the front of our fridge.  The slightly larger Stitch plush was a thoughtful gift from an alien-loving friend (thanks, Rocky!)

Stitch Nails and Merch Collage

Star Wars at Disney

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Straight off the bat, let’s establish my Star Wars fangirl bona fides – I have none!  I will freely admit to being a fairweather friend to the Star Wars franchise.  I loved The Force Awakens, haven’t actually seen The Last Jedi (although I look forward to that shirtless Kylo Ren scene I keep hearing so much about) and I watch A New Hope, Empire and Jedi every May the 4th purely because my husband loves them and I love him.  Otherwise…I mean, you guys have seen how Boba Fett goes out.  This is the galactic badass every guy I’ve ever known has rhapsodized about?  Holy cripes.

Okay, so I don’t worship at the temple of the Jedi (that’s probably an actual thing, right?)  But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate what Disney has done at Hollywood Studios in the lead-up to the 2019 opening of Galaxy’s Edge, which is nothing short of incredible.  I was legitimately dazzled by the ultra detailed world-building Disney has already carried out in the absence of, you know, an actual physical space in which to build their world (that bit of Disney magic is carefully concealed behind tall construction walls, a solid third of the park.)

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Whether it’s droll Stormtroopers walking about the park, offering deadpan observations about the Florida weather, or the hourly live stage show, featuring recreations of iconic scenes from the movies, or the awesome character meet-and-greets, or the displays of props and memorabilia, or the short preview films, or the completely nutso light, projection and fireworks show that closed out the evening, there’s so much to experience and so, so much to be excited about.  It’s going to be just bonkers when the fully immersive “Star Wars Land” opens in 2019.  Also bonkers busy.  Think about the lineups in Pandora and then multiply that by a factor of 25,000 rabid Star Wars fans.  Should be fun!  Also sounds like a challenge for these two amusement park masochists.  Consider the gauntlet thrown!  Also, try the blue milk, it’s…delicious?

Blue Milk Collage

So in the absence of any new, big ticket attractions like actual rides, precisely what adventures did we have at the edge of Galaxy’s Edge?  Well, we…

Star Tours Collage

…rode Star Tours, the OG Hollywood Studios attraction.  This hulking AT-AT, which is large enough to block out the sky, stands in front of the entrance to the ride, while the Ewok-constructed walkways of Endor provide in-line shade from the hot midday sun.  The detail here is just exceptional; if it’s any indication of what we can come to expect from Galaxy’s Edge, it’s going to be phenomenal.

Less phenomenal was discovering, mid-ride, just as I was admiring Poe Dameron’s handsome face in the newly-added scenes, that motion simulators (like the one I was on) no longer accord with my increasingly wussy constitution.  I’ve always been known for having a bit of a cast iron stomach.  I’ve been temporarily felled by food poisoning a time or two, true, but over the whole of my life, I have rarely experienced an issue with motion sickness.  And in this very specific instance, I have never experienced an issue with motion sickness over probably 10 lifetime rides.

That is regrettably no longer the case, because Star Tours turned me inside out.  As did another motion sim, Flight of Passage, one of the Avatar rides at the Animal Kingdom, some days later.  I closed my eyes through the majority of that one (what you can’t see can’t make you throw up), but I had yet to learn that lesson on Star Tours.  I immediately broke out into a prickly, ice cold sweat, and then spent the next four minutes desperately trying to stop myself from launching my cookies into hyperspace.  Mission somehow complete, I stumbled off the ride and immediately collapsed on a garbage can-adjacent bench, the back of my light grey t-shirt soaked with panic sweat.  It was a hell of an exit. 😦 On a less dismaying note, we also…

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…met Chewbacca!  Quite the gracious fella, and super giving with the hugs.  Look at how chill he is up there with his furry paws slung over our shoulders!  Next up, we were…

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…alternately creeped out and freaked out by this emo lurker.  Meeting Kylo Ren was – not too surprising, this – INTENSE.  He basically stalked around for a few minutes sizing us up before accusing us of being Resistance sympathizers.  Then he booted us off Star Killer Base!  Did he not take note of my husband’s Empire Red shirt or my Vader Kitty tee?  Probably just seething behind that mask, thinking about perceived slights.  And his hair.  Possibly his abs.  Super weird dude.

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Here I am attempting not to giggle in the face of galactic greatness, and failing miserably.  Disrespecting a Supreme Leader of the First Order – think that one’s gonna cost me? 😉  Anyhow, once I was done with that little bit of treason, we went out and…

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…had a lightsaber battle!  It was actually quite cathartic.

Christmas Card

This was MORE cathartic!  Or at least it was for me. 😉  I’ve been not-at-all joking that this is going to be next year’s Christmas card.  I think it is my favourite photo of us ever.  Next up we…

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…met a Stormtrooper.  One of the sassy ones who like to gripe about the Florida humidity.  Mr. Finger Candy is bearing a look on his face, standing there beside one of his childhood obsessions (a toy literally freakin’ come to life!) that suggests that his brain just might have broke. 🙂 It was actually really super cute watching him geek out over a beloved movie franchise springing into glorious life right before his eyes.  Speaking of, we also…

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…took in a lot of cool movie memorabilia, such as the Millennium Sparrow and a weird cage ‘o parts containing R2D2’s missing arm.  Haha, I’m just kidding – I’m not that much of a Star Wars doof.  I know it’s the Millennium Eagle and C3PG’s arm, duh! 😉

Star Wars Helmet Collage

There were also a number of prop and replica helmets, weapons, costumes and vehicles on display, such as Rey’s broken down hunk of junk (talking about her weird burlap hoodie here and not the hover vehicle.)

Star Wars Kylo Collage

Also the creepy lurker’s seriously ill-conceived, dual-ended lightsaber (that thing really does look like it was designed by a fourth grader) and a $2,500 bust of Kylo Ren’s grandpappy, to which he darkly promised he’d finish what he started.  We also took some time to…

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…meet BB-8!  There was definitely a bit of a communication barrier between us and everybody’s favourite droid, but his cute chirps transcended the human-droid communication gap – apparently he was quite taken with my ears. 🙂  Towards the end of the evening we also found time to…

Star Wars merch

…indulge in a bit of Star Wars-related consumerism.  We picked up these matching hats, bearing what about a half dozen guys assured us is THE most romantic sentiment ever uttered in a movie, along with this cute Resistance Tech pin bearing my husband’s name in the language of Aurebesh.  Wearing matching anything may seem pretty dorky, but like the Jack and Sally hats we purchased at Halloween, these chapeaus really saved our easily freckled, tender pink skin from nastier burns than the ones we already received.  Also, wearing matching clothes is practically expected at Disney; these hats definitely fall on the lower end of the Matchy Kingdom scale (I saw a family of about 15 at Christmas all wearing custom printed fleece onesies.  It was sort of disturbing!)  We finally closed out the evening with…

Star Wars Projection

…front row, slightly right-of-centre seats for the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks and projection light show.  This show, featuring iconic scenes from the movies, was absolutely incredible, and I say that as someone not hugely enamored with the films.  Truth be told, I’ve always found them to be cold, and maybe even a little bit soulless.  But I was an emotional wreck during this show, puffing up with fury during General Hux’s righteously indignant call-to-arms, cheering as colourful lasers and gigantic fireballs set fire to the night, and welling up with tears as pretty pretty Luke gazed off tenderly into the sunset(s).  Such an emo family, those Skywalkers.  And with all of it set to John Williams’ iconic score, it’s an amazingly large and fulfilling experience for Star Wars fans and near-newbies alike.  A can’t miss if you’re at Disney World, period.  I’d come back to see this one in a heartbeat.

There were a number of other Star Wars-related things we took in over the course of the day, from the impressive March of the First Order, to the hourly midday show, and all of it punctuated by the “sounds of Star Wars” – marching Stormtroopers, Vader’s breathing, and so. many. freakin’. explosions!  There’s just stuff blowing up all the time, all over the park.

We had a simply stupendous time exploring all of the Star Wars offerings at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  There is so much to do right now, and that’s a full year before the rope even drops for Galaxy’s Edge.  Based on the amazing time we had at Christmas, it’s going to be an experience worth waiting for (and waiting in line for; the place is going to be overrun for, oh, about the first two years!)  But you know that we’ll be there – wouldn’t miss it for the world.  Or the galaxy. 😉

Ears to Sally!

Sally Ears

Another set for my growing collection, this time a pair of much-coveted Sally ears from The Nightmare Before Christmas, with, as always, a bit of matching nail art.

Sally Ears Nails

And I’m including this cute photo of us with everybody’s favourite droid, BB-8, because he quite specifically chirped that he liked my ears.  Excellent taste, little droid, no idea you were a Tim Burton fan. 😉

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