Takin’ My Time on My Ride

There’s truly nothing more attractive than an on-ride photo, is there?  Those are the pictures theme parks snap of you at the minute and a half mark of a two minute ride when your hair is either all up in your face or swept back like you’ve been electrocuted, or maybe you nearly tossed your cookies three loops back and now you’re hanging on for nauseatingly dear life.  I have a particular knack for emerging from all rides looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger on Mars in Total Recall.  As a society, we should really begin using these photos for our government-issued ID; it would certainly beat the “Hello, I’m a blank psychopath!” pics currently in circulation, would it not?

But back to life on Mars.  The other day I discussed the Memory Maker photography package my husband and I purchased during our Christmastime trip to Disney World.  This package afforded us unlimited digital access to the hundreds upon hundreds of photos we had taken of us by Disney’s official in-park photographers, as well as the character meet-and-greets and, of course, these laugh-inducing on-ride pics.  Next year’s Christmas card is legitimately a toss-up between the one where I’m pretending to Force-lift Mr. Finger Candy into the air (or am I pretending…?) and this one on Space Mountain where he looks like he’s about to hurl into his tri-cornered pirate hat.

On Ride Space Mountain

To be fair to my husband, who looks to be in far worse shape than I in that picture, Space Mountain, an indoor roller coaster at the Magic Kingdom that takes place in hugely disorienting near-darkness, is a rough, rough ride.  “Um, Sandra,” you may be saying to yourself, “didn’t you say at Halloween that Space Mountain kicked your ass so hard, you’d never ride it again?”  Hey, you sound just like my mom, who rightfully questioned whether her daughter and son-in-law had terrifically short memories, or were just a couple of idiot masochists.  Little from column A, little from column B, I think!

We did it all over again the following day at Hollywood Studios with a first-thing-in-the-morning ride of Aerosmith’s Rock’n’ Roller Coaster, presented by Hanes.  Mr. Finger Candy and I have concluded that they are the Rock’n’ Roller Coaster’s sponsor primarily because if you aren’t ready for that 0-60 MPH in 2.8-second launch, you’re probably going to shit yourself and will absolutely need an additional pair of Hanes.  And here’s where we get into that Arnold Schwarzenegger thing.  Like, where even ARE my eyes?!

On Ride Rockin Roller Coaster

I redeemed my cool outside somewhat by paying homage to Steven Tyler’s formerly missing fingers.  Bit of an inside Disney joke here – in a little pre-ride show segment, the band addresses you, the audience, noting that they’d like to bring all 50 or so of you along to their upcoming show, but there’s just not enough room in the limo.  That’s when Steven Tyler, struck with inspiration, throws up an enthusiastic Sign of the Devil (you know them better as metal devil hands; see above) and declares that they’re gonna need a super-super-super stretch limo, and extra quick.  I’ve never paid a bit of attention to the gesture beyond “Oh, that kooky Steven Tyler” and I never really thought anyone else did either, but apparently Disney thought enough about it that after something like 15 years of Steven Tyler rawkin’ out, they digitally added in two new middle fingers three or four years ago.  Lame.  Unclench just a smidge, Disney, it would do you some good.

Rock'n' Roller Coaster

As always, Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom was good for a hosing.  There are these adorable warnings posted all throughout the line suggesting that you MAY get wet, like it’s not some sort of foregone conclusion when your boat arrives and you sit down straight into the two inches of water the previous occupants left behind.  Also when you’ve been condemned to the front row of a flume ride that concludes with a 52-foot nosedive into a brier patch.  We got soaked!

Splash Mountain Collage

Here I am on Expedition Everest at the Animal Kingdom practicing a wise friend’s advice that if you’re screaming, you can’t throw up.

On Ride Expedition Everest

I came perilously close to disproving that theory, however.  Turns out this pretty hardcore coaster, a first-time ride for both of us (which concludes with a huge Yeti animatronic swooping down from the cavern ceilings) GOES BACKWARDS for what is probably only 10 seconds, but really feels more like two hours.  I don’t backwards bueno AT ALL, and neither does my husband, who later told me that he thought we were going to go upside down whilst still hurtling backwards.  Just typing that is making me feel ill. 😦 Here we are beforehand posing by Fauxverest in a cute enhanced photo.  Look how confident and oblivious and not vomiting we look!  We just have no idea what we’re walking into.

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Here we are riding Frozen Ever After at Epcot, which also goes backwards, although I submit it’s far more pleasant toodling backwards along a gentle boat ride based off a beloved animated movie than it is hurtling (or is that hurling?) through the semi-darkness in reverse at 45 MPH.  Just one nauseated person’s opinion (I regrettably had a lot of trouble this trip with motion sickness, a surprisingly unwelcome new addition to my aging constitution.)  Frozen Ever After was great (the Elsa and Anna projection animatronics were jaw-droppingly next level) but short, short, short!  Maybe a minute and 45 seconds from start to finish?  That’s perhaps a tad too short to justify this ride’s perpetual two-hour wait times.  I’d say outside of Flight of Passage at the Animal Kingdom, Frozen Ever After is Disney’s second most popular attraction.  I managed to make 9:40 pm FastPasses for this one, and I was glad to have them.

On Ride Frozen

And now how about a little Terror time?  The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is an old favourite, more so now that you receive these cool after-ride videos!  We had an awesome elevator full of fellow doomed souls on our way to the Twilight Zone – everybody was having a goofy good time (look at the guy on the left who’s thrown himself up against the back wall!) and nobody’s shrieking or flipping off the camera (that’s the number one way to get kicked out of the parks, by the way.  I thought it would have been having sex behind the little Dutch kids on It’s a Small World, although neither seems advisable.)

It’s also one of the most gorgeous buildings on property.  On Christmas Eve when we visited, the early morning mist was just beginning to clear around the top of the building; it was breathtakingly gloomy.

I’ve no idea why this picture from Pirates of the Caribbean is surrounded by this ornate frame, but it really adds to my laid back swagger and my husband’s enthusiastic “Yaaaarrrr!” (which yes, is coming across here sort of like he maybe recently ate too much cheese.)  The frame also takes away from the fact that that cool skeleton captain in the background is a real animatronic, and a badass one at that.  I was sort of afraid of that thing when I was a kid; way more scared of it than anything I encountered on the Haunted Mansion.

Getting cocky on dual rides of Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.

And finally, here I am getting flashy with my hands on Dinosaur at the Animal Kingdom.  I know exactly where the camera is on this ride, and I wanted to do my very best impression of a terrified movie heroine, but my timing was off by a fraction of a second.  Too much windup!

I hope you enjoyed this peek at some of the on-ride fun we had on our Disney vacation.  That is if you’ve stopped laughing at the myriad of elongated insanity faces I can apparently make over the course of five-plus days.  Thanks for sharing in the magic. 🙂

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Disney Girl Challenge: Sally Shine

Sally Shine Hand

Here’s a random bit of Disney amusement park trivia for you: Sally Shine is the name of the little Shirley Temple-esque girl who becomes a permanent resident of the Twilight Zone on the Tower of Terror ride.  Or she was – word on the street is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is getting re-zoned AND de-Zone’d at some point in the near future, probably to make way for more Star Wars.  I loved The Force Awakens SO much more than I thought I was going to, and I’m all for Disney recouping their multi-billion dollar investment at the park level, but why does it have to come at the expense of such a beloved attraction?  I don’t want to be that grumpy old Disney nerd desperately clinging to the past and futzing on about the glory days of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (a dark ride Disney classic; innovative for the ’70s, but terribly dated as time wore on, and one of those ones that people fought to preserve) but I really hope this rumour turns out to be just that – a rumour.

But until Sally and her elevator mates truly do become permanent residents of the Twilight Zone, I’ll honour her, in colour and lightning-stricken black and white, on my nails, where I paint all the little things I love.  I particularly like how I split her face into colour and black and white, appropriate both for the 1930s, Old Hollywood setting of the ride, and the fate of Miss Shine herself, off somewhere in (*do do do dooooo*)…the Twilight Zone.

Sally Shine Thumb

Drop On In

HTH HandI’ve spoken before – at length, some may say – about my love of the Twilight Zone Terror of Terror ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s my favourite attraction after the Haunted Mansion (rest in peace, Universal’s Jaws.) These nails are inspired by the setting for the ride, the fictional Hollywood Tower Hotel, “a star in its own right, a beacon for the show business elite.” No surprise here, but when you exit the ride, you exit directly into a gift shop. The Tower of Terror’s gift shop is a particularly lovely one, themed like the lobby of the neo-Mediterranean-style hotel (pre-lightning-related deaths and hauntings) where one would naturally expect to find a store selling overpriced souvenirs emblazoned in the hotel’s logo. I’ve wanted to get one of the plush Hollywood Tower Hotel robes (or maybe two; his and hers) every time I’ve ever ridden the ride, but the thought of lugging a weighty bundle of fabric around with me for the rest of the day has put me off every single time. I always promise I’ll go back and buy one before leaving the park for the day, but that also has never happened. I guess I just don’t like robes all that much? Actually, no, I don’t like robes at all. Better stick to shot glasses.HTH Fingers

Just Thought I’d Drop By (31DC2014)

Tower of TerrorLike any good theme park nerd drawn to the darker side of Disney, my second favourite ride behind the Haunted Mansion is, of course, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The Tower of Terror is a drop-style ride and the type of attraction that typically doesn’t set my bells a-chiming (you go up, you go down, boring, boring, boring), but what I love about the Tower is its exquisitely creepy set design and theming. As the story goes, on the evening of October 31st, 1939 “five people stepped through the door of an elevator and into a nightmare,” mysteriously disappearing from the Hollywood Tower Hotel without a trace…but for those persistently frequent corridor hauntings. The hotel, long since abandoned, has reopened its doors – elevator doors included – and “that door is opening once again, and this time, it’s opening for you.” Rod Serling then creeps you out a bit and you stand in a hopefully not-too-long line in a boiler room and then you board a freight elevator straight to the Twilight Zone, and it’s all awesome. The ride itself is actually pretty cool – it’s randomized, so every ride is a little bit different than the one that came before it – but the attention to detail (dusty room keys hanging behind the check-in desk, letters that have fallen off the event board that spell out “EVIL TOWER U R DOOMED,” ultra eerie jazz music drifting throughout the lobby) is what really sets the Tower of Terror apart from other thrill rides of its ilk. As always, it’s the journey, not the destination.

For these nails inspired by the Tower and day 29’s theme of supernatural in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge, I very carefully painted a version of the hotel’s flickering sign over top of its lightning-blasted facade, an effect I achieved by using the cling wrap technique and painting on a few ultra fine “cracked stucco” lines. Much like the Haunted Mansion portrait nails I did yesterday, I’m hella proud of the detail work I did on this manicure, even if my teeny nails couldn’t quite accommodate the whole of the hotel’s sign (which is based on the Tower’s Florida facade, a far superior building to its sister rides in California, Tokyo and Paris. Just my totally biased opinion!)

Bippity Boppity Blue (31DC2014)

Bippity Boppity BlueMickey’s sorcerer’s cap from Fantasia (also the giant sculpture that’s the main focal point of Disney’s Hollywood Studios) provided the inspiration for these nails, which fit right in with day five’s theme of blue in my Disneyfied version of the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge.

I don’t have a lot of feelings either for or against Fantasia (except the whole dinosaur sequence really scared the crap out of me when I was a kid, and maybe continues to to this day), but I like Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios) very much. I think it might actually be my favourite Disney park (and we all know how I feel about the Haunted Mansion, which resides in the Magic Kingdom.) I love its overall mid-century aesthetic, with a callback to the glory days of Hollywood and classic movie-making. The whole pace of the park is a little more relaxed than its sisters, and while still being “Disney busy”, particularly during peak travel times, it never feels like it’s swamped with people the way some of the other parks do. Also, and most importantly, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror lives at MGM (sorry, I’ll never not be able to call it that.) Not too surprisingly, it’s of vital vacation importance to me to have Rod Serling scare the crap out of me in the dark in an old haunted hotel before plummeting 13 stories in a broken freight elevator towards my inevitable fear and fried chicken-induced heart attack. Livin’ on the edge, folks!

And speaking of Livin’ on the Edge, directly across from the Tower of Terror is the Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, an Aerosmith-themed roller coaster that has the distinction of being only one of two rides to ever make me want to toss my cookies. That’s what happens when you go from zero to 60 in under three seconds and aren’t expecting it in the least. We took off and it felt as if my spine stayed behind in the loading area. My stomach, that stayed with me, because it spent the next minute and a half of loop-dee-doos and twisty, black-lit turns trying to find its way up and out. I must have made a pretty sight stumbling off the ride and into the gift shop, desperately trying not to woof all over the Aerosmith branded merchandise. Of course, that horrible experience didn’t dissuade me in the least from riding the Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster many, many more times in my life, including once more that trip, because once you ready yourself for that zero to 60 launch, it’s all downhill from there. *groan*