Friday, April 16, 2010

Back from Vacation!

Paradise Pier
Originally uploaded by Mike Brister
I'm back from 2 weeks of visitors followed by vacation. It's been a blast.

First up, my parents came to visit for a week. I didn't see much of them at first because I was still working but I did manage to start my vacation a couple of days early to improve that a bit. This was kind of a whirlwind Vegas show tour for them. While they were here, they saw KA, Zumanity (which they were picked to be the finale dance couple in), Phantom (with Danny and I), King Arthur's Tournament (with Danny), Cher, and Crazy Girls. Danny and I also saw Lion King without them because we got free tickets from Cirque that happened to fall in the same week.

During the same week, we were also visited by friends from the UK, Dave and John. We had a nice lunch with them and, as a result, Danny and I now want to move to England.

A few days later, we were joined by friends, Keena and Erik from Orlando. I worked with them at Walt Disney World and they are still there. For a couple of days, Keena, Erik, Danny, myself, my parents, and local friend Sara (who is also ex-WDW) all hung out in Vegas and did the tourist thing. We went to the Venetian / Palazzo, MGM Grand, The Mirage, Caesar's Palace, and The Bellagio. I posted some pictures as things happened on Flickr and more pictures from all of the Vegas antics on Facebook (you don't have to be a member of either to see them).

Lastly, it was time for my vacation. Danny, Keena, Erik, and I jumped in the car and drove to Anaheim, CA for 3 days at the Disneyland Resort. My last trip there was in 2007 so it was overdue. We spent the first evening at Disney's California Adventure, the next day at Disneyland, and the final day at both. I posted some pictures as we went along on Flickr and the rest ended up in Facebook galleries: DCA and Disneyland.

There were several new things we wanted to see since our last visits:

Captain EO Tribute: I actually got goosebumps when "We Are Here to Change the World" started. This was a great moment of nostalgia for me and I'm glad I got to see it again. It sounded awesome! However, seeing it again, I agree it was right to close it. It's time is way over. Seeing it without the lasers was a bit odd and the floor shakes were novel but a bit annoying after awhile. Still, I enjoyed it a lot.

Monster's Inc.: This cute little dark ride was just that - cute. Every time I have ever been to DCA, either this or its predecessor, Superstar Limo, have been closed. I mostly wanted to see it just because I never could before. It was cute. That's about it.

Nemo Submarine Voyage: This was new to Keena and Erik. I really like this ride. It is visually interesting and there are some very tricky technical things going on here. I really want to know more about how the audio and video synchronization are set up.

Midway Mania: Mr. Potato Head is impressive. That animatronic does some crazy tricks. I really want to know how the "recognition" systems work for him. Super cool. I really enjoyed the ride as well. We went twice - very fun. And there are some very clever track management things going on in this building. I need a tour of this facility. Someone get on that please.

Haunted Mansion: The new attic stuff is neat. Nice upgrade without upsetting a classic.

Fireworks: For the first 5 minutes I was watching Wishes from WDW. But, it turned out to be a lot more than that and it was a great show. It was also cool to finally see the multi-axis Tinkerbell flight. Nice!

The only new-ish thing we didn't get to see (because I forgot about it, honestly) was the character-enhanced it's a small world. I wanted to see the "controversy" for myself. Next time. I hope we can go back when Fantasmic and World of Color are back up and running too. The exposed equipment for both looked cool enough.

Now back to real life, already in progress...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Disneyland Vacation and Visitors

Erik, Danny, and Mike in ToontownToday is day 2 of 12 of April visitors and vacation. Even though I am still working today and the next 2 days, I'm already having fun and am looking forward to the rest of it.

For lunch today, Danny and I met up with friends from the UK named John and Dave at Blueberry Hill. I met them a year ago when another friend named Dave ( ) asked me to get them in to see LOVE with a tour the theater. We had a great chat that night and I've kept in touch with them online since. Danny got to meet them for the first time today. Now, we're both ready to move to the UK.

After that, we were able to briefly meet up with my parents before I headed out to work. We met with them yesterday for a couple of hours as well. The visiting will get easier later in the week when my vacation kicks in.

Speaking of which, we have quite a busy schedule of Vegas and Disneyland-related activities happening. My parents went to see both KA and Zumanity last night (they are hardcore as you can see). And I saw the pictures today - Mom and Dad were the "volunteer dance couple" for the end of the show. Tuesday, Danny and I are going to see Lion King thanks to free tickets from work and then we'll see Phantom the next day with my parents. Finally, my parents will be going to see Cher (the original inspiration for this trip) on one of their last days here. A lot of shows are getting squeezed into this visit.

On Thursday, Keena and Erik ( ), our good friends from Orlando, are coming out to Vegas as well. We'll hang out with them and the parents for a couple of days doing fun Vegas things and probably a lot of Wii and then Keena, Erik, Danny, and I will drive off to Anaheim for 2 1/2 days.

Disneyland! Disneyland! Disneyland! I haven't been since 2007 and the Disney nerd in me is about to go nuts, especially after 2 aborted trip plans in the past year or so. There is a whole bunch of new stuff (and sort of old stuff) there that I can't wait to see: Captain EO Tribute, Midway Madness, Monster Inc. (which was always closed on previous visits), and all of the construction on the new DCA elements. I'm a little sad that both Fantasmic w/ new dragon and World of Color will not be open. However, the construction walls for WoC should be down so we can at least check out the gear and Fantasmic is drained so we can do the same there. It's a reason to come back later anyway. :-)

We arrive sometime on Sunday the 11th and will do something in the Disneyland area - Downtown Disney, maybe a park evening, or just hotel sloth. We'll be in the parks for full days on the 12th and 13th then drive home early on the 14th. There won't be any room for side trips and visits this time but if any California people happen to be in Disneyland, feel free to give me a text or Twitter DM (@mkbrister). And if any Disneyland folk have a break to come out and say hello, we'd love to see ya!

For now, it is back to work. Happy Chocolate Bunny Droppings Day!