Friday, April 25, 2008
I had no idea that the Magic Kingdom had an alligator infestation problem. While we're at it, apparently there's a raccoon issue and buzzards attacking turtles as well. Can you imagine the poor kids who were looking at the cute little ducks and then saw the cool looking alligator, and then saw the cool looking alligator snap the heads off of the cute little ducks? Hysteria in Tomorrowland!!
Moral of the story: never go into a Florida swamp - or the Magic Kingdom - without Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
What a surprise—I won! I never thought it was possible (NOT!).
Of course I WAS the only one who could have possibly won. Each day I started the morning off by reminding them that if I’m happy everyone will be happy—if not, no one will be happy. (Not really, it was just something that was understood by ALL.)
Seriously, I think we all won. We survived the week and we are still talking to each other, (I was worried that we wouldn’t see Derek and Meghan again until Oct. 4th).
Thanks for a great vacation!
MP, Mrs. J and Mom
So we are home—I’m exhausted—and my knee is NEVER going to feel better (well at least for another month or so). But it has all been well worth it. Now that the trip is over I want to comment on some concerns that I had but didn’t share with anyone.
Concern #1: I was very concerned about the six original family members spending 8 DAYS together under one roof. This probably hasn’t happened since Meghan moved to MA several years ago.
Concern #2: Hanging with the Johnsons. My anxiety about this increased as I started to get mumblings back about the fast pace of the planned trip. My concern was more for Derek who is not an “amusement park person” and I kept asking Meghan if he knew what he was in for. Chris I knew would hang because he is an “amusement park person” but my concern with him was the low-sugar level (which took us 3 days to finally get right).
Concern #3: Living with the opposite sex. Both Derek and Chris come from male dominated families plus Derek is an only child and Chris has only one brother. The only experience they have had with living with females is on weekends when they are visiting 12 Ridge Court. I don’t think I need to say anything more…..
Concern #4: Meltdowns! They could get real ugly.
Now that we have finished our vacation, I have to say that all my pre-vacation concerns were for not. Derek and Chris were great and truly the survivors. The 6 Johnsons for the most part got along. The meltdowns were minimal (although daily) but everyone was able to rally and as Joan says “pull the plane up”. I think the house was our saving factor—after very full and long days everyone could go to their own bedroom, the pool or the hot tub and just chill by themselves until they were ready to talk to others. Also blogging about the day really helped since Derek and Chris’s take on each day was pretty funny, although you really had to be careful about what you said when they had a computer in front of them.
So now onto our next vacation which is camping at Sebago Lake. Ummmm…. On second thought I think I’m going to go and read the definition for vacation that Derek was showing everyone mid-week. I may have to think about this….
Saturday, April 19, 2008
We made it home unscathed well at least partially. We actually left early from philly this time...go figure. Last time it was three hours late, this time it was thirty minutes early. I guess we weren't the only ones who wanted to get home.....
Friday, April 18, 2008
Speaking of packing, I have to say that Friday night and Saturday morning went about 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 times better than I thought it would. There was some minimal yelling and pouting, and some very groggy people at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, but nothing that I would call a complete and total Chernobyl-level meltdown.
This morning we selected our winner of the vote-off: Mary Pat won, with Emily coming in second with two votes and Chris abstained from voting at all, the chicken. We all knew that MP was going to win in the end, so consider yourself as shocked as we were. We were more shocked that anyone had the nerve to vote for Emily!
I am now at the the airport gate with Meghan, waiting for our flight home to Boston. I'm really tired. Meghan is sick. It has been a very long, tiring, but very fun and exciting week.
Since there was a tie someone decided that it would be a good idea to vote us both off - so we are off and no vote was held on Thursday.
Stay tuned for the winner on Friday night
I love Disney. I love all the parks and all the cheesy rides and all that jazz. But Universal has become my new mistress. You know, the park on the side...just don't tell Disney. I can't afford the Disney Vacation Club membership ($16,000+) to calm Disney down.
Anyway...the rides at Universal were so much cooler than the rides at Disney. The movies are a bit cooler. So, let me give you a rundown of the day. (NOTE: DISNEY RIDES ARE MUCH MORE CLASSIC AND WHEN KATIE AND I TAKE MEGHAN AND DEREK'S KIDS, WE WILL ONLY DO DISNEY.)
We first saw that the Simpson's ride wasn't open (doh!) but Derek and Meghan stopped at the Kiwk-e-Mart. The phone lines went down so they couldn't pay with credit card. And apparently the fake-Abu was a bit on the slow side. Katie's melt-down-o-meter was spiking. She needs to chill. Mine was near spiking too (because she wouldn't shut up). I need to do crack.
Then we hit Men In Black: Alien Attack. Which was wicked awesome! We got a nice picture, although I uber-sucked. After MIB, we went to Jaws, which was kinda cool, although it was kinda cheesy. There was fire. Fire made it better. Post-Jaws we went on Mummy...which was freaking awesome! It could have gone faster, but that only would have made it more awesomer.
We did Twister, thinking that it was a spinny ride, but it was kinda cheesy. But without fire. I saw the Blues Brothers (in the Blues-mobile with the speaker...aren't you jealous, Ross???) and we ate and did Fear Factor Live. I almost queefed. Not because of the Fear Factor crap, but because the melon I ate was rotten and made me feel greener than the microwaved Wendy's burger. After near-vomitation, we began the walk out of the park, which still involved hitting several attractions.
We saw the Rocky Horror Universal Make-up Show thing activity...which was definitely not KID (Keep it Disney). It was awesome. Then we did ET (maybe reverse order...I don't really remember...it's just a big fun (?) blur) which was so cool. The ET looked at me!! It looked at me!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! And it said my name!
Terminator 2 3D was awesome...best 3D effects I've seen in Orlando. Don't think that it freaked Mrs. J out as much, because we didn't hear her scream. Then we did Jimmy Neutron's ride which was like Star Tours, just not Star Wars-y. Then we did Shrek, which was awesome (albeit just Shrek 3-D on comfy massage-y chairs). I love Shrek. I got a stuffed Shrek, a stuffed Donkey and a stuffed Puss in Boots. Then we did more shopping and ate at Hard Rock cafe. Where I sat in a room with a bass from John Entwhistle, an acoustic from Carlos Santana, an acoustic from Neil Young and a guitar from Jimi Hendrix! What a room! All my guitar idols in one room. Then we went mini golfing.
Katie and Jenn whined so much that we didn't do the mini golf course that I had wanted to go do. We had fun, but I was the one who wanted to golf...it's OK...I'm going to spit on Katie (by accident) on one of the rides.
We're off to Islands of Adventure today. I'm so excited I almost peed myself. Well, that reason and the fact that I drank about a million lemonades before dinner yesterday and we only have 3 potties.
Keep it Disney.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Now Katie is happy and Meg is still mad. This will be a good day.
Mrs. J just yelled at Katie for whistling. Meltdown meters are spiking. Today is the day.
Keep it Disney.
So anyway, tomorrow, I mean yesterday yesterday yesterday! Yesterday we hit test track at Epcot (the Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow) and got in line for Maelstrom at Norway or Sweden or something European or at least non-American place. So then it broke. Our luck on this trip...
Then we got on the monorail (what did he say? MONORAIL!) and headed to MK again to hit some rides. Katie and Em and I ran (walked fast with no one chastising us) to Splash Mountain/Thunder Mountain to get Fastpassi for Thunder Mountain. Then we regrouped and took Mrs. J on Splash Mountain. We think she liked it. At least she lived. If she had died, we never would have heard the end of it.
Then we did some more stuff and then ate and then got hats with Mickey Ears and then did the Haunted Mansion. It scared Katie...I heard her scream. Must have seen a ghost that looked like me. Then we did Peter Pan which was cool if I was 5. Pooh was better. I like Pooh (not to be confused with poo).
Finished the park and got a picture with the personalized Mickey ears and left. Back on the monorail (what did he say? MONORAIL!) [note: Damn raccoons just ate my sandwich. Can't finish blog now because I must go hunting.]
to EPCOT and then we went to Downtown Disney for a dinner at the Planet Hollywood restaurant where they had the music so loud I can't hear myself blog. LOL...ehh, not so much. Katie is wearing a towel on her head that looks like a turban. So is Jenn. Derek is playing the Simpson's game. I am blogging.
After dinner, Mr. J and I walked across Pleasure Island (we may or may not have partaken in the Pleasure-ness...but what happens in PI stays in PI.) and met the gang in World of Disney. Yes, we decided to get together in the biggest store (like meeting in Macy's according to Derek) in all of Downtown Disney. So we did meet up and then we did more stuff and then left.
So now here I am blogging quickly before I need to complete my preparations for Johnson Family Vacation Total Domination...wait...
Keep it Disney.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
So we waited for the rest of the family, and decided to go on Tower of Terror. So we got some Fastpassi, and went off to see the wizard. And by wizard, I mean several of the other rides/attractions. I got an uber-cool pin that had Yoda (with personalized Mickey Ears) who isn't 40" so he couldn't get on a ride. It also said "Judge me by my size, do you?"
Then we went on Tower of Terror. I'm not a big fan of free-fall rides, but this one was freakin' AWESOME!!!!! I love ToT. LOVE LOVE LOVE! Then we did other stuff and then we (Emily and I) got Fastpassi for Rockin' Roller Coaster and then we did more stuff.
We went back to RRC and the Fastpass line was longer than the regular line. Then it closed. I cried. Again. So we did more stuff (including food, I think) and began to have several mini-meltdowns. Did some shows and stuff then finally went to RRC and had a 15 minute wait in fastpass. It was awesome. The picture of Meg, Derek (yes, he went on this one) Jenn and I is pretty cool. Meghan looks like she is pooing herself. I look funny. But what's new?
So we then went to see Fantasmic. Which was cool. If I was five. Sorry to anyone who really liked it, but I didn't. It needed more fire/fireballs/fireworks/big huge dragon fight.
So then we left. We did this park in one day.
WOOOOOO! Off to hit multiple parks to do what we didn't have time to do because no one walks as fast as Katie and I.
Keep it Disney.
Will the claws come out now? (Chris's response: no, you're a little late...claws already came out.)
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
However, we have scheduled a few activities, just because we need to do some "cleaning up" with some rides and attractions and other activities. Think of it as cleaning up some sutures after a bizarre triple appendectomy. A list:
- Leave the house at 8:30 a.m. Yes, leave the house at 8:30 on our vacation rest day. We're crazy. Loco. Loopy. But we're living "La Vida Mickey"!
- Drive to Epcot and park car
- Run (and I do mean RUN) on our bloody stumps of feet to the Test Track and either get right on or get a Fast Pass
- If we have a Fast Pass, go to either the Nemo exhibit or to Norway (the country exhibit, not the country itself. We're not THAT aggressive!) for the Maelstrom ride.
- After wrapping things up at Epcot, take the Monorail (because there's nothing quite like a genuine, bonafide, electrified six-car monorail!) to the Magic Kingdom
- Take the train to the back of the park and then hit the following rides:
- Peter Pan
- Splash Mountain
- Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Tiki Room (if time)
- Haunted Mansion
- Country Bear Jamboree (if time)
- Take monorail back to Epcot
- Go play mini golf at the Fantasia Gardens
- Dinner in downtown Disney
Like I said, just a few clean up things. Four of the most popular rides at the Magic Kingdom, quite possibly the most popular ride at Epcot, and a round of mini-golf thrown in for good measure.
I don't know what else I can possibly say to make this funnier. Truth is sometimes funny enough.
Good thing we had a rest day. If we had tried doing all of this in a day less, we'd be dead.
If anyone from work is reading this, I'll be back in on Monday, but don't call, email, or knock on my door. I'll be curled up under my desk, sleeping.
There has been some confusion and inquiries regarding the voting off process we've been reporting on here. While there aren't really any specific guidelines, the following have gradually evolved as reasons for getting voted off:
- Any sort of metldowns and/or mental breakdowns immediately puts you on the potential voting off list
- Not having 100% pure Johnson blood makes you a candidate. Of course, by the strictest standards of genetics, that TECHNICALLY means that Mary Pat should be voted off, but... umm.... well, we all know that's not going to happen
- Whoever Meghan, Mary Pat and Kaitlyn decides. Since there's really no penalty for voting off and everyone gets to vote again the next day, so as long as they are all voting, whoever they decide to vote off is going, since Emily, Dave, Jenn and myself don't have our act together enough to create an alliance of our own.
Penalties of being voted off:
- You're supposed to do the dishes or something like that, but it really hasn't worked out too much that way. I think Chris did dishes one day and Kaitlyn helped dry. Derek hasn't done anything (hehehehe)
- You get to soak in the hot tub of despair... which really is badly planned out penalty
- You have to blog about it getting voted off
Pretty much the pointless process you would expect. This coming from a group of people mapping out each day with military-level precision.
Chris went first, primarily because he wasn't a "pureblood" Johnson but also because of the crashing sugar level meltdown.
Kaitlyn went second, because, well, because voting her off the first day was too obvious.
I went third because I wasn't a pureblood and because I had "crazy eyes" to quote Meghan. Those crazy eyes were fully justified.
All in all, I wasn't surprised or dissapointed. I knew the non-Johnsons were targeted first and the fact that I outlasted at least one of them is pretty good. It was about as surprising as the Snow White or Winnie the Pooh rides at the Magic Kingdom.
Magic Kingdom is a big big big park. But I'll start before we got to the park. If you have never been, or (like me) do not remember, there is no direct way to the park unless you are either Ariel (or her family) or Dumbo. Katie wanted so flipping badly to take the ferry that we conceded, letting her take it. Bad idea. It was slow, crowded, and an old lady grabbed by butt. Not really, but wouldn't that be creepy? Like when the old, bald guy checked out Katie...and then Jenn kept bringing it up, but that was a different day. No butt grabbing today.
So we get to the park, and we rode some rides. They were awesome. They're feeding me now so I have to leave.
We have to go back to MK. Because we didnt finish. I dont think we ever will. No one ever does. Even Walt.
Food calls. As does this margarita.
I'll be back to finish this.
Keep it Disney.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Derek thinks it was because we were talking about the bail plan for Kaitlyn and who she should call. Wait....he knows what it was we were all tlkaing about staying up late and playing a game or watching a movie when we get home.
OK off to finish breakfast and shower
Chris is an idiot. I am not scared of him... he looks and acts like a five year-old. I could squish him with my pinky finger. He just got an "adventure spoon" from the box of cereal, and is a little too excited. Although it is kind of cool because it is Indiana Jones.
We're going to Magic Kingdom today which is good becuase Chris will be able to act like a five year old without getting weird stares. I have to go shower and eat breakfast because we're leaving in like 45 minutes.
Yesterday was epcot, and I had a turkey leg (after a near-meltdown due to low sugar...again) and it was awesome. Derek had a turkey leg too. We did other stuff, but I don't remember it. All I remember was the turkey leg.
Not true. We waited in line for Test Track, and they closed it. Rain. I also remember going to Mars...which left Jenn, Katie and I feeling a bit green for the rest of the day (Mr. Johnson had no problems)...I recommend it once, not a repeat ride. I like feeling the g's but I'd prefer feeling the money kind of g's. Wow, that was a bad joke.
Then we waited in line for Test Track. Again. And we got almost to the ride. And then it closed. Again. Oh bananas. Anyway, this gave us enough time to get over to Ellen's energy adventure. So we got in and sat down and it broke. They closed it. At this point, we were 1/4 in going on rides. So we did Honey, I shrunk the audience, which was kind of like Tough To Be A Bug, but I don't think it freaked Mrs. J out as much. Good for everyone involved.
Then we did other stuff. And then got in line for Soarin', where we suddenly realized that Katie was crashing because she began to get a little snippy. Well, more snippy than she was. she's not bad to me, but that might be because she is scared. I'd be scared of me too; Sugar, I AM scared of me! Anyway, through a combination of bribery, seduction, lying, begging and dragging, we got Mrs. Johnson on the ride, which was just an IMAX that moved. With your feet hanging.
Then we did another ride or two, and then it was late. And I hadn't eaten. How did we manage to do that two days in a row? That deserved more question marks. We were going to eat at the countries, and I wanted a steak at Canada (sorry Mike...it was beef) but we only had about 30 minutes until the laser light/fire/fireworks show, so we had the food I mentioned above.
Then there was a lot of explosions and fire! FIRE FIRE FIRE FIRE FIRE! Like fireballs fire! It was so cool it was cold! No, wait...sub zero arctic super hyper mega uber ultra awesomely awesome.
Then we came back, voted Katie off and went to bed. In that order.
Now, it's time for MK.
Keep it Disney
Sunday, April 13, 2008
I vote for removing her from the position. And replacing it with me.
Keep it Disney. Amen.
Anyway, we had a great day yesterday until the food places stopped serving food and my blood sugar dropped past dangerous levels into super-hyper-mega-low levels. Not life threatening, at least to me. But there was a Rainforest Cafe that Katie and I voted on (btw thanks for the loyalty Katie) and the executive power seemed to have been revoked. Why make rules if we don't follow them? Anyway, we're (read: I'm) going to make sure that I eat my allotted and required one meal per every four hours (maybe less time since we're in the sun) and keep hydrated. I don't want to kill anyone. Yet.
The gang is at church and I am preparing my breakfast. I got up this morning and sat in the hot tub having coffee enjoying the scenery. I love Florida. I love Disney. I love candy.
Peace. Stay tuned to see who joins me in the Hot Tub of Despair.
Keep it Disney.
Anyway - to recap the day: we slept in for a bit, had an extended eating period that I think you could call "brunch" since there was some breakfast stuff and and some lunch stuff in the mix. We then struggled with the pool alarm on the sliding door. It took only four of us - two of us college educated - to figure that out. Go us.
Then we headed to Disney Animal Kingdom. This was the first time at this park for several of us, myself included. I have some thoughts about it that will end up on Pop Culture Gangster at some point.
We started off with the "Tough to Be a Bug" show, which was really great - the 3-D effects were awesome, as were the physical stuff that came out to the audience was a great touch. I'll be sure to think about it the next time I kill a bug with some bug spray. It won't stop me or make me feel bad, but I will think about it.
Then most of the group went to the Dinosaur ride. I held back, but then went back for it and that started me feeling the ride thing. I passed on the next two roller coaster rides (Everest and Primeval Whirl), but braved Finding Nemo, The Musical. Laugh if you will, but it a theater full of tired, hot and cranky kids scares the crap out of me a lot more than any steep fall strapped into a roller coaster. The show did provide possibly the best lines of the day: when they made the general announcements in both English and Spanish, Jenn asked "are they going to perform the whole show twice too?" And then there was the line that made Chris and I crack up: two penguins were talking (it's Disney, don't ask) and they were in mid-air while doing so, and they said "Wait a minute! We're penguins! Penguins can't fly!" and fell to the ground. HAHAHAHA. Umm... man, that was REALLY funny when we were there and is making me chuckle right now. Might be heat stroke though (record high for April in Florida: 92 degrees; first day of the Johnson vacation: 90 degrees).
Next stop was the Kali River Rapids ride. We thought MP was going to kill us all when she saw the first climb, but what she didn't realize at the time was that she was going to want to kill us when she got the full-on brunt of one of the water geysers. She came off looking like a drowned rat. Great photos for the Christmas letter this year, 'ya know?
The rapids got me braving the ride thing a bit more and after a breather on the very cool Safari ride (I think Chris got an awesome picture of a zebra's ass), we headed back to Dino-Land for our official greeting into the extended park hours we had become a special part of. We ended up getting a button and buying some slushies (no one else wanted one, but when I went to get one, suddenly we need four. HA!) So... whoop.
We then started to take full advantage of the extra time in the park: I went on the Primeval Whirl with Emily, Meghan and Dave. With the four of us, and Poppa J and I in one half of the car, we were spinning REALLY fast. At that point, I made up my mind I was going on Everest. We went back on Dinosaur and then headed to Everest. This is the first real roller coaster I have been on years, and once again I found myself asking what the hell my problem is. I had been a wimp all day and didn't go on rides at first, but as usual, after one or two I found myself ready for more and by the end of the day had ridden all the rides at least once.
We dragged our tired, pitiful selves out of the park around 8 and started thinking about dinner, hence the late meal and a handful of low-blood sugar level related mini-meltdowns. Chris - I love you man, but I'm shoving a burger down your gullet at 5 p.m. tomorrow night if I have to sit in front of you on Everest and let it fly out of my hand on the big drop.
After dinner, we had our first voting off. Chris got voted off, with four votes, and then followed by
So now some people are in bed, others are in the hot tub, Meghan's cutting up melons for tomorrow morning and I'm obviously writing this blog, because if I was doing anything else, that would be kind of weird.
Key lesson from the day: Never go to Disney without the Diamond Parking Pass from AAA. That thing rocks. Wait, no... scratch that. No one else should know about that. Its too good. We want it for ourselves.
-Derek (The Prince To Be)
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Really though, the highlight of the day has been going to bed at a little before 4 a.m. this morning. Oh yes, we got to Orlando and immediately went out partying with Mickey and Minnie until the wee hours.
No, not really. What happened was that the Philadelphia Airport and U.S. Airways conspired to make our lives a living hell. Well, not Derek and Meghan's, since we were on a different flight direct from Boston. We landed in Orlando and found out that they were still in Philly, number 37 for takeoff from the ONE RUNWAY available for takeoffs and landings. We wound up getting the two rental cars and going to the house ahead of them. We also went to Wal-Mart Supercenter to get some basic stuff for the week and for the first morning. We had to go to Wal-Mart because apparently there isn't a 24-hour supermarket anywhere in the area. There's five million places to buy crappy t-shirts and souvenirs, but I guess none of those families ever need something in the middle of the night.
Going to a Wal-Mart Supercenter in the deep south at midnight is a great way to start a trip. Only the finest of the finest are out at that point. We were impressed how much non-nutritional food we managed to buy for $150.
Note to anyone who ever is in the Orlando area: go the speed limit. There are a ton of unmarked police cars in the area. Umm... not that I know about that or anything. (no ticket or anything, but the Orlando police are a fine-dressed bunch who drive nifty cars. A lovely bunch them all).
We eventually picked up the rest of the Johnson clan and got back to the house around 3 a.m. And then we ate chips, salsa and bananas. Yum!
The room that Chris and I share is the BEST - it is all Mickey Mouse themed, complete with a Mickey Mouse TV and DVD player and curtains and a Mickey Mouse clock with really cool moving hands that go "click clock click clock" and made Chris and I want to throw it against the wall about five minutes after the lights got turned out. Chris ripped the batteries out. Good job Chris.
The most recent thing so far is is that Kaitlyn and Chris have developed some cockamamie idea that if they vote alike on something, then it is an automatic win. The only good part is that it will probably never happen, so I'm not worried.
I hate you.
We spent hours and hours and hours and hours (well, only two) before we left the airport. So we left when we were supposed to arrive in orlando. So we started on a good foot. LOL.
Keep it Disney. And I like candy. True stories.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
To go along with “Keeping it Disney”, a Royal Edict has been issued by the Queen to her loving husband, the King; her 4 beautiful daughters, the Princesses; the soon-to-be Prince; and the non-relative. In accordance with the laws of the land the following laws SHALL be STRICTLY ENFORCED during the time period of April 11 () through April 19 () in the year 2008.
- You WILL have fun on this vacation.
- You are allowed ONE melt down during the week (so make sure it’s a good one).
- To my lovely Princesses—all claws WILL be retracted during this period (however, anything goes after the 19th).
Whosoever DOES NOT comply with the above laws will be forced to “prick their finger on the spinning wheel and DIE”….
Your loving Queen,