We had a great time, though it was tiring and sometimes frustrating to live in the very hemmed-in "pay to play" corporate environment of the park and it's hotels. Still, it's for the kids, and they have no complaints. I'm just keen to write down the action packed days:
Saturday - arrived from Waterloo to our hotel. I took a nap and the rest of the family went to the park. I joined 2 hours later at about 5:30 PM. The hot, tired, truly exhausted-looking people coming out of the park impressed me with their sheer numbers. I met everyone at the exit to "It's a Small World," a really underwhelming ride that they went on. But they liked the Star Tours ride a lot. We wandered over to Adventureland and got into a massive rainstorm after dinner at au Chalet (meh). The rain was kind of fun. It got dark and the rain didn't let up so we went home on the shuttle.
Sunday - rest day. Kris and I exercised after sleeping in. Then the family went shopping while me and the boys spent the afternoon swimming, playing in the play area, then hanging out and playing in the room. Chinese take-out for dinner.
Monday - Got an early start and headed right for Thunder Mountain which we rode twice. No lines! This was great! Had an early lunch at Fuente del Oro, which was pretty good. The churros were amazing, the boys went and ordered more. We wandered through la Cabane des Robinson (partially closed) and Adventure Isle, which was nice. Did Pirates of the Caribbean which was okay. Did the Peter Pan ride which was pretty nice too. Then Kris and I went to Paris to visit friends. Stumbled home at 1 am after having to walk from the train station at the park back to the hotel. The grandparents spent a lot of time with the boys in Discoveryland, riding Autopia, Buzz Lightyear and Star Tours.
Tuesday - slept in, then when to the Studios park. Elijah found a truly great toy, a white stormtrooper laser gun. Rowan found a nice sword. They decided that would be the toy they would buy for the trip. We bought tickets for the Wild West show, then started trying to ride rides in the park, often stopped by ridiculous lines. The Slinky Dog Spin ride had a long line but only lasted about 70 seconds! Same thing with the Flying Carpets ride. We had Fast Passes for the Tower of Terror, but ultimately only Emma, Rowan and I rode it (Kwansei was shut out due to a misunderstanding about the number of Fast Passes, then Kris had to escort a scared Elijah to the bathroom). But Rowan, Emma and I really enjoyed the ride...it was the best of the parks so far. Then the Studio Tram Tour which was okay, but we got tired of the cheesy narration. The explosions, fire and waterfall were momentarily cool. The Moteurs Action Stunt Show was really good, we all enjoyed it. But the Rock and Roller Coaster (with Aerosmith) took the cake for the best experience of the parks. A really good roller coaster, the boys loved it. We thought it would be too scary, but they were thrilled. We rode it twice.
A quick word about lines. We never stood in a line that advertised more than 20 minutes wait. We used Fast Passes wherever we could. The most crushing lines were for trivial rides that would be good for 3 and 4 year olds. We tried for two days to ride Crush's Coaster, but the wait times were an alarming 50, 60 even 70 minutes. No way! And that ride doesn't have a Fast Pass option. We had no problem just crossing that thing off the list as essentially "closed." There was also a great deal of variability, with unexplained near-empty conditions right next to rides that had hundreds of tired, sweaty bodies seemingly standing still for hours. We just worked the park to maximize experience and reduce line waiting. The boys were really good sports, able to move fast and mostly weren't disappointed when the adults made seemingly arbitrary switches in the program. As long as they had a steady diet of Star Tours and the Aerosmith coaster they were happy!
After the coaster, we finished up with the Armageddon "ride." Ueber lame! Well, okay we were tired. My main reason for going in was the line was nil, and my feet hurt and it looked kind of like something where you'd get to sit down. Wrong.
Then off to the Buffalo Bill show. Elijah was completely wiped and hungry too. He refused to wear his cowboy hat for a while, poor fella. But me and Kwansei got good beers, then we went and sat down, pretty happy with our seats in the "Green Mountain Ranch." Immediately the waitress came around and gave us new beers, juice for the kids and Coke for the ladies. That was heaven, actually. The Texas chili was very good, though we wanted more. The meal was really good too, potatoes, sausage, chicken, and ribs for the adults. The show was entertaining as well. I thought the Indians were the best, the lighting and music did a great job of highlighting the drama and mystery around them. Annie Oakley got irritating because she wasn't really shooting (maybe this is just the adults...we didn't tell the boys how obvious it was!). A great dessert too. Actually, we had an awesome time with this, and the fact that we got to keep our cowboy hats was a real plus as well. The day ended with a 30 minute swim for me and the boys...whew!
Wednesday - We resolved to get up early, and made it to the Studio park by 10:15 after checking out from our room. We tried Crush's Coaster and couldn't believe the 70 minute line...next! We road the RC Racer, and never got to ride the Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop as the lines never dropped below 45 minutes (this for a very short and uninvolved ride). Next we all rode the Tower of Terror twice, and Elijah loved it despite being scared of it the day before. Two times on the Areosmith ride for Kris, the boys and I, then we headed back to the main park for a hot dog lunch.
In there we went straight to Discoveryland, rode Buzz Lightyear together then split up with Kris and I going to Space Mountain while the grandparents took the boys on Star Tours (yet again!). Space Mountain was uncomfortable...maybe we ate too much or had already been jostled too much by the Aerosmith coaster, but I came out with a headache feeling banged up. It was too dark...you just don't see anything! We saw Captain Eo, which was entertaining on a few levels. Then the boys bought their toys, Rowan having converted to a light saber. Grandma bought their toys and she bought me a laser gun too! Who hoo! All us kids were very happy. From this point we hung around the Videopolis, snacked and then left. What else did we wish we did? Well there was a haunted house, and the train around the park was still closed though supposed to open. Finally the boys were just a bit too small for the Indiana Jones roller coaster, they would probably have loved that.
Then we began the long journey home. Oh, the boys got to meet with Darth Vader who used Rowan's light saber against him at one point. I got scolded for climbing up on a railing to get pictures. Such is life.