11 February 2013

Something You Won't Find in Any Guidebook

This weekend I put up a photo of my wife and I on The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, in an otherwise completely empty elevator. The picture spawned the question of how we lucked out and got onboard an elevator without another guest. I thought about going with the short version in response, but it is actually a great story, the story of a perfect morning in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and I thought I’d share it with all of you.

The photo happened to be taken on my 30th birthday in 2011, but that isn’t where the day began. I had driven overnight from North Carolina, checked in to our resort, and hopped over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios as it had morning Extra Magic Hours. I had considered trying to hit my favorite attractions in each of the four parks, but with friends coming into town and having to get ready for dinner later, I opted to start in the Studios and then head on over to the Magic Kingdom for a few hours. The Studios was the perfect place to start because I have grown up my entire life a child of Walt Disney World and feeling that the Force was strong with me.

We were allowed in the gate a few minutes early and I lined up for the Cast Member led walk to Star Tours. My wife doesn’t care much for Star Tours, less to do with the story more to do with the simulation aspect, so she headed off to grab Fastpasses for Toy Story Midway Mania. I was chatting with the Cast Members, who noticed my birthday button. When we got to the attraction, everyone else in the line darted off for the Fastpass machines while I walked into the queue. When we got to the boarding gate, I was told to pick a row. I selected the front row, was there ever a question? A couple handfuls of guests joined the boarding party for the Starspeeder 1000, but no one was added to my row, I was then told to pick whatever seat I wanted when I got onboard. Front row, center. Done. Of course, the Cast Members weren’t. I was selected as the Rebel Spy in a mission that included a face to face with Vader and Fett, a visit to Tatooine, and I was Princess Leia’s only hope. And yes, I did channel a bit of Han Solo and pretend I was piloting the ship as we flew about the cosmos. The morning couldn’t get much better, or so I thought.

I caught up with my wife and we headed off to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Once through the library, we opted to go in the opposite direction of all the other guests in the Hollywood Tower Hotel’s boiler room. We approached an elevator and were positioned on spots that would be in the front row. No one else seemed to wander down this line. It got to the point that my wife actually asked me if they would run an elevator for only two people. I assured her they would, just about the time other guests showed up in the line. Our bellhop asked the line to wait, came back and loaded us on the elevator with no one else in the vehicle. We’re not ones to purchase on-ride photos, but we couldn’t pass up this one. Especially since I decided to ham it up like I was crawling all over my wife, scared for my life!

After taking our tumble down the elevator shaft and making it back from The Twilight Zone, we decided it was time for breakfast. Our regular spot for breakfast in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is Starring Rolls Cafe. It was my birthday and I could have opted for my favorite cupcake there, the Red Velvet Cheesecake Cupcake, but I tried something new that morning, the Butterfinger Cupcake. And before I start hearing about not having cupcakes for breakfast, this tends to only happen when I’m in the Studios. Plus, it was my birthday.

The day was great, and truly made even more magical by the warm wishes of friends both in Walt Disney World and from around the world. The great start I was given by the Cast Members was an amazing gift. Empty lines and ride vehicles happen from time to time, but to make sure they did what they could to make it extra special, those Cast Members went above and beyond!

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