Peanut Adventures, Issue 2
We dodged Photopass Day last year. Most of the "rare" characters, we'd managed to catch at Fantasmic sets, and it didn't seem worth it to battle the crowds and heat. But this year? They announced a Club Villain reunion (sans Queen of Hearts) INSIDE Sunset Showcase... in the air conditioning... I knew without a doubt it would be INSANELY popular, but a chance to reunite D with her dark-sided big sister? Worth it.
We managed to get out the door in time to make it to Hollywood Studios at park open. It wasn't enough. The special character meet wasn't scheduled to start until 10, and I'd planned to go get in line and have Ian take D to sign up for her first Jedi Training (at last!). I figured I'd at least make it to the first set.
The line from Sunset Showcase was already all the way out to the guitar entrance to the Rock'n Roller Coaster area. (Granted, they hadn't opened up and separated the queues yet, but this was still a TON of people). I found some friends in line, and they opened up the area outside the showcase for the queues. Separate queues: one for Cruella, one for the Evil Queen, and one for Maleficent. I'd hoped they'd all be together, but which one we'd wait for was a no-brainer (You can catch Cruella at Halloween parties and the queen at Fantasmic sets. Mal? No options now that Club Villain is gone). Clearly we weren't the only ones to feel this way: within 30 minutes of park open, Maleficent's line had easily reached a 3 hour mark. It was filling up the space available, so they started letting us inside the showcase building to continue to wait.
Thank goodness we had wifi and air conditioning, D was incredibly patient as we waited until NOON to finally see our favorite horned fairy. They'd even dusted off the old Club Villain sets for the photo ops. Everyone in line was so taken with D's Young Maleficent costume (I'm just happy it still fits so well, if anything it fits better now, wings especially). At the last minute, D hadn't wanted to wear her horns (Bella had accidentally poked herself on them earlier), but I talked her into it just in time.
Worth it. 100% worth it. I tried not to complain about how slowly the line was moving, since that meant people weren't being rushed and were getting to have quality time with the characters. D had decorated a permanent invitation for Maleficent and written her a little note.
It was NOT quiet inside the showcase (although certainly not as loud as Club Villain was), but Ian recorded the whole interaction, and you can actually hear all the adorable things they talked about.
We've been blessed with an abundance of magical memories at the parks, I hesitate to even call moments "favorites" any more, but this interaction will resonate for us. D had been asking about Maleficent ever since she hadn't made it to her birthday party (she'd been expressly invited at Club Villain), and when I'd told her we were going to see her this weekend, I'd stressed to her that this might be one of our last opportunities to talk to her for a long time (barring cheering maniacally for her in the Boo To You Parade, of course). Thus, that moment ^ when she tells Maleficent she's hugging her, because it's her last chance. Ugh. My heart.
These are some of my favorite pictures I've ever taken; I really struggled when choosing what to include in this issue. If you want more, feel free to check out the Flickr album. As we were leaving, D really wanted to try and crash Cruella's meet (you have to walk right by her couch to leave), but I didn't want to draw hostility from the people in line (easily 2 hours at that point for Cruella, I'd have guessed 4 for Maleficent and about 90 minutes for the Queen).
I immediately offered to let D change out of the layered, hot costume as we weren't in the A/C any longer. Narcissus refused, loving all the oo's and ahh's she was getting from the people in line. The wings made it about 100 feet from the showcase. The horns another 50 feet. Only the dress stayed on for the whole day (I underestimated my daughter's determination to wear a twirly skirt, no matter how many layers it had).
Our little group headed to the Commissary for lunch (it was around 12:30 after all). I was thrilled to see their lines were not out the door (it usually is during prime lunch time). Even found 3 tables relatively close to each other so we could all sit together.
D got her precious "snack pack" but ended up mostly stealing the ribs from Dad's plate. We got a surprise visit from D's friend, Emma, and D put on a little dance performance for us while we ate.
The rest of our group was planning to park hop for more Photopass Day offerings, but we had a 3:40 Jedi Training to attend. We rode Star Tours, and played with some CM friends outside Olaf.
I caught sight of Path of the Jedi and shouted EUREKA FOR AIR CONDITIONING as I led a headlong charge to the entrance. Found the video games they took out of Launch Bay for BB8's spot.
Rode Midway Mania with FastPass. D continues to improve her accuracy score (35%!), if not her overall score. We started making our way to check in for Jedi Training. We ran into Ashlyn and Victoria, another performance.
At last, time to check in for Jedi Training. We're in line to do just that. "Mommy..." What? Nose bleed. Epic nose bleed. An Eli Roth film all over my kid's face and hands. Oy. Ian got some paper towels from the store nearby, and we settled in to combat one of the biggest nose bleeds my kid has EVER had (usually she just gets them in the middle of the night and on dry winter nights. A humid summer day? WTF!!). The CM's, bless them, all looked terrified (it was gory, NGL). A manager wandered over and asked if there was anything else she could do to help, mostly I just wanted to convey that this happens and it would stop (I didn't want them saying D couldn't do the training, she'd be crushed, been talking about it all day, UGH this timing SUCKSSS). At one point it HAD stopped and we were about to go back to check in when D said her nose itched, and she VIOLENTLY rubbed her nose and, yup, here it goes again. Ugh. Another visitor suggested dumping some cold water over her head (he had more experience with warm weather nosebleeds), and I don't know if it helped or if it was just the pressure with the tissue, but eventually it was under control again and we got the kid checked in. I headed up to the stage to grab a spot while Ian stayed with D for the walk up.
I watched the walk up with the banners. I caught sight of Ian's face first.
He looked... troubled. Then I saw the kid. She looked like she was on the brink of tears. What... on... earth?? WHAT'S WRONG??? She's suddenly terrified that she'll have to fight Darth Vader. I crouched down, asking her if she didn't want to do the training, telling her she could back out. I was flummoxed, but Ian pointed out she'd probably been freaked out by the nose bleed and it was just manifesting as insecurity in that moment. Then, like a guiding light, one of the Jedi was a friend of ours and a familiar face for D to latch on to.
From the moment she appeared, D started turning around her attitude and I quickly felt like my presence was completely unnecessary so I snuck back to my spot. D, thank goodness, got to stay with her friend and worked with the group that would fight the Seventh Sister.
You would never have known once they got started that D has been on the brink of a breakdown moments earlier. She was all smiles. There was a little boy next to her that she kept "helping" too.
I won't lie, I was nervous that D might freak out when it was her time to face off. I also want to put out there that my kid has been practicing this fight choreography at home with her own light sabers for MONTHS, and yet it was as though the only move she had down was the duck LOL.
I have a feeling D will want to do this again soon. I was so proud of her, looking after the little boy (the kids were supposed to drop their sabers, but when Kylo Ren appeared the little boy tried to grab his and start pointing it at him and D was like "no no no" but so gently, bless her).
Priceless. I feel so fortunate that we had such a great cast there that day to help usher D through her jedi training. Speaking of awesome CM's...
We'd snuck over to the Backlot Express to reward D's bravery with a frozen treat, and we got to have a quick visit with Haley and Denise. It was great to have a last visit with Haley, who's becoming a full time nanny and pursuing her upper education. Hopefully we can still have some playdates in the park soon.
That brought an end to our Photopass Day at Hollywood Studios. May not have done a lot of things, but we sure did get to make some really special memories with special people.