November 27, 2009: Happy First Birthday Liesl!

It is so hard to believe that it has already been a full year!  One year ago today it was Thanksgiving and we were in the hospital waiting for Liesl to be born not knowing if she was doing okay or not as they believed that she was under stress and we did not know if she was going to be a boy or a girl yet.  After one year it is impossible to imagine life without her.  How can it only have been one year?  Then again, how is it possible that I have now been a father for a year, three percent of my life?

Today is a Friday but it is Black Friday so it is almost, but not quite, a holiday.  So there was work to be done but very little of it.  A rather relaxing day if it was not for all of the other things that need to be done.

For lunch today, Dominica, Liesl and I went out to Downtown Disney and met up with David Scammell (whom I know from SpiceWorks and having hung out together in Austin several weeks ago at SpiceWorld where we both won Spicy awards,) his wife and daughter.  We met in Downtown Disney and went to Cap’n Jack’s there for lunch.  Nathan Parker and I actually ate at Cap’n Jack’s, although I believe that it had a different name at the time, back in 2000 when we came to Walt Disney World for one evening while we were working at a healthcare convention in Tampa.

Lunch was very tasty and it was really nice to get a chance to hang out and to have our families visit.  Liesl and David’s daughter Hannah are very close in age and so got along a bit.  Liesl loves having other kids to play with as she never, ever has any back home.  We are so very isolated in Peekskill.  It is probably best that we are getting out of there when we are (which is in just three weeks.)

After lunch we hit Goofy’s Candy Company or whatever it is called and did some shopping there.  I needed to get back to work and the Scammells needed to get about their day as well and Dominica and Liesl had to get back to Disneying it up with the family so it was not a long lunch gathering but a nice chance to get together.  David and I had actually planned this lunch previous to us knowing that we were going to end up running into each other in Austin.

I worked from the hotel until it was time to head off to Liesl’s big birthday party dinner.  I had arranged to have this evening completely off from work so that there would be no concerns about rushing or missing anything.  So I was done but about a quarter after five.  Not that there was much of anything going on this evening and most everyone else was taking the time off as well but still.

So at around five thirty we packed up and headed out to get to the Contemporary Resort for our dinner at six forty five.  We arrived via monorail on to the Grand Canyon Concourse.  This was one of, if not the, first time that I have gotten off of the monorail at the Contemporary since my family stayed there on our first Disney vacation in 1987.

We had to wait a little while to get into Chef Mickey’s.  Once we were in we had to wait a really long time before we could eat, even though it was a buffet, maybe as much as forty five minutes before we were able to start eating after we had gotten to our table.  It took that long before they even cleared the table of the bills left over from the previous party.  It was a rough start to the evening.

The food at Chef Mickey’s was excellent – much more normal American food that most everyone was happy to have.  We had Mickey, Minni, Donald, Pluto and Goofy all come by to visit as well.  We were already completely “charactered” out by this point.  We had already seen the ones that the girls wanted to see and the effort of dealing with more characters was more than anyone really wanted to deal with.

Dominica had had a birthday cake special ordered for Liesl.  Unfortunately, they lost it and we had to wait for an hour before they found it for us and, when they did find it, it was frozen.  The cake itself was amazing and the baking and cake decorating people did an amazing job.  It was an eight inch round hot pink chocolate and raspberry cake with a huge white chocolate statue of Minnie Mouse on it.  It was awesome.  We took a lot of pictures.

It was way more cake than we could eat, though, especially with it being frozen, so we had more than half of a cake left to take with us when we went.  Although it took quite a while before they were able to get us our bill so we were stuck sitting there for a really long time.  When the bill finally arrived they had undercharged us!  So we started to deal with that.  At this point we had been at Chef Mickey’s for three hours already (for a buffet meal no less!!)

Dominica, the girls, her father and I wanted to go into EPCOT for the evening as it is extra magic hours there tonight.  The rest of the family wanted to go back to the resort to rest.  It takes more adults than that to manage getting all of the stuff that needed to be carrier, Garrett in his stroller and Francesca (being pregnant) back to the resort so one of us had to go back with them.  As I am the most able to maneuver my way around Disney World without the slightest fear of getting lost and can move the quickest of everyone I went back with Bennie, Francesca, Garrett and Dominica’s mom to the resort, dropped off the cake, grabbed a coat as it had turned really chilly this evening and rushed over to EPCOT leaving Dominica, her dad and the girls at the restaurant to sort out the bill while I did all of this running around.

It took more than an hour for me to go from Chef Mickey’s to the All Star Music and then to EPCOT.  Even at night with no “traffic” it takes that long to get anywhere in Disney.  I raced through EPCOT and found them just going on to Mission Space.  They had only done Spaceship Earth thus far (which ended up meaning that I never managed to do that on this trip.)  Getting the bill sorted at the restaurant had taken another half an hour after we had left them there.  Half an hour, just to get a bill fixed that they had messed up in our favour.  We should have just taken the money and run.  Here is a tip Disney: never punish people for trying to save you money.  I’m definitely not going to make that mistake again.  Next time Disney doesn’t charge me for something I’ll remember that they have owe me a lot of time where we were forced to “work for them”.  If they are going to punish us for doing the right thing they can just deal with people not doing the right thing. Disney needs to do the right thing in return.

So dinner, between them not being ready when we arrived, taking forever before we got to eat, losing the cake, not bringing the bill, messing up the bill, etc. took three and a half hours of physical, sitting at the restaurant time, for a buffet.

After Mission Space it was off to Mexico to ride the Gran Fiesta Tour which the girls did not enjoy.  They thought that that was very boring.  Imagine how bored they would have been on the Rio del Tiempo which the GFT replaced!  It is true, though, that the GFT is neither thrilling nor informative but is really just a cheap dark ride that is rather pleasant.  There is plenty of time during it for the ride to inform you about Mexico but instead they play music, show Disney characters from two movies that no one under thirty has ever heard of much less seen and have some minimal animatronics only barely better than It’s a Small World.  While the GFT is a much needed update to the RdT, it is still very much a “how little can we do to get away with calling this a ride” sort of situation.

After the GFT we hit Norway again because the girls could not remember being there at all and we rode the Maelstrom again.  Once we rode it they remembered having been there.

We were all worn out and at midnight decided to just call it a night and get back to the resort.  It was quite cold and Liesl was pretty unhappy camping out under a stroller poncho just to keep warm.  The buses were not likely to be running too frequently so we did not want to have to stand around for a long time.  So back to the hotel we went.

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