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A Long Birthday Weekend at Walt Disney World


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It's hard to believe that I turned 60 years old last weekend. When I was a kid, I thought for certain that, by 2020, we'd either be

 

1. driving flying cars, living thousands of feet in the air, and having our whims catered to by robot servants, like the Jetsons; or

2. huddling together in underground bunkers following a nuclear war or a "robot holocaust" of some kind.

 

Hollywood lied to me!

 

Well, no matter. 2020 has arrived, and so have I. So, why not spend my 60th birthday at Walt Disney World? Why not pamper myself a bit by booking a few Fastpasses 60 days in advance?

 

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I booked myself a room at the Gran Destino Tower at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort and arranged to get together with friends a few times while I was there. My original plan was to (I hope) ride Rise of the Resistance and spend a few hours at each of the four Disney parks on my birthday (February 16). How did that turn out?

 

Well, let's just say it pays to be flexible. WDW was crazy busy, even for a Presidents Day weekend; we're talking Christmas-level crazy! For now, let's fill in the details as we go.

 

I arrived at Coronado Springs very late on Valentine's Day; techiically, I was there very early on February 15, so I used the online check-in option, which allows you to unlock your room with your phone (if you have Bluetooth). I decided to spend the first day checking out the Festival of the Arts at Epcot, followed by a nice dinner at Maria and Enzo's at Disney Springs that night.

 

Come along, if you want. The Alveys and Crouses will be joining us a bit later in the day.

 

NOTE: I didn't take my camera with me, so all these photos are from my phone (the quality ii variable). Robb contributed quite a few too, and his photos tended to be better than mine.

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Aw, crap! Does this mean I have to rent some kids now?

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My family should fit in this bed perfectly.

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Taken while waiting to pick up my Magic Band at the front desk. The tower was very nice, but the front-desk service was a bit slow.

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Welcome to the Experimental Prototype Construction Zone of Tomorrow! (I guess that would be EPCZOT.)

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Uhura is still keeping those hailing frequencies open.

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I wonder if Ellen’s Energy Adventure is open . . . oh, I guess not. (Some talking raccoon tried to lift my wallet, though.)

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It’s Baby Yoda’s world. We just live in it.

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Sheesh! I’m glad I booked a Frozen Fastpass about 60 days ago. (Test Track was down for refurbishment, but I like Frozen, too.)

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“Do you want to wait two hours? I hope it went by fast.”

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Best animatronic at EPCOT.

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“Here I stand! And here I’ll stay! Let the storm rage on! I never liked Maelstrom, anyway.” (OK, settle down, I enjoyed Malestrom, but I like Frozen Ever After, too.)

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But the old troll is still here. He’s probably saying horrible things about me on Twitter.

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Time for the after party at the Tequila Cave after visiting Elsa’s Ice Castle party. I’m drinking a sort of “Mexican White Russian.”

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This caramel tort/cream-puff pastry was very nice (it’s in Germany).

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I met the Alveys at Living with the Land, for which Elissa had very resourcefully booked a Fastpass (standby was about 35 minutes).

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Cultivated by the famed Dr. Albert Reeses, who has done so much for the people of Africa.

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Food-lap time! First stop was Japan, for KT’s Sushi Donut.

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We eventually made it to China for a nice pork bun . . .

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. . . and some tasty dumplings.

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Elissa booked a Fastpass for Journey into Imagination. Well, why not?

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Yeah, I knew there was a good reason we shouldn’t have done this.

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“One little spark! Your toilet’s groovy!”

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Oh my god! Figment has procreated!

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“Yes, my minions! Continue your mating! Soon, you will overrun humanity! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!”

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This looks like a good place for a last meal while Figment destroys the world.

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Maria & Enzo’s Carnivale menu has some great offerings; plus, you can use it as a disguise.

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This chicken-carbonara concoction with spiral pasta was very good. That's all for now. My next post will be about my actual birthday. Did I get on Rise? Tune in later! (Well, unless we're Facebook friends. Then you already know.)

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February 16, 2020. A day which will live in, well, not exactly infamy. Maybe minor disappointment with a little dyspepsia, but not infamy (that's a little too dramatic).

 

That was the day I turned 60 and tried to ride Rise of the Resistance. The day I was hoping to spend a few hours at each WDW park (well, three out of four wasn't bad). And how does one go about riding Rise, you ask? Just follow this simple, step-by-step procedure.

 

1. Rise before the sun.

2. Drive to Disney's Hollywood Studios (before the sun gets there).

3. Join this throng in the "security plaza" in front of the main gate.

 

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Hey, look at all these people who got my birthday invitations!

 

4. Listen to an announcement (about a dozen times) about how Disney is proud that Rise of the Resistance is "now open," but that the virtual queue for the attraction will open at 8:00 am.

5. Enter the park at 7:00 am.

6. Get in line for Starbucks (or text your order to friends who may already be in line). The Starbucks line is long, but moves along quickly.

7. Get your coffee and stake out a spot away from throngs of people, somewhere, and turn off the WiFi and Bluetooth on your cell phone.

8. Get out your phone at about 7:58 or so, open that Disney app, then pray.

9. Frantically tap the "Join Boarding Group" button and hope that the app successfully connects.

10. Check to see which boarding group you got, hoping that it's a lower number than, say, 60.

 

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You know, it was nice of all these people who got the first 114 boarding groups to come out for my birthday, but, really, they shouldn't have.

 

Robb, Elissa, Jack Crouse, and Erik Johnson were supposed to join me that morning. Erik was feeling ill and couldn't make it until later. And with the park being so insanely busy and people having lives to live, things did not go quite as planned.

 

Well, I had a Tower of Terror Fastpass (i ended up waiting in the standby queue once, too) and easy access to the Disney Skyliner to grab a good snack at Epcot, so it wasn't a total loss--and I had two more chances to get on Rise of the Resistance before returning home.

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The park is so busy that the ToT sign has just given up.

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Uh oh! Tower has initiated the dreaded J2Y mode! Everyone run for the exits, or Rod Serling will kill your dog! (I think that's what it means.)

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Good thing I had a Fastpass. I waited about 30 minutes first, then used the pass when it opened at 10:00. The standby queue was well over two hours after my second ride.

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Why is this Epcot cashier a “Nikon Picture Spot”?

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One of the advantages of the Disney Skyliner is that it’s fairly easy to travel from DHS to Epcot for a nice snack; in this case, Brie in a bread bowl and a glass of Malbec.

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Meanwhile, back at Black Spire Outpost . . . I can see waiting two hours for a "Den of Inequities," but of "Antiquities"?

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Even without riding Rise of the Resistance, it’s still fun to visit Galaxy’s Edge.

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When the Star Warring gets tough . . .

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Erik and I went single rider on Smuggler’s Run (we were both gunners).

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I let the wookie win.

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I’m still just a scurvy space pirate.

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Uh oh! I think Chewbacca is giving me the side eye for being part of the crew that damaged his ship.

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These Storm Troopers are digging the kid’s shirt.

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We needed a nice lunch at the Brown Derby following our harrowing adventure on the Millennium Falcon.

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We drove over to Animal Kingdom in the driving rain. It was just a drizzle by the time I parked.

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We were hoping to get an end-of-the-evening ride on Flight of Passage, but it still seemed pretty jammed at closing. But we got a ride on Everest while we were there. So, three out of four parks that day, and I still had two more shots at Rise of the Resistance. Tune in tomorrow!

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^ Same happened to us, last September in Disneyland in GE. We were eating outside and watched people coming in and out of the shop, but we totally forgot what the place was. I think it was the sliding doors that attracted us too, lol. And it was just a walk in, back then. No lineups. Good timing for us.

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Well, as Shakespeare wrote in Henry V . . .

 

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Once more unto the breach, dear friends.

 

Yes, I again arose before dawn, went to the Studios park, grabbed breakfast at the Starbucks (aka, the Trolley Cafe), and staked out a spot in a relatively quiet corner all on my lonesome. The magical hour of 8:00 am arrived, and . . .

 

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Well, at least this was a little better than yesterday. ;)

 

I was glad t I'd booked Fastpasses for Space Mountain and Peter Pan (just because I could) at the Magic Kingdom. I stormed out of the Studios, got in my bizarre rental car (a Volkswagen Passat diesel, of all things), and chugged over to the Ticket and Transportation Center. I made it to MK a few minutes before opening, along with countless thousands of other people, determined to make the best of it. After Space, I managed rides on the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean before they got too jammed. Heck, I even caught the Tiki Room show.

 

It was fun, but I enjoyed two other things more: grabbing a few beers and a late lunch at Jock's Hangar Bar (followed by some shopping at the Disney Co-Op store) and meeting the Alveys, Janice (Elissa's mom), and the Crouses at Disney's Winter Summerland for a highly entertaining round of mini golf, complete with Christmas carols and wee bit of surf music. I've never played WDW mini golf before, and the Winter course was a lot of fun. As for the scores:

 

Elissa and Janice--49

Jack and me--51

Jacqui--52

Robb--69 (or theareabouts)

 

A tip if you ever find yourself mini golfing with Robb: Be careful where you're standing when it's his turn. (You may not be safe even if you're behind him!)

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“Hi, folks! I am your god now, and I've already chosen who gets the good boarding groups!"

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Best way to reach MK was the ferry--the Monorail had at least a three-train wait.

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Yep, the Magic Kingdom was fairly busy, but not impossible at that time of the morning.

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Yay! Something I can ride now!

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And something else I can ride with a minimal wait. In your face, Star Wars!

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Speaking of the Haunted Mansion, I bought myself a couple of birthday presents--one at the Momento Mori shop at MK, the other at Disney Springs.

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It was so busy that even the Peoplemover had a full queue, which was supposed to take 35 minutes to navigate (it was closer to 20). Here’s a look at the progress on Tron.

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"Are you ready for the Game Grid, program? Take in my splendor while you wait for the Peoplemover to restart."

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“Cold hot chocolate” is just “cold chocolate,” right?

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When it’s crazy busy at the Magic Kingdom, I advise a nice ride on the Liberty Belle riverboat. This is the first time I've visited MK on a "normal" day in a long time. My previous visits have been during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, when the riverboat is closed and haunted.

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Whoa! Glad I didn’t book that resort.

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The Fort Wilderness Campground looks nice.

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I tried to reserve a table here, but the joint was booked.

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Time to leave MK after making the best of a very busy day.

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I decided to grab a late lunch at Jock’s Hangar Bar at Disney Springs--who wants empanadas and a Golden Monkey Trippel Belgian Ale?

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I earned my wings there, too.

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It's tee time at Disney’s Winter Summerland.

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Was Santa at the Nevada caucuses?

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Hmm--still bigger than the castle at Disneyland. (Been a while since I used that old TPR joke.)

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Mickey is here to enforce strict rules of golf.

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Minnie will brain you with her club if you break any rules.

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Tonight on “CSI: North Pole . . . Have Yourself a Merry Little Murder!” I have one more shot at Rise of the Resistance! Tune in tomorrow!

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Thus, the cycle begins anew: wake up before dawn, drag my butt to Hollywood Studios (where I park in the same row as the last two mornings), . . .

 

 

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. . . hang out with thousands of my closest friends again (hoping that they don’t trample me on the way the Trolley Cafe), . . .

 

. . . eat my breakfast in a relatively secluded corner, poise my finger over that "Join Boarding Group" button, and

 

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AND . . .

 

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THEN . . .

 

 

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Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

 

Victory! I get to join the Resistance today! Boarding group 33 was called around at 9:18 am. And what about Rise? I liked it a lot--DHS now has my two favorite attractions at WDW (along with Tower of Terror). Disney used every theme-park trick in the book to put you right in the middle of a Star Wars battle, and all the effects were working when I rode it. I particularly enjoyed the First Order officers. They were wonderfully arrogant and snarky as they berated the Resistance's hapless recruits (that is, Disney guests): "I don't recall giving you permission to lean against my ship. Stand at attention!"

 

It's a great attraction--an annoying boarding procedure, but a great attraction.

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Time for second breakfast at Oga’s Cantina.

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Some sort of alcoholic coffee drink and a cinnamon roll . . . from space!

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Time to join the Resistance . . . or rat them out to the First Order to save my neck.

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From the virtual queue to the physical queue.

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I’ll need an XL flight suit. That’s still smaller than Porkins.

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BB-8 is, no doubt, doing something very important.

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“I appreciate your courage in joining the Resistance. But it’s already time to run away!”

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“Don’t worry, folks! I’ll get you to our new secret base. Yes, nothing can possibly go wrong now . . .

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“Oh, s**t!”

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“Psst! The First Order is going to interrogate us. Be sure to stick to the cover story Rey gave you.”

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“So, you’re just a group of tourists looking for a bathroom, eh? Well, we have ways of making you pee, er, talk!”

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“No, you’ll have to hold it a bit longer. Sorry.”

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“This droid is programmed to take you to the (wink, wink) restroom.”

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“I’m sorry, but acting as a toilet is outside the scope of my programming. You’ll have to move on down the corridor.”

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“Er, excuse us, sir, but where is the restroom?”

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“WHAT? THE RESTROOM? Oh, it’s down that hallway and to the right. You can’t miss it.”

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“Wait! This is the elevator! Just hold it a bit longer, and I’ll cut you out of here! Tourists are so dumb!”

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“Wow! I can’t believe the First Order fell for that restroom story! Well done!”

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I left Galaxy’s Edge with an empty bladder.

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Disney did a great job with Rise of the Resistance, Smuggler’s Run, and the rest of Galaxy’s Edge.

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I can’t think of a better finish than lunch with friends at Gyu-Kaku. Thanks for reading!

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such a great report, and so glad you got to ride.

 

I really, really want this shirt:

 

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SO amazing.

 

gonna have to dig around online and see if I can possibly order one.

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such a great report, and so glad you got to ride.

 

I really, really want this shirt:

 

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SO amazing.

 

gonna have to dig around online and see if I can possibly order one.

 

I bought the shirt at the WonderGround Gallery in the Marketplace Co-Op at Disney Springs.

 

The Madame Leota diorama was from the Memento Mori shop at the Magic Kingdom.

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Great update, and so relieved (heh get it) to see you got on ROTR. Those empenadas look amazing! You've got a great taste in beer, Chuck! I'm still dreaming about that pale ale you suggested me to get at BGW.

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^ thank you Chuck!

 

was able to track down (tho not for sale in store, but via eBay. . with not too much of a mark up - assuming this retailed for the ~$85 range).

 

got one

 

 

if anyone else is looking. .it's the "Haunted Mansion 50th anniversary Camp Shirt with art by Shag"

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^ thank you Chuck!

 

was able to track down (tho not for sale in store, but via eBay. . with not too much of a mark up - assuming this retailed for the ~$85 range).

 

got one

 

 

if anyone else is looking. .it's the "Haunted Mansion 50th anniversary Camp Shirt with art by Shag"

 

Yep--$85 is what I paid for it.

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