Policing Grammar

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I’m a big fan of words. Been reading a long time, and was one of those kids at school who struggled with Math but sailed through English. It’s my thing.

So I dreamed of making a living from writing, and along the way I have worked in a couple of different jobs as a proofreader. Right now, I do it for my publisher, reading and marking up scripts. Spotting errors in grammar, punctuation and spelling, because if you are a publisher, you don’t want the thing you publish to have errors. Yes, language is evolving, but there ARE rules, and you want to get them right.

But look, that’s PUBLISHING. It’s a business, and the one I’m connected to is an English-language business. Working with words so long has made me twitchy. I passed a Day Care sign the other day that was missing two apostrophes in six words. But I didn’t get out my Sharpie and draw them in. For one thing, one of them might have been a deliberate choice for a business name, such as has been made by Waterstones. That’s fair enough. Also, it’s not my job to point out the errors – the signwriter/maker should have (it was a pro job) and if they did and the customer said “stet”, then who am I to complain?

The most common ground for forcible corrections is, of course, Social Media. I don’t get as much time on sites as I’d like, but I still run across dozens of things that look like errors whenever I log on. However, there’s a lot of things to consider before wading in with a virtual red pen.

Firstly, most people update their SM feeds on their phones. Phone keyboards are small and fiddly, and plagued with autocorrect. I know I’ve posted some things that are close to gibberish because I knew what I was typing, not what was being posted.

Secondly, people on SM should be free to express themselves in their own idiom. I know I grew up (mostly) in the south of England, with a Headmaster born before the Second World War. My writing and speech was influenced by the books I read too – Biggles, Enid Blyton, The Hobbit, Swallows and Amazons, The Dark is Rising, Earthsea…. It was a very English childhood. I can’t and shouldn’t expect other people’s language to reflect my experience.

Finally, I don’t know much about the people who are posting. Many are using English as a second or third language, and their facility with it is still far above mine in any other language. It’s presumptuous of me to correct their minor errors when I couldn’t even introduce myself in their native tongue.

All this came about when I read a tweet reminding people that correcting someone else’s language is a reinforcement of privilege and racial oppression. I know some people sneer at that as an exaggeration , but you know what? They’re not people who have ever experienced oppression.

We’re into the third month of a new year. There’s enough incivility in the world, with racism, mistrust and naked fear. I’m going to redouble my efforts not to add to people’s unhappiness by correcting them for mistakes that aren’t important. I’ll keep proofreading, though. Grammar and language have rules, and though they bend and change over time, they are there to help comprehension. When I took German in school, I had to learn a lot of grammar rules, and they don’t all make sense, otherwise there wouldn’t be a category called “irregular verbs”. This is not just an English problem. But when I went to Germany, the locals listened to my attempts to speak their language and they answered me with compassion, not correction. It was a kind act, and much appreciated.

Book Review: The Best Of Uncanny

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I like anthologies. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good novel too, but a good anthology is like a box of excellent chocolates – something you can dip into from time to time, or sit with and devour all in one sitting. The point is that it’s not one huge meal, but a smorgasbord of different tastes. They’re not all going to be perfect for you, of course, but the joy of a book like this one is that you know that’s not because the tale is substandard – it’s just that it doesn’t resonate with you, with your experience or taste. You can still appreciate the quality and artistry of the work.

I’ve read anthologies in the past where I’ve ended up skipping more stories than I’ve read, but here I am snared again and again by first lines, by concepts, by tones, by lyricism… Sometimes just the evident joy of the author in telling a damn good story. The stories themselves range in length and format, and the subjects are so varied it’s not worth trying to list or explain them. You’ll find a story to love in this collection. You’ll certainly find one to haunt you, and like as not you’ll find several that you just HAVE to tell some friends about.

In an age when fiction magazines are supposed to be fading way, Uncanny shines like a beacon of hope. This is not a home for stories, it’s a breeding ground, a nursery that grows a forest of fiction, tall and proud, putting oxygen back into the world. Breathe in the atmosphere – it’s uncannily good.

Day of the Dalek

It feels like we’ve been working on Derek for a million years, but our original aim was to have him built for the October 2018 Vancouver Fan Expo.

I’ve written about this before, the idea and the build process ( https://dtrasler.com/2018/10/13/living-with-derek/ ) and I think I’ve mentioned the rebuild once or twice too. This Saturday, the 15th of February, was the new deadline. We reached the point where we were sure we weren’t going to make it, then made the decision that we WOULD.

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Laurel jumped into overdrive, spending late nights affixing the hemispheres (after re-fitting the gaskets round each one) and repainting all the slats in gold. We’d had to abandon the idea of using the Raspberry Pi as a voice-changer. Not because it wouldn’t work, but because I couldn’t wrap my brain around programming it in time. Or maybe at all. In place of that, we had an old phone pre-loaded with Dalek voice recordings, Doctor Who music and some Star Wars voices for a bit of a laugh. This was plugged into a small but pretty powerful speaker that ran off batteries, so it wouldn’t drain the phone’s power. We still had no motors, so Derek would be foot-powered. Flintstones-style again. But we had fixed the rotation system in the dome, and the ears and eyestalk would light up at the press of buttons.

Mrs Dim volunteered to drive, to reduce my stress about parking and arriving on time. She found us a great spot under the convention centre where we could stack up Derek out of the rain.

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Bearing in mind we were a Dalek, a Dalek Maintenance Tech and two other characters who looked like this:

(Captain Will Charity from The Adventurer and Taako from The Adventure Zone.)

It was quite a surprise when the polite Host from the Convention Centre said “Are you here for the Fan Expo?”

It was SO tempting to say “Nope, just a few eccentrics taking our dalek for a walk…”

We didn’t, of course, and she kindly directed us to the elevators. We were IN!

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One of the things I’ve been thinking about as we did the renovations was “What are we going to DO at the Fan Expo?”. It was a good question. Last time, I was distracted by the panic over parking and the the lost wheel disaster. We never made it into the exhibition hall at all. We knew from our previous, non-dalek visit that the hall can get crowded, and we were booked in for Saturday, usually the busiest day. This year, the plan was:

  1. Get there.
  2. Get inside and set up a base in the refreshments area.
  3. Get photos with the Doctor Who Cosplayers and the 501st Legion.
  4. Don’t lose any wheels. Or anything else.

1 and 2 were easy enough. This year’s Fan Expo was brilliantly devised, with a spacious refreshments area, plenty of seating and tables, and wide avenues between them. Mrs Dim made herself at home at a table, and we went on our first of three journeys around the hall.

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That first trip was the quietest, giving Derek time to browse the comics…

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…try to swipe a lightsabre….

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…and make a new friend. Of course, when you do that, there’s always a chance they’ll try to follow you home.

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By this point the hall was filling up a little, and we were stopped again and again for photos and the same three questions:

a: Is there someone inside there?

b: How long did it take to make?

c. What’s it made of?

Oh, and there were a few outliers, like “Is that from Star Wars?” and “What’s Doctor Who?” We hoped the guy who congratulated us on our “brilliant R2 D2” was kidding. He must have been, right? I mean, he WAS at Fan Expo…

Laurel took a breather back at base, and people kept coming up to take pictures with Derek, standing quiet sentinel at our table. The other two weasels had taken a turn around the hall, and when they got back we poured Laurel back into Derek and set off to find the 501st photo booth. My work computer home screen is our 501st group photo from last year:

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I was looking forward to updating the picture.

The 501st were great. First of all, they had to take apart their queuing system so Derek could get into the photography area. We got an extra surprise when one of the troopers (in the TIE Special Forces outfit) turned out to be a member of the Project Dalek Forum (www.projectdalek.com). In the end we got our photo on the Death Star AND with a bunch of Mandalorians – including THE Mandalorian, and a certain baby.

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The fun with the 501st lasted just long enough for us to trot (and wheel) around the corner to meet up with the other Doctor Who Cosplayers. That may have been our biggest reaction of the day – a number of Doctors had gathered and were preparing for a photo in the stye of a football team or school class – all lined up neatly. Derek rolled onto the red carpet and things got a bit more… animated.

Until they stopped being animated at all. Victory for Derek!

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In fact, victory for Derek felt like the theme of the Fan Expo for us this year. All kudos goes to Laurel – she worked hard on the construction and finishing of Derek, but really shined as his animating force, bringing him to life for everyone we met.

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Final Post of 2019

At my secondary school, we once read a story that included a scene where people were celebrating the turn of the century on December 31st 1901. At least, that’s my memory of it. There was an intense discussion, which finally made clear to me that the decade isn’t over until the end of the tenth year. So, this decade doesn’t actually end until December 31st 2020, but we all know the REAL end is in just a few days.

Like a lot of people, I’m looking back over the twenty years since the year 2000 and thinking about the changes we’ve seen.

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In late 1999, I had written a couple of one act plays and was co-writing a pantomime for the first time. It would be the start of a writing partnership that’s still going today – TLC Creative.

Back then we were living in south Wales, with only the one child. Despite this, I was still making heavy weather of being a stay at home Dad, trying to launch a writing career in between shopping, cleaning, dog walking and childcare. Twenty years seemed an impossibly long time when you’re measuring your child’s growth in weeks, then months. If I thought about it at all, I thought I’d be a published author, supporting my family on my writing earnings.

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I thought this despite a staggering lack of success in selling the two novels and dozens of short stories I had written.

Instead I’m living on a different continent, working for the library in a job I had never known existed. We still don’t have flying cars or jetpacks (thank goodness!), but the future is wilder than I had imagined.

I thought being a dad would involve wisdom, graciously passing on experience, and having access to All The Answers. I didn’t know it would be a constant rotation of cleaning, cooking, mending, explaining, excusing…. I thought I would know, not be desperately guessing and hoping that things would work out. For me, being an adult is mostly marvelling that other people my age are in charge of multi-million dollar industries or even countries. Mrs Dim is reluctant to leave me in charge of both the dogs at once.

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Sometimes I look at the Weasels and think how clever we have been to have gotten them this far. But I know people who are living through these final days of 2019 without children they thought they would see to adulthood. It’s important to be as good a parent as you can, but it’s still a lottery. I find it easier to believe in an indifferent universe than a creator who is capable of saving everyone and chooses not to. The Weasels haven’t been neglected, but there are a lot of aspects of being a young person growing up in BC that I can’t help with. In addition, growing up in the 2010’s is very different to growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, in good ways and bad. My kids are accepting of all kinds of orientation, gender identity, race or creed. They see the kind of ideal world as the norm, and are outraged that anyone should be denied that. Mrs Dim and I believe they’re right, but struggle to explain the problems older generations have with acceptance. We shouldn’t accept THAT, of course, or let it stand, but understanding is important.

In the next decade, we expect the Weasels will be heading out on their own, or with others. How and when that’ll happen, we don’t know. Mrs Dim already has some ideas about what life might look like in the future for us. She talks about her apartment downtown, on the waterfront. The walks she’ll take, the little Pho or Sushi places she’ll drop into. It’ll be a small, but neat apartment. I ask what my place will be in it.

“You’ll be on the mantlepiece.” she says. “In an urn.”

Bless.

Twenty years on from beginning my real efforts to become a writer, I’m not rich, or a household name (although “Dim” in Welsh can mean “None”, “nothing” or “anything”, depending on context) and I’m not even traditionally published. But I receive a monthly payout from Lazy Bee for the plays that are still selling around the world. I still write new plays, though much, much slower than at the start of the decade, and I don’t intend to stop anytime soon.

Most importantly, this life is one that I’m happy with, despite the occasional requirement to commit DIY. Come what may, the time up to this point has been good, and I’m grateful for that.

I wish you all the best in the coming decade.

(Also, if you want any good plays, check out www.lazybeescripts.co.uk )

Packing it in before packing it up.

It’s not the last day of the holiday, but it was the last day at Disneyland. We’d thought we’d bought Park Hopper tickets, enabling us to spend some time at Disneyland and some time at California Adventureland, across the way. As it turned out, we could only visit one park per day, and since we’d spent the first two at Disney, we felt we should give the third day to Adventureland. However, Mrs Dim wasn’t going to have any disappointment on her watch, so our first stop on Thursday morning was the Customer Services booth outside the parks. They upgraded our tickets (at a minor cost of Oh My God How Much? No, Don’t Tell Me) and we skipped off to see how long we would have to wait for the Guardians of the Galaxy ride.

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The last time we visited Adventureland, they were in the process of converting the old Tower of Terror ride into this new one. We were eager to see how they had done, but were nervous how many other people were there ahead of us. And it turned out, not that many!

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The queuing system took you through the lobby of the Collector’s establishment, showing you some of his collection, as well as introducing you to the conceit of the ride (The Guardians have been captured for display).

Naturally, we saved all the Guardians through our amazing “Sitting strapped into seats” ability, then moved on to find a superhero to hug.

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Once we’d finished browsing the local web, as it were, we had to rush off, because Mrs Dim had set her sights high – we were going to get on the Radiator Springs Racers ride this year! Last time we came, we could not ride it, because the queue was so long and all the fast passes were booked up for the day. This year the line was long, but not as long as the one for Smuggler’s Run had been, so we toughed it out.

It was worth it.

This was awesome. We had already crossed two rides off our list that we had doubted we could even get onto! We rushed off to Pixar Pier to try our luck with the newly renamed “Incredicoaster”. (Used to be the California Screaming….)

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Once again, the queue wasn’t huge, and it was moving pretty fast. There were funny videos playing to distract the nervous, and we reached the gates before we knew it. The people in front of us got onto the coaster and the gates closed. Then there was an announcement and the gates opened again. The reluctant and confused people were ushered off the coaster and the WHOLE QUEUE was turned away. Something was wrong, and they weren’t going to let anyone ride until they figured it out. Fair enough.

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To make up for our first failure, we jumped on to the giant ferris wheel (which probably has a comedy name, but I can’t remember it…) Mrs Dim asked me and Eldest Weasel if we were ok with a swinging gondola. We shrugged and said “yes”. But, dear reader, we were not ok. The stunning views across the park were not enough to distract us from the hideous sensations and I have rarely been happier to get off a ride.

There was some good representation for “Coco” in Adventureland, and we recovered while listening to the Mariachi band, and filling out our own contribution to the “Family Memories” area in memory of Cousin Shaun, gone far too soon.

Two successes, two less successful ventures. Mrs Dim got her spirits back up with a trip on the flying chairs, and then we headed across to Disneyland. Middle Weasel and I agreed that we had come to terms with not having another visit to Galaxy’s Edge, but now the chance was here, we were both thrilled.

We walked in to Disneyland, just as a parade was setting off. That gave us a chance to snag a couple more character pictures.

Then, to save our poor tired feet, we hopped on the train to ride around to New Orleans.

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We walked into Galaxy’s Edge along the route we have been using to leave, and almost immediately bumped into Resistance heroine, Vi Moradi. This time we didn’t just see her, she came over to chat to us!

While she was asking us how we were getting on, she was interrupted by another familiar face who also wanted her photograph taken with us…

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When we had finally stopped being mobbed by famous faces, we strolled into the Smuggler’s Run ride for one last trip on the Milennium Falcon. It was great fun, yet again.

We emerged with the ship mostly intact, and went to try both Blue Milk AND Green Milk. Green milk tastes like soap, and blue milk is more like brake fluid, but they’re both very expensive.

While we drank, we saw Vi getting escorted to prison by two troopers.

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Less than a minute later, she came strolling back down the street.

“You didn’t even use your blaster?” asked Mrs Dim.

“Piece of cake” Vi shrugged and disappeared again.

We closed out our final day with a meal at Pizza Planet.

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Thanks to all our lucky breaks, the great rides, and the cast members in Galaxy’s Edge, this visit to Disney really has been out of this world. The drive home is going to be a long one, but it’s been worth every mile.

Taking a Disney break at Universal

We have tickets for three days at Disney, but we know from the last time we were here, that it’s possible to sneak in a day at Universal Studios and see the other kind of Parklife (damn, got that song stuck in my head now…) The difficult bit is deciding when to leave, because no matter when you choose to go, it’ll take about two hours because of LA traffic. The park opens at 9, and that’s when we left.

Obviously, I didn’t take any pictures while driving over there, and the kids were zonked out in the back, with Mrs Dim doing my navigating for me. We DID spot the Hollywood sign, way off in the distance, so cross that one off the list.

For some reason I was a little grumpy when we arrived. Might have been the driving, or that peculiar aggressive grumpiness that suddenly seizes people when they realise they have to share something fun with other, ordinary people. The last time we came to Universal we had a wonderfully strange stroke of luck, with impending bad weather keeping most people away, but never appearing. This time it looked like we were going to have to share, and worse, QUEUE. Then I dropped my phone and shattered the screen. Bother. BUT….

It was still a really good day. We kicked it off by heading over to Hogsmead. The snow looked ludicrous in the heat, but we snagged some cold Butterbeer and started to relax.

We were trepidatious about the main ride in Hogsmead, but the wait time was only 20 mins. This sounds rough, but after weathering a 90 minute wait in Disney, it seemed reasonable to us. Plus, the queuing system for this ride takes you all through Hogwarts castle, and the decoration is fantastic. The portraits are animated and talk, and there’s something happening in every room you pass through – in the Defence against the Dark Arts Classroom, for example, Harry Ron and Hermione are wandering around under their invisibility cloak. Items move, doors open and close and their voices are clearly heard. Turns out, 20 mins isn’t long enough to see everything before you reach the ride.

The ride itself is an amazing combination of physical ride and simulation. You move through actual environments like the Forbidden Forest and the Observatory, and 180 degree screens project the illusion of flight around the outside of the castle and across the Quidditch pitch. Sounds, light and physical interactions like hot air and water help sell the experience. It was great!

You’re helped off the ride and gently ushered into the Gift Shop, of course. Like Galaxy’s Edge, there’s not a lot to ride in Hogsmead – the Hippogriff coaster and the Hogwarts ride are the only two, but there’s the “wand-choosing” experience, which provides you with a wand that can activate a number of shop window displays when you perform the spell action correctly. This is an amazing thing for the kids (and adults!) All those times you have wished you could perform real magic, and here’s a very convincing simulation.

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At that point we had to leave before Eldest Weasel sold a kidney to buy yet another wand. We had to go all the way down to the lower lot to see the Jurassic World stuff. Dinosaurs, remember? (She did say the ideal thing would be to ride between the two lots on a velociraptor, on a broom, drinking Butterbeer and throwing amber left and right, with Porgs on both shoulders. Kids today, huh?)

The old Jurassic Park ride has been replaced with an updated Jurassic World ride. Although the essentials of the ride are the same (you ride in boats, get wet, and there are dinosaurs), the details are different enough that it felt like a new experience. And wet enough that we didn’t take photos. When it finished, Eldest Weasel shook herself and ran over to the Velociraptor Encounter (which was the only reason she came…)

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She was told the book was probably in bad taste, but Blue the Raptor didn’t seem to mind too much.

After that, the only sane thing to do was go on the World Famous Studio Tour, currently celebrating its 55th anniversary. We had ridden the tour two years ago, and weren’t expecting major changes. Of course, you get a different commentary each time you have a different guide, and Marcellus was a master raconteur. He knew a lot about the shows being filmed, even if we rarely recognised any of the ones he mentioned. We were thrilled to go through the streets used for The Good Place though, a show that didn’t EXIST two years ago…

The best bits of the tour are still there: the Bates Motel and house, the Jaws attack, the earthquake in the Metro station, the flash flood, and the two newest additions, the King Kong 360 3d and the Fast and the Furious “What the heck is going on, who are these people, what was that, why did it explode, please let it be over, why does Vin Diesel play anyone but Groot?” experience.

On a whim, we wandered into the Special Effects Show, which was short but punchy, and paid tribute to some of the less sexy areas of special effects, like the Foley artists, who deserve more credit and adulation. After that, it was time to cruise the gift shops once more and head out… Except that on our way we passed the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, and opted to have an early dinner, rather than rush off to sit in traffic.

The decor was great, combining movie memorabilia with info and pictures from behind the scenes. Our server, Chris, was attentive and knowledgeable, and pointed out the sign on the table. It said “Run Forrest Run”, but if you flipped it over it said “Stop, Forrest, Stop”. If you needed assistance, you flipped the sign, and ANY server would stop to see what they could do for you. We ate great food, and Mrs Dim FINALLY got her cocktail.

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After a good meal and such a busy day, the ride back through LA wasn’t too bad at all, despite the reappearance of the Christmas songs in our random playlist. Still, if you’re driving through LA on a hot October evening after playing with Dinosaurs, why not do it with The Muppets singing the Twelve Days of Christmas?

The first two days at Disney

When we visited Disneyland in 2017, they had just started building Galaxy’s Edge. Although it’s open now, there’s only one ride, with the major attraction of “Rise of the Resistance” not scheduled to open in California until January (it’s open in December at Orlando.)

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Our first day at Disneyland in 2019 was going to be a slow appraisal. We all had goals and objectives, but the ones I was interested in were going to be busy. I’d have to book an appointment to build a lightsabre at Savi’s Workshop, and the lines for Smuggler’s Run (where you actually pilot the Millennium Falcon) would be long, and there’s no fast pass available.

So, on Monday morning, we strolled.

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Disneyland is all dressed up for Hallowe’en – the shops, the decor, the characters – everything is spooky and scary (but not ACTUALLY scary, because kids.) This was fun because a: we like Hallowe’en and b: last time we visited was in March, so this was all new.

We sauntered up Main Street, ignoring the statue of Walt and Mickey (because we took THAT picture two years ago.) We were delighted to stumble across an area dedicated to Coco and the Day of the Dead.

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Once we’d taken this picture, Laurel spotted a good flower to photograph, and a hummingbird appeared to improve the picture. Just as we finished that, an osprey started circling the lake.

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True to form, the entire Trasler family ignored the attractions of Disneyland to discuss the origins of the osprey, and whether or not there was anything in the lake for it to eat. Took a while for us to get moving again. We couldn’t agree on whether or not to go into the Haunted Mansion, but we could agree that a one hour wait time was more than we wanted to take right then.

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Since there was less of a line up for the Jungle Cruise, and none of the party objected, we rode around the gentle river and admired the animatronics.

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As always, it’s the dry delivery of the dreadful jokes by the driver that make the trip worthwhile.

Ever alert for more thrills (and because Tiny Weasel is a huge Wind in the Willows fan), the next stop was Mr Toad’s Wild Ride.

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It’s very reminiscent of the old Ghost Train rides we used to have in the UK, with sharp turns and doors that snap open at the last second. It’s not wildly scary, but much longer than it looks like it could be from the outside.

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It was finally time to go through to Galaxy’s Edge. Even though we weren’t planning to try and get on the Smuggler’s Run ride, it was still a big moment for me. I’d read so much on the web, and watched countless videos on the design, building and finally the opening of the area. This was the closest I was ever going to get to being in the Star Wars Universe.

It was AMAZING!

The look of the place is right out of the movies. Within seconds the tourists look out of place. Everywhere there are tiny details that catch the eye and insist you’re in the Star Wars Universe.

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But of course, the centrepiece of the land is the Millennium Falcon, reproduced in 3d, life-size.

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It’s weird, seeing this ship that I have known almost all my life, finally here in the real world. It’s so familiar, but looks so strange outside the viewfinder of the phone camera.

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Though the second, and biggest, ride is not yet ready, there’s still a lot to do at Galaxy’s Edge. There are many different types of shops, and several places to get food and drink. Oga’s Cantina needs to be booked, so we plumped for eating at Cargo Bay 7. The food is themed, but much better than normal. Last time we were in Disneyland, they had “Star Wars” food that was regular chicken nuggets-style offering with space names. Here in Galaxy’s Edge, the food is Earth native, but with a twist. We ordered the Fried Endorian Tip Yips and the Braised Shaak Roast.

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These two dishes were recogniseably earth meats, but they had been cooked or prepared to alter the flavour from the expected (or usual) and they were definitely NOT the standard fast food park fare. The two were enough for the five of us to share, not being too hungry. The bowls they were served in were ceramic, the cutlery was metal, and the tray was metal. Good environmental points all round!

We ran into some familiar faces (or masks) during our first visit too:

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Outside Galaxy’s Edge, we even bumped into a famous Bounty Hunter.

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We’d seen a ton of stuff, and tired ourselves out, so we repaired to the hotel. I found us a nearby place to eat, and the Weasels attempted to double their bodyweight in pasta before they fell asleep. We turfed them out of the restaurant and back to bed, while Mrs Dim and I went back to the park for the evening firework display. We stood with hundreds (thousands?) of others in Main Street, until 9.30pm arrived and the lights, sound and fireworks came to life.

Tired, but happy, we stumbled back to the hotel. We had intended for the next day to be our “Magic Morning”, where we could enter the park an hour early, but then we found the park opened at 8am, so we’d have to BE there at 7am. Instead, we resolved to be at the park when the gates opened at 8.

We nearly made it.

This was the day to achieve the first set of goals, after all, so we went straight in and through to galaxy’s edge to queue for Smuggler’s Run.

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After twenty minutes of queueing through various areas, we reached this huge open backstage part, obviously utilised for large crowds. There were no ropes, just lines on the floor, but the crowds obediently shuffled back and forth, careful not to step over the taped lines. We shuffled on for an hour and a half before we reached the actual ride.

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An amazing animatronic of Hondo Ohnaka gives you the introduction to the situation and invites you and your crew to fly the Falcon for him, to grab some Coaxium for the Resistance. Through another set of doors and there were some very familiar surroundings.

I was surprised that we weren’t warned not to film or photograph during the ride, but it turned out that was because you don’t have enough hands! I was Pilot, and Middle Weasel was Copilot, with Tiny and Eldest Weasel being Gunners. Mrs Dim and a loaner crewmember were the Engineers. I could only control left and right, while Middle Weasel was in charge of up and down. The mission lasted longer than I thought it would, but it was still fast and furious and FUN! Definitely worth the wait.

There was going to be quite a wait between coming out of Smuggler’s Run and the appointment I had made at Savi’s Workshop, so we decided to take in another ride. We opted for the Matterhorn.

When we joined the line, there was a sixty minute wait time, but halfway through they made an announcement that there was some kind of issue. Time ticked by, and I began to worry that I might have to rush to catch my appointment after all. But then we were on the ride and ready to go!

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The Matterhorn Bobsled ride is fun, with scary Yetis lunging out at the carts as they rocket by. We yelled and waved our arms in the air, then stepped out with half and hour in hand.

I was allowed two guests at the building of the lightsabre, and Eldest Weasel came along to document it with her better camera (and I don’t have her pictures yet!), and Tiny Weasel was press-ganged by the guy standing next to me, who wanted to film his own build, but didn’t have a buddy!

The process is wonderfully theatrical, and it’s helped if you’ve read ‘Black Spire” by Delilah Dawson. I assembled the pieces of my lightsabre, but was embarrassed to find that it didn’t work when tested by the workshop supervisor. She disassembled it, replaced a part, rebuilt it, tested it – nothing! By the time I got “my” lightsabre back, it had been rebuilt three times!

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We closed out the day with drifting around the park, through shops, past parades, and getting Mrs Dim a coffee for her to sip watching the people on Main Street.

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Tomorrow we head out to Universal Studios for some non-Disney entertainment, before returning for one more day in the Magic Kingdom. I hope we can fit as much into those two days as we managed in the previous two!