Disney World Trip Report

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Jabroniville
Posts: 11745
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:05 pm

Disney World Trip Report

Post by Jabroniville » Wed May 29, 2019 8:30 pm

Hey, everyone!

Mini-Bio: I'm from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and have been a huge Disney fan for 10+ years. I got out of it a bit in my 20s, but came back in my 30s and through a series of things, got the travel bug and started hitting up various places. A Las Vegas trip 10-ish years ago made me realize that travel was actually easy, and so I've done solo trips to Disneyland, San Diego, New York, Seattle, Disney World, Japan (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto), London, & Paris. Then I kinda ran out of places I wanted to go see.

As far as Disney Parks go, I visited Tokyo DL as a teenager (for a one-day trip on a school exchange; I oddly don't remember much about it), Disneyland as a teenager (kind of the wrong age for it), then again as an adult (much more fun). Then I did WDW, then Tokyo again (HUGELY fun this time around), then DL Paris. Finally, I casually decided last November to try another WDW trip, not having been for about five years. Given that the planning phases of these must be so far in advance, I needed the lead time!

Overall, I booked the trip SUPER piecemeal. Knowing how the restaurant reservations work, I went with Be Our Guest and Akershus, hearing they were two of the best ones that I missed out on last time (I went with Cinderella's Royal Table and Le Cellier; both were good, though Le Cellier selling Alberta beef when I'm FROM Alberta just meant that I paid extra for the kind of steak I get at home, lol). So with restaurant reservations booked eons in advance, I had some time to select the rest of the trip. I paid for my flights almost a month apart, and got the cheaper Canadian Resident Passes.

Hotels: I wanted to try Art of Animation this time, as I wasn't able to on my last trip (I could book six days, but not seven)... so imagine my annoyance that the SAME PROBLEM turned up; I couldn't book it for the whole trip. At least in this instance, I figured to spend 50% of the trip in AOA, and 50% in my second choice, Pop Century.

People on the MiceChat Facebook group insisted I try one of the expensive hotels, but no thanks- I never find them THAT much better, and HOLY COW, some of them cost more per night than one of these hotels would all week!

My Disney Planning: I'm a combination of "elite planning months in advance", combined with "do whatever I feel like once I get there" on vacations. As this was my second time at WDW, and I've done a LOT of Disney Parks over the past 5+ years, I'm a lot more casual about it, and didn't feel the need to criss-cross the parks quite so much. I'd largely based my planning around which parks offered Extra Magic Hours and when, as I don't get to come by very often. Therefore, I like to maximize my park time! This leads to some insane days, like a 15-hour day in the Magic Kingdom. I planned on spending the weekend at Universal Studios, but was open to pretty much anything.

The flights there: Edmonton to Toronto was fine, though I didn't sleep. I managed to from Toronto to Orlando, which thankfully went off without a hitch- ask any Canadian what flying into and out of Pearson Airport is like; I deliberately booked my flights HOURS apart. This airport is absolutely horrendous for wait times, long lines, and gates separated by miles.

Jabroniville
Posts: 11745
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:05 pm

Re: Disney World Trip Report

Post by Jabroniville » Wed May 29, 2019 8:31 pm

Overall, I think I had even more fun than I did the first time around. Part of it was because... well, I was such a completist last time, I was dashing from thing to thing, making sure I got EVERYTHING done. This time, I had a much more casual time of it. I also threw in an extra day or two in the parks, which made things much more free- seven days instead of five. Overall, my game plan was to go on the Extra Magic Hours days (when you only come here every five years or so, you have to maximize your hours). I thankfully had this planned for MONTHS in advance. The usual benefits of being a solitary Guest, too.

Only downsides I had were usually luggage-related (the Magical Express picked up my bag before I could get at the sunscreen or a change of shirt in it; leaving me doing Disney Springs in 90-degree weather with a long-sleeved button-up shirt and having to buy new sunscreen, lol.... and then my hotels didn't transfer my bags in time, so I had to wear the same shirt twice). Also, the fact that I tend to close out places means that I have to wait 20-30 minutes for the buses to show up, as they take FOREVER at night, and seem to arbitrarily sit there for five minutes before opening the doors.

Word to the wise: I'm a HUGE Frozen fan, so I'm utterly biased in terms of favorite attractions. So if it seems like I'm way too into EPCOT, or wasted time doing repeat things, that's why. I never lost my love of the, even when every other adult in the world was sick of it. I'm just too big a fan of Idina Menzel.

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The art in these shops is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO PRETTYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY...

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About the only piece of park-exclusive doll/toy stuff I really saw that was any good.

DISNEY SPRINGS:
-Well, this was a much bigger delight than last time. In 2014 or so, this whole area was INSANELY clogged-up thanks to work going on all over the place- frequent choke-points and narrowed walkways made it a giant nuisance. I also arrived very late, and was unable to make dinner plans for the time I was there, leaving me with almost nothing to eat but junk. So THIS time around, I came in way early, made plans hours in advance, and had a lot more fun. The LEGO Store seems more generic this time around, but I found a LOT of really great art. One of my big issues as a male Disney fan is the lack of stuff available to us- most of the great art ends up on women's clothing, so having the option to buy dozens of Postcards for reasonable prices with some AWESOME art on them was great. A few journals and stuff, too.

Paddlefish is THE BEST- totally splurged on some insane King Crab Boil where it's basically in a vat of butter. Completely horrendous and messy, but awesome. Some dude next to me was commenting on it. Though I had some initial difficulty (I started at the smallest claw), the big claws were easy to tear open. At one point, I shoved a piece of meat the size of my finger out of one appendage. It was EPIC. Only down side was them having to sit my solitary butt down and clear off THREE SPACES (they not have dual booths? lol). I immediately posted on Facebook "I WON", as soon as I finished this monstrosity.

One place selling shaved ice was good. There's a cupcake place, a Christmas-themed one, Pin Traders, etc. I'm seeing a greater likelihood of "A Goofy Movie"-themed stuff, which is excellent. That movie's really hit a big nostalgia push lately, though oddly with people far younger than I am. I was a teenager when I saw that; everyone who's a fan now looks to be in their mid-20s at best.

I love the cheesiness of the T-Rex & Rainforest Cafes. They're SO EIGHTIES, with extremely-loud noises and cheap animatronics. Such a great atmosphere. I did the "wander through the rows to take pictures" thing in both, thankfully being able to avoid the endless supply of employees carrying stuff. WOW are these places crowded.

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HOTEL- ART OF ANIMATION:
-This is a really great-looking hotel with some excellent themed rooms. Unfortunately they're hard to book for solo rooms- both my last vacation and this one had trouble with booking an entire week-plus at a time, so I was left without it last time, and this time I had to book it for only three nights, then go to Pop Century for the rest. Kind of an annoying thing to have to do right in the middle of a busy vacation. Also, the Little Mermaid section (where solo rooms are) is WAY off to one side, so it takes a while to get back to the main area. Overall, it seems to have way fewer guests than Pop Century, so lineups aren't as bad.

Jabroniville
Posts: 11745
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:05 pm

Animal Kingdom

Post by Jabroniville » Thu May 30, 2019 4:40 am

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A lot more Bare Giantess Breast than you'd typically see in a Disney Resort.


ANIMAL KINGDOM:
-Because of how the Extra Magic Hours worked out, I went here first. As it's a pretty good, but not OUSTANDING park, I felt it would be the best way to start my trip. Unfortunately, this was the day with the worst weather- promises of rain made me bring my jacket... which was way too hot for three hours. Then I paid $10 for the locker... and it started POURING 1.5 hours later, causing me to look like I'd jumped in the lake by the time I got back to my locker for my jacket. So now I had mildewy jeans for like three days until I figured out how to get that smell out of the belt-loop part, lol.

I got in line for "Flight of Passage" immediately, as this was new stuff for me, but the line was already an hour long, and I'd booked a FastPass ages ago for like 9:30. So never mind. "River Voyage" or whatever had a five-minute wait, so I went on that instead. It's not bad... but boring. Like, you're just looking at neon lights, some screens... and then you see a REALLY advanced animatronic Na'vi. It's imperssive, but you have to go on this dull ride just for that?

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PANDORA does look really cool, though now that I'm as into Theme Parks as I am, I can see the "Smoke & Mirrors" a mile wide here. Like how the "faraway waterfalls" and stuff are really not that far away at all, and arer just built tiny. I can totally see the Forced Perspective and other stuff at work, and it REALLY makes this land look itty-bitty. Honestly, with only two attractions, mostly hidden from view behind walls, it really comes off as smaller in real life than I was led to believe by the ads. The fact that nobody I know seems to remember "Avatar" also holds it back, lol. All the comments are basically "THIS IS AWESOME, and makes a ton of money, but WOW". The shop is pretty cool, but I really don't see the appeal of buying Na'vi & Banshee toys.

Got onto "FOP" with my FP, and yeah, THAT'S cool. More "3D Ride With Screens" (something I'm growing a bit tired of), but still very impressive. About halfway through, I realized that my Banshee was BREATHING (okay, they were puffing up the leather saddle), which is a great touch. Lots of action, a "smell room", and some unconvincing 3D in a room full of neon lights. I ended up going on the ride again at the end of the night (barely; I somehow went to River Voyage again by accident and got stuck in that queue for 45 minutes, but managed to crawl in right before closing), at which point the guide TOLD US about the Banshee breathing. I saw the full queue this time, including the really awesome Floating Na'vi thing.

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Overall, it's the same park as before. I did pretty much everything, save Nemo & the Festival of the Lion King. It's a different park when you're not dying of sleep deprivation (lol, my last trip, I only had 3 hours of sleep thanks to a stomach bug from a turkey leg; it was AWFUL and I went into Nemo to die for a while). I rode Kilimanjaro Safaris twice (I wanted to do it after dark, but you only had an hour to do that, and I hit FOP again). FINALLY saw the Jafar rock in the Gorilla enclosure. Talked with a nice lady about the Okapi and how they are (they apparently have velvety fur, and their tongues are as rough & scrapy as Giraffe tongues). Rode "Everest" twice, thanks to the Single Rider line; I kind of wanted to check out the queue, but doing that for 30-40 minutes seemed like a waste.

The biggest issue was the rain, which prevented the "Zoo" aspects of the park from being seen, thanks to "lightning storm warnings". So I wasn't sure if I could have seen the zoo stuff at all. Eventually they opened, and I saw the animals... though I'm reminded again of how sub-par the zoo sections actually are. I think my original review of this park was "like somebody stuck a Sub-Par Theme Park and a Sub-Par Zoo together and called it a complete thing". Gorillas, Okapis and Tigers are neat, at least, but the Safari is really the only good way to see most animals. PANDORA makes this better- it was a park I was done with at 6pm last time, but this time I went coast-to-coast and it was fine.

Hmmm.... what else. I ate at some smaller stands instead of big restaurants, and paid WAY too much for some tiny portions (the Asian-style rice bowl was basically three slivers of meat and some rice, for nearly what you can get for a full fish meal in the Magic Kingdom).

Thank goodness they didn't seem to do the parade- I remember that being AWFUL, as it cuts the park in half for like an hour. I skipped out on the night show in favor of Avatar's stuff, as I heard it wasn't really that impressive.

Spectrum
Posts: 1708
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:08 pm

Re: Disney World Trip Report

Post by Spectrum » Thu May 30, 2019 3:00 pm

Sounds like a fun vacation! Every time I hear about trips to Disney World, I keep thinking of going back. I've also heard that most of the fun places from my childhood are now long departed. The most memorable is the10,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride which has gone through several generations of replacements.

And, I'm so proud of you! You haven't squealed about cute girls yet! ;)
We rise from the ashes so that new legends can be born.

Jabroniville
Posts: 11745
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:05 pm

Re: Disney World Trip Report

Post by Jabroniville » Fri May 31, 2019 8:35 pm

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T-SHIRTS & DISNEY:
-This was a bit weird. See, when I wear "A Goofy Movie"-related t-shirts in public, I usually get one or two comments a day. Which... I mean, when I go out anywhere there's women, I will often hear one of them say "Oh, I love your _____!" to another one. It's like... a common girl thing. But for GUYS, this is an incredibly rare occurence, to the point of being very strange. Generally speaking, people will 100% never talk about your clothes. Most people won't even notice them. Most you'll get is women silently judging you and marking you as un-dateable without your knowing it :). So believe me when I tell you that getting eight or nine compliments A DAY about your shirts is incredibly, INCREDIBLY odd.

And yeah, that's what happened. I have a t-shirt of Powerline from A Goofy Movie, and it got a lot of attention (mostly from black girls, actually; even TIANA pointed it out, lol). A Goofy Movie- tons of comments, mostly from girls. But my WICKED t-shirts? Just insane. 8-9 comments a day, usually from women (occasionally from, uh, the kind of guys you'd imagine would be familiar with Broadway, let's just say :)). I mean, it was INSANE.

Even the FACE CHARACTERS went off on it- one of the Belles I talked to basically nerded out over it, going on about whether or not I'd read the book! Anna, Tinker Bell AND the Step Sisters all riffed on it! Talk about some serious fandom crossover. So... with all this attention I was getting, I somehow found the need to "repeat" my two Wicked shirts periodically :).

Then one day I wore a Macho Man Randy Savage t-shirt and it was all black guys who wanted to talk to me about it, lol.

Jabroniville
Posts: 11745
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:05 pm

Epcot (Part One)

Post by Jabroniville » Mon Jun 03, 2019 9:19 am

EPCOT:

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OMG THERE'S A FROZEN RIDE YOU GUYSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

Okay, word to the wise: I'm a MONSTROUS Frozen fan. I mean, I've been a fan of Idina Menzel for like ten years; I discovered her through Kristin Chenoweth, through whom I also discovered and fell in love with Wicked. So I decided to love Frozen the moment I heard My Goddess was cast. That she was cast as a member of DISNEY ROYALTY, and given the most fantastic design EVER... I mean, I was done. I jovially laughed during the Frozen Craze that destroyed toy stores the world over through unexpected demand, the years of Halloweens dominated by Elsas, the Elsa Cosplay that dominated Comic Conventions, and was gleeful during its dominance over the Box Office. I ignored the backlash from fans of everything else that got ignored, too.

So believe me when I say I enjoyed Frozen Ever After, which I managed to score Morning FastPasses for on both days I visited EPCOT. I arrived WAY before park opening one day (good thing; security takes forrrrrrrrrrrrrrrever now), power-walked right through the World Showcase to hit Norway (alongside some UK Frozen/Wicked fans I helped find the way), and BAM! Zero line. Then rode it again. Then again. And with a 35-minute wait... I rode it FOUR TIMES before noon. "Again?" said the attendant on the fourth time. YES, JUDGY McJUDGERSON, AGAIN, lol!

This was MAGICAL. You start off in a room with a "Movie Perfect" Olaf & Sven, followed by a brief narration with the Trolls (blink and you'll miss the little one going "You're going up to the ICE PALACE!"- then an incline leads you up to the "mini-castle", then Olaf awkwardly sings some lyrics (come at the right time, and he'll confess "I don't REALLY know this songggg...") while he skates about, then Kristoff & Anna sing a variation of For the First Time In Forever, replacing Anna's initial "I Want" song for "for my sister's MAGIC DAY!". Kristoff: "Do you think they're ready?" "They were BORN ready!" (or "Do you think they're elated or gassy?" "Let's just call it DELIIIIIGHT!"- oddly almost more singing than Kristoff does in the movie.

And then, after all this build-up... BOOM. You're through a door, you see the MOST ADVANCED ANIMATRONIC EVER (okay... less than the Na'vi Shaman, but still), as an animatronic Elsa swirls her arms about in perfect harmony with "Let It Go"- you go RIGHT up underneath the balcony to get a closer look (sit on the right side for the best view), and then she pushes you backwards, as you slide down a hallway (now watching movie/CGI clips). Finally, you hit Marshmallow and the Snowgies, and he either shouts "I'm FREEEEEEEE!" or "Let it GOOOOOOOOO!" and blows cold mist at you, and going forwards again, you slide down (maybe getting a lil' wet) and hitting a miniature version of Arendelle, complete with a sparkly Palace and Elsa's castle off in the "distance" (ie. above you and tiny). And then it's one final song, with In Summer, though with Anna & Elsa (in their Frozen Fever outfits!) singing along. It's a bit funny, because they're holding hands and have the same "CGI face superimposed over a faceless head" look, but their arms clearly aren't moving naturally. I think this is when they were assuming the FF outfits would be a near-universal recurring thing, but I'd like to see Elsa's ice dress a second time.

So yeah, a quick little ride (especially for one that can hit a 60-minute wait, EASILY), but HOLY COW, it's great for Frozen fans. Hits almost all the great musical notes of the movie, even if it is a bit light on plot (it's basically "Hey, let's celebrate!")- also amusing that Anna, the MAIN CHARACTER OF FROZEN, has to play such a second-fiddle to Elsa's triumph. Poor Anna.

You of course get let off into the gift shop, which is about 70% Norway-themed stuff (as it used to be), but now with Frozen stuff shoved into the immediate drop-off point. Not much you can't find in Disney Stores, actually, but there's some good art there that I picked up.

So yeah, I rode this EVERY DAY I went to EPCOT, like, REPEATEDLY. Test Track? NAHHHHH- had Single Rider! Soarin'? Went once at the end of the night! But nope- 3-4 times on THREE DIFFERENT MORNINGS, plus twice every night I was there (three different nights), since they HAVE to let you on if the park isn't entirely closed yet (DISNEY HACKS!).

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I also did the extra fun of seeing the Viking Stave Church with their old gods (Thor, Loki, Odin, Freya). And the "Royal Summerhus" Meet & Greet. Two which's attendants totally started recognizing me after a point, lol. The first time, I was just doing it because of the short wait and I wanted to meet them ONCE, but I was so stunned by the Elsa there that I kept going back, at first to see the "Night Anna & Elsa" so I didn't repeat with the same girls, and later to see if the first one was still there, lol. On my final day in the parks, the nice lady attendant in the actual "Cottage Room" (who indicated the four violins nailed to the ceiling, indicating each of the four main heroes of the story) pointed out that "I hadn't seen you today!". Maybe she thought I was some kind of obsessive Frozen fan! But whatever could have given her THAT idea!?

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LOL, my body language in these makes me laugh. Even the girls I showed it to were like "AWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!" and they lol'd. I'm all awkward-ass holding my hands in front of me, like I'm nervous before meeting a pretty girl. Because HOLY SHIT that Elsa! Meeting the singular most beautiful woman I've ever seen (THOSE CHEEKBONES!), dressed as FRIGGIN' ELSA?? I was DONE.

Jabroniville
Posts: 11745
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:05 pm

Epcot (Part Two)

Post by Jabroniville » Sat Jun 08, 2019 5:27 am

OTHER EPCOT:
Oh hey, EPCOT has OTHER rides, too, it turns out! Did anyone else know this?

So once noon hit and I'd been in the park for four hours or so, I decided to leave Norway and check out some other stuff. Now, my last trip through, I was only here a day and a half (after 6pm when Animal Kingdom closed, and the whole day the next day)- Test Track was down due to a rainstorm that day, meaning I've never ridden it. So I absent-mindedly wandered over there to check it out, and hey! Single Rider line! So I only spent... like, 20 minutes in line (it promised FIVE, but nope). It's pretty fun, though the "Dark Ride" portion is a little soft. The "race around the building" part is great fun, though obviously why it's always broken down. Because it went down due to rain shortly after I rode it, and was down ALL DAY the next day, so despite spending like a week of my life in this park now, I've still only done Test Track once :).

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I rode Soarin' at the end of my first day- still good, still has weird transitions between scenes (can't they make these less jarring?). Not much of a line at the end of the night (typical Touring Plans have people hit the whole Front Area first and THEN go to the World Showcase). I still like "The Seas" as an area- informative Aquarium-style stuff, with some rescued manatees. Plus some dolphins, who were doing some skill-testing stuff. The "Nemo" ride is okay kid stuff (a bit too much on screens), but okay. I dig the educational content, though- it's Disney-themed but still worthwhile learning material.

Rode Mission: SPACE a couple of times, on the non-weenie Orange Setting that can kill people. Not as hardcore as I remember it the last time I went (where I remember my neck fat actually CHOKING me during the "spin around the room" portion), and thankfully with no screaming little girl who had NO IDEA how terrifying a ride this could be. I checked out the Future World areas, but they seem to have changed a lot- last time there were some things to do and see (some simulation ride; a "this is what houses will look like in the future" attraction; plus Princess Aurora was here for some reason), but this time there was only a display on colors, and Character Meet & Greets on the other side. There was no big walkthrough house thing that I could see, unless it was just closed this time around.

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The older I get, though, the more I appreciate "World Showcase" over the rides that everyone else gets on. Especially as it's this nice RING instead of "5-6 buildings spaced out in a weird line between Future World rings). But also the neat little shops and actual foreign Cast Members with unique, themed merchandise. Paris in particular had a GREAT shop full of the kind of thing I always complain about... the best art being on ladies' clothes. So I became the proud owner of two giant XL-sized ladies blouses because they had art of Belle that I couldn't find anywhere else. SILLY DESIGNERS!!

I feel kind of bad for the "skipped over" lands, though, as people always seem to leap over Morocco, and rarely hit the "Germany/African Outpost" section, in favor of their flashier and closer cousins. ESPECIALLY as Norway (close to the entrance) now has the biggest Showcase ride AND the most-desired restaurant in EPCOT, and it's right next to the huge, substantial China Pavilion. France has the good ice cream shop I always hit up, Italy has some nice scenery, and the UK section has a great long line of shops on both sides. Being Canadian, I see less in Canada than some others do, I guess, but I DID finally get to see "Reflections of China". For some reason, I never care to wait around for these roundabout theatre shows- all the times I've been here, I've basically seen just this one. TOO MUCH WALKING TO DO! Maybe if I hadn't done Meet & Greets I'd have done more.

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I dig the Japan Pavilion's big shop, though. Having been to Japan, it really captures that feel, though less so this time around- it's full of mostly Nintendo & Miyazaki-film stuff, as opposed to five years ago, when it was packing tons of various anime characters, especially those Figurine Kits of stuff like Saint Seiya. The whole "Figurine" thing is MUCH more authentic "nerd store" stuff that reflects Japanese shopping than a lot of teeny-tiny collectibles like I see in here now. There's some neat sections for clothes & jewelry, and some Asian foods as well- it's basically a Mini-Tokyo in many ways, though pricey. I like the little museum, now themed around "Kawaii" culture, with various cute things and "Mascots", and how cuteness ("kawaii") has invaded every aspect of Japanese life, even their military! The big centerpieces are a list of plush mascots and explanations for who and what they are, "rooms" decorated with tons of cute stuff, and a large bubblebum-girl full of candy. An information little museum- the kind of thing I think the OTHER Pavilions should have!

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Tricky thing about EPCOT is all the restaurants- I booked Le Cellier last time I was here, and Akershus this time- the rest of the food I got was from stands. The food area in Future World is okay, but not spectacular... and given there was a HUGE rainstorm right at lunch (the only one for the rest of the week, it turned out), I had to eat standing up next to a bunch of trays, lol. I ate something from Canada too, but I forget what it was.

The Character Meet & Greets were actually outside this time around (last time I was at EPCOT, it was MASSIVELY rainy all day long). I decided to partake in some (more on that in its own section), which was interesting. The notion of these is difficult to grasp, though, as SOME are marked (I saw Alice & Mary Poppins waits, but only saw Alice for a brief second), while Belle & Aurora are not... and some have more cover than others. So you end up with these odd long, craning lines until the attendant shows up, and those people cut HARD lines in how many people can visit. And these are among the only Cast Members allowed to straight-up REFUSE guests, owing to the safety of the performers. I was fine with having to bail on Snow White and come back later, but the family pushing their Down's Syndrome daughter in a wheelchair was less enthused.

Jabroniville
Posts: 11745
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:05 pm

The Magic Kingdom (Part One)

Post by Jabroniville » Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:16 am

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Main Street at night remains one of my favorite Disney things.

THE MAGIC KINGDOM:
-So since I turned thirty, every single vacation I go on features an occurrence on my third or fourth day in which my feet just DIE- completely pain from side to side, owing to 12+ hours of walking every single day beforehand. Thankfully, I FINALLY remembered to pack my Tylenol in my side-satchel when I visit the parks (both England & Japan I totally forget it in the hotel room), but typically it still takes about a day of annoying pain before I "settle in" to the constant wear and tear. Plus I had one of those monster "you're walking too much, stupid" blisters, and I didn't bring my nail clippers, so I had to use a makeshift saw with a pen and my tweezers to saw through like five layers of skin to pop it open (you're welcome for that image). So naturally I'm going to spend this day going to the Magic Kingdom, coast-to-coast, for a 9 am to 12 pm fifteen-hour day :). VACATION HARD OR GO HOME.

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So yeah, this is my first visit since they opened up the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which makes it priority #1. I got a FastPass ages ago for 9-something, but I figured I'd get in line for it first thing, too, thus making it unnecessary to go on for the rest of the day. Only problem with these big rushes is your first memory of the park now becomes "the time I hurried down main street after getting through security and saw the castle out the corner of my eye while Mickey did some thing". I managed to basically make it a walk-on first thing (well... a slow-walking walk-on- you know those things, where you basically never stop moving, but it's not like you could speed-walk the whole way), then used my FP a half-hour later or so. It's a good, solid attraction, though hardly a thrill ride or something with that much to look at- I'd describe it as half a thrill ride and half a dark ride- you can't SEE too much (just the tunnel and some moving faces; then a dance sequence at the Dwarfs' home), and the fast parts aren't really FAST, you know? I mean, I liked it, but it's hardly worth more than a half-hour wait to me.

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Princess Tiana did not skip f*ckin' Arm Day, I'll tell you that.

Since all the top-tier attractions are still FastPass-able, I had them spread out a bit. But I was surprised at how full the lines got for Haunted Mansion & Jungle Cruise in particular. Even PIRATES was busy. I guess people have complained that FastPass has put lines in places that didn't usually have them (though I recall waiting in REALLY long lines for the Haunted Mansion as a teen in Disneyland, way before FastPass). But this is the advantage of having been to the park before (and gone in other countries as well)- the necessity of cramming EVERYTHING into your visit isn't there. Ironically, this slacker, "I'm just gonna wander around and look at everything" method, combined with my character Meet & Greets, actually prevented me from seeing many of the show things, such as the Tiki Room and Country Bears, simply because I was spending time doing other stuff. Always next vacation, I guess :).

Tomorrowland: I find this so skippable sometimes, lol. Space Mountain in Florida being so violent and intense is always weird for me- every other version is smooth, so this one giving you the "like jumping in a barrel and going over the falls" effect is bizarre. I remember the first time I rode it... I actually thought something was WRONG! I was like "OMG my seat is broken!" until I realized that... this was just how the ride was! With large chunks of this area not being used (their stage; the Autopia thing that's gone; etc.), I barely spent much time here, though I ate a hot dog at their outdoor thing. I did manage the PeopleMover once (kind of quaint- I love the old-school stuff like this), and of course I adore the Carousel of Progress. You ever see that YouTube video of "Favorite Lame Things To Do at Disney World"? This thing is AMAZING. It's like if a Dad Joke was a ride. You just watch this old guy talk about "new inventions", bother his wife, and roll his eyes at what his teenage daughter is doing. SO QUAINT!

The Buzz Lightyear Blaster ride was nearly always sporting IMMENSE waits (being right outside of Space Mountain will do that), but I managed to walk right in after fireworks one time. I got 32,000+ points, which I think is my record- I always seem absurdly bad at this thing for whatever reason. I ONCE AGAIN missed the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor thing (all the time I've spent here I should really visit some time, lol), and I think the Stitch Alien Enclosure of Childhood Nightmares was closed, though I think there was a meet & greet.

Tomorrowland as a whole tends to look pretty old-fashioned, ironically, but I like the oldest of the old-school attractions. I managed Space Mountain twice, though it was down for almost the ENTIRETY of one day, which really didn't help the lineups throughout the rest of the park.

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... okay, I apparently didn't take any pictures of Adventureland. Here's it's non-union Universal equivalent!

Adventureland: This always feels so small here, lol. And kind of... out of the way. Shoved into a far corner, and oddly right behind Frontierland somehow. Pirates seemed to be the only thing open for the "Pirates"-themed stuff, and this is my first experience with the controversial "Red" pirate lass. Kind of a... boring scene. "Quit'cher cluckin'! It be the RUM they're after!"? That's the best they could do? Selling chickens? I dunno. I guess it fits their "wacky silly pirates" theme, though the ride is now super-incongruous- you see dead pirates, skeleton pirates, and this creepy stuff... and then it's all "Captain JACK SPARROW!" mentioned about 900 times until you get the pirates burning down the town. I really prefer the original point of the ride, which was that pirates were evil (if funny), and their lives weren't great- Sparrow being this happy cool rogue wrecks the motif. Their was some REALLY poor show the first night- the entire final scene (complete with Hat Guy and the guy with the cats) was frozen solid as far as animatronics went. Thankfully it was fixed the next few nights, so it was more of an amusing aside.

I kind of sped through the Swiss Family Treehouse this time. It seems like there was either less here than I remember, or there's just not as much here as in other MK-style parks. Had some dole whip thing or another at some point- it's not a Disney Park unless I'm taunting diabetes somehow. The Jungle Cruise was eventful as always- it's fun to see how they alter the scripts (according to a behind-the-scenes tour, the cynical & dour tone of the Skippers is often NOT an affectation; they've literally done this all day long sometimes), and to see it at night. One time we got stuck before the loading bay, allowing the girl to do a ton more of the dialogue- here, she used the "point out my favorite jungle plants" bit way outside of the usual time the skippers do it.

Spectrum
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Re: Disney World Trip Report

Post by Spectrum » Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:05 pm

Pirates of the Caribbean has to be my family's favorite ride- every time we went, it would break down and its a wonderful feeling to have the cool moist air for 20 minutes during the middle of a nasty hot muggy day.
We rise from the ashes so that new legends can be born.

Jabroniville
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Fantastyland

Post by Jabroniville » Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:05 am

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Fantasyland:
Weird thing: I swear I kept getting lost between the Mermaid stuff & Beauty and the Beast stuff in New Fantasyland. I kept thinking one was behind the other, when it wasn't so... part of the issue is the way that the park tends to follow the "Hub & Spoke" thing, but these extra areas are kind of "tiered" out behind stuff. I EVENTUALLY figured out that the kiddie circus area is the real "end" of Fantasyland, but that whole first day was a confusion for me, lol.

Fantasyland is a pretty epic area here, though oddly laid-out, with multiple available pathways strewn about the castle. Pooh and the Teacups are right in one corner (looking at Tomorrowland), then there's the odd "covered tents" look of the Fairytale Hall, Peter Pan's Flight, and assorted attractions. I did the mandatory "it's a small world" ride, though this time I couldn't hear a WORD anyone sang- either the sound was off or I was losing my hearing. Peter Pan's Flight remains the best ride in the area, though always a bit too short- but I adore the flight over London. The second time I was in the Kingdom, I went straight for this one, finally seeing the queue (this thing sports RIDICULOUS waits all day long otherwise)- I didn't realize the Darling parents were visible there. But yeah, this ride was terrific, and super old-school.

Man, Pooh had INSANE lines all day long, too- it MUST be the proximity issue. I mean, it's the softest of soft dark rides, but it's right there next to Merida (who had a long line all day), the Teacups, the outside of Tomorrowland, and is right across from the Mine Train. It's simply in the ideal spot, and one of the safest kiddie rides around. Pooh's Hunny Hunt has ruined this ride for me forever :). The Little Mermaid's dark ride is always fun, though the weird way they tell the story is always a bit silly and way too quick ("so then all this stuff happened, the end")- it's like they knew that the "money" scenes are all the ones set under the sea, and so all the focus is there and the rest is superfluous.

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Um, what's the line? "Her looks have got no PARALLELLLLLLLL...". Because... wow.

I think I only did "Enchanted Tales With Belle" once last time I was here, so I went multiple times this go around. I think I got the same Belle in two of them. It's funny how you can see there's two different rooms running simultaneously. I really wonder if this is considered the "sweet gig" for a Belle- you count as an ATTRACTION (often with some impressive lines), you have this great set-up, and more... but you don't have to really INTERACT with anybody. It's just a short little play (all of thirty seconds), you walk around the room with the people who were cast (I think they always pick the tallest dads in the room for Armor, because I never get picked for anything at 5'9", lol), then get some quick pictures taken. Like... does this Belle count as the "best one", or would the one stuck doing Meet & Greets in Paris get that job? I mean, that one has to be out in the sun and wear the "peasant dress", so I would imagine it's less glamorous. Akershus Belle also gets to just sit there indoors and greet hungry people.

Overall, the Magic Kingdom has not changed. All that's different is there's no Main Street Electrical Parade, and the Mine Train is here. Still a fantastic park, and tied with Tokyo (more rides, but WAY busier and with no Main Street) for my favorite MK-style park. The 15-hour day ended up being insaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanely hot, which was not great, nor was the MASSIVE wait for the buses (Pop Century is the WORST in this regard, too, being such a massive resort full of el-cheapo guests like myself)- even the Southerners were annoyed, lol. I guess this is why sane people take that break mid-day.

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Goldar
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Re: Disney World Trip Report

Post by Goldar » Sun Jun 16, 2019 5:29 pm

Glad you enjoyed your vacation this year! Thanks for sharing the pics.

I know of a few people who I heard state that they enjoy it so much that they have timeshares. They go multiple times per year.

Years ago, I used to know a few people who would rent places and only go every 2-4 years, but stay for 2-3 weeks when they went. They said it was so expensive and so many people were there, that they would carry food and drink, especially water, on them. Water would go for $3-$5 per bottle in the Park. This was quite a long time ago. I do not know how it is today.

Jabroniville
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Mickey's Friendship Faire

Post by Jabroniville » Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:45 pm

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... I'm not obsessed with Frozen. SEE? I have pictures of OTHER characters in there, too!

MICKEY'S ROYAL FRIENDSHIP FAIRE:
This is a "Castle Show" done several times a day, on the hour. And annoyingly, it cuts off the path THROUGH the castle for the entire daytime (until about 5 pm), which annoys a lot of people, and makes you take the long way around. I usually ignore these until later, but watched it through a couple of times (one day, I made sure to get the GOOD spot, right up front... I totally didn't stake it out earlier to find where the best spot to see Elsa sing was- nope). So Mickey & Co. split up and find some friends to celebrate friendship or something Disney-ish like that, and Goofy brings in Tiana & Naveen to do some jazz stuff. Not really my thing, but HOLY HANNIGANS Tiana was ripped. I mean, all the Princesses I see are young, slender women, but this girl was carved out of granite. No way could she have done the "Meet and Greet" with biceps like an MMA fighter. VERY impressive.

Donald & Daisy bring in the "Ruffians", along with Flynn Rider (NOBODY remembers that his name is Eugene for these!) and Rapunzel. And Minnie of course caps it off with Anna & Elsa. This actually remains one of the few things at WDW TRULY capped off by the "Frozen Sisters", as they do the big "We're SISTERS" thing and hug, then sit aside while Elsa does her big number (and throws out tiny handfuls of "snowflakes". Olaf joins them, of course, with his GIANT SIZED VERSION (towering over human actors).

These things always fascinate me. Every time I saw the show, it was the same performers I saw, so they clearly do this all day. I always wonder if they have other jobs that day, or they ONLY do this? "Performers" are keyed differently than other Face Characters, so I don't think they do Meet & Greets the same way, though sometimes they have different jobs. I always feel bad for someone stuck playing Anna, who not only doesn't get to sing, but has to take the OBVIOUS backseat job to Elsa, who is a supporting character in the movie (Disney didn't realize what they had until WAY too late; it's clearly "The Anna Show" in the movie, but everyone gravitated to the Magical Idina Menzel character with the REAL character development).

Another interesting thing is they clearly got the real Voice Actors for these. I wonder if Idina Menzel realized that instead of just doing theatre work and low-tier albums for the rest of her life, she'd instead be called in to voice Elsa five or six times a year until the end of time? I guess work is work :). It's also funny hearing the voice of a 49-year-old woman coming out of what looks like a 20-year-old girl.

Photos from TWO different positions! It's good to watch the shows early, so you can properly "scout" where the best spots are for photos and videos the next time you come by! I got the best view for Elsa's posing, AND the best shots of Incredibly Ripped Tiana!

Jabroniville
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The Hotel Switch

Post by Jabroniville » Wed Jun 26, 2019 6:23 am

THE HOTEL SWITCH (aka "I should have just pulled my bags for five minutes")- ART OF ANIMATION TO POP CENTURY:
-So on my second day at EPCOT, I had to do the switchover between hotels, as Art of Animation NEVER has rooms for more than a week, I guess. And here... I ran into the trouble of Value Resorts. Despite these hotels being literally across a small pond from each other, the bag switchover got bungled. They ASSURED me at the desk that AoA would simply hold my bags until my Pop Century room became available (this would've been around 7 am; WAY before check-in), but of course the "unlikely event" happened and I arrived in my room that midnight with no bags in it. So I called the bag desk and they're like "Oh, we'll bring them over tonight". And of course I wake up at 5am and there's still no bags.

So I call AGAIN, and this time the guy investigates and turns up with "So your bags are still at Art of Animation- I'll go get them MYSELF and bring them over". Aaaaaaaaaaaand it's then 7 am and I still don't have any bags. So I go to the bag desk myself and they're like "Oh, do you know who you talked to?" and of course I'd forgotten (5 am phone call, lol). Long story short, I ended up having to leave for the park wearing the previous day's clothing and no phone charger, so my phone was sitting at 30%-ish power after the full previous day. Unshaven and wearing old clothes, I was a BIT annoyed, and of course the Help Desk at the Park was like "hm, well you can BUY an iPhone charger here" when I asked them about my troubles... oh, and the First Aid Office was helpful with supplies... that I had to buy. So I bought a tiny little thing of deoderant (no WAY was I doing a whole day at a park without) and risked no sunscreen (I'd already BOUGHT a new bottle at the park). Well I was hoping for some free junk from SUPER-helpful Cast Members, but whatevs :).

So eventually by 12-ish I was a bit overheated and tired, and I knew I didn't want to be angsting over my missing bags ALL DAY, so I just wandered back to my hotel around then, and thankfully all my bags were finally sitting in my room. So I showered & shaved properly, and got the +20%-ish power I needed to physically be able to use my phone the rest of the day. The break was at least decent enough and I was finally clean, lol.

This is more amusing now that I'm reflecting on it, but yeah- super-annoying while it was going on. I wasn't a fan of missing bags, and in retrospect, I should've just lugged them myself (it turned out to be like five minutes, tops, between hotels). I should have known there'd be a mix-up when I had to go to the park very early one day; long before my room would have been ready. I'd imagine the high-end resorts would be more helpful in this regard, but going to the two "budget" resorts, with their 9,000 guests each, kind of doomed this one. I'd probably try to avoid a Hotel Switch during a trip if I could get away with it next time around. Not just because of the bag thing, but the nuisance of having to get up early and check out and stuff.

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Be Our Guest

Post by Jabroniville » Wed Jun 26, 2019 6:27 am

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I took 900 pictures in the West Wing, and almost TEN of them turned out well, lol.

BE OUR GUEST RESTAURANT:
So I finally got a reservation here! Last time I booked a WDW vacation, I was either too late for it, or I didn't care to book that AND the Royal Table, so I went with the latter. This one is the most incredible restaurant set-up I've ever seen, though, with a MASSIVE ballroom (like the movie, complete with chandeliers), then two side-rooms. The study is EPIC, with dark decor, dark lighting, and the torn portrait of the Beast's human form (it's supposed to change, but I never saw it happen). There's the Enchanted Rose in the corner, "snow" outside, and more- this is INCREDIBLE. The other side-room is a bit more open than the ballroom, and features a spinning Belle/Beast Music Box thing. And you can take your picture with The Beast in another mini-room. I later asked a guy who gets to sit in the side rooms, and he says you're just allowed to ask. I'm TOTALLY sitting in the scary room next time I come here!

It's a really great set-up, and the only way to get in is to have a reservation. You can take all the pictures you like afterwards, so long as you're nimble enough to dodge 10,000 running Cast Members with trays. The size of these operations are just incredible- think of all the people working here.

Everything in here is so amazing, but the food wasn't QUITE so grand. I mean, the appetizer part was awesome, with some kind of fish thing. Piment d'Espelette Spiced Tuna, which I totally didn't have to go to the website to look up. The lamb chops I had were pretty small, albeit artistically laid out (you can tell it's an expensive meal with it takes up 25% of the plate and is set up all fancy). The dessert tray of tiny things (you can EAT THE CUP the Grey Stuff is in) is amazing, too. I mean, all in all it's worth it for the scenery and atmosphere (LOVE the "snow-covered mountains" all off in the "distance" outside the "windows"- I'm all Stevie Nicks up in this joint). Next time I'll have the Scallops, though. Though actually, the Lunch Menu seems pretty good, and MUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCH cheaper- I should maybe just do that next time.

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Akershus

Post by Jabroniville » Sun Jun 30, 2019 7:38 am

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Human Ariel! Only with Character Dining!

AKERSHUS DINING HALL:
Weirdly, some of the finest dining in EPCOT is to be had at a generic-looking building shoved off to the side of a Stave Church and down the path from the Frozen Ever After ride- Akershus is a Norwegian-themed restaurant that is also Character Dining, with Belle greeting guests as they enter.

I had a reservation for 5:20-ish, but since I was free at 5:05 or whatever, I decided to wander in early and see if they could seat me anyhow. I find this is usually okay, but this time I think it was a mistake, lol- I was seated WAYYYYYYY before most of the guests showed up, and it was a heck of a wait for the "Princess Tour" to show up. Though I had a captive audience with Belle since nobody else was in line, so there's that (leading to a funny bit where I slowly put my bag down and got something out of it, waiting for my turn... and turned around to find Belle just patiently staring at me, waiting for me to get up there, lol). it was just kind of funny- as a solo guest, I got the mandatory "shoved off into the corner" (literally against a pillar between the main dining hall and the room with the appetizers, at a small table) spot, so I was already out of the way, AND early. The ways this place punishes you for not being in a huge group :).

The appetizer array was rad, as you can basically fill your plate with as much as you want, and some of it's fish-themed. I forget what I got for the meal... knowing me, the salmon or scallops would have been the thing, but I literally can't remember. Must have been the salmon. It was good enough, though I had to nurse the beans like crazy, because of the aforementioned early seating, lol. I mean, I was half-done before ANY Princesses showed up, and they start at the OPPOSITE end of the hall from where I was. So I was literally at this point where I finished the "main" meal, and was now eating one single bean at a time so that I could avoid finishing before it was too early. Given how I normally eat like The Beast in that dining hall scene, it was quite the change, let me tell you! Also they were out of some Apple Cider drink I wanted to try, so I was stuck with a regular Coke.

The "Royal Chef's Dessert Platter" was quite good, however, after a plate full of appetizers and the slowest-eaten meal ever, I was already KIND of full, and... halfway through, I realized this dessert platter is meant for TWO PEOPLE, because I was about ready to explode all over the dining hall :). Like, there was NO WAY I was finishing this, so I just kind of dented all three things. But hey- the Princesses FINALLY made their way to the table of the one weird guy off all by himself! At least this time Snow White didn't give me the "pity look" for being single! Instead, she just felt aghast at me not having any "Gooseberry Pie" for dessert. I literally don't remember what Aurora & Ariel said, but Ariel noticeably had "Human Ariel" face, where the Face Character has a much longer face than round-faced "Mermaid Ariel" ever seems to. Anyone else notice that? I'd tell you what Cinderella said... except they did some "march down the dining hall" thing with the kids in four little rows, and then the Princesses left... and Cinderella never came back!

I was going to joke about that with the server (who was good-natured about me taking FOREVER to eat), but I was afraid they'd end up calling the poor girl back and she'd miss a break or whatever. I would later watch some YouTube videos of ex-Princesses who state that they HATE doing the "Dining Hall" stuff for that exact reason- you have to rush through the tables, desperately try to avoid skipping people over... and then get called back for the one table you missed and act apologetic (on their break) while the guest acts like you did it DELIBERATELY. So it was good of me to clam up.

All in all, it was fun and I could tell some fun stories about it. Great food and a good atmosphere, though not nearly as impressive as the Royal Table or Be Our Guest in terms of scenery- it's just a big Nordic-looking building. Some people SWEAR by "Character Dining" because you get to meet everyone on your own time (ie. while you eat) without waiting in line, but I do notice that you get almost NO TIME with each girl, as they literally have to run through the entire assortment of guests one at a time, taking photos. So I find that you get much less of a conversation, unless someone is feeling particularly spirited. And because you're solo, the best you get is a "portrait" (ie. selfie) because there's no PhotoPass guy around. So it's not AS GOOD as a character meet & greet.

However, it's the only time you get to meet Belle in full "yellow dress" costume, short of "Enchanted Tales" (where you can't really talk).

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