We have all heard the rumors recently about the possibility of this attraction closing but we now have official word as of September 27th 2014 this classic attraction to the park will be closing forever. So many changes in the past year at Walt Disney World it is almost hard to keep up with. It is an exciting time for new life in the parks however, for us WDW veteran, the closing of so many of these beloved classics is also heartbreaking, like saying goodbye to pieces of our childhood. The Studio Backlot Tour was one of the original attractions in the park, opening in 1989.
Still no official word as of yet to what will be taking over the space in this area. Many speculate that there will be more of a Star Wars presence in the park. Is there something special you would like to see?
9/18/2014 0 Comments
Bye-bye Frozen Summer Fun!
Are these famous sisters waving good-bye? I highly doubt it. Frozen seems to be here for good, making their imprint on Walt Disney World like Belle from Beauty and the Beast did a few years back. As of September 28th, 2014 Frozen Summer Fun will be coming to an end, however you will still be able to catch this famous duo all over the place while visiting Walt Disney World.
"For The First Time In Forever" a Frozen-Sing Along Celebration will remain in Hollywood Studios playing in the Premiere Theater on the Streets Of America. There will be up to a maximum of 10 shows daily. Wandering Oaken's merchandise and play area will be relocated to to the former American Film Institute Showcase (located at the exit of the Studio Backlot Tour). There will be no ice skating but the real snow playground and Frozen merchandise will remain.
Anna and Elsa will also be appearing in the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, and a new castle lightening ceremony that replaces Cinderella's Holiday Wish.
So, what can you say goodbye too? The Royal Procession mini-parade is coming to a close on September 28th 2014, as well as the Frozen fireworks, and the Ice skating. Also, for those of us die-hard classic Epcot fans, you can blow a kiss goodbye to Norway Pavilions classic Maelstrom. A Frozen themed attraction will be replacing Maelstrom coming early 2016. October 5th 2014 is the last operational day to ride Maelstrom.
9/14/2014 0 Comments
Disney Friends Forever
Through the beginning of the love I had for Disney I always remembered meeting those 'Special' people who held the same love. Mostly, I found them in the parks while visiting, chatting on line while waiting for our attraction like we were traveling together. Before I started my own travel agency and specialized in Disney vacations, I really thought I was only going to meet those special Disney lovers while on vacation. Over the past two years while joining Disney themed blogs, vacation groups, chatting with my clients and just even Facebook in general it has become so much more apparent those Disney lovers are everywhere near and far.
There is something so different in a friendship that shares that Disney passion. Great conversations, neat ideas, and of course the great debates on different opinions we have. Even with those debates, saying whatever our thoughts are, we truly value each others ideas even if we do not believe in the same thing.
Not everyone may have the same heartfelt feelings but when you meet that "Disney Lover" it is like you have been friends forever! So much to talk about and it is like you could chat for hours and sometimes you do! You could literally meet someone and feel like you have known them forever. Disney lovers know exactly what I am talking about, they know once you have a Disney friend.....You have a friend forever!
9/12/2014 0 Comments
FROZEN ATTRACTION COMING TO EPCOT AND NEW FROZEN EXPERIENCES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT
You now have even more ways to enjoy and experience the world of "Frozen," Disney's instant classic film, across Walt Disney World® Resort! "Frozen" has been a part of the Guest experience in a number of ways already and our Guests have both loved them and asked for more. We are pleased to share with you our latest plans to bring more "Frozen"-inspired experiences to our Disney theme parks.
We're starting construction on a brand new "Frozen" attraction at the Norway Pavilion at Epcot®. The new attraction, which replaces Maelstrom, will take you to Arendelle and immerse you in many of your favorite moments and music from the film. The pavilion will also include a royal greeting location with Anna and Elsa. These "Frozen" elements are great additions to the Norway Pavilion, which showcases the country and region that inspired the film.
In order for work to begin on the attraction and character greeting area, the last day Guests can enjoy the Maelstrom attraction is Oct. 5, 2014. The project is anticipated to be complete by early 2016, and the Norway pavilion will remain open through construction.
The wintry wonder and magic of "Frozen" will also enchant Magic Kingdom® Park this holiday season. Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf join the festive holiday procession, "Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade," along with a flurry of skaters, skiiers, and ice cutters from the Kingdom of Arendelle. This parade is offered during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, select nights Nov. 7-Dec. 19, 2014. The parade will also be presented daily Dec. 20-31, 2014.
Each evening beginning Nov. 5, 2014, Anna and Elsa will appear in a new show on the Castle Forecourt Stage at the heart ofMagic Kingdom Park, as Queen Elsa uses her incredible powers to transform Cinderella Castle into a glimmering ice palace for the holidays.
And, if you haven't experienced "Frozen Summer Fun LIVE!" at Disney's Hollywood Studios® yet, you are in for a special treat. Due to its popularity, two elements of this special event are now set to continue.
You can enjoy "For the First Time in Forever: A 'Frozen' Sing-Along Celebration," a hilarious and interactive presentation of the "Frozen" story - extended indefinitely! The show is presented up to 10 times per day in the park's Premiere Theater on Streets of America, and Disney Fastpass+ service is now available.
Wandering Oaken's Trading Post and Frozen Funland will be moving on Sept. 28, 2014 from Soundstage One to a new space, in Streets of America near the exit of the Studio Backlot Tour. The new Wandering Oaken's, expected to operate through the holiday season, will feature a larger-than-ever play area with real snow, plenty of "Frozen" merchandise, character cupcakes, and other treats.
Exciting news announced today by Universal and Loews Hotels for another new hotel on Universal Orlando Resort property. It is called Sapphire Falls Resort and is a Caribbean-themed Loews hotel that will offer a casual feel built around an amazing Lagoon and towering waterfall. Here is what we know so far. It is opening sometime in summer 2016. Although I am guessing it will be categorized a deluxe resort they have not technically announced what category resort it will be considered at this time. The resort will hold 1,000 guest rooms and suites and will allow you the benefit of Early Park Admission to both of the Universal Orlando Theme Parks. Sapphire Falls will offer a resort style pool with water slide, sand beach, children's play area, valet service and a fitness center. There will be full service restaurant with scenic views and outdoor dining, as well as a themed lobby bar, a quick service market place and of course a poolside bar and grill. Reservations will be accepted starting in the spring of 2015. This is fantastic news for Universal Orlando on the heels of the popularity of the Cabana Bay opening. With new resorts and all of the popularity of the Harry Potter expansions, Universal Orlando Resorts is only moving forward! This resort is right up my alley and I can truly say I can not wait to stay here!
9/7/2014 1 Comment
Downtown disney construction
Thanks to our Swept Away Travel Planner Jenny P. for the shots of the on-going construction down in Downtown Disney during her latest visit. If you are driving by car to this area you should give yourself much more time to get where you are going since traffic is extremely heavy at this point, same with using the WDW transportation. If you have a dining reservation you should plan on tacking an extra 30 mins. on to your travel just to play it safe!
9/5/2014 0 Comments
epcot world showcase changes
Earlier this week the Disney Parks blog announced that Epcot will be going through some changes with some farewells along with welcoming some new experiences. Although a time frame has not yet been announced, rumors swirl some may be close to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. Leaving us will be Mo’Rockin’, Off Kilter, Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps and World Showcase Players. You can look forward to traditional Berber music and dance troupe in Morocco, a corps of flag waving performers in Italy, a lumberjack inspired show in Canada, a Celtic folk music ensemble at the United Kingdom and much more. As details surface we will be sure to provide them. For those of us who fully engulf the experience provided in Epcot these may be disappointing changes, however it will be exciting to check out new entertainment and hopefully walk away happy with the changes.
Next up: Discussing the parks will be stream-of-consciousness style, Or using the touring plan to help me guide my way through all the stuff we did. We missed stuff, and we were ok with it.
Yes, get your butt up EARLY and sign up for Jedi training! My son was lucky enough to fight Darth Vader. After talking about this experience since, oh, December, then he tells me he wished he could have fought Darth Maul. Sigh. Despite what he said, he had an awesome time. By being the talkative small human that he is, he earned the name "Sugar Boy" from the Jedi trainer. :)
Toy Story Mania: Awesome. Swirly 3D ride plus you got to shoot stuff, and having crappy aim didn't matter all that much. Much fun. Everyone else thought so, too, thus the 2+ hour wait to get on the ride if you didn't have fast pass.
Character meet and greet: Right across from TS Mania was a building for meet n' greet. At every twist and turn was a backdrop for photos. Very cool, and made the wait that much more tolerable. Air conditioning was a nice touch, especially since it was 900000 degrees outside.
Indiana Jones Stunt Show: 30+ years ago the movie was super popular. Now nobody knows what it is, so it lost some of its charm. My son had fun seeing all the stunts, even if he had no idea who Indy was. The show is almost exactly as I remembered it from 20 years ago, so I think it might be time for an update.
Frozen Spectacular: Meh. Damned if I'm going to spend $90/person for a special Frozen show. If my son really wants to meet Anna and Elsa, we can visit a more southern part of Florida and hang out with my cousins, who co-play them. We did get to see bits of the parade, and loved seeing Olaf. Several of the photo spots had Olaf in the pic. The movie apparently is so popular that there was a que for getting into the store associated with it. There was ice skating for $10/person, too, but we didn't do that. There was just too much other stuff to see. Hearing the strains of "Let it Go" every day was annoying, but I'm sure every little girll (and probably a good number of little boys) in the park loved it, The fireworks were fun. The best part about them was that they went off early, and that they could be seen from the hotel pool.
Fantasmic: BEST show in the entire park! And thank you for suggesting we get there an hour early. We brought a tablet along to keep the boy occupied while we waited, and brought a glow sword so we could avoid buying expensive glowing toys that would be thrown away as soon as we got home.
Star Tours: Loved that it was a different ride each time. Only got to go on it twice. The que itself was pretty cool, especially C3PO. Despite staring at a moving screen in a ride that was bumpy, I didn't get motion sick. Score! I wish we went on this more than twice.
Beauty and the Beast on Stage: Funny how the boy would complain every time we went to see a show, then afterward would say how much he loved it. The show was cute but not my favorite. (My fave was the Lion King at Animal Kingdom.) Annoyed that the only one who was really singing was Belle. Nobody else was miked.
Muppets 3D: A lot of fun. Nice mix of 3D, in-theatre effects, and animatronics. Getting sprayed with water when it's a million degrees outside was nice, too. Loved the Swedish Chef and the back, and the old man critics whose names I've forgotten sitting on the side of the theater.
Tower of Terror: Our favorite ride in all of Hollywood Studios. Glad nobody could hear me scream, "Oh, shi**" since everyone else was screaming, too. My son is apparently an adrenaline junkie. We went on the ride 3 times. On the 2nd day there was no line, so we just shotgunned it. Do you remember Freefall from Great Adventure? It was like that, except on steroids, with great themeing, and as far as I know, didn't break every 5 minutes. Plus, you got to drop more than once. Ya know, I never had motion sickness until I was pregnant with Anthony. I thought that would go away after I had him.... If I had to ratte any ride as "not to be missed," it would be this one.
Sci-Fi cafe: The staff was nice enough to switch us from a table to a car-shaped booth, oer the boy's request. Loved the burgers. Funny how silent the place was, since everyone was busy watching the screen. Those old, campy movies were great!
50's cafe: Our "Mom" gave out clean plate club stickers when we were done. Since I didn't finish my plate, she said I could have a sticker if I ate just one more bite. Which I did. The mom next door made one of her charges sweep the floor. The decor in the entire place made me feel like I had time traveled. I got the fried chicken, which was yummy, and a 50's Boston creme parfait for dessert. Dunno exactly what was in it, but it was pretty tasty. Like I said earlier, one of the mom's shouted out that there was a birthday in the house and that everyone had to sign the card. So the boy got signatures from people all over.
Pizza Planet: Meh. Cappuccino cupcake was good. Meatball sub was ok. There was a dearth of games. We took out $5 in quarters and told Anthony that it was his budget. Those rides were EXPENSIVE! I was a little annoyed, because we could have had a very similar, less expensive experience (with better pizza) at the Pt. Pleasant boardwalk. I know, you warned me. You were right. If they at least had a claw game where you could win aliens, that would have been cool.
Cars Stunt Show: Pretty cool, but a bit hokey with the actors pretending to be on a movie set (same thing with Indiana Jones.) I know it's a movie-themed park and all, but c'mon! Despite the crappy acting, it was interesting to see how the stunts were performed. And we got to see Lightening McQueen in action. Later, on the backstage tour, we got to see the other side of the show, and that was interesting. Speaking of...
Backstage Tour: It was OK. Same as the tour I went on 20 years ago, except now it starts with a video with Michael Bay talking about blowing stuff up, um, paying homage to Pearl Harbor by making the fight scenes as realistic as possible. Yeah. So the next thing we see is a mock up of the ship, with people from the audience playing parts and getting soaked. The rest of the tour was the same. They said that the assorted departments are still active, but this time producing shows for the theme parks. We did see some people working.
We missed a bunch of stuff, and we were ok with it.
Chef Mickeys: Tons of food, and tons of characters for the boy to meet, and the only time I allowed my child to eat chocolate cake with his breakfast. Severe Bill Cosby moment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VL1VfPlVuCE Luckily for us, this time the monorail was working, so we took that to epcot.
The nice part about Epcot is that most of the attractions were indoors, and in the AC. At least for Future World.
Test Track: Much fun. My husband and my son had a blast designing their super ultra power cars. If it was left to me, I would have made a fuel-efficent, envrionmentally-friendly car, but I was out voted. The boys enjoyed seeing all the fancy cars after the ride, too. The first time we missed seeing how our cars held up to the other cars on the track. On the first day, the computer was giving issue, but on the 2nd day we could see where we stood. Glad we got to go on this twice, and glad we had Fastpass.
Living with the Land: I enjoyed pointing out all the plants to my son, including agave (telling him that it was Daddy's favorite plant :)) It was Sunday when we went, so we didn't get to see anyone working there. My garden sucked this year, since with my back injury I wasn't able to properly amend the soil, etc. So I had garden envy. I spent more time pointing out the plants to the boy than actually listening to what the "guide" was saying that I probably missed a lot.
Spaceship Earth: Just as I remembered it. The boy loved it. This time I didn't mind that it really hadn't changed from when I was a kid. What I found most interesting were the computers, since they were mostly the 60's-70's models. My dad worked on mainframes that filled a huge room and ran off of reel-to-reel tapes.
Soarin': Felt like I was flying and didn't get motion sick. Way cool. Anthony hated it because we weren't really moving. The only issue I had was that I could see the screen behind the images, so it took away from the illusion a bit. It was kind of like being in an IMAX theatre, but with wind. Loved the scenery.
Character Spot: Fast pass definitely helped here. I forgot who we met. Honestly, it was unremarkabl, except that we got a ton of pictures of the boy meeting characters, and he got a bunch of autographs for his book. .We got to meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy. Actually, my FB profile photo comes from here. Again, hooray for memory maker!
Sunshine Seasons: My problem is that there was a lot of stuff and I don't remember it all. The food was good but I got a pulled pork sandwich instead of a burger. So the toppings bar didn't come into play for me. Turns out other restaurants had it too, so I didn't miss out on the experience. It was really crowded, and finding a place it sit was hard. I felt like a vulture, staking out tables until someone left.
Turtle Talk with Crush: My very talkative boy got to have a conversation with Crush, which was cool. It was a fun show. I still wonder how they got Crush (and later, Sully in the Laugh Floor show) to interact with the audience.
We missed the Nemo show, and Ellen's Energy Adventure. Even if they were on the schedules. And nobody died, so it was all good. :) We knew from the start we wouldn't see it all, and even though I was channeling my German grandmother with all the planning, I didn't have a fit when things didn't go perfectly. Well, except for missing Mission:Space on day 1. Before I realized I had it scheduled for day 2. Then the world became right again.
Coral Reef, and the aquarium in general: Loved seeing huge, living coral reefs! There were guides in the aquarium to talk about the animals. Apparently, they're doing dolphin research there, very similar to what my grandparents did in the 80's. At dinner, the food was excellent, and we got front row seats to the aquarium. There must have been some scuba diving thing going on at the same time, because we saw a ton of divers. Most of my photos came out crappy, even with the flash off. I'll know for sure when I upload them to my computer. Th food was tasty, and my son got a special birthday cupcake, as well as his ice cream. I discovered later that besides restaurants in the World Showcase, every single Disney restaurant has the same booze menu.
Captain EO: Michael Jackson, back from the dead! And there I was, transported back to elementary school! The show was awesome. It made me sad a bit, because this incredibly talented performer slowly destroyed himself. And it irked me that Disney capitalized on his death by bringing the ride back. I promised my son I'd play some Michael Jackson for him at some point. Since it's not heavy metal, I doubt he'll like it, but that's ok.
For most of the 3D attractions, I had a hard time focusing through the glasses. Things seemed blurry to me. Not sure why that was, but Dennis had a simlar problem.
Journey into Imagination with Figament: Eric Idle was fun to see. All the Monty Python movies ended up flashing through my head. It's one of those rides where I don't remember much about it. Other than Figament, whom I dispise. After 9 days, I guess it's hard to remember it all. Hell, I'm using my touring plans as a guide to remember what it was that we went on! Anyway, my son and I had fun using our arms to make music at the exhibit after the ride was over.
Mission: Space Orange: Between being in a giant centrifuge and staring at a screen with things moving on it, I'm never going on that ride ever again. I was grateful for the presence of barf bags, and very thankful that I didn't actually need one. I promised the guy next to me that if I was gonna puke, I'd barf in my little guys direction and not his. My son, of course, loved it, and thought it was hysterical that it was a ride that ate me. Funny how I didn't heed almost all the warnings, regarding back pain, discomfort with tight spaces, and motion sickness. Check, check, check. I heeded the one about not being pregnant, but that was coincidental. If I ever do this ride again, it's green side all the way.
The World Showcase in general: I'd 10000% recommend getting the passport book, stickers and all, and visiting all the Kidcot stations around the world. That book was worth its weight in gold. My little boy got to have fun getting stamps from all over, and I got to check out the exhibits and go browsing in the stores. Malestrom was ok, and yes we had a fastpass for it. My son was disappointed that he didn't get wet. We did get sake in Japan (holy crap was it awesome), and a beer in Germany (not so awesome). We were planning on getting another brew from the UK, but after an extended dinner in France and a big rainstorm, it was just too late in the day. We missed the movies in Canada, France, and the US, but seeing Anthony gleefully fill up his passport more than made up for it.
Speaking of restaurants...
La Hacienda de San Angel: Spend the $15 on a margarita. Do it! Best one I ever hadb.Food and service were both excellent. Tacos for the boy, more sophisticated Mexican food for the grownups. And a nice big chocolate cupcake for the birthday boy. Nice to have something other than a burrito for a change.
Tangerine Cafe: After Chef Mickey's, we were pretty stuffed, but we stopped for lunch here anyway. Love me some Middle Eastern food! I got a combo of falafel, chicken, and lamb, plus baklava for dessert. I ate about half of it, and downed the entire thing of lemonade. With the heat, I did my best to avoid caffeine and alcohol. Well, except for what I wrote above. Like I said before, I was they had ethnic food on the menu for the kids! Not that the little guy would have eaten it, but it would have been a nice option.
Le Chefs de France: I think we had a new waiter, because the service was spotty. It was the first time I had boullibase, and it was tasty. Funny how the restaurant found a French way to write chicken nuggets on the kid's menu. Again, it would have been nice for the World Showcase restaurants to have ethnic food on the kid's menu. The meal here was extra long, but I think it was because the waiter was new and didn't know what he was doing.
Illuminations: We ran from Coral Reef to World Showcase and got there just in time. Glad to have the stroller so we could run at a grownup pace and not a 7-year-old pace. We didn't get the best view but still got to watch the show. It hasn't changed much since the last time I saw it, but it was still pretty good. You can't really beat a spinning, LED-covered world, fireworks, fountains, and fire, ya know? On Day 2, we got to see them tow the parts of the show into place for later that nigh.
In general, leaving the parks after the assorted fireworks displays was scary. It was super crowded, and I'm not a fan of being packed in with other people like sardines. Once again grateful for the stroller, because I knew where our son was at all times, and he was usually asleep by the time we got to the buses, anyway.
By far, our sons favorite park of the four of them. Why? Roller coasters! That, and getting a kiss blown at him by Tinkerbell, and Cinderella stopping by to ask how old he was when we were watching the Electric light parade. Of the four parks, probably the easiest one to get around in. At the minimum, we got lost the least.
On the first day, there was this Cast Member from Brookyln telling jokes and sharing trivia before the rope drop, Made waiting in line that much nicer. IThis was the same days as "All the rides are broken" day. Mine Train was down for hours, but it meant we got an extra fastpass, and got to go on Mine Train whenever we wanted and use fastpass at any time of the day. There were a few other rides that stopped midway through. Happily, we never got stuck for more than a few minutes. This was the same day that the monorail went down.
Seven Dwarves Mine Train: DO THIS. The coaster was fun, and the animatronics were unbelievable. I'm not sure if the ride was better at night or during the day, but both were pretty amazing. Thank goodness for fastpass, both times we went on it.
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin: After going on Toy Story Mania, where my bad aim was forgiven, this ride was a bit of a let down. Still fun, but not as cool as TS Mania. Moving the car around and trying to shoot at the same time was a pain in the butt, too.
Mad Tea Party: I could have gone on this ride at any amusement park in the country. It made for a nice time killer, but honestly I wouldn't have gone out of my way to go on it. We went on with another family, so we mostly let the kids drive.
The Barnstormer: Super short roller coaster. My little adrenaline junkie whined, "That's IT?!" when it was over. It wasn't all that memorable, really.
Dumbo: The que was cool, and my 7 year old desperately wanted to go back just to play in the air conditioned play area. We got on pretty quickly. Again, it was one of those rides that you can go on at any amusement park, but since it's apparently a Disney tradition, we did it. The theming was cool, anyway.
Right in front of Dumbo was a bunch of circus trains with water jets spewing out. We took off the little guys shoes and let him run around until he was thoroughly soaked. He was pretty happy until he realized that he was wet and not much could be done about it. I suppose O could have given him that spare change of underpants, but I didn't. Oh well. He survived.
Journey of the Little Mermaid: Our son was severely resistant until we went on the ride, and then he wanted to meet Ariel after the ride was over. Cute retelling of the story, and scary Ursula was only a minor part of the story. Being the villian fan that I am, of course she was my favorite part. I understand that Disney only had 5 minutes to retell a 90 minute movie, but I felt like key parts of the story were totally left out. It's been many years since I've seen it, though.
Enchanted Tales with Belle: Very cute! My boy could have been in the show, but then he decided that he didn't want to be a tea cup, and there were no parts left. So he didn't get his pic with Belle. His bad. Watching Belle interact with all the little kids was adorable.
Peter Pan's Flight: Just as much fun as I remembered it from years ago. I had a lot of fun pointing out all the little things going on in the scenery. This was another one where I was grateful for fast pass.
It's a Small World: I made the family go on this one, because I love it. I've loved it since I was 12, and as a 39 year old, I still love it. And I don't care that it hasn't changed probably since the 1960's. I got some cool photos. When I load them all on picasa, I'll share them with you if you like.
Cosmic Ray's: It's Disney Mcdonalds with a toppings bar. I can't remember if it was this one or Pecos Bill where the cast members helped us find a table. I'm pretty sure the burger I got there was tasty, but again, after a week of full Disney immersion, my brain's a bit fuzzy on all the details.
Tomorrowland speedway: After Test Track? Not so exciting. Especially when a car ahead of us couldn't figure out how to make her car go. It was kind of like sitting in traffic on Rt 95 in Connecticut. In the plan we had scheduled to do it twice, but we didn't because none of us were too impressed by it. I think if we saw it before Test Track we would have been more into it.
Philharmagic: Very cute. My favorite Disney movie is Fantasia, so seeing bits of it was cool. And Donald was funny. Not to mention one of our sons favorite characters. Getting out of the heat was a nice bonus, too. Almost all of the 3D shows had live instances put into their show, and this one was no exception. A nice touch for all of them. and like all the 3D shows, I had a hard time focusing through those glasses.
Festival of Fantasy Parade: Steampunk dragon! Awesome! I like the villians more than the heroes, so it was nice to see them. As with all the Disney parades, well done and well-coordinated. A bottle of water was $2.50 (cheaper than the $6 they sell it at the PNC Arts Center during a concert!), but it was decidedly needed. The boy wasn't all that into it until the little girl next to him got super excited by all the characters. After that, he was jumping up and down right along with her when the characters came by on their elaborate floats. The dancers between floats were really cool.
For all the characters, half the time they had my sympathy for being dressed up in a big foam getup in the heat of Florida at the end of August. That had to be brutal.
Laugh Floor: Family-friendly jokes doled out by a cartoon character. I still have no idea how that was done. I wanted to text in on of Anthony's favorite jokes but my texting skills are awful and the joke was sorta long. Loved the theming in the que, and the signs on the doors in particular. I took a photo of the "No whining" sign. I need to blow it up and put copies of it around the house...
As much as I loved fast pass, you end up missing all the neat things you see in the que. For some of the rides when we went on them a 2nd time, it was nice to see what those things were.
Carousel of Progress: I hated this show and thought it was hokey and outdated. My son loved it.
Amazing that on the 2nd day we really didn't need fast passes in the morning at all. The lines for everything were minimal. I guess everyone visits Fantasyland and Tomorrowland first?
Jungle Cruise: After going to Animal Kingdom and seeing the real animals, it wasn't as exciting. Amazing how well done the replicas were, though. The jokes from the tour guide made me laugh, and it was fun, even with the fake animals. The other bits of scenery were cute.
We skipped Carpets of Aladdin. After Dumbo and Triceratop Spin, I didn't see a point on going on what was basically the same carnival ride 3 times. So we skipped it.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: This one we went on twice. To me, it felt like an earlier version of the Mine Train. The first time. I enjoyed the ride. I think we sat in the front row, too. The second time, I tried to focus on the theming all around the coaster. That's one of the things I really grew to love about Disney. Every bit of the ride was themed, not just the cue leading up to it. Go to Great Adventure, and it's a totally different experience. Well, even 20 years ago when they were trying to be Disney, the theming was nothing like the real thing.
Splash Mountain: Nice bit of "soaking" fakeouts on this ride. I haven't seen Braer Rabbit in ages, so most of the theming triggered only distant memories. The boy was upset that he didn't get soaked, but that 50 foot drop, I thought, was pretty cool. And I told him from the get go that he wasn't going to get soaked on the ride...
Pirates of the Carribean: Another one of my faves. We more or less made a game of finding Jack Sparrow hiding amongst the scenery. Took plenty of photos, but I think I'm going to need Photoshop to make them all visible.
Enachanted Tiki Room: The boy loved it, for me it was ok. The singing flowers creeped me out a bit, to be honest, but songs were cute. Again, I took a ton of photos, and I'm happy to share them with you if you want to see them all. I'm still organizing them, so they can't go anywhere until I figure out what's good to post and what's not.
Swiss Family Treehouse: Almost like visiting the mansions in RI, except much more rustic and a lot more stairs.The boy was bored. I liked peeking into the various rooms, but honestly if we skipped it, it wouldn't have been a big deal.
Country Bear Jamoree: Thought it was adorable. Singing bears look like they need a makeover, but I thought the country songs were cute. Again, the air conditioned room made for a nice break from the heat.
Pecos Bill: I think THIS was the place with the awesome hamburger. Made more awesome with the toppings bar. This place also had cast members find us tables, which was nice in a crowded restaurant. The desserts at the quick service places were medicore - either chocolate cake or carrot cake in little tiny containers. I let Dennis or Anthony finish mine, usually.
Tom Sawyer Island: Great fun until the little guy fell and scraped his elbow. With his mortal wound, and band aids that wouldn't stick to sweaty skin, we had to retreat. We had planned on going back to the hotel at that point anyway. And of course, this was the time that we had to wait for the bus. Once got back to the hotel and into the swimming pool and hour later, all was well with the world once again. A thunderstorm rolled in. and we watched it advance towards us. Like all T-storms in Florida, it lasted less than an hour.
While we waited the bus to get back to Magic Kingdom, my husband and I donned our ponchos since it was still raining. We had pretty good luck with weather, so that was the only time we really needed them.
Be Our Guest: SO glad I made this reservation 1st thing at 6 AM 6 months beforehand! It was crowded and we needed to wait, even with our reservation. The theming inside was beautiful. And we got to see the outside of Mine Train from it. Plus the castle on top of the restaurant. We ended up in the west wing, with the thunderstorm and the photo of Beast as a prince that turns into Beast every time the thunder claps. The rose was in there, too. I had the best wheat beer I've ever had in that place. To the point that I took a photo of the bottle so I can find it again. The food was fantastic, as was "the gray stuff." This was the only place where the boy got to eat a grownup dessert with the rest of us, save the buffets. We got our pictures taken with Beast afterward. There was an adult terrified of Beast in the line ahead of us. I thought she was joking until I saw her wrapped up in the arms of her boyfriend. I wanted desperately to tell her that Beast was just a guy in a suit, but there were lots of kids around, and I didn't want to ruin it for them.
Stitch's Great Escape: Not so scary. A bit unnerving when Stitch "steps" on your shoulders in the dark . Since my son is so small, he didn't feel it. He liked it and wasn't freaked out at all, even with the long episodes of pitch black and the lightening.
Haunted Mansion: Not as "scary" as it used to be. Pretty sure the boy was scared, since he didn't talk through the entire ride. Still one of my favorites, but I miss the ghosts actually riding in the cars with us. Later, my husband and I tried to figure out how Disney did the illusions.
I more or less talked about the Electrical parade: We had great seats right up front, so we saw the whole thing unobstructed. Loved the lights, and loved the characters interacting with my boy. That birthday pin was worth its weight in gold. Kisses from Tinkerbell and a personal greeting from Cinderella? Oh hells yeah. After it was all over, that's when the boy told me he wanted autographs from the princesses. On the last day of vacation at 9:30 at night. Sorry, kiddo. Better luck next time.
Wishes/fireworks: So we had minutes to get from one side of the park to the next. Thank God we had fastpass, because we didn't get to the viewing spot until maybe 5 minutes before the show started. To get there,Dennis held the stroller over his head, and I loudly shouted "Excuse me!" over and over until we got to the viewing spot. The viewing spot was nice in that it wasn't crowded, but if we had wanted prime real estate, right in front of the castle would have been our best bet. Since we weren't there, though, it was easier to see the fireworks. They just happened to be on the side of the castle instead of behind it. How they lit up that castle I'll never know, but it was way cool. And I seriously think Tink was crazy to slide from to the top of the castle to somewhere in Tomorrowland.
Hot. as. balls. To the point that the bus driver warned us of this. You had the choice of being out in the open, completely exposed to the sun, or in the shade, surrounded by a blanket of humidity. We all just accepted that it was hot, and we were gross, and just carried on. We had two ice cream snacks during the day, which were helpful. I cared more about seeing the animals than going on the rides. My son, of course, felt differently. I remembered what the book meant about people running from here to there without stopping to see the wildlife. I insisted on going slowly, and basically accepted that there was a good chance we weren't going to see everything.
At lunch, we saw signs that said "Don't feed the wildlife!" I thought it was just part of the theme, until I saw hoards of mallard ducks and flamingo-type birds all over the place, looking up at us for handouts. Of course I tried to pet them, but they weren't THAT friendly.
It's tough to be a bug was closed, which meant we couldn't get up close to the tree of life.
We did the Kilamanjaro Safari and the Pagani Trail first, as you suggested. Glad we did. The animals, unlike us humans, are smart enough to avoid the mid day sun. Morning was the best time to see them all. I wish I had a better camera so I could have taken better photos. Most of the animals had their breakfasts right out in the open, so if they wanted to eat they had to be in prime viewing. The safari bus was nice enough to stop occasionally so we could take photos.
Festival of the Lion King: Best show of the bunch, outside the night time shows. Tons of things to see, and singers that weren't lip-synching. Sensory overload. Loved it!
Flame Tree BBQ: I think I mostly covered this. Good BBQ, nice to buy the expensive platter and not worry about it. With the heat, I avoided caffeine and alcohol. When we asked for water to fill up our resort cups, we were brought two honkin' glasses of water with ice. Animals everywhere. And I got to see my aunt, uncle, and one of my cousins, too. Of all the quick service restaurants in the parks (minus our hotel!), probably my favorite, waiting for our food and all.
Conservation Station: Probably boring for both my son and my husband, but I had a lot of fun asking the wildlife rehabber about the blind owl she held. Later, as I stared into the vet OR, I heard a lady behind me ask if I was a PennWe (a somewhat derogatory name for a Penn grad). I asked how she knew, and she pointed to my New Bolton Center fanny pack. We spent a good 15 minutes chatting about sedation and anesthesia protocols, and how she got into zoo med. I wish I had made a list of question to ask her, because after she left I remembered a whole of of other things I wanted to know. We didn't bother with the petting zoo or the playground outside. I hope Dennis took the time to read to Anthony about the conservation stuff, but I doubt it. Again, a respite from the heat was nice.
Everest: Fantastic! Loved the cold in the middle of the ride and the shadow of the yeti. Again, great theming throughout the whole ride, and a good roller coaster to boot. Even though I knew the mountain was fake, it certainly felt intimidating to feel the coaster make its crawl to the summit. Between this ride and the host of others that plunged us into extreme darkness, it makes me wonder why my boy needs a nightlight at all. He wasn't scared in the slightest! We went on this one twice, since later in the day the crowd thinned out considerably.
Kali River Rapids: Yes. Soaked. At least my pants were soaked. The boy wanted to get more soaked so he was sad. Were it not for the "long" wait ( a half hour in a theme park really isn't anything!), we didn't go on it a 2nd time. I wish we did. Getting soaked was refreshing. I was glad for the lockers. I wish I could have taken my shoes off, since I hate wet shoes. Feet didn't get wet anyway, so it was a moot point.
Triceratop Spin: This was Dumbo with dinos. Same ride, different theme. And this was why we didn't bother with Aladdin. Were it not for an empty line, I'm not sure we would have bothered.
Dinosaur: Yes! We went on it and the boy didn't have a heart attack! Nice bumpy ride with lots of cool effects. And big, robotic dinos. Guy at he front said no T-rexes, only carnosaurs. Maybe that's why he wasn't scared.
Boma: 10 minutes to get there. Excellent food, and we got to watch the staff parade through the place with drums. All the food was warm and with rare exception, freshly prepared. You could see the kitchen preparing the food right there. After avoiding the "Disney Steak" all that time. I finally had some at the buffet, since I could get a small piece and still try everything else. This time the boy got to eat whatever he wanted, including dessert. The 15 minute taxi ride, as opposed to the hour long bus ride, was well worth the $15. Interesting that my Magic Band was needed for the taxi to get past the gate.
-By, Beth Adler-Bush
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