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Trip Report For the First Time in Forever... (9/12-9/18)

Discussion in 'WDW Trip Reports' started by kadybat, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. kadybat

    kadybat Well-Known Member

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    Hi! This is my first trip in a decade!! And only my second trip to WDW ever!! And it comes after a really hellish and stressful week and a year of planning so I’ve really been looking forward to it! Today’s day 2 and I’ll be posting reports as I finish them!!
     
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  2. kadybat

    kadybat Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Walt Disney World 2017 Trip Log: Day 1

    Today I began my first Disney World excursion in nearly a decade. It’s been a long time coming. My fiancée Jenn and I are both massive theme park and Disney enthusiasts, and I’ve taken her to Disneyland several times.

    We started our day really early, heading to the airport at 4. Thanks to Irma, we’d had to delay our trip for a couple days, and our flight had some weirdness. We left on time, but it took a while to get a gate, and we had to stop in Austin so we could taxi crew from AUS to MCO. Overall we were about an hour late, which wasn’t awful.

    We hopped over to Magical Express, which was amazing. They brought our bags to our room for us. We checked in at Art of Animation. The pictures don’t do this place justice - there’s a sense of scale they really don’t capture, so when you’re in the beautiful rainbow lobby surrounded by massive pencil sketches it really makes you feel immersed in art. The decor around the hotel is nice - as far as the whole Value Resort “giant objects” thing is concerned, I’d rather wake up to a giant Zazu than a giant bowling pin.

    We stayed in the Little Mermaid rooms. They’re quite nice! Kinda tacky and novelty, but I love Disney cartoons and so does my partner so it worked very well. The shower is AMAZING. Like, incredible.

    Anyway, we took a moment to catch our breath and headed right over to a nearly empty Hollywood Studios. There weren’t any busses running so we just took a Lyft.

    As I said before, the park was nearly empty. Every ride - all four of them, that is - was a 10 minute wait. We darted around the park. We headed back to Sunset Boulevard and grabbed an Oreo whoopie pie and a s’mores sandwich from Sweet Spells. The whoopie pie was dense, rich, and practically impossible to eat, but amazing. The s’mores sandwich was like an advanced moon pie. We also shared the better part of a strawberry slush - it was like 90 degrees and we definitely needed it.

    We finished the slush on our way back to the only FastPass we ended up using - Rock n Roller Coaster. Thanks to FP+, we missed all 20 minutes of queue. It’s always great to start a trip at 60 MPH. I forgot how good that ride is - you get launched straight into a corkscrew. Hell of a way to make up for hell week.

    After that we made a beeline for Tower of Terror. Like, the GOOD Tower. And I forgot how good it is! We scooted through the musty, well-themed queue and headed straight into the back room, where Rod Serling gave us the narration before we quickly boarded our service elevator. Being someone who’s been on Mission Breakout and DCA Tower plenty, I forgot just how effective that starlit hallway is. The effects are magical, and the first drop at the end of the hallway is such a welcome surprise. They took our video on the ride!! That’s new!!

    After dropping in, we hung out in Sunset Boulevard for a moment to get our bearings. We had plans, but quickly we abandoned them given how empty the park was. We headed back to Grand Ave. and saw a demonstration of MuppetVision 3D. I was impressed, but the theater came out a little worse for wear!! I forgot how interactive that show is. The animatronics are delightful, and all the practical effects are a welcome surprise.

    We tried to say hi to Mickey in his Fantasia outfit, but we’ll be seeing him again soon, so instead we hopped on a Starspeeder to Hoth. I’ve never been to Hoth before!! We joked that we were on Wild Arctic. In the atmosphere above Hoth, we were intercepted by BB-8, who recruited us for a Rebel mission on Courescant. I... don’t really understand how that timeline worked out, but we accomplished our mission just fine.

    After taking a flight on Star Tours, we wandered over to Star Wars Launch Bay and met the very same droid who assigned us our mission! BB-8 was a delight in person, and we brought a friend all the way from Alderaan, R2-D2, to say hello. The scan professionals at the Launch Bay correctly recognized me as a decorated droid mechanic, and BB-8 was grateful to make our acquaintance.

    Upon discovering that Walt Disney Presents closed at 8 PM, we took the disappointment of missing Baby Groot in stride and headed over to Pixar Studios, where we found a 10 minute wait at Toy Story Mania! The queue at this park is themed to board games - it’s way cuter than folks give it credit for. In reality, that 10 minute wait was a walk-on. Jenn and I both won beavers, but she beat me by 15,000 points! And she has carpal tunnel!!

    By then we were tired and hungry, so we visited our family at 50’s Prime Time Cafe. Our aunt took good care of us and made sure our elbows were off the table, but she chastised us for having our walkie-talkies out during family time. Jenn and I split some delicious fried herb and garlic cheese, an obscenely rich peanut butter and jelly milkshake, and mom’s sampler, which included fried chicken, meatloaf, and pot roast, along with the fixins. The green beans were nice, as were the potatoes, but for me the pot roast was the star of the show. It was coated in an incredible gravy that I would pay to import to California. The fried chicken was well marinated and crispy - it was Jenn’s favorite, but that tender pot roast couldn’t be topped in my opinion. The meatloaf was fine - no offense to mom, it wasn’t as good as the rest.

    We skipped dessert - aunt Kathleen was a bit crushed but understood. We wanted to head to EPCOT. The fireworks happened while we ate, so there was quite the exodus when we left. In light of that, we decided to take another Lyft to EPCOT for Extra Magic Hours rather than wait in the long line for a bus.

    EPCOT was another empty park, certainly during EMH. EPCOT at night is gorgeous. I remember our Lyft driver turning in and seeing the purple and gold Spaceship Earth in my eye line and just feeling like I was home. Returning to EPCOT after ten years feels like a homecoming. As most park guests left, we checked in at 10 PM to take advantage of our last hour. It was nice - in stark contrast to our highly-planned detailed daily lists, EPCOT at night felt spontaneous. Spaceship Earth had a 5 minute wait, and so in an instant decision, we rode it. After a day of thrill rides, getting in an Omnimover and learning about the history of communication was a really nice change of pace. No, the ending isn’t fabulous, but SSE is still one of my very favorite rides.

    We still had about a half hour left after that, so we darted over to Test Track so we could get in a night time drive. I hadn’t been on new Test Track yet - I sorta miss the kitschy, Rube Goldberg theming of the old queue! We did have fun making the Worst Possible Car - a compact car we stretched into a limo that featured “plasma rockets” and an awful giant monowheel in the back. It scored 200, I guess, by miracle. The ride’s fine! Reminds me of Rocket Rods in all the worst ways, but the 64 MPH drive outside is quite fun. Radiator Springs Racers is better in every single way.

    After Test Track it was 10:55. And so, we ended up being the last Orange Team launch on Mission: SPACE. I’d only ever been on Orange, and I remember the ride fondly. Gina Torres makes a fine Capcom, though I didn’t really notice a huge difference in the footage. Our crew did great - we got the good ending. That ride’s still very intense, and I like it that way.

    We got off Mission: SPACE at about 11:20, and we had a mission. We wanted to close the park - which, really, we already were - and get some night time photos. Specifically, the Universe of Energy sign is still up, and because Jenn and I are both dorks we went over and took nighttime photos in front of the lit sign. It was... wonderful. Here we were, surrounded by dead EPCOT attractions with the Universe of Energy park music loop playing, and nobody was around. We just reveled in that feeling for a few minutes, and stared at the surroundings and took pictures.

    We headed out of Future World West and towards the exit, but before we left, we took a seat in the entry plaza and just stared at Spaceship Earth for a while, just taking it in. We held each others’ hands and pondered the engineering marvel, taking in the fact that after a year of planning we were finally here. It was fantastic. We sat there for like 20 minutes, and left just before midnight, where we got on one of the last busses to Art of Animation. We promptly fell the heck asleep, setting an early alarm for Pandora the following day.
     
  3. kadybat

    kadybat Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Walt Disney World 2017 Trip Log: Day 2

    Part 1

    I’m writing this - at least, the first bit of it - during a break in the middle of the day. It’s been a very long morning, in a good way!! We’ll likely be going back out soon, but I wanted to get down my thoughts so far because we’ve done so much.

    This morning, I woke up at around 6:30. Today was our Animal Kingdom day, and we knew we needed to rope drop to do everything we wanted to do. So, I hopped in the shower very briefly, and as I said in yesterday’s trip report, those showers are amazing. Like, the water pressure’s great, the temperature is perfect, just, what a wonderful way to wake up. I skipped makeup today too - SPF 30 foundation isn’t going to cut it this week, and I’m gonna be sweating like mad, so I just used some eyeliner and called it quits.

    We got dressed quick and headed over to Landscape of Flavors. The thing I neglected to mention yesterday is that it’s my birthday on the 28th, so I’m wearing a birthday pin all week, and almost everyone we’ve seen has said something. This includes the folks at LoF! We got to Landscape just a couple minutes after breakfast began. Jenn got some character waffles and I got a cheddar bacon omelette. We both got iced coffee. It wasn’t bad! Point was to get a quick hot breakfast and that’s what we got and so we headed to the bus!!

    The bus was prompt and the trip was short. We met a family on the way who had been here through Irma. They talked about their experiences, seeing Bolt at AoA, and told us how great Animal Kingdom is. It was nice - we saw them again later in the day, too!

    We rope dropped like we wanted. We were very close to the front of the line when things moved back, and Flight of Passage opened at about 8:40 AM. It was a walk-on!! We went straight into the pre-show room and learned about the Avatar program then were assigned our Avatars and link chairs!!

    Flight of Passage is the best theme park attraction I’ve ever been on. Ever. I’m trying not to be overdramatic here but it’s astounding. You look to your right and you see this huge room full of other people and the ride is just... you really can feel the Banshee breathing underneath you. It’s spectacular. I can barely describe it. It’s an intensely magical experience and the ride is breathtaking and extremely fun and the smells and the sights and the sounds are just... way, way better than anything the movie Avatar deserves. That movie really isn’t very good, I have no idea how they took that and made that ride out of it, but hell, more power to the Imagineers.

    Seriously. That was amazing. And the queue brings you behind all these floating rocks and the landscape because we walked in and just got overwhelmed by how gorgeous and immersive Pandora is and... goodness gracious.

    So the ride exits into Windtraders. While there, we visited the Banshee Rookery. I made friends with a cute little Ikran, but I chose not to take it home - at least, not yet. Maybe. I’m still not sure!!

    After visiting the Banshees, we grabbed a delicious, frosty, sweet Night Blossom at Pongu Pongu and had some time to kill before our FastPass reservation for Na’vi River journey. We chose to explore the landscape more, and signed up to become Wilderness Explorers. We earned our first couple of merit badges, took a few photos on Pandora, helped a rare plant spread its spores, and joined in a drum circle.

    Afterwards, we boarded our boat on Na’vi River Journey. It’s very pretty! I do wish there were more practical effects, but I will say that the Shaman of Songs is as amazing as people have said. There’s a sense of scale to her animatronic that photos and videos simply can’t convey. The ride is gorgeous in and out and is very, very well detailed. I just wish the Viper Wolves would have appeared in reality rather than as projections. Certainly many of the effects worked well - there’s a particular projection of a caterpillar on a log that’s very convincing, and another moment where animals crawl on leaves above you is quite stunning as well. I think Na’vi River Journey presents an interesting future for Disney dark rides, though I’d love to see something on the level of Mystic Manor stateside some day.

    It was still pretty early after we finished our boat ride, and we had a full 50 minutes before our 10:45 FastPass at Everest. So, using a combination of our own intuition and our Touring Plans guide, we set out to explore more of the park. Touring Plans recommended getting the Dinoland attractions out of the way, and given that we’re looking at those as “get them out of the way,” we decided to follow that lead. On our way, we noticed that many of the park’s signature animals weren’t out and about in their habitats, likely due to the impact of Hurricane Irma. Many fish and birds were still around, and we got to see plenty of them on our walk. We also stopped at another Wilderness Explorers booth and met Russel, a fellow Explorer.

    At Dinoland, we... oh, I’m not gonna be cutesy with this, Dinoland is ugly as sin and the sooner it’s replaced with a land that has some sort of theming and character the better. Walking in Dinoland reminds me of walking in Paradise Pier in 2001. It’s utterly unpleasant. We rode Primeval Whirl because we wanted the coaster credit. It’s bad??? It’s really bad. It hurts more than it should and it’s just a boring wild mouse and oh my goodness what an uninspired boring attraction. We could have had The Excavator. We could have had Beastly Kingdom. Instead we have... a wild mouse in a parking lot?? And you did it that way on purpose??? Thanks Michael Eisner. Ugh. Unpleasant.

    Anyway. After that we made our way over to see Claire Huxtable at The Dino Institute and ran into a surprising friend on the way - Donald Duck!! We got our pictures taken with an immensely enthusiastic safari duck and gave him a big hug before hopping on Dinosaur. You know Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, right? You wanna go on that but instead 60% of the ride is in complete darkness and there’s a few dinosaur animatronics here and there? Yes? Cool, awesome, I have a ride for you. Seriously, this ride feels immensely cheap, and it’s really hard to believe this was once the only E-ticket at this park. We got the on-ride photo thanks to Memory Maker. We look bored.

    Finally, to wash all that bad taste out of our mouths, it was time for our Everest FastPass. And, holy heck, does this ride still deliver. The last time I went on this ride, in 2007, the yeti was working. I really wish the yeti was working. But you know what? This ride kicks ***. That backwards part really gets you, the layout is incredibly effective, it’s fast and fun and just amazing. This park needed this ride so desperately and even now, post-Pandora, it is in my opinion the park’s signature thrill attraction and I’m excited that it will soon get the refurb it greatly deserves.

    After Everest, we got very hungry. We were going to stop at Harambe Market, but it was getting quite hot and the rib shop was closed. So, we packed up and headed over to Flame Tree Barbecue. On the way, we made a plan to push back our Kilimanjaro Safari FastPass to 4:00 so we could come back to Art of Animation and rest. We’re likely going to do Flight of Passage again afterwards - ironically, we kinda wanna see more of the queue! We also want to see Pandora light up at night, and we plan to eat dinner at Satu’li Canteen. We’re not quite sure what we’re going to do after that - either we’re going to watch Rivers of Light, or we’re going to take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours at the Magic Kingdom tonight.

    In any case, at Flame Tree, we realized we could take advantage of Mobile Ordering to skip the lines. That realization couldn’t have had better timing - while we ordered on our phone, we got to wait in line to hug King Louie and Baloo!! I’ve never seen them before!! They both wished me a very happy birthday and yes, if you’re wondering, Baloo gives amazing hugs.

    At Flame Tree, we ordered an order of pulled pork fries for each of us and a powerade to split. We’ve been really good at controlling our portions and sharing food thus far, and this was absolutely the right choice. It was a perfect amount of food at a great price and wow oh my gosh those fries are amazing. I slathered mine in that wonderful spicy barbecue sauce and seriously, the combination of jalapeños, plastic cheese, barbecue sauce, tender pork, and fries is just... yup, yeah, eat this. It’s amazing. While we ate, cast members released a flock of parrots and let them fly behind us in front of the Tree of Life. What a wonderful afternoon meal.

    Once we wrapped up lunch, we hopped on a bus back to the hotel! We grabbed a couple cold drinks from the lobby, I bought a Baymax mug I’d had my eye on, and now we’re relaxing for another two hours!! What a fantastic day.

    One final observation I’ll make for this part of the log - Disney is doing an incredible job recovering from one of Florida’s most impactful hurricanes. Every guest we’ve spoken to that went through it is immensely satisfied with Disney’s response. Everyone’s happy, and most rides are open. Yeah, a lot of animals are away; no, we can’t ride Kali River Rapids; and sure, I’m worried our steam train tour for Friday is going to get cancelled. But honestly? Considering everything? We’re having a fantastic time, and if I hadn’t known about Irma, I wouldn’t be able to tell what happened at all.
     
  4. DisneyBound2017

    DisneyBound2017 Well-Known Member

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    I think this is the most detail I've ever seen in a live report!! Will you be adding some photos later?

    Sounds like a great trip so far!
     
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  5. kadybat

    kadybat Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Yes! Absolutely!!
     
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  6. kadybat

    kadybat Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Day 2 Part 2

    Returning to the park was easy. We took a good long break, about two hours, and headed back in time to snag our 4-5 Kilimanjaro FastPass. Admittedly, we would have been fine without it - it was a walk on! In any case, upon arriving at DAK, we went to visit Mickey and Minnie at the Adventurer’s Outpost. The wait was a little bit long but I can’t say no to those outfits, they’re too good.

    After visiting the mice, we headed to the safari. The surprising part about the safari, post-Irma, is how frank our driver was about the changes to the preserve thanks to the hurricane. He spoke at length about how the animals adapted to the change in their environments, and how the downed trees and such impacted their diets. Many of the animals were still away - crocodiles, lions, and hippos namely. But we still saw tons of animals and had a wonderful safari!!

    We were going to try to make time for Everest a second run, but we had other plans. We actually made our way back to Pandora, where a stunning 50 minute wait allowed us time to ride Flight of Passage again. Before indulging, we headed to a Satu’li and grabbed dinner. We both had grilled beef bowls - we probably could have shared one, the portions were larger than we expected. Again we took advantage of mobile ordering and yeah, it’s seamless. The food was pretty good! I’d eat there again! The pulled pork fries were definitely the winner though.

    As for Flight of Passage, that ride holds up!! This time, we made sure to look around us. We both love the behind the scenes stuff, and seeing the mechanics of those massive ride vehicles is incredible. The thing that changed this time was we had a longer preshow, which was interesting, and we went through the bulk of the queue! The Avatar animatronic, again, can’t be described accurately without talking about scale. It’s beautiful and incredibly lifelike. The queue is so nicely detailed - the magnetic props made to look like bacteria and creatures floating in tubes are a particular favorite touch. I love that ride very much and an hour wait was more than worth it.

    After FoP, we had about an hour until the lights turned on, and that was the only thing on our list of wants at DAK. So, to pass the time, we enjoyed a night cap at Nomad Lounge. I had an Annapurna Zing, my partner had a Jenn’s Tattoo, and we shared some of the new brisket poutine. The poutine is a bit of a small portion but it’s *incredible*. Very delicious, even if it’s a little expensive. The drink was nice too. Jenn didn’t like hers but I quite enjoyed mine.

    After a long break at Nomad, we finally ventured into Pandora at night. It’s very pretty!! The pathways are nice!! I feel like the concept art hyped it a bit much but it was still quite lovely and I’m glad we waited. By then it was around 8:45, and we didn’t want to stick around for the crowds from the DVC event or Rivers of Light. Instead, we headed to the bus.

    We hopped on a quick bus to the Magic Kingdom. On the way, we were surrounded by fireworks from three different parks, which was incredible. As we drove into Magic Kingdom we could see the fireworks above Cinderella’s Castle in front of us. Heck of a drive in. As before, EMH was a great time to enjoy the park. We didn’t close the Magic Kingdom - my feet are killing me, so we took it relatively easy.

    We took a night time trip into the Dwarf Mines. That ride is way fun - I know some folks aren’t super in love with it but honestly I loved it. It’s zippy! We got to sit in the back of the train, which probably helped. That ride is really cool at night!! The animatronics are amazing, and the little interactive bits in the queue are a really nice touch. I loved the little house at the end of the ride where you can see the Queen as an old hag. I didn’t know that was there, and it was a really nice touch.

    After that we did a night time spin on Tea Cups. I really wish it wasn’t covered by the canopy - I still love tea cups at night, and we got it nice and spinny, but there’s something about night time tea cups at Disneyland that’s missing here thanks to the canopy.

    Once we finished our spin, we headed over to Tomorrowland for a quick ride on Space Mountain. Okay - I’ve only been on Florida Space once. Since, I have maintained that California Space is better. You know what? I think I’m wrong. There’s an intensity and a roughness to that old 70s Arrow that’s just not there on California’s new Space. They’re very different attractions, really - worlds apart. I don’t think either is better. They each hold a special, unique place in the pantheon of Disney roller coasters. We rode Omega - we plan to ride Alpha when we’re there next.

    Once we came back to Earth, our exhaustion really kicked in. We decided to call it a night. We made a quick stop at the Main Street Confectionary for some dessert before hopping on a bus and getting some early sleep. We had an Ohana breakfast reservation for the next day, after all!
     
  7. Trisha Lynn

    Trisha Lynn Well-Known Member

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    Following!

    Sorry you had such a terrible week, but at least you're in Disney World now. I arrive the day before you leave and I hope that the parks are only maybe a little less empty than when you got there, but only just.

    Easy. Coruscant was never really where the battles were fought because it was the center of government. It was easier for the Rebel Alliance to plan their sorties from worlds like Hoth because of their relative distance to Coruscant and Alderaan. A spy mission to Coruscant after a battle at Hoth makes perfect sense to me, if one wants to change the course of a war. At least that's what I think Mon Mothma would have done.

    You mean it starts and stops and goes for a while and then slows down and then jerks forward? No, thank you. (But I'm still gonna ride RoR.)

    You know, I don't remember really spending a lot of time in the Paradise Pier section whenever I went. It was always the Grizzly Rapids, the Mondavi winery, the Cove restaurant, and then the Soap Opera Diner. The only thing we ever really did in Paradise Pier was California Screamin' and the Sun Wheel. I freaking love that Sun Wheel.
     
  8. myhappyplace

    myhappyplace Well-Known Member

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    Read Day 1 and wanted to comment that I couldn't agree more with your 50s Prime Time pot roast assessment, is it not the best thing ever?! And DH and I are partial to the pb&j milkshake as well.

    I also prefer the old Test Track!

    Excellent start, will be reading along!

    *goes back to continue reading*
     
  9. myhappyplace

    myhappyplace Well-Known Member

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    All caught up...love your writing style!
     

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