Taken a few moments ago...
Heading out tomorrow...
Taken a few moments ago...
Heading out tomorrow...
Have a wonderful trip, be safe, Gods Speed.
Thank you, my dear. Should be a fun one. DTD for dinner layer tonight, WDW including Christmas Party through Sunday, day at my father's, head back home to the southwest coast and stay with my wife's folks, party with some old school friends the two days after Christmas, drive back to Orlando Friday and have lunch with an old colleague, and fly back to St. Lou early Saturday morning.
I think I am going to need a vacation after all of that!!!
Looking forward to an update when you get back. Have enough fun for all of us
I just downloaded the app for this site on my phone. Hopefully I'll get a chance to check in at the end of the days.
Getting ready to end our first evening across the street in Downtown Disney. Parks really empty today. Pirates, Thunder, Splash, Dinosaur, and Everest all walk ons throughout the entire day. More later...
Back home safe and sound.
Had and excellent trip. And while the majority of it was spent back home on the southwest coast, the first four days were at WDW.
As I said before, the first day was incredible. Hit three parks on the first day and rode multiple attractions in each, most of which were walk ons. Peter Pan's Flight had a standby time of 30 min, which should tell you all you need to know. Or biggest mistake was not trying to ride Test Track that day.
Water wheel at the tree house wasn't running at all our entire stay, which was somewhat disappointing, but no big deal. First time on Pirates the mermaids weren't on, but second time they were and I have to say I find the whole thing rather unimpressive. Does nothing to change my overall opinion of the ride, but comes across as a pointless addition. Splash was Splash. Everything that hasn't worked for years...still doesn't work. This years rehab hopeful rectifies all of that. Still a fantastic ride nonetheless. Now, it wasn't cold that morning, upper 70's, but they had the cheap shot jet modified so that it fell well short of your log. I'm not sure if this is only done in the Winter, or is permanent, but I appreciated it. I always thought it was a stupid addition.
Saw the new hitchhiking ghosts scene for he first time and was thoroughly impressed. Possibly the best upgrade anywhere on property. Not so impressed with the interactive "graveyard" queue. It's nicely done, but only worth seeing once, IMO.
In Fantasyland my wife and son saw Peter Pan's Flight for the first time and both enjoyed it. The one MAJOR complaint I have concerning that ride is the Fastpass-to-standby ratio the cast members use. It was somewhere in the neighborhood of 20:1. Seriously, they'd let about 60 FP holders through, and then take a party of three from standby, and then..."hold please". Sorry, folks. That's beyond ridiculous. More on this practice later.
Son rode Small World for the first time and claimed to enjoy it. We got stuck on it right at the end for about 15 minutes which nearly had me at my wits end. Towards the end my wife asked me if I was OK, to which I answered, "I just want off this *censored* ride". I have never been so desperately annoyed in the World. Ever.
About this time we were getting hungry and decided to go eat at the Contempo Cafe. From there we headed to Animal Kingdom and pretty much walked onto Expedition Everest twice in a row. We also hit Dinosaur and explored the park for a while while we waited for our ADR's at Yak and Yeti. The food was as outstanding as advertised. I had the seared tuna salad, my wife had beef and broccoli, and my son had the crispy Mahi Mahi. The seared tuna was just barely seared and 98% raw, just like I like it! Excellent meal all the way around. BTW, kudos to the young lady who got us in quickly even though our ADR time got screwed up.
It was getting close to closing time, so we decided to head over to Epcot to try to ride Soarin' and Test Track. Test Tracks wait time was listed at 90 minutes, with Soarin' listed at 30. So, Soarin' it was. Then Spaceship Earth, after which we returned to our hotel to wind things down for the evening. We had had two very long back-to-back days and were finally starting to feel it.
That pretty much wraps up our first, and most eventful day. I'll give a quick summation of the rest of the trip in subsequent posts.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and wish you all a happy New Year as well.
Btw, a quick word on the first day, which was our travel day. I decided to work a half day before we flew out of St. Louis. My son also went to school for a half day. So, I was up at 4:30 that morning, worked half a day, drove an hour and a half to St. Louis, we lifted off shortly before 4pm, arrived in Tampa shortly after 7pm their time, and drove to Disney to check into the Hilton across the street from Downtown Disney around 9pm that evening. We then walked across the street to eat at Wolfgang Puck's Express (most underrated eating venue on property, IMO), and then turned in around 11pm.
Early morning EMH at MK that next morning made sure we didn't sleep long...
Just to give you an idea why we were so wiped out after our first full day in the parks.
I don't know if anyone else here has stayed at the Hilton at Downtown Disney, but I have to give that place a really enthusiastic two thumbs up. W had stayed there our first night in town in 2010, but moved to the Poly the next day. This was the first time we stayed there our entire time in The World.
At the end of the day I can't think of a better place to stay when you take everything into consideration. We paid $109 a night via a pre-paid reservation. Even during the slowest parts of the year I'm not sure you can stay at a value resort for that. And this was during the holiday season.
And it's a great hotel. Very large, and with a few really decent restaurants to choose from if you're not feeling up to crossing the street. They also have these outstanding wall tiles representing the four parks that I desperately tried to find while we were there. I have got to get some for my room! I'll post a pic of them later. If anybody recognizes them and knows where they can be purchased I'd really appreciate it if you'd let me know.
Now, the only real disadvantage to staying at this "off property" hotel. No direct buses to the parks from Downtown Disney. The hotel does offer direct buses, but they service the three or four DD hotels, and only run every half hour. So, even though it's a pain, it's still better to hop a bus to a resort from the DD stop, and make a transfer to the parks from there. It means you spend a lot of time riding buses, but that's the trade off for the low price, I suppose. You could drive to the Parks and pay the additional $14 a day, but we didn't see the sense in paying for parking twice.
Either way, highly recommended hotel for those looking to stay on the cheap for their Disney vacation. It's off property, but only with a wink and a nod. Considering it's a two minute walk from the back door to the Marketplace entrance.
Went to visit my father in Orlando on the third day and then went to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party that evening. It was our first, and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. The security at the beginning of the evening was somewhat annoying, but I suppose it was necessary. Kind of odd being asked to show your wristband in every interior doorway of the Emporium, though!
It was thankfully quite cold that evening helping it really feel Christmas-y. We went to the Terrace and got our free cookies and hot chocolate, and then walked the treehouse as I hadn't done it at night in forever. My wife and son had never done it at night and thoroughly enjoyed it. Also did Pirates before making our way back to Main Street for a slaw dog at Casey's, and the night time shows.
We had an excellent location right in the middle of Main Street on the bridge just south of the hub for Celebrate The Magic and Holiday Wishes. Celebrate was my first ever castle projection show and I was very impressed with it. The part where the tallest spire looks like it turn into a rocket and starts to lift off is indescribable. It simply has to be seen.
It was also our first Holiday Wishes, which was also quite enjoyable. It had been over a decade since I had seen the wrap around firework display (they used to always do them during the Summer, not sure if they still do). It was the first time my son had ever seen them.
After the shows we SLOWLY made our way to Tomorrowland. I don't know if it was the fact that it was the last Party of the year, or what, but it was quite packed! Took the requisite ride on the Peoplemover, which was a rather chilly experience seeing that it had dropped below 40 that night. Carousel of Progress was regrettably closed, so we ended up not getting to see it this trip. So, we decided to hit Space twice in a row. That last, and longest, drop is still a back breaker. But, we loved it. The new star field effect (which wasn't working when were there in 2010) throughout the ride is really cool.
From there we hit Cosmic Ray's for more cocoa, then we headed to Fantasyland.
Now then, a realization I came to walking through the new expansion. Folks say it simply cannot compare with Pooterville. But, walking through it I realized it's not supposed to. Sounds odd, but I'll explain more later when I get all my thoughts together on the subject. The area is quite beautiful, and charming. And until you see the Mine Train superstructure, it's impossible to describe just how enormous it really is. It will be quite the centerpiece once it is complete. Pictures do it no justice. It's huge.
We rode Mermaid. It was charming, and exactly what people have come to expect in Fantasyland. For better, or worse. The one thing I will say is that queue is rather confounding to review. It is truly spectacular, don't get me wrong. It is visually impressive, and during peak times it should remain far more interesting than any other queue in the park. But, it seems absurdly long. And I mean ABSURDLY long! Felt like a 5 mile walk to get to the ride that night. And since it's a fast loading omnimover, I can't imagine the queue ever filling. But, at least they made it interesting. For the attraction it is, and the land it's part of, I'd be willing to put the queue right up there with Expedition Everest. It's that good.
Afterwards we hit Gaston's Tavern because I just had to try the pork shank. Now, I will tell you that when my wife and I are cooking, I love pulling off large hunks of meat from whatever it is we're preparing. I usually get in trouble for it, but it's worth it. If you are the same, you'll love the pork shank. My wife was disgusted by the idea of it, and thought the picture looked even worse. But, she tried some of mine and thought it was excellent. If you like eating well, but subtly, seasoned pork in huge hunks, you'll love the shank. Two big time thumbs up!!!
We were about 15 minutes from midnight when we left the Tavern, so it was off to ride buses for a half hour, then call it a night.