Benjo's WDW Trip 2006: TRIP REPORT
Hi everyone, hereís my first attempt at a Trip Report from my trip last week. We had such an amazing time this past week. My wife, Katie, and I, as well as my sister-in-law, Amanda, and my best friend, Dan (aka ďDisneyĒ Dan, as I called him for most of the trip), made the trip with us. I hope you enjoy the report and the pictures,
Day 1: Sunday, January 1st
We arrived in the early afternoon from our flight, and checked into Old Key West. The check-in line took forever because the 1st was a huge turnover day for vacations. After a lot of waiting and a quick lunch, we headed over to Epcot, which is my favorite park. Epcot was in full swing with a huge crowd, and all of the Christmas decorations were still up. We had never been to WDW during the Holidays before, so it was nice to see the ways in which The House of Mouse decks the halls. The most impressive decoration was the awning on the walkway between Future World and the World Showcase:
Otherwise, Epcot was great as always. Dan had not been out to WDW for 16 years, since he was 9 years old, so it was great to see him experiencing everything again for the first time. Our first night at Epcot, we had time to ride just about everything except for Soariní, but more on that later. We all got to see Turtle Talk with Crush for the first time, and that was very impressive. The combination of technology, humor, and great Disney/Pixar characters is enough to charm any Disney geek, such as myself.
After Epcot closed, we headed over to the Magic Kingdom, Katie and Disney Danís favorite park, for the Evening EMH. Disney Dan was way too tired, and went back to crash at the hotel room. The Magic Kingdom was open until 3 AM that day, but we only lasted until about 11:30 PM. I thought that was pretty decent, considering we had all gotten up at about 5 AM that morning.
Day 2: Monday, January 2nd
Early Monday morning, we all headed out to MGM, Amandaís favorite park. We had a really awesome day there since we were all fresh and rested from a good nightís sleep. Disney Dan and I are both life-long Star Wars fanboys, so I knew that he would fall in love with Star Tours, and he certainly did. Dan and I rode Star Tours 3 times that day, while the girls had to pass after two rides.
Crowds on our second day were still high since Monday was still part of Christmas Vacation week for most families. However, we got to see just about everything we wanted to at that park that day. We decided to Lights, Motors, Action for another day because we couldnít fit in the show times. Dinner at the 50ís Prime Time Cafť was awesome as it always is. Katie and Amanda shared their meatloaf in order to save room for the smores, while Disney Dan and I each had the pot roast. Everything was absolutely delicious, and we had a male waiter, our ďcousinĒ Pip, which was a first for us, but still a really fun time.
After dinner, we went to see the Osbourne Family Spectacle of Lights. I have to say that itís unbelievably impressive. I took a few pictures, but it really doesnít do the whole experience justice:
We caught the 8:30 PM show of Fantasmic. The show was a lot better than I remembered from 2002. Iím sure that the show hasnít changed at all, but it just seemed more fun and magical this time around. I guess some things get better with age.
Day 3: Tuesday, January 3rd
We all got up really early on Tuesday to catch the morning EMH at Epcot. We arrived at 7:45 am, just before the ďrope drop.Ē While it was obvious that the crowds had dropped off a lot since Sunday and Monday, everyone in the park at that time was lined up over by the side of Innoventions closest to The Land. It was pretty obvious that everyone was going to b-line it for Soariní, but we were ready. When the park opened, we walked quickly to Soariní, although we all felt like cattle being corralled. I went ahead of the group to get Fastpasses for Soariní, and we timed it just about right so that Katie, Amanda, and Disney Dan met up with me as I was done so we could get right in line.
Our first experience on Soariní was amazing! This is one awesome ride. We got to sit in the front row on our first ride, so we were totally spoiled and hooked right off the bat. We used our Fastpasses a little later and sat in the third row, which isnít as fantastic, but still awesome.
Later that morning, we headed over to the Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day. We ate lunch at the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station, which we all thought was terrific. If you like Chinese or Japanese cuisine, then I would highly recommend it. Iíll post my full review of the Noodle Station in another post. Afterwards, we saw Stitchís Escape for the first time. As a big fan of the former Alien Encounter, I was very disappointed with Stitch. However, Iíve yet to see Lilo & Stitch, so Iím not very attached to the character of Stitch
The rest of the day was pretty normal. The crowds were pretty low now, except for Fanstasyland in the early afternoon. Peter Panís Flight had a 70-minute stand-by wait time at one point! Otherwise, we pretty much walked on everything else. Disney Dan fell in love with Splash Mountain, which is my favorite at MK as well. We finally got to see Wishes in its entirety, which was really cool to see with the Happiest Celebration on Earth decorations on Cinderellaís Castle.
Day 4: Wednesday, January 4th
We all headed over to Animal Kingdom for 9 AM and b-lined to Kilimanjaro Safaris. The line was already crazy there, so got Fastpasses came back to it. Although the temperatures for the first few days of our trip were in the high 70ís in the afternoon, they were in the low to middle 40ís in the morning. One Gorilla we saw on the Pangani Trail thought it was a little too cold:
Later that day we walked over to Expedition Everest, and all I can say is WOW! This ride is so huge and looks so amazing. Thereís a great place to take pics of the attraction over by Tarzan Rocks. Hereís one of Katie and me:
We looked around as much as we could with the barriers still up, and I got a few pictures of the Fastpass kiosks and the Queue:
I was nosey and asked one of the Cast Members if they were having any kind of previews for the ride, and he politely told me ďNo, but Joeís around and heíll be coming out in a few minutes.Ē Sure enough, Joe Rodhe came out a few minutes later and showed a family around the attraction. I have no idea who the family was, but they were some kind of VIPís. Anyway, I was able to grab a few shots of Joe while he was walking around. The whole experience was so awesome, and it was one of the highlights of the trip for me:
Here's a pic of the Cast Member Costumes for the attraction:
Later on that afternoon, Katie and Amanda went to have tea at the Grand Floridian, while Disney Dan and I rode Dinosaur and Primeval Whirl a ton of times. Later on, we all met up for dinner at Boma, which was amazing and delicious as always.
Day 5: Thursday, January 5th
Our full day at Epcot was characterized by Soariní, Soariní, and more Soariní. We were able to get on the ride three times that day, and it was awesome every time. One thing I did notice about Epcot was that a few of the attractions could use some slight refurbishment. It seemed that only one or two of the control sticks on Mission: Space still provided the force-feedback feature that they originally had, which was disappointing. Also, Test Track felt extremely bumpy at times during the ride, and one of our cars had a clanging noise in the back. I guess itís a good thing that itís going down for a rehab this week.
For breakfast, we did the Princess Storybook Breakfast at Restaurant Akershus. This was a lot of fun, even for 20 something men like myself. As a single guy, Disney Dan especially enjoyed seeing all the beautiful princesses. For dinner, we ate at Le Cellier, which was unbelievable. The Cheddar Cheese Soup and Pretzel Bread are delicious, and apparently available to go during lunch hours, as our waitress explained. This will be a must for lunch the next time weíre in Epcot.
Day 6: Friday, January 6th
On our last full day at WDW, we went to the Magic Kingdom during the day and Epcot for the evening EMH. The parks on Friday we absolutely dead, and we got to ride whatever we wanted. The temperatures had dropped to a high of 56 degrees for the day, but being from the Northeast, we were fine with it. The stand-by wait time for Splash Mountain never got about 20 minutes all day, which was a sight to see. We braved the ride twice in the mid-afternoon because we all love it so much. It wasnít too bad, but the CMís continually pleaded with us to ride in the front seat because no one else would. We respectfully declined, but it was funny to see a thrill ride where no one wanted to ride up front.
We also caught Cinderellabration before heading out, which was very cute and a great show for kids:
That night, Epcot was great and pretty empty. We all rode Soariní one more time, and just about everything else. I feel that Iíve finally made my peace with Journey Into Imagination with Figment. Iím really starting to like it, and Iím ok that the original is no longer there. Itís great to still have a lot of One Little Spark throughout the ride, although I do miss Dreamfinder. So yes, I do like the ride in its current form. Please donít kill me.
Day 7: Saturday, January 7th
After a long week in the parks, we were all really tired, but went hardcore and got up early for the morning EMH at MGM. The park was the least crowded I have ever seen at WDW, at least for the morning. It was great to be able to walk on to Tower of Terror and Rockiní Rollercoaster for 2 more rides each. It was the day of the Marathon at WDW, so people started filtering in later in the afternoon. We caught the first show of Lights, Motors, Action that morning, which we had missed on Monday. I thought it was pretty impressive how they managed to drive around without missing each other:
However, Iím not a big ďcar guy,Ē so I have to say that I wasnít blown away by the show. Itís really nice to have a new attraction at MGM, but I just donít think this show is enough to be the gate-busting attraction that Disney might have thought it would have been.
At noontime, Disney Dan had to say good-bye to catch his Magical Express bus to the airport. Later, at 3 PM, Katie and I said good-bye to Amanda to catch our flight. Amanda stayed for one last shot at Who Wants to be a Millionaire: Play It!
Overall, this one of the best trips Iíve ever had to Walt Disney World. It was great to see Disney Danís reaction to seeing so many new attractions. This was my second trip with Amanda, and my third with Katie. Going to WDW with my family just gets better every time. We all canít wait to go back!