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Benjo's Weekend WDW Trip 2006: TRIP REPORT
WHEW!!! What a weekend.
My wife Katie and I are back from our fast and furious weekend trip down to WDW, and we were able to cram in just about everything into our schedule. We had an amazing time with terrific weather, and we were able to see everything that we set out to see. Before I get to the official report, I wanted to remind everyone of the three goals I set out before we left:
- Everest, Everest, Everest
- Star Wars Weekend Pics and Merchandise
- Mission: Space Lite
At the end of it all, I’d have to say that we accomplished 2.5 out of our 3 goals, but more on that later.
We got the WDW super late on Friday night after two long flights and connections. DME was easy as always, and we got our hotel, Pop Century at around 12:30 am.
After check-in, we got to our room, which I was more than pleasantly surprised with, and crashed for 5 whole hours of sleep. Our room was in the 80’s building, which was great for us as true children of the 80’s, which was about a 5 minute walk from the Main Lobby/Bus Station. Having never stayed at a Value Resort before, Katie and I were very impressed with the overall quality and theming of Pop Century, and we would totally stay there again. While nothing was spectacular about the resort, aside from the huge Rubik’s Cubes that light up at night, everything was nice and clean as you would expect from Disney.
Mickey and the ever-increasingly annoying Stitch woke us up at 6:00 am the next morning. Although extremely tired, we were pumped and primed for our first day and were out the door by 7:00 am. We caught the Animal Kingdom Bus over to Animal Kingdom (duh) for our Character Breakfast at Donald’s Breakfastosaurus. We were a few of the first people to arrive for our 8:00 am ADR and were actually the first people to walk through the park that day on the way to Donald’s, as the family ahead of us stopped after getting through the gate. It was strange and amazing to walk through the beautiful Animal Kingdom with no other guests around. We enjoyed our breakfast with the characters, as you can see:
The food selection at Donald’s was terrific, with a big buffet with lots of options, the best of which is the breakfast pizza. However, we were so excited about getting on Expedition Everest for the first time that we were done eating by about 8:30 am.
We then walked over to the rope in Dinoland, and then over by the Theater in the Wild. By the time the mad rush for Everest started, we were the first people behind the rope. There are two groups for the Everest rope drop rush: one coming from Asia and the other from Dinoland, and the Dinoland rush heads in through the Fastpass line at opening. Because the Fastpass line is much shorter than the Stand-By queue, we were in the first car of the day. We would have been the first and second people on the attraction, but some little, mustachioed fellow jumped in front of us, so we took our seats in the second row.
Expedition Everest is an unbelievable attraction. I was so impressed by its ability to have big and somewhat scary thrills, but to balance that with a ride that’s geared toward having the whole family. I was also impressed by the quick and efficient loading of the attraction. You can truly tell that the entire attraction was built around efficiency of loading, riding, and fun. Oh yeah, and we went on the attraction 5 times that day, so I guess we liked it .
During our downtime between rides on Everest, we were lucky enough to see DeVine around the park:
We also got to see those crazy Gorillas goofing off outside of the exit to the Safari:
That's a good look for you, buddy.
After we’d had enough Everest (Is there such a thing?), we Parkhopped over to Epcot around 12:30 pm where we quickly got onto the now revamped Mission: Space. Although it isn’t called Mission: Space Lite as I would have liked, there are now two options when you approach the attraction, Green Training (less intense), and Orange Training (more intense). Orange Training is the traditional, puke-inducing spin-o-rama that we all love or hate, but Green Training is the new, non-spinning version of the attraction. Here is one of the “Launch Tickets” that you receive while entering the queue:
The queue now splits into Green Training on the left, the original queue, and the Orange Training on the right, the former single-riders queue. The Fastpass queue is still the same, and I believe that you are able to make your choice of which training you would like when you get in line.
Katie and I rode the Green Training first in order to try out the new experience. To our surprise, there was a much longer wait for Green Training, although this was still less than 30 minutes. It is difficult to say whether or not more guests opted for Green Training, as the Green Training only operates in centrifuge 1, while the Orange was operating in centrifuges 3 and 4. Centrifuge 2 was not being used for some reason.
I have to say that the Green Training mission is still really good. You do not spin at all during the ride, but the cabin still pitches around and is able to give you the sensation of flight. Think of it as a more intense, claustrophobic version of Star Tours. We were pleasantly surprised with the whole experience, but still prefer the original version with the G-forces. To sum it up, you are missing out on all G-force sensation in the Green Training option, and the video has also been changed slightly to edit out any discussion of your ride vehicle spinning. Luckily however, it still looks like Gary Sinise is wearing lip-gloss, something that we always think is hysterical.
After Mission: Space, we saw a little of what the Flower and Garden Festival had to offer:
We tried to have some Cheddar Cheese Soup and Pretzel Bread at Le Celier for our lunch, but the host said they weren’t serving it to go that day because the restaurant was too busy that day. Disappointed, we tried out the updated food court, Sunshine Seasons, in the Land, which was delicious. We both had a few selections from the Asian stand, and everything was great.
We couldn’t get on Soarin’ on Saturday because the lines were way too long, so we rode Journey Into Imagination with Figment, Test Track twice, and finally Spaceship Earth on our way out of the park. I noticed this sign as we were leaving Spaceship Earth, and it excited the heck out of me:
Looks like we’ll have some great new post-ride additions to Spaceship Earth, and I can’t wait to see it.
After a short Monorail trip, we arrived at the Magic Kingdom at around 5:30 pm. There’s nothing super special to report from our night here, but we were able to get in 3 Buzz Lightyear’s in a row during Wishes, which we thought was pretty good. We also saw the Jungle Cruise at night, which was something we had always talked about doing. There wasn’t really anything different about the attraction at night, but it is fun to be on the river with just a small light on the front of the boat to guide you.
Aside from that, we hit up Big Thunder Mountain twice, the TTA twice, Winnie the Pooh, the Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain twice, and Splash Mountain. The sound on Splash Mountain seemed to be a bit off to me on this trip. It seemed as if the audio for the sound effects were too loud, and the music and voice-overs were too soft. It didn’t ruin the attraction, but it did surprise me.
We got back to our rooms at about 12:00 midnight and crashed after our long day .
Check out my next post for Day 2.
You see the hat? I am Mrs. Nesbitt!
Trip Report Part II
After only 6 hours of sleep on our second night, I was about ready to strangle Stitch when he woke us up again at 6:00 am . We dropped our luggage off at the bag check station outside the Main Lobby of Pop Century, which was very quick and easy, and then headed out to Epcot for EMH. This time, we were the 3rd and 4th people in line for Soarin’, and got on a second time after that. We got seated in the top row both times, which is my favorite place to view this awesome ride. We had a few croissants at Sunshine Seasons as waited for our Fastpasses to kick in for our second Soarin’ trip, and it was nice a peaceful to sit and eat and people-watch. After two times through Soarin’ it was off to MGM.
As a life-long Star Wars Geek, I was more than excited to check out the Star Wars Weekend that was going on at the park. It was really terrific to see all the various characters from the films walking around the park that day. We quickly headed to the Millionaire: Star Wars Edition in order to fulfill our third goal for the trip. While I did not get in the Hot Seat , it was awesome to have the WWTBAM show devoted entirely to Star Wars Trivia. Warrick Davis, who played Wicket in Return of the Jedi and the host of the Star Wars Weekends this year, was at the show and sat next to everyone in the Hot Seat to help them with any answers. While I didn’t make it the Hot Seat, Katie and I were second and third on the leader board through the show (I fed her a few answers, but she had the faster fingers). I only missed one question during the entire show, which I thought was pretty good.
After Millionaire, we got some Nacho Cheese Pretzels and frozen lemonade at Min and Bill's Dockside Diner, and sat down for the Star Wars Character Motorcade at 11:00 am. This was fantastic because you got to see all the characters at once:
Gotta get me one of those Landspeeder cars.
Rick McCallum - Uber Star Wars Producer. He waved to me after I called his name out. Yeah, I'm a dork .
Peter Mayhew, aka Chewbacca. He's one tall and funny lookin' dude.
Warrick Davis, aka Wicket from Return of the Jedi.
Chewbacca and C-3PO.
R2-D2's ready for his close-up.
Jango Fett's really ready for his close-up.
Looks like Darth Maul's cutting back on the carbs these days.
Good old Darth Vader was extra shiney in the Florida sun.
After the Motorcade, we headed over to Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Rollercoaster. The lines were very short, and we got on both attractions twice. Most of the guests during the Star Wars Weekends are over near Star Tours in order to get in line to see the characters. We saw some of this briefly throughout the rest of the day, shared a delicious Pulled Pork Sandwich at the Flatbread Grill, and checked out the Star Wars merchandise station next to Millionaire:
Life-Size X-Wing Fighter = Awesomeness
We caught the Beauty and the Beast show at 2:45 pm, and then it was time to head back to Pop Century to catch our DME bus to the airport . We grabbed some snacks at the food court in the Lobby area, which we both thought had an excellent variety, and then got on the bus to head back to Boston.
All in all, we had a brief, but extremely dense and exciting trip this past weekend. Katie and I had never been to WDW with just the two of us, and it was really nice and fun to share a trip just with my spouse . We were able to go at our own pace, and didn’t have to worry about seeing attractions that other people wanted to see. It was a great trip, and we can’t wait to go back!
You see the hat? I am Mrs. Nesbitt!
Wow, y'all certainly packed in a lot during that short weekend!
LOVE THE PICTURES!!!!
Thanks for a great report, you must be tired.....
Nothing to countdown to, so just smile and be happy everyday!
Great trip report!!! I cannot believe how much you got done in one weekend! Especially since you had to leave for the airport so early on Sunday! Thanks for sharing! Was especially interested in your breakfast seating at 8 AM at Donald's Breakfastasaurus before heading to EE cause that's exactly what we are doing in two weeks. You said you left your hotel at 7 AM.....what time did you arrive at DAK and did they let you enter and make your way back to Breakfastasaurus right away???? Also...what time did they seat you and let you start eating. Unfortunately, our group is a little larger than 2...that morning there will be 12 of us and I am just hoping it all goes smoothly so we can get in, get out and head for the rope drop!
Thanks for the kind words, dreamer.
Originally Posted by disneydreamer98
As far as I know, the buses for character breakfasts start around 7 am, so I would get to your bus stop around then. If you're at a resort with multiple stops, I would try and go to the main stop, as I'm not sure if the breakfast buses circle around the entire property. You may want to ask when you check in.
We arrived at AK around 7:30 am and then had to wait about 15 minutes at the park gate before they let us in. They will only let you walk in to Donald's, as everything else is roped off. Once you get to the front of Donald's, they bring you in to the restaurant in the order that you arrived and checked in, so you may want to send someone in your group ahead if they're a little quicker. After we sat down, we waited for about 5 minutes before we were told to head up to the buffet and get our food. After that, they will send the characters around to the tables that were seated first. We were a few of the first people seated, so we had sat down, eaten, and gotten pics with the characters by about 8:20 am.
Good luck and let me know how it goes.
You see the hat? I am Mrs. Nesbitt!
Great trip report, photos, etc!!! Sounds like a blast! Thanks for sharing.
I am in need of some Disney magic!!
Yea that was a really enjoyable read thanks for the report.