Sorry in advance for the limited amount of pictures. As I said I didn’t plan on doing a TR and we were too busy having fun to worry about picture taking. The ones we do have are of us, meant for social media basically. The next update will have tons more pictures.
This one might be a little text heavy but I'll try to break it up and hopefully it's semi-interesting. This will cover Saturday and Sunday. The major order of business for Saturday was the wedding, and as it was for a family friend my mom and her husband came down late Friday night and we decided to spend most of these 2 days with them. They had planned to go to Disney on Sunday (for the first time since I was a kid) but had to straighten out our ticket situation on Saturday and decided to do so at Disney Springs.
DISCLAIMER: We know nothing about Disney. When enthusiasts talk about "the GP", that's us when it comes to Disney. Things like our lack of knowledge of how anything works, the places we ate or the order in which we hit rides may drive locals crazy but we purposely went into this with very little research.
Messing around in Disney Springs
So we had kind of a strange situation regarding tickets. In 1997 when we were kids, we got lifetime passes to Disney. Basically they're one time use tickets that never expire. In order to use them though we had to go to Disney Springs and get them changed into regular tickets, then link them up with the other 2 tickets. I was thrilled that we were able to use these things and that we weren't charged the difference between kids and adult tickets. The only downside was that we had to wait until the day before to book Fast Pass so once we got it all straightened out we headed over to the nearest bar and tried to figure out how to use the app.
Also, we only had one day at Disney so we decided on 1 day, 1 park tickets to Magic Kingdom.
Let me just say, Fast Pass Plus is a pain in the ass. Once you get it set up it's great but I would have been thrilled to throw money at them like I can at Universal, Six Flags or Cedar Fair and just get a wristband without needing to link up an app, scan everyone's tickets with a smartphone, add them to the group, still not have them added properly added because they were already added to another group and eventually just give up and try to get ride times that were semi close together. Again, locals may be thinking we're idiots and it sure felt that way but at first we were cursing this system (though it's free, so I guess how much can you really complain).
Of note: After leaving Disney Springs we did have one more pit stop in Kissimmee before the wedding invloving alcohol and a 300 foot skycoaster but sadly I don't have any photos of that one. There's a video, but it was shot vertically for some reason so I'll spare everyone. lol
Fast forward to the next day, it would be impossible to break everything down in order so I’ll give my thoughts on the attractions we did along with some general thoughts on the park as a whole.
Good Morning from the Happiest Place on Earth!
So first, the rides… we’ll start with the good (actually the great):
Pirates: We hit this first “Why??? IT NEVER HAS A LINE ANYWAY!!!” yeah we know, don’t say I didn’t warn you locals, we had no strategy at all. Anyway, this ride is still just as amazing as I remember it. The Jack Sparrow animatronics are ridiculously good but somehow they don’t detract from the others at all. What is there to say about this ride that hasn’t already been said? It’s amazing. We lost count of how many times we rode this.
Big Thunder: After Pirates we went to Big Thunder and were greeted by a quick 10 minute wait. Initially this ride was going to be closed for refurb during our visit (according to a few Disney sites) but luckily that got pushed back because it was my favorite ride as a kid and I was really excited to ride it again. It didn’t disappoint. It’s a great family ride with awesome theming. We loved the small details in the queue and were blown away by the interactive dynamite thing at the exit. What park would even bother doing something like that since very few people would even notice it? Big Thunder gets a big thumbs up from me.
Splash Mountain: This is one of the best rides in the park. Awesome animatronics, great queue and a nice little splash. We rode it twice, once with a 10 minute wait and once again when the wait was pushing an hour with Fast Pass.
Haunted Mansion: I lost count of our rides on this but again, it’s every bit as good as I remembered it. It’s a nostalgia trip but much like Pirates, it still stands the test of time. We made this our last ride of the night.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: Our group was mostly disappointed with this because the line was 90 minutes and the ride was a bit on the short side but I enjoyed it for what it was. I’d say it’s the weakest of the 3 coasters in the park but it looks great and I’d love to re-ride it with a shorter line.
Space Mountain: After spending about 12 hours in the park we finally made it over to Space Mountain. When we were booking Fast Passes only Brit and I booked this one but my mom and her husband didn’t because he has a medical issue where he can’t be jarred around too much and he was a little worried about it. We decided that we could all ride it though after he rode Thunder Mountain and Mine Train and they had no forces to speak of but at the last minute decided maybe it was better if Brit and I scoped it out first. It wasn’t time for FastPass yet but we figured we were up for re-rides so we waited in the stand-by line. About 30 minutes later we were in our rockets and um… holy sh*t.
This ride is loaded with insane laterals, great pops of air, awesome effects and given the train design and the dark ride area it felt absolutely out of control. This ride doesn’t get the respect it deserves, it’s utterly fantastic. As we pulled into the brakes we both looked at eachother and had the exact same reaction. “Holy sh*t, that was a roller coaster. Like a real one.” Lol.
We got to the exit and had to break the news that riding that would be a terrible idea, but as we kept gushing about it I could tell my mom was loving everything we were saying (unlike him she loves intense rides and has been known to power ride El Toro on multiple occasions) so we decided we had to get her on the ride. I tried to get her to go with Brit but she insisted on giving my mom her ticket so she could use the Fast Pass and I could ride with her. The second ride was as awesome as the first and I’m happy to report that she loved it. I owe Brit big time for that one, lol.
So anyway I know I’ve done a lot of gushing so far and while we had an amazing day and loved the park, there is something I need to say before giving my thoughts on the other rides. But first, a disclaimer…
====== Okay… so Disney Fanboys, Skip This ======== I’m not sure if this is a popular opinion or not and I was a bit surprised by it but Brit and I both felt the same way and didn’t mention it once until we got back to the hotel because we didn’t want to share it with the rest of the group.
Nostalgia is a powerful thing, and some rides can and should get by on it forever. A few rides have also been updated to the point that they’re both loaded with nostalgia and would be excellent even if they opened today (Mansion, Splash, Big Thunder, Space and Pirates). Some rides though (actually a lot of rides) don’t seem like they’re even close to being on the same level. Maybe we had unreasonable expectations because we hold Disney on a pedestal, but as far as delivering consistently cutting edge, amazing attractions we both felt like Universal was not only beating Disney but they were utterly destroying them.
When we went to Universal, there were some rides that were noticeably better than others but for the most part we felt like every ride was just home run after home run after home run. The only exceptions were Shrek which still wasn’t all that bad and E.T. but I was at peace with that because I loved it for being the one beacon of Nostalgia left at Universal. As I mentioned, I feel like some rides can and should get by on nostalgia forever and E.T. is one of them. To be fair we skipped Twister and Disaster because we heard they sucked but Universal already removed both of them.
I feel like Disney is more than happy to let rides continue to run when they don’t live up to their standards whereas Universal would give them the axe immediately and overall that actually made us feel more “blown away” by Universal than Disney (and it’s not close).
============= Okay, it’s safe to come back =================
So first, I know I had mentioned that there are some rides that could get by on nostalgia forever even though they don’t hold up to modern standards. The ones that come to mind here are Carousel of Progress and It’s a Small World. We enjoyed them both for what they were.
Disney got Carousel of Progress right, they presented it properly as a ride Walt loved and between the intro and the soundtrack “It’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” the ride is such an overwhelming nostalgia-gasm that guests probably don’t care at all that it’s dated. They understand that it’s a piece of history with a direct connection to Walt and despite the fact that it’s dated it’s still enjoyable. I loved it.
It’s a Small World (unlike Carousel of Progress) also has a catchy song but this one happens to be rage inducing. Still, it’s fun for what it is. An old world’s fair ride that’s great for families. My mom loved the thing way too much, so much so that she wanted to make it our last ride of the night at 5 minutes to midnight before I pointed out how close we were to the Haunted Mansion and sanity finally prevailed. The ride’s not for me but I can appreciate it. I have a thing for 64 World’s Fair rides I guess (Great Adventure if you ever touch that Skyway I swear…)
Since the Magic Kingdom doesn't serve alcohol, this statement takes bull*** to a whole new level.
Okay, so now for some of the rides that I think need some work. I liked them all but they’re a MAJOR step down from the rides I’ve mentioned so far. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (This felt more like a Cedar Fair boo blasters level of theming than a Disney dark ride), Peter Pan’s Flight (and by the way, what’s the obsession with this thing? The lines for it were obscene all day), Jungle Cruise (this one might hit a nerve with Disney fans but we have actual safari rides now with real animals… one of which is at the same resort), Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid (great queue, mediocre ride. I can’t believe this is a modern attraction. Am I correct in saying that this is the first dark ride at the Magic Kingdom built from scratch after Universal opened Forbidden Journey? Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad ride but the 2 parks are not playing on the same level here. I didn’t expect forbidden Journey as this wasn’t the E-ticket, super hyped ride that that was but I expected better than this).
Sorry for the negativity… as I said we had a great time and loved most of the rides but we were surprised to see these rides at the Magic Kingdom. Before I stop with the little bit of negativity though I have 2 attractions that I really want to highlight as being hilariously awful. Why do these exist? Why?
The Enchanted Tiki Room: So it’s come to my attention that Disney fans have a hard-on for this thing. Really? I mean… really? I get it. It’s old, but it’s terrible. So terrible, like really, really terrible. I hated it with a passion and as I looked around the room I saw nothing but people questioning their life choices and bored kids that wanted to leave and ride something else. Nobody in the entire room seemed to be enjoying it. I don’t blame them. And last, and certainly, certainly least…
Stitch’s Great Escape: I don’t feel that any further explanation is needed. I really don’t. Kill it, kill it with fire. Everyone hates this ride, right? Right????? If someone out there tries to argue with me and tell me this thing is good I’ll be shocked.
…As I said though, with those 2 exceptions we enjoyed everything in the park (even if we did see a major fluctuation in quality). We stayed from open (I believe 9AM) to close at midnight and had a blast. We also saw a few shows. Country Bear Jamboree and Hall of Presidents were both cool. The theming throughout the park was top class (except maybe Tomorrowland which was good but a little dated) and we also took a spin on the Peoplemover which is really a marvel with the way it intertwines with everything in Tomorrowland.
Just a few final thoughts…
- The Staff was truly tremendous. Everyone we encountered (other than one obnoxious tram driver) was amazingly friendly.
- One negative thing was the food. Maybe we weren’t looking in the right places but we thought of all the Orlando parks (except Fun Spot, though they have cheap beer) they had the weakest food offerings. We ended up at a pretty good fajita place in Frontierland but the options in Tomorrowland were terrible and they weren’t overly great on Main Street either. This is probably a point in the TR when a local is shaking their head thinking we should have rounded some corner and gone to some amazing place we didn’t see… who knows. Maybe our lack of preparation is partially to blame but we weren’t impressed.
- The projection show was mind-blowingly good. I’m really glad we decided to stop and watch this. Nothing will make you sip the Disney Kool Aid like watching this show.
- Most importantly we had a great day. Maybe our expectations were a bit high but we still loved the place. Would I make it a “must-do” whenever we visit Florida like Busch Gardens or Sea World? No. But we’re not the target market and if you haven’t been there you really need to go. It’s a great, great park.
Thanks for a great day Disney!
One more update to come from Florida: Sea World! And I promise there will be more pictures.lol
This is a great report, and even as a local and big Disney fan, I agree with a lot of your points. Fastpass is a huge pain if you haven't tinkered with it a little first...which is kind of stupid considering it's designed to make tourists' lives easier, but what do I know? I will say though, even when you get the hang of the process of linking/reserving/etc. there are some really annoying technical glitches that plague the parks to this day. I've been stopped at the gate so many times because they can't figure this technology out it seems like. More often than not, I get Fastpasses as compensation for inconvenience rather than because they actually worked properly. Once people (and Disney themselves lol) get the hang of it, I feel like it'll be a cool thing to use.
And yes, some of their rides are way too outdated. But they're in a kinda damned if you do damned if you don't situation. I mean, people still complain about them adding Jack Sparrow to Pirates. Where is the line between leaving classics alone and updating the place for a more modern audience? Personally, I still like all the corny rides except for Peter Pan and Little Mermaid, but I've been going since I was tiny. But I guess they have three other parks meant for experimenting with new things so some of the more outdated stuff at Magic Kingdom isn't a huge deal for me, but it is definitely something they should think about years out.
Dining definitely leaves a lot to be desired at MK...dont think Ive ever enjoyed a meal there besides that fajita place you went to. They should really step it up.
And yes. You're the only person I've ever come across who also thinks Space Mountain is a freakin fantastic ride lol
when we go, we rarely eat in Magic Kingdom (just snacks, usually).. we do park-hopper and eat most meals at Epcot, despite what park we've spent the day in (Marrakesh in Morocco is a favorite, as is the food in the Pyramid in Mexico).
* edit -- we DO try to get a dinner reservation at Cinderella's Castle, and while not "great". .the food is OK, and it's fun to eat in the castle!
but you didn't like Peter Pan?
(hands down my favorite in the park, and will wait in those insane lines to ride it several times on trips to Magic Kingdom)
Can't say that I disagree with some of your assessments of Disney World, Bill.
Not saying that I don't like the park, I am just more of an Epcot or Animal Kingdom type of guy. Perhaps that's because I don't have kids and would prefer the good food/beer at Epcot, the safari and Everest at AK, or Tower of Terror at the Studios.
When we went with Michael's family and my father a few years ago, Michael and his kids/grandkids opted to go to Disney for a 2nd day while my father and I went over to Disney Studios. When we all met up for dinner later (don't even remember where we ate), Michael told me that he wished that he would have skipped the second day at Disney and went to Studios with us instead. He said about halfway through the day, he just got burned out from all of the kids. lol
If you are a family with smaller kids, the charm of Disney World simply can't be beat. But if you're not toting kids around, I would much prefer hitting up the other Disney parks or go to Sea World, Universal/IOA...or just skip Orlando altogether and go to my favorite park in Florida: Busch Gardens Tampa, like we did last year.
The stitchs great Escape is sooooo bad but when it was alien encounter it was so damn cool. The atmosphere was much darker and having the alien spit and breathe hot air on you was fun. It's just not the same when it's a little fur ball doing that instead of the impressive scary alien lol I loved it as a kid but I've always been into horror but apparently it was too scary for Disney lol
Great TRs! Seems like you guys really know how to have a good time! Copious amounts of alcohol, cheetah hats, and hopefully lots of orca pics to come. Oh yeah.
Although, I will have to say that Congo River Rapids was my favorite water ride at Busch Gardens when I worked there last summer and my favorite rapids ride overall. Yes, I got completely soaked every time I rode it, but it was just a lot of fun riding with the kids and freaking out and screaming any time anyone got splashed, and placing bets on who would get wettest. I probably wouldn't have liked it as much if I just went with adults hoping for a light spritzing.
Your reviews of Kumba and Montu were perfect. Oh, and I kinda liked Iceploration. Had to have seen it at least half a dozen times. It's just so cheesy it's hilarious!
And I'm glad you spoke up about your Disney criticism, very brave of you. Every time I go to a Disney park, I think, "Wow, that really is something else, but don't plan on coming back again for a while." There are a handful of really great rides, but I found that I can do them all in one day and be satisfied (I even did all the choice rides at all 4 WDW parks in one day, but probably won't try that again), and I really don't like the chaotic Disney-crazed families and little kid crowds. It's so expensive too. There are so many other parks I could spend the money on that people spend for a week at the WDW parks. Still worth a visit if you've never been, but I'd probably go back for Universal, Busch Gardens, or Seaworld before I would for Disney.
“If toast always lands butter-side down, and cats always land on their feet, what happens if you strap toast on the back of a cat and drop it?”
Space Mountain is badass! The last time I was at MK they were still doing actual tickets for FP. Technology baffles me so using frustrating apps for Fast Passes wouldn't work out well on my end and once every decade is often enough for me to visit. Animal Kingdom is my favorite Disney park and you'd love it too for all the animals and Expedition Everest! However, I haven't been to BGT so I can't compare that to AK and Off-Road Safari at SFGAdv. Bring it on, Shamu!
Clearly this thread is evidence of my laziness but I'm backed up on reports I have to do (Including La Ronde because I really, really need to sh*t on La Ronde and the "Jersey-Shore-Credit-Whore-Tour-2016-Ft.-Boldikus,-Alcohol-and-The-World's-Greatest-Log-Flume-Watch-The-F**King-Tram-Car-Please-You-Drunk-A**hole Trip Report ®)"
Footnote: The second one is just a working title for now but I think it has a nice ring to it.
But anyway I promised you Sea World and that means you'll get Sea World. Our visit was right before the opening of Mako but that wasn't the end of the world. We'll be back, and for us the big draw to Sea World isn't the coasters anyway.
I don't know if you guys know but we love the hell out of Sea World. I'm pretty sure my fiance is the only person who goes to Florida specifically for Sea World. They're amazing and they do amazing things for animals. We don't just sip the Sea World Kool Aid, we drink it out of a funnel... a biodegradable earth conscious funnel because otherwise the funnel can wind up in the one ocean (that we all share) and we want to be everyday heroes by recycling the metaphorical funnel.
Our day started out at Shamu Stadium! For those who aren't familiar, Shamu Stadium is a stadium that has Shamu in it.
See... would I lie to you people?
Before the first showing of One Ocean, Sea World had an informational show about whales at 11:00. That was our first stop and I highly recommend it. After the show we hung out in the area and waited for One Ocean to start.
Look at that huge crowd of people that also don't buy into PETA's bull***.
One thing I really liked was that Shamu Statdium was always open to the public, so before and after the shows you could get up close and personal with the whales and the trainers in a really relaxed environment. The trainers were very informative and it's clear that they think of each and every whale as a member of their families. They could all go on for days talking about their individual personalities and behaviors.
(See what I did there?)
... because they're whales.
Brit was so happy at this point that she was about to explode.
Anyway I know this is a site full of coaster people so I guess I should stop talking about whales and start talking about the coasters. Even though Mako wasn't open they still had 2 great coasters open in Manta and Kraken and we managed to get a ride on both of them. So from now on I promise I'll focus on that and I won't post any more whale pictures...
After we spent about 2 hours in Shamu stadium we headed over to the front of the park for some rides. Sadly I didn't get a ton of pictures because my camera roll was full of Shamu (that's what happens when I give Brit the phone) but they were all running great. We managed a ride on Atlantis with a 10 minute wait and a walk on to Kraken.
I made a new buddy on the way over to Kraken.
I'm a big Journey to Atlantis fan. While some of the dark ride portion is a little dated it's still a great ride, and I love the splashdown finale. Sadly we were paired with an annoying group of teenagers, but they got sent to row 1 so we got some satisfaction after watching the ride try to drown them. Anyone familiar with the ride knows that after the big drop, there's a small drop after the turnaround that's entirely uneventful in most rows but is pretty much the god damn Poseidon Adventure in the front. That shut them up real quick. Have fun in the family dryer, d*ckbags.
After Atlantis we headed over to Manta. I absolutely love this ride. The queue is awesome, the scenery around the ride is awesome, the layout is awesome... I could go on for days. This is the star coaster at Sea World.
I firmly believe that Manta is the best coaster in Orlando, does anyone agree?
Well, that was your one photo of a ride. I hope you liked it.
We tried to ride Antarctica after Manta but the line was posted at 45 minutes. It's a well known fact that this ride sucks, but luckily the non-riders line was only 10 minutes so we hopped in. I absolutely love the Antarctica exhibit. The ride is terrible but the exhibit makes up for all of it.
So amazing. So much bird sh*t... We're approaching "Raptor Supports" level of bird sh*t.
On land these penguins walk around like I do when I'm walking out of the bar after last call, but as soon as they jump into the water they're incredibly graceful.
This guy was particularly entertaining.
We were actually pretty short on time despite having the entire day in the park, so for the rest of the day we sort of rushed around. We went through Wild Arctic but didn't have time to do the simulator (which let's be honest isn't a huge loss) and checked out Turtle Trek but without going through the theater (which once again isn't a huge loss).
We also made our way into the shark encounter. I have to say Mako has really breathed some life into this area. What was once really dated is now a very modern, bright and inviting section of the park. I'm thrilled with the new addition and with the way it's transformed the area.
Such a tease...
I'm a shaaaaaaaaaahk I'm a shaaaaaaaaaahk. I'll leave it at that. Whatever you do, don't Google "I'm a Shark".
Welp... the Wild Arctic store is closed. Brit bought everything.
By that point it was about time to leave, but we made one last stop over by the dolphins. You used to be able to reach in and pet them, but because people are unbearable idiots and thought that was an invitation to "pet" their faces or their blowholes and then blame the park when the dolphin lightly nipped them they did away with that. Luckily you could still pet them if they came up on the wall which rarely happened because unlike most of the guests at the park that day, dolphins aren't stupid and they're entirely sick of dealing with stupid people all day.
This guy finally came over and let us pet him. Thanks for taking one for the team. Your dolphin friends all thank you.
After our dolphin encounter it was time to leave. We had a great day at Sea World and highly recommend it to anyone. It has a much more laid back feel than most Florida parks and is underappreciated for how beautiful of a park it actually is. It's a must-do for us on every trip to Florida.
Bye Sea World! Thanks for a great day!
And a few (LOL okay more than a few) margaritas for the flight home!
Last edited by coasterbill on Fri Aug 05, 2016 10:02 am.
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