This past week I finally got to see Nicole again and take her to some parks at the same time. She hadn't been to WDW since she was 8, so there was a lot of stuff to do, more stuff than a typical Derek trip to Florida would allow, so we extended it at a time when she wouldn't have to worry about work or school, her (and pretty much all of Texas and Ontario's) Spring Break.
Part 1: Animal Kingdom
Disney's newest park looks really pretty, but its small pathways and lack of rides made it really seem crowded and not worth much time. Then they built Expedition Everest, giving the park much attention that it needed. We managed to get on every attraction, but since we had lots of other stuff to do, we skipped the exploration trails. We saw 2 groups win prizes, but we were not among them.
Welcome to DAK. Just before opening it doesn't look too crowded
And hooray for Disney, they actually opened the gates early so there wasn't a giant chaotic crowd trying to get thru all at the same time (and every entrance was opened)
On the way to the main hub you'll encounter some animals, like these blue macaws
Big fake tree, home of Tough to be a Bug
First stop of the day is Expedition Everest, which looks beautiful in the morning fog
On the way we pass the future sitdown restaurant, which the park direly needs in order to keep people in its gates all day
The Kilimanjaro Safari used to be the big draw in the park, but it was walk-on now thanks to EE
On the safari we encountered many deadly animals, like these rhinos, who looked pretty dead
James, these hippos say hi
Lots of tall grass and animals in the safari plain area
Wes, this giraffe is for you
and she brought her little one out to say hi to you too. There's some cord blood saved for you ;)
These are elephants, not ACErs (it's ok if you were mistaken, I was too at first!)
Fresh out of Flaming o land we see these lawn ornaments
Wow, I think this is the first time I ever saw a male lion actually move
Safari done we ran to Dinosaur. Hi Dave, you missed all the confusion again. That IS our dino.
Nicole's first credit of 2007, Primeval Whirl. The other side opened shortly after 11
OMG, Celebrity sighting! No one told me Flava Flav was gonna be herr today, foshizzle
It was finally time to use our EE fastpasses, after a rare shot with Nicole
Yeti was working, but no bird on a stick this day
EE isn't extreme, but it is fun and very good for Disney and families. Nicole wanted to ride again, good thing for single rider line. Best idea ever!
Oh no, Lou! Looks like Yetiball is cheating on you
Next up, Kali River Rapids, only like the 3rd rapids ride Nicole has ever been on
At least we didn't get soaked during the big drop
though we did get slightly wet from some of the other effects
We's be rolling with a giant dung ball. Word!
On the way out we found the bird on a stick and his backup
After Animal Kingdom we headed over to Epcot to conclude our day. Nicole had been here before, but that was a long time ago, and some things had actually changed since then. The biggest goal was to get her on Maelstrom, a ride she didn't find when she was 8, as well as all the more recent E-tickets there. In the end we managed to do everything except Soarin, which had like an 80 minute wait and no more fastpasses.
Spaceship Earth, the symbol of Epcot, with a horrid wand sticking out of it. Dumb
Spaceship Earth got a new sponsor finally, hehe Siemens
Mission Space actually had a wait (like 30 minutes) thanks to the new option of not moving
But we chose orange to try and impress Gary more
Afterwards it was time for some free soda. Smart Watermelon ruled, but Nicole didn't even care about Beverly. Maybe her tastebuds were destroyed by hops.
Next up was The Seas with Nemo with a ride so much better and longer than those Hydrolators
Hooray for 10 minute waits to see buffalo, prairie dogs, and greenhouses vs 80 minute waits to see California
I wonder what Nicole is thinking about with those giant cucumbers
Journey, still not as good as it was back in the 80s
Poor Wonders of Life. Apparently life isn't that important to Disney
Finally it's time for Nicole to experience Test Track
Time for some environmental tests. Put up 2, 5, and 7. 7? Yeah, 7
This is in Mouse Gears, anyone know what it is and where it comes from?
Time for some World Showcase action. First up, Mexico
As of now it's still called the Rio Del Tiempo
Though there's now a wall up separating the restaurant from the ride
Oooh, Viking church, we must be in Norway
Hooray for Maelstrom, Valhalla's grandpa (and almost as confusing as Dinosaur, just not as dark)
China still doesn't have its theater facade finished
No Soeren for us today, I know he's still in California
The boat, a good way to get to the back of the World Showcase without walking
The American Adventure, home to good beer in November, and a "woot, go America" show year round
We're in Japan, just like Wally!
Which can only mean it's time for dinner! Hooray for them postponing the rehab until after my trip
I always prefer entertainment that feeds you too
So far this makes 2 Japanese steakhouse visits for Nicole this year, 2 more than she's ever had before
While Japan may not have a ride, it does have some of the best entertainment
Time to check out the pub, see if we run into Lou
No Lou, but I did find some Double Deckers!
and to end our first night, time for some fire, earth, and water
Part 3: Universal Studios We took a break from Disney on Monday to hit up USF and IOA. Figuring it would be crowded, we opted for the Universal Express for IOA, at $20 a person a great deal. But before we went to IOA, we swung by USF to rack up the coaster credits there, as well as check out some of their other rides. Plus we got a special bonus.
Obligatory shot in front of the globe
First ride of the day, Revenge of the Mummy. With no wait, we managed 2 rides in no time at all. One of the best indoor coasters ever
With no wait, we also managed to hit Jaws, just to see its old and stupidness
At least it has fire, that gets some points
Darnit, I didn't bring the marshmellows
Old and stupid
MiB, the best shooting ride ever. So nice we'll ride it twice...together, because we're not sad and pathetic
And since I know it's on the way out, better take her on BTTF
They never did bother putting the other 1/2 the DeLoreans back in
If you want to ride this, you better hurry, only a few weeks left, then you're outatime
Ryan, this pounds for you!
One final credit at USF, Woody Woodpecker
I told Nicole she could ride in the handicapped seat, but she wasn't naive enough to believe me
The old Hard Rock Cafe, are they EVER going to do something with this??
I guess this is why they call him Woody Woodpecker
You can grope my girl, just give me the pizza
Woohoo, TPR stop
Fiona in a Donkey Show
Finally, to end our Universal Studios time, we went over to check out the BMG theater
Here comes our design team tour guide to give us a behind the scenes tour, but I wasn't allowed to take pictures. It's gonna be the best BMG show Florida has ever seen!
IOA is a park I've been going to since it first opened. What may very well be the most beautifully themed park in the US has been on a gradual decline in the past couple of years, with slow employees, 1 train operations, and inconsistencies with regard to policies. Luckily for us we saw almost none of that on this trip, with the exception of ridiculous lines to get into the park thanks to the whole fingerprint scan for people with more than 1 day, and 1 train operation on Dragons for the last 2 hours of the night.
The lighthouse welcomes us to one of the nicest parks in the US
And so, our adventure begins. Will we get on every ride? With the Express passes we should
First stop, Dueling Dragons, two of the best and more forceful B&M inverts out there
Because she's not a NonGerman, Nicole had no problem waiting a few extra trains for a front seat ride on Ice, the best place to experience the ride for the first time
The vertical loop duel is just Red Dawn Awesome
And the castle queue is an attraction in itself, except it gets annoying walking thru it constantly for rerides if re-entry is closed
After both sides of Dragons it was time for Flying Unicorn, also with no wait yet
2 trains on a rollerskater, now that's efficient, and with an enthused staff to boot
I just can't see this being remodeled into Harry Potter, I like it the way it is
Evil sarcastic fountains rule. I could see Dave having this job, and loving it!
Lunchtime, that means Mythos. Voted the best theme park restaurant for like 93 years by some Orlando based theme park website
Again, no balsamic chicken nor mozzarella salad
I went with the blueberry and pistachio crusted pork. It was pretty tasty
Obligatory shot of Marvel Superhero Island from Mythos' patio
I finally had a chance to ride the Seuss Trolley. Cute stuff, but the wait was horrible
Nicole enjoyed the CaroSeussEl mainly because she got to play with her fish
Speaking of fish, whats up with 1 Fish 2 Fish and how the song doesn't work to keep you dry anymore??
The Cat In the Hat was cute as usual, but still had the usual stuff broken inside
It's been too long since I've had a vertical loop update
and now, ultra exclusive...B&M wheels!
Nicole hated Spiderman until she rode it. I think she still hates it, but respects it a little more now
Doom still delivered a good pop of air
Next, we changed around and did the waterride tour
First up, Bilge Rat Barges, one of the wettest rapids out there if all the effects are on
and yeah, they were on
No one was dry by the middle of the ride
and of course, it's always a blast to shoot people for free
I thought Colin's car was in the shop, not at the park!
Another view of Hulk, which was fun but kinda vibratey
Next on the water ride tour, Ripsaw Falls, another super wet ride, with great airtime on the drop
Finally, Jurassic Park, which was the driest of the 3. And yup, still only 1 T-rex and 1 Ultrasaur
In the end, we were pretty wet, but it felt nice in the hot Florida sun
Time for some fun in the caves of Camp Jurassic
No Pteranodon Flyers for Nicole on this trip, maybe some day
Yay for cargo nets of doom
Camp Jurassic is lots of fun to explore
Everyone feels like a kid here with some cool theming and slides
Nicole even got to meet Jeff's old girlfriend!
It's getting late, time to head back to Dragons
These dudes are part of the Universal Express queue that was added recently, taking the place of the dungeon scene after Merlin's final warning
And with the sun setting, we decided to head out, we had accomplished everything at the park and had a few more stops yet for the night
Part 5: Magical Midway, All-Star Movies, and Boma!
Seeing how I never got a chance to ride a Starflyer before, we used this opportunity to hit the one at Magical Midway right on I-Drive. Afterwards we headed to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for an awesome dinner at Boma before checking into our Disney hotel, the All Star Movies. Normally I don't like staying at the All Star resorts, but the price was right and I knew we really wouldn't be spending too much time at the hotel because we had so much to do at the parks.
Magical Midway; arcade games, gocarts, a few flats, a slingshot, and now a StarFlyer
It looks really cool, but kinda scary. Does this carni like place really maintain it??
Definitely a fun ride with a great view, though kinda scary with just dinky litle chains holding you up
Even at dusk, you can see lots of stuff thanks to Florida's flatness. I think I even see the cop who gave me a ticket!
Boma, an African inspired buffet at the Animal Kingdom Lodge
Lots of stuff to choose from, and all of it good, even if you can't pronounce the name
Round 1 for me, prime rib with 3 different sauces, saffron rice, spicy potato wedges, cous cous, falafel balls, and cornbread. With apple vinegarette salad
oh yeah, and my 1 and only beer of the trip, Safari Amber brewed just for Animal Kingdom by Anheuser Busch
Round 2, more prime rib, mango vinegarette salad, some crackers with sauce, and peanut butter and jelly
Round 3, the soup experience. Apples, green peppers, and chicken, and a wild mushroom soup
and finally look at all these desserts!
We both ate like a bunch of ACErs and felt sick for a few hours until the food digested
Getting to the hotel we were greeted by not so hidden mickey towels
We stayed in the Toy Story area, home of a giant Buzz that's taller than even Casey!
Across the way was Woody and others
The tops and sides were themed to the soldiers from the movies
And I took RC out for a spin late at night
We didn't have time for the pool on this trip, but it looked like fun. The nicest thing now about the All Stars is that they finally each have their own buses, not just 1 for all of them
The heart and soul of Disney World is MK. While the park was crowded, thanks to the knowledge of Fastpass, we managed to get on everything we had wanted, and more. The only things we skipped were the animatronic shows, the rides on a stick, and the Indy Speedway. Plus we got a special bonus!
Yay! Nicole is back at the Magic Kingdom, and this one doesn't have a big tarp in front of it like Disneyland does right now WDW 1-DL 0
One really pretty castle, much more breathtaking than DLs. WDW 2-DL 0
That special bonus? Yup, the Laugh Floor was in preview mode when we arrived
And that means lots of pictures of the most amazing queue ever!
They've got banners hung up
Mike was in the show too! But not Big Mike, he's still in Jersey
The show wasn't too long this time, unlike what I've heard in the past. Only about 15-20 minutes
I believe they actually used a text in the show this time too
Don't you just love this queue with all the banners!?
Nicole was sure amazed by it. She says "it's queuerrific!"
It was a cute show, not overly funny, but it's kinda hard to make jokes that both adults and kids find amusing
There were like 4 acts in the show, each of them lasting like 4 minutes or so
While not the most amazing thing ever, it's better than just an empty show building
Because you can never get enough shots of this attraction, here's one with my finger in it!
Then it was over to Adventureland after picking up Space Mt fastpasses. Dole Whip here I come!
If I had a beer in my other hand, I'd be the happiest man ever
And argh! Yup, Disney World's Dole Whips still give brainfreeze
For our final day, we hit up the Studios, another park that you can do most stuff in a short amount of time if you plan it right. I don't know what happened, but this park was extremely crowded, with Tower and Coaster both having fastpass return times of like 3pm by 10:30am, and standby waits posted at 60-80 minutes. Still, we managed to get both rides in, as well as some other stuff.
Disney MGM Studios, our final park on our final day of the trip
With all his hospitality, Reed now has himself a fangirl. Shame we didn't get to spend more time with him and Stacy.
Hooray for good tower!
Wow, that looks like a bad line!
80 minute standby??? Fastpass return at 5pm??? It's only 10:30!
Luckily the real queue is still not in use, so the wait wasn't that bad. Only took us about 30 minutes, not the posted 80
Who would have thought Vekoma could make a smooth coaster
Great Movie Ride had a 40 minute wait, no thanks
And when was the last time you saw the Endor queue used at Star Tours?
Storm Troopers kept popping up at various points in the line
Artoo and Threepio are searching for a Jedimaster and the lightsaber of justice for a special food delivery mission to Master Yoda on Dagobah
Even Vader showed up in line, though sadly no Jedi chicks did
This really reminds me of when this ride first opened and actually had a line because it was like the only ride in the park!
Of course, we had to see Muppets. I wish they'd make a comeback
and since we were hungry and it was Elissa's birthday, we ate at Mama Melrose's just for her
and I had some tomato and mozzarella in her honor
and we both got awesome flatbread pizzas. Nicole got chicken
and I got tomato
We didn't have enough time to see the stunt show. Make sure you grab a show schedule when you get into the park to make sure you don't miss a show you want to see, they run at weird times
Millionaire is no more, it's been gutted for F***ing Mania!
thru the cracks we see markers!
We managed 2 rides on Tower thanks to some kids who threw out some fastpasses they had that "expired" an hour earlier. Thanks kids for throwing your garbage in the queue!
and as the parade was ending, so was our time at Disney
Mission complete. Now hopefully Nicole will go back sooner than every 16 years so we don't have to do everything and take have some relaxation time :D
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