Walt Disney World, 12/23/06 - 12/29/06

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Walt Disney World, 12/23/06 - 12/29/06

Postby Yoshi » Sat Jan 20, 2007 11:47 pm

This is going to be a somewhat lengthy TR and will be posted in multiple parts. Here is the first part.

Day 1, 12/22/06

I got up at around 7:30 a.m. and we were on the road by 8:00 a.m. Spending the whole day in the car is tiring and boring but with video games, music and movies, it isn't that bad. I did some of the driving as well. We got to Georgia and stopped there for the night.

Day 2, 12/23/06

After having breakfast at the hotel, we continued on the way to Florida and got to Orlando at around 1:30 p.m. We checked into our hotel and the view was great. Outside the hotel window, I could see IOA and Dr. Doom's Freefall Tower and part of the Incredible Hulk. I could also see Wet 'n Wild and the slingshot, drop tower and star flyer at Magic Midway. After unpacking we headed to Epcot.

The lot looked empty which was a good sign. After using the new finger scanning system to get into the park we went to Spaceship Earth. The sign said 10 minute wait but it was a walk on. I like this ride as it's the last classic Epcot dark ride. It's always fun riding to the top of the sphere and then when you are at the top, you turn around and start to tilt backwards.

We went to Innoventions next and walked around for a few minutes and walked to the Universe of Energy. It was closed so we went to Test Track instead. Standby was 30 minutes but the fast pass return time was about 90 minutes later so we got fast passes instead.

I knew Wonders of Life was probably closing permanently after this year and wanted to get 1 last ride on Body Wars. I had seen TR's of the pavilion in the past few weeks and knew it would be empty. As I entered the pavilion, it looked like almost no one was in there, maybe 30 people at most. I went to the Body Wars entrance and saw the posted wait time was 10 minutes. There is an employee at the entrance but no one else around. I entered the queue and started walking through it, I couldn't see anyone ahead of me and no one was behind me so it was very strange to be alone in the queue. I got to the end and a family of 4 was waiting. There was only 1 employee and he was on the phone talking and then when he saw there were people waiting to ride, he told the person he was talking to he had to load the ride and that he had guests (as if he was surprised anyone was there). He lead us to a car and let us right in and skipped the pre-show movie. I am almost certain that we were the only 5 people on the entire ride (not just our car). The video is really showing its age but was still a fun ride. No one in my family wanted to see Cranium Command or The Making of Me so we left and headed to The Universe of Energy.

The ride was back up and running and we got right into the pre-show room. I have Ellen's Energy Adventure a handful of times already so the jokes weren't that funny and I was getting kind of bored with the story. The dinosaur portion of the ride is fun but that's only a fraction of the ride. During the pre-show when it was mentioned that it was a 45 minute attraction, many people left which I never saw happen before.

By this time, it was almost time for our Test Track fastpasses so we went to the exit where the model cars are and looked at the cars until we could enter the fast pass line. I miss World of Motion but I like Test Track more. Of course, my favorite part is the high speed part of the ride though I didn't find it as thrilling as I remembered probably due to being on much more intense coasters since the last time I was at WDW.

After Test Track, we went to the Coca Cola area where you can sample Coca Cola products from around the world. After reading about Beverly online, I had to try it. It was as bad as I expected and after 1 sip, I threw it out. I didn't really like any of the flavors that much but I don't really like carbonated drinks other than cola drinks.

It was getting close to dinner at this point so we went to The Land where they had this great foodcourt. Unfortunately, with the addition of Soarin', the food court was smaller and there weren't as many choices. Most items were pre-made (such as wraps) and it was difficult to special order those pre-made items. It was ok but I wouldn't go back so fast again. Living With The Land was a walk on so we headed there after dinner. I knew that they had gotten rid of speakers on the boat and made the commentary automated and I felt that it took something away from the ride (maybe it's because I have been used to having someone at the front of the boat talking).

After that I went to Soarin', the line was about 30 minutes and it was decided I would try it while my family did some shopping in Future World and I would tell them if I thought they would be ok on it (no one in my family rides simulators or anything that thrilling). I was in the 3rd row and was surprised at how fast the seats raised when the film started. I liked the film itself and how they released scents into the air to go with the film like the pine smell when going over pine trees but the ride left me disoriented and a little dizzy. I felt like that for about 15 minutes after the ride and wasn't expecting that to happen as Body Wars and Star Tours on past trips and Body Wars this day had never given me a problem. I thought I might give it a try later in the week but that didn't happen due to long lines and no fast pass available.

The Living Seas was next (or as they now call it The Seas With Nemo and Friends). The posted wait time was 5 minutes so we went in the building. The beginning of the queue is the same as it used to be but without the items such as an old diving suit. After that room, you enter another room full of switchbacks themed to I think a beach and yet another room of switchbacks themed with plants. I couldn't believe how long of a queue they built for this ride and would hate to be in line thinking you are at the end of a room and at the ride only to go into another room with switchbacks. Finally we got to the ride entrance and boarded the Clam cars.

I am going to describe the ride next so if you haven't been on it yet and don't want anything spoiled about the ride, I suggest skipping this next paragraph.

I was looking forward to trying this new ride because ever since the Sea Cabs were removed from the Living Seas, there was not much incentive to go in there. I didn't like how they used projected images of Nemo and the other characters instead of audio animatronics and the ride felt very repetitive. The section with the angler fish was cool but that was really the only interested part of the ride, I guess because it wasn't a projection. Even at the last part of the ride where Nemo and the other characters were projected onto aquariums was neat at first (but not multiple times like how it is on the ride) but it still felt like something was missing. I'm glad there is a ride now in the Living Seas but it seemed like it was a rush job and could have been done a lot nicer in my opinion. It's a once a trip ride for me and not something I would wait more than 5 - 10 minutes for.

Turtle Talk with Crush was next. I had heard good things about this show and was looking forward to seeing it. I was impressed with how Crush responded to comments and questions instantly. They were only letting the kids ask questions but I would have liked to ask what he thought of turtle soup. Luckily, when Crush asked the audience what humans like to eat, someone behind me yelled out "turtles!" This got Crush a little upset and said how that wasn't cool. I was laughing at that. Although I think everyone will enjoy it, it seems to be something kids would really like more since the show seemed to be focused on kids.

It was getting late at this point and after spending part of the day on the road we were all tired and left the park.

Day 3, 12/24/06

The forecast was calling for rain later in the day so we decided to go to Animal Kingdom today because it is not an all day park and we figured we could see everything we wanted in the park by the end of the afternoon.

Pulling into the lot, it looked rather empty. Even on days when the park is not that crowded, it seems crowded because there aren’t that many walkways and a lot of dead ends in the park. Entering the park it there still weren’t that many people around.

The first ride of the day was Expedition Everest. Standby was 20 minutes and I figured it wasn’t going to get any better so I waited. I was really impressed with how fast they were dispatching the trains. It seemed like from when the gates opened to when the train left the station took around 45 seconds (maybe a little less). They were also running many trains where an empty train came to the station almost right after the last train dispatched. I am guessing 4 or 5 trains were being used but am not 100% sure.

I found the seats very comfortable and thought the lap bars were good as well (somewhat padded and simple). I had seen a POV last winter so I had a general idea of the ride but was still surprised. I didn’t expect the 2nd lift hill to be so fast and there is really a lot to see in that part of the ride with all the art on the walls. I was also not expecting the backwards part to be so forceful. It gave me that drop in your stomach feeling which I haven’t felt on a coaster in a long time. The large drop looks a lot bigger than it seems when you are actually on the ride. The Yeti AA is amazing to see in person. When you enter the room with it, it seems far away but I didn’t realize the track went up and it by the time you get to where the Yeti is, it seems like you are so close to it.

Overall I felt it was a great ride but I didn’t get that blown away feeling like I have after riding some other coasters for the first time. I think it’s a perfect fit for the park as it’s more thrilling than most other WDW coasters (except Rock N Roller Coaster) yet not that intense so those who only ride tamer coasters can still enjoy the ride. I decided to ride again since the line was so short.

After Everest we headed to Africa to get fast passes for the Safari. While waiting for the fast pass time we did some of the walk through trails with animals. They are fun to kill some time but I couldn’t see walking through these trails if you didn’t have that much time in the park or lines were much longer. While I think the Safari is a lot of fun, it isn’t that exciting to me as I had gone through the drive through Safari at Great Adventure over Labor Day weekend. The Safari at Great Adventure has more animals and some animals walk right up to your car so you are only a foot away or less from animals such as ostriches and camels. The ride vehicles are great and since we were in the last row we actually got some air time on the bumpier parts of the ride. I also like that it’s a long ride compared to most rides at WDW so you have a while to get off your feet and rest.

Next we went to It’s Tough To Be a Bug. Standby was 5 minutes which I have never seen before and just shows how empty the park was. I always enjoy the 3D shows at Disney but once you have seen them, the novelty kind of wears off especially when you know what is going to happen. I always like at the end of the show how they announce for everyone to stay seated so the bugs can exit the theater first and then you feel the fake bugs (the bumps on the seats) moving on the seat and everyone starts screaming.

We wanted to see Finding Nemo The Musical but it was having technical difficulties and they cancelled all the shows for the day. That was disappointing but we would get to see the show later in the trip.

We decided to head to Dinoland USA next. Seeing that Dinosaur had a 40 minute wait I grabbed a fastpass for that and we went to the other section of the area. Primeval Whirl had a posted time of 20 minutes but due to not many people fastpassing the ride, they were letting a lot of standby people on the fastpass track so the wait was a little less than 15 minutes. Despite this ride being a clone found at parks all over, this is the only park I have ever ridden the ride as there are none in my area (well Steel Pier has one but anyone who has been there probably knows why I would never want to go there to ride anything). Unfortunately, the car was mostly balanced so the car didn’t get that many spins but it was good enough. I also noticed the non spinning hair pin turns didn’t seem that intense compared to the Wild Mouse at Dorney.

Triceratops Spin was next since it was only a 5 minute wait. I really think these rides are overdone at WDW and wish they would have gotten something more unique but it seems to be popular with families.

After lunch at McDonald’s where only half the restaurant was open which I have never seen before, it was time to head to Dinosaur. I didn’t remember the ride being so bumpy and though I remembered the car tilting up more when it stops when you encounter one of the dinosaurs but maybe it was because I was in the last row this time and usually am in the 1st or 2nd rows.

Festival of the Lion King was starting in about 30 minutes after that so we headed to Camp Mickey Minnie and stopped to get a picture with Goofy since there was no line for that. I’m not much of a show person but Festival of the Lion King is very well done and I especially liked the tumbling monkeys routine.

It was around 3:00 at this point and we had seen everything we wanted to in the park (except Nemo) but I wanted to try to get another ride on Everest before we left. This time the standby line was posted at 40 minutes but they were using the single rider line so I got in that line and was on the ride in a little less than 15 minutes. After my 3rd ride on Everest, the ride was starting to grow on me and I liked it even more than my first 2 rides.

After Animal Kingdom we went to Downtown Disney. I’m not going to write about the shopping but I just want to mention something I noticed about the pricing in the stores. I know you are not going to find any deals on merchandise on Disney property but on a lot of video games in World of Disney and Team Mickey’s, they were charging $5 - $10 over the MSRP. I can see them charging full retail but I was shocked to see games that sell for $49.99 in every store (and sometimes less when on sale) being sold for $59.99. It also down poured while we were at Downtown Disney so we were lucky the rain held off until we were done with the park.

I was glad that we didn’t encounter crowds today and was very happy to finally get on a coaster after almost 2 months of being into the offseason.

Day 4, 12/25/06

MGM Studios

Today the forecast was calling for 70 – 80% chance of rain and it was supposed to rain all day. Had we not gotten 7 day park passes and had reservations in the park today for dinner, we probably would have not gone to a park today. We wanted to get to the park early to try to get in as much as possible before the rain started.

The park was somewhat empty when we arrived, probably because everyone wants to go to the Magic Kingdom on Christmas for the parade that is shown on TV.

The first ride of the day was The Great Movie Ride. The line was only in the last theater room and the wait was a little over 5 minutes. They were only loading the back cars running at half capacity which I sort of understand as if they loaded at full capacity, the cars would be probably going out with tons of empty rows. It’s a fun ride but I have been on it so many times that it isn’t that exciting anymore. The parts with the live actors are always fun but we always seem to get the Gangster scene rather than the Western scene. I also found the hidden Mickey and Donald in the Raiders of the Lost Ark scene which I was not able to find last time.

After The Great Movie Ride we went to see Lights Motor Action! Extreme Stunt Show because in the event it rained, we wanted to make sure we saw it (since there was a chance it could be cancelled if it stormed later in the day). We arrived about 35 minutes early thinking it would fill up fast but the arena never got completely full. This show is amazing and probably my favorite show at WDW. I had known ahead of time how they did the backwards driving but learning how they did the other tricks were really interesting. It was just so amazing to see that kind of stunt driving in person and with the jet skis and motorcycles it added some variety as well. It started raining during the show and they did not perform 1 act (I can’t remember what it is) but since the arena was somewhat covered it wasn’t too bad.

It was raining on and off at this point so we went to Muppetvision 3D. There was no line right into the pre-show room. This is my favorite 3D show at Disney because it was the first one I remember seeing and really watching it (I did see Magic Journeys at the Magic Kingdom but hardly remember anything about it other than a few scenes) and because I used to watch the Muppets when I was younger. Great show as usual.

I wanted to stop at Pizza Planet quickly to play the DDR USA machine since it has a lot of songs that you cannot find on the newer DDR machines in the arcade. The pads were in ok shape, but could have been better. An employee came over and was impressed (he said something to me after I was done playing) which made me think not many good players stop at the machine as I was only playing 7 footer songs (didn’t want to get overheated playing anything more difficult). There were a lot of interesting games in the arcade that I would have liked to have tried but I didn’t want to take the time to play games as the rides were more important.

After having lunch at the Commissary, the skies opened up and it down poured. We went to the Magic of Disney Animation since it was indoors. Everyone else had the same idea as the line got crowded a few minutes after we got in line. I think the tour is very disappointing as there is no animation being done there anymore so you don’t get to see animators at work like you used to. It was still a fun way to kill some time though. It was still raining so we went to see Voyage of the Little Mermaid next. Other than the Under The Sea part of the show with the black lighting, I don’t care too much for the show.

Seeing that One Man’s Dream was right down the path, we went to that next. The museum part of the exhibit is always interesting but they had some parts covered like the layout of Peter Pan’s Flight from Disneyland. The film was interesting to see the first time but this was my 3rd time seeing it and was a little boring remembering most of it.

The rain was starting to let up a little so we were going to see Beauty and the Beast next. Before going to the theater, I grabbed a fast pass for Rock N Rollercoaster. I haven’t seen the show in a few years and it’s impressive since it’s broadway style and with all the actors and actresses on stage with so much going on the stage at once (dancing, the costumed characters and the backgrounds) it is always fun to watch.

After Beauty and the Beast I wanted to try the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. I had just started to ride drop towers in September so I was a little nervous about the ride but after riding Dominator at Dorney 9 times in 1 day I figured I would have no problems handling the ride. The posted wait time was 20 minutes but I walked right into the pre-show room followed by about a 5 minute wait in the boiler room. The first thing I noticed about the cars was how cramped they were. There wasn’t much leg room and being somewhat tall and sitting in between 2 other tall people, there wasn’t much room.

I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the ride other than seeing the car drop from the top of the tower where you look out into the park. I was surprised when the doors opened on the first floor and the ghost family appeared but not as surprised as I was when the car moved out and starting going forwards at the next stop. I had no idea the car moved on any type of track. I also was not expecting the drops to be the way they were. I had though the drops would be 13 stories but seemed very short and not intense. I barely got that stomach drop feeling that I get on the Turbo Drop side of Dominator. I didn’t think the ride was bad or anything, just different than what I expected. We got 4 drops as well.

By this time, it was time to go to Rock N Rollercoaster. The standby was posted at 30 minutes so I thought with fastpass, there would be a minimal wait. By the time the fastpass line got into the building, waiting through the switchbacks in the building and got through the preshow room, it was close to 20 minutes. I was surprised at this as I know fastpass doesn’t guarantee you will get on the ride right away (it says little to no waiting) and I have waited 15 minutes on past trips to WDW for rides like Space Mountain when the standby was over 100 minutes but it didn’t seem right for the fastpass line to be almost 2/3 as long of a wait time as the standby line. I think the problem was they were letting too many standby people in at once. It wasn’t a big deal but I thought it should be mentioned.

I was also nervous about Rock N Rollercoaster as I had never been on a launched coaster before and on past trips to Hershey, had not wanted to try Storm Runner. I figured that this was a good launch coaster to get started with since it was only 57 mph and didn’t sound that intense. Years ago it was the inversions that stopped me from trying Rock N Roller coaster but that wasn’t an issue anymore as I love inversions now.

The limo pulled up and I was assigned row 9 (I wish you could wait for any row you wanted but all Disney coasters seem to be like this). I pulled the restraint down as far as I could since after the op at Morey’s stapled me in on the boomerang I had little to no head banging and figured it would work well here too (though I hadn’t heard many complaints about this coaster being rough). As they counted down for the launch I wished we could launch already since the anticipation was probably going to be worse than the actual launch. Once I actual felt the launch it was powerful but not as forceful as I expected. I thought the inside of the ride building was cool with all the lights and signs but the only one I really remember is going through the Hollywood sign.

Overall, I thought the ride was a lot of fun but my shoulders hurt a little after the ride probably because I had the restraint too tight. The ride seemed a little on the short side but that was probably because there was no lift hill.

After Rock N Rollercoaster we went to the Prime Time Café where we had dinner reservations. I really do not like this restaurant as I am a somewhat quiet person and kind of shy (and don’t like calling attention to myself) and as anyone who has been to this restaurant knows, that’s kind of difficult here. Everyone else in my family likes the place though so I figured I would deal with it. From the waitress or waiter telling you “no elbows on the table” or them asking you to set the table as your “chores” if you don’t want to get in trouble, you have to follow all the rules. Someone at a table near us didn’t finish their food so everyone in the room was instructed to yell to them “Shame on you.” Someone else didn’t finish their vegetables and they played the “airplane game” to make them finish their food.

After everyone was finishing dinner, the plan was to see Fantasmic next. I had not yet been to Star Tour so it was decided I would leave a few minutes early and meet up with my family at a store near the Fantasmic entrance. Star Tours had a posted wait time of 10 minutes but the actual line only had about 10 people in it and I was boarding a car within 3 minutes. This is probably my favorite simulator that I have been on despite never seeing Star Wars. It’s somewhat intense but not intense enough to make me dizzy.

We got to Fantasmic about 30 minutes early which isn’t too bad since in past visits during this week, if you didn’t get there an hour or more before the show started, you were shut out as it was filled to capacity despite some nights having as many as 3 shows. It was drizzling on and off they made an announcement that the show was possibly cancelled tonight. This was disappointing as we were not planning to come back to MGM this trip so if we missed the show tonight, we wouldn’t get to see it this trip. Luckily, the show went on but had about a 5 minute delay. Fantasmic is very impressive with the projections onto the water and the fire effects. I wanted to ride Rock N Rollercoaster again so I planned to leave Fantasmic a few minutes before the show ended to beat the crowd out of the amphitheater and hopefully get on the ride with little to no wait. The plan worked as there was no wait to get into the building and only about a 5 minute wait to get into the pre-show room. This time I asked if I could wait for the front despite it being an extra 2 train wait and the grouper said I could wait for the front. Normally I won’t wait longer for the front of a ride except for B&M inverts but because they load the cars so quickly and were running so many trains it was only an extra 2 – 3 minute wait. I didn’t pull the restraint down as far this time and had a much better ride.

I met up with my family at one of the stores and we headed out of the park. It was another great day with minimal crowds but as the next section will show (which will be posted when I am done writing it), that was unfortunately about to come to an end.
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