December 28-30, 2019
When Disney bought Star Wars from George Lucas, I was excited. Super excited. I like what they’d done with Marvel, and they were integrating Marvel properties when and where they could at the parks. And since they already had Star Wars in the parks, I knew we’d get more. And eventually, yes. Disney announced the obvious, that new Star Wars themed lands would be coming in the next few painfully long years to both Hollywood Studios and Disneyland to cover both the east and west coast parks. I’d been excited for the parks to open ever since.
And now here it was. The parks had opened their new lands, and the piece de resistance of the parks, Rise of the Resistance, would open in Florida first. Several of my friends went to the lands soon after they opened, but I’d wanted to wait for Rise before heading to Batuu.
My sister and her family moved to Orlando nearly a decade ago and I’ve visited during December now three years in a row, hitting up parks whilst there. In 2017 I went to SeaWorld & the Fun Spots for the first time. In 2018 I spent two days at Universal as there had been so much added in the nearly 10 years I’d visited. But this year, I only had one park on my agenda. I knew it would be super crowded. Typically I would never think of visiting a Disney World park during one of the busiest times of the year. But since my only goal was to ride the two new Star Wars themed rides and spend time exploring the new land, I wasn’t as concerned about the long waits that I knew would greet me at the park.
I had waffled on whether I wanted to go or not, and in fact a few days before I had planned to leave, I came down with a cold. But on Friday December 27 I was feeling a little better so I left work, packed up, and headed to Savannah GA for the nite after a 4 hour drive with a stop at Culvers in Charlotte for Dinner. Traffic moved well and eventually I made it to the motel.
Tokyo Disneyland | Yokohama Cosmoworld | Photos | Videos
September 23, 2017
Tokyo & Yokohama Japan
The next morning we got up early and made our way to Disneyland. It was our last day in Japan and I knew it was likely to be busy at Tokyo Disneyland, but we pressed on. The morning was overcast. We ate breakfast outside of the park at the train station before heading over to Ikspiari and then the front gate. When you enter there’s no familiar hill with a train station for you to pass under, but immediately you are standing on a covered version of Main Street U.S.A. called World Bazaar (Still not sure why the covered main streets are all the rage in Japan, but it does cover you from the rain). The castle in the distance, however, is all too familiar.
The park was already quite busy and it was just opening. We made our way to the right first to their version of Tomorrowland (or, more aptly titled, we-need-to-upgrade-it-all land). Tokyo’s Tomorrowland has the familiar Space Mountain building as its centerpiece, and we were able to snag a fast pass for Space Mountain for later. But it also has a version of Star Tours that never seemed busy (I’m not a fan of those types of motion rides so we never bothered), Stitch Encounter (Stitch is pretty big in Japan, but again, I’m not going to wait for 2 hours for a ride I’m not crazy about and have ridden in the states), Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblasters (which is fun, but had a long wait and no Fast Passes), and a version of the twirling rockets, though they’re being removed soon for their version of New Fantasy Land. This part of the park is in desperate need of a make over. It was very dated and it needs at least one new E-Ticket level attraction.
One ride that I’ve heard is nothing short of amazing though, and had yet to reach a 90 minute wait time, was Pooh’s Honey Hunt So we got in line with 82 minutes to wait. The queue is very well done, mostly outdoors. They should incorporate the queue entertainment from the ride at Magic Kingdom. Having said that…
September 22, 2017
Because of the weather we had to push the two Disney parks to the end of the trip. This was less than optimal because once the weekend hits, these rather busy parks become extremely busy. But other parks and attractions were affected by weather and Friday & Saturday called for rain, which I knew wouldn’t affect Disney nearly as much. On Friday morning, we slept a little later than planned. It was a much needed rest, but eventually we made our way to the Tokyo Disney Resort by around 11am to spend the day at Tokyo DisneySea. It meant taking a train to Hanieda airport where we had lunch, then a bus directly to the Disneyland resort.
I was afraid since we’d let the morning get away from us, and it was a Friday, that wait times would be unbearable at DisneySea but we actually lucked out for the day. We headed from Ispiari, their version of a Disneyfied shopping district, to the ticket booth at DisneySea, then into the entry plaza. Once we passed under Hotel Miracosta, I was just in awe of the entire place. The entrance was nothing like I’d seen at a Disney park, but once inside everything is just so… amazing. A high level of detail goes in to everything. It is absolutely astounding.
Our first destination was Port Discovery as we headed over to our first ride, Aquatopia. This ride uses RFID pucks to guide water based vehicles around in a very shallow pool (6 inches deep or less) spinning, stopping, and swinging around rocks, waterfalls, and whirlpools. I anticipated a multi hour long wait, but it was only 25 minutes, so we got in line. Aquatopia was really a lot of fun!
March 19, 2015
Walt Disney World Resort
On Thursday I slept in a little and then headed back down to Orlando to Rob’s apartment for more Disney fun. We should have went to Animal Kingdom for a bit, but I was planning to go on Friday. Unfortunately I overslept Friday as I was going to have my nephew drop me off on his way to work, but oh well. Our first stop for the day was Epcot. I wanted to try some different Coke products so we went to the Club Cool pavilion to try everything. I still loved mezzo mix, and I still don’t hate Beverly. Up next was Test Track.
This was my first time riding since they completely redid the inside of the ride. We got in the single rider line. That was all fine and dandy, but unfortunately a large group of obnoxious teens got in line behind us. Normally I don’t complain, but these kids were obnoxious and spend the 30+ minutes in line bumping up against everyone else in line, among other things. It was annoying. Finally, Rob and I got to ride.
Test Track-I really liked the changes they made as the update looked very modern and very obviously Tron-esq. I’m glad the ride was updated instead of altered. I didn’t get to do any major customization to my ‘car’ because we were limited in the single rider line, but oh well, I’d rather not have waited the extra hour. The experience wasn’t much different, but it did feel much more futuristic.
March 17, 2015
Walt Disney World Resort
My second full Disney day was spent at the Studios park. I’d never spent the entire day there. But this time I’d get it all crammed in. Who says it isn’t a full day park? I paid my money to park and took the tram to the front of the park. Once inside I did what I meant to do the day before, and picked up a Magic Band, which was really nifty. One of the first things I did was to head to Star Tours, which was down last time as they changed over to the then current version. It was about a 30 minute wait.
Star Tours-I’d ridden the original version of the ride at Disneyland in 2005. I’m really not into most motion sims as they tend to make me sick. Mission Space the previous day did a number because it was so intense, and even though it was very well done, Star Tours made me queasy. The 3D effects just don’t work that well for me, I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve had Lazik or what, but overall it was still a solid attraction. Its just not one that I’ll be re-riding muc, even with the random changes. We got the Hoth mission.
I couldn’t get a fast pass for Midway Mania, which is a shame as I love the ride, and I didn’t get to ride it on this visit. I did, however, get to test out the slow motion video capture on my iPhone 6 Plus at Lights, Motors, Action! This was the first time I’d seen the show. It was packed, and it was really well done. I’d heard the rumors that it would be ripped out soon, so I’m glad I was able to ride as that ended up proving true.
March 15, 2015
Walt Disney World Resort
I love Disney World. I had plans. Grand plans. And a 5 day Park Hopper pass. Well, a 3 day pass with 2 extra days thrown in as a special. I ended up not going but 3 days and I never got to Animal Kingdom. I still missed that safari, darn it! But, well, that’s what happens when you have family with you on vacation. But I’m not complaining too much as I got to spend some great time with parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. Oh, and friends. And lastly, our Mouse Overlord.
Early Monday morning my nephew dropped me off at Magic Kingdom on his way to work. I walked over and traded my ticket for a card/ticket. I was going to ride the monorail over, but the boat was going over, which I’ve never done, and the sun was still rising, and it was a beautiful morning for a beautiful ride to the Magic Kingdom in the distance. I really enjoyed it. I was at the park just after 8am. After a few pix (Yes, and a selfie or 2 by the castle), I headed to the one ride that has escaped me on both coasts. I had a not very needed fast pass, but there was no one in this area of the park, so I excitedly walked right on to…
Splash Mountain–Finally! Every time I’ve been to a Disney park, it’s been closed. But it was lots of fun. It’s a dark ride, a flume, and it’s themed to Song of the South. Now, I know all about the racial undertones that Disney would love you to forget, but in context, I actually enjoyed seeing the movie as a kid with my dad the last time they released it in theaters, and I’ve always wanted to ride this. Now I have. It was worth it.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios | Photos | Videos
January 16, 2011
Walt Disney World Resort FL
We arrived at the Studios early. I mean, way early. Well before the park let guests in. And Bill and Jill got there early too. The reason? Toy Story Midway Mania. Everyone said it’s one of the best, if not the best, ride ever built. Not only does it see 2 hours lines on slow days, but hour plus waits just to get a fastpass to ride later! We were prepared. Bill took our tickets and planned to rush to the fastpass dispensers, while we followed with the crowd and headed to the line. This worked out well for us because we were able to get fastpasses valid after 12:30, and were able to get in line right as they opened it for a 20 minute wait. Would Toy Story Mania be that great?
Well, before I go into that, I just want to say that on my only visit to Disneyland, Buzz Lightyear’s interactive dark ride had just opened and it was commanding lines and the same kind of hype. I opted out of riding since the line was so long the day I was there, yet people said it was the greatest thing ever. They said the same thing about Soarin’ over California, but I found that ride to be very meh. Would Toy Story live up to the hype?
Toy Story Midway Mania-This was the best interactive dark ride ever! It was so simple! Disney needs to build 2 more of these in the park just to handle the capacity (well, they’d eventually add another one to this park)! It was so much fun, and yet so simple! You shoot your cannon of darts, pies, etc. at stuff in 3D. It was way too much fun to describe, but it definitely did not disappoint. And everyone else thought so too, as when we exited the line the standby line was already 2 hours, less than 30 minutes after the park even opened, and the fast pass line was around an hour wait. That meant less people in line for everything else!
January 15, 2011
Walt Disney World FL
In the thirty years I’d been alive, I’d never ‘really’ been to Disney World. I’d been to Florida a couple of times, and even went to Downtown Disney once. I had been to Disneyland in 2005, which was my first Disney park experience. I’d tried to fit Disney World in on so many occasions, so many different ways, but finally I was talked into a 3 day weekend to at least get there and try it out.
On Saturday morning January 15, 2011 I flew out of Charlotte with a layover in Atlanta, where I met up with a former co-worker who was going to Disney with her family as well. Then around 11:00 AM, my plane touched down in Orlando. Matt, who’d made all of the plans and reservations, was already there and on his way to Animal Kingdom to meet up with Bill & Jill. Since he had our packet of information, I had to wait in a long line just to get the ticket to ride the free Magical Express bus. I was hot and sweaty. Yeah, I wasn’t in the best of moods, but, hey! I was going to Disney World!
Once I got my ticket the wait for a bus wasn’t very long at all, and the bus was nice and air-conditioned. I didn’t have much in the way of luggage, just 2 small overnight bags. I arrived at the Coronado Springs Resort in the early afternoon to find a very pleasant resort that I was almost sad I wouldn’t get to enjoy as most of my time would be spent at the parks. The resort had a beautiful lake situated in the middle of it. I rushed into the gift shop to buy necessities (a tooth brush, mouth wash, Speed Stick, and of course, Mouse Ears!) and headed to the Concierge desk to pick up my room key/ticket and information.
Magic Kingdom | Photos |
January 15, 2011
Walt Disney World FL
Arriving at the Magic Kindom’s parking lot and already my feet hurt. I didn’t change into my sneakers, but in the end, I didn’t bring the right pair of sneakers either, so my feet were doomed to hurt, and they did. After parking we took a tram to the Monorail station to head over to the Magic Kindgom. I was getting to ride the Monorail for the first time (not my first monorail, but first one at Disney) so I was happy.
We arrived in just a few minutes and off we headed to the gate. The day was beautiful and the weather was nice, just the right temperature for me. Sadly, what would have been great skies and lighting for pictures of the castle was hampered by a ginormous crane parked by the castle doing work on it. Boo! I took a photo anywho. And even though there was a ton of people there, everyone was moving around and the lines weren’t bad.
Our first destination was Space Mountain as the Disneyland version was closed on my visit for the mega-upgrade they did in 2005 for the 50th anniversary. We arrived to see a posted 30 minute wait, so we quickly ran to the bathrooms. Once we got out, though, the line went to 60 minutes, and then 95 minutes before our very eyes. We decided to come back to Space Mountain later. Instead, we made our way over to one of my favorite rides from Disneyland, the Haunted Mansion. It was very much like the California version, though the stair room was apparently new. Oh, and I was informed that this stretching room actually stretches up, where as Disneyland’s stretching room is an actual elevator. The rides looked nothing alike from the outside, but that’s okay, as they’re both unique mansions. We rode a couple of times on the first nite there, and Haunted Mansion was one of the best dark rides there
We headed back to ride the Jungle Cruise, which had a bit of an issue once we were getting ready to get in the boat. It was interesting riding this at nite, I hadn’t ridden the Jungle Cruise in the day, but the nite time ride definitely had its own flavor. Our tour guide was really good. I’m glad I finally got to experience the Jungle Cruise, but unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to ride it in the daylight.
Since we’d had one boat experience, why not try another? Matt wanted to eat at Pecos Bill’s, but it was closed. It, however, was, right across from the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean. I loved this ride at Disneyland, but I’d been told it wasn’t nearly as good in Florida, and I have to agree. Some of the better scenes were missing, as well as the good drop, but Pirates was still a fun ride. And I liked the mist curtain and addition of characters from the movies.
After Pirates we had a decent dinner and I got to see some of the Electrical parade. We were going to head to Big Thunder Mountain but weren’t able to at first due to the parade. We rode Haunted Mansion again, but I don’t remember if it was now or later on as the park was open to midnite. At some point we made it over, though, and stood in line for a good 90 minutes to ride, way longer than the posted wait time. Had I known it would take that long, I’d have opted for something else, because I wanted to see Wishes, which we caught the tail end of, off to the left of the castle, so I really didn’t get to see much. Thankfully, I really liked Big Thunder Mountain.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad-I remember liking the one at Disneyland, but I don’t remember liking it this much. The ride gets more aggressive as it goes, with great laterals, some nice pops of airtime, and wonderful theming. I like that the lifts are themed, even if the last one wasn’t fully working with the rocks closing in. Big Thunder Mountain is the quintessential mine train ride. It looks great, it rides great, and it’s just so much fun. Thankfully we got fastpasses for later.
We toyed with riding Peter Pan, but the line was outrageous. Walking by “it’s a small world”, however, there was no line, so we decided to get it over with. It was just as annoying as the one at Disneyland, but it’s a must ride.
We finally headed over to Tomorrowland in order to get our Space Mountain on. The posted wait time was around 30 minutes. Jill had a drink she’d just gotten, so she sat this one out.
Space Mountain (Alpha)-The line was kind of long, but at least it was inside. Sadly, it was kind of hot inside. Eventually we made our way to the rockets to launch. I was in the very back and ready for a great ride. The ride is tons of fun, from the lighted tunnels to the helices, to the drops, dips, and everything in between. I got some major airtime in the back seat.
Once we finished the miles long trek back to earth from the ride’s exit, we picked up Jill and got back in line again. This time Bill was determined to get on the Alpha side, even though they were only loading Fastpassers for the most part. But Bill was nice and asked the guy assigning people to a side if we could ride on that side, and he obliged.
Space Mountain (Omega)-It’s like a whole different ride after the lift hill! It’s more aggressive, seemed even faster, and had more airtime. I was in the front this time, and got major aggressive airtime. Not what I expected from this ride at all. Space Mountain quickly shot up in my coaster rankings. Especially the Alpha side. That thing was running so great. I wanted more, but not another long line.
We used our fastpasses and did another round on Big Thunder, and maybe even another ride on Space Mountain, I don’t quite remember. What I do remember was being tired, sore, and sleepy, so we headed out of the park as it closed, got on our Monorail, and headed back to the room. Coronado’s rooms were nice, with wooden sliding doors shutting off the bathroom area, comfy beds, and hot showers. The room was smaller than I’d have kind of liked, but we weren’t spending much time in the room anywho. I was off to sleep in no time, not really wanting to get up early the next morning.