Magic Kingdom 2011 Day 1

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Epcot

Disney’s Animal Kingdom 2011

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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.

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Universal Orlando Resort 2009

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September 19, 2009
Orlando FL

My mother had booked a cruise for her, my dad, my brother, and myself in September of 2009. This would be their 2nd, mine and my brother’s first. Since we were leaving out of Florida this gave mea chance to visit at least one theme park in Orlando, and since I had a free 7 day 2 park ticket to Universal Studios parks from a Super Bowl promotion, that was the winner for this trip. In fact, this would be my 2nd visit to the parks, and thus far Universal Resort Orlando’s parks still the only theme parks I’ve visited in Orlando. The plan was to drive down to the Savannah area on Friday, dropping my grandmother off in Salisbury NC then head in to Universal early on Saturday morning, visiting the 2 parks during the day before picking my parents up from the airport later that evening.

Sure enough, early Saturday morning I woke up and headed the rest of the way south. I was excited because I really liked the parks the last time I was there, and was anxious to do the attractions that I’d missed last time, as well as the new coaster that just opened at Universal Studios. But once I arrived at the parks I knew it was going to be a hectic day as there were already long lines of cars just waiting to pay to get in and park. Once I did get in to the parking buildings, though, I headed over to Universal Studios first. This was a mistake.

I had to trade my voucher for a ticket, and to do that had to wait in the regular ticket line, which at this point at about 10:30 AM was already about an hour long. I texted someone to see if going over to Islands of Adventure would get me in quicker, and he said it wouldn’t. Having said that, I still kind of wish I would have went to Islands first and finished it up as there were far fewer people there and I could have gotten more done in less time.

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Universal Orlando Resort 2007

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March 21, 2007
Orlando FL

Islands of Adventure

Wednesday was the day of our Universal Resort visit. We met up with Josh and Daniella just before we got to Islands of Adventure so that Daniella could get our free parking with her Season Pass. We arrived later than I had wanted to, but oh well. Once we arrived I picked up our tickets and Josh and I headed to Guest Services, which took forever, but they were very kind to us and refunded my non-refundable tickets so we could get cheaper tickets to both parks with Josh & Daniella’s season passes. I had paid $63 for IoA tickets, Josh & Daniella were pass holders and there was a special deal that they could get us 1 day, 2 park hopper tickets for only $41 each. So we got our tickets and met Jeff inside the gate. That took a bit of time, but at least there was the opportunity to go to Universal Studios later.

After meeting up with Jeff we decided to head back to Dueling Dragons, by way of Suess Landing, as we took pictures and goofed off. We also stopped by the talking fountain and the restrooms on the way. Eventually we made it to the Dragons. The queue was massive, though I was told by Jeff that it had been shortened since it originally opened. It was very well themed, but we rushed past most of it. The sign in front said it had a 10 minute wait. Yay! Or was it…

We planned to have me and Jeff in the front of Ice, and Jon and Josh in the front of Fire. The line was all the way in the station, but they were only running ONE train on each side. This made waits very long. Then, as we were getting ready to get on, they decide to add another train to each side, which took a few minutes. Then they had to test the trains. As we were finally getting on, and Josh and Jon were sitting on Fire, we were stopped as some VIPs were going to ride in our spot. That was annoying. Not that the VIPs were there, I didn’t mind that, but we’d waited so long and timed everything just right, waited thru 1 train operation and them adding a new train, only to have to wait again. Put the VIPs in the middle, where there wasn’t any type of wait.

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Florida 2007

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March 17-23, 2007
Orlando FL

In late 2006 I began contemplating a move to Florida. It made sense. I had family there. I had friends there. There are a lot of theme parks there. But I’d never been to Florida. So during Spring Break, since he was off school for a week, my best friend Jon and I went to visit our friends, the Koontz family for a week. My main goal was to go and see if I liked Florida enough to move there permanently, and to see what the job situation down there would be like, but I knew I couldn’t go to the Sunshine State and NOT ride any coasters or have fun. Jon wasn’t sure if he’d be able to get off work or have the cash to go. And I think that, because the trip was in limbo for so long was why I wasn’t so excited to go until about 2 days ahead of time.

So in February we came up with the definite dates, I made reservations at a motel and purchased 2 one day tickets to the parks at Universal’s Orlando Resort. Jon had to work on the Sunday before we were leaving, so we planned to leave that nite after he got off around 9 PM.

Then Jon called using his serious voice. I just knew he would tell me he couldn’t go at the last minute. Thankfully, though, he was calling to tell me that he would be doing a culinary show at the Stonewall Jackson Resort in central WV that weekend, but he would be back home and would be working on Sunday so that our plans didn’t change. I made the comment that perhaps I could just meet him up there on Saturday instead of meeting members of my family in White Sulfur Springs on Sunday since this was still about the same half way point, and he made arrangements for us to have a room.
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