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.
September 28, 2016
Hollywood & Anaheim CA
Waking up the next morning we had some of our leftover Korean food for breakfast before hitting up the pool, then heading out. We were going to find the Hollywood sign from a good vantage point so we headed to LA and then to Hollywood. We actually accidentally ended up at the foot of the hike up to the Hollywood sign. We weren’t prepared, nor did we have the time to do the hike, though I definitely want to do that at some point, so we walked a little bit up the trail before heading back down and driving back to Anaheim for day 2 of Disneyland, or in this case, California Adventure.
Today there were no GPS mishaps. We parked in the parking garage and headed to the Grand Californian on a much easier route this time, meeting up with our contact/new friend for a drink at the bar at the Grand Californian. She was starting her vacation today and wanted to start off right, so we gladly obliged. I had a drink made with Wild Turkey, Red Stag, and something that made it all taste a bit smokey. It was good.
I really did enjoy my visit to California Adventure on my last visit a decade ago, but the park has now grown in much more, and obviously there is that recent billion dollar make over. There were elements I liked from the original, but I won’t mourn their loss much because California Adventure, as it stands now, is amazing. We headed over to Pacific Wharf and straight to the main attraction there.
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.
Disneyland is the original Disney park. This was my first visit to a Disney park ever, and I’m glad that I started with the first one, and during the 50th anniversary celebrations, at that. After walking across the courtyard between the 2 parks we headed into Disneyland. Unfortunately Space Mountain hadn’t finished it’s reconstruction & refurbishment at that point and Splash Mountain was down for maintenance, as was Jungle Cruise. Oh well, that gave me more reasons to come back later.
We first found a restroom and then waited in front of the Castle for the other three. I don’t care what anybody says about the size of Sleeping Beauty’s castle, it was still really cute. One of the first noticeable things was how much more crowded Disneyland was than California Adventure. The first ride I saw was the Astro Orbiter. I almost took a spin, but the line was just a bit too long and we were supposed to be meeting up with the other three.
Then we saw Peter Pan’s Flight. This line was super long, so we opted out of that as well. Maybe next time. We walked back through the castle and I saw Tina waving for me. We went over and met Bill and Jodi. Then it was off for a ride. I’m pretty sure I have this in order, but there may be some discrepancies. First, I was up for some Haunted Mansion. The line wasn’t short, but the wait wasn’t that long.
Haunted Mansion-Granted, the actual ride portion wasn’t a bit scary. But the stretching room gave me a quick jump scare. Never the less, I really like dark rides and this was no exception. I know there were some changes recently, which were cool. Overall, aside from the temperature being a bit too cool for us, I really enjoyed the ride on Haunted Mansion. I’ve been waiting for many, many years to ride. Now when are they gonna add that 1000th ghost?
After Haunted Mansion I needed a coaster ride so we headed over towards Big Thunder Mountain. But first, we passed by The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, and had to take a spin.
The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh-It was a pretty good dark ride. The ride looks very nice and was well themed. I liked Pooh’s Heffalump dream world scenes the best.
I was slightly worried about the coaster as there had been a recent accident. This wouldn’t be the first nor the last roller coaster I’d ridden that had had a serious accident, but I wasn’t going to pass on riding another classic.
Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road–After just a few lifts and drops, I proclaimed “If we were at Carowinds, It’d be over by now”. Bill agreed, Tina and Jody just laughed. This was my first ride with Bill. The trains were comfy to sit in, the ride was paced just right, and the theming was, once again, just blissful. Disney really is in a class all to themselves. Then there is that lift in the tunnel. After that, I proclaimed once again “If this were Adventure Express, it’d be over by now, and I’d be once again disappointed”. Bill was also making some Adventure Express comment (okay, so I did like it my last visit to Kings Island…). But BTMR was more than both of the previously mentioned mine train coasters. Heck, it is kind of the original. It was a fun ride, nicely paced with some decent ups, downs and laterals. I’d do it again.
Well, that was #98. Next up was another classic Disney Ride, and one that has been in the rumors lately: Pirates of the Caribbean. One neat thing was the restaurant that the ride actually navigates around.
Pirates of the Caribbean-Another golden oldie, Jamaal and I really enjoyed Pirates. It was fairly long, which is a good thing. More time to sit down. Plus it was a dark ride. Yay! The one drop was unexpected, and the animatronics were all in top notch order. Heck, I’ve been in some more ‘up to date’ dark rides that weren’t this good. Another oldie down, and another satisfied customer.
At this point I should have looked at a map and made some decisions on what all I wanted to see and do at Disneyland. Had I looked I would have realized all that Disneyland had to offer. In fact I didn’t spend any real time in Tomorrowland and almost missed out on two of the better rides at the park. Instead we rushed over to Matterhorn for another coaster credit.
Matterhorn (right)-We had been told to ride the right side of the coaster during the day, the left at night, and so we hopped in line for the right side as it was still daylight out. This was it. The first tubular steel coaster ever. It was also the last of my double digit credits at #99. I thought for a family coaster that it was fairly intense. Good theming, good coaster, and the water as a natural break is funky. The mountain actually looks almost real as well along the skyline. I rode in a car all to myself
Bill, Tina, and Jodi were hungry and Jamaal and I still needed to use our Screamin’ Fast Pass so we headed back over to say goodby to DCA. We picked up a disposable camera on our way into DCA since we left the digital camera behind by accident, and took some photos of the park before heading over to California Screamin’ again. The second ride was just as good as the first, and with 99% less wait time.
After snapping a few more pics the park was starting to close. We were there for almost an hour. Another Tower of Terror ride would have made me happy, but oh well. Getting two rides was still good. We then headed back over to Disneyland, which was still much more crowded than California Adventure. Next time I’d know I would need a full day for each park, but on this trip I’m just happy to be able to go.
I couldn’t get the gang to answer when I called to tell them we’d be heading back over, so I figured they were in line or on a ride and had no Cell reception. Walking over towards Tomorrowland I saw something I had forgotten Disneyland even had. I’m a huge Sci Fi geek. I like comics, I like coasters, I’m a Trekkie, and I like Star Wars. So when I saw the Star Tours sign, I just about flipped out. Thankfully, Jamaal is a Star Wars geek too.
Star Tours-I called my close friend Jon, who is a super Star Wars fan, to tell him what I was about to do. The line was long but moved swiftly. This was the only thing in Tomorrowland I ended up riding. We noticed Tina, Bill, and Jodi in line up ahead and told them to wait outside after they rode. Eventually we got through the queue and were off on our mission. It was fun. I mean, I’m not a huge motion simulator fan as they tend to make me sick, but it was a lot of fun.
After meeting up with the others we wondered around the park for a while taking photos. Just outside of Star Tours was the newly soft opened Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters which had about a 40 minute wait. I wasn’t willing to wait, so off we were.
Then it was that time. Time for #100. Everyone counts coasters in their own way. Matterhorn has two semi-dueling tracks. The sides are different, and that makes it, to me, 2 different coasters. So my 99th and 100th coasters are the kind of the same.
Matterhorn (left)-The other side was definitely more intense. Was it because it was nite? I dunno, but it was also a little rougher. Oh well, Matterhorn was still a lot of fun and being at night, the ride was a little darker.
We were going over to do the Kiddie coaster when I saw something else that is impossible to pass up the first time. Another Disney classic, and I don’t think I’ll ever get that song out of my head…
“it’s a small world”-Yes it is, but the line wasn’t small. Again, though, we’re at Disneyland, and so it wasn’t a long wait. The ride, however, was about 15 minutes too long for me. Okay, I had to do it once. But once is enough for me
We headed over to ToonTown to ride the last coaster operating in the park, Gadget’s Go Coaster, a roller skater. Another neat ride I saw was Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin. I loved that movie, but how would the ride be?
Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin-S loved this! The theming was very well done and the self spinning was a cool idea. Jamaal was with Bill, Jodi was with Tina behind me, and I was all alone. Yay spinning Cars! Tons o’ fun yet again.
There were lots of other things I’d like to have done. I didn’t get to ride Dumbo, didn’t get to do Snow White’s Scary Adventure, didn’t do this, didn’t do that. But it was all up to me, as the other 3 had been there all day and were letting me lead the way. That, and Jamaal wasn’t so in to Disneyland. So I decided to take us back for a last spin on the Haunted Mansion. But one thing everyone had mentioned was Indiana Jones, and how we needed to do that. I thought it was the stunt show. Boy was I wrong. So when we passed by it we headed to the entrance.
Indiana Jones Adventure-I’m so glad that I didn’t miss this. You board Jeep like vehicles after the long long themed queue. Then the ride starts. It was amazing, all the effects seemed to be working on time and it was so much fun. I’m glad they talked me into riding, as otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered.
Our day at the park was coming to a close. We went back over by Pirates and the Haunted Mansion for photos, but Disneyland was officially closed. Even with all that I missed, we got ride some really fun coasters and dark rides. But next time I’ll know to schedule more time for each park. We headed up to Jodi’s car for some Mummy posters she had (thanks again Jodi!) and then Tina and Bill left as well.
Jamaal and I were going to eat at Downtown Disney, but our legs hurt too much to walk back. And then we lost our car. Thankfully, we found it just where we had left it by hitting the panic button. After a quick stop at Carl’s Jr. we headed back to our motel and I headed off to sleep.