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.
Fun Spots America | Photos | Videos
December 30, 2017
Orlando & Kissimmee FL
Saturday was mostly a leisurely day for me. During the afternoon we hung out at my sister’s house. Eventually, though, I was ready to head out and ride some more rides. I asked my niece and nephew if they wanted to join me. My sister and brother-in-law were going to hang out at home and go out for dinner later. So we headed in to Orlando, thru Disney World for a short cut, and then to our first of two Fun Spot parks, Orlando. This was my first time to either park.
The afternoon was sunny and warm, and as we pulled up and found a place to park, we noticed the area was fairly busy. Lots of families bringing their kids to ride rides. I was impressed with the park from the get go. It was very clean, nicely done, and there were plenty of people everywhere. We took some pictures and headed the long way around the small lake in the middle of the park and over to our first stop…the restroom in the park’s arcade. Then we purchased tickets. I got the 4 rides for $30 bracelet as this would be enough riding for me on this visit. Then we walked towards Mine Blower. My nephew had been to the park for the go-karts, but neither of them had been on the coasters there.
Mine Blower–There was barely a line. Chris and I rode in the front row and Kaitlyn was behind us. I have to say, I really loved the Timberliner trains again on another coaster. You drop out of the station and head up the lift quickly, where you turn and then hit the first drop. And what a drop it was. Right after, you’re up and over the station, all while upside down. The inversion was really well done, with airtime, making it more like a zero G roll. What followed was a twisted mess of track and turns, with over banked turns, airtime hills, laterals. It was very intense, very much like a mini-Voyage. Very Gravity Group. I loved it!
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 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.
January 17, 2011
Walt Disney World Resort FL
There was a mass exodus leaving Epcot. My body hurt. I was tired. And I’d already told Matt I may not make it till 2 AM. In fact, as the seconds ticked off I was convincing myself more and more that I needed to leave earlier than that. We waited for a few Monorail cycles so that we could ride TRONorail again over to the Magic Kingdom. We got to Magic Kingdom and walked around a bit, heading over to Tomorrowland for a Fastpass and a quick ride on Space Mountain, which was still kicking butt. We wandered around the park and looked for the shortest lines until Extra Magic Hours began. I know we rode Big Thunder Mountain at least once and eventually we rode up Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblasters, which was also a lot of fun. Almost as fun as Toy Story Midway Mania.
Winnie the Pooh had a bit of a line, but we waited it out. It’s a fun dark ride, but I liked the outdoors station in SoCal better, although this interactive queue was quite good. We also rode Snow White’s Scary Adventures, and I’m glad we did, because it will soon be closed and turned into another attraction. I wish I’d gotten some pictures of it, but at least I will remember the ride. And finally the queue for Peter Pan wasn’t quite as long as it had been. Matt loves that ride, and I missed riding it at Disneyland. It was really good. Lots of great scenes, flying thru each one. I enjoyed it, and of course, I enjoyed sitting down.
We went back over and rode Space Mountain more before I finally decided to call it a nite. I gave Matt my fastpass for Space Mountain so he could back to back and I headed to the front of the park. My legs hurt and I was very nearly ready to fall asleep. I got to the Monorail station and headed to the Transportation center. Sadly, once I got there I was told I needed to ride all the way back around and get on a bus in front of the Magic Kingdom. Dang! It was kind of neat riding all the way around the lagoon, and having an entire Monorail train to myself.
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 16, 2011
Walt Disney World Resort FL
I’d always thought of Epcot as a ‘learning park’. I love museums and I love interactivity, but there wasn’t a whole lot at Epcot that I felt was a must do. Thankfully, though, we planned on spending a good chunk of our day at Epcot, and because the park was SO massive the lines weren’t bad at all. Plus the park was just amazing.
We arrived at the park’s rear entrance after walking around the Boardwalk area from our boat ride. I took over 700 photos in three days, and about a third of them were at Epcot. The park really was just that amazing. I could definitely go back and spend an entire day there just visiting countries and eating. Mmmmm…eating…
Wandering around World Showcase first, we then headed into Future World. As far as the first attraction I have photos of, I think we rode Mission: Space first. This ride was something I’d been looking forward to for a LONG time. But I was also kind of nervous as I really didn’t want to get sick and ruin my day knowing how intense this ride is. Still, the wait wasn’t very long so we headed in.
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.
March 17-23, 2007
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.