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!
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.
Disneyland Resort | Photos | Videos
September 27, 2016
Huntington Beach & Anaheim CA
Waking up we once again headed back to the beach. Huntington was familiar so we headed there for beach time. I did hang out in the pool that morning. Huntington was just as nice during the day and there were again plenty of surfers. Also, there were birds for Isaac (an avid birder). I acclimated to the water quite nicely, but he was kind of on and off with it. The surf was up and fun, and we spent a nice morning playing in the water and laying out on the beach.
We had lunch reservations at 2:50 at the Blue Bayou in Disneyland, and thanks to a good friend, got hooked up with tickets for 2 days while in the area. Because of poor planning and GPS usage on my part, we were a little late meeting our contact, but we did get there not long after we’d planned to meet at the Grand Californian Hotel. Unfortunately, once we parked and got to the resort, another GPS mistake had us walking all thru Downtown Disney and going to the hotel the long way. But once we got in, we met up with our new friend and headed into California Adventure first before heading directly over to Disneyland proper.
My last visit to the Disneyland Resort was in 2005, just before they started the 50th celebration. I hadn’t been to Walt Disney World at that point, but now I’d been to the Florida parks a couple times. So it was nice to compare with the original with a fresh perspective. I love Disneyland, and the last time my group only had a 1 day park hopper pass so we tried to cram too much into one day and didn’t spend nearly enough time at Disneyland. I loved California Adventure even then, before the changes, but I really needed more Disneyland time.
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.
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.