A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: redrob

Top 5 at DisneyWorld

Rob's Top 5 Thrill Rides

1. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror - Hollywood Studios - It has a pre-story video like at the Haunted Mansion, but that's where the comparisons end. This is a thrill ride, but tamer than at traditional drop ride. It doesn't go all the way to the bottom at once. The height limit is also shorter than all of the roller coasters.
Tower of Terror

Tower of Terror

2. Expedition Everest - Animal Kingdom - Disney coasters don't go upside down (except the Rock N' Roller Coaster), but this one has enough twists, turns and a surprise to make it well worth riding. We all wanted to do it again, but the line was too long and the Fastpasses ran out quickly.
3. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - Magic Kingdom - This is an old classic, but you can't not ride it. It's fast and has several tight turns through a faux mountain that makes you afraid to raise your arms. I actually felt like I was going to knock my head against the facade.
4. Space Mountain - Magic Kingdom - Another classic that I remember from my childhood. I prefer my coasters to be outside in the elements than being totally in the dark. My wife is the opposite, so this is the only coaster she was willing to ride.
5. Dinosaur - Animal Kingdom - This one scared the living daylights out of Rory. That being said, it was his first thrill ride of the trip. He went on all of them. It's not quite a roller coaster, but it's not one of Disney's traditional slow-moving rides through movie scenes or robotics' effects.

Rory's Top 5 Rides

1. Space Mountain - It was so good he did it twice. He thought it was cool to have to sit all by himself.
2. Rock N' Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith - Hollywood Studios - This was my least favourite of the roller coasters. It was too jerky and stuff and it went upside down. I am surprised that Rory actually says he enjoyed it.


3. Expedition Everest - He loved this and really wanted to go back on it. He couldn't stop talking about it the whole day.
4. Star Tours - Hollywood Studios - I am not a big fan of simulator rides. But I knew that Rory would be a big fan of this one, because of its Star Wars theme. Scarlett even enjoyed it and it was a cool connection to the epic movies of my youth.
5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - Obviously Rory is a fan of roller coasters, because he picked four out of his top five.

Rob's Top 5 Shows

1. The Festival of the Lion King - Animal Kingdom - This show is quite elaborate and mixes music, live actors, robotics and some acrobatics. It's a high-energy show for people of all ages.
2. Finding Nemo, the Musical - Animal Kingdom - This is a 30-minute retelling of the story in a Broadway-style musical. It makes use of puppets, show of which are quite large. Again it's great for all ages.
Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo

3. Fantasmic - Hollywood Studios - It is hard to describe this particular show. It is a combination of music and images projected onto water - hydrotechnics, I guess. Anyways, it is worth seeing for sure.
4. Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular - Hollywood Studios - You can't beat explosions, pratfalls, fake fights, and people falling off roofs. If you liked the old Indiana Jones movies this is for you. It's a bit more exciting than the other stunt show at Hollywood Studios unless you are more of a car buff than an Indy fan.
5. Muppet Vision 3-D - Hollywood Studios - This was my favourite of the 3-D shows at the various parks. Of course, I have always been a big fan of the Muppets. This show included the classic characters, including robotics versions of the two old guys in the balcony. Animal Kingdom's It's Tough to be a Bug and Magic Kingdom's Mickey's Philharmagic are similar and both worth seeing.
Honourable Mention - The parades at the various parks and fireworks. Who doesn't love a parade? These fireworks will beat anything you see at Canada Day in Kemptville. Turtle Talk with Crush - Epcot - It's funny to watch Crush interact with some astonished children.

Posted by redrob 15:06 Comments (0)

Some Tips for Your Disney Trip

1. Get to the parks early. Beating the crowds to many of the rides sure beats waiting in lines all day.
2. Plan your use of Fastpasses, but get them when you can. Why wait in line for 70 minutes when you can get on and off in 10? You can only have one Fastpass per entrance ticket per time slot. If you have non-riders in your group, use their tickets to get more Fastpasses. We worked the system really well at Magic Kingdom where there were 12 of us, but only 5 that were into thrill rides.
3. Make reservations for meals. No matter how resilient you are, you'll want to take a break and sit down for a while. You are going to have to eat, so you might as well reserve a spot at a restaurant. Without a reservation, you'll have to eat on a bench or more of a fast food type restaurant. Either way it's going to be expensive, so you might as well enjoy it and rest at the same time. We got lucky with our reservations, you might want to book ahead of your trip.
4. Get some fannypacks. My family made fun of me for my pack, but it was big enough for sunscreen, band-aids, lip balm, wallets, and two water bottles. I had people asking about where I got it. The guidebooks recommend them too. Fannypacks are less cumbersome than a backpack and when you get on a ride, you don't have stow it to keep from losing it. Instead you just turn the fanny pack around to your front. It also gave me good support for my lower back. My wife's fannypack was a little smaller, but between the two of us, we carried everything we needed.
5. Plan ahead. Know what rides or shows you really want to see and make them priorities. A lot of the more popular rides end up with really long waits. It's also not much fun standing in line with children, inching forward slowly, while Fastpassers zip by. We had a lot of success following the plans laid out in the guidebooks. The girls' princess makeover was booked well in advance and so was our Chef Mickey experience.
6. If your children want to meet Disney characters consider one of the special meals. You are guaranteed to meet characters at the meals. They will also pose for as many photos as you want. The character meets in the parks are more like an assembly line. The people in line want you to take your one photo and then get out of their way. Not to mention standing in line for autographs and photos eats away at your time for rides or shows.
7. Bring your own water and small snacks. No surprise here, but everything is a bit expensive in the park, so save yourself some money and bring things with you. You'll spend enough money on the park itself and souvenirs, so any way you can save is well worth it.

Posted by redrob 14:56 Comments (0)

Disney Visit No. 5

A Surprise Visit

Since we had a five-day pass, we decided to make full use of it. We had planned on two days at the Magic Kingdom, but ended up going back to Hollywood Studios. It was the park where we all had things that we wanted to do, but didn't get around to on the first visit. Scarlett wanted to see Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Rory (and me) wanted to see the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, Chantal wanted to see the Fantasmic show. I wanted to ride the Tower of Terror and the Rockin' Roller Coaster.

We played it smart again. We made reservations for a late lunch that included reserved seating for Fantasmic. That turned out to be a great move, because we ended up with seats front and centre for the show. Lunch was another buffet, so we ate a lot, which was fine, because it meant we could skip dinner.

We hit Hollywood Studios early in the morning and I grabbed Fastpasses for the Roxkin' Roller Coaster and The Tower of Terror, then I met the family at the Voyage of the Little Mermaid. This show was a combination of puppetry, live actors, and robotics. It was good and Scarlett really enjoyed seeing her favourite princess on screen. We went and did the Studio Backlot Tour after, because we still had time before the Fastpasses. The tour was interesting because it showed us how some special effects are created for the movies.

Once again the Fastpasses were a great deal. By time Rory and I got to the Roller Coaster there was a 70-minute wait. We zipped past the line and into the studio where Aerosmith set up the premise of the ride. From there it was a five-minute wait before we boarded the stretch-limo shaped roller coaster. The whole ride is indoors and it is the only one at a Disney park that goes upside down at any point. It was by far the most intense of any of the rides we went on. That doesn't mean it was the best. Rory came off of it white as a ghost. The photo that was taken on the ride was after we were whipped out of standing position, so my eyes were screwed shut.

Rory begged for break before we hit the Tower of Terror, but we had to go before the Fastpass expired. He was slightly terrified as we entered the building, once again zipping past the others in line. I am not a big fan of those rides that take you high up a tower and then drop you straight down, so I wasn't looking forward to this one. As it turned out this was my favourite of all the rides. Unlike other drop rides, this one is almost entirely indoors, and it drops in stages. At one point, the ride gives you a glimpse of the outside world before it drops a couple of floors. After each drop, the ride rises a bit and then drops again. You're raised slightly out of your seat each time the ride drops. It was way more fun than I expected. Even Rory found it fun.

We left the park at about 11 a.m., so that we could relax by the pool. We returned in time for our dinner reservations. Then we took in the Indy stunt show. This was fun to watch as well. There were plenty of thrills, spills and explosions. The stunt men fell off buildings and engaged in fake fights.

After the show, we hustled over to Fantasmic to make sure we found seats. The place was packed, but we were given special access seating. It was well worth the extra $3 per meal that we paid. The show itself wasn't quite what I expected. I thought it would be more of a fireworks and lazer show. It was good, but it was mostly projections of Disney movie scenes onto water that was shot out of a small basin. It felt like we were getting rained on for most of the show. There weren't very many fireworks in the show, it was more of pyrotechnics. Overall it was well worth seeing and a great end to a fantastic holiday.

Posted by redrob 14:17 Comments (0)

Disney Visit No. 4

Epcot - Is this a Theme Park?

Dad joined us for a visit to Epcot, which is by far the strangest of the four theme parks. It's half traditional park (Future World) and half World Expo, known as the World Showcase. I'll get to that part later.

We arrived at opening time 9 a.m. only to find out that half the park (World Showcase) doesn't open until 11 a.m. That means that half of the park has to accomodate everyone. It meant that there were lots of people rushing to get to the few rides that are part of Epcot. We quickly headed to the section known as the Land, which dates back only to 2005. Our goal was to get onto the ride Soarin, sort of combination of simulation ride and Imax movie. We had to get Fastpasses, because the line was already long.

In the meantime, we went on Mission: Space; Spaceship Earth; The Seas with Nemo and Friends and took in Talking Turtle with Crush. The latter was kind of neat, because it was interactive. Children were given the chance to ask Crush questions and he responded. Obviously someone on a video monitor somewhere, but the kids loved it. Spaceship Earth was a traditional Disney ride, slow-moving with animatronics, but it was well done. I couldn't talk anyone into joining me for Test Track, the fastest moving ride at the park. The fact that you could hear it hurtling by didn't help my cause.

We finally got to Soarin. It was also kind of neat, because it took that Imax feeling that you are moving one step further by actually moving you through the air in conjuction with what is on the screen. Dad had his eyes closed for most of it. The Living with the Lands ride was also interesting. It takes you through Epcot's research facility and fish farms. Who knew that something productive was actually being done at a Disney park. In fact, the food grow there is used in the many restaurants.

The children enjoyed this part of the park, but the World Showcase part really didn't appeal to them. The way each area looks like buildings in that part of the country is neat, but there's not enough to keep their interest. Only a couple of the pavilions, Mexico and Norway, have rides. They are the traditional slow-moving kinds. The Mexican one is new, it opened in 2007, but is not very impressive. The rest of the pavilions are just store fronts and restaurants. I think they would be more interesting if there were artifacts to look at. Some of them have movies to watch, but they smack of tourism advertisements. We skipped them. There is thematic entertainment at the various locales. A mariachi band played at the Mexican area, acrobats at China, and we saw a good Celtic rock band complete with bagpipes at the Canada zone. Imagine that's your job - to be a house band at a Dinsey themepark.

Chantal was pleased as punch that we were able to secure a table at the German Biergarten. She was in heaven eating the German food from the buffet and we were right in the middle for the Oktoberfest Musikanten show, a 4-person musical group that performed traditional Bavarian music with singing, dancing, and bell ringing. The children were less than impressed with the food. It wasn't as good as Mom's German cooking. Dad probably had the biggest glass of beer in his life. I couldn't believe that Chantal didn't go crazy at the German souvenir shops.

The only other major attraction we hit before running out of steam was the American Adventure. The patriotic infused theater show was another combination of music, lights and animatronics. No matter the show, it's amazing what Disney has done with robotics. In this case Ben Franklin and Mark Twain robots tell much of the narrative of the country's history.

Overall our least favourite park, except for Chantal, who is somewhat biased.

Posted by redrob 13:09 Comments (0)

And then there were 10

A Day off

We took another day off from Disney as the first set of houseguests got ready to depart. Kay and Bert were heading home so we went to the mall in the morning with Mom and Dad, giving them a chance to pack and spend time with their grandchildren. Our first stop was the outlet mall where Chantal went crazy at Gymboree. I found some soccer jerseys at Adidas, but for some reason the Toronto FC jerseys were $80 while the rest were $29. Needless to say, I came home empty-handed.

We then went onto the Florida Mall and I shopped in an awesome memoribilia store called Field of Dreams - check out the website. I also found a soccer speciality store but didn't see anything worth the high prices. Rory continued to be frugal with his money despite a quick stop at Toys R Us. We made it back in time to see Kay and Bert off. That left 10 of us sharing the house.

Most of the house headed off to dinner at Crabby Joe's Seafood, while I took Rory and Scarlett to see the Adventures of Tin Tin. I had been promising that to them and I wasn't going to eat seafood anyways. We ate at the Earl of Sandwich again. It was just as good as the first time. earl


Posted by redrob 19:49 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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