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View Full Version : A Year of Disney (and Universal) Trips- Universal Christmas Photos- updated 12/23


meeko_33785
08-06-2011, 09:21 AM
Welcome to another year of trip reports! For those of you who have read some of my past reports, I hope you will join me again as I revisit 2011’s day trips, vacations and more and post some of my photos from them along the way. To those who haven’t read any of my reports, here’s a look at our cast:


:earsboy: Meeko- I’m a 20-something guy who has been going to Walt Disney World for longer than I can remember. While at Disney World, I most enjoy the attractions (Tower of Terror being my favorite), finding the little details, and meeting/ photographing the characters. Out of all the Disney films, Beauty and the Beast is my favorite. As for Universal, my favorite attraction there is Jaws, and I’m a fan of both I Love Lucy and The Simpsons. I (of course) will be going on all the trips reported here.

:earsboy: Buzz- My twin brother. Buzz is an art student and, like me, a Disney fan. He’s a big fan of Disney and PIXAR animation (Toy Story being his favorite film, hence his nickname here) as well as the Muppets. Buzz’s favorite Disney attraction is Splash Mountain, and he enjoys the atmosphere, humor and all the animals around the World. His favorite attraction at Universal is the Simpsons Ride and is, obviously, also a Simpsons fan. Buzz went on the February, May, July August, September, and October trips and will be going on the December trip as well.

:earsgirl: Mom- My and Buzz’s mother. Mom’s favorite parts of a Disney trip tend to include doing something that involves learning about history of different cultures, trying different restaurants or just relaxing in a beautiful setting. She loves World Showcase, Soarin’, the Animal Kingdom (park and Lodge) and the resorts. She has never been to Universal before. Mom went on the August trip and will be going on the December trip.

:earsboy: Dad- My and Buzz’s father. Dad also enjoys having a more relaxing time at Disney and also likes Soarin’, exploring the gardens around the World, restaurants and just sitting on a bench and enjoying the day. His favorite Disney movie is The Nightmare Before Christmas and tends to like both Disney and Tim Buton films in general. Like Mom, he has never been to Universal. Dad went on the August trip and will be going on the December trip.



As for this year's trips, we have…


"The Geekiest Place on Earth"- February 2011 Day Trip
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/febtr.jpg
My brother Buzz and my first visit to Universal’s Islands of Adventure plus a brief trip to neighboring Universal Studios.


Chapters:
Part One- Welcome to the Wizarding World (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42233226&postcount=18): Forbidden Journey, Dragon Challenge, Flight of the Hippogriff
Part Two- I Need Photos! Photos of Spider-Man! (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42288363&postcount=27): The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Marvel Super Heroes meet-and-greet
Part Three- Toons and Water Rides (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42343148&postcount=28): Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges, lunch at Blondie's, Jurassic Park River Adventure
Part Four- Characters Galore (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42395680&postcount=32): Universal Studios and Seuss Landing meet-and-greets, Lucy: A Tribute, The Cat in the Hat
Part Five- The Adventure Lives On (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42429909&postcount=37): Oh! The Stories You'll Hear, The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride, trying Butterbeer in Hogsmeade



Trip Reflections (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42469150&postcount=40)




**************


"Best Day (Trip) Ever"- May 2011 Day Trip
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/maytr.jpg
A day at the Magic Kingdom with Buzz.


Chapters:
Part One- The Princess and the Theif (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42528436&postcount=52): Tangled Play-and-Greet, Frontierland Hoedown, Beast's Castle in Fantasyland
Part Two- Winnie the Pooh and Tomorrowland Too (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42601063&postcount=63): The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Space Mountain
Part Three- Time in Tortuga (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42673548&postcount=76): Lunch at Tortuga Tavern, Swiss Family Treehouse, Princess and the Frog meet-and-greet
Part Four- Magic Kingdom Classics (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42727928&postcount=82): Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Haunted Mansion, Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Part Five- Magical Moments with Mickey and Minnie (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42756424&postcount=87): It's A Small World, Town Square Theater meet-and-greet, Snow White's Scary Adventures
Part Six- Now It's Time To Say Goodbye (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42791182&postcount=96): Princess meet-and-greet, Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It!, Pirates of the Caribbean



Trip Reflections (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42812211&postcount=103)




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"Alone in Universal"- June 2011 Day Trip
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/junetr.jpg
A solo visit to Universal Studios Florida.


Chapters:
Part One- Solo and Commando (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42852462&postcount=107): Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, The Simpsons Ride, Disaster: A Major Motion Picture Ride Staring You
Part Two- Spring and Summer Characters (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42910585&postcount=114): Star Toons Summer Jamz, exploring the Classic Monster Cafe, Hop show and meet-and-greet
Part Three- I Love Lucy (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42980715&postcount=123): Lucy: A Tribute, ET Adventure, lunch at Louie's Italian Restaurant
Part Four- That's A Wrap (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=43039966&postcount=128): Terminator 2: 3D, Simpsons meet-and-greet, dessert at Schwab's Pharmacy



Trip Reflections (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=43082708&postcount=135)



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"A Disney Afternoon"- July 2011 Mini Day Trip
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/julytr.jpg
A brief afternoon visit to Downtown Disney with Buzz.

Chapters:

Part One (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=43127874&postcount=141): Lego Imagination Center, lunch at Earl of Sandwich, Marketplace Fun Finds
Part Two (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=43127884&postcount=142): World of Disney, Harley Davidson, D Street




**************

"Africa in the Rainy Season"- August 2011 Trip
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/augusttr2.jpg
A theme park-free family vacation including a three-night stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge- Jambo House and visits to Kidani Village and Downtown Disney as well as a trip off-property to Orlando Premium Outlets.


Pre-Trip Report (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42146608&postcount=10)
Sneak Preview (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42222661&postcount=16)



Chapters:
Day One, Part One- A Room with a View (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=43258244&postcount=149): Checking in at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, lunch at the Mara, Arusha Rock Savanna Overlook



Upcoming Chapters Include:

More Animal viewing at Jambo House and Kidani Village
Tours and activities around the Lodge, including the Wanyama Safari
Dining at Jiko, Sanaa, Boma, Raglan Road and more
Shopping at Orlando Premium Outlet, including the Disney outlet store




**************

September 2011 Day Trip
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/septembertr.jpg
A day with Buzz at Disney's Hollywood Studios.



Sneak Preview (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42662302&postcount=73)



Upcoming Chapters Include:

Our first flight on the new Star Tours
Lights, Motors Action with new Cars 2 segment
The "new" PIXAR Pals Countdown to Fun Parade
Lots of meet-and-greets including Phineas and Ferb and “Character Palooza” at the Magic of Disney Animation
Lunch at the infamous ABC Commissary



**************

October 2011 Day Trip
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/octobertr2.jpg
A day trip to EPCOT with Buzz.



Sneak Preview (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=42968875&postcount=120)
Happy Halloween (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=43109079&postcount=136)




Upcoming Chapters Include:

Our first time seeing Captain EO
Kim Possible Missions in the United Kingdom and Mexico
Snacking our way around World Showcase at our first International Food and Wine Festival



**************

November 2011 Mini Day Trip
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/novembertr.jpg
Buzz and my very brief visit with stops at Orlando Premium Outlet and Downtown Disney.

Upcoming Chapters Include:

Shopping at the Disney's Character Warehouse
Christmas Decorations at Downtown Disney
Trying out Pin Trading



**************

December 2011 Trip Report

A family Christmas vacation including a two-night stay at the Royal Pacific Resort and visits to Universal Studios, Citywalk and Islands of Adventure.



Christmas Photos Preview (http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=43526896&postcount=159)



Upcoming Chapters Include:

Mom and Dad's first trip to Universal and all of our first stay at at Universal Resort
Holiday Festivities around Universal Orlando including Macy's Holiday Parade
Dining at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, Lombard's Landing, Pat O'Brien's and more
Early Entry to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter


**************

As you can tell, we’re long-time Disney fans but just discovering what Universal has to offer. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about our adventures starting with our first trip into the Wizarding World.

jenseib
08-06-2011, 10:37 AM
I'm here and can't wait to read all about it! :worship:

wdwgirl03
08-06-2011, 10:52 AM
I'm here Meeko. :)

jc040404
08-06-2011, 11:11 AM
Subbing to read about your year of fun! I've been debating over Universal APs lately and can't wait to hear what you thought about it compared to WDW. :thumbsup2

dawnbu40
08-06-2011, 11:14 AM
Can't wait popcorn::

not_Joanna_eggs
08-06-2011, 11:20 AM
I'm here too. Even your overview is making me want to give universal another try..:goodvibes

meeko_33785
08-06-2011, 07:25 PM
I'm here and can't wait to read all about it! :worship:

Welcome! I'm looking forward to sharing these trips, too.


I'm here Meeko. :)

Awesome! Welcome Sarah.


Subbing to read about your year of fun! I've been debating over Universal APs lately and can't wait to hear what you thought about it compared to WDW. :thumbsup2

Welcome! Glad to have you along.


Can't wait popcorn::

Thanks Dawn. Always nice to see you. Hope that you enjoy the report. :)


I'm here too. Even your overview is making me want to give universal another try..:goodvibes

Joanna, is my overview that effective. :laughing: Thanks for joining in.

3timesmom
08-06-2011, 07:34 PM
Sounds great !!! Can't wait to read more....popcorn:: Tania

meeko_33785
08-06-2011, 08:57 PM
Sounds great !!! Can't wait to read more....popcorn:: Tania

Welcome! I hope you'll enjoy the rest of the report.

meeko_33785
08-06-2011, 09:09 PM
Am I allowed to leave for Disney without doing a pre-trip report? :laughing: I know I didn’t do any for the other trips I that I’ll be writing about in this report, but then again, those were just one-day (at most) trips. Besides, it seems a little rude to start this trip report and just go to Disney without telling anyone. Anyway, we’re not leaving just yet, but there’s still plenty of work to be done- packing, last minute planning, etc.-before we do, so I probably won’t be spending too much time on the DIS (or, at least, on the Trip Report Board) before leaving. So, before I disappear for a bit, here’s a look at what we have planned.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202010/jamboburd-600.jpg

As you may have noticed from the report’s introduction, this is going to be a three-night family vacation at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. As you may have also noticed, this is supposed to be a theme park-free trip. As a big fan of the parks, I’m a bit apprehensive about going all the way to Disney and not going to the parks, but in all honesty, I'd like to have a more relaxing low-stress vacation right about now. Besides the parks will still be there for us later in the year when the temperatures are lower and the crowds are smaller. Instead of going to the parks, we’re planning on spending plenty of time at the Lodge watching the animals, going to the pool, and trying Jiko for the first time.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202010%20Part%202/dtdtr11-600.jpg

Beyond the resort, we're also planning on spending one evening at Downtown Disney and another at Universal CityWalk. Raglan Road at Pleasure Island and Pat O’Brein’s at CityWalk have been brought up as potential dinner spots, but instead of making a bunch of ADRs this time, we're just going to be flexible and play it by ear.


This is sure to be a trip unlike any other that we’ve ever taken. I’m not exactly sure what to expect, but I’m excited to be trying something different at Disney.


Ideally, I would like to get at least the first installment of my Islands of Adventure report up before I leave for Disney, but in case I don’t make it back to the DIS before then, I’ll “see” you all after my trip. :wave2:

not_Joanna_eggs
08-06-2011, 09:29 PM
Your overview was highly effective :laughing: And I'll admit, I'm easily swayed on the subject easily swayed. :cutie: I really want to like universal, but last time we went the crowds were unbearable. To the point that I just sat in WWOHP and did nothing while DH and DSis braved the 3 1/2 hour line for FJ - and they did Single Rider!

Have fun on your trip! I can't wait to hear about the park-free experience! Have a great time! And I hope you love Jiko... we do!

jenseib
08-06-2011, 10:29 PM
When are you going? I am going in 8 days. I plan to go on the 14th in the evening and take photos of AKL. It looks so beautiful. I am not hitting any parks that day and it seems to weird.

Lady Lallie
08-07-2011, 07:39 AM
I'm here!! I really can't wait to hear about WWOHP. I need to plan a trip there very soon to get my Harry Potter fix now that the movies are over.

Jiko is so delicious, you will enjoy the food there. I hope you have a great trip and can't wait to hear about all of them. :goodvibes

saintstickets
08-07-2011, 09:57 AM
As you may have noticed from the report’s introduction, this is going to be a three-night family vacation at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. As you may have also noticed, this is supposed to be a theme park-free trip. As a big fan of the parks, I’m a bit apprehensive about going all the way to Disney and not going to the parks, but in all honesty, I'd like to have a more relaxing low-stress vacation right about now. Besides the parks will still be there for us later in the year when the temperatures are lower and the crowds are smaller. Instead of going to the parks, we’re planning on spending plenty of time at the Lodge watching the animals, going to the pool, and trying Jiko for the first time.

Beyond the resort, we're also planning on spending one evening at Downtown Disney and another at Universal CityWalk. Raglan Road at Pleasure Island and Pat O’Brein’s at CityWalk have been brought up as potential dinner spots, but instead of making a bunch of ADRs this time, we're just going to be flexible and play it by ear.

This is sure to be a trip unlike any other that we’ve ever taken. I’m not exactly sure what to expect, but I’m excited to be trying something different at Disney.

Ideally, I would like to get at least the first installment of my Islands of Adventure report up before I leave for Disney, but in case I don’t make it back to the DIS before then, I’ll “see” you all after my trip. :wave2:

I'm interested in reading your "no-WDW-park" trip to WDW. We are doing the same thing next May, 2012. We will stay at VWL for 5 nights during this trip and not enter a WDW park. :scared1: (Will they kick us out of DVC? :lmao:) Our trip this time will consist of Discovery Cove, Seaworld, WWoHP at IoA and if time, a day trip to Kennedy Space Center. I'm looking forward to read how you handle being so close to WDW parks and not entering.

Jennifer48
08-08-2011, 03:40 PM
I'm here!

meeko_33785
08-12-2011, 02:22 PM
Hi everyone! I’m back from a very different kind of Disney family vacation. During the entirety of the trip, we never set foot in a theme park (or even saw the Castle at all!), saw a single Disney character and never ate a hamburger, pepperoni pizza or anything shaped like Mickey Mouse. What we did do however, was spend three nights at the Animal Kingdom Lodge watching the animals, dining at the restaurants and having a more relaxed version of a vacation.


It will be a while before I start on the trip report for August since I do still have four (well, more like three and a half) day trips to get through before I get to it, but as a sneak preview, I’ve updated the description of the trip on the first post of the trip report and added a glimpse at a few of the photos from the trip. In case you don’t want to jump back to the first page to check it out, here’s a look at it:


August 2011 Trip
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/augusttr2.jpg
A theme park-free family vacation including a three-night stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge- Jambo House and visits to Kidani Village, and Downtown Disney as well as a trip off-property to Orlando Premium Outlets.


Upcoming Chapters Include:

Animal viewing at Jambo House and Kidani Village
Tours and activities around the Lodge, including the Wanyama Safari
Dining at Jiko, Sanaa, Boma, Raglan Road and more
Shopping at Orlando Premium Outlet, including the Disney outlet store



More about this trip to come, but first, we’re starting with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Islands of Adventure. Hopefully that post will be up sometime tomorrow.

meeko_33785
08-12-2011, 02:36 PM
Your overview was highly effective :laughing: And I'll admit, I'm easily swayed on the subject easily swayed. :cutie: I really want to like universal, but last time we went the crowds were unbearable. To the point that I just sat in WWOHP and did nothing while DH and DSis braved the 3 1/2 hour line for FJ - and they did Single Rider!

Have fun on your trip! I can't wait to hear about the park-free experience! Have a great time! And I hope you love Jiko... we do!

Thanks Joanna. A park-free trip was definitely a different experience. I kind of missed not going to the parks, but still had a good time.

If you really want to try Universal again, I say go for it. If you do, you almost have to go at a less-crowded time. I know we never saw waits for anything get anywhere near 3 1/2 hours or even when we went in February. Even June at the Studios wasn't bad at (although Islands of Adventure next door still seemed packed).


When are you going? I am going in 8 days. I plan to go on the 14th in the evening and take photos of AKL. It looks so beautiful. I am not hitting any parks that day and it seems to weird.

Have a great time on your trip. The Lodge is beautiful and I hope you get some wonderful pictures there.


I'm here!! I really can't wait to hear about WWOHP. I need to plan a trip there very soon to get my Harry Potter fix now that the movies are over.

Jiko is so delicious, you will enjoy the food there. I hope you have a great trip and can't wait to hear about all of them. :goodvibes

I bet that you would love the Wizarding World. I should have my Harry Potter report up tomorrow, so I hope that you'll enjoy it.

I have to say Jiko was very good. All the restaurants at Jambo and Kidani were really great. Even the food court surprised us by having some really different and tasty meals.


I'm interested in reading your "no-WDW-park" trip to WDW. We are doing the same thing next May, 2012. We will stay at VWL for 5 nights during this trip and not enter a WDW park. :scared1: (Will they kick us out of DVC? :lmao:) Our trip this time will consist of Discovery Cove, Seaworld, WWoHP at IoA and if time, a day trip to Kennedy Space Center. I'm looking forward to read how you handle being so close to WDW parks and not entering.

For me, I have to say it was a little tough not going to any of the parks, but we still had a great time.


I'm here!

Awesome! Welcome to the report. :)

meeko_33785
08-13-2011, 01:01 PM
”The Geekiest Place on Earth”- February 2011 Day Trip
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/febtr.jpg

In February 2011, my brother Buzz and I took a day trip to Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Neither of us had ever been before, but ever since our first trip to Universal Studios in October (the mini-report (http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2479181&page=19) of which can be found on in my 2010 Disney Trip Report), we thought that we’d give its sister park at try.

As for the name of this section of the report, it comes from a comment Buzz made while we were at the park saying that it felt very geeky. I have to agree with him. It does, after all, include lands dealing with generally geek-friendly subjects like Marvel Comics, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, cartoons and mythology. So, just how did two Disney fans like the “Geekiest Place on Earth”? Read on to find out.



http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/ioaarrival1-600.jpg

For our first-ever visit to Islands of Adventure, Buzz and I got an early start and arrived at the Universal parking garage about 45 minutes before park opening. After making our way down all of the moving sidewalks in the garage and through the bag check point, we found ourselves in CityWalk.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/ioaarrival2-600.jpg

After a short trek, we found ourselves in unfamiliar territory, catching our first up-close glimpse of the Pharos Lighthouse, the entry point to Islands of Adventure.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/ioaarrival3-600.jpg

There was already a line forming at the turnstiles, so as soon as we could, we joined the rest to wait until rope drop. Knowing that the Wizarding World was on the right side of the park, we positioned ourselves at one of the farthest right turnstiles available. I’m not sure if this strategy worked, but it didn’t hurt. As we waited, we got our first glimpse at some of the theming and architecture of the park’s entrance. I have to say, I was pretty impressed already. Finally, the park was open and the crowd proceeded through the gates. I had heard that rope drop here can be a little crazy with lots of running, shoving, etc., but it seemed fairly calm to me. I was hoping that meant we had picked a good day to come.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/ioaarrival4-600.jpg

We tried not head all the way to the Wizarding World without stopping, but I couldn’t help taking photos of a few of the details around Port of Entry.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/ioaarrival5-600.jpg

Has anyone else noticed that the phrase across the entrance of Islands of Adventure is the same as the name of the opening ceremonies at the Animal Kingdom?


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/ioaarrival6-600.jpg


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/ioaarrival7-600.jpg

To get to the Wizarding World, we passed through Seuss Landing and the Lost Continent. Again, the theming looked impressive, but we didn’t stop and check it out just yet.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/wwohp1-600.jpg

Finally, we arrive at Hogsmeade. I have to preface this portion of the report by saying that neither Buzz or I are Harry Potter fans. We’ve seen a few of the movies here and there and enjoy those Harry Potter Puppet Pals videos on YouTube every now and then, but never got into the books or films. Even with a more limited knowledge of Harry’s world, I have to admit that it looks impressive. It was a little foggy that morning as well which really added to the ambiance.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/wwohp2-600.jpg


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/wwohp3-600.jpg

It may look cold, but it was actually a very pleasant day for February. As you can see, most people were in t-shirts and shorts.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/wwohp5-600.jpg

After walking through Hogsmeade, we made our way to a certain school of witchcraft and wizardry.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/wwohp4-600.jpg

The wait time for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was being advertised as only 10 minutes, so we hopped in line. Apparently, we didn’t know the tip about stowing your stuff at the lockers by Dragon Challenge to avoid the craziness of trying to use the lockers in Hogwarts. We probably could have saved at least a good 5 minutes by doing that. Plus, the room with the lockers inside Hogwarts is small, dark and crowded, and it’s fairly stressful trying to get in and out of. Once our bags were stowed, we joined the queue (sorry for the lack of photos, but I stowed my camera in the locker too). As many others have said, it’s very well themed and immersive. You could really tell who the big Potter fans in the crowd were too because they would stop every few seconds, gasp at something else, and take a hundred photos of it. Even with all the stops, the line moved fairly quickly. Within 25 or 30 minutes, we were boarding our flying benches and following Harry and company. I’d heard a lot about how amazing this ride was, and while I thought it was interesting, it didn’t live up to the hype. I didn’t really like the film segments (for some reason, my eyes had trouble focusing on the action at all of them) and the show scenes consisted primarily of things jumping out and making you uncomfortable. The ride system and vehicle itself was pretty cool though- sort of if you rode Sum of All Thrills through the Haunted Mansion. In the end, I thought it was a good ride and very impressive in a lot of respects, but I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. Maybe it’s just my kind of ride.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/wwohp6-600.jpg

After braving the crazy, crowded locker room to get our bags and exiting though the crazy, crowded gift shop, we headed back towards Hogsmeade, which was looking pretty crowded itself.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/wwohp7-600.jpg

Next, we wanted to hit the land’s big roller coaster- Dragon Challenge. After stowing our bags in the nearby and much-less-crowded lockers, we joined the queue. I don’t think that we have seen the movie that this ride was based on, but caught on to the basic plot. Like Forbidden Journey, we ended up waiting around 30 minutes. The ride itself was a good roller coaster. The dueling component to it was fun, and the moments where it looked as if the two coasters were about to crash into each other were very well done. I was a bit disappointed that after a very well-themed queue, the ride itself was surrounded by the less-than-impressive backs of buildings and tons of gravel. The moment you left the station, the whole feeling of being in Harry Potter’s world was gone and it was just another roller coaster- a good roller coaster, but not a themed experience like the rest of the land.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/wwohp8-600.jpg

Back to Hosmeade. Now that’s theming!


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/wwohp9-600.jpg

After grabbing our bags, I headed over to the train station to meet…


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/wwohp10-600.jpg

The Conductor of the Hogwarts Express. He posed for pictures in front of his train and chit-chatted with guests. I forgot to ask if he signed autographs like other characters, so I ended up just getting a photo. Does anyone know if he even has a name?


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We had one more attraction left to do in the Wizarding World, so we headed back towards the now-even-more crowded streets of Hogsmeade, taking in the scenery one more time.


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Back closer to Hogwarts, we found the Flight of the Hippogriff, and while in the queue, strolled past Hagrid’s hut.


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One of the most impressive parts of the attraction was this animatronic hippogriff that you see briefly on the ride, but get a better look at from the queue. It looked fantastic. Behind it is another instance of less-than-perfect theming of the area- the exposed show building for the Forbidden Journey. It just sort of sat there at the edge of the forest unexplained and undecorated. So much of the Wizarding World had such amazing theming that things like this and minimal theming on Dragon Challenge just seemed to stick out even more. The ride itself was fun, though. It may be a kids coaster, but it felt longer and a bit more intense than something like the Barnstormer, but not too long or scary to where kids wouldn’t enjoy it. All in all, a nice little ride, and the wait wasn’t too bad (maybe 20 minutes at most).


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After almost two hours of exploring the Wizarding World, we decided to move on and experience the park’s other lands. We took a few last photos and enjoyed a little of the Frog Choir show (from afar, the crowd around the little stage they perform at was already quite large by the time we got to them), we decided to head on towards Marvel Super Hero Island.



Next chapter: “Pictures! Pictures of Spider-Man!”

dawnbu40
08-13-2011, 01:13 PM
We are huge fans of the Harry Potter books so every trip to WDW we debate if we should pay a visit to the WWoHP but so far we've always decided against it. Your pictures however are really tempting me to go and see it for myself! :)

I'm looking forward to hearing and seeing more of your day! :goodvibes

saintstickets
08-13-2011, 01:54 PM
We are huge fans of the Harry Potter books so every trip to WDW we debate if we should pay a visit to the WWoHP but so far we've always decided against it. Your pictures however are really tempting me to go and see it for myself! :)

I'm looking forward to hearing and seeing more of your day! :goodvibes

Ditto for us except this next trip in May, 2012 we are going to take the plunge and visit IoA and WWoHP! :cool1:

Keep the great TR coming meeko!

meeko_33785
08-14-2011, 01:40 PM
We are huge fans of the Harry Potter books so every trip to WDW we debate if we should pay a visit to the WWoHP but so far we've always decided against it. Your pictures however are really tempting me to go and see it for myself! :)

I'm looking forward to hearing and seeing more of your day! :goodvibes

If you're a Harry Potter fan, I bet that you'd love the Wizarding World. For the most part, it's amazingly well done. I'm glad that you're enjoying the report so far.


Ditto for us except this next trip in May, 2012 we are going to take the plunge and visit IoA and WWoHP! :cool1:

Keep the great TR coming meeko!

Awesome. That's the trip without any Disney park visits, right?

wdwgirl03
08-14-2011, 06:55 PM
dawnbu40 and saintstickets...you definitely need to visit IOA especially if you are such big Harry Potter fans. It is well worth the trip!

Meeko, sorry you didn't care for Forbidden Journey. My sisters and I thought it was awesome

saintstickets
08-14-2011, 10:36 PM
If you're a Harry Potter fan, I bet that you'd love the Wizarding World. For the most part, it's amazingly well done. I'm glad that you're enjoying the report so far.

Awesome. That's the trip without any Disney park visits, right?
Yes it is. We will be staying at VWL the entire trip but not going into any WDW parks. Shhhh....don't tell Mickey! :lmao:

dawnbu40 and saintstickets...you definitely need to visit IOA especially if you are such big Harry Potter fans. It is well worth the trip!
Oh this visit to WWoHP is for our DD. She's the big Harry Potter fan. I wouldn't know a Basilisk from a Hippogriff. Oops! Did I just give myself away? :sad2:

Lady Lallie
08-15-2011, 06:29 AM
Wow. I really need to get myself to Universal. Your pictures are awesome. It's just so hard to plan a trip to Universal when you don't rent a car or anything while at Disney. I guess I'm going to have to make it a priority though. :laughing:

wdwgirl03
08-15-2011, 12:36 PM
Wow. I really need to get myself to Universal. Your pictures are awesome. It's just so hard to plan a trip to Universal when you don't rent a car or anything while at Disney. I guess I'm going to have to make it a priority though. :laughing:

When my sisters and I went we used the Mears shuttle service. I think it was $18 round trip per person. You just call and they will pick you up from your Disney resort. It was really easy and worked well for us.

meeko_33785
08-15-2011, 03:42 PM
dawnbu40 and saintstickets...you definitely need to visit IOA especially if you are such big Harry Potter fans. It is well worth the trip!

Meeko, sorry you didn't care for Forbidden Journey. My sisters and I thought it was awesome

It isn't that I hated the ride or anything- there was a lot in it that I thought was really cool, mostly in the queue through Hogwarts- but for whatever reason the ride itself just wasn't amazing for me. It may be because I'm just not that big of a Harry Potter fan, but I'm really not into the movie Jaws and that ride was my favorite at Universal Studios. The same goes for Twilight Zone and, to a degree, Peter Pan and those rides are my favorites at Disney. Who knows. I'd be more than willing to ride it again though. I liked it; I just didn't love it.


Yes it is. We will be staying at VWL the entire trip but not going into any WDW parks. Shhhh....don't tell Mickey! :lmao:


Oh this visit to WWoHP is for our DD. She's the big Harry Potter fan. I wouldn't know a Basilisk from a Hippogriff. Oops! Did I just give myself away? :sad2:

Don't worry, I won't tell Mickey if you won't. :laughing:


Wow. I really need to get myself to Universal. Your pictures are awesome. It's just so hard to plan a trip to Universal when you don't rent a car or anything while at Disney. I guess I'm going to have to make it a priority though. :laughing:

Sarah/ wdwgirl mentioned it too, but from what I've seen, the Mears shuttle seems to be a good way to go. I was actually looking into it a while back, and it seems to be one of the better deals for getting from Disney to Universal. I think if you're a Harry Potter fan, you'll enjoy it. If you really take the time to explore the shops, see the little street shows and eat at the Three Broomsticks, you could easily spend most of the day just in the Wizarding World.

meeko_33785
08-17-2011, 04:00 PM
You may recognize this chapter’s title as a quote from Peter Parker’s demanding boss J. Jonah Jameson, so, not surprisingly, this chapter will focus on Spidey and the rest of the gang from Marvel Super Hero Island. Aside from the Wizarding World, Buzz and I had heard the most good word about the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman attraction, so after leaving Hogwarts, we decided to make that our next stop.


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Along the way, we decided to make a quick stop in Toon Lagoon for a few photos. We spotted the infamous Hush-A-Bomb. Concerning the bomb, the infamous no-goodniks from Pottsylvania had this to say:


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Buzz and I grew up watching Rocky and Bullwinkle, so it was fun seeing things from the show integrated into a theme park like this. It’s just too bad the Dudley-Do-Right ride was closed at the time. If we make it back there someday, I’d love to ride it.


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The theming around Marvel Super Hero Island was a lot of fun. I really liked the architecture and design elements.


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Our first Marvel attraction was the much-discussed Spider-Man ride. By now I thought we’d see waiting in longer lines like we saw over at the Wizarding World by the time we left it, but all the wait times here were fairly reasonable. We didn’t wait much more than 10 minutes for Spider-Man.


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The queue winds through the headquarters of the Daily Bugle, and there was plenty to see along the way.


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J. Jonah Jameson plays a big part in the queue and pre-show videos of the attraction. Buzz and I tend to find Jameson very amusing, so we really enjoyed the whole build-up to the ride. As for the attraction itself, it was great. The technology behind it was very well done, and unlike at the Forbidden Journey, I didn’t have any troubles with my eyes not adjusting to the film portions. It was definitely one of my favorite things at Islands of Adventure.


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After the ride, some of the Marvel Super Heroes had come out for a meet-and-greet, so I decided to go and get some photos and autographs. First was Cyclops from the X-Men.


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Nearby was Wolverine.


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Captain America was looking as patriotic as ever.


Next, I thought that I’d head over to the Marvel Store where Spider-Man was appearing. Buzz doesn’t usually come along with me when I’m meeting characters, but he wanted to come along and see Spider-Man with me. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the front of the line, Spider-Man ran out of the store saying that he would be back in 5 minutes. After a while, it was obvious that Spidey was going to be a bit longer, so we decided to check out the rest of the island instead.


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Some more of the fun theming of the area.


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Our next attraction was Doctor Doom’s Fearfall. There really was no line to speak of; we just had to wait until the next vehicle to start loading. The ride is a free-fall tower attraction, sort of like Tower of Terror but much less elaborate. Unlike Tower of Terror, the whole ride consists of shooting you to the top of the tower and then lowering you slowly back to the ground. The thrills only lasted about 10 seconds which was pretty disappointing. At least the views of the park as you came down were neat. I can’t see us rushing back to this one, and I’m glad we didn’t have to wait to ride it.


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Next, we headed over to the Incredible Hulk coaster. The waits were a bit longer here, but not more than 15 or 20 minutes. This was also another one of the attractions that you have to put your loose articles in a locker, but it was a lot less painful than over at Forbidden Journey. I can’t remember if I mentioned this before, but on attractions where you are required to stow your stuff, locker rentals are free for the length of your ride experience.


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The coaster was great and has to be another of my favorite IOA attractions. The theming was consistent throughout (more so than Dragon Challenge).


We had one more attraction left in Marvel Super Hero Island. Storm Force Acceleration. Basically, it’s the Tea Cup ride. They really tried to spice it up with an X-Men-themed storyline where you’re trying to defeat a villain, but it’s still the Tea Cups. Fortunately, we like the Tea Cup ride, especially Buzz who can spin a Tea Cup faster than I ever thought possible. Needless to say, we got very dizzy but enjoyed the ride.


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By this time the Super Heroes were coming back for another meet-and-greet. As they arrived, they did a little parade around the land.


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At last, we got photos and autographs from that friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.


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The last Heroes left to meet were Storm and Rogue from the X-Men.


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Having done everything that we wanted on the Marvel Island, we headed on to Toon Lagoon. On the way, we spotted a statue of J. Jonah Jameson outside the Daily Bugle and had to take a photo. It seems so fitting that Jameson would want a statue of himself, but you’d think he would have wanted a different pose than this. Oh well, it’s funnier this way.



Next chapter: Toon Lagoon with Popeye, Dagwood and Betty Boop

meeko_33785
08-22-2011, 08:30 AM
After Marvel Super Hero Island, we made our way to Toon Lagoon. I’ve been calling Islands of Adventure the “Geekiest Place on Earth” in this report, and if I had to pick an island that Buzz and I are the geekiest about, it would have to be Toon Lagoon. The theming and atmosphere around it turned out to be a lot of fun, and I loved the background music that was piped in.


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For those of you who have read my past Disney trip reports, you might remember that I like to take pictures of all the references to the more obscure characters around the World, and I have to admit, it was fun to find references to obscure non-Disney characters around Toon Lagoon, like Betty Boop’s boyfriend Bimbo.


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Anyone else remember (or has even heard of) Little Nemo?


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As you would expect for Toon Lagoon, there were Toons around to greet guests. When we arrived, I found Betty Boop and got her autograph and took her photo. She was fun and perfectly in character, even singing “Boop-Oop-A-Doop” along with the background music. For anyone who has never been to Universal, Betty Boop is huge there, and the shops are full of all sorts of Betty merchandise. Fortunately, unlike at Disney where the most popular characters usually have ridiculously long lines at meet-and-greets, Ms. Boop’s line was very short. I had heard that Popeye and Olive Oil usually can be found for meet-and-greets in Toon Lagoon as well, but unfortunately they weren’t out yet.


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Nearby, Betty Boop’s dog Pudgy is part of a dog-themed water play area.


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With Dudley Do-Right closed, there was only one big attraction to do in Toon Lagoon- Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges. In all honesty, Buzz and I aren’t big fans of water rides where you get drenched and, with the exception of Splash Mountain, rarely do them while at theme parks. From what we had seen of the Bilge-Rat Barges though, it looked pretty fun, so we broke out our ponchos and decided to give it a try. Not wanting to get our cameras drenched, was asked a Team Member if there were lockers nearby, but he informed us that each raft had a waterproof compartment for bags (which you can see in the center of the raft in the picture) if we didn’t want to rent a locker. :thumbsup2 Even better than not having to pay for a locker, the ride was a literal walk-on.


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Since there was no one else in line, we ended up having a raft all to ourselves. Even though water rides aren’t usually our thing, we had a really great time. All the story and theming elements were very well-done, and fortunately we didn’t get too drenched. I think with the possible exception of Spider-Man, this was my favorite attraction of the day. It was definitely one of the biggest surprises of the day.


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After the ride, we dried off by checking out the areas around Popeye’s boat, Me Ship The Olive. Since the ship itself was mostly a play area, we skipped most of it, but we had a blast exploring the boardwalk around it which was full of theming and visual puns.


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By now, it was time for lunch. As cartoon fans, the idea of eating at Blondie’s deli sounded like a lot of fun, so we decided to grab some sandwiches there.


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The deli’s specialty is The Dagwood, based on its namesake’s multi-layer creations. It looked way too much for us (who wants to go on thrill rides after eating a giant sandwich?), so we opted for some of Blondie’s smaller sandwiches and a couple of bags of chips. I can’t say it was the most spectacular sandwich that I’ve ever had or that it wasn’t overpriced, but it was good for a fairly basic sandwich.


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The atmosphere is what really made the experience worth it to us. The décor of the restaurant is a lot of fun- very retro and cartoon-like, so I think that it was worth a try, at least just this once. Also, don’t let this picture fool you. When we got to the restaurant, it was completely packed. About half-way through out meal though, the crowd thinned out to the point that we were the only ones left in the restaurant. It was a little odd, but gave us a chance to get pictures of the restaurant without a ton of people in it. All in all, we enjoyed our lunch.


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After lunch, the next attraction that we wanted to try was the Jurassic Park River Adventure, so we headed in that direction. On the way, we made a stop at Wossamotta U. If you grew up watching Rocky and Bullwinkle like we did, you might remember that WU was Bullwinkle J. Moose’s Alma Mater. Inside Wossamotta U was a gift shop that, unfortunately, sold no Rocky and Bullwinkle memorabilia. However, if you’re looking for a Betty Boop cell phone cover, this is the place for you.


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Some of the characters cheer on the home team at the WU stadium.


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Across the way was Gasoline Alley.


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As the stains of John Williams’ score filled the air, we crossed the bridge to Jurassic Park.


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The wait was a bit longer than at Bilge-Rat Barges, but was still no more than 10 or 15 minutes. We really enjoyed this ride as well. It’s another water ride, so we broke out our ponchos again for it. You do get very wet on this one- a lot more so than on Splash Mountain. At the last drop, it felt like a wall of water just hit us. Still, the ride was great. The theming was great and there were plenty of well-done show scenes complete with some large animatronic dinosaurs. After the ride, Buzz and I decided to split up. I had a 2-Park ticket and wanted to spend an hour or so at Universal Studios to get some more character photos, while Buzz wanted to stay at Islands of Adventure. He ended up sticking around Jurassic Park for a while exploring the Discovery Center (which he described as sort of a dino-version of Animal Kingdom’s Conservation Station complete with lectures and dinosaur presentations) before going on to some of the other islands to take pictures.


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As I exited Islands of Adventure, I took a few more last photos of the Port of Entry.


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Next chapter: Lots of characters from the Studios and Seuss Landing

dawnbu40
08-22-2011, 09:11 AM
Fun update!! Spidey is my family's favorite superhero so I loved the pic of him!

Sorry the food at Blondie's wasn't better but it looks really cute! Your picture looks like a cartoon :)

Looking forward to hearing what you did at Universal.

jenseib
08-22-2011, 09:25 AM
Lovin the updates. I really want to explore these parks someday

meeko_33785
08-22-2011, 09:42 AM
Fun update!! Spidey is my family's favorite superhero so I loved the pic of him!

Sorry the food at Blondie's wasn't better but it looks really cute! Your picture looks like a cartoon :)

Looking forward to hearing what you did at Universal.

It really wasn't that the food was bad at Blondie's, it's just that I guess I was expecting more based on the price. It tasted good, but it was just your basic sandwich. You really get more for less money over at Earl of Sanwich at Downtown Disney, but I guess one should expect theme park food would be more overpriced. The theming was really fun though, and overall I'd say that we had a possitive experience at Blondie's.


Lovin the updates. I really want to explore these parks someday

I'd recommend giving them a try. I used to be one of those Disney fans that just would not to go Universal, but they really won me over.

meeko_33785
08-26-2011, 09:00 AM
Once outside of Islands of Adventure, it was only a short walk (5 minutes at most) until I was inside the gate at the Studios. We rarely park-hop at Disney anymore, but if it was as easy as it is at Universal, maybe we would hop more often. As much as I enjoyed all the attractions at the Studios when Buzz and I were there in October, the reason I wanted to spend some time there on this trip was to see some more characters. Buzz and I agreed to meet up at Seuss Landing one hour after we split up, so it was going to be interesting to see how many meet-and-greets I could fit into one hour. I was going to start with the crew from Madagascar first, but their line looked fairly long, so I decided to pass on them.


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While walking down Hollywood Boulevard, I found Curious George. Back in October, I only managed to get a photo of him in his pirate Halloween costume, so it was nice to see George in his more traditional form.


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Nearby, Woody Woodpecker was greeting fans. This was also my first time meeting “classic” Woody since he was a Halloween vampire when I saw him last. Scooby-Doo was also out, but since he had a longer line than the other two (meaning he had a short line and the others barely had any line to speak of), I decided to skip him and see what other characters I could find.


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I really the theming at the Studios- almost as much as the theming at Disney.


I checked both Shrek’s and Spongebob Squarepants’ locations, but none of the characters seemed to be out. I headed back to the Hollywood area but didn’t find any characters there either. My plan didn’t seem to be working out very well.


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While in Hollywood, I decided to look around Lucy: A Tribute again. I Love Lucy is one of my all-time favorite TV shows, so it’s always nice to get a chance to look around this exhibit.


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Outside the exhibit, I found Gene Kelly’s star on Universal’s version of the Walk of Fame. I’m also a fan of those old MGM musicals with Singin’ in the Rain being my favorite, and I was disappointed that this star was covered up by some Halloween Horror Nights decorations last time.


By now, the characters were starting to reappear. Scooby and Shaggy were the first to come out (although, sadly, they weren’t driving the Mystery Machine this time), so I was going to see them until I noticed a familiar redhead walking down the street.


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Of course, it was Lucy Ricardo herself. Ricky wasn’t out with her this time (according to Lucy, he was busy rehearsing with his band for Mardi Gras), but it was fun being able to chat with Lucy about what she, Fred and Ethel have been up to and get some photos. She was awesome. Without a doubt, this was the best meet-and-greet of the day.


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Lucy pointed out that Marilyn Monroe was nearby, so I went to see her as well.


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A candid shot of Lucy wandering through Hollywood. I love how it looks like she’s thinking about going into Schwab’s Pharmacy since she actually did mention going there in attempt to get discovered at the soda fountain a la Lana Turner in one of the old I Love Lucy episodes. Plus, the empty street shows how empty the park was- a far cry from the bustling Hogsmead.


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I finally did get over to see Shaggy and Scooby. These two are also some of my favorite characters at Universal and are always fun to interact with.


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Next, I headed over to the Nickstuff store to see if Spongebob was out yet. He was- and with no line to see him- so I got a few pictures.


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There wasn’t any line to Shrek, Donkey and Fiona either. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no fan of the Shrek films, but they’re fun as characters in the park. Donkey especially is always good for a wisecrack (for those who have never been to Universal, yes, Donkey does talk at meet-and-greets).


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After seeing the crew from Shrek, I found a character that I hadn’t met before- Dave the Minion from Despicable Me. I still haven’t seen this movie, but it’s on my list of movies to see someday.


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It was almost time for me to head back to Islands of Adventure to meet up with Buzz, so I decided to end my time at the Studios by meeting more of my favorite characters- The Simpsons.


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The Simpsons characters usually arrive driving their RV down the street, which is decorated with tons of references to the show.


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Even with a somewhat slow start, I still ended up getting pictures of 15 different characters in a little over half an hour. Usually I’m amazed if I’m able to meet that many characters in a whole day at most other parks. Universal Studios is definitely one of my new favorite parks for characters.


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After another short walk, I was back in Islands of Adventure and on my way to Seuss Landing. Once I got there, I quickly spotted Buzz and we went on to explore the land.


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Of course, after an hour of meeting characters, the first thing I did was meet some more characters. I spotted the Grinch first outside one of the shops. He was very Grinch-like and didn’t want to give my pen back after he signed his autograph (you can see him holding it in the photo). His heart must have grown three sizes after that because he did give it back after the photo was taken.


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Inside the shop was the ever-charming Cat in the Hat himself.


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The rest of the characters wouldn’t be out until later for the character show at Circus McGurkus, so now was a good time to try the Cat in the Hat ride. The wait wasn’t bad at all- less than 10 minutes. The ride was cute, but a little more trippy than I imagined (maybe it was because it’s been a long time since I read The Cat in the Hat but I had no idea what was happening in the middle of the ride when everything turned psychedelic for no explained reason). It was also more intense than your usual dark ride to the point where there were signs saying that pregnant women shouldn’t ride. We were a little confused by the ride, but it was pretty fun.


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Of course, the ride empties into a gift shop where you can buy some of those Thing 1 and Thing 2 shirts you see tourists wearing all over Orlando. For the record, we didn’t buy any.


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The “Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear!” character show was our next stop, so he headed towards Circus McGurkus. On the way, we spotted the Lorax.


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A Seussian elephant welcomed us in to the Circus Tent



Next chapter: Ending our day by finishing Seuss Landing, revisiting a few favorite attractions and trying Butterbeer.

dawnbu40
08-26-2011, 09:14 AM
Wow! 15 characters in less than an hour?! That's great :thumbsup2

Sounds like you had a lot of fun with the meet and greets.

I love the pic of Lucy in front of Schwab's :) Very classic!

Lady Lallie
08-26-2011, 09:21 AM
Look at that character luck! Wow!

You have convinced me that I need to give Universal a second chance. I didn't have a great time the first time I went but your report is making me realize that I missed out on a lot of things.

I have to go just so I can meet the Simpsons. We own all the seasons that are on DVD and watch them almost nightly before bed. I also need to meet Woody Woodpecker, that was one of my FAVORITE cartoons growing up. My godfather does a mean Woody Woodpecker impression as well. It thrilled my brother and I growing up.

wdwgirl03
08-26-2011, 10:42 AM
Wow, you sure saw a lot of characters! That's cool they had the Grinch. I remember we saw him on our first trip to IOA but that was after Christmas. He definitely was grinchy then too.

meeko_33785
08-27-2011, 09:14 AM
Wow! 15 characters in less than an hour?! That's great :thumbsup2

Sounds like you had a lot of fun with the meet and greets.

I love the pic of Lucy in front of Schwab's :) Very classic!

The meet-and-greets were fantastic, and that picture is one of my favorites from the day, I was glad that I was there at just the right tme to capture it.


Look at that character luck! Wow!

You have convinced me that I need to give Universal a second chance. I didn't have a great time the first time I went but your report is making me realize that I missed out on a lot of things.

I have to go just so I can meet the Simpsons. We own all the seasons that are on DVD and watch them almost nightly before bed. I also need to meet Woody Woodpecker, that was one of my FAVORITE cartoons growing up. My godfather does a mean Woody Woodpecker impression as well. It thrilled my brother and I growing up.

I think that there's a lot of things that you'd like at Universal. Even if you're not into thrill rides (which I remember you aren't), there's plenty shows to see, characters to meet and a ton of amazing theming and movie sets to explore.. Plus, if you're a fan on the Simpsons, you should at least give the Simpsons Ride a chance. It's a simulator so it's a little bit of a thrill, but it's not too bad. If you can handle Star Tours and Soarin' I think you can do the Simpsons. And, of course, I know that you'd love Hogsmeade.


Wow, you sure saw a lot of characters! That's cool they had the Grinch. I remember we saw him on our first trip to IOA but that was after Christmas. He definitely was grinchy then too.

The Grinch was one of my favorite meet-and-greets over at Islands of Adventure since he was so perfectly Grinchy. It was a nice change since there aren't really any other villains at Universal. Plus, I was glad to see it was the classic Grinch and not the crazy Jim Carrey version.

meeko_33785
08-29-2011, 09:19 AM
After the Cat in the Hat ride, we headed over to Circus McGurkus, the counter service restaurant where the Seuss-themed character show “Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear” is presented throughout the day. About 5 minutes before show time, we found a table near the stage area.


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The show was cute. A “Reader” comes out to tell a few Seuss stories and the Cat in the Hat and company did a few dance numbers. It’s really more for kids (which we knew going into it), but it was fun seeing the characters and hearing a few stories that we hadn’t heard in a long time.


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The main reason I wanted to see the show was what came afterwards- a meet-and-greet. The Reader told everyone to find a table and that the characters would come around and visit them. The first character to come around was Thing 1.


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After a while, everyone sort of gave up on the whole wait-at-your-table-and-the-characters-would-come-to-you bit and everyone just started forming lines to see them. Sam I Am (of Green Eggs and Ham fame) was nearby, so I saw him next.


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Lastly, I saw Thing 2. The Cat and the Grinch were there too, but since I had just seen them earlier, I passed on them.


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After the show, we left Seuss Landing and headed back towards Toon Lagoon. Since I had missed the meet-and-greet with Popeye and Olive Oyl when we were there earlier in the day, I was hoping to be able to find them again before they were done for the day.


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Shortly after arriving, I found the cartoon couple just inside one of the gift shops and got photos and autographs.


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While in Toon Lagoon, we did some more exploring. There are so many great details and photo ops throughout the area. This Shoe-inspired one, for instance, has multiple punch lines that rotated so every time you walked by, you could see a new one.


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Anybody else remember Aesop and Son from Rocky and Bullwinkle?


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More Rocky and Bullwinkle references.


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After Toon Lagoon, we passed through Marvel Super Hero Island to head back to Seuss Landing. Since we were a little more than an hour away from closing time, we figured we would make a loop around the park doing all the things that we missed the first time and end up in Marvel Super Hero Island to re-ride as many of our favorite rides and time would permit.


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Our first stop on our final loop was the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride. It’s somewhat comparable to the Peoplemover at Magic Kingdom and takes you on a tour of the land. Unlike the Peoplemover, though, it appears to be fairly low capacity and commonly seems to have some of the longest lines in the park (outside of the Wizarding World, of course). We waited about 20 minutes which, from what I’ve heard, isn’t too bad. For the most part, the ride is pretty disjointed and attempts to retell the story of the Sneeches, the birds that either had or had not stars on their bellies, but went in our of the story to to quick bits of other stories as you pass their respective locations in the park. Still, in a whole, the ride was pretty charming and gave great views of Seuss Landing and its theming, including a trip right through the Circus McGurkis tent. I don’t think I would wait more than 20 minutes for it, but I liked it. A word of warning to the health concious or impulse shoppers: this ride dumps you into a wonderful-smelling and extremely tempting candy store.


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Since we were nearby, we decided to take a spin on the Caro-Seuss-el. There wasn’t any wait, which was a plus.


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A Sneech in one of the shops on the way out of Seuss Landing.


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Next, we walked through the Lost Continent. We didn’t really do anything in this land besides walking through it to get to the Wizarding World. If we come back to Islands of Adventure in the future, I think one of my priorities would be to spend more time here.


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Back in Hogsmeade, there was one more thing that I wanted to do- try Butterbeer. If you’ve never had it, the only way I can describe it is sort of a cream soda float with a hint of butterscotch. It was delicious. As cool as the attractions were, this just might be my favorite thing at the Wizarding World. I guess they really do have something for everyone. While I finished up my Butterbeer, we headed past Hogwarts and over to Jurassic Park where Buzz wanted to buy a pin that he had spotted there earlier in the day.


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While Buzz was making his purchase, I got a few more photos around the area.


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Since we had just done a good amount of exploring in Toon Lagoon, we pretty much breezed through it this time en route to Marvel Super Hero Island.


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We started by going on Spider-Man again. This time there was barely any line, and again we enjoyed both the thrills and antics of J. Jonah Jameson.


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Next, we did another of our favorites for the day- the Incredible Hulk. The line was on the short side here as well. After our ride, it was almost time for the park to close, so we decided to head back towards Port of Entry.


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Some of the fun details around the area.


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On the way out, we looked through a few of the shops around the exit and, since we apparently had not been through enough shops that day, hit the Universal Studios Store at City Walk before heading back to the parking garage.



Next chapter: Reflections on Islands of Adventure

Jennifer48
08-29-2011, 03:58 PM
I haven't been to Universal in years. Besides adding WWoHP, I didn't realize how many more changes there have been! I guess I don't pay much attention now that I'm a Disney snob :rotfl:

What great character meets you got!

I must get down to HP, I love that whole series.

meeko_33785
08-30-2011, 09:23 AM
I haven't been to Universal in years. Besides adding WWoHP, I didn't realize how many more changes there have been! I guess I don't pay much attention now that I'm a Disney snob :rotfl:

What great character meets you got!

I must get down to HP, I love that whole series.

We use to be big Disney snobs too, but after they added the Simpsons Ride, we knew that we'd eventually have to get to Universal. I'm glad we did; we do enjoy their parks as well, though the Disney ones are still our favorites. If you're a Harry Potter fan, I'd really recommend giving Universal another try.

meeko_33785
09-01-2011, 09:19 AM
I've come to the end of our first day trip of the year. To wrap up most of my trip reports for the year, I’m planning on writing some sort of post like this that has the kind of information that could be helpful for trip planning (crowds, weather, quick reviews, etc.). This is something that I hope would be helpful, but even if it’s not, I hope you’ll enjoy this look back at the trip.


Weather:
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The weather throughout the day was as good as we could possibly hope for. It was a little foggy in the morning, but within the first hour or so, it burned off. The rest of the day was sunny with absolutely no rain and temperatures that were warm enough that going on water rides was pleasant but not hot or humid to the point that it was uncomfortable. In general, February is a hard month to predict what the weather will be like for Florida, but the weather we experienced when we went was pretty ideal for visiting a theme park. One thing that I noticed about the park was that while there were half a dozen or so indoor rides, there weren’t a lot of longer attractions (3D movies, live shows, longer omimover rides etc.) where you can just sit down in the air conditioning for a while. Even though there are a number of water rides to cool you down too, I couldn’t help thinking that the park would not be as much fun in the summer heat.


Crowds and Wait Times:
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Buzz and I had picked to come to Islands of Adventure in February since we figured the crowds would be lower, and for the most part they were extremely manageable. The only place where the park ever felt crowded was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter where the tiny streets and courtyards were almost always congested and the lines remained long for most of the day. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in particular had continually long lines, rising to an hour or more within the first few hours that it was open. Since we were there for rope drop, we were able to ride each of the land’s three attractions with wait times of no more than 20 - 30 minutes. Beyond the Wizarding World, the highest waits we experienced, or even saw posted, were 15 – 20 minutes for The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Jurassic Park River Adventure and The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride. Everything else was 10 minutes or less including a few walk-ons.


Attraction Highlights:
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Since this was our first time at Islands of Adventure, everything was new to us. From all the hype, I was expecting to be very impressed by Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and while I enjoyed the ride (and perhaps more so enjoyed the queue through Hogwarts Castle), it wasn’t one of my favorite rides of the day. Instead, I’d have to pick The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges as my favorites in the park. Other highlights of the day included Dragon Challenge, Jurassic Park River Cruise and the aforementioned Forbidden Journey. And while not big name attraction, I also enjoyed walking around the boardwalk that surrounds Me Ship the Olive to see all of the toon-like details and visual puns. The only attraction of the day that we thought was a bit of a dud was Doctor Doom’s Fearfall which offered some nice views but only about 10 seconds worth of the thrills it promised.


Dining:
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We had lunch at Blondie’s, the comic strip-themed deli in Toon Lagoon. While the decor of the restaurant was a lot of fun and just what we were hoping for, the sandwiches that we had were fairly basic and a bit overpriced. It’s a theme park, so overpriced food is no surprise. I honestly can’t say that we didn’t enjoy our sandwiches or the experience in general. I do think that if we return to the park in the future that we would try a different restaurant instead. And while not a complete meal, I would be amiss in not mentioning the Wizarding World’s infamous sweet beverage Butterbeer. I loved it and would love to try it again on a future visit.


Characters:
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While at Islands of Adventure, I managed to meet and photograph 15 different characters including the Hogwarts Express Conductor in the Wizarding World, Spider-Man and other Marvel heroes on Marvel Super Hero Island, Betty Boop, Popeye and Olive Oyl in Toon Lagoon and a number of Seussian characters in Seuss Landing. Out of these, The Grinch and Betty Boop were among some of the more memorable meet-and-greets of the day. While doing a little park hopping over to Universal Studios, I ended up finding 15 more, one of which (Dave the Minion from Despicable Me ) I had not met on my first Universal trip. Between the two parks, I liked the characters over at the Studios considerably more with Lucy Ricardo, The Simpsons and Scooby-Doo and Shaggy being some of my favorites.



All in all, I enjoyed our first trip to the “Geekiest Place on Earth”, but overall I didn’t really like the park as much as the ones at Disney or even Universal Studios. I’m still not sure if it’s because the themes of the lands just don’t spark my interest as much or the attractions didn’t impress me that much or what, but it didn’t leave me wanting to return like Universal Studios did when I went last year. It really was an impressive park with some state-of-the-art attractions with some very well done (and some not-as-well-done) theming and is worth at least one visit. If I do make it back, riding Dudley Do-Right’s Rip-Saw Falls (which unfortunately was closed the day that we went) and actually spending some time in the Lost Continent would be at the top of my list of things to do.




I hope that you enjoyed this first portion of the report. Hopefully I haven’t lost any Disney fans out there by writing about Universal for a month, but next, I’ll be back to writing about Disney and our May day trip to the Magic Kingdom. For the Universal fans out there, after that the next trip will be yet another day trip, this time a whole day at Universal Studios. Hopefully, I'll be able to get the first chapter of the next report up shortly after Labor Day. Until then, thanks again for reading so far.

Jennifer48
09-01-2011, 01:58 PM
Thanks for the review! Can't wait to read about more geeky adventures! :goodvibes

saintstickets
09-01-2011, 09:14 PM
Great recap! Look forward to reading more.

meeko_33785
09-02-2011, 02:23 PM
Thanks for the review! Can't wait to read about more geeky adventures! :goodvibes

Glad you enjoyed it. I suppose the adventures will still continue to be geeky, but more "Disney" geeky. :laughing:


Great recap! Look forward to reading more.

Thanks so much.

Lady Lallie
09-02-2011, 04:34 PM
I really loved your report about Universal. It makes me want to give it another chance. Besides, I absolutely must try Butterbeer. I've been reading about in Harry Potter for over 10 years now, it's got to be good! :lmao:

meeko_33785
09-03-2011, 10:03 AM
I really loved your report about Universal. It makes me want to give it another chance. Besides, I absolutely must try Butterbeer. I've been reading about in Harry Potter for over 10 years now, it's got to be good! :lmao:

Butterbeer is delicious as long as you like things sweet. If you do, definitely give it a try should you go to the Wizarding World. :thumbsup2

jenseib
09-03-2011, 09:14 PM
Now why wouldn't you and Buzz get the Thing 1 and 2 shirts? :rotfl2:

Are you identical? I guess it would be more fun if you were. :rotfl:

Thanks for the reviews! You once again make me want to go to Universal.

dawnbu40
09-04-2011, 09:09 AM
Thank you for sharing your IOA day! I enjoyed all the pictures and seeing all the different characters :thumbsup2

Looking forward to hearing about more of your Disney adventures :)

meeko_33785
09-04-2011, 04:14 PM
Now why wouldn't you and Buzz get the Thing 1 and 2 shirts? :rotfl2:

Are you identical? I guess it would be more fun if you were. :rotfl:

Thanks for the reviews! You once again make me want to go to Universal.

Buzz and I haven't done the matching shirts since we were about 5 years old. I just can't see us getting into that now. :laughing:


Thank you for sharing your IOA day! I enjoyed all the pictures and seeing all the different characters :thumbsup2

Looking forward to hearing about more of your Disney adventures :)

Glad you enjoyed the report. Seeing all the different characters was one of my favorite parts of Universal. As much as I love Disney, it's great to "meet" some other characters too.

I'm still hoping to get my next Disney report started on Tuesday. I'm looking forward to writing about Disney again. :earsboy:

jenseib
09-04-2011, 05:29 PM
Buzz and I haven't done the matching shirts since we were about 5 years old. I just can't see us getting into that now. :laughing:




:lmao:

reelmom
09-05-2011, 08:19 AM
Great report! We are going to Universal next year and your pictures are making me even more excited to go.

meeko_33785
09-06-2011, 08:54 AM
Great report! We are going to Universal next year and your pictures are making me even more excited to go.

Thanks. After the Magic Kingdom report, I'll have another Universal Studios report to post, so I hope that you stick around for that.

meeko_33785
09-06-2011, 09:28 AM
“Best Day (Trip) Ever”-May 2011 Day Trip
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Admittedly, beginning a Disney trip report with a day at Islands of Adventure wasn’t ideal, but from Universal in February, we’re moving on to May and a day at my and Buzz’s favorite Disney park, the Magic Kingdom. After a busy spring, we decided to spend some time at the park before the summer crowds descended upon it. As you might have surmised, the title for this portion of the report was inspired Rapunzel’s exclamation after first leaving her tower. I thought this would be a fitting title not only because, as you’ll see, my day started by meeting the aforementioned princess and her companion Flynn Rider but also because it very well may be my ones of my favorite day trips that we’ve taken so far. I hope that you enjoy the report.



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Buzz and I arrived at the Ticket and Transportation Center about an hour before park opening. Since we were so early, we were parked in the very front row so we wouldn’t have to ride the tram. I was actually looking forward to riding the tram since we haven’t ridden a Disney tram in about 4 years, but I quickly got over it since it was a lot more convenient to be able to just walk right into the TTC. Once there, we decided to ride the monorail to the park, thinking that it would be quicker than taking the ferry boat.


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Our monorail ride was nice and uneventful until we passed the Contemporary. Shortly after that, the monorail stopped and didn’t move again for about 10 minutes. I was starting to worry about missing rope drop because of the breakdown, but thankfully we still managed to make it there with time to spare.


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Our view of the Magic Kingdom as we arrived. As you can see, it wasn’t too crowded. Of course, the monorail being broken down for a while might have something to do with that.


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After going through bag check and exchanging the vouchers for our tickets (3 Day Play passes so we would be able to have a few more park visits before November) at guests services, we walked through the turnstiles and waited for the Magic Kingdom Welcome show.


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“Good morning! Good morning to you!”


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The characters arrived by train, although, sadly, no longer from Toontown. I was happy to see Tiana and Naveen along with the others. They’ve quickly become some of my new favorite characters. After some singing, some dancing, a countdown and some fireworks (which I honestly don’t remember from previous visits. Are those new?), the park was open for guests.


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To start the day, we walked right down the middle of Main Street USA. If you look closely at the above photo, you might spot Mary Poppins, Aladdin and Jasmine strolling down the street as well.


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Since I had heard that the lines at the Tangled Play-and-Greet got incredibly long if you didn’t head straight there after rope drop, I headed on to Fantasyland. Since Buzz was not interested in meeting Rapunzel and Flynn, he headed off to Frontierland to ride Splash and Big Thunder Mountain.


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Once I arrived at Fairytale Garden, I was surprised at how long the line was already. Fortunately, I was still early enough to get into the first play-and-greet session, but I was somewhat closer to the cut-off point than I was to the front of the line.


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After five or so minutes, we were allowed into the Garden where the kids were invited to come and color at the table while the adults saved their spots in line. The Garden was decorated especially for Rapunzel and Flynn with a number of “floating” lanterns a la “I See the Light” above it.


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After a short period of coloring, a few cast members lead the kids in a dance around the table and then lead a conversation on dancing and such until Flynn and Rapunzel arrived. I has heard that there was a little bit of a show with these two before they started greeting, but they pretty much just waved to the crowd and started meet-and-greets which was a little disappointing. After they arrived, it was still about 35 minutes before I made it to the front of the line. In the meantime, a Photopass photographer came around and got photos of all the kids with a giant plush chameleon (sort of a patchwork Pascal, if you will).


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Finally, it was my turn to meet Disney’s newest royals. The two signed autographs, posed for photos and made small talk.


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Flynn even did one of his signature smolders for the camera. I’m still disappointed that Flynn is no longer a part of the meet-and-greet. Rapunzel was nice but having Flynn there really made the meet-and-greet more fun.


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Once the meet-and-greet was over, Rapunzel told me to have the best day ever, hence the report’s title, and I said I promised that I would. All in all, the actual meet-and-greet was fun. The 45 minute wait was not as fun. The mix of the chaos from the play-and-greet (crying children who wanted more time to color, parents attempting to wrangle the kids back in line after the dance, etc.) plus the fact that it was a long wait in an only somewhat-shady area made it feel like the longest wait ever. Truth be told, it could have been worse since I’ve heard lines for this could get to as long as 4 hours before they removed Flynn and some of the Play-and-Greet elements. Still, it was nice to find some new characters, and, again, I’m especially glad I had the chance to meet Flynn before he disappeared from regular appearances.


After leaving Fairytale Garden, I decided to see if I could find any other characters before meeting up with Buzz. I headed to Liberty Square to see if Tiana and Naveen were still out, but unfortunately their line was closed. I was on my way to Adventureland to see if Ariel and Prince Eric were out yet when I spotted some unusual characters roaming around Frontierland.


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It turned out to be the Frontierland Hoedown flash mob. I had heard about this but never actually seen it before. There were a bunch of unusual characters (Clarabelle Cow, some Country Bears and Brers) and cast members all dancing around the streets of Frontierland. It was a wonderful surprise.


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After a while, I decided to continue on to Adventureland to see how the line was for Ariel and Eric. Once I got to their location, their line looked longer than I was interested in waiting in, so I passed on them too. I called Buzz to see if he was ready to meet up again. It turned out that he was in line for Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, but we agreed to meet up in Fantasyland when he was done.


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As I was arriving in Fantasyland, I noticed Cinderella’s stepfamily on their way to a meet-and-greet. As those who have read past trip reports may have noticed, the Tremaines are some of my favorite characters in the parks. They’re always perfectly in character and a hoot to watch. Of course, as long as I was waiting for Buzz, I figured that I would go ahead and pay them another visit.


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After seeing the Tremaines, I headed farther into Fantasyland to check out some of the construction of the new Beauty and the Beast themed areas.


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The Beast’s Castle looked wonderful. I can’t wait to see the new Fantasyland expansion completed.


It wasn't long before Buzz showed up in Fantasyland. It turns out that he had a busy morning riding Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, the Mad Tea Party and Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. By now, I was anxious to finally get on a ride too. We debated Dumbo and Winnie the Pooh, but the line at Dumbo was a bit longer than we willing to wait, so we decided to go and check out the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and its brand-new themed queue.



Next chapter: Winnie the Pooh and Tomorrowland too 

Lady Lallie
09-06-2011, 10:26 AM
I really need to watch Tangled...still. :laughing: I am putting that on my list for this upcoming weekend. I have no excuse, it's even on one of the movie channels we get now. I'm so ashamed of myself!

I love it when you see those uncommon characters out and about. I saw quite a few last January and it's just so nice.

I am beyond excited for the Fantasyland expansion to open. I'm really hoping that we can swing a Jan. 2013 trip so that we can experience all the new things. I think I am most excited for the Beauty & The Beast things and of course The Little Mermaid ride. :yay:

reelmom
09-06-2011, 04:27 PM
I can't believe that people were willing to wait in any line for 4 hours. That's crazy. Glad you got to meet Flynn before he went away.

meeko_33785
09-08-2011, 09:59 AM
I really need to watch Tangled...still. :laughing: I am putting that on my list for this upcoming weekend. I have no excuse, it's even on one of the movie channels we get now. I'm so ashamed of myself!

I love it when you see those uncommon characters out and about. I saw quite a few last January and it's just so nice.

I am beyond excited for the Fantasyland expansion to open. I'm really hoping that we can swing a Jan. 2013 trip so that we can experience all the new things. I think I am most excited for the Beauty & The Beast things and of course The Little Mermaid ride. :yay:

Definitely see Tangled when you get the chance. I think that you'd enjoy it.

I love seeing the uncommon characters too. It's always such a fun surprise.

I'm hoping that at least the Beauty and the Beast and Mermaid areas will be done by that December. I'm already thinking that a Christmas trip to the Magic Kingdom would just be great for 2012.


I can't believe that people were willing to wait in any line for 4 hours. That's crazy. Glad you got to meet Flynn before he went away.

I can't even imagine waiting that long and wasting so much of the day. I'm so glad that I went at rope drop.

wdwgirl03
09-08-2011, 05:48 PM
Ha, first thing I thought of when I read your title was Rapunzel saying that. Glad you were able to make it into the first meet and greet. It really is too bad Flynn Rider is gone now.

meeko_33785
09-09-2011, 09:20 AM
Ha, first thing I thought of when I read your title was Rapunzel saying that. Glad you were able to make it into the first meet and greet. It really is too bad Flynn Rider is gone now.

Glad to hear the Tangled reference in the title is working. I figured it anyone would get it, it would be some of the Disney fans over here.

I really wish Flynn was still out. He was such a cool character that it was a shame to get rid of him.

Lady Lallie
09-09-2011, 09:32 AM
Definitely see Tangled when you get the chance. I think that you'd enjoy it.

I love seeing the uncommon characters too. It's always such a fun surprise.

I'm hoping that at least the Beauty and the Beast and Mermaid areas will be done by that December. I'm already thinking that a Christmas trip to the Magic Kingdom would just be great for 2012.

I have heard that it is opening October 2012. I'm not sure how accurate that is.

meeko_33785
09-09-2011, 10:03 AM
I have heard that it is opening October 2012. I'm not sure how accurate that is.

That sounds good to me. Of course, I wish it was much sooner, but that date would certainly be fine with me. I guess we'll just have to wait and see if that's when it actually opens.

SharonK0527
09-09-2011, 11:10 AM
Great update! Wow, 4 hours in line to meet a character?? There's no way I would waste that much of my day for that. Glad you got to see them with a relatively quick wait. Can't wait to hear about the rest of your day :goodvibes

PrincessCaitlin
09-09-2011, 11:12 AM
Sounds like a great start to a Disney day!

I am kicking myself for not waiting in line for Flynn and Rapunzel in May :sad2: If I had known Flynn was going to be leaving the 2 hour wait would have been worth it!

Beautiful pictures of the Meet and Greet area! I love the lanterns!

Can't wait to see what happens next!

meeko_33785
09-10-2011, 10:12 AM
Great update! Wow, 4 hours in line to meet a character?? There's no way I would waste that much of my day for that. Glad you got to see them with a relatively quick wait. Can't wait to hear about the rest of your day :goodvibes

I don't think that a 4 hour wait was very common for the play-and-greet, but I do recall reading a post that said the wait got that long. From what I've seen, around 2 hours was more common. 2 hours is still quite a wait though. I don't think I would have lasted 2 hours in the sun waiting for a meet-and-greet.


Sounds like a great start to a Disney day!

I am kicking myself for not waiting in line for Flynn and Rapunzel in May :sad2: If I had known Flynn was going to be leaving the 2 hour wait would have been worth it!

Beautiful pictures of the Meet and Greet area! I love the lanterns!

Can't wait to see what happens next!

If you go around Halloween or Christmas in the future, there's always MNSSHP and MVMCP if you want to see Flynn. Apparently that's the only place to see him now. Although character lines are usually pretty long at the parties too. I'm still kind of hoping they'll put a second Rapunzel meet-and-greet at EPCOT or something and have him out with her like they have the Beast with Belle in France. They seem popular enough to have a second location.

I'm glad you like the photos. The lanterns were really a nice touch for the area.

meeko_33785
09-12-2011, 09:22 AM
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Buzz and I arrived at the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh to find its entrance completely transformed since we had last seen it. It looked fantastic.


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I loved that the Pooh-Coo-Clock was the Fastpass Return clock.


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Most of the new interactive queue was geared towards young kids, but the theming of it was cute to see.


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Even though he may not be "in the book", Gopher is my favorite Winnie the Pooh character. I was happy to see a number of different gophers all throughout the queue.


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When you step on special spots on the floor, the gophers pop out of their holes.


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Rabbit didn’t appear to be as thrilled with the gophers in his garden.


Besides the pop-up gophers, the only interactive feature of the queue we tried was the honey wall where you try to wipe the honey off a screen to reveal pictures of the characters underneath. All in all, the queue was very well done and beautifully themed. I will say that at times it’s a little more hectic than a normal queue with plenty of noisy things to play on and places for kids to run around. If you’re traveling with kids, I can easily see this being a must-do. Without kids, I doubt that I’d do the interactive queue every time, but it was still fun to see. After 20 or so minutes in the interactive queue followed by our ride through the Hundred Acre Woods, we decided to leave Fantasyland and have some adventures in Tomorrowland.


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On the way, we saw a bit more of the Fantasyland construction wall.


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Winnie the Pooh and Tigger were walking to their meet-and-greet location as we passed by.


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Poor Pooh couldn’t keep up with Tigger and was a ways behind him. His escort told the crowd that Pooh was coming but that he was a little slow. Pooh, apparently, thought she was pointing out that he was indeed a bear of very little brains and was insulted. This made the escort break out into laughter. Once she explained what she meant, Pooh tried to prove her wrong by attempting to run. It was really a cute bit of interaction between the two of them.


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Once in Tomorrowland, our first stop would be Space Mountain. The line wasn’t too bad, but since the wait time was about as long as the wait for the next Fastpass window to open, we decided to grab some Fastpasses and use the time do some other things around Tomorrowland. First, we headed to Buzz Ligthyear’s Space Ranger Spin. The wait wasn’t quite a walk-on but definitely less than 10 minutes. I did pretty well but Buzz, as usual, beat me.


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After the ride, I saw Buzz Lightyear doing meet-and-greets nearby. Since I hadn’t gotten a photo of him since they put up his new backdrop where the entrance to the old Galaxy Palace Theater and since my brother, being a Toy Story fan was interested in meeting him as well, we joined the queue. The wait to see him was also no more than 10 or 15 minutes at most.


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Nearby, Stitch was doing meet-and-greets as well and had only a family or two in line to see him, so I got a quick picture of him as well.


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By now, our Fastpasses window for Space Mountain had opened, so we made our way over there.


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I’ve never been a big fan of Space Mountain. It always seemed like it didn’t have enough thrills to be a thrill ride or enough atmosphere to be an immersive experience like Haunted Mansion or Pirates of the Caribbean. Still, having heard that the ride had been updated with a “Starry-O-Phonic” soundtrack since we went on it last year, I wanted to give it another shot. By the end of the ride, I was impressed. For those who haven’t been on it since they added this, there are now a number of speakers all around the track that pipe in music and sound effects in the once-silent portions of the ride. The sound not only helps drown out some of the coaster-noises to increase the feeling that you’re flying through space and not just in riding a roller coaster in a dark building, but the sound effects of stars whizzing past you, I thought, gave the impression that you’re going faster than you are and made for a more thrilling experience. It was definitely the best ride I can remember ever having on Space Mountain.


After the ride, Buzz and I decided to split up again. I went to meet Chip and Dale while Buzz checked out some of the shops and took a ride on the TTA Peoplemover. The wait was around 15 minutes but felt longer than it was from standing out in the heat. Those in line did get some entertainment when Push the talking trashcan came around and starting asking Dale if he ever felt insecure that he was a chipmunk and not a dalemunk. He tried to convince them that on some days they should be called dalemunks which Dale enthusiastically approved of.


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Once it was my turn to see the duo, I asked if I could take their pictures. They agreed, but wanted to groom each other first.


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Once they were neat and pretty, they were ready to pose.


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After the meet-and-greet, Buzz was still on the Peoplemover, so I took the opportunity to take a few photos around Tomorrowland. For some reason, Tomorrowland always seems to be my least favorite to photograph. These came out ok, but they weren’t my favorites of the day.


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Once Buzz and I met up again, we decided to head towards Adventureland since we were hoping to have lunch at rarely-open Tortouga Tavern.


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An obligatory Castle photo.


On the way, we made a quick stop at Tiana’s Garden in Liberty Square to see if she and Naveen were out. It turns out they were, but their line was cut off. Their character attendant told me when they would be back and suggested arriving at the garden 30 minutes beforehand to be assured a shot to see them.


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While in Liberty Square, I spotted a familiar family depicted in one of the caricatures on display at the Portrait Gallery. Those Tremaines really do get around, don’t they?



Next chapter: Lunch at Tourtouga Tavern and an encounter with Blackbeard’s daughter

Lady Lallie
09-12-2011, 12:24 PM
I find myself not taking very many pictures of Tomorrowland either, it's just not as well themed as the other lands in my opinion.

I love that drawing of the Tremaines, I love little touches like that!

meeko_33785
09-13-2011, 09:23 AM
I find myself not taking very many pictures of Tomorrowland either, it's just not as well themed as the other lands in my opinion.

I love that drawing of the Tremaines, I love little touches like that!

I'm not sure if it's because it feels less themed than other lands or if the theming that's there just doesn't appeal to me as much. I do enjoy a bunch of the attractions, but not so much the atmosphere.

The Tremaines' caricature was such a great hidden surprise. It just goes to show you that no matter how many times you come, there's always things- big or little- that you've never noticed before.

Jennifer48
09-13-2011, 11:33 AM
I'm not sure if it's because it feels less themed than other lands or if the theming that's there just doesn't appeal to me as much. I do enjoy a bunch of the attractions, but not so much the atmosphere.

The Tremaines' caricature was such a great gudden surprise. It just goes to show you that no matter how many times you come, there's always things- big or little- that you've never noticed before.

Agreed! :thumbsup2

meeko_33785
09-14-2011, 07:47 AM
Agreed! :thumbsup2

:)

SharonK0527
09-14-2011, 11:03 AM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/walktoadventureland1-6002.jpg

While I love every picture you take, I just have to say I think this is one of my all-time favorites of yours!! It is absolutely perfect!!

Loved the Chip & Dale photos too - those chipmunks are just too cute :thumbsup2 We haven't seen Push in a few years - he's quite the funny guy ;)

Can't wait for the next update! :goodvibes

meeko_33785
09-14-2011, 12:21 PM
While I love every picture you take, I just have to say I think this is one of my all-time favorites of yours!! It is absolutely perfect!!

Loved the Chip & Dale photos too - those chipmunks are just too cute :thumbsup2 We haven't seen Push in a few years - he's quite the funny guy ;)

Can't wait for the next update! :goodvibes

Every picture? It sounds like you like my pictures more than I do. :laughing: But, sincerely, thank you. I'm glad you're enjoying them. That's one of my favorite views of the Castle in the park, so it was nice to be able to get a shot of it with some gorgeous blue sky behind it since most photos I've taken there have been on more overcast days.

It had been a few years since I had seen PUSH too, so it was fun to see him again.

SharonK0527
09-14-2011, 03:55 PM
Every picture? It sounds like you like my pictures more than I do. :laughing: But, sincerely, thank you. I'm glad you're enjoying them. That's one of my favorite views of the Castle in the park, so it was nice to be able to get a shot of it with some gorgeous blue sky behind it since most photos I've taken there have been on more overcast days.

It had been a few years since I had seen PUSH too, so it was fun to see him again.

Well, ALMOST every picture :laughing: C'mon admit it, you KNOW you take good pictures! ;)

jenseib
09-14-2011, 08:28 PM
I rode space mountain this past Aug trip. It was the 1st time since the refurb that I have and I was kind of impressed with it too. It was dark again, which I happy about. In the old days it used to be pretty dark, but in 2009 when I rode it it seemed like you could see almost everything in there. Someone had told me they made it lighter because people were doing stuff and getting in trouble...whatever that was. It was still bumpy, but smoother than 2009.

meeko_33785
09-17-2011, 08:26 AM
Well, ALMOST every picture :laughing: C'mon admit it, you KNOW you take good pictures! ;)

Well, I am probably my own worst critic when it comes to my photos. That's why I'm always greatful for everyone's comments and thoughts on them so I know which ones really connect with people.


I rode space mountain this past Aug trip. It was the 1st time since the refurb that I have and I was kind of impressed with it too. It was dark again, which I happy about. In the old days it used to be pretty dark, but in 2009 when I rode it it seemed like you could see almost everything in there. Someone had told me they made it lighter because people were doing stuff and getting in trouble...whatever that was. It was still bumpy, but smoother than 2009.

We did it last year when they had just reopened and noticed that it was darker than it had been. Now after we got to ride it this year with the soundtrack added it feels like Space Mountain just keeps getting better and better.

meeko_33785
09-17-2011, 09:11 AM
I’ll be getting back to posting about our day at the Magic Kingdom soon, but I wanted to take a quick break to say that Buzz and I recently took another day trip. This time, we visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It was a fantastic visit, and I’m looking forward to being able to share it on this report in the future. Of course, I still have to get through all of the summer reports before I get to it, so until then, here’s a glimpse at what you can expect to see:


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/septembertr.jpg


Our first flight on the new Star Tours
Lights, Motors Action with new Cars 2 segment
The "new" PIXAR Pals Countdown to Fun Parade
Tons of meet-and-greets including Phineas and Ferb and “Character Palooza” at the Magic of Disney Animation
Lunch at the infamous ABC Commissary


It was a fun trip, and there should still be more fun to come. Buzz and I still have one day left on our passes, so we’re beginning to plan a day trip to EPCOT, possibly during the Food and Wine Festival. We’ve also begun planning our family’s Christmas vacation which, in a break from our usual Disney traditions, will be at Universal with a stay at the Royal Pacific Resort. I’ll have more on those trips once we get a little farther into planning.

wdwgirl03
09-17-2011, 12:36 PM
I totally forgot about the new Cars segment at LMA. I'll have to put that on my list of things to do, either in October or April.

That's cool you have a couple other trips in the works too.

meeko_33785
09-18-2011, 02:09 PM
I totally forgot about the new Cars segment at LMA. I'll have to put that on my list of things to do, either in October or April.

That's cool you have a couple other trips in the works too.

Yep, it should be a pretty fun rest of the year.

meeko_33785
09-18-2011, 02:12 PM
After a stop in Liberty Square, we crossed over into Adventureland. On the way to lunch, we made a stop at the Jungle Cruise to grab some Fastpasses.


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The Enchanted Tiki Room was closed at the time to change it back from the “Under New Management” version, so we got some photos of Iago and Zazu on the sign before they disappeared forever.


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When we reached Caribbean Plaza, Pirates of the Caribbean ride was broken down, so they had some cast members out front trying to entertain kids with hula-hoops while Angelica, Blackbeard’s daughter from On Stranger Tides strolled through the crowd instead of standing in her usual spot by the Pirate’s League. Since the movie wasn’t out yet, no one really knew who she was or paid her any attention. Needless to say, it was an extremely short wait for photos and autographs. Angelica was an interesting character to meet, but not enough to get excited about another Pirates movie after the third was wasn’t so hot. Maybe once it’s on DVD I’ll give it a chance. Angelica apparently didn’t stay around the park for very long. From what I’ve heard, she has recently been removed from meet-and-greets and Pirate Goofy has returned to Adventureland.


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Across the way, Captain Jack Sparrow was beginning his Pirate Tutorial, so we saw a little of it before getting some lunch.


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Ready to eat, we headed for Tortuga Tavern, the seldom-opened restaurant across from the Pirates of the Caribbean that was known as El Pirata Y El Perico until recently. Since it has usually been closed on past visits to the park, we figured that this would be the perfect opportunity to try something different.


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The menu consists primarily of nachos and burritos. Buzz and I both got the taco salad which we both enjoyed. The portion was good-sized, and there is also a toppings bar and a salsa bar in a small indoor portion of the restaurant as well. As far as counter service fare goes, you can definitely do far worse. As long as it’s open, I’d recommend giving it a try.


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Indoor seating was extremely limited, and we could only find a table in the outdoor courtyard. If guaranteed air-conditioning at lunch is a must-have (which is usually is for us during the summer months), the Columbia Harbour House might be a better choice.


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Along with the meal, I really loved the atmosphere of the place. It really had a classic Disney feel with some nice details.


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After lunch, we did a little looking around Caribbean Plaza.


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Not wanting to do any thrill rides after lunch, we decided on taking a walk through the Swiss Family Treehouse. It had been a while since we last explored the Treehouse, so it was nice to revisit it.


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The organ that plays the Swisskapolka.


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Those Robinsons have a wonderful view from their house.


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After leaving the Treehouse, it was almost 30 minutes before Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen were scheduled to show up at their Gazebo, so we headed towards Liberty Square.


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While we were leaving Adventureland, Dream Along with Mickey was just starting at the Castle Stage, so we stopped to watch it. Mickey and friends got some snazzy new costumes since we last saw the show. I was beginning to wonder how long they’d be in those blue “Year of a Million Dream” outfits.


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After a while, I left to get in line for the meet-and-greet. Since Buzz wasn’t interested in meeting Tiana and Naveen, we stuck around to see the whole show and then did some exploring around Liberty Square.


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By the time I got there, there was already a line starting to form outside Tiana’s Garden Glen. A short time later, everyone was let into the main queue leading up to the gazebo.


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A glimpse of the Castle from the queue.


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Has anyone else ever noticed all the frogs hidden in the detailing on the gazebo?


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After a total wait of a little over 30 minutes, I had a great meet-and-greet with the Princess and the (former) Frog. The two of them were perfectly in character and a lot of fun to interact with. Unfortunately, I’ve heard that Naveen stopped making regular appearances with Tiana around the same time Flynn was removed from the Tangled Play-and-Greet, but he does apparently come out for a few sets in the afternoon after the parade. All in all, Tiana and Naveen are quickly becoming some of my new favorite characters to see in the parks, and this was certainly one of my favorite meet-and-greets of the day. By now, the window for our Jungle Cruise Fastpasses was open, so Buzz and I regrouped and headed back to Adventureland.



Next Chapter: Experiencing some Magic Kingdom classics, including the newly-enhanced Haunted Mansion.

dawnbu40
09-18-2011, 04:19 PM
I'm all caught up! I like the detail pictures you got. You always notice interesting things :thumbsup2

I agree with you that Naveen and Tiana are among the best meet and greets. They are both so engaging :)

meeko_33785
09-20-2011, 08:24 AM
I'm all caught up! I like the detail pictures you got. You always notice interesting things :thumbsup2

I agree with you that Naveen and Tiana are among the best meet and greets. They are both so engaging :)

Thanks Dawn.

Naveen and Tiana really are great and probably my favorite of the royal couples to meet.

Lady Lallie
09-20-2011, 08:41 AM
I've been wanting to try that Taco Salad for awhile now but it always seems to be closed on my trips. Ahh well.

You took some great detail shots, I love seeing those things that I don't always notice.

I really loved my meet with Tiana and Naveen, one of my very favorites ever.

SharonK0527
09-20-2011, 04:22 PM
Another great update and more great photos :goodvibes Looking forward to more! :thumbsup2

meeko_33785
09-21-2011, 09:00 AM
I've been wanting to try that Taco Salad for awhile now but it always seems to be closed on my trips. Ahh well.

You took some great detail shots, I love seeing those things that I don't always notice.

I really loved my meet with Tiana and Naveen, one of my very favorites ever.

Maybe someday you'll get to go at a time when Tourtouga Tavern open. Of course, going when it's slow enough for the restaurant to be closed has its advantages too.


Another great update and more great photos :goodvibes Looking forward to more! :thumbsup2

Thanks so much. :)

meeko_33785
09-23-2011, 09:18 AM
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With Fastpasses in hand, we headed back to the Jungle Cruise and in no time were on the ride. As I recall, our skipper was pretty good, and we enjoyed the ride. It’s a bit corny but definitely a classic Disney experience.


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After the Jungle Cruise, we headed on to Frontierland. The wait time was listed somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes, but the line didn’t look too long. Turns out we waited around 5 minutes, most of which was walking through the empty queue. Big Thunder is one of my favorite attractions in the Magic Kingdom and always fun to ride.


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We definitely wanted to visit the Haunted Mansion to see some of its new additions, so we headed over to Liberty Square. Of course, our Mansion experience began with the newly-expanded interactive queue.


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There were lots of fun new things to see and photograph.


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A haunted organ on one of the mausoleums plays “Grim Grinning Ghosts”, of course, with a little help from guests.


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I love that the brand of organ was named after Thurl Ravenscroft who voiced, among many other characters, the lead singing bust in the Mansion.


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Along with the new additions, many of the classic tombstones also have a new home.


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Master Gracey has a new plot right in the middle of the action.


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The Captain’s bubble-blowing and water-sqirting crypt.


The new additions of the queue were a lot of fun. While the interactive elements at Winnie the Pooh seemed to play only to the preschool set, the elements here seemed to be little surprises than anyone could enjoy. All, in all, it’s a nice addition. The other main addition to the Mansion since we were here last was the newly enhanced Hitchhiking Ghost sequence. For those who haven’t experienced it yet, I don’t want to give too much away. All I’ll say is when you pass the mirrors to see the ghost that will “follow you home”, be prepared for a new twist on the old effect. It looked great, but goes by really fast. Just don’t blink or you might miss it.


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It was about time for the Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade, so we decided to head to Fantasyland to take advantage of some shorter waits at Dumbo the Flying Elephants while most guests were enjoying the parade. Along the way, we stopped to check out the old Skyway Station one last time. Apparently, they are now in the process of tearing it down as part of the new Fantasyland expansion. It seems like somewhat of a shame. I’ve always liked this area of the park.


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The line at Dumbo was shorter than it had been earlier in the day, but was still around half an hour. Since the queue butted right up against the new Fantasyland construction, we passed a lot of the time checking out some of the new additions.


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Even though I’m a fan of Beauty and the Beast I never could get excited about seeing Story Time with Belle when it was in Fairytale Garden. Now that they’ll be doing it the Castle Library with an animatronic Lumiere helping out, it sounds like a must-see to me.


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If it looks this great once they’re done, I’m going to love New Fantasyland.


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Once we got to the front of the line, we spotted Timothy Mouse.


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Finally, it was our turn to take to the skies in flying elephants.


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I’m sure that the new Dumbo that is being added to Storybook Circus will be nice, but I’m going to miss aerial views like this of the Castle Courtyard.


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Of course, we peaked over the fence to see how construction was going. You can see Belle's cottage on the left, the village on the right and the new restaurant in the middle under the castle.


After what will likely be our last ride on Dumbo in its original location, Buzz wanted to do something with a little more air conditioning, so we headed off to another classic Disney attraction.



Next Chapter: Magical Moments with Mickey and Minnie

dawnbu40
09-23-2011, 10:14 AM
Great pictures of the new HM queue! :) I love how they've improved it!

I'm so looking forward to the new Fantasyland. I can't wait for the B&B area and the Little Mermaid ride :)

SharonK0527
09-23-2011, 10:26 AM
I'm so excited to see New Fantasyland once it's finished! Also looking forward to seeing the new HM queue when we visit Magic Kingdom in a few weeks.

Looking forward to another update!! :goodvibes

wdwgirl03
09-23-2011, 05:23 PM
The new HM queue looks really cool. I can't wait to see it on our trip. I agree about the new Fantasyland too. I bet it's going to be amazing.

meeko_33785
09-24-2011, 09:30 AM
Great pictures of the new HM queue! :) I love how they've improved it!

I'm so looking forward to the new Fantasyland. I can't wait for the B&B area and the Little Mermaid ride :)

Thanks Dawn. Those were some of my favorite photos of the day. All the new additions were just great to take pictures of.

Just from the construction and the concept art, I'm sure Fantasyland will be fantastic.


I'm so excited to see New Fantasyland once it's finished! Also looking forward to seeing the new HM queue when we visit Magic Kingdom in a few weeks.

Looking forward to another update!! :goodvibes

I hope you enjoy the new additions at the Mansion. I know that we did.


The new HM queue looks really cool. I can't wait to see it on our trip. I agree about the new Fantasyland too. I bet it's going to be amazing.

The new Mansion queue really was cool. The interactive elements were a nice way to pass the time (not that there was really that long of a wait), but I thought the theming was very well done and fantastic to see.

meeko_33785
09-26-2011, 09:12 AM
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After Buzz’s request for a little more air conditioning, we decided on It’s A Small World. The wait time wasn’t too long, but since most of the queue was not being used, the line was spilling outside the building into the streets of Fantasyland.


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After about 10 minutes, we were boarding our boat. The ride wasn’t too eventful, but it was enjoyable. It seems like every time I go on it, I always see new things and find it even more charming than the time before. After our ride, we decided to Main Street to experience our last main priority of the day.


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When we got there, I took the opportunity to get a few photos from the upper level of the train station as I usually intend to but rarely do.


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While upstairs, I found a few more old mutascopes on display. I forgot to check if they actually work like some of the ones at the Boardwalk do.


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Next, we moved on to our next destination- the new Town Square Theater.


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Both Buzz and I were interested in seeing Mickey at his new location, so we went inside and joined the queue.


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We breezed right through the main queue area, but did get to see a little of the posters that come to life as we passed.


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Once we were let into Mickey’s dressing room, there were a number of things to see while we waited out turn. Based on the rehearsal schedule, I’d love to see the show Mickey and friends seem to be working on.


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One of the prominent things in the dressing room is Mickey’s trunk which includes this subtle Jungle Book reference.


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The rest of the trunk is covered in stickers featuring the places that Mickey has traveled. Of course, they’re all Disney resorts, cruise destinations, and other notable destinations in Disney parks like Disneyland’s Club 33.


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Based on the company name on the box, it appears that a certain Mad Hatter created Mickey’s magical hat.


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A poster promoting another of Mickey’s performances.


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In less than 10 minutes (by far the shortest wait I’ve had to see Mickey in a while), we got the chance to meet both Mickey and Minnie Mouse.


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The two were adorable, of course.


As we thought the meet-and-greet was winding down, I mentioned to Mickey and Minnie that this was the first time I had seen them since Toontown closed and that his new theater was wonderful. To our surprise, since we were the only guests left in the room, Mickey and Minnie decided to take us on a tour of the entire dressing room and show us all the little references and even a couple of magic tricks. They really seemed to be excited about the new location. Every time I thought the meet-and-greet was almost over, they had something else that they wanted show us.


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Mickey showed us his hats and magicians costumes. The potions you see at behind Mickey were Madame Mim brand, a Sword in the Stone reference.


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I wish that I had gotten more photos of some of the little references around the dressing room, but I was having so much fun playing around with Mickey and Minnie I didn’t even think to. I did manage to get a photo of this Mary Poppins reference though.


Eventually, Mickey’s needed to rehearse for his show, and we said our goodbyes. It had to be the one of the most best (if not the best) meet-and-greets that I’ve ever had. Mickey and Minnie were so wonderful, and the whole Theater- including the queue and dressing room- is perfect for Disney fans like us with so many hidden references.


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The meet-and-greets empty into a new and rather good-sized gift shop filled with both Mickey and Princess merchandise. Of course, there’s plenty of great hidden references here too including this birdhouse that used to be in Mickey’s garage in Toontown Fair.


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In another part of the store, it seemed like Mary Poppins’ Jolly Holiday gown was having some work done.


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Outside Town Square Theater is a charming area complete with this fountain. I somewhat miss the days when all the fountains at Disney were functional, but they do make beautiful planters too. On the way out, I decided to grab a Fastpass for the Princess meet-and-greet at the theater to see what it was like as well. I had about half an hour before my return time, so we decided to head back to Fantasyland in the meantime.


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Along the way, I spotted Daisy in one of the window displays on Main Street and thought she looked great in that outfit.


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Another of my favorite shops- Sir Mickey’s.


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Once in Fantasyland, we headed to Snow White’s Scary Adventure. Since we didn’t know if we would get back to the Magic Kingdom before it closed to make way for the Princess Fairytale Hall, we decided ride it one last time. Like at Small World and the Town Square Theater, the wait wasn’t bad at all- less than 10 minutes.


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While I do like this attraction, I also know that Disney has the potential to create a much better attraction for Snow White. From the looks of it, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will probably be just that. Even if it isn’t the greatest ride out there, the Scary Adventures still has its charm, and I think that I’ll miss it once it eventually closes. After the ride, it about time for my Fastpass return window to open for the Town Square Theater, so while I headed back to Main Street, Buzz stayed in Fantasyland and enjoyed a performance of Mickey’s Philharmagic.



Next chapter: The end of our day at the Magic Kingdom.

dawnbu40
09-26-2011, 09:41 AM
I love the pictures from Mickey's dressing room! How cool that he gave you the guided tour :goodvibes I think his new location is so cute but I don't understand why the wait is so short compared to the old meet and greet :confused3

Nice update :)

Lady Lallie
09-26-2011, 10:15 AM
I could have sworn I responded to your last update, I know I read it but for some reason I didn't reply. Odd.

Anyways...

I love all the detail pictures you took in Mickey's new meet & greet area. I haven't been reading much but is this where he is going to be permantly? I especially love the pictures of the Mary Poppins references.

jenseib
09-26-2011, 05:59 PM
I love the Mary Poppins dress. I didn't know there was a gift shop there now. I'll have to go look for it.

meeko_33785
09-27-2011, 10:25 AM
I love the pictures from Mickey's dressing room! How cool that he gave you the guided tour :goodvibes I think his new location is so cute but I don't understand why the wait is so short compared to the old meet and greet :confused3

Nice update :)

It really was great. Obviously, meeting characters and finding hidden details are two of my favorite activities at Disney, so their little tour was right up my alley. As for the shorter lines especially in the afternoon, I think that has something to do with its location at the entrance of the park away from all of the major attractions and perhaps a bit of "Disney magic" that makes it a bit more high capacity.


I could have sworn I responded to your last update, I know I read it but for some reason I didn't reply. Odd.

Anyways...

I love all the detail pictures you took in Mickey's new meet & greet area. I haven't been reading much but is this where he is going to be permantly? I especially love the pictures of the Mary Poppins references.

What what I've read, this is supposed to be Mickey's permanent location but the Princesses will be moving to Fantasyland once it's done. Mickey's area is so well-done location that it would be a shame to get ride of it so soon.


I love the Mary Poppins dress. I didn't know there was a gift shop there now. I'll have to go look for it.

The shop is located on the right side of the building when you're facing the entrance. There's a door that leads right into it almost imediatly after you go under the entrance tunnel before the main entrance for Tony's and the meet-and-greet.

SharonK0527
09-27-2011, 01:50 PM
Another awesome update, as usual :thumbsup2 LOVED the photos of Mickey & Minnie!!

Have you heard when the Snow White attraction is officially closing? Is it going to become an updated Snow White attraction or something entirely different?

Looking forward to your next update! :goodvibes

meeko_33785
09-28-2011, 09:49 AM
Another awesome update, as usual :thumbsup2 LOVED the photos of Mickey & Minnie!!

Have you heard when the Snow White attraction is officially closing? Is it going to become an updated Snow White attraction or something entirely different?

Looking forward to your next update! :goodvibes

Last I heard, they have not set an official closing date for Snow White. It supposedly will closer sometime early next year to be transformed into the Princess Fairytale Hall, a new meet-and-greet. Across the way in the area where the Pooh Playground and 20,000 Legues under the Sea lagoon was, they are going to be building a new attraction based on the Seven Dwarfs' Mine Train. There's a video from the D23 Expo online (search "Seven Dwarfs' Mine Train" and it should pop right up) which makes it look like it will be a really fun attraction.

Jennifer48
09-28-2011, 01:24 PM
I MUST check out the Town Square Theater! I love the Tuppence a bag reference & MP's dress! :thumbsup2

meeko_33785
09-29-2011, 09:22 AM
I MUST check out the Town Square Theater! I love the Tuppence a bag reference & MP's dress! :thumbsup2

Mary's umbrella is hidden in Mickey's dressing room as well, but I completely forgot to get a picture of it. Something to look forward to for next time.

meeko_33785
09-29-2011, 09:33 AM
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On my way back to Main Street, I stopped by Cinderella’s wishing well to get a few shots of some of the mice sculpted in its base.


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I’m pretty sure that Gus is everyone’s favorite of Cinderella’s mice. He’s definitely mine.


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Once I got in the Town Square Theater, I joined the Fastpass line. Since the Princesses’ line stretches all the way to the back of the theater, I was able to see more of the posters than I did when Buzz and I saw Mickey and Minnie. I think this poster of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is my favorite. It’s nice to see more references to one of the original Disney stars in the parks.


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Even with Fastpass, it was still about a 15 minute wait, but considering that standby was listed as 30 minutes, it at least cut the wait in half. The first princess in the theater was Sleeping Beauty herself, Princess Aurora.


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One of the stars of my favorite Disney film, Belle, was next.


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Last but certainly not least was Cinderella. She was wonderful to meet, and we even had a brief chat about Gus, Jaq and Lucifer. Cinderella is so much more fun to interact with when she really acts like the Cinderella from the movie and not just like a generic princess.


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A more unique photo of Cinderella with her gazing dreamily towards her Castle.


You could really tell that this location is fairly temporary. With the exception of the actual backdrop (which I actually thought looked nicer than those tents they had in Toontown), everything was very generic looking with starkly bare walls and none of kinds of details that went into Mickey’s area. It will be interesting to see what eventually replaces this location once the Princesses move to Fantasyland. While having other characters take their place would be nice, I’m secretly hoping that they’ll put a little movie theater that shows Disney cartoons like the one that was there when it was the Expo Hall. After all, it is the Town Square Theater; an actual theater in the back would be a natural addition.


After my meet-and-greet, I met up with Buzz again. We decided that we had time for one last attraction, and after debating between the Pirates of the Caribbean, which had been closed earlier, and the Peoplemover, we decided on Pirates.


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On our way to Adventureland, the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party was passing by, so we stopped to watch it. I love that the parade includes a bunch of less-than-common characters like Sebastian.


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Lumiere is another somewhat unusual character to see at the Magic Kingdom.


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I still don’t think the Mardi Gars-esque beads really suit the Incredibles.


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Last time we saw the parade I focused on getting pictures of some of the more unique characters and didn’t get any of Mickey and friends, so I made it a point to get some of them this time around.


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After the parade, we made our way to Pirates of the Caribbean. There was no line to speak of, and the ride was fun as always. For some reason, I didn’t take any photos while we were there. I’m not sure if I figured that I had gotten enough when we were there earlier or if I was starting to get tired.


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Instead of walking all the way back to Main Street we opted to head to Frontierland and take the Walt Disney World Railroad back to Main Street. This was our first time riding the Railroad since it had its spiel replaced. The new spiel was alright, but I do miss the music from the old one, especially “Goodbye By Coney Island Baby” as you approach Main Street and, as corny as it was “Colors of the Wind” as you pass through Frontierland. It was also a bit strange seeing Mickey’s Toontown Fair be demolished. I do miss Toontown, but the circus area sounds like it could be fun.


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Before leaving the park, we made one last stop at the gift shop at the Town Square Theater so Buzz could make a last-minute pin purchase.


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Here’s one last look at the Magic Kingdom, complete with a cameo appearance by Walt.


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On the way out, I made sure to get a photo of the Snow White poster since it could be gone by the next time we make it back to the park.


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We decided to take the ferry boat back to the TTC and got some nice views of the resorts along the Seven Seas Lagoon.


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After getting back to the TTC, we walked back to our car. It would have been nice to stay a little bit longer, but since this was a day trip we had a long drive ahead of us. Unfortunately, we really don’t get to experience a lot of the parks after dark when we just go for the day, but we enjoyed the time that we did have in the park so much that it was hard to be too disappointed. After all, it was one of our best day trips ever.


Next chapter: Reflections on the “Best Day (Trip) Ever”.

Lady Lallie
09-29-2011, 10:11 AM
I think I'm missing the reference to the "Saw of Destiny", what is that from, do you know?

I think you accomplished an awful lot in a day at the park, I am quite impressed!

SharonK0527
09-29-2011, 02:32 PM
OMG how cute is Minnie in her little party dress with the bow in her "hair" (fur? lol) in that picture you took from the parade? :lovestruc

Another great update and can't wait for you to share your next trip with us!

dawnbu40
09-29-2011, 03:51 PM
Just reading the title of the entry made me a little sad. I hate coming to the end of a visit!

Sounds like it was a great day though and I'm so glad you shared it with us! :goodvibes

As always, your pictures are wonderful! I really like the "last look at Main Street" with Walt :thumbsup2

meeko_33785
09-30-2011, 10:13 AM
I think I'm missing the reference to the "Saw of Destiny", what is that from, do you know?

I think you accomplished an awful lot in a day at the park, I am quite impressed!

I think the Saw of Destiny is just part of Mickey's magic act at the Theater. If it's a reference to a movie or cartoon, it's probably too obscure for even me.


OMG how cute is Minnie in her little party dress with the bow in her "hair" (fur? lol) in that picture you took from the parade? :lovestruc

Another great update and can't wait for you to share your next trip with us!

Thanks Sharon. I think that you'll probably enjoy the next one. It's another Universal day.


Just reading the title of the entry made me a little sad. I hate coming to the end of a visit!

Sounds like it was a great day though and I'm so glad you shared it with us! :goodvibes

As always, your pictures are wonderful! I really like the "last look at Main Street" with Walt :thumbsup2

I'm glad you enjoyed the report. :)

I like that photo too. It took a few tries to get, but I'm pretty happy with it.

Jennifer48
09-30-2011, 10:59 AM
You guys got a lot done in one day! :thumbsup2

It will be interesting to see what they put in the Town Square Theater. I like your idea of an actual theater with cartoons. Be a nice respite from the heat!

So sad for Disney days to be over. :sad1:

meeko_33785
10-01-2011, 10:18 AM
You guys got a lot done in one day! :thumbsup2

It will be interesting to see what they put in the Town Square Theater. I like your idea of an actual theater with cartoons. Be a nice respite from the heat!

So sad for Disney days to be over. :sad1:

It would be a fantastic respite from the heat, wouldn't it? I miss the old Main Street Cinema and the Expo Hall after that which were both perfect for a break like that.

The end of a day can be sad, but it's hard to get too sad when I knew there would be at least 2 more trips in the next 6 months. :laughing:

meeko_33785
10-01-2011, 10:28 AM
40 years ago today, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom first opened to guests, so it seems fitting today to reflect on our most recent visit to the “Most Magical Place on Earth”.


Weather:
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As to be expected in Florida, the weather was pretty warm. Since it was still early in May, the humidity wasn’t as high as it is later in the summer, so it wasn’t as dreadfully uncomfortable. We also had another rain-free day filled with some of the most beautiful skies I can remember seeing at Disney.


Crowds and Wait Times:
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While the park certainly wasn’t empty, we didn’t have many issues with crowds. The park neverfelt that busy, and I can’t remember seeing any wait times listed at an hour or more. With exception of a 30 minute wait at Dumbo the Flying Elephant and a 20 minute wait at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, we never had to wait more than 10 minutes for any attraction. The longest lines of the day turned out to be character meet-and-greets (45 minutes for the Tangled Play-and-Greet at rope drop and 35 minutes for The Princess and the Frog meet-and-greet later in the day). I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around that meet-and-greets are getting so popular that you have to go to some at rope drop to avoid waits of over an hour while E-Tickets like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad are practically walk-ons mid-day. It’s almost like the old fashioned touring plans are being turned upside-down.


Attraction Highlights:
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Even though the Magic Kingdom didn’t have any new attractions this year, there were still a number of new elements at existing attractions for us to discover. Both The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and the Haunted Mansion had new interactive queue which looked wonderful and had a great amount of details and theming. Of the two, Haunted Mansion’s queue was my favorite. For the most part, it had the same wit and sense of storytelling that its attraction does. I did like Pooh’s queue, especially the new entrance and 100 Acre Woods-themed setting, but I’m sure that it would be an even bigger hit with my 4-year-old self than my adult self. Another new addition since out last visit was the new “Starry-O-Phonic” soundtrack at Space Mountain. It’s great to finally have some sort of soundtrack on this ride, and it really improves the entire Space Mountain experience. Also worth noting was my first time seeing the fun Frontierland Hoedown, the unadvertised flash mob show near the Country Bear Jamboree, and revisiting Dumbo the Flying Elephant and the Swiss Family Treehouse, two attractions that we hadn’t experienced for a number of years.


Dining:
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Our only meal of the day at the park was at the rarely-opened and recently-renamed Tortuga Tavern in Adventureland. We thought our taco salads were pretty good and a nice break from the normal burgers and nuggets a lot of Disney counter service restaurants offer. The atmosphere was also wonderful with a very classic Disney feel. The only thing I wasn’t thrilled with about the restaurant is its very limited amount of indoor seating, but since it wasn’t too hot, it wasn’t uncomfortable. If it’s open, I’d recommend giving it a try.


Characters:
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Even with some of the lines for the characters were among the longest of the day, I still managed to get photos of 19 meet-and-greet characters. Three of which, Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from Tangled and Angelica from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, were new character for me. All of them were fun to meet, but unfortunately out of the three, only Rapunzel is still making regular appearances in the park. Beyond the new ones, I didn’t really meet any out-of-the-ordinary characters around for greets (although a bunch of rarely-seen characters like Clarabelle Cow, Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear and the Country Bears were dancing in the aforementioned Frontierland Hoedown), but the ones that were out were still a lot of fun to meet. Of these, some of my favorites of the day included Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen in Liberty Square and, of course, Mickey and Minnie Mouse who gave us a private tour of their great new digs at the Town Square Theater.


Fantasyland Construction:
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None the new areas of Fantasyland are scheduled to premiere until at least 2012, but getting to see what’s already beginning to pop up on the other side of the construction wall was a nice treat. Of course, the Beast’s Castle that will one day have the Be Our Guest restaurant under it was the portion that looked most finished at this point. It looked amazing, and I can only imagine that it will look phenomenal once the rest of the area around it is completed.


So, was this really our “Best Day (Trip) Ever”? It’s hard to say. Still, as much as I’ve loved all the other day trips we’ve taken lately, this one was my favorite so far. It was a wonderful day in our favorite theme park, and we certainly left with some great memories. I can at least say this my the best day trip so far. Who knows what the future will bring though.



This wraps up another portion of the report. Thank you for reading, and I hope that you all enjoyed it. I’ll be switching gears again and going back to Universal for my first-ever solo visit to Universal Studios. Hopefully part one of that report will be up sometime next week.

jenseib
10-03-2011, 08:41 AM
What a fabulous day. And the temps looked great. You got some great move it shake it pictures. That can be tricky depending on where the sun is at that time and where you stand.

Lady Lallie
10-03-2011, 10:42 AM
I always love your trip recaps, they are so nice to read.

I'm looking forward to your Universal solo day trip!

meeko_33785
10-04-2011, 08:51 AM
What a fabulous day. And the temps looked great. You got some great move it shake it pictures. That can be tricky depending on where the sun is at that time and where you stand.

It was a great day. It was hot, but not the it's-so-hot-I'm-melting you get especially in July or August. With enough air conditioning and water, the heat wasn't too big of an issue.

I'm glad you liked the Move It! Shake It! pictures. I guess we were standing in the right place at the right time. The lighting was great.


I always love your trip recaps, they are so nice to read.

I'm looking forward to your Universal solo day trip!

Thanks LL. :) Hopefully, I'll have the first chapter for the Universal report ready to be posted by tomorrow.

meeko_33785
10-05-2011, 10:06 AM
“Alone in Universal”-June 2011 Day Trip
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A little over a month after our visit to the Magic Kingdom, I was returning to Orlando. I had enjoyed my first couple of visits to Universal Studios so much that I was anxious to return. This time, however, Buzz was not interested in another trip to Universal, so I decided to go for a solo day trip. This was actually my first time spending an entire day in any Orlando theme park by myself, so it was a new, experience. I hope that you’ll enjoy reading about my day “Alone in Universal”.




I arrived at Universal Orlando a little less than an hour before the park was scheduled to open. Already there was quite a crowd. Even though I knew it would be more crowded in June than when we visited in February or October, I was still a bit worried about the crowds. Once the crowds made it through bag check and into City Walk, I realized I didn’t have to worry after all. As the masses reached the crossroads between Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios, about 80% of the guests marched on to Islands of Adventure. I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to be in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter that day.


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Over at the Studios, things seemed much more peaceful.


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15 minutes before the scheduled opening, they did a little ceremony and opened the park. After a walk through Production Central, my first stop for the day was…


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The Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket. It had, unfortunately, been closed last October when Buzz and I first visited the park, so it was one of my main priorities of the day. I quickly stowed my stuff in one of the required (but free!) Universal lockers and joined the queue. Since this was a solo trip, I had anticipated being able to use the single rider line on many of the attractions at the park, but since the line wasn’t that long yet, they didn’t have it open. Oh well. The ride itself was great. The shtick with the Rip Ride Rocket is that each seat had its own build in sound system and you get to pick the music that you hear. For my first ride, I went with “Bring Me To Life” by Evanscence, which I thought made a great soundtrack for a roller coaster. The song choices aren’t as synchronized with the ride as the Aerosmith songs at the Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, but the definitely give the ride a fun atmosphere. Plus, as a roller coaster, it was great- maybe my favorite of all the coasters at the Studios and Islands of Adventure (with the possible exception of the Hulk). By the time I got off the ride and retrieved my things from the locker, it was only 9am.


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Next, I headed to the New York area of the park. There, I spotted the Priscilla Hotel For Single Young Ladies, which was the home of the characters played by Julie Andrews and Mary Tyler Moore in Universal’s movie musical Thoroughly Modern Millie. Obviously, Disney isn’t the only one who hides sometime-obscure references to films in theme parks.


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My real reason for heading to New York was to ride Revenge of the Mummy. Crowds were ridiculously low at this point (note: the above photo was taken much later in the day since I didn’t manage to rake one in the morning) and even though the single rider line was open, it wasn’t needed. The line was a complete walk-on, and the coaster train I rode in had a grand total of four guests in it. The ride was fun. It really has some really impressive show scenes, some good roller coaster segments and a bit of humor thrown in for good measure.


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Outside, New York still looked deserted. Where were all the crowds?


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I love the theming of the New York Streets. It’s much more early 20th century than Disney’s more contemporary New York as opposed to the more modern feel at Disney’s Hollywoood Studios.


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While the crowds were still low, I wanted to see as many of the parks headliners as possible, so I made my way to one of my favorite rides in the park- The Simpsons Ride.


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The line wasn’t long at all, but I had just enough time to see Doc Brown in Simpson form make his cameo in the pre-show movie. Originally, the Simpsons building was home to the Back to the Future Ride, and the pre-show explains how Doc’s old institute became Krusty the Klown’s Krustyland theme park. Of course, as both a Simpsons fan and a theme park fan, I enjoyed the ride. It has plenty of jabs at theme parks in general along with some of Orlando’s other parks along with fun cameos from many of Springfield’s most colorful characters. It’s definitely a must-see.


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Next, I headed off to Men in Black Alien Attack. The architecture is great here, but for some reason the only photo around MIB I took on this trip was the gift shop sign. I’ll have to remember to take more on our next trip. Like everything else so far, the wait was minimal, and the ride was enjoyable. For those unfamiliar with Universal, this ride has a game play element similar to Toy Story Mania or Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, but the ride itself is a lot more elaborate than either of them. It's a great ride, even if (like me) you're only moderatly good at best at racking up points.


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By now, it was almost 10am, so I decided to hang around the Simpsons area to see if any characters would pop up by near the Kwik-E-Mart like they did when we were there in October. While I waited, I took some photos around the area.


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Oh, Bart, will you ever stay out of trouble?


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If you ever visit Universal and hear this phone outside the Kwik-E-Mart ring, be sure to answer it. When I did, I got a bizarre non sequitur from Ralph Wiggum followed by a prank call from Bart.


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I took a peek inside the Kwik-E-Mart.


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Since no Simpsons character ever came out, I decided to head on to Amity and go on my favorite ride in the park, Jaws. When I got there, he was already causing terror by devouring an entire photo booth, or at least that’s what it looks like in this unintentional silly picture.


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The wait was less than 5 minutes here as well. In no time, I was boarding a boat for a tour of Amity Harbor.


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The set pieces and themeing of this ride really is wonderful, especially the town at the beginning of the ride. Of course, once you’re past that, the shark itself and all the special effects are the star of the show. It’s a little silly at times, but it’s a whole lot of fun.


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Outside the ride, there are some props from Jaws movies.


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After Jaws, I made the short trip from Amity to San Francisco to try Disaster: A Major Motion Picture Ride Staring You, another attraction that Buzz and I missed when we went in October. I lucked out by getting to walk right into the pre-show just before the cut-off. As for the attraction itself, I suppose you could best compare it to the Backlot Tour at Hollywood Studios. There are some special effects demonstrations with audience participation and a finale of you riding a tram-like vehicle through an earthquake scene. Still, in a whole, I think Disaster is more fun and entertaining than what Disney’s Backlot Tour had become. The astonishing scene in which a live performer, through some sort of special effect I can’t quite figure out, appears to be on stage and interacting with a director character played by Christopher Walken was alone worth a visit to the attraction. And, of course, the actual ride through the earthquake is fantastic as well.


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It was not even 11am, and I had already gotten through 6 of the park’s headliner attractions and practically my entire “must-see” list for the day. Getting there at rope drop and doing the attractions in the order I did really worked out since, especially in the second hour, I seemed to be one step ahead of the crowds (not to mention the large tour groups). By now though, I was ready to switch out of commando mode and enjoy the park at a more leisurely pace.



Next chapter: Meeting some of Universal's stars

dawnbu40
10-05-2011, 10:39 AM
Wow I can't believe how much you got to see that morning! :thumbsup2

It sounds like your day is off to a wonderful start! You really know your movie trivia! I never would have known the "Priscilla Hotel".

meeko_33785
10-07-2011, 08:36 AM
Wow I can't believe how much you got to see that morning! :thumbsup2

It sounds like your day is off to a wonderful start! You really know your movie trivia! I never would have known the "Priscilla Hotel".

I was really surprise how quickly I was able to see all of those attractions. I was sure that I was going to be battling the crowds all day to see that much.

A few months before the trip, I had just seen Thoroughly Modern Millie for the first time, so the name was still in my head when I went to Universal. Later, I went back to watch a bit of the movie to make sure I was remembering correctly. It was a fun discovery to make.

Lady Lallie
10-07-2011, 09:30 AM
There are two major reasons I want to go to Univeral...The Simpsons Ride and Harry Potter. Your pictures and reports are making me want to go even more. :goodvibes

You had great luck with crowds, you had gotten a lot done in a very short amount of time!

meeko_33785
10-08-2011, 09:04 AM
There are two major reasons I want to go to Univeral...The Simpsons Ride and Harry Potter. Your pictures and reports are making me want to go even more. :goodvibes

You had great luck with crowds, you had gotten a lot done in a very short amount of time!

I hope that someday you finally get to go back to Universal. I think you'd really love the Simpsons and Harry Potter areas.

not_Joanna_eggs
10-08-2011, 12:18 PM
Your pictures really make me want to give Universal another try. Crowds really can change your experience. Your trip looks lovely!

meeko_33785
10-10-2011, 09:56 AM
Your pictures really make me want to give Universal another try. Crowds really can change your experience. Your trip looks lovely!

It really was great. I was shocked at how the crowd levels never felt too bad since it was the middle of June. I'm sure if you came back to Universal at just about any time except Christmas week or other similarly busy days that you would enjoy it a lot more.

meeko_33785
10-11-2011, 08:53 AM
Having already ridden all six of my “must-see” rides in the first two hours, I decided to take the time meeting some of the many characters that appear around the Studios. The first performance of the Star Toons Summer Jamz character show/ meet-and-greet was scheduled to begin in a few minutes, so I headed off to Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone to catch it.


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While I waited for show time, I decided to get some air conditioning and look through the Cartoon Store.


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Outside, a number of Woody Woodpeckers decorate the area.


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When the Star Toons appeared, they gathered onstage for a brief song and dance. Yes, it’s incredibly cheesy, but it’s kind of fun to see all the characters dancing around in their special costumes. Scooby-Doo really shocked the crowd by doing a split during his routine.


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I’m not exactly sure what’s going on here, but it looks like Winnie Woodpecker is flirting with the Man in the Yellow Hat.


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In the end, Winnie’s heart belongs to Woody.



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After the show, the characters all came out for a meet-and-greet. Woody and Winnie got creative with their poses. I think either he’s about to carry her away or they’re trying out for the Toontown edition of Dancing with the Stars.


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Curious George was being very well behaved with the Man in the Yellow Hat nearby.


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Last but definitely not least was Scooby-Doo and Shaggy in their beachwear. If you intend to visit the characters here, I’d recommend getting in line for these two right after the show. Since they are the most popular characters of the group and both are very interactive with visitors, their line was longest and slowest. Still, even though I went to see them last, I only waited 5 minutes. It was a fairly long wait as far as Universal meet-and-greets are concerned, but, compared to the meets at Disney, it wasn’t bad at all.


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Next, I headed off towards Hollywood and found Alex the lion and some of the Penguins of Madagascar. The penguin on the right (Rico, I believe) was not out with the group when I met them the first time, so it was cool to be able to see a “new” penguin this time around.


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After the Madagascar meet-and-greet, I spotted the Toon Trolley coming down the street with none other than Bullwinkle J. Moose onboard. Rocky and Bullwinke was one of my favorite cartoons growing up, and I was hoping to someday find any of those characters at Universal. Unfortunately, the Trolley characters were done with their set and heading backstage. Figuring that they would be back out eventually, I decided to spend some time exploring Hollywood and the Production Central until they did.


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A little farther down the street, Betty Boop was greeting fans. I was a bit surprised to see her out since I didn’t think she usually made appearances outside of Toon Lagoon at Islands of Adventure.


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Dora the Explorer was standing over by the Studios Store. I hadn’t met her on any previous trips, so I got her photo and autograph (stamp) this time around.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/lucyband-6002.jpg

One of the best things about visiting Universal Studios at a busier time of year is all the extra entertainment, especially the acts around Hollywood Boulevard. These guys played a lot of classic TV theme songs like “I Love Lucy” and “I Dream of Jeannie”, but they really had the crowd going when they got audience members to rap the “Fresh Prince” theme along with them.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/gingy-800.jpg

After not really enjoying Shrek 4-D when we did it last year, I had no desire to try it again. I did take this picture as I passed by though.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/monstercafe1-600.jpg

After seeing some cool photos of the usually-closed Classic Monster Café online, I was hoping it would be open for the more crowded summer season. Fortunately, it was so I decided look around. It’s sort of a mini-Planet Hollywood with props from Universal monster movies decorating a number of themed dining rooms. Among the props was this mask from The Phantom of the Opera.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/monstercafe2-600.jpg

Does this address look familiar to anyone? 1313 Mockingbird Lane was the home to Herman, Lilly and the rest of the Munsters.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/monstercafe3-600.jpg

The Frankenstein mansion appears to have received a bit of redecorating sometime during the pop art craze.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/hollywoodcharacters4-600.jpg

After exploring the Monster Café, I spotted Back to the Future’s Doc Brown hanging around his time traveling DeLorean and got a photo of him with his most famous invention.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/hop1-600.jpg

Nearby, a small crowd was beginning to gather for the first appearance of the day for the characters from Universal’s Easter-themed comedy Hop. I never saw this movie in the theaters since it looked so terrible from the trailers (after all, if rabbits pooping jelly beans was the best material they had to put in the trailer, it couldn’t have been that good). Still, the theme park characters were fun to see, but nothing convinced me to actually see the movie. After a brief song-and-dance to “I Want Candy”, they came down to do some meet-and-greets.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/hop2-600.jpg

Carlos the chick is apparently the villain of the film, which might explain why few people seemed interested in seeing him. He is a little nasty-looking.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/hop4-600.jpg

The star of the film is E.B., the Easter-Bunny-to-be.


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Another chick, Phil, seemed much friendlier than Carlos.


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Roaming the area were the Pink Berets who, I suppose, are the Easter Bunny’s Special Forces.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/hop6-600.jpg


For a movie (particularly a movie so linked with a particular season) that came and went without a whole lot of fanfare, it was interesting to see so many characters from a single release all out together like this. It’s definitely something that I haven’t seen in any of the Disney parks in a long time, even for their biggest releases. These days, you’re lucky if Disney has one or two characters from a recent film. After getting pictures of all the character, I headed back to Hollywood to see if the Toon Trolley characters were back yet.



Next chapter: I still love Lucy

Lady Lallie
10-11-2011, 09:56 AM
Great character pictures! You really saw a lot of them. Doc Brown really looks like Christopher Lloyd, I had to look at the picture twice because at first I thought it really was him. :rotfl:

dawnbu40
10-11-2011, 12:46 PM
You always have the best luck finding the characters :)

I never saw Hop but those pink beret bunnies sure are cute!

Fun update :)

meeko_33785
10-11-2011, 04:39 PM
Great character pictures! You really saw a lot of them. Doc Brown really looks like Christopher Lloyd, I had to look at the picture twice because at first I thought it really was him. :rotfl:

Doc was quite convincing. All of the face characters/ celebrity impersonators at Universal are really wonderful.


You always have the best luck finding the characters :)

I never saw Hop but those pink beret bunnies sure are cute!

Fun update :)

I thought all the bunnies from Hop were pretty cute. I'm not too sure about those chicks though. :laughing:

jenseib
10-12-2011, 10:24 AM
I loved Disaster the many years ago that i rode it. I loved the smi that cam slamiing down at you. Freaked my kids right out...ok maybe me too. :rolleyes1

I was going to say that Doc Brown looked really "real" as well. That is my all time favorite movie series. I loved the Back to the Future ride many years ago. I was sad to hear it was gone, but I'm sure the Simpsons is great as well.

meeko_33785
10-14-2011, 11:05 AM
I loved Disaster the many years ago that i rode it. I loved the smi that cam slamiing down at you. Freaked my kids right out...ok maybe me too. :rolleyes1

I was going to say that Doc Brown looked really "real" as well. That is my all time favorite movie series. I loved the Back to the Future ride many years ago. I was sad to hear it was gone, but I'm sure the Simpsons is great as well.

Disaster really exceeded my expectations. I thought it was so well done and a lot of fun.

meeko_33785
10-17-2011, 08:46 AM
Buzz and I are back from our latest Disney day trip. We had a wonderful time at EPCOT and enjoyed our International Food and Wine Festival. Here’s a look at some of the photos and a few points of interest from the day:


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/octobertr2.jpg


Our first time seeing Captain EO
Kim Possible Missions in the United Kingdom and Mexico
Snacking our way around World Showcase at our first International Food and Wine Festival


This will likely be our last Disney trip of the year. It seems so strange not to be going there for Christmas, but I’m sure Christmas at Universal will be fun though- and definitely something new and different for us. I’ve added a little bit about our first Universal vacation in the post on the front page, and as we get closer to December, I’ll probably be posting more about the planning.


As far as the October day trip, it will a while before I get to the report (after all, I still have to finish June and then get through July, August, and September first), but I hope that it will be worth the wait. I know we enjoyed it.

wdwgirl03
10-17-2011, 05:44 PM
Hey Meeko, catching up here! Great Universal updates. I really had no idea they had so many characters there. Probably because it's been a while since we went to Universal Studios (we only went to IOA last year).

Anxious to hear about your Epcot day trip! popcorn::

meeko_33785
10-18-2011, 09:13 AM
Hey Meeko, catching up here! Great Universal updates. I really had no idea they had so many characters there. Probably because it's been a while since we went to Universal Studios (we only went to IOA last year).

Anxious to hear about your Epcot day trip! popcorn::

Universal, especially the Studios, has a ton of great characters. And unlike Disney, the lines are almost always short so you can really meet a bunch of them in one day. :thumbsup2

meeko_33785
10-18-2011, 09:17 AM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/toontrolley1-600.jpg

Once I had arrived back in Hollywood, the Toon Trolley had brought the characters back for meet-and-greets. Of course, I started with Bullwinkle who signed his autograph and posed for a few photos.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/toontrolley2-600.jpg

I hadn’t seen Winnie Woodpecker in just her normal outfit, so I decided to get a picture of her and Woody as well. I’ve never really been that big a fan of Woody Woodpecker, but I have to admit that the two of them always look adorable together at Universal.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/lucytribute1-600.jpg

After doing primarily outdoor shows and meet-and-greets for an hour or so, I needed a break with some air conditioning. Lucy: A Tribute was the perfect choice.


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A display of Emmy Awards won by Lucille Ball.


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The I Love Lucy portion of the tribute has a number of props and costumes used in the show, like this thimble tipped glove from one of the episodes featuring guest star Tennessee Ernie Ford.


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Lucy’s ukulele from her Roaring 20s number.


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An overview of the display.


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After looking around the exhibit, I decided to do a little exploring around Hollywood. For those who thought that I accidentally slipped in a picture from Disney in here, this was actually taken at Universal. It’s based on the same building that inspired the Darkroom camera shop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Unlike the Disney one, Universal’s is just a false front.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/hollywood2-600.jpg

A photo spot.


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While wandering the area, I ran into probably my favorite characters in the park- Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. We chatted for a while about Ricky’s newest ventures (including build a new club called “Babaloo South” here in Florida) and Lucy’s latest attempts at breaking into show business. For me, It was probably the most fun meet-and-greet of the day.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/newyork1-600.jpg

It was around lunch time, so I decided to head over to New York since I had heard good things about Louie’s Italian Restaurant. Along the way, I took in some of the sights around New York.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/newyork4-600.jpg

Does the moose mascot of Bull’s Gym look familiar? Yes, it’s Bulllwinke again. Apparently, this was once an actual shop. It has been closed for years, but the sign remains.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/newyork3-600.jpg


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Once I got to Louie’s, there was an enormous line. Not actually being that hungry, I decided to wait until the lunch rush had subsided a bit and do a ride or two in the meantime.


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I decided to head back to Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone for the ET Adventure. The line was pretty minimal- maybe two or three minutes. The ride is fun, and probably the most “Disney” of all the attractions at Universal. It feels like a mix of Peter Pan’s Flight, It’s A Small World and the original Journey into Imagination with just a pinch more excitement.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/moresimpsons1-600.jpg

After the ride, I decided to go back to the Simpsons area to take some more pictures.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/moresimpsons2-600.jpg

I hope that you’re not afraid of clowns.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/moresimpsons3-600.jpg


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/moresimpsons4-600.jpg


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/jawsview1-600.jpg

While in Amity, I discovered a little area where you can get a good look at the harbor at the beginning of the Jaws Ride.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/jawsview2-600.jpg

Another intrepid young skipper sets out for another adventure in shark-infested waters.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/louies1-600.jpg

By now, the line at Louie’s was a little shorter. Even with the shorter line, I think this ended up being one of my longest, of not my longest wait of the day. Still, if the longest wait of the day was somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes, you’re doing really well.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/louies2-600.jpg

Having heard (relatively) good things about the pizza here, I decided to give it a try. It was pretty good. I’d say that it was fairly comparable with the kind of pizza you would find at a Sbarro in a mall food court which is an improvement over most counter service pizza sold in theme parks. The one thing I would say that made it a step above something like Sbarro was the crust which I thought was surprisingly tasty. The restaurant also had a fairly large indoor dining room, so it wasn’t impossible to find a nice table in the air conditioning. With lunch out of the day, I went back out into the park to have some more fun.



Next chapter: The Terminator in 3D and the end of my day at Universal.

dawnbu40
10-18-2011, 01:27 PM
You Universal updates are really making me think we need to take time and head over there on one of our WDW visits.

Sounds like you had a great time with the Ricardos. The museum looks interesting.

As for your description of how sweet ET is, Caitlin would beg to differ :laughing: I took her on it when she was 2 and she was absolutely terrified. To this day she is still afraid of ET :rolleyes:

meeko_33785
10-19-2011, 08:21 AM
You Universal updates are really making me think we need to take time and head over there on one of our WDW visits.

Sounds like you had a great time with the Ricardos. The museum looks interesting.

As for your description of how sweet ET is, Caitlin would beg to differ :laughing: I took her on it when she was 2 and she was absolutely terrified. To this day she is still afraid of ET :rolleyes:

Ricky and Lucy are probably some of my favorite characters in Universal or Disney. They're so interactive and in-character.

Well, I think I would have hated ET at age 2 as well. It's just a little too much. Come to think of it, I probably would have been afraid of Peter Pan's Flight or Imagination at that age as well with all the pirates, explosions and such.

Lady Lallie
10-20-2011, 10:54 AM
I have found myself pricing out Universal trips over the last week or so and I am completely blaming you. :rotfl2::lmao::rotfl:

I used to love watching the Bullwinkle cartoon, great picture of him in the beginning!

meeko_33785
10-21-2011, 11:08 AM
I have found myself pricing out Universal trips over the last week or so and I am completely blaming you. :rotfl2::lmao::rotfl:

I used to love watching the Bullwinkle cartoon, great picture of him in the beginning!

Universal is a lot of fun. I'm not sure if it would be a great vacation with a baby though. They have a a few play areas at Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone at the Studios and in Seuss Landing and Toon Lagoon at IOA, a Barney show, and lots of characters, but most of the rides seem to be for the older crowd.

Thanks. I was excited to be able to get his picture.

meeko_33785
10-24-2011, 09:13 AM
After lunch, I decided to head back towards Hollywood to see another attraction that I had missed on my first visit to the park- Terminator 2: 3D.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/hollywoodafterlunch1-600.jpg

Along the way, I spotted Diego of Go Diego Go with Dora and stopped to get a photo of the two of them.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/hollywoodafterlunch2-600.jpg

The next show time for Terminator was about 30 minutes away, so I figured that in the mean time I would check out a few of the shops in the area. I believe a sign proclaimed this as the largest Betty Boop store in the world. While there was a lot of Betty, there was plenty of other classic Hollywood memorabilia as well.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/hollywoodafterlunch3-600.jpg

Even Lucy had her own section of the store near the exit of the Lucy Tribute.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/hollywoodafterlunch4-6002.jpg

Also adjacent to the Tribute exit was a display of vintage Lucy memorabilia including this (slightly deranged looking?) Lucy Ricardo doll.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/hollywoodafterlunch5-600.jpg

Over by Mel’s Diner, The Vinyls were playing some classic rock ‘n’ roller. One thing that I that was neat about Universal was that while Disney’s Hollywood Boulevard is set in the 1930s or 40s, Universal’s has more of a 50s feel with bands like this, the Lucy Tribute, Mel’s Diner and having characters like Marilyn Monroe, Lucy and Ricky wandering the street. It’s a nice but subtle difference, but it gives both parks more a unique feel.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/hollywoodafterlunch6-600.jpg

After a while, I decided to head back to the Terminator and join the queue. Probably within 10 or 15 minutes at most, I was in the pre-show area. I’ll be the first to admit that the Terminator isn’t exactly my kind of movie. Still, the presentation was well done. I wasn’t as impressed with the portion that was just a 3D movie with “Ah-nold”, but the beginning and ending segments that featured live performers, animatronics and some truly “how-did-they-do-that?” kind of special effects made it worth it. I don’t see this as being the type of attractions that I’ll want to visit every time, but I’d much rather see this again than the nearby Shrek 4D.


The Ice cream counter inside Schwab’s Pharmacy was open for business (something I had never seen on previous visits), so after the movie, I decided to check it out. Something cold would have really hit the spot that day, and the idea of getting something at Schwab’s seemed really fun. After all, this could be my chance to get “discovered” like those movie stars of yesteryear who once sat at the counter at the original in Hollywood. Unfortunately the line was extremely slow moving making the wait longer than I wanted to wait for, so I gave up on that idea.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/marge-600.jpg

The Simpsons had been doing meet-and-greets nearby, but were getting in their RV to leave when I passed by. Before they drove off, Marge did a few poses for all the paparazzi.


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I headed back to the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit since I wanted to try and get in another ride on it before the end of the day. The line was a little longer than it had been at rope drop (about 15 minutes instead of 10), but apparently still wasn’t long enough to open the Single Rider Line. I decided to go with more of a fun disco vibe this time around and picked I Will Survive to be my ride soundtrack.




http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/simpsonsgreet1-600.jpg

Once I got back to Hollywood, I spotted the Simpsons greeting guests (minus the previously-seen RV), so I hopped in their line. While I was waiting, the Simpsons had to take a 10 minute break, but when they returned, they brought their RV with them.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/simpsonsgreet2-600.jpg

With the characters’ break, this actually turned out to be one of the longest waits of the day but was still less than 20 minutes. It was worth it though. After Lucy and Ricky, these are my absolute favorite characters to meet in the park. I love this picture of them too. They were told to squeeze in for a family photo, and Homer misunderstood and tried, to no avail, to squeeze in his gut.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/scoobymm-600.jpg

After the meet-and-greet, Scooby and Shaggy passed by in the Mystery Machine.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/outatime-600.jpg

I wanted to take another walk around the New York streets to get some more pictures and enjoy some of the fantastic atmosphere. Along the way, I checked out some of the details on the car from Back to the Future.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/newyorkafternoon1-600.jpg


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/newyorkafternoon2-600.jpg


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/mummy2-600.jpg


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/endofday1-600.jpg

Back in Hollywood, I ran into Bullwinkle again and got another picture.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/endofday2-600.jpg

The Simpsons were driving by as well.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/endofday3-600.jpg

I spent some time checking looking at the stars on the Walk of Fame…


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/endofday4-600.jpg

and enjoying the architecture.


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The Madagascar characters were out for their last set of the day with one more penguin than I had seen earlier, so I stopped to get a group photo and meet my last new character for the day. I’m horrible at remembering these penguins’ names, but I think the new one was Kowalski.


By now, I had done everything I had hoped to do (and more) while at Universal with the exception of getting some dessert as Schwab’s, so I went back to get something before ending my day in the park. The line didn’t look too bad, but since it was extremely slow moving, it took about 15 minutes to get through.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/schwabs1-600.jpg

The décor was wonderful and very retro Hollywood. The walls were even decorated with photos and autographs of classic stars. Lucille Ball’s autograph was right near the counter.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/schwabs2-600.jpg

The ice cream counter is run by Ben and Jerry’s, so it has a lot of the same sundaes and shakes that you would normally find at their shops. The menu also included malted milkshakes which I can't remember ever seeing available at other Ben and Jerry’s but stuck out here since a chocolate malt seemed like the perfect choice for an old-fashioned retro soda fountain. There were a few tables and some stools at the counter, but they were all taken. I figured that meant that I just wasn’t going to get “discovered” today. Instead, I enjoyed my malt as I made the last walk of the day back to the exit and through City Walk.



Next chapter: Trip Reflections

dawnbu40
10-24-2011, 09:28 AM
It sounds like you had a great time! I really enjoyed the pictures. The theming there looks great :thumbsup2

I'm sorry you didn't get discovered. Maybe next time! :)

Lady Lallie
10-24-2011, 12:01 PM
Your day trip sounds like it was just so much fun and enjoyable.

I'm sad the Simpsons don't greet with Maggie, unless maybe she just wasn't there that day. You would think they could get Marge to hold a Maggie doll or something.

The soda fountain looks like a fun place to check out. I love vintage things like that so I think I'd love the atmosphere.

meeko_33785
10-25-2011, 10:01 AM
It sounds like you had a great time! I really enjoyed the pictures. The theming there looks great :thumbsup2

I'm sorry you didn't get discovered. Maybe next time! :)

Thanks Dawn. And I suppose I'll have another chance to get discovered at Christmas, although it will probably be too cold for ice cream by then. :laughing:



Your day trip sounds like it was just so much fun and enjoyable.

I'm sad the Simpsons don't greet with Maggie, unless maybe she just wasn't there that day. You would think they could get Marge to hold a Maggie doll or something.

The soda fountain looks like a fun place to check out. I love vintage things like that so I think I'd love the atmosphere.

I think they had Maggie out with them when the ride first opened. I remember seeing am older picture with Marge holding her. She would be a fun addition to the meet-and-greet.

Schwab's was wonderful. The theming was right up my alley too, so I'm glad I had a chance to check it out.

jenseib
10-26-2011, 12:22 PM
Fun day!!! We need to get there. I have so many ideas for next year...and I need to start narrowing it down. But I jsut want to do it all. :rotfl2:

Jennifer48
10-26-2011, 02:58 PM
Man I missed a lot of updates! :headache:

Lots of great character meets! You got a lot done the first few hours of rope drop. :thumbsup2

I LOVE Lucy! I was recently up in NY for a wedding and made sure to stop in at Jamestown where Lucy was born. Went to the museum & studio they have there with great memorabilia. I even found her childhood home and grave.

Looking forward to more! Hopefully this time I'll be notified of updates!

meeko_33785
10-28-2011, 08:26 AM
Fun day!!! We need to get there. I have so many ideas for next year...and I need to start narrowing it down. But I jsut want to do it all. :rotfl2:

It was very fun. :) Hopefully you'll be able to get to Universal sometime.



Man I missed a lot of updates! :headache:

Lots of great character meets! You got a lot done the first few hours of rope drop. :thumbsup2

I LOVE Lucy! I was recently up in NY for a wedding and made sure to stop in at Jamestown where Lucy was born. Went to the museum & studio they have there with great memorabilia. I even found her childhood home and grave.

Looking forward to more! Hopefully this time I'll be notified of updates!


Rope drop is definitley the way to go. I couldn't believe how quickly I got through all the headliner attrations in the park- especially since it was summer!

I'd love to get to Jamestown someday. I've seen some pictures of the Lucy museum up there and it looks neat.

meeko_33785
10-28-2011, 08:51 AM
It’s time to wrap up another trip report, so here are a few last thoughts about my day at Universal.



Weather:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/juneweather.jpg

There is no way to sugarcoat it- it was hot. Even for Florida, it was an extremely warm day. Thankfully, a majority of the park’s attractions are all indoors with indoor (or at least covered) queue lines so there were plenty of options for getting out of the heat and into the air conditioning. On the bright side, it was at least a gorgeous-looking day and rain-free.


Crowds and Wait Times:
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I was expecting the summer crowds at Universal to be horrendous and the day to consist of standing in one long line after another, but I was pleasantly surprised. The park was much more crowded that I’ve experienced when visiting in the off-season, but the lines at the attractions were all shorter in June than they were when I was there in October. In fact, the longest wait of the day weren’t for attractions but for food (about 15 minutes each at Louie’s Italian Restaurant and Schwab’s Pharmacy) and for the Simpsons’ meet-and-greet (also around 15 minutes). Getting to the park before rope drop and hitting all the major attractions in the first two hours really helped me stay one step ahead of the crowds- not to mention the large tour groups, but even later in the afternoon, the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit still didn't have much more than a 10 minute wait and the ET Adventure was practically a walk-on. Judging by the mass of humanity flooding into Islands of Adventure next door, I’m sure that wasn’t the case at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but the Studios, at least, still felt more than manageable even in the summer.


Attraction Highlights:
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Over the course of the day, I managed to try three attractions that I hadn’t tried before- the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Disaster and Terminator 2: 3D. Out of the three, the Rip Ride Rocket was definitely my favorite. I thought it was a great coaster with a fun gimmick of getting to select your own on-ride soundtrack. Disaster was also a great attraction with some fun audience participation and amazing special effects. The Terminator was well done and worth seeing but not something that particularly interested me. Other highlights of the day included revisiting some of my favorite attractions from my previous visit to the park including Jaws, The Simpsons Ride, Revenge of the Mummy and Lucy: A Tribute.


Dining:
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For this day trip, I grabbed some lunch over at Louie’s Italian Restaurant in the New York section of the park. As far as counter service pizza goes, it was well above average from what I’m used to finding at theme parks. The atmosphere was nothing out-of-the-ordinary (sort of a big warehouse with grapes, wine bottles and framed pictures of famous Italian-Americans), but the food and air conditioning were the biggest draws here for me. I’d recommend it for a quick lunch in the park. For dessert, I headed to Hollywood and got chocolate malt at Schwab’s Pharmacy. The atmosphere here is what made the experience more than just another visit to a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop. It really has that feeling that you’ve stepped back into Hollywood’s golden age. And even though I didn’t get anything to eat there, I did take a look around the Classic Monster Café. The atmosphere was well-done with lots of cool movie props to see, but I’m not sure if monsters and horror films provide the most appetizing themes for a restaurant. If it’s open, it’s at least worth a look around.


Characters:
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Like I mentioned in the February trip report, Universal Studios is quickly becoming one of my favorite parks for character meet-and-greets. Over the course of this day trip, I met a total of 28 different characters. 10 of the 28 were characters that I hadn’t met previously in either of the Universal parks- Bullwinkle, Dora the Explorer, Penguins Rico and Kowalski from Madagascar and E.B., Carlos, Phil, and Pink Berets Fluffy, Bit and Patch from Hop. Other noteworthy characters of the day included Woody Woodpecker, Scooby-Doo and the rest of the Star Toons characters in their summer beachwear at Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone, Betty Boop (who I had previously only seem at Islands of Adventure and not at the Studios) and my favorite characters to see at Universal- Lucy, Ricky Ricardo and The Simpsons.


It was definitely a fun day at Universal Studios and a successful first solo day in any of the Orlando theme parks. I actually did enjoy the freedom that being solo gives you in terms of being able to tour the park any way you wish. However, while I had a lot of fun, I also missed having someone to share the day with, especially at meal times. It was an experience I'm glad to have had, but it did change my perspective on solo trips. The possibiliy of more solo day trips in the future is there, but I’m not sure I’d enjoy multi-day solo trips. I’d always wondered if a solo vacation would be fun, but based on just a day, I don't think that I would enjoy that much time alone in Orlando.


Of course, I know for my next visit to Universal, I definitely won’t be alone. As I’ve mentioned before, we have reservations for a two-night family vacation at the Royal Pacific Resort this December. Not only will this be my parents’ first visit to Universal, but this will be all of our first time staying at one of their on-site resorts and our first trip to Universal during the Holiday season. It should be quite the trip. We have about a month and a half still to go, but before then, I still have plenty of Disney trip reports to get through. Next up will be an afternoon at Downtown Disney.

meeko_33785
10-31-2011, 09:53 AM
Hey everyone. I'm still working on my next report (which will hopefully be up sometime in the next few days), but in the meantime, I wanted to wish everyone a happy and safe Halloween. While we're all in the Halloween spirit, I thought now would be a good time to post one of my character photos from my October trip report since at the rate I'm going, it probably won't get posted in the report until after Christmas.


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Yes, for those who hadn't heard, this year Duffy the Disney Bear greeting guests at EPCOT in his Halloween pumpkin costume. I may not be Duffy's biggest fan, but I thought it was great to see a character all dressed up for a holiday, something that hasn't been too common at EPCOT lately.


There will be more of Duffy and the rest of our day at EPCOT in our October report, but before I have even more Disney fun to write about including an afternoon at Downtown Disney, a family vacation at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, and a day at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Hopefully this will make it up to any Disney fans out there that are tired about reading about Universal :laughing:

dawnbu40
10-31-2011, 11:16 AM
Happy Halloween Meeko! Duffy looks adorable in his costume!

meeko_33785
11-01-2011, 09:43 AM
Happy Halloween Meeko! Duffy looks adorable in his costume!

Thanks Dawn. :)

Jennifer48
11-01-2011, 10:54 AM
Happy belated Halloween Meeko! I'm a sucker for teddy bears so Duffy looks adorable to me in his pumpkin costume! :thumbsup2

meeko_33785
11-02-2011, 09:16 AM
Happy belated Halloween Meeko! I'm a sucker for teddy bears so Duffy looks adorable to me in his pumpkin costume! :thumbsup2

Thanks. And I agree. Duffy does look pretty cute all dressed up.

meeko_33785
11-02-2011, 09:19 AM
“A Disney Afternoon”-July 2011 Mini Day Trip
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Most trips to Disney are at least a day, if not a few days, a whole week or an extended vacation. Buzz and my June trip to Walt Disney World lasted less than three hours. We were in Orlando anyway and figured since we were so close that we would stop by Downtown Disney for lunch. Since the visit was so short and won’t have a lot of commentary, I’ll be posting the entire report at once. I hope that you enjoy it.



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Buzz and I began our time at Downtown Disney at the Marketplace.


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This was our first time visiting since the Lego store was expanded and all the Disney-themed Lego sculptures were added outside, so of course we stopped to check them out. The Snow White display was pretty impressive.


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The Sleeping Beauty sculpture depicting the battle between Prince Phillip and Maleficent in dragon form was also a great one.


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After being distracted by Disney classics in Lego form, we got back on track to get some lunch. We went with one of our Downtown Disney favorites- the Earl of Sandwich. The line looked a little long, but it moved very quickly. I went with what I always seem to get- the Hawaiian BBQ Sandwich. I’m a sucker for practically anything with pineapple. Buzz had the All American which sounded somewhat like Thanksgiving dinner in sandwich form with turkey and cranberries. Our sandwiches were great, and considering their quality, I really think that this is one of the better values as far a Disney quick service dining goes. We grabbed at outdoor table and enjoyed both our lunch and the atmosphere of the Marketplace.


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After lunch, we took some time to peruse a few of the shops. The pin shop was only steps away from the restaurant so we started there.


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Next, we checked out the new Marketplace Fun Finds shop where everything is, according to the Downtown Disney guide map “priced at extraordinary values”. It looked like all the same merchandise that is sold at every other store on property but with signs over it proclaiming whether it is $10, $15 or $20. Still, it’s a nice selection of Disney souvenirs and a lot less crowded than World of Disney.


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I believe some of the lighting fixtures were left over from when this shop was Pooh Corner. Isn’t it somewhat funny that the same year the new Winnie the Pooh movie comes out, the Pooh store is replaced with something much more generic?


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Pooh Corner may be a thing on the past, but the Pooh and friends photo opportunity was still outside the shop.


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Next stop was Disney Days of Christmas where we got into the spirit for Christmas in July.


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I want to say that some of the banners around the store, including these of the Princesses dressed up for the Holiday, were new since I had been here last.


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A lesson in Holiday recycling: apparently a decoration from a long-past celebration (like “The Happiest Celebration on Earth”, for example) can easily become a Christmas decoration as long as you cover up the old celebration’s name and put a stocking holder and some tinsel in front of it.


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It just isn’t Christmas without an appearance from Scrooge.


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I think Mickey has a Holiday secret.


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After browsing through the Art of Disney, we looked around the Rainforest Cafe shop for a bit.


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As we passed Marketplace Fun Finds again, I got another quick shot of the Pooh photo opp.


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Over at Once Upon a Toy, it seems like the Muppets have more and more of a presence every time we visit. I’m guessing once the new movie comes out, there will be even more.


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A few of the hidden Disney characters in the mural of Geppetto’s workshop behind the store’s cash registers.


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Next, we took a quick look through Tren-D.

meeko_33785
11-02-2011, 09:20 AM
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It had been overcast all day, but by now, it was really looking like it might start to storm, so we headed on to World of Disney. If we had to ride out a storm somewhere in the Marketplace, it might as well be the world’s largest Disney store.


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If you’ve read any of my previous trip reports, you know that it has become somewhat of a tradition for me to get pictures of the characters- particularly the more obscure characters that you may not see represented in many other places around Disney World- in the store’s ceiling murals. In the Magic Room, the Genie’s lamp is just one of the magic-makers represented.


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It’s not really the best likeness, but Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother is included as well.


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The mural on the Bird Room’s ceiling is my favorite since it tends to have the most obscure characters, like the vultures from The Jungle Book.


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A few of Snow White’s forest friends are included as well.


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Zazu isn’t that obscure, but especially now that he is no longer in the Tiki Room, he doesn’t have too much of a presence in the World anymore.


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After checking out the ceilings, I checked out some more of the displays and decorations around the store.


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When we left the World of Disney, it appeared that the storm missed us, so we decided to head towards Pleasure Island and West Side. On the way, we took a look around the expanded Lego store.


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A glimpse of Fulton’s Crab House.


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There wasn’t much going on in Pleasure Island with the exception of these fun and (I think) new flower sculptures.


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West Side.


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We took a quick look through the new Harley Davidson store. It certainly was bigger than the one that they had at Pleasure Island.


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We checked out D-Street as well.


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I read somewhere that a lot of the retro-looking props in D-Street are recycled artifacts from Pleasure Island’s former Adventurers’ Club. Having never been to the Adventures’ Club, I can’t verify that, but from what I know of the club, I’d believe it.


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The witch at Disney’s Candy Cauldron. I’m still not sure about a candy apple store themed to poisoned apples.


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While we were there, we took a look around the DisneyQuest gift shop. I didn’t realize until this year that DisneyQuest merchandise was a thing of the past. It seemed to be all the same Pirates of the Caribbean, Toy Story and Mickey items that you would find in most other shops. After we left the shop, it was beginning to lightly sprinkle, so we decided to end our brief visit.



Since I really can’t think of anything to add, I won’t do my usual separate post for trip reflections and end the report here. It may have been short and not particularly eventful, but I hope that you enjoyed it. Up next, I’ll switch gears and start writing about a somewhat more substantial trip- our family vacation at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Stay tuned for that.

Lady Lallie
11-02-2011, 12:32 PM
I so wish I lived close enough to Disney to be able to just drop by Downtown Disney for lunch. What a great perk for you!

Great detailed pictures once again. :goodvibes

Jennifer48
11-02-2011, 02:43 PM
Those new Lego sculptures are very impressive. DH wants to have that job!

We love EoS also. Its a must stop for us on our Disney trips. I only just tried the All American recently. Did Buzz like it?

Your photo of Donald from Pin Station is scary!

dawnbu40
11-02-2011, 02:53 PM
Looks like a fun afternoon! I am so jealous of your close proximity to WDW!

I love the angry Donald pic! :thumbsup2

wdwgirl03
11-02-2011, 05:39 PM
I love the DTD pictures, especially the lego ones. Those really are impressive.

I am pretty sure they "recycled" those flower sculptures from the Flower and Garden Festival-they always have things like those at Epcot.

jenseib
11-02-2011, 09:41 PM
I love all your DTD pictures. Stil lgreat....even if brief.
I never look up at WOD. I'll have to remember that next time.

meeko_33785
11-03-2011, 03:18 PM
I so wish I lived close enough to Disney to be able to just drop by Downtown Disney for lunch. What a great perk for you!

Great detailed pictures once again. :goodvibes

Living in Florida does have its advantages. I'm glad that you enjoyed the pictures.


Those new Lego sculptures are very impressive. DH wants to have that job!

We love EoS also. Its a must stop for us on our Disney trips. I only just tried the All American recently. Did Buzz like it?

Your photo of Donald from Pin Station is scary!

Buzz did like the All American. He said his favorite is still the Original 1762 though.

Donald does look a but intimidating, doesn't he?


Looks like a fun afternoon! I am so jealous of your close proximity to WDW!

I love the angry Donald pic! :thumbsup2

I think that's why it's hard for me to imagine living anywhere else but Florida. It's so convenient to be relatively close to Orlando.

Angry Donald is one of my favorite pictures of the day. I'm glad that you liked it too.


I love the DTD pictures, especially the lego ones. Those really are impressive.

I am pretty sure they "recycled" those flower sculptures from the Flower and Garden Festival-they always have things like those at Epcot.

You know, both Buzz and I thought that we recognized them from some Flower and Garden photos. We also thought that some of the new shrubs around the area used the same frames from the odd-looking Christmas bushes from Future World last year.

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They actually look nicer with some different plants that didn't give them the "Cousin It" look.


I love all your DTD pictures. Stil lgreat....even if brief.
I never look up at WOD. I'll have to remember that next time.

Next time you go to World of Disney, definitley take at look at the ceilings. They're always some of my favorite things about the shop. Who knows, it good be good for your wallet. I know that I always get so distracted by all the decor that I never do any shopping while I'm there. :laughing:

meeko_33785
11-16-2011, 08:30 AM
“Africa in the Rainy Season”-August 2011 Trip
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A few weeks after Buzz and my afternoon at Downtown Disney, we again returned to Walt Disney World. Unlike the day trips before it in this report, our August trip was a four day/ 3 night family vacation with not only Buzz and I but our parents as well. From the get-go, this trip was sort of a departure from our past Disney experiences as we planned to spend most of our time relaxing at our resort- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge- and not visiting any of the theme parks.

Normally, introductions like this tend to either explain or tease about the meaning behind the title, but, I think that you’ll pretty quickly catch on to why it’s so fitting. Even in the most well-intentioned vacations, a little (or a lot) of rain can fall. I hope you enjoy our trip to “Africa in the Rainy Season”.



As we were driving onto Disney property, it started to rain. It was, perhaps, not the best sign of things to come, but it could have been worse. Thankfully, it was just a light shower instead of the thunderstorms that are more typical during the Florida summers, but it was still rain. It was still raining when we pulled into the Animal Kingdom Lodge, so we quickly made our way from the car and into Jambo House where we were greeted by a Cast Member with a clip board, a headset and somewhat wild eyes who seemed to know who we were (obviously, the security guard had called ahead to her that we had arrived and were on our way). After an enthusiastic welcome, we were directed to the check-in desk where we were informed that our rooms were ready. Our reservations were for standard rooms, but secretly we were hoping to be upgraded to a Savanna view. Once we got to our rooms, we pulled back the curtain to reveal…


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A view of the Sunset Savanna! True, it was just a small corner of the Savanna, but it was a view of the Savanna nonetheless. I assume an actual “Savanna View” room has a view of some of the more expansive vistas, but for a standard room, we were thrilled.


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Of course, the inside of the rooms looked wonderful too. After only staying at Value or Moderate Resorts over the past couple of years, a Deluxe felt a bit more luxurious.


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A sitting area.


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A flat-screen TV, refrigerator and some wall art.


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In addition to the Mickey-shaped towel sculpture on the bed, there were also little towel animals in each of the rooms as well.


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Normally, I’m not one to take pictures in the bathrooms, but the wall paper in the sink/ vanity area was too cool looking to pass up.


By now, the rain had let up, so once we were settled in, we headed down to the Mara to get something quick for lunch. Mom, Dad and Buzz went for the Chicken Flatbread. I was thinking about trying that was well until I found out what was in their African Stew. Usually, when a dish includes both curry and coconut milk, it’s a safe bet that it will be right up my alley. It turned out that I was right. The stew was delicious. The rest of the family couldn’t say enough good things about their flatbreads either. Lunch was definitely a hit. I really think this is probably the best food I can remember having at a resort food court- even better than the Louisiana dishes at Port Orleans (which I love). Before going back to the room, we decided to make a reservation for breakfast at Bomma for our last morning.


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Back at the room, we relaxed and watched the animals for a bit. Disney resort rooms have lots of amazing views, but it’s hard to beat being able to watch giraffes roaming the savanna from your balcony.


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If you look in the center of this photo, you’ll spot a large antelope called an Eland with a white bird on its back. These two were almost always together and were some of favorite animals to watch throughout the trip.


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As great as it is to be able to watch animals from our room, I was ready to do some exploring around the resort, so I set off toward the Arusha Rock Savanna Overlook. On the way, I checked out the Savanna from one of the resorts many observation decks.


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Over at Asusha Rock, I checked out the fire pit. It was far too early in the day for the fire to be lit.


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The most active animals in the Overlook were the pelicans. I loved this guy’s hairdo (feather-do?)


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One of the many details around the resort.


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There was plenty of check out inside the lobby as well.


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We had planned to spend our first evening at Downtown Disney, so I headed back to the room to meet up with the rest of the family.


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Before going to Downtown Disney, we all went down to the Arusha Rock Overlook.


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Another detail in the area. It seemed like there were as many giraffes throughout the decor as Mickeys.


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There were a lot more animals close by to watch this time around.


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Once we could all pry ourselves away from watching the animals, we walked back through the lobby where we were distracted by some of the African art scattered throughout the resort. Eventually, we made it to the bus stop and were on our way to Downtown Disney.



Next chapter: A taste of Ireland.

Lady Lallie
11-16-2011, 10:05 AM
That is a gorgeous photo of the pelican, I love all the detail you can see in his feathers and beak. :goodvibes

Beautiful pictures of AKL, I'd really love to stay there and explore the lodge more.

meeko_33785
11-17-2011, 08:33 AM
That is a gorgeous photo of the pelican, I love all the detail you can see in his feathers and beak. :goodvibes

Beautiful pictures of AKL, I'd really love to stay there and explore the lodge more.

Thanks LL. The picture of the pelican is one of my favorites from this trip. He was so fun to watch too.

Jennifer48
11-17-2011, 01:12 PM
AKL is our home resort and we have yet to listen to the storytellers around the fire pit outside. Love it there.

wdwgirl03
11-17-2011, 05:39 PM
I love AKL. I like how you said when you could pry yourselves away from watching the animals because that's usually how I feel too. It's so amazing to be so close to those animals.

meeko_33785
11-19-2011, 10:01 AM
AKL is our home resort and we have yet to listen to the storytellers around the fire pit outside. Love it there.

In three days of rarely leaving AKL, we never made to the storytellers either, but we did a number of the other activities.


I love AKL. I like how you said when you could pry yourselves away from watching the animals because that's usually how I feel too. It's so amazing to be so close to those animals.

It's true. :thumbsup2

jenseib
11-22-2011, 09:16 PM
that pelican is so cool looking. I love him. What a gorgeous room and great view!!! I can't wait to hear all about how you spent this trip.

meeko_33785
11-28-2011, 10:01 AM
that pelican is so cool looking. I love him. What a gorgeous room and great view!!! I can't wait to hear all about how you spent this trip.

Thanks. We loved the room. We wouldn't have minded not having a Savanna view, but having one really was a plus.

meeko_33785
11-28-2011, 10:14 AM
Hey everyone. I've been taking a little break from The DIS lately, but I wanted to pop by and do a quick update.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/novembertr.jpg

Recently, Buzz and I were back in Orlando again and since we had a couple of hours to spare, decided to check out both the the Disney outlet store at Orlando Premium Outlets and Downtown Disney. It was another very short visit, and I didn't get that many photos. Still, I hope that you'll enjoy the report anyway (once I get around to it, of course).

jenseib
12-01-2011, 10:04 AM
Take your time.... I am slowly catching up ion Dis too ,but sometimes I need a break as well.

meeko_33785
12-23-2011, 10:44 AM
Hey everyone. I'm still on my DIS break for the Holidays and probably won't have the time to work on this report until 2012, but I wanted to pop by and share a few photos from our recent trip to Universal while it's still the appropriate season to do so.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/uochristmas1-600.jpg


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/uochristmas2-600.jpg


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/uochristmas3-600.jpg


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/uochristmas4-600.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/uochristmas5-600.jpg


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/uochristmas6-600.jpg


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/meeko_33785/DIS%202011/uochristmas7-600.jpg



We had a great time, and I'm looking forward to sharing more about it. For no, though, I want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy Holiday season. See you in 2012!

wdwgirl03
12-23-2011, 11:33 AM
Merry Christmas Meeko!

Thanks for sharing the great pictures from Universal. :)

Jennifer48
12-23-2011, 12:15 PM
Thanks for sharing Meeko! Merry Christmas!

dawnbu40
12-23-2011, 02:57 PM
I loved the pictures! Merry Christmas Meeko :santa:

jenseib
12-24-2011, 09:26 PM
Merry Christmas

jenseib
07-13-2012, 10:41 AM
Haven't seen you around for 6 months....How are things going?

meeko_33785
07-26-2012, 03:07 PM
Haven't seen you around for 6 months....How are things going?

Hi. Long time no see. Life has been very busy these past 6 months and trip reports ended up being one of the things that I just did not seem to be able to make time for. Even with being busy, we've still managed to make it to Orlando a number of times since I posted last. Buzz and I decided to go ahead and become Universal passholders and have been a few times already. We've done a number of Disney day trips as well including our first trip during the EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival in a long time.

I do want to finish out these reports sometime, but I doubt they would be as long or as photo intensive as some of my past reports. Maybe I'll make some time to start on that soon.

jenseib
07-26-2012, 06:32 PM
Good to hear from you!

We did a Universal trip in March and we really loved it. I am still a Disney girl at heart, but I think some things that Universal does blows Disney away.
I hope to get back again in the future.