Just back. 14 days of pure Disney
Just putting down a marker for a trip report really. Going to take me a while to sort photos and stuff out, but if I write an outline, it'll keep me reminded. Going to keep it in one thread I think.
Booked Sep/Nov last year, 1 bed at OKW, Virgin direct flights, free dining.
4 of us, me (39 YO child :)), DW (similar age :)), DS1 (10) DS2 (9). All booked as Disney adults to get 4 adult dining plans.
Me and DW had last been in 1997, so it had been a while!
We're fairly obsessive planners - read Unofficial Guide cover to cover, had spreadsheets galore. We'd done 12 of 14 nights ADRs at 6 months (two for 2 credits each). Pretty much planned the first week, then it was fairly open after that. Preordered MNSSHP, La Nouba, Photopass+.
Fri 19/10 Left Nottingham around 9pm, stayed at Travelodge Knutsford services. Last minute decision, I was fine about driving over on the Saturday morning, but DW was paranoid about missing plane. £30 for family room and free parking, booked 1 day in advance though!
Sat 20/10 MAN->MCO Virgin. A330-300, new entertainment system made the time fly, watched Madagascar 3, MIB 3, something else I now can't remember. Played 2 player battleships with DS2. Fairly easy immigration, bags, customs. Shuttle bus to Sixt site (5 mins). Not got E-class that I'd booked :rolleyes2. Offered Merc GLK, but not until the day after. Couldn't argue much as I wasn't sure what they were, as they're not yet sold in UK. Offered Camaro for a day. Would have loved a go, but didn't think boot would be big enough. Took brand new Hyundai Sonata instead. Got to resort quite easily, 1 toll of $1. No queue for check in. We'd had grand plans of negotiating location, etc, but in the end took what we were given, which was 2721. Turned out to be absolutely brilliant; really good location for central amenities, with reasonable view if a little tree-obscured out the back.
Took boat to DTD, had a wander, used our first QS credits at Pollo Campero, which was ok. Kids and DW are all fairly fussy eaters, I'm the total opposite of fussy! Picked up Photopass+ next to Team Mickey. They set the ride photo bit to expire on 4/11 when I said I had a full 2 weeks, so that was good, as I wasn't sure when the 14 day restriction would start. Rather than walk back to boat (pleasure island pier) we thought we'd take the bus at the Marketplace end, which was definitely a mistake. At 9pm it took about 40 minutes to get out the bus park! Got back eventually and all crashed out.
Sunday 21/10. Woke up at 4am, never really got back to sleep. Kids did a little better. Bought a box of mini cookies in the OKW shop for breakfast (healthy!). Got bus to MK, was an easy journey. There for 8.30, watched opening ceremony. Did our "MK Touring Plan Day 1". This was basically tomorrowland and Adventureland. All absolutely loved Space Mountain. Did everything else in Tomorrowland. Enjoyed Buzz Lightyear, Stitch was very meh. CoP was cheesy funny. Great view from Astro Orbiter.
Ate lunch at Cosmic Ray's which I thought was actually pretty good - very efficient service there, which turned out to be not always true! And nice and cool inside on what was turning into a very hot day. The usual burgers and hot dogs, plus some deserts we really could have lived without, but Have Dining Plan, Will Eat.
Did some of adventureland - Swiss tree, which was a bit meh, Jungle cruise was fun, had a funny guide, Pirates was good - seems to have changed quite a bit in the last 15 years!
Was flaked by then (about 2.30pm) so got bus back to OKW. Which ended up a 45 minute wait! Last thing we wanted. Vowed to give up on Disney transport after that and the DTD bus the night before! Great afternoon swim in the pool.
Car swap saga started - this was really the only painful part of the whole trip. Sixt communication appaling, but ended up meeting their delivery driver in my wet swim trunks in the resort lobby! GLK was nice mini-SUV with inbuilt satnav, which was very useful. Could have been a bit bigger for boot space, but fine really.
Early ADR at Olivia's, was really nice there, nice food, good service. Both had the steak, which was excellent. Kids just had chicken of some variety (common theme for next 14 days!).
Wow, ok, this was going to be an outline. 1.5 days done! Will have to continue later!
Started sorting my photos as well, so may as well do the first couple of days, then I'll embed them as I go along.
Quick turn around on the run up main street on Day 1:
DS1, DW, DS2 (having already spent money in the gift shop!)
First ride, ready for take off!
Cody (I think!) our Jungle Cruise guide:
Cap'n Jack on POTC:
First test of the new camera, very glad it works!
Because it meant I could do things like this:
Edit: Realised this link wasn't really working, so put it on Youtube:
On proper water slides later!
Late, signing off. More to follow...
A pretty good start, looking forward to more.
Should manage to get Epcot day up tonight, plus I've done photos for the DHS day already, just not written it up. Lots of work, but really nice to document as I'm not usually a natural journal writer, and it'll keep my memory jogged!
Great start and great photos :thumbsup2
Wrote up a couple of days today, so here goes
Monday 22/10 - Managed to pretty much sleep through until 6.30am, which was better. EPCOT planned for today, again following a Touring Plans plan.
Drove and parked for about 8.40. Looking back, it's funny to consider we originally thought the car park trams were extremely lazy, and we walked from the car to the front of the lot. This didn't last very long, although Epcot was a car park we always walk to the entrance from. DHS, AK and the TTC much more convoluted.
Anyway, first thing the kids wanted to do was Sum of All Thrills. Kind of funny as everyone else was rushing off to Soarin, so we were pretty much the only ones in Innoventions. SOAT was fun - inverting simulator you design yourself for anyone who hasn't been on it. Worth seeking out early as capacity is very limited. We've done Legoland Denmark a few times and they have a very similar thing there which the kids have always liked a lot.
Off to Soarin for fastpasses and we did Living with the Land, which was interesting.
Have to say as a science-y kind of guy I do like EPCOT, although it does get ridiculously over-patronising at times. Some interesting stuff though.
Did Captain EO, which was in the so-bad-its-hilarious category. Michael Jackson was not a natural actor :). Journey into Imagination was ok, but not worthy of a repeat trip (IMHO).
Went off to Mission Space. Did Green first, then Orange. This was fun, although I can easily see how people can get sick on the Orange side. The range of g-forces experienced there is quite impressive, and you can feel the spinning motion somewhat, without seeing it at all, which definitely gets the stomach going a little bit!
Back to Soarin with the fastpasses (I may be out of order here, can't quite remember). A little bit underwhelming given its status I have to say, not sure I'd queue long for it, but was decent.
We went to Sunshine Seasons in The Land for QS lunch, and I have to say this was my favourite QS restaurant of the entire holiday. It was really nice for the kids & wife to be able to get something fairly plain (Turkey sandwich IIRC), while I got a really nice plate of seared tuna on noodles from the Asian bit, on a QS credit. The range of desserts was very good as well. Anybody else a fan of this place? I regret we never returned tbh.
Headed into World Showcase. Look round Canada and did the O Canada movie, which I enjoyed. Looked round UK, and did pretty much our only character "proper" MnG of the entire holiday, as Pooh had no queue. Got some PP photos there, but here's one of family outside UK.
At this point we signed up for Agent P (1 person in front of us and we still waited 10 minutes!) as the kids wanted to do it, and headed into France. Did a couple of clues and our Fone stuck, which was annoying. Had to headed back to the station in the UK, they gave us a new one (5 minute wait) and restarted us in Japan.
We originally planned to head back to the hotel for a pool break, but once you're part way round WS, it seems such a long way back to the car park at that point, we decided to tough it out for the rest of the afternoon to make our ADR at Via Napoli in Italy at 6.20pm.
Wandered a bit in Morocco, then did Japan and completed the Agent P trail, which was fun, but we finished there and didn't carry on into another pavilion. I bought some sushi from the F+W stall as I knew that it was only chance I'd get - rest of the family very much NOT sushi lovers! Nice, and good value on the snack credits.
Did the American Adventure presentation (very impressive animatronics), wandered around the US, Germany, then China pavilions.
At this point we headed back to Italy for dinner. Via Napoli pizzas were pretty decent, but expectations were high given their reputation, but to be honest I've had just as good elsewhere.
This was the leftovers of 4 individual pizzas, which went into a box for breakfast the next morning. DS1 pretty much finished his, but DS2 left about half. Cold pizza breakfast is a guilty pleasure of mine and the kids :).
On the way out we did Maelstrom at Norway (fun) and 3 Caballeros boat thing at Mexico (frankly incomprehensible).
We didn't hang round for Illuminations, just too knackered. Knew we'd get a chance to see it later, plus we could see quite a bit of it from our balcony.
Edit: Just remembered we did Spaceship Earth on the way out. Thought the main bit was somewhat basic and a little dull, but the bit on the descent where you "design your future" was fun. Kids thought it was absolutely hilarious - after that we rode SE just for that bit!
Got back, pretty much straight to bed. DHS tomorrow, which the kids were very looking forward to - their first ever proper inverting roller coaster!
Tuesday 23/10 - Disney Hollywood Studios
Again, I'd customised a Touring Plans plan for this, although only really followed it for the first few steps. We definitely wanted a pool break today - we'd unsurprisingly found the previous day a little gruelling.
Got to the gates by about 8.45 - they'd already just opened up at this point, so we knew a very early TSM ride was unlikely. Rushed over that way and got fastpasses, which were for about 11am, so not too bad.
Followed pretty much everyone else and went to RnR Coaster. I'm a big coaster fan, so was looking forward to it, as were the kids. The catapult start is fun, very similar to Rita at Alton Towers. I don't think I've ever done a full inversion coaster in the dark before, so that was novel. I have to say it's probably one of the smoothest coasters I've ridden - if you're not sure about inverted coasters I'd definitely recommend this one as a good one to start with - you don't really see the inversions coming, and it's a very smooth ride, mostly.
Straight on to ToT - nice short queue still, pretty much a walk on. We all really enjoyed this; I think we ended up doing it 7-8 times over the fortnight, including twice in a row at this point!
Walked back over the other side and did the Great Movie Ride. I probably enjoyed this more than the rest - some classics in there the kids didn't recognise. I liked the bit of theatre with the "driver", was somewhat unexpected.
Finally got back to TSM to use the fastpasses. I have to say I'm a bit equivocal about this. I loved it, the wife+kids loved it, but at the end of the day it's a 3D video game. The "ride" itself is totally superfluous. I really would have qualms about queueing >60m for it. And, apparently, you can get the game for the Wii, which is now on the boys xmas lists :).
Did Star Tours. We all liked this a lot, was lots of fun. Would definitely do this over and over just to see if I could get a repeat!
IIRC we had lunch at this point - Unofficial guide recommended Backlot Express, which was a good shout - lots of space, almost deserted, and decent burger/hot dogs. Food delivery was sloow considering the lack of queues though. Weirdly almost all CMs in here are over 60 and I'm sure some were a long way over. Bit odd, not sure why. Didn't make a difference, just something to observe while eating! :)
Did the Indiana Jones show after lunch, which was pretty decent.
Then headed back and hit the pool for a few hours, which was lovely.
Dinner that evening was Rainforest Cafe at DTD. Drove this time, although parking is really tricky - it seemed like whenever we went to DTD we were hunting for spaces. We've done the one in London and it is pretty much identical. Food was as you'd expect, and we went for the combination Volcano dessert (can be done on dining plan) which was good!
After dinner we drove across to the Crossroads mall, which is the really close one with Goodings. Doesn't really have much else on the mall, and Goodings seemed pricey for a supermarket, so bit of a waste of time. Better shopping later!
That's me done for the moment - caught up with my filtered photo set (I did 2000 over the 2 weeks, so I'm trying very very hard to pick my faves for each day).
Oh, and because we've got the ride photos from PP+, I'm going to add some of those at some point soon. We always try to have a bit of fun with those, especially on repeat rides, so we've got some funny (if not necessary original) ones :). Took us about 5 attempts to nail the YMCA on the ToT!
Animal Kingdom next; between me and DS2 we took over 350 photos that day, so may take a day or two to sort. Thanks for reading so far!
Its great to hear the thoughts of someone who's not been 5 or more times.
Looking forward to the YMCA photo.
Thanks :). Just for you, here's my favourites on the "big 4":
You don't need to feel down:
Edit: Just noticed how DS1 looks near tears on that one. Trick of the camera I think - he was fine and loved it. I don't torture my children, really!
Little nap at 3g:
Kids were embarrassed, apparently:
We're not weird at all, honest :).
Wednesday 24/10 - Animal Kingdom
Had what turned out to be pretty much our only rain of the entire 2 weeks last night, and this morning started off a bit dreary, although still warm. Cleared up completely during the day.
Today was going to be slightly different - DS1 had a school friend that we knew was also out in Florida, and we'd agreed to meet up. He was with his little sister (big enough and fearless enough to go on all the rides!), plus Dad, plus grandparents. We knew they were not quite the Type-A planners we were, so we had to prepare to take things a little bit more easily. Worked out ok in the end though - they were good sports with our uber-planning. It probably helped (them) that I couldn't get Wifi at all in AK, so the touring plan was from memory - I hadn't bothered to back it up offline somewhere.
Met up at the entrance and we all rushed for Everest. Park was pretty quiet, and got straight on, and then went straight back on again, AND got fastpasses. We all really liked Everest. Theming and detail is great, the coaster is fast enough to be thrilling, plus the dark backward section is very good. We almost had an argument about whether the Yeti was moving - took 2 trips to convince DW that the strobe lighting was giving that illusion. Would have loved to experience it back when it was working, but hey ho.
Did Kali Rapids next. Of course we'd read all about how wet you got, so I was somewhat prepared, but the massive extent of the drenching still came as something of a surprise. Of course the kids wanted to go again, so although some of our party backed out, I did it again, and the little of me that was dry after the first time soon wasn't. I was in reasonably light cotton clothes and it still took until lunchtime to dry out!
DW also got a bit damp:
Wandered back across the park to the safari. Kids banged the drums for a bit on the way over:
Very little queue (the whole park remained very light all day which was good). Enjoyed the safari. Was nice to see real animals rather than animatronic ones! Took loads of pics, but I got much better ones in the second week when I had my DSLR with me, so I'll only put a couple up.
We went back across the park to use Everest fastpasses, and then to Dino Land at this point, did Dinosaur (enjoyed), then Primeval Whirl - was ok, but I've been on much fiercer (and therefore fun, IMHO) Wild Mouse type rides in other places. Seemed very tame for that kind of ride. Quick go on Triceratop Spin mainly for little sister and grandparents :).
We ate lunch at Flame Tree BBQ. DW and I both had chicken & ribs and kids had hot dog & chicken. Was nice tasty food. Would recommend as a QS place.
The boneyard playground was shut, although the fossil sandpit thing was open. Considering their ages, all 4 kids had lots of fun in here and didn't want to leave ater 20 minutes!
Did the Its Tough to be a Bug show. I really liked this - some of the effects were very good. If you've got a fear of insects I really would NOT go in here though! Even though there aren't any real ones it sometimes feels very like it.
All the kids wanted another go on Everest, so we went back there. Queue was still only showing 20 minutes, so did that, and actually took less than 10 to get through. Was about 2.30pm, and other family was flagging a bit (they'd arrived a day later than us), so we all decided to finish there, and we headed back for a very welcome pool break.
Our ADR for today was 5.50 at Garden Grill at EPCOT, so we headed over there. Waited a little bit to be seated, but we got a good outer row booth. It's an interesting environment, rotating above the Living With the Land exhibits, which provide a bit of a view. Also had our first dinner character interactions with Mickey, Chip&Dale, and Pluto. Kids and DW got hugs, I got pictures :).
And a couple of hugs myself :)
Food I think I'd give a 7/10 for. It was good, but not spectacular. Beef was nice, fish was, well, fish, and Turkey was ok. Quantity of accompaniments seemed meagre. Although our kids were on the adult plan, the waiter was kind enough to bring a basket of chicken drumsticks which is normally a kids option. My increasingly frustrating attempts to get kids to try anything new (and DW for that matter) did not come to anything.
We were there about 80 minutes, and the floor rotated just over once, so I guess its about 1 rph, just to answer the threads of people who wonder if they're going to get motion sickness. It's not exactly Mission Space :lmao:.
After dinner we watched the Circle of Life show. The recent ranty thread on the Theme Parks board amused me greatly, as I had the same thoughts - it's a bit funny for Disney to get preachy about conservation when they've build a vast monument to consumerism on a drained swamp, but I wasn't going to get upset about it :). It seemed very 90s; I guess it could do with a revamp.
Then headed to the Seas, and did the Nemo ride (quite good, some nice effects), then the Crush Turtle talk thing. We all liked this a lot. Was very funny, but I guess that is going to vary a lot depending on the audience interation. It's incredibly well done though, full marks to Disney for this one, even though I guess it's reasonably simple behind the scenes. The aquarium in that pavilion is impressive and worth a slow walk around.
Was approaching 9pm by this point, so we headed outside just to the walkway towards World Showcase and watched Illuminations. We'd got a reserved viewing spot in a couple of days, so didn't go to too great an effort to find a good spot. It was great show though, and made me look forward to a better spot. Even managed to get a few decent shots whilst using DS2's head as a tripod :):
EPCOT had evening EMH so thought we'd allow the crowds to drain a bit before leaving, so had another wander clockwise round WS, did Maelstrom again, and had a browse of shops, etc, then headed out and "home". Another good, if long, day.
Tomorrow is Typhoon Lagoon. We had to do this "early" as it closed that weekend for the winter refurb, but I think we needed the break by this point anyway. To follow...
Thursday 25/10 - Typoon Lagoon and Hoop Dee Doo
We'd arranged to meet up with DS1's friend and family again today at Typhoon Lagoon. Got there for opening, found a nice shady spot on the beach around the big wave pool. Quick go in the wave pool, which is incredible. Those massive waves are just superb, never seen anything like it in a waterpark. Can certainly throw you around a bit though.
Went off to do some of the slides and flumes. Crush'n'Gusher was fun - I'd not done one like this before where you get shot up the hills by a jet of water, but was certainly different. The rest were pretty much standard water park stuff really - they all kind of blur together. We just let the kids entertain themselves pretty much, we all spent a fair bit of time just lazing around in a tube in the lazy river.
Didn't take a great many photos to be honest. Got quite a few videos of the big wave.
To be honest I can't really remember much about the day at all, we sat around, did slides and flumes, ate a typical QS lunch that I can't remember at all. Lack of detail fail!
We left about 4pm and headed back to OKW. We'd got HDDR booked for 6.15pm that evening, and were looking forward to it. It's one of the few things my terrible memory could remember from my 1997 trip, and I know I enjoyed it. Headed to FW, parked up easily and got an internal bus to the Pioneer Hall. FW campground looked busy - the size of the RVs are quite impressive, and a lot of elaborate Halloween decoration was in evidence, which was fun.
Had the photo done, which you get a print of as part of the PP+ package (the only meal we did with this).
Dining Plan go to Cat 2 seating, and we got a good table at the side of the main floor but very close to the front, which was good. Our server here was brilliant, very attentive, nice and chatty when she had spare time, and she kept my Sangria jar topped up, which was excellent :). Food is fairly basic, but good quality, and you get as much as you like. Kids ate lots of chicken, we had that and ribs. Sides were nice - mash, BBQ beans, sweetcorn. Corn bread was good. Strawberry shortcake at the end is brought out with a ceremony, which was fun, and it was certainly nice.
Entertainment was deliberately cheesy but very well done, and the audience interaction was very good. Kids really enjoyed it.
The only real downer here was that DS2 left his new Goofy cap under the table and we didn't realise until we got back. Despite reporting exactly where it got lost and chasing up a couple of days later, we never got it back, which is a real shame. I presume it can't have been handed in by the people at the next sitting, which seems very un-Disney :(.
And that's an easy day done. Busy day tomorrow - MK day 2, DHS for Sci-Fi Dine Inn for evening ADR, then DTD for La Nouba!
Great update and wonderful photos
We've only done hoop dee Doo once but we loved it :thumbsup2
I'm enjoying your report - thought I had already posted but seems thought and action are 2 different things :rotfl:
Thanks very much both of you. It's been great reliving it really. Amazing how much writing it solidifies the memories, which is great.
Photos for Day 6 pretty much done, just have to write it up. Getting there!
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