"Visiting Home" for the First Time - A PTR ... And Now a TR!!!

Discussion in 'DVC Trip Reports' started by joelp, Aug 25, 2012.

  1. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    As soon as I find the time to load up the pictures, I'll be happy to oblige ...
     
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  3. BCV23

    BCV23 <br><img src="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/i DIS Lifetime Sponsor

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    I'm enjoying your TR and


    Welcome Home Neighbor!!!


    :welcome: :welcome: :welcome:

    Congrats on being set for next November. :cool1::cool1::cool1:
     
  4. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    I have some free time tonight ... Why?

    Because it's the DD's opening night for "Scrooge: A Christmas Carol", and the DW and I are taking turns going to the performances (I'm on tap tomorrow night ...):

    [​IMG]


    That's the DD and Mr. Scrooge himself having a little conversation ... :)

    So back to Florida ...

    When I last left off, we were in the AKV-Kidani lobby, startled by the Christmas tree that wasn't there the night before ... but magically appeared while we were all tucked snug in our beds ... with not a creature stirring (out on the savanna ...)

    Since I didn't know a lot about the Islands of Adventure (hereafter IoA) - other than what I had read in the "Unofficial Guide" to WDW and the Universal Studios web site - I had made a 7:30 reservation for a Mears taxi to pick us up. And there he was waiting for us!!

    20 minutes and $40 (plus tip) later we were safely deposited at the "entrance" to IoA - which is actually the entrance to Universal's City Walk. Which I thought would be a cool place to go for dinner after our adventures in IoA - but looking at the available maps, I didn't see any way to get there, except by taking a cab ... So that was a pleasant surprise!

    So after a short walk - City Walk loomed in front of us!

    [​IMG]


    And the DD gaves us THE quote of the trip: "The is WAY better than school!!" :rotfl2:

    So as we strolled towards the IoA entrance (pretty much by ourselves ...), the DW started scouting out dinner possibilties:

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    We ended up eating dinner at the Bubba Gump Shrimp place - which, of course, we didn't take a picture of ... :lmao:


    And before we knew it, the entrance to IoA was in front of us!!

    [​IMG]


    Next up: "Shy" Danielle makes an appearance ... and at long last: Hogsmeade and Hogwarts!!
    :banana:
     
  5. DisneyRegulars

    DisneyRegulars DIS Veteran

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    Loving your trip report, can't wait to here more about your impressions of IoA.
     
  6. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for reading!!
     
  7. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    Sorry I haven't been keeping up here ... you know how it is this time of year!! :crazy2:

    Actually, I did post a week or so ago - but the formatting got all messed up somehow, and I haven't had time to redo it. :sad2:

    Anyway - before I head off for a run and then my traditional "last minute shopping", I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!!

    And for those of you interested in a different kind of TR - Santa has started making his rounds!!

    http://www.noradsanta.org/en/track.html
     
  8. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    Happy Boxing Day (where the DW's put everything you got them for Christmas into boxes, drive to the mall, and exchange it for what they really wanted ... :lmao: )

    Continuing with the saga ...

    I had planned on arriving at the IOA entrance by 8:15 at the latest - and we were there by 8 ...

    Bought tickets and got in line ... Actually, we started the line ... :)

    It was an overcast day, a touch of rain threatening, a tad on the chilly side ... and the Friday between "Jersey Week" and Thanksgiving ...

    I suggested that we head back to City Walk and check it out for a bit, but the DD wanted to be the first in line, so we stayed put:

    [​IMG]


    Which was a decision that would shortly pay off ...
     
  9. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    After about 15 minutes a CM came over and we chatted with him a bit ... and then another one came by and we chatted with him ... And the next thing we know, he asks us "How would you like to be our Family of the Day and open the park for us?"

    :banana: :banana: was how the DW and I responded!!

    The DD on the other hand: :scared:

    But we convinced him Danielle would be fine, she was just being a little shy - and so they opened the gates (just for us!!) and in we strolled ... for a quick picture ...

    [​IMG]


    ... and as you can see, the DD was not all that happy about the situation ... why? ... :confused3 But every once in a while, "shy" Danielle rears her uncooperative head ...

    The CMs wanted Danielle to read a short blurb opening the park - but she didn't want to do it ... (they really wanted a kid to open the park ...) - even after about 10 minutes of cajoiling and some attempted bribery on my part! :crazy2:

    So I took the microphone and was getting ready to read it ... The CMs told me to go ahead ...

    When Danielle took the mic out my hand, switched it on - and "on cue" and much to our amazement (especially the CMs!) she nailed the "opening blurb". I mean - she just didn't read it: she read it like it was lines from a script - she NAILED it!!

    And the CMs had these incredibly large, much relieved and incredulous smiles on their faces - they couldn't believe it!

    So we asked Danielle what was that?!? "It's acting," she replied. "It's what I do. I can turn it on - and turn it off."

    Which left us four adults speechless ...

    And with some handshakes, "Thank Yous", and a few amazed shakes of the head, we headed into the Port of Entry ...
     
  10. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    Now, if you're wondering why I'm breaking this up into a series of short posts - it's because last time, when I had one longer post, it got all messed up after 45 minutes of typing ...

    The IOA Port of Entry is kinda like Main Street, USA: shops and places to eat ... And we spent essentially no time in it (going into - or leaving - the park ...) - so I don't have anything to tell you about it ...

    Heading to the right, we entered Seuss Landing:

    [​IMG]


    ... very cool ... especially decorated for Christmas. And we'll be back here later on ...

    And then it was a short stroll through The Lost Continent ...

    [​IMG]



    ... to which we shall also return (this picture is from later in the day ... when it was sunny for a bit).

    Because the #1 reason we were in IOA was THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER!!!


    And as we passed through the gates to Hogsmeade, the Hogwarts Express awaited us:

    [​IMG]







    Hogsmeade is very well done - and since it's supposed to be winter, the overcast skies only added to that effect ...

    [​IMG]


    And as you can see from this morning shot, there we very few people in the park at that time of day ...

    It's about a 100-yard walk from the gate to Hogwarts Castle and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ...

    [​IMG]


    Where I shall leave you for a second or two ...
     
  11. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    My initial impressions of Hogsmeade: very nice ... And with very few people wandering the streets first thing in the morning, it had a very "authentic" feel to it. :thumbsup2

    There are a few shops (to which we shall return ...), a restuarant, and a Butterbeer stand ... But about 1/2 of the storefronts are just facades, with the "stores" closed and consisting only of window displays. So, unlike WDW where every "store" is a real store you can go into - about half of Hogsmeade is just "staging". Which was a disppointment, because some of those "stores" looked REALLY interesting ...

    On to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ...

    There was a 15 minute wait posted but that wasn't a real wait: it's basically how long it takes you to stroll through Hogwarts to the ride itself ...
    The first thing you do is put all the stuff that could possibly go flying anywhere off your person into a free locker. Yes - a FREE locker ... and that should have been a warning about what was to come ...

    We took our time walking through the castle: there's lots to see, including a short scene with Harry, Hermine (sp? - don't care ... :rotfl:), and that Weasly kid, "living portraits", and a whole bunch of stuff that will have lots of meaning to you Harry Potter fans out there ...

    At one point, there was a monitor hangling from the wall that apparently showed people on the ride ... which was a not so subtle second warning. Becasue, as I'm watching it, I thought - that's pretty good computer graphics: there's no way they could be doing that to those people !

    But I was wrong ...

    So we get strapped in - and usually on these types of rides I hold my DD's hand so she doesn't get too scared ... (at least, that's the excuse I use: I'm not a big fan of roller coasters, etc. - except for Big Thunder Mnt. RR ...) - but I couldn't reach over to her. Not that I would have the chance if I need to, because I was too busy holding on for dear life!!!

    So half my attention was on how increadible and amazing the ride was, about 25% was worried my daughter was screaming her head off, and the other 25% was trying to keep myself from puking ...

    I won't even try to decribe Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey - you need to experinece it at least once. But not on a full stomach - or an empty stomach!!

    The ride came to a most welcome end with my stomach still intact ... and the DD screams "Let's do that again!!!" So my worries about her were totally unfounded ... :lmao:

    However, the DW was not looking good, and her first words to me were "I'm feeling a little green ..." This from the woman who loves roller coasters and all those thrill rides ...

    We took a look at the picture they take of you at a point on the ride: the DD has a big smile on her face, I'm looking at something in the ride - but the DW is obviously not very happy at all!! :( Basically, she spent most of the ride trying to keep her tummy from exploding ...

    Needless to say, we did not "do it again" (at that point in the day ...), but instead headed to the wand shop ...

    (where I shall leave you, since the DW just came in - and I need to make pasta sauce for dinner ...)
     
  12. franandaj

    franandaj I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!

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    I loved your description of the Forbidden Journey!!! After trying to go there twice, I think our trip in January will finally work out. We're only a month away, so I'm really enjoying your pictures and descriptions!
     
  13. lovin'fl

    lovin'fl DIS Veteran

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    That was me on our trip in Aug...ran off that ride and had to sit for a bit and, well, try to keep my cookies from coming up. I actually got on that ride with an empty stomach and that was probably not wise.
    Edit: Just read what you said about your DW on that ride and that was me. My fam wanted to do it again too.

    Congrats on your 1st ever DVC trip! We cannot wait to try out AKV. We try BCV for the 1st time in a few weeks.

    We did Vero Beach for 4 nights and then added 2 nights at Universal (stayed on site there at Hard Rock so that we could get into the park early and into Harry Potter world 1st thing). We loved Universal...and staying at the Hard Rock was cool too...will do it again (but you only need a couple days). We ate at the Italian place at City Walk (can't remember what it was called) and it was pretty good. We also had a breakfast and a dinner at that Harry Potter place....way overpriced and the food was meh! Going to go finish reading your report. Thanks for posting.
     
  14. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    I'm still here ...

    I haven't forgotten about finishing this TR ... but you all know how things can keep you busy (for example, just trying to read a few Threads a day on DISBoards!!:lmao:) ...

    and going to work ... :wave2:

    I hope to post more this weekend!
     
  15. rmcildw2m

    rmcildw2m DIS Veteran

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    AKV is my favorite resort as well . One day I will own there.
     
  16. catherines_mama

    catherines_mama DIS Veteran

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    I hope you finish before I go. We do a really quick trip soon to AKV and i'm REALLY excited. Reading yours to get ready!
     
  17. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    I have a little time and energy ... so it's on to Olivander's Wand Shop!! pixiedust:

    ... but first the DW wanted to get some Butterbeer ...


    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]

    There are three ways to buy a wand at Olivander's:

    (1) Just walk into the store and take out your credit card ...

    (2) Get in the queue that runs along the side of the building and get chosen to have a wand select you (or your kid ...) ... and take out your credit card ...

    (3) Get in the queue ... not get chosen to select you ... walk into the store ... and take out your credit card ... :rotfl:

    We ended up doing #3 ...

    The queue leads to a small antechamber - think mini-wand shop - attached to the store, where "Olivander" choses a kid to "recreate" the scene in the first Harry Potter movie where a wand chooses Harry ... It's a fun show - but only one kid in each group of about 25 people gets chosen to have the wand choose him/her ... (so don't get your kid's - or your - hopes up!!)

    I'll be back ...
     
  18. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    After getting her wand and checking out the other over-priced stuff ...

    [The wand costs about $34 - which is not that bad, considering ...]

    The DD wanted to ride Flight of the Hippogriff, and the DW just wanted to sit and get her tummy under control ...

    So I took DD to the coaster - but since my tummy was still fluttering, and at 6-4 feet those small coasters are a bit tight - the DD rode it solo ...

    And with that, we strolled back through Hogsmeade and into The Lost Continent ... so I will just post a few more pictures of Hogsmeade here (and as you can see, it is much more crowded than 1st thing in the morning ...)



    [​IMG]


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    [​IMG]


    The plan was to see Poseidon's Fury - but we just missed the start of the show, and the next one wouldn't start for half an hour ...

    So we moved on to Seuss Landing ...

    (where I shall leave you for now ...)
     
  19. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    Sad - but had been so long since I worked on this TR that I had to re-read it to find out where I left off ... which was heading into Seuss Landing!!

    [​IMG]


    This may have been my favorite section of IoA - even though I'm waaaay to old for the rides ... ;)

    Very whimsical ... incredible colors ... not a straight line in the place ...

    Very cool!! :thumbsup2 (The DD and DW liked it, too!)

    First off was the "High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!" ... which doesn't go all that high, but did have the longest wait of the day for us. It was posted as 10 minutes when we entered the building, but turned out to be about 30 minutes ... And that was what was posted when we exited ... :sad1:

    The ride gives a nice overhead overview of Seuss Landing, which was why it was probably so busy.

    Everything else we just walked right onto, including the "Caro-Seuss-el", which you have to see to believe!!

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    We also rode "The Cat in Hat" (similar to the Pooh ride at the Magic Kingdom ...), and then just walked around a bit and checked out some of the shops.

    So I'll just leave you - and Seuss Landing - with one more picture:

    [​IMG]


    And then it was back to The Lost Continent ...
     
  20. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    ... for Poseidon's Fury!!!


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    This is a combination "tour" (with an intentionally inept tour guide) and show ... Very well done - so much so that the DD (who has been reading the Percy Jackson books) got a bit scared at one point (boy did she have sweaty palms!!! :lmao:

    We then had lunch at the counter service place right by Poseidon - the DW and I split a gyro (tummies were not yet 100% ...) and the DD had (surprise!!) chicken fingers. Decent, but pricey ...

    But lunch did come with a floor show:

    [​IMG]


    This squirrel was amazing, had no fear what-so-ever of people, and was obviously addicted to French fries!! :rotfl2:

    After lunch we strolled back through Hogsmeade (DD: "Let's do the Harry Potter ride again!!" Me and the DW: "No!!" :rotfl: )

    And into Jurassic Park ...
     
  21. joelp

    joelp DIS Veteran

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    ...

    Along the way, we ran into the IoA photographer who had taken our photo when we opened the park, and he took another nice family portrait:

    [​IMG]


    First up was the Jurassic Park Discovery Center, which tries to recreate the facility that was destroyed in the movie ... Lots of fun and somewhat educational exhibits - the DD had a blast - and places for us older kids to sit and relax a bit ... And if it had been a hot, summer Florida day: AIR CONDITIONING!!

    The DD got a kick out of seeing a "real" dinosaur baby hatching ...


    [​IMG]


    And it got her thinking: was that real??? (which was the point ...

    After that we walked onto the Jurassic Park River Adventure ...

    Now, the guidebook said we wouldn't get all that wet ...

    But the guidebook LIED! LIED!! LIED!!!!!

    Of course, the DD: "Let's do it again!!"

    And the DW (not at all happy ...) and I (dripping wet): "No!!!"

    The only thing that saved the day was these full-sized body driers they had set-up outside the ride exit ... which a lot of people used that day (it was still cloudy and on the cool side) ... even though it cost $5 ...

    Although the DD loved this ride, a boy sitting behind us (maybe 10 years old) was crying at the end ... Not sure what scared him (dinosaurs trying to eat you? going over an 80 foot waterfall? ...) ... So those of you with little kids take heed ...

    On to Toon Lagoon - whose sole purpose seems to be to get you wet!!

    So we just strolled around a bit and watched other people get soaked!!

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]



    That's about all for now ...

    Next up - the DW's favorite part of IoA - surprisingly: Marvel Super Hero Island!!
     

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