A Disney Anniversary - Halloween Time at DLR, UOR and WDW - Sept/Oct 2019 - COMPLETED 01/09/2020


Jun 12, 2012
I just got caught up on your TR. I love your photos!

We love Halloween too and spending it at Disney is special for us too.

Can't wait to
Thank you so much for reading along. I'm really pleased you are enjoying the photos (I know how you feel, I enjoy them too!).

I wouldn't say I necessarily love Halloween, it's not something we ever really think much about here in Australia. But I do love it at Disney!

Hopefully I'll be able to post more updates soon (I've got a busy week ahead but I'll do what I can!)
  • RachelleBeaney

    Jun 12, 2012
    Day 9 - Part 7 - Wandering the World

    After resting we decided that we'd all head back into EPCOT and have some Chinese for dinner at the Lotus Blossom Cafe. We had to wait about 18 minutes for a bus to show up, which was frustrating but we had a great chat while we waited. I like to "save" standing on my feet for the parks, so I was sitting like an idiot here!

    Once we arrived at bag check the wait was a little crazy! I wish Disney would employ airport style x-ray machines like Universal does, it would make the process so much quicker. I mentioned this to someone we were chatting with at Disneyland and he said it wouldn't be as safe, but I have to say I disagree completely. X-ray's combined with body scans are good enough for airport security, why not for Disney. Plus the security guard checks at Disney were spotty at best. Some of the guards looked in every pocked in our bag (of which there are a lot) but some just poked the top pocket and told us we were good! Anyway, bring on the X-ray machines Disney!

    As we were magic banding into the park I saw someone scanning in with an actual ticket o_O . They must have been a day guest not staying on site? I can't even remember the last time I saw an actual ticket at Disney World!

    We had arrived into EPCOT a little later than we wanted so we hurried towards the China Pavilion, but when we saw this beautiful sunset we had to stop and grab pictures!

    Given the time constraints (we needed to be done eaten by the time blue hour descended) we decided not to wait for a monorail to cap off the above photos.

    Then we saw a Photopass photographer and decided to grab one last photo with Derrick and Becky. Sadly, this photographer was not the best, so the photos aren't that great (they aren't really well focused)! Also i had spilt water on myself and had a huge patch of it down my front!

    Jared wanted to take a few more sunset shots (that you see above) so he said he'd meet us in China. He pretty much got there the same time we did, which must mean we were walking incredibly slow, because he took a few photos near the Imagination Pavilion and the Mexican Pavilion! Either that or he was running really fast!

    Tonight was bitter sweet, as it was our last evening with Derrick and Becky. We had had such a fantastic time with them on the trip, and as they would be leaving early the next morning we had to say farewell. So we enjoyed one final chat whilst we ate some really delicious Chinese at the Lotus Blossom Cafe. I really enjoyed the food, and it's "local Chinese takeaway" vibe. Surprisingly, given that we'd basically eaten most of the morning and early afternoon, we were hungry! Jared ordered the Mongolian beef noodle and I got orange chicken, and we shared some egg rolls and pot stickers. Australian-ised Chinese food menu's don't include orange chicken, but I really wish they did as it was utterly delicious. Jared really enjoyed his Mongolian beef noodle too, with it's slightly spicy tang.

    Look at that delicious orange sticky gooey-ness!

    The other thing I was obsessed with was the American style Chinese containers. I always see these types of containers on movies, and they look adorable. In Australia, most Chinese comes in boring clear plastic containers that are just a normal Tupperware container shape. I don't know why this was such an exciting think to me but it really was!

    When dinner was done we gave Derrick and Becky lots of hugs, and thanked them for their wonderful company! We didn't know when we will get see them again, but we know when we do it will be like no time has past. Derrick and Becky, if you are reading along, we really had such a fantastic time with you both and really hope we get to see you again real soon. Thanks for making it such a memorable trip for us.

    After we parted ways from Derrick and Becky we headed out into the beautiful blue of the night. Our plan tonight was simply to wander and take pictures of World Showcase. We knew that tonight would be the first ever showing of EPCOT Forever, so we were a little nervous about the crowd levels. We were also hopeful that the show would draw people out of the actual Pavilion's themselves, making it easier for us to get pictures without having to close down the park (we were just too tired to do that at this point, and needed to be at Hollywood Studios for Extra Extra Magic Hours at 6am the next morning).

    Luckily for us, though at times the outside walkway between Pavilion's was PACKED with people, our prediction that there would be less people within the Pavilion's was pretty much accurate. France and the American Adventure were probably the only exception to this rule, with people sitting on the fountains in both locations to wait to watch the fireworks.

    We started off where we were, in China.

    The photos we took in the China Pavilion were definitely my favourites of the evening. The sky was perfectly blue, and it was so quiet, even that early in the evening.

    Though it wasn't right next door we decided our next stop should be Japan, as we wanted to get some shots of the torii gate which is right on the railing where we knew people had already started to stand to hold spots for the new show. When we got to Japan there were a lot of people already on the railing, and we weren't sure if we would be able to get the shots we wanted. We decided we would just ask nicely if we could just squeeze in to take a few photos. We also promised that we wouldn't be staying and taking peoples spots. People were so lovely and accommodating! I even chatted to one of the lovely ladies who moved out of our way briefly about our anniversary and our trip. It was really nice. We were glad we'd decided to do the Japan shots this time of the evening because we still had blue in the sky, plus later on the area was so packed with people there was just no way we ever would have made it near the railing to ask people if they wouldn't mind moving out of our way briefly!

    The results were fantastic! A huge thanks to everyone who helped us out by moving briefly for our tripod!

    You can see that there were a number of people up the top of the Mitsukoshi balcony waiting for the fireworks. We managed to set up right at the back and still get a reasonable picture.

    From Japan we headed into Italy. We had hoped to get some shots from the bridge at the front of the area but sadly this had been corded off into a VIP area for the EPCOT Forever. So we just headed into the Pavilion, which was pretty empty.

    There was a Photopass photographer set up in this location. We waited for her to be done with some people and then asked if we could take a photo. She was kind enough to keep people out of it for us! We then decided to get a few Photopass shots of our own.

    We actually ran into the most adorable Disney dog here in Italy! When we came across her she was posing for a photo with a few people. We spoke to her handler briefly and discovered her name was Jasmin. She was a service dog and a golden retriever, and I was so happy to come across her as I LOVE goldies (as I call them). Since I could see the people she was having a photo with were patting her I asked the handler if it was ok for us to pat her. I'm aware you should never pat a service dog without asking the handler first and I probably wouldn't have asked if I hadn't seen other people patting her.

    After these people were done with their pictures with Jasmin I approached her and bent down to give her a brief pat. I was only going to be brief, but she melted into my legs and started to snuggle into me and I just had to give her a big hug and a nice long pat! It was so lovely, as I was missing my animals so much and I really appreciated her love. Plus she reminded me so much of my "niece" dog Nala, who is also a golden retriever, and who also loves me like crazy every time I see her. I swear goldies are made of sunshine and love!

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    Jun 12, 2012
    Day 9 - Part 8 - Goodnight EPCOT

    After Italy we headed into the American Adventure pavilion, catching the end of a show by Sugar Ray (playing Every Morning). This song came out when I was in high school so it really took me back! There were a lot of people around the pavilion, especially as one of the shows had just let out. We managed to get a few pictures of the fountain and pavilion that make it look like there weren't too many people around (I had to crop the second picture creatively though!).

    We had missed a few pavilions, choosing to only photograph our favourites (so Norway, Germany and Mexico had been missed as they aren't as visually interesting at night - at least to my mind). By the time Frozen Forever was about to start we found ourselves in my favourite pavilion, Morocco. It was blissfully empty, as everyone was lined up waiting for the show.

    Morocco is my favourite pavilion because of the artistry that was put into it! Plus it has such an exotic feel. I particularly love mosaic work and intricate carvings and this pavilion has both. We took a heap of pictures of the area.

    Just as we were about to take the picture below and all the lights in the Pavilion turned off, and the sky was lit up by the giant searchlights of Frozen Forever.

    Luckily the show generated enough light in the Pavilion for the photos to still look good.

    I grabbed a couple of terrible iPhone pictures of the fireworks now exploding over World Showcase lagoon

    We moved onto France next, but there were so many people around in the front of the area waiting watching the show that we decided we should probably just sit down in the back corner of France and listen to the show (we couldn't really see much of the lagoon from where we were). The music of the show was great, I particularly loved hearing Soarin'. The fireworks did seem pretty epic, and we caught a glimpse of the kites flying about (these are pretty amazing!).

    I think it's probably a good thing this is just a temporary show, there didn't seem to be too much to it (other than fireworks and kites). I was never that big a fan of Illuminations so I can't wait to see what they come up with for the new HarmonioUS that will debut next year. Knowing that EPCOT Forever was only a temporary show made us feel a bit better about missing it (we knew it wasn't going to be that big a deal).

    As the show was wrapping up we set about photographing France.

    There were still TONS of people around the main walkway through France, so sadly our pictures of the area are a bit busy.

    Even the back of the Pavilion had quite a few people around.

    We skipped the UK Pavilion as well, mostly because of time constraints, and headed onto Canada.

    While Jared took the photos above I enjoyed watching these Canadian bunnies gambol about!

    It was around this point we started to notice how nice the temperature was. There was a pretty steady breeze blowing, which was cooling the air down considerably and we felt comfortable for the first time in Orlando (other than when we were in the pool obviously).

    We were tired so after Canada we headed out, stopping for a few shots of Spaceship Earth on the way. Thanks to all the construction there are not many interesting angles left, so we had to go pretty close up to the ball. I was pretty happy with the pictures though.

    And that was pretty much it for our day at EPCOT. We did meet a fantastic woman, Caitlin, on the bus on the way back to the resort. She had only one day at Disney as she was on a trip to garner support for the charity she ran, helping kids in developing countries learn leadership skills through sports. She was based somewhere in Africa (I didn't write it down and have now forgotten sadly) and they were looking to start up in South America. She was a truly fantastic human being and I often think of her and the kids she's helping, a truly kind soul who wants to make a difference in the world! One my favourite things about Disney is getting to meet all kinds of different people, from all kinds of different places, and learn a little about them and their lives, and why they love Disney parks so much.

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    Jun 12, 2012
    Day 10 - Part 1 - A Hollywood Sunrise in Florida

    Today would be our final day at Walt Disney World, and so it was bittersweet. We were excited to get to Disneyland, but sad to leave "The World". I do also wish we'd had a little more time at Disney World but we had to prioritise, and we really do enjoy Disneyland just a bit better. Our plan for the day was to head to extra extra magic hours at Hollywood Studios, be done by mid-morning there, hop on the Skyliner and head Disney Springs, and leave Disney World by about 3pm to make our way to the airport.

    We knew it would be a long day. We woke at 5:15am to head to Hollywood Studios and we wouldn't arrive at our hotel in Anaheim until 10:30pm that evening. Because of just how long a day it was going to be, we'd decided not to bother getting to Hollywood Studios by 5:30am to rope drop the Millennium Falcon. We figured we'd have plenty of time to ride it at Disneyland and we really wanted that little bit of extra sleep. Plus I'd heard that the waits for the Falcon decreased throughout the day and could be the worst of the whole day not long after the park opened.

    We had to check out of the hotel and check our luggage through to LA before we left for the parks. Check out was easy, but we did have a bit of trouble convincing the staff at the luggage check for the Magical Express that we were allowed to check both bags under Jared's name. As a Virgin Australia platinum frequent flyer he gets the same benefits on Delta as a Delta Diamond member, but the staff were unconvinced and had to see a supervisor, who confirmed it was indeed ok.

    As this was our last time on one of the Disney Transportation System buses I have to note that I was completely flummoxed by the "insider tips" played over the speakers as you got close to your location. They seemed quite outdated, and not that that helpful. They also didn't include any of the new attractions/lands such as the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Pandora, Toy Story land or Galaxy's Edge. Like Stacey, it seems they could use an update.

    I also made a fool of myself on the bus that morning, as I let out a very loud and involuntary gasp after getting a message from my sister to say my best friend (who lives on the East Coast of Australia) was in Perth and with her! I was quite bummed not to see him (though I was at Disney so it wasn't too bad). I think a couple of people looked my way and I had to smile a smile of sheepish apology (I really didn't mean to be so loud!).

    We ended up arriving at the park at 6:25. It was a perfect time to arrive, as the sky was just starting to lighten to that pre-dawn blue. Knowing we had arrived at the perfect time for sunrise our first task was clear, run around the park photographing whatever we could while the light was still gorgeous.

    We started on Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards. The tripod was packed away with our luggage so we had to do handle held shots. So they aren't as sharp as I generally like them to be, but we really wouldn't have had time for the tripod anyway!

    Dawn was beginning to peak over the horizon and we knew we needed to move fast!

    We headed into Toy Story land, not really pausing to take it in as we rushed a few photos trying to make sure we made it into Galaxy's Edge by the time the morning light was at it's best.

    We made it into Galaxy's Edge just as the light began to look PERFECT. This was our first impression of the new Star Wars land but we really didn't have time to take in it's beauty as we were trying to chase the light.

    Even this early, the wait for Smuggler's Run was around 60 minutes. It would drop down to 25 minutes later in the day which confirmed what I'd heard about riding the falcon at Hollywood Studios; its better to wait until later in the day than rope dropping it. You can see what I mean in the next picture, the majority of people in Galaxy's Edge at that time of morning were in a line heading into the Falcon! So it is a really great time to explore the area with minimal people around (this will probably change once Rise of the Resistance opens I'd say).

    As quickly as we were moving through Galaxy's Edge we were still overwhelmed by it's beauty and detail, which was evident even in the half light of dawn!

    The sun was rising fast and we wanted to take a few photos of Echo Lake and the Tower of Terror before it really rose, so we rushed out of Galaxy's Edge.

    By the time we reached the Tower of Terror we'd be running around (and I mean literally running, well power walking anyway) for about 40 minutes! It was about 7:10am by this point and the sun was well and truly up.

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  • RachelleBeaney

    Jun 12, 2012
    Day 10 - Part 2 - Towers and Toys

    The Tower of Terror wait time was listed as "13 minutes" by the time we arrived just over an hour after extra extra magic hours started. As many of you know, 13 minutes is the lowest wait time that's ever reported on the tower, so it was basically a walk on. Indeed we walked straight into the pre-show, after stopping for a few photos.

    I've always believed the Hollywood Studios version of the tower is hands down the best version, because of how the elevator moves through dark ride elements before making it's way into the drop tower. It also has the fantastic random drop sequences. While it is still technically more impressive since riding Guardians of the Galaxy at California Adventure it's probably become my second favourite since I rode the aforementioned tower. This is from someone who was against the concept of a Guardian's overlay to the DCA version of the Tower of Terror, and was expecting not to enjoy it that much. More on that later though....

    Hollywood Studios Tower of Terror is still the best ride system version of this attraction, and I love the theme, it's just so familiar by now is all. Plus I don't know much about the Twilight Zone TV series to feel connected to it in that way. It's still so much fun though.

    We were beckoned into the 5th dimension by hotel guests...

    ...and we survived! Clearly everyone else loved the attraction too, and we had to laugh at the fact our faces were completely covered by other peoples hands (i.e. what Derrick had been trying to do to us in every picture since arriving at Disney World :P ).

    Our next stop would be Rock n Roller Coaster. It was a walk on too. We were LOVING extra extra magic hours, an hour and a half after the park opened crowds were still crazy low. We decided for our ride photo we would emulate Becky, who during her ride on the coaster the day we were at universal, had tried to do the rock on symbol in her photo and had ended up accidentally portraying "hang ten". This is actually one my favourite ride photos of us for the whole trip! It's also awesome that we were the only ones in our coaster car (seriously, that's how much of a walk on the ride was).

    When one of the funnest and fastest coasters at Disney World is a walk on of course you have to do it twice, so we did! We did actually "rock on" this time.

    Back outside we took some pictures of the awesome giant limo and guitar. It's so much easier to do with a wide angle lens! We were really happy as we'd never really conquered pictures in this area before. Plus there was no one around which was a bonus!

    You are probably wondering why we hadn't made a beeline for Slinky Dog Dash. Not to worry, we had a fastpass for it from 10:00am - 11:00am. We would head back into Toy Story land next, but in order to enjoy some breakfast, and a well earned break.

    On our way we stopped for a Photopass with the most adorable photopass photographer I've ever seen. He was a very old man who just wanted to chat and chat with each of his photo subjects.

    We of course had to stop to photograph the very adorable Slinky Dog Coaster on our way.

    Breakfast and coffee (for Jared) were really overdue when we were done, so we stopped at Woody's Lunchbox and ordered a few things. I got the breakfast bowl full of eggs, bacon, potato, spring onions and gravy. Jared got a turkey sandwich and of course coffee. I ordered the speciality Mystic Portal Punch - which was made from berry Powerade, with lemon-lime and tangerine drinks.

    Jared's turkey sandwich was definitely the winner here (clearly my bowl was not that exciting as I don't have a photo of it). There was nothing wrong with the breakfast bowl, it was just a bit too "mushy" and I didn't love the taste of the gravy. The Mystic Portal Punch on the other hand was fantastic. Just the name alone is fantastic. But the other thing I really appreciate about this drink was the Powerade and the extra electrolytes which, now that the sun was up, were very useful. Plus I love lemon-lime flavours and the mix with berries and tangerine was fantastic.

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    Jun 12, 2012
    Day 10 - Part 3 - A Galaxy of details

    Since we hadn't really had a chance to take in Galaxy's Edge earlier we thought we should spend some time wandering around and taking it in.

    We strolled around enjoying the amazing details of the area. We started with the droids and land speeders. The droids tried talking to us but I'm afraid I don't speak binary!

    We'd been given this guide to Galaxy's Edge on the way in. It was pretty adorable, but didn't really get used, thanks to my research I already knew where everything was.

    We headed towards Dok Ondar's Den of Antiquities next.

    The shop is a little small and crowded, so we didn't spend long in it. But we did catch a glimpse of the Ithorian antiquity dealer.

    We were a little more focused on shooting details of the land, as we would have more time for the wider shots when at Disneyland. We wandered the marketplace, enjoying the various sundries for sale.

    This boiler I found strange, it looks like something from a Victorian steampunk display!

    The level of fine detail put into Galaxy's Edge is fantastic. I liken it to the kind of detail at Tokyo Disney Sea that make it the most beautiful theme park in the world. It's subtle, and it takes many glances to take it all in, which makes Batuu such a repeatable experiences as there is always more to see and take in. The design of Batuu, which Tom Bricker coined as "space Morocco" really appeals to my ascetic tastes. I really loved the domed architecture. It was a nice mix between the look of Tatooine and Naboo which, despite being a location from the horrid prequels, was one of my favourite planets within the Star Wars Universe. It also has a little of Takodana, Maz Kanata's realm of smugglers and rouges. I'm probably more what you'd call a "casual" Star Wars fan (I have seen all the movies and enjoy them immensely but don't know the lore inside our like I do with Harry Potter). With that being established I think it was smart for Disney to create a new planet, referencing many of the things fans loved about planets they've seen in the movies. Had they created Tatooine there always would have been one fan that was disappointed it wasn't Hoth, or Coruscant, or Endor etc etc. Additionally, the premise of the movies is that, with each new movie, there are more and more planets introduced within the Star Wars universe that we can explore, both in the movie and in our imagination. Batuu creates a new Star Wars planet to explore, but in a physical way, while paying homage to the things fans really want to see (a Cantina, the Falcon, a trip aboard a Star Destroyer (eventually *sigh*) and many replicas of famous Star Wars vessels). I think those who have criticised Galaxy's Edge because it doesn't literally transport guests to an exact location from the Star Wars world (like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter does) aren't looking at how complicate that is for a fictional universe as vast as Star Wars. It works for Harry Potter, because the number of places to visit are limited, but the same is not true of Star Wars.

    We came upon a number of cuddly creatures next.

    PORGS! They remind me of my cat Lillie who always has huge surprised eyes and a permanently sad looking face!

    The Kowakian Monkey Lizard's (aka shoulder monkey's) are interesting too and we chatted to this guy for a while

    We hadn't planned to ride the Millennium Falcon but to our surprise the wait had decreased to 25 minutes so we decided to jump on.

    The Falcon's queue and details were outstanding. I don't think I've ever seen such a convincing animatronic as Hondo Ohnaka! Jack Sparrow in the Shanghai Disney version of Pirates comes close. However I think Honda gets the edge because he isn't human, so any slight differences in his movement can be attributed to the fact he's an alien and doesn't move quite the same as us. He is SO fluid though, so that isn't really a problem, it's just why I prefer him over Jack Sparrow. It's funny how he greets each new group by announcing that previous group to come through looked as though they weren't up for the task.

    We were picked to be Engineers for our first flight on board the Falcon. And we headed into the boarding area excited.

    I absolutely understand now why people say that the pilot position is the best on the ship. We had a family of 4 riding with us and the parents had let their young kids be the pilots on our flight. As a result we spent most of the ride constantly crashing into the ground as the kid managing the "up/down" pilot controls didn't seem to understand them at all! It did give us engineers a lot of buttons to push though.

    However we absolutely loved the ride. The way the simulation capsule has been set up convinces you completely that you are on board the falcon, and are responsible for piloting it. The scenery was fantastic and the cockpit design so amazing.

    At the end of the attraction I could have swore that our "results" were posted as Scoundrels and a 85% rating. I thought this was the amount you crashed the ship but later Jared would point out it was the amount of health the ship actually had left. I must have read the percentage wrong on our first ride as we ended up with much lower health percentages on later trips as pilots and we were not slamming the thing into the ground every 5 seconds!

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    Jun 12, 2012
    Day 10 - Part 4 - Slinky Dogs are faster than expected

    We only had a few things left on our Hollywood Studios agenda to finish up after we'd explored Galaxy's Edge. The first was to take a trip with Star Tours. I really enjoy this ride because you never know what combination of locations and characters you'll end up seeing. It is strange that Star Wars now exists in two places within Hollywood Studios. I know a lot of people have stipulated that Star Tours will go away as a result of Galaxy's Edge opening but I doubt it. Even with the addition of Galaxy's Edge and Toy Story land Hollywood Studios suffers from a low number of attractions. Counting the soon to be opened Mickey's Runaway Mine Train I believe there are 9 rides, one of which is a very minor spinning attraction. Plus Star Tours is a popular attraction, so I'd say it will either stay or be re-themed to something else.

    When we arrived at Star Tours the posted wait was at 15 minutes but just as we entered the queue it was amended back down to 10 minutes. We caught a glimpse of Vadar on our way in!

    We seemed to be having quite bad luck with our seating on simulation attractions at Disney World. For this ride we were in the very front row on the very edge so we had a somewhat impaired view:

    The ride was still fun none-the-less. We ended up with the Darth Vadar opening scene, and we visited Hoth and the Death Star orbiting Geonosis. We also heard a message from Yoda. I am always crossing my fingers for the illusive Wookie planet, which I swear we've only seen once or twice in all the times we've done this attraction! Sadly we did not get to visit Kashyyyk on this trip. But our rebel spy was safely delivered and C3PO seemed pleased we'd survived our "tour".

    Our last activity of the morning was to head to Slinky Dog Dash and use our 10:00am fastpass. I was originally very irate that the Hollywood Studios fastpass tiers were changed from the month of September, so that we couldn't hold a Slinky Dog fastpass with one for Tower of Terror and Rock n Rollercoaster (the other two rides with fastpass that get very busy throughout the day). Since extra extra magic hours were a dream it really didn't seem a bit deal anymore, though going forward without those it might be. When we arrived at Slinky Dog it was just after 10 and the park was starting to look much busier (it had only been open to the general public for about an hour at that point). The wait for Slinky Dog was 45 minutes when we hopped aboard, and was mostly out in the hot hot sun, so we were happy to have a fastpass.

    Before we headed into the fastpass line though we stopped to take photos of the coaster. We end up with a lot of pictures!

    I wasn't sure what to think about this coaster when I first saw designs for it. I was a little afraid it would be closer to Gadget's Go Coaster, which is aimed at quite young kinds. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of thrill we experienced though. It was faster and more intense than I expected. Not like Rock n Roller coaster or anything like that, probably more on the level of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Big Thunder Mountain. I will say my only disappointment is that the launch at the start of the ride wasn't particularly fast. Still I LOVED the rest of the coaster, particularly the bunny hops (you even felt an ever so slight amount of air time going over them). All in all this was a really fun and surprising coaster and well done by Disney.

    We waited a while to enter back into the unload area so I took a few photos of us on board. Mostly to distract myself from just how hot the sun had gotten (it had been so nice to be in the parks before sunrise when there was no sun to make us melt into puddles).

    We were done with Hollywood Studios by about 10:20am, and felt so good at what we managed to accomplish in a mere 4 hours. We rode every major attraction in the park (one twice), we explored Galaxy's Edge and we took some amazing dawn photos, and it was only 10:20am in the morning! We headed out of the park and towards the Skyliner for our trip aboard.

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    Aug 23, 2017
    Love TOT- it's my 2nd fave after Everest. You really lucked out with the extra EMH - they would have handy for us in Jan.
  • RachelleBeaney

    Jun 12, 2012
    Love TOT- it's my 2nd fave after Everest. You really lucked out with the extra EMH - they would have handy for us in Jan.
    Yes extra EMH were amazing! I couldn't believe how quite the park was. I don't think Disney will do them again, I think the plan surrounding dealing with crowds for Galaxy's Edge that never materialised. And they seem to be putting more emphasis on taking away EMEH lately for paid evening events at the parks. But who knows, maybe they will again one day! Other than having to get up super early it was really worth it!


    Jun 12, 2012
    Day 10 - Part 5 - Up in the Air

    We left Hollywood Studios around 10:30am, and moved excitedly toward the newest form of transportation at Disney World, the Disney Skyliner.

    We hadn't planned to ride the Skyliner while we were at Walt Disney World. Our original plans didn't really find a use for it, as we were going to spend the whole day at Hollywood Studios and then head back to the hotel to go to the airport from there.

    Then Disney announced extra extra magic hours and it occurred to me that, with an extra 3 hours in the park in the morning, we would run out of things to do if we stayed in the park until 3pm. So I decided we'd head over to Disney Springs to have a look and take pictures. Even with the new plan it still didn't occur to me that we'd be able to use the Skyliner to get from Hollywood Studios to Disney Springs until a few days into the trip. Technically it would have been much quicker to head to Disney Springs from the park, but the buses don't start going to Disney Springs from the parks until after 4pm, and so that wasn't an option for us.

    We had originally decided to catch the Skyliner to Caribbean Beach and a bus to Disney Springs from there. However, upon our arrival at the Caribbean Beach station (and seeing just how huge the resort was and how long the walk to the bus station was) we decided we'd keep going to EPCOT and then catch the Friendship Boat to an EPCOT Resort and the bus from there to Disney Springs. Once we'd worked out what we were doing I became very excited, as we had so far only been on the buses at the resort. The water and air transportation is just so much more romantic and offers much better views, it's almost like it's own attraction so I was pleased we'd found a way to use it.

    So that's how we found ourselves walking towards the new Skyliner station at Hollywood Studios, a mere 3 days after it opened, to hop aboard Disney's newest "highway in the sky".

    Having heard that the "wrapped" cabins distort the views you get from the Skyliner we specifically asked for a non-wrapped cabin. There were maybe only 5 people or so ahead of us when we entered the station and we simply had to wait one car more to get an unwrapped cabin. We were pleased to find we had actually been given a cabin to ourselves as well.

    We took off over the Hollywood Studios car park and soon had some great views looking back towards the park.

    This was looking towards the Caribbean Beach station.

    And looking back towards Hollywood Studios.

    In no time, and I really mean no time (probably less than 5 minutes) and we were approaching the Caribbean Beach station.

    Flying over the Caribbean Beach buildings was fantastic, the views were beautiful! As I mentioned earlier, I didn't realise just how huge this resort was, having never stayed there before. Though a moderate resort, it has a lot more going for it now, being the central hub of all Skyliner stations. That being said the station is quite far from the central hub of the resort area and the resort is SO huge. I know there are buses that service different stops around the resort but I would imagine that would just add to travel time. It's a lot of walking on top of the copious amounts of walking you already do in the parks. I can imagine dreading the long walk back to my room at the end of the day when my feet were sore, if I ever stayed there!

    Check out Spaceship Earth in the background here!

    You have to disembark at the Caribbean Beach station, and so we did and headed onto the EPCOT line. We weren't alone in the cabin this time but we did manage to have some fantastic cabin mates, who we chatted with while we made our way to EPCOT.

    The line to EPCOT looks back towards Hollywood Studios too. And if you look closely just under the third yellow cabin from the front of the picture you can just see the top of Expedition Everest!

    RE the airflow in the cabins, we had no problem at all, and I am one who gets hot very easily. I could feel the cabin start to get a little warm when we slowed down at the Riveria Resort station but otherwise it was completely pleasant. The breeze really did cool the cabin down fantastically.

    I can't imagine how awful it would have been to have been stuck in the cabin for 3 hours when it crashed a few weeks later! That drama was all ahead of the Skyliner at this point though and I have to say, we never felt unsafe or worried while riding it. It was a terrible thing to happen for such a new transportation system, but I am confident Disney has learned from it and has made it safer since then. Hopefully they have also learnt how to deal with their PR and emergency response contingencies in regard to the Skyliner after this incident too.

    After we breezed through the Riveria station we were on our way to EPCOT.

    Passing the EPCOT Resort area we could only just glimpse the tops of Beach or Yacht Club (I can never remember which is which!).

    It probably isn't practical, and would have ruined site lines for people at the resorts, but it would have been great to be able to glimpse a view of Crescent Lake from the Skyliner. I also wonder why the EPCOT Resort area doesn't have a station. It seems odd as it's a deluxe resort area servicing a number of hotels and it's right on the path of the Skyliner. Oh well, perhaps they'll expand at some point.

    We had started to see EPCOT on the Horizon.

    We even caught a glimpse of the construction going on in France!

    The trip from Hollywood Studios to EPCOT probably took us 15 minutes max. And the journey was so easy and pleasant. While it isn't much quicker than walking between the two parks (which I believe takes about 20 minutes) it is a much more relaxing and picturesque way to travel. Plus it helps if you have tired and sore feet. I would also imagine it's quicker than the Friendship Boats as you don't have to wait for the next boat to show up.

    Speaking of the Friendship Boats, once at EPCOT we headed straight to the Friendship Boat dock and were glad to see one waiting. We hoped aboard and enjoyed the quick sail over to the Boardwalk Hotel. I believe Jared had put the camera away at this point, so I can't show you the journey, but I did take photos once we arrived.

    Jared was hot and tired so I was the one who ran around photographing everything I could. I love the EPCOT resort area, it's so beautiful! And because we could never afford to stay there (especially with the dollar as bad as it is) it's special to be able to visit.

    I strolled the boardwalk, taking it all in.

    When we were done it was about 11:15am. We wandered up to the Boardwalk bus stop and discovered it was quite empty, and was completely covered and shaded! I guess guests at the Boardwalk have a lot more transportation options and don't need to take buses as frequently, but it was really nice to not have to stand out in the head like at the All Star Resorts (I guess that's one of the reasons why you pay sooo much to stay at the Deluxe Resorts :P) .

    The next bus to Disney Springs wasn't due for another 20 minutes, but we had a bench to sit on and there was a fantastic breeze cooling us, and we were very relaxed and comfortable. It was cooler again than it had been the day before, the 1 October. It was almost like the weather had decided to cool simply based on the fact that we had moved further into fall!

    When we finally got to Disney Springs it was about 11:40am, so it had taken us just over an hour from leaving Hollywood Studios. That being said, we took our time at the EPCOT Resort area and enjoyed a relaxed pace. I would say it would have taken us well under an hour otherwise.

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    Jun 12, 2012
    Day 10 - Part 6 - The Springs

    We weren't quite ready for lunch yet, so when we arrived at Disney Springs we decided to take photos before heading to our lunch destination, Morimoto Asia Street Food.

    I really do think the Disney Springs re-design is a huge improvement of the former Downtown Disney. There are so many beautiful little nooks and crannies to explore, plus the "Springs" look so good I was tempted on more than one occasion to jump in and go swimming! The only criticism I have is pointed at the Marketplace lane way area. The covered under and more industrialised portion is great, but the rest of it just looks like a high end outdoor shopping mall that you can find all over the country. I suppose that is what it is, and fountains and other small decorations do help redeem it slightly. But those type of austere high-end shopping centres always make me uncomfortable. There is something about trying to create a look of exclusivity and expense that makes places like that feel less warm and inviting. I've never felt this in any other place within Disney World, as the whole point of the resort it to make you feel part of the magic and at "home". From that perspective the themeing of the Marketplace at Disney Springs doesn't really feel very....well.... "Disney". Perhaps that's just me. But we spent so little time in the Marketplace lane way it wasn't that big a deal.

    Below is a picture of the part of Disney Springs I'm referring to. Even looking at it now I get the sense that I'm not welcome! The high end shops that border the lane way and lack of people seem to reiterate that fact! The fountain was pretty though.

    We reached the Lego Store and decided to do a circuit around the lagoon area here. It was a really nice day thankfully, and the breeze was really helping because we spent a lot of the afternoon in full sun.

    Love the Lego "Nessie".

    We timed this picture well, framing a bird in flight over the lagoon, framed nicely by a "hidden Mickey". Though perhaps the term, "not so hidden Mickey" is more appropriate here.

    Out on the water it felt a little bit more like a holiday town or boardwalk. This part of Disney Springs reminds me of a place in the suburban area of Perth called Hillary's. The Hillary's Boardwalk contains a number of shops and eateries, all surrounded by the boat harbour. It has such a relaxing holiday vibe to it.

    We arrived back at the Lego Store and our circuit was complete.

    Making our way towards our lunch destination, Morimoto Asia Street Foods, we had our first glimpse at the beautiful and tropical feeling springs pools.

    We were in the mood for Asian Food again, and I'd heard a lot of good things about Morimoto Asia. We just wanted something we could use a quick service credit on so we settled on the "street foods" quick service area outside the main restaurant.

    We were able to use a meal credit to get 3 items and so we decided on 2 food items and a drink each.

    I ordered the egg rolls and the pork bun. Jared got ribs and another serve of egg rolls.

    I enjoyed the food. The egg roll was really flavoursome with a hint of spice. It was good, but bordering on too much spice for me. The pork bun was good too, but needed perhaps a little more bun to the ratio of meat provided. Jared's ribs were fantastic too, very sticky and tender and also slightly spicy.

    With lunch consumed we headed out to wander around the spring pools (as I've christened them). The breeze had died down and it had got quite warm again. And the water look so perfect and inviting I did have to use some self control not to jump in. I wonder if anyone has tried?? I would imagine there are cameras everywhere and Disney Security would swoop on you in no time if you tried.

    I think we photographed the pools from about every angle we could find. They were just so beautiful.

    The final spot I wanted to photograph was an area I had seen in a photo I found on Flickr. It was made of brick with a number of arches. We walked around for ages trying to find architecture that was brick and looked like it matched the photo reference I'd found. After a while I gave up, until we headed back towards the Marketplace to back to All Star Music, and I realised that the area was part of the Marketplace walkway. I hadn't noticed it when we arrived as it was further down and closer to what used to be the West End of Downtown Disney. This part of the Marketplace lane I didn't mind at all. I enjoyed the "warehouse" feel created by the brick and the windows with their "wrought iron" caging look.

    You'll have noticed too, I love any excuse to photograph an arch. I just love the way they add to the composition of a photograph by framing your subject in an interesting and unique way.

    Before leaving Disney Springs I had to use the bathroom and found myself surprised by how fancy they were. I took a picture, but it doesn't really translate the "fanciness" well.

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    Jun 12, 2012
    Day 10 - Part 8 - See You Real Soon Disney World (we hope)!

    As we waiting for the bus leaving Disney Springs for All Star Music we were suddenly feeling a little blue. These were our final hours at the World, and though it was great to be headed towards Disneyland later that evening it was also bittersweet to leave.

    In particular in knew I'd miss our magic bands. I think they are such a fantastic and easy tool for navigating your way around the parks, the hotel and paying for stuff!

    Disneyland is my favourite Disney resort worldwide. Still a visit to Walt Disney World is like going to a private island of Disney fun and I love that feeling of the "Disney bubble". Also not having to pay for food was pretty great too. We knew we'd be loosing both the bubble and the free food at our next destination, so we'd definitely miss that!

    Back at the resort we no longer had a room, so we decided to make camp in the Intermission Food Court, taking use of the charging points they have for computers and phones, to wait for our 3:30pm bus to MCO. We still had snack credits to use, so we poured over all the offerings....

    These themed cupcakes looked fun.

    In the end though we decided on something Jared had been wanting for the entire trip, a Mickey bar! He was so happy to finally get to eat one.

    I was actually feeling pretty full, and I didn't finish mine (don't worry, Jared did) but I was happy to be resting. I was feeling pretty beat!

    Sorry about all the Mickey bar pictures (and one of my tongue). We were clearly really excited about eating them!

    I sat for a while and edited pictures while Jared did something (I honestly get a bit tunnel visioned when editing and wasn't paying him any attention again). Before long we were ready to board our Magical Express to the airport. This time we actually got a proper Magical Express bus (YAY!).

    Because we were finally experiencing the proper Magic Express I took way too many pictures! So apologies for all of these.

    And then we were taking one final glance back at Disney World as we headed out of the World and towards the airport. I really enjoyed the Disney videos, cartoons, tips and bits and pieces as we headed towards the airport.

    We arrived at MCO by about 4:40 and got our last little touch of the "Disney bubble"

    Check in took us about 10 minutes (it was so quick compared to previous experiences at Orlando Airport). We also really enjoyed the security "wait times" posted around. It felt like we were back at Disney. After we were checked in we headed into the Delta Lounge to wait for our flight, which was at 7:30pm.

    The Delta Lounge in Orlando is really beautiful, its very reminiscent of the Grand Floridian Hotel design.

    The most wonderful thing happened in the bathroom of the Delta lounge (which sounds strange I know). I had been very disappointed to discover that, as beautiful as the lounge is, there are no showers! And we'd come from a pretty full day of walking and theme parking and I felt really gross. I had a chance of clothes, but no way to freshen myself before the flight.

    I headed into the bathroom to change and after I did was trying to awkwardly wash my armpits under my t-shirt with some wet towels filled with hand soap, when another lady saw me struggling and offered me an almost full packet of personal wipes! I asked her if she was sure, wouldn't she need them and she told me she was on her way home and wouldn't use them again and it was fine. Such a small act of kindness but one that I appreciated as I was able to go back into a stall and pretty effectively "wash" myself and feel clean for my flight. I was very grateful to this wonderful lady for her generosity.

    The food options inside the lounge weren't that great either so we headed back into the main terminal for dinner and ended up at the Aussie Steakhouse. I have a number of menu suggestions for them, to make their menu's really Australian which include:
    • Fries should be chips
    • Shrimp should be prawns
    • Use Australian cheese - we don’t have jack cheese in Australia
    • The burgers should have beetroot on them to be Aussie
    • No one in Australia’s drinks fosters beer - it’s gross!
    • I’ve never seen a bloomin onion in the outback - also deep fried anything is American food
    • We don’t eat kookaburras (though I would have liked to have eaten the one that dive bombed my face!
    Jared was impressed by the fair dinkum daiquiri - that’s a very Aussie phrase (no one actually says it but even still). I also really enjoyed this photo of Brighton Beach in Melbourne, the beach that my Dad grew up on.

    The Alice Springs chicken that I ordered was delicious though (love the honey/mustard flavours) and Jared really enjoyed his burger. I can't tell if it was the best chicken I've ever had or if I was just really hungry!

    We had a pretty good flight to LAX, thanks to the fact we had a gap next to the window so I had a bit more shoulder room. We arrived in LA just around 8:30pm but had to wait for ages for my bag, which came out last (even though it was priority tagged).

    We had a lot of trouble finding where to get our shuttle. We'd book with Karmel Shuttles and after walking around a lot, and a call to the company, we ended up back in front of the terminal we'd arrived at! Our shuttle driver referred to himself as "Pimp Daddy" and was quite hilarious. We also shared the shuttle with a lovely New Zealand family, and we had a great chat with them as we made our way towards Anaheim. It was nice to speak with "neighbours" as we Aussies think of New Zealanders as almost Australian's (they probably would hate that but we do).

    We arrived at the Anaheim Discovery Inn Hotel and Suites at 10:30pm. It was a bit dodgy looking on the outside but the room was fine (and a decent size too). We weren't going to complain too much, the room was cheap and the bed was reasonably comfy. Plus everything was clean and well appointed, it just looked a bit run down on the outside. The proprietor was really lovely too. Given that this is one of the cheapest properties in walking distance to Disneyland he could charge a lot more per night but doesn't. It was about a 20 minute walk, we were on Katella Avenue right where it meets Disneyland Drive at the back corner of California Adventure.

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    Jun 12, 2012
    Day 11/12 - Part 1 - Welcome to Disneyland...the place where dreams come true

    The day after we arrived in Anaheim, Thursday, we had planned to rest and then go into Galaxy's Edge in the evening and take night photos. We wisely decided before going to bed Wednesday night that we wouldn't do that, and we'd pick another night to take the photos at Galaxy's Edge. We were so beat and we just needed to spend a day resting in bed.

    So that's what we did on Day 11. Well I did anyway. Jared had to go into the parks to pick up our 10 day park hopper passes. As I outlined in my pre-trip report, we purchased these for the same price as the US 5 day park hoppers, which was fantastic. They are only available to Australian and New Zealand residents though, and only if you purchase before leaving the country. But if you are a Australian or New Zealand resident they are super value for money.

    Jared decided, while picking up the tickets, to do a "test" of how long it would take to get to the parks. He then headed to the convenience store for water and snacks. He reported it was generally about a 20 minute walk.

    He also reported that on the way into the parks he managed to stalk someone through the gate at the Grand Californian and enter into Downtown Disney that way. We'd really hoped we'd be able to do this, as it cut off the round about way you have to get into Downtown Disney from Disneyland Drive. The Grand Californian bag check is also much quicker. It's something we were able to do on our trip in 2013 when we stayed at the Paradise Pier Hotel and we were a little bummed to hear they had added a security gate. So when we discovered they didn't really check who was going through and the gate closed slowly we decided we would try, wherever possible, to follow people through! This involved watching for anyone crossing Disneyland Drive at the lights and hoping that they were crossing to head into the Grand Californian (since there was pretty much no other reason to cross the road we could be pretty confident that would be their final destination). Very sneaky and naughty I know but it usually shaved about 10 minutes off our walk/bag check time!

    While Jared was running about I was pouring over the Cheesecake Factory's menu on DoorDash and deciding what yummy treats I'd be ordering for us for lunch. The Cheesecake Factory is one of our favourite American family style chain restaurants, and since we (well really just me) were feeling too lazy to walk to Gardenwalk to actually eat at the restaurant we decided to go for food delivery. This is something of a novelty for us because we don't have food delivery apps that deliver to where we live in Perth. We do have them in Perth but they haven't actually decided to deliver up the hill yet!

    Anyway, I finally decided on fried cheese (of course, I love it so much and you just can't get it in Australia), pot stickers (chicken), avocado egg rolls, stuffed mushrooms and the cookie dough cheesecake.

    Jared arrived back and agreed with the "tapas" items I'd picked for lunch. He handed me these wonderful little babies!

    Lunch arrived about 45 minutes after we ordered it.

    Fried Cheese! Tastes of heaven!

    The stuffed mushrooms, these were really good too.

    Potstickers - they were a little too mushy for my liking but still nice.

    The avocado spring rolls were delicious, I just could have used a tiny bit less avocado to pastry ratio.

    The cheesecake was, of course, delicious! I really do love the Cheesecake Factory cheesecake, it's so much better than the cheesecake here in Australia!

    The rest of the day passed restfully. We watched Netflix, I edited a few more pictures and generally didn't get out of the bed unless I had to!

    We ordered more Cheesecake Factory for dinner (I just wanted to eat more of that fried cheese). We shared a truffle honey fried chicken with mash, asparagus and broccoli and this was delicious! All my favourite flavours.

    We had planned to share most of our meals at Disneyland. Firstly because American restaurant portions are HUGE and we can never get through them. Secondly, because it would save us money with our dollar performing so badly.

    The next morning we rose bright and early (though not as early as at Disney World) to head to the parks for rope drop. We didn't find anyone to stalk into the Grand Californian today and so we walked to the main security check. The guard who checked Jared's camera bag was so impressed by it and proceeded to inform us he was also a photographer, though he shot with a Sony. He called Jared "camera guy" which was adorable.

    We arrived at the park gates at 7:15am (the park was due to open at 8:00am) having left the hotel at 6:50am (so it took us about 25 minutes in total). There weren't too many people lined up in front of us, and the sun was in the perfect position for a great picture as we arrived at the gate.

    The weather was perfect at Disneyland! It was to be a top of 26C (79F) and there was a cool breeze blowing. It was great to not start sweating the moment we walked out our door in the morning. I was also grateful to feel a little more comfortable walking in the sun all day.

    I sat against a bin relaxing while we waited, and enjoyed seeing my first Disneyland monorail of the trip rush past!

    See, so relaxed - and Disneyland ready with my ears and everything.

    At about 7:40pm everyone was getting a little excited, and we all started clapping wanting to get in! I think everyone thought we'd be let into rope drop earlier so they were getting impatient. We later realised that Dancing with the Stars was filming in the park the week we were there (we are big fans so we were excited about that) and I think we were probably let in so late because they were still filming!

    We were finally let in for rope drop at about 7:45am, 15 minutes before opening. We were glad when we looked back at the large line that had formed that we'd arrived early.

    As the "countdown" to rope drop opening began, there was more clapping and cheering. The people waiting to get into Disneyland this particular day did seem very excited about being there. I thought it was fantastic, as it was our first day back since 2015 so of course we felt the same way. The energy and anticipation created by the crowd was palpable that morning too. We all felt the joy of being at Disney. We we managed to be the very first people scanned through our gate, after the 5 people that were "pre-scanned" before the gates opened.

    I love being right at the front of rope drop. It makes for great pictures!

    This was all the people behind us! We were pretty pleased with ourselves!

    It was about this point we saw the Dancing with the Stars camera crew heading out from near the castle. We also saw Cinderella heading back into Fantasyland. Later, when we watched Disney night of the show we got so excited to think we were in the parks right when some of the scenes we saw were being filmed (so nerdy but we are so that's ok).

    At 7:59am the triumphant horns began to announced the opening of the park. I love the way Disneyland does this each morning, and it's worth getting into the park before opening just to head the welcoming opening speech.

    "Welcome to Disneyland, the place where dreams come true. All of us here in the magic kingdom are delighted to have you as our guest today. Whether this is your first visit or your 100th, we welcome you to join our Disney family. Now you begin your journey of fantasy and wonder in our many lands. For your safety, and the safety of those around you, we ask that you walk to your next destination. We hope today you make memories that will last a lifetime. Thank you, and may you enjoy your day in this magical place called Disneyland."

    In case you are impressed, I did not memorise that, but looked up a YouTube video so I could get it exactly right. It's little things like this that make Disneyland my favourite of the Disney parks. It's a simple thing, but welcoming the guests to the park like that made me feel as though I was being personally invited to enjoy a day of magic and wonder in the parks. It might seem corny, but I do feel like the times we have been to Disneyland were indeed "dreams come true" for us. Especially the first time we visited on our honeymoon, as it had been a lifelong dream and goal for me to visit. Since we were celebrating our 10th wedding and Disney anniversary it felt appropriate to be reminded that just being at Disneyland is a dream come true for many many people, and a good reminder that we should not take it for granted that we could be there. We made rope drop most days, so it was just a great reminder to be grateful, keep ourselves in the moment and enjoy every bit of "fantasy and wonder" the park had to offer. We would certainly create more "memories that will last a lifetime" in our favourite place on earth on this trip.

    Appropriately, as we all headed into the park, Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah begun to play. It perfectly captured the frenetic energy of everyone hurrying off to their first destination of choice in the park. What was ours....I guess you'll have to find out.....

    Continued in the Next Post....


    Jun 12, 2012
    Day 12 - Part 2 - Smugglers and Rogues

    So what was our first destination? Well, Batuu of course! Though we'd seen Galaxy's Edge at Hollywood Studios we hadn't really spent a decent amount of time on the planet, nor had we experience everything the land has to offer (there just wasn't time). Today was a different story though. We had booked to build a Lightsaber at Savi's and build a droid at the Droid Depot, and we would have our first chance to pilot the Falcon.

    We made our way towards Galaxy's Edge via Frontierland and were funnelled slowly into the queue for Smuggler's Run. Though the standby wait was only 20 minutes the queue was still outside the entrance, as people were still slowly making their way into the actual queue.

    Chewy was standing watch over his "smugglers and rouges" crew as we headed into Ohnaka's transport solutions.

    When we made it into the queue it moved pretty quickly through to the pre-show room, so we let some people go past so we could take some photos of the Falcon's backside.

    As we moved through the queue we realised that we were not going to be able to see the views of the falcon the windows above it this time around, as we'd skipped that portion of the line. We were a little sad about that but figured we'd get a chance on another ride.

    We specifically asked to wait to be pilots this time, knowing we'd have more control over our enjoyment of the ride if we did. While we waited we enjoyed chatting with the denizens of Batuu, who asked where we'd come from and informed us that they hadn't heard of Planet Florida or Planet Australia (they kept in character well). We told them we were a little nervous about piloting the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy and they told us it was ok, it was expected we'd crash the Falcon a bit. They also said they didn't care, but we'd need to watch out for Hondo!

    No pictures of Hondo this time around but I did capture a video of him doing his thing. He really is amazingly fluid and convincing!

    We didn't have to wait long and then we were heading into the boarding room.

    The boarding area of the Falcon is so convincing as different rooms "aboard the ship". From there we headed into the cockpit for our mission, to bag some Coaxium for Hondo and the Resistance.

    I choose the left to right pilot seat and Jared was responsible for the up and down. He said his favourite thing was being able to pull the lever to send us into Hyperspace. We thought we did fairly well, we had 34% health when we were done (though at the time we still thought this was the amount we'd "crashed" the ship so we thought we'd done pretty well).

    After we exited the ride the standby had shot up to 45 minutes so we were pretty pleased to have got it done.

    Back on the planet of Batuu we wanted to explore and take photos while it was still pretty quite. So we commenced the Batuu Photo Tour - Take 2. First up, since we were already there, was the Falcon.

    Heading over towards the resistance side of the planet we ran into Rey. As I still didn't understand the Falcon scoring system at this point I informed her we only crashed the Falcon 34% (I think in reality we must have crashed it 76% - oops). Rey was proud and told me that she should be able to repair the ship easily with that little damage (sorry Rey, hope I didn't make repairs more complication with my confusion!). I managed to get a picture we her too, which was great as she's often hurrying off somewhere (probably to repair something or to avoid the First Order).

    We walked through the Marketplace quickly and then headed towards the future site of the Rise of the Resistance attraction.

    We found the X-Wing, and our first Photopass photographer of our Disneyland visit too.

    We got a Porg magic shot!! I was so excited by that (though I wasn't quite looking at the right spot!)

    It was also great fun how the Photopass photographer asked us if we wanted a holoscans, and helped us find the correct place on our "datapad" to find the Photopass QR code (this was our first time using Photopass at Disneyland with the App).

    I did stare wistfully towards Rise of the Resistance wondering if wishing would spontaneously cause it to be open. It did not. Sadly riding this attraction was one wish Disney could not make come true for us on this trip.

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    Jun 12, 2012
    Day 12 - Part 3 - Chasing Storm Troopers

    Our Savi's Workshop reservation was at 9:40am, so we had more time to explore Galaxy's Edge before we needed to check in for it. We headed back into the Marketplace area to explore it in a bit more detail.

    Then we headed back out into Batuu proper.

    And just at the perfect time a duo of Storm Troopers emerged from the building just behind us. They had been patrolling atop the land speeders and quite suddenly they were out and about, looking for Resistance spies, keeping order and being generally unpleasant to the tourists. We were always getting told to "move along" and "calm down". :P . We took A LOT of photos of the troopers, as we chased them around trying to get good shot.

    This was about the point one of the troopers came towards me and accused me of being a resistance spy. I was also threatened with jail if I was found to be one, but I think I lied pretty convincingly and I was not taken away. :rotfl2:

    This trooper definitely had his "eye" on me (can you see me in the reflection of his eye?)

    This trooper seemed distracted by my clear resistance he didn't notice Princess Leia behind him (oops, I see some Force choking punishment in his future).

    The troopers also had a few words for the lady in the ECV who purposely tried to block them with her scooter while her partner bunny eared one of them! Another kid with a lightsaber was asked to hand it over so the Troopers could "inspect the threat level" It was absolutely hilarious how everyone got into the role of giving them a hard time, and how they in return made it clear that you were under suspicion of anything and everything. So much fun! I loved all our interactions with the troopers.

    The troopers made there way back into the main First Order section of Batuu, and we breathed a sigh of relief having escape the Batuu "police".

    We were slowly making our way towards Dok Ondars ...and we wanted to wait for these stairs to empty out so we could take a picture. They did eventually....

    We headed to Dok Ondar's Den of Antiquities for a quick peak.

    The holocrons make a very interest pattern on the wall.

    Out in the First Order square the sun was peeking out perfectly from behind the Tie-Fighter.

    The Fantasyland entrance was the one part of Disneyland's Galaxy's Edge (other than the colour scheme) that was noticeably different from the Hollywood Studios version.

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    Jun 12, 2012
    Day 12 - Part 4 - I'm a Jedi now!

    Our next activity had to be done in secret, away from the prying eyes of the troopers we'd just escaped. Yes that's right, we were going to build a Lightsaber at Savi's Workshop.

    Originally, Jared was not keen on the idea of spending $200.00 USD to build a lightsaber, but I managed to convince him to let me after saving money elsewhere in the budget. Because Jared was not as thrilled with the idea as I was, I would be the builder and he would be the observer (with a camera of course).

    We arrived at Savi's at about 9:30am. I choose the elemental nature saber design, mostly because it looked the prettiest (I think I probably would have more closely associated emotionally with peace and justice but I was going for the aesthetics more than anything else).

    I thought these pins that you were given, with identified which style of saber you were building, were a nice touch.

    I was given a "boarding pass" and told I could wait in the holding area until my boarding group was called. While we waited we made our very first Maxpass booking, for Big Thunder Mountain for 9:55am - 10:55am. I love Disneyland's Maxpass system, and would gladly pay to use it again in the future. The convenience and ease, plus the free photopass made it worth every penny. And I also love Disneyland's fastpass system, and the fact that at 9:30am we could get a fastpass for a mere 25 minutes in the future. We had no issue getting as many fastpasses as we wanted on a given day.

    In no time we were heading into the mysterious Savi's, and I lucked out getting the perfect spot at the very top of the room (it was a great location for photos)!

    I was excited to get started (as a side note, as I started writing this chapter Spotify started playing the Star Wars theme, so appropriate - well done Spotify).

    Our building guides talked a little about why lightsabers are important in keeping balance in the force, and then proceeded to tell us about how our kyber crystal would become the heart of our saber, and we would need to choose our colour carefully. There was more talk about the type of person drawn towards each colour. Green for the peacemakers, blue for the protectors and seekers of justice, red for power and control, and purple for skill and power. I of course chose purple, but not because I felt called to power or felt I had any skill with a blade, simply because it's so pretty!

    See, don't the pretty purple lights call to you too....

    The red certainly didn't (to dark side for me).

    And so I chose my crystal, and carefully laid it out ready to place it at the heart of my weapon of skill and power!

    Next we were provided a tray of different handle part options based on the design we'd picked.

    I'm clearly listening very enthusiastically here to learn how to put the thing together!

    I began to put the saber together. The Savi's workers were great, coming around to help when you got stuck. You were mostly left to configure the hilt of your "elegant weapon made for the civilised age" on your own though, which made it even more special.

    Finally my beautiful hilt was complete. I hope the pictures below do justice to just how beautiful and detailed these lightsabers are. I wasn't expecting such great quality or such a fantastic story behind the elements that made up my hilt.

    My Savi's handler had explained to me how the wood pieces I'd chosen had come from Kashyyyk, the Wookie Planet (aka Chewie's home) and that the hilt, which was a rancor tooth with actual cavities in it, had been pulled from the grateful rancor by my attendant herself. These little elements and details just helped create a fantastic personal story for the thing I was creating, and really made the whole process feel so real.

    When we were finished building, we were asked to insert our sabers into the Crystal stabilisation unit, so that we could avoid any accidents. Turns out my stabilisation tube found issues with my hilt (the base part wasn't working so the attendant had to undo and re-do mine before we could start the next part of the ceremony). I felt bad for holding everyone up!

    Master Yoda had a few words for us about how we would become so much more as force users with our tools of peace, justice, power and skill.

    We were then directed to "light" our lightsabers for the first time. I had a bit of trouble because I thought you were supposed to push the button not slide it up!

    The most amazing part of the experience was seeing all our sabers lit and held aloft, while triumphant music swelled. You were felt like you had created something really special in that moment, something unique to you and you also felt a part of the Star Wars story in a way I personal never had before. It was a great experience.

    Afterwards Jared was no longer grumpy about having spent $200.00. He was blown away by the quality of the piece, but the experience of building it, and the uniqueness of the souvenir we would take home. So he went from someone who hates spending excessively, and who thought this was a bad idea, to someone completely on board with the idea (I reckon if we'd budgeted it he'd wanted to have gone back and built his own saber too). Perhaps next time we go he will build his own.

    Continued in Next Post...
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    Jun 12, 2012
    Day 12 - Part 4 - From the Frontier of Space to the Frontier of Earth

    Once we had finished building the saber of course we had to take it for a some pictures and a test run. The lightsabers are great fun, I love the way the blade slowly lights up, or how when you swoosh or hit the blade it flashes yellow and makes very realistic saber noises.

    Of course I had to have a go swinging the saber around! Luckily there weren't too many people about so I could!

    The far side of the Millennium Falcon is the perfect spot for pictures like this. The photopass photographers usually stay further around to the front and there isn't much over this side of the Falcon so it's usually pretty quiet.

    It was around 10:30, so we had to leave the planet of Batuu briefly and head towards Big Thunder Mountain for our Maxpass. Part of our reason for choosing Big Thunder as our first Maxpass of the day was it's proximity to Batuu, as we weren't nearly done with it for the morning yet.

    So we rode Big Thunder with barely any wait and had a fantastic time. I really do love the Disneyland version. I think it's the best version out there (I still haven't been on the Disneyland Paris version though, which I've heard is great).

    And after our brief interlude on the frontier (of earth) we headed back into the frontier (of space)....

    Continued in Next Post...
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