We recently returned from another trip to Walt Disney World. When we borrowed DVC points for our last trip (see the write up for that trip here), we had enough left over for a week in a deluxe studio during the off-peak season, so we spent Kathy’s birthday at Saratoga Springs.
We wanted to go Saturday to Saturday, but due to the RunDisney events that weekend, every place we were looking at were booked up Saturday night, so we had to go Sunday to Saturday. Part of the reason we wanted to fly down on Saturday is because the Southwest flight (the only direct flight from ROC to MCO) on Saturday departs at 7.30a, whereas the flight on Sunday takes off at 2.55p. With a 2 ½ hr flight, it basically kills a whole day of your vacation.
We got to the hotel about 7. We dropped off our carry-on bags and headed to the Magic Kingdom. We arrived as the Wishes fireworks extravaganza was just starting. We made our way towards Main Street USA to watch the show. After the show, we headed towards Tomorrowland for something to eat. On this trip, we were looking for a low-key, (relatively) low-cost trip, so we didn’t set up any Advance Dining Reservations (ADR). We were just going to eat at the quick service places when we got hungry. Our first stop was at Cosmic Rays. This was a new place for me, I hadn’t eaten here before, and I wanted to watch Sonny Eclipse, the animatronic entertainer that sings and tells corny jokes. As we were standing in line, we found fellow Knighthawk fans! I got a cheeseburger, it was decent, but it was late in the day, so it wasn’t super fresh, it wasn’t bad.. I’ve had better burgers (and I’ve had worse). One thing I liked about this place is that they have the plastic cheese dispenser. Disney fries are good on their own, but add a healthy (?) dose of that hot gooey plastic cheese, and they are that much better!
We only had a couple hours in the park before they closed for the night, but we were able to get on a few rides, including one of my favorites, the Jungle Cruise at night. I love how the flood lights on the boat light up the jungle. We also managed to fit in the Haunted Mansion, Pirates and a couple others before the park closed at 10.
|Beauty and the Beast Stage Show|
Monday morning we headed over to Hollywood Studios. We had FP+ for Toy Story Midway Mania, Lights Motors Action! And the Great Movie Ride. We also caught the Indiana Jones stunt show, The One Man one dream exhibit about the life of Walt Disney, The Little Mermaid, The Beauty and the Beast Stage show and Fantasmic. This night was the extra magic hours at Hollywood, so after those not staying on property, we went on Toy Story again, a ride that during the day wait times in excess of 90 min or more are common, and only waited about 20 minutes. We ate lunch at the Backlot express, I had a cheeseburger that had onion strings and allegedly a horseradish sauce (I couldn’t taste it), but it was a good burger. Before we went into Fantasmic, I grabbed a Mickey pretzel with a cheese cup; Kathy got a Churro (and became a fan).
Tuesday took us to EPCOT. Our FP+ were for Spaceship Earth, Sorin’ and Finding Nemo. The EMH were early at EPCOT that day, so we were able to get on Sorin’ early, and I was able to get on Test Track. We tried the new flavors at Club Cool. I am a bit disappointed that they got rid of the lemon honey flavor from Israel, but am not really sad to see the rest go. There wasn’t a clear cut favorite in the new batch of international flavors, but it was cool to try Peru’s Inca Kola again. We have a new favorite snack at EPCOT, we split an order of fish and chips from the Great Britain pavilion. It would be a bit small to be a meal for someone, but it makes a nice snack for 2 people. We also tried the new Spice Road Table restaurant at the Morocco pavilion. It had just opened a couple of days prior. They will be taking reservations in the future, but since they are in the ‘soft launch’ phase, we were able to walk right in. It is a Tapas style place that serves food from all over the Mediterranean. I got a sampler plate that featured a chicken roll, a lamb slider and a sausage. It wasn’t a lot of food for $16, and I didn’t love the flavors, so we probably won’t be going back on future trips. I stayed for the Illuminations show and met a cool couple from Jersey who had honeymooned at Disney 10 years ago, and this is their first trip back. We chatted for a while waiting for the show to start.
|The lions at the Kilimanjaro Safari|
Wednesday took us to Animal Kingdom. In my opinion, it is a very underappreciated park. We had FP+ for the Safari Ride, Kali River, and Finding Nemo. The EMH was early that day, so we went straight for an extra run on the safari ride; it is one of my favorite things to do at Disney. I am always able to get some great shots of the wildlife, even with my phone! When it came time to do the River ride, Kathy didn’t want to ride it since it was a bit cool that day. I was still game, so I headed over. When I got to the entrance, the cast member told me not to waste a FP+ on it, since we only can have 3 per day, there was no line. I was able to walk right on and change our FP+ for a different attraction, we added the Bug’s Life show to our docket (which we didn’t need to use a FP+ for either, but you can’t use FP+ for the same ride 2x in the same day, otherwise, we would have gone on the safari ride a 3rd time).Another attraction that I make sure to hit at least once each trip to Animal Kingdom is the Flights of Wonder bird show. It is very well done (even if it is a bit heavy on the ‘save the planet’ propaganda...). I’ve written before that I am not really a fan of roller coasters, but I wanted to try the Expedition Everest at least once, to say that I did, so I headed over by myself. The wait time wasn’t too bad, I was able to get on in about 30 min or so. The ride is very well done. The queue takes you through a travel office to board a train to the mountains, right through the sacred Yeti territory. It is a very fast, winding coaster that goes in and out of the Mt Everest, so it goes from light to dark and back very quickly. Would I ride it again? In a word, no. But I am glad I did ride it. When I
Thursday morning found us back at the Magic Kingdom. EMH were early that morning, so we
|The Haunted Mansion|
|Big Thunder Mountain Railroad|
We started Friday off at breakfast at ‘Ohana. We took the bus from Saratoga Springs to the MagicKingdom; we then boarded the Monorail to the Polynesian. We were a bit early because we wanted to make sure we allowed enough time for transit. We walked down to the lagoon and checked out the pool, beach, and the docks where the boat rentals are (something to keep in mind for future visits). By this time, it was time to check in for breakfast. They offer the chance to have your picture taken, that they will then try to sell you, we skipped that part. We didn’t want to pay $35 for a 5x7 of us. We had eaten dinner at ‘Ohana on our last trip and I didn’t love it, but I wanted to try it for breakfast, and I’m glad we did. It was a lot of fun. The format for breakfast is an all you can eat feast, served family style. It isn’t a buffet; they bring the food to you, similar to the way dinner is at the Liberty Tree Tavern. They sat us down with a basket of sweet breads and took our drink orders. Moments later, out comes a platter of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and potatoes along with a plate of fresh cut fruit (pineapple, raspberries and melon) and their special juice. It is a blend of orange, mango, guava and papaya. It was very tasty. They also bring out Mickey waffles (small Belgian waffles shaped like Mickey Mouse). They keep bringing the stuff out as much as you want. This is also a character breakfast, which normally isn’t a big deal for me, but it was fun to have pictures with Lelo and Stich as well as Mickey and Pluto. Our general rule is to not repeat a dining experience, until w
e have tried all of the ones that interest us, but we do have an exception (Liberty Tree Tavern for dinner), I think that this one will be added to the ‘no duplicate exemption’ list. After a few pictures with the Tikis and Maoris, we rolled ourselves to the Magic Kingdom for our last day in the parks for this trip.
Friday was originally scheduled to be an EPCOT day, since that is where the EMH hours were, but we figured we had done everything we wanted to do at EPCOT, so we decided to change all of our FP+ over to the Magic Kingdom. We had the Jungle Cruise, Mickey’s Philharmagic and Buzz Lightyear. Since we had such a large breakfast, we really didn’t need to eat much else until later that day. We did make sure to hit up Aloha Isle to get a Dole Whip float. It isn’t a trip to Disney without having at least 1 of those bad boys. We made sure to hit all the attractions that we wanted to, since it will be a while before we are back. Around dinner time, we hit up Pecos Bill’s again for a taco salad. After a quick run through the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, we hunkered down for the castle light show and Wishes. We picked a spot towards the end of Main Street USA inside a taped off ‘viewing’ area. We had a slightly obstructed view of the castle, so we couldn’t see the light show all that well, but it was a great spot to watch the fireworks. There were people coming and going, and a whole lot more not moving, waiting and watching. There was a single cast member trying to direct traffic and
Saturday morning, we made arrangements for bell services to pick up our luggage. We checked into our airline then shopped in the gift shop for a couple of last minute souvenirs. At 10, we boarded the Magic Express back to the MCO to await our journey home. Disney provides a nice service, you can check into your airline and check your bags at your hotel, that way when you get to the airport, you just have to go through security, then to the terminal and get on your plane and go home. I do like the new videos they play on the Magic Express busses. They show parts of the park that you may not already be aware of. On our return flight, the plane was equipped with Wi-Fi. The planes that have this feature allow you to stream live TV on several channels, courtesy of Dish Network. It is a nice way to pass the time while you are in the air.
All in all, it was a good trip. We hit everything we wanted to. We got a good Disney fix. Hopefully it will be enough to hold us over until our next trip, which looks like it won’t be until the fall/winter of 2015 or the spring of 2016.
More of the pictures I took can be found here.