This excursion was a long time in the planning, though most of it was wishful thinking, so I'm so glad it finally happened. While I was looking for deals I decided to check out a free quote from a travel agency that sponsors one of the podcasts I listen to regularly, and it turned out their services were free, and most useful! (Thanks, Julie! Not Wife Julie, but Travel Agent Julie.) We booked through them and had a lot of nice little perks, including a free giftcard.
It turns out to have been a pretty good week to visit. The first few days especially were fairly uncrowded (not to mention how, due to how very big WDW is, some areas are virtually empty), and we never waited in line for longer than 20-30 minutes (and sometimes we stood in line on purpose to experience some of the new and awesome interactive queue elements). The weather was hot, but not miserably hot like it will be in just a couple of weeks. I was determined not to feel ill this trip, as has been my habit at theme parks of late, so I made sure to take some Dramamine. We had six whole days at Disney, so we had plenty of time to do everything we wanted to do, some of them multiple times. We basically went to two parks each day, and worked with the closing times, some of which were pretty early (grad night--grrr). When we first walked through the parks, I had the strangest feeling, like a blend of nostalgia and total unfamiliarity. It's been SO long, and I've been to Disneyland so many times since then, it felt almost like some kind of forgotten dream or something. It didn't take long to get reacquainted with things though, and it was really fun to compare the rides there to their counterparts at Disneyland (of which some are actually better at the west coast parks, and not just according to us, but to general fan consensus). There was so much to do, but we made great use of our six days! After our early flight to Orlando, we caught the Magical Express and arrived at our resort with no problems.
|Little Wife, so sleepy after the long flight(s).|
|There was someone writing inspirational messages in the sky for a few days. We think he might have had some of the words backwards, but his heart was in the right place.|
|Next year's Christmas card??|
|Buddies at the Lego store.|
• It seemed only natural to start with the park that started it all down in Orlando, and it helped ease Julie into the sometimes overwhelming WDW experience with something a little more familiar. I was SO excited on that shuttle turning the corner and seeing Cinderella Castle peeking above the trees.
|A li'l tear for Main Street and Cinderella Castle.|
|No tears this time! XD|
|A new Main Street friend for Elise. He doesn't even need to be named. He's already called Casey.|
|They knew Julie was coming to visit so they shipped the hub Dumbo statue to Orlando.|
|I guess this is Phillip, since he's in Frontierland, but we kept trying to decide if he should be a new character altogether.|
|What up, Charles?|
|Good is good, bad is bad.|
|"Oh Zurg, nothing will keep us apart!" She has this thing for the bad boys.|
|"Welcome to my kitchen. Would you like some lunch?"|
|I am going to have a hat like this one day, you just mark my words.|
|Down for fire damage, never to open in this incarnation again. Interpret my thumbs-down sentiment as you will.|
|I laid the rose on his grave. (Just kidding, the Cast Members did it, which they do every day.)|
|We are kissing and OMGoodness, Cami is behind us totally grossed out! HA HA.|
|Splash Mountain? Can't be bothered.|
|We had plenty of time with Mickey and Minnie because there was no one else in the queue.|
|It was kind of hard to interpret what they wanted to do for the pictures since the didn't speak, but we figured it out. It was like posing with mimes|
|Please ignore my double glasses look. I tried to remember to take off one or the other for pictures, but sometimes I still forgot.|
• The Seas and The Land pavilions are areas I've never really explored, so it was fun to go there and see fish (real and animated) and creatures and the plants growing in the greenhouses (and also to be thoroughly chastised for being wasteful, toxic, polluting humans by Simba in a delightful little propaganda film).
|Julie and Anchor are seeing eye-to-eye.|
|I get it, Simba, men are the polluting scum of the earth. Have a nice day.|
|Fish & chips in the UK!|
|A giant troll in Norway!|
|Resting our feet before watching the China Circle-Vision show.|
|Rapunzel's tower near Germany (just because). You can hear her sing and her hair is apparently supposed to glow, but I think it was unplugged so it didn't work.|
|Italian pizza! In Italy! Word is they import water from Italy to make the dough so it's super-authentic.|
|Welcome to Agrabah.|
|I have a hat like this at home. But this is a Disney Morocco hat.|
|"Lookee here, men! A street mouse!"|
|Pastries in France! This is the Napoleon. Can I have another one? Right now?|
|This was a delicious strawberry tart.|
|I really really wanted a funnel cake and we finally bought one at the American pavilion.|
|"Call me, beep me if you wanna reach me."|
|That girl on the left was way into it. Single Rider, but she didn't seem to mind. Also, SO lame that they put words up on the pictures now. They flash away, but then you have to time for photo just right.|
• IllumiNations!!! It's one of my favorite nighttime shows and it is just as awesome as I remember it. It was some kind of dream come true to stand next to the World Showcase Lagoon in Italy and watch the fireworks and hear that glorious music with my splendid wife in my arms.
Disney's Hollywood Studios!
|I had been having serious withdrawals from this hat for the last several months.|
|Popcorn! It's as good as ever (but still not as good as mine).|
|Ice cream! Check out that outdoor foods station behind me. That's me ten years ago.|
• So much of it is the same (The Great Movie Ride, Tower of Terror, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, Backlot Tour, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Beauty and the Beast and Little Mermaid shows), but there are lots of cool new things that make it a much more exciting park (Toy Story Mania, the upcoming Star Tours 2, and that which I describe next...).
|I heart NYC.|
|Even though Star Tours 2 wasn't open yet, they still had the old Star Wars stuff around.|
|There was one guy on my other side who said my drawing of Eeyore was really good. He even told the workers in the gift shop at the exit.|
|She loves that Mal. But not so much the girl in Castle (which is why she's covered up).|
|Me at the Stone Table. (Worst move ever, dropping the Narnia franchise, Disney. This could have been an awesome Dawn Treader update instead of a dated Caspian exhibit. But I thought it was still cool.)|
|Julie loves the creatures.|
|I love the treats.|
|I volunteered for the Backlot Tour special effects show. I was the comic relief.|
| (I'm the one on deck.) |
|Remember what I said about the bad boys?|
|It's a sickness.|
|I do not approve of the baddies! Down with this White Witch! (Though her costume is cool.)|
|Davey Jones once played this organ. Or his tentacle beard did.|
|Here she is kissing the decapitated head of Boba Fett.|
|Betty. (What's the big deal with her anyway?)|
|Oprah. I think Julie is asking her why she's so lame and has to buy all her friends.|
|Bill. He makes me laugh, so I 'm laughing. I love how he even has his sweater on.|
|This is Julie's tribute to Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts.|
|Gertie's is no more! :(|
|Glamorous Hollywood Wife!|
|Sleeping on the Tower of Terror.|
• They have also in the last year or so opened their new American Idol Experience, in which guests can audition and hopefully go on to perform in live AI-styled shows, complete with host, judges and audience votes choosing a winner. If you win, you perform in the finale show at the end of the day, and the winner of that round wins a "Golden Ticket," which allows them to jump to the front of the line at any city's audition for the real show in the upcoming seasons. Of course, I'm a little too old to be on the actual show by now, but the WDW version allows a slightly wider age range to participate in the show, so I decided I really just better go for it. There are a lot of pictures and video of this, so I think I'll post it separately.
• Fantasmic! I missed it so, it's such a unique venue and such an exciting show. I even bought a refreshment from those CP kids carrying their familiar trays of snacks.
Disney's Animal Kingdom!
|• This park is so different from all the others, it was really fun to just explore it and find our way around its maze of paths and various activities. There are a few shows that we saw (the new Finding Nemo musical--wow--The Festival of the Lion King, and of course It's Tough to Be a Bug), and some great rides (we loved the Kilimanjaro Safaris, Julie was BLOWN AWAY by Dinosaur, and we both immensely enjoyed the amazing Expedition Everest, which is new since I was there).|
|Dinosaurs? Yes plz.|
|She was SO excited on the Dinosaur ride.|
So there you go, the four parks! There was so much to do and we did so much of it. Here are a few general other things:
• We ate delicious foods. There's a LOT of food to be had at WDW. A lot of times we just grabbed something from the restaurant in the resort, or we ate in the parks. We opted out of the dining plan, since we figured we wouldn't eat (rather, dine) enough to make it worth it, and we were right. We ended up saving a lot of money that way.
|Tie-dyed cheesecake. We saw it advertised in the elevator and finally just had to try it. It was, um, okay.|
• We stayed at Pop Century, which was really cool, and had fun theming. It was based on several decades of pop culture icons, and had a lot of dancing silhouettes, catch phrases along the railings, huge statues of Disney characters and three pools. Thanks to our travel agent, we managed a really great deal.
|Bowling pool! It was right outside of our building.|