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  • Trip Report My Disney World Adventure

    Jab's Disney World Adventure:

    Hey all! I just got back from a week-long trip in Florida to the tourist traps, so here's my report!



    The schedule: Come in during the afternoon and head to Downtown Disney, then one day at the Magic Kingdom (which most people I know just call "Disneyworld"), one at Animal Kingdom (then Epcot once AK closed at 6), one at Hollywood Studios, two at Universal Studios (both parks- I went to MK again once Uni closed on the second day), one at Epcot, and then one more at MK. So I kinda essentially "sandwiched" the trip between full days (opening to closing) at MK. It's a lot of VERY full days, which aren't really recommended unless you're by yourself like I was.


    I used the advice from my Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World to be there by opening, and get all the "big stuff" done early on. I'd used this strategy in Disneyland at California Adventure before, and it worked then also. Plus there's more Single Rider stuff here, making it easy to jump on quickly.



    I do have to say that I prefer the new FastPass+ system TREMENDOUSLY to the "old way". I know that's sacrilege to some, but I definitely get more use out of this- you get to pre-set times for certain rides so you don't have to run all over the park JUST to get new FastPasses (I hated having to run get one, THEN go on another ride, then come BACK to ride), you can change them periodically during the day (especially if some rides don't have lines), and it removes the stress of everything. Plus I never really used three of the "old" FastPasses anyways. Watching the immediate SUPER-LINEUPS at Cars Land for the FASTPASS BOOTH made me realize the original way wasn't that great a system either.



    ANIMAL KINGDOM:

    The tricky one with this park is that it both closes early, and kind of attempts to be a zoo AND a theme park, which results in it kind of being only a bit decent at both. I mean, I LOVE zoos and animals and such, but there's only a tiny handful of each compared to most "major" zoos, so it kind of falls short on that end. AND there's only a couple of major rides, so it's weaker than the other theme parks on THAT end! I REALLY like the Tree of Life sculpture in the middle of the park, though it's often rather hard to see- there's only a few times where you can get close enough to it, and most of those places are under tree cover. I was recovering a bit from food poisoning from what I think was a turkey leg the previous night (seriously, DON'T EAT THOSE), which resulted in a lack of sleep, so I was a bit messed-up at certain parts of the day, though I'd gotten better by mid-afternoon.



    The park is fairly-poorly laid-out, with only small trails connecting a few lands- it takes a LONG time to get to certain points, and the animal exhibits around the Tree of Life are actually hidden in a small maze, meaning it took me forever to even get to some of them. And since it has only a few "major" attractions, expect long line-ups for everything.


    It's Tough to be a Bug!: Always a fun thing- especially the reactions of all the kids. Not as extreme as they were at DCA. The show itself is a generic 3-D Movie thing, and not entirely funny in and of itself, but the giant animatronic of the villain from A Bug's Life and once people start freaking out over all the "interactive theatre effects", it's a hoot.


    Kilimanjaro Safaris: There's a "storyline" feature that I'm not into, but to go on a mini-version of the San Diego Wildlife Park trip is pretty awesome. I could go on this multiple times, though I only went once- all the animals but the lions were visible, and some of them were actually pretty spritely since it was early in the morning.



    The Forest Trails: One in Asia, one in Africa. Some of the best-looking enclosures of all time- the only weaker bit was the lack of animals. But there's most of the "major" animals like tigers, hippos and gorillas (who have a REALLY nice set-up). Plus the best part: NAKED MOLE RATS! I've never seen those before! They look like a wriggling mass of disgusting flesh- AWESOME!



    Expedition Everest: As awesome as they say, with a crazy backwards-rollercoaster part. Not so much a flippy/spinny coaster, though I swear at one point we were upside-down (we weren't- it's just in the dark and you're moving weirdly so it feels like it). Watching the video screen of the yeti is a bit distracting/silly, though I guess they need to reconfigure the track. The audio-animatronic Yeti of course doesn't actually move anymore- what is it supposed to be doing when it DOES work? The strobe light and the fact that we sped by rapidly makes it work okay. Because it has a Single Rider line, it was easy to go on multiple times- it didn't really hit my nauseous self earlier in the day, and the second time I rode it I was fine, if a bit dizzy.


    Flights of Wonder: A neat Bird Show that nonetheless has to include a "storyline" component which I feel is a bit silly.



    Kali River Rapids: The other super-headliner, though it's a bit of a weenie ride. There's some great design going on in the ride with all the backdrops and the like, but it's SERIOUSLY short, and there's minimal "thrills". There's only one major splash... which naturally only sprinkled a few people but absolutely SOAKED me and the guy next to me, dumping a hundred pounds of water on both of us, getting every square inch of us sopping wet save our shoes. That got a big laugh, as we both noted that every other time the ride tried to get us wet was completely superfluous. People were a bit agog at the two of us getting off the ride, as they had no idea you could get THAT wet! This had a MASSIVE line all day long- only my FastPass kept me going on it. Way too long a line for such a short ride.


    Finding Nemo- The Musical: I loved the Lopez' work on Frozen, and I was dying of a combination of exhaustion/food poisoning/heat stroke, so I went to see this nice, dark show. Basically a nice rest stop, though they worked hard on this and the work shows. The songs are mostly-mediocre (though I liked the final number- replicated on Epcot's ride), but the moving puppets are quite nifty.


    Dinoland U.S.A.: This is a bit of a weird thing, as they theme it to dinosaurs, but it's really an imitation of your standard Midway Ride/carny set-up. There's a spinny-ride, a mini-coaster (on a spinning car), and a playground, all dino-themed in the most cartoony manner possible (though the playground's a bit neat). I would get a lot more mileage out of actual dino-skeletons and more informational stuff than the goofy stuff here.



    DINOSAUR!: ... Really? This was it? People give this ride GREAT reviews, but I found it totally silly and unconvincing- the dinosaur animatronics barely move and look SUPER-fake (especially the much-feared Carnotaurus), almost looking like jerky stuffed animals with extra fur.



    The tricky thing with this park is that you'd need a bit of time to see everything, especially if you like to linger over the animal attractions like I do. So I skipped The Festival of The Lion King theatrical thing. Camp Minnie-Mickey too, especially as that's more of a Kiddie/Character Greeting thing. Plus the Rafiki Planet Watch/Zoological Station/Vet thing, as it takes forever to get to, and time was a bit short- the Guidebook I have actually recommends avoiding it unless you've got multiple days, and says that it's only occasionally got interesting stuff, as it's dependent on which animals need care.


    I wouldn't mind going again, especially since it's a pretty short day, allowing for other stuff later. Mainly for the zoo stuff, and seeing what I missed before.


    Eating & Buying Stuff: I really liked Yak & Yeti, though it doesn't have the best reviews in the Guidebook.
    Last edited by Jabroniville; 05-22-2014, 12:51 AM.

  • #2
    Re: My Disney World Adventure

    HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS:



    -Basically an "Up Yours!" directed at Universal, the Studios was an attempt at stealing their thunder, debuting a year before Universal was finished their Florida park. This one gets the most middling reviews of Disney's four Florida parks, which is odd because I REALLY enjoyed it- I think I actually like it more than Epcot or AK! It also suffers from a lack of headlining rides, resulting in big line-ups at the few major ones- ESPECIALLY at the Toy Story one. But it has a lot more "sit down and enjoy" type things, and a great little documentary aspect with it's Street Scenes and the like, that make it a lot more interesting than most generic theme parks. Though it's very tough to see all the shows if you're a linger-er.



    Toy Story Midway Mania: A bit over-rated, though it's HUGE line-ups prove that it's continuously popular. Even FastPass doesn't get you in THAT quickly, as they merge the queues very soon upon entering. It's not bad as a shooter goes, but it's a weak copy of video games, only on a moving couch.



    Rock & Rollercoaster: I'm not a coaster guy as a rule, but OH MY GOD GO RIDE THIS ONE! This is TOTALLY awesome the way it fires you up a launch bay at 60 mph, then starts rolling you around in the dark. The dark ride aspects and visual theme make it MUCH more interesting than the usual Coaster Stuff that I find a bit tiresome. I was hesitant to ride it all day, not being a coaster person (not wanting to ruin my trip by feeling sick for a chunk of the day), but I immediately got on it again (single rider is very fast) and enjoyed it tremendously.


    Tower of Terror: This & the Coaster are the Big Two of the park. This one is MUCH better than the California version, actually taking you into a great "motion" part that takes you through something instead of JUST being an elevator. The Cali one messed me up a bit (I rode it right after the coaster, who's hills managed to make me a bit queasy, so it was NOT a good subsequent option), but this one didn't, since I'd eaten beforehand. Warning: Hold onto your stuff. I had a tight grip on my plastic bag, but the drop was so sudden that it WHIPPED into the air on the first drop as my arm shot up, and I nearly blasted someone with it. I held it much tighter on subsequent drops.



    The Great Movie Ride: Another bit with storyline pieces, but they're largely superfluous, as you get a lot of audio-animatronic bits revolving around famous movie scenes. I actually like stuff like this quite a bit, though many people find it skippable.


    Star Tours: The good 3-D motion simulator based around Star Wars is usually quite good. Though annoyingly BOTH times I rode we got two of the same segments- a Pod Racer bit and a Boba Fett showdown. Considering there's supposed to be FIFTY possible "segments", that's a bit disappointing. I actually prefer the original incarnation with


    Beauty & The Beast Live: SQUEEEEEEEEEEE my favourite Disney movie! A quickie little revue that basically shows a few of the major numbers (most retellings quickly skip HOW they fall in love, making them seem a bit odd), and seem more obsessed with the choreography than the plot or any real acting- I think the Enchanted Objects pretty much just mime. Though I'm continuously impressed by the fact that there are actors who probably just do this ALL DAY- performing the same show several times a day (I'm assuming many have other jobs) must be exhausting.



    Voyage of The Little Mermaid: An older live show with more ancient (but cool) effects. Very neat for the big stuff like the giant Ursula, though it's funny how Ariel can only just sit on her butt while everyone else does stuff. I hear that Disney is thinking of Frozen-ifying this attraction, which would be totally amazing, about time (I liked the show, but it's 20 years old), and result in MASSIVE line-ups.



    Muppet Vision 3-D: The same as Cali, which is still pretty funny. The little 3-D character is REALLY annoying, to a Jar-Jar Binks level, but I think that's deliberate. Fozzy going on about "Cheap 3-D GIMMICKS!" is worth the price of admission.


    Walt Disney- One Man's Dream: A great little bit featuring classic Disney stuff, merch, and things Walt himself built. The audio-animatronic Lincoln is awesome, as were the mock-ups of all the parks. One of my favourite things, actually. There was an old guy there who was REALLY knowledgeable and helpful- if you can find a Cast Member or two who really knows there stuff and isn't just some kid on his first job.



    The Magic of Disney Animation: What was once a showcase of REAL animators doing their work, Disney moved all their stuff West, so this is a bit unnecessary. I did like the bit where they discussed the origins of Mushu (some of my favourite Disney stuff is the planning stages where things were VASTLY-different- Mulan initially had three sidekicks, then two Griffins, then we got Mushu and the Cricket). It's mostly themed around being a Meet & Greet for Pixar characters, though. The bits where they talked about their backgrounds and buildings in animation are fascinating, but it's too short altogether.


    Studio Tour: This is pretty lame, and a waste of time, though Catastrophe Canyon is okay. A big knock-off of Universal's show, especially the disaster portion.


    Fantasmic!: Pretty much THE reason to go here. Apparently they only shut it down for lightning, not just rain, because it rained for HOURS beforehand- they shut down the 8 pm show for it, but by 10:00, it was on and the rain MAGICALLY stopped about the second before they started! I love all the little bits in this, though Disneyland's is a bit more epic with their much larger boats and the actual colonial-era pirate ship Columbia being used. This huge Maleficent is largely-unseen save the head & wings.



    The shows were stuff I mostly skipped, since that takes QUITE a bit of time. I didn't watch the Indiana Jones Stunt Show, American Idol and the Lights, Motor, Action! car stunt thing for that reason. Also the kiddie stuff like Disney Junior Live and Jedi Training Academy- it's good to make this park better for the kids, though- the big-two rides here are WAY too hard for them.



    Eating & Buying Stuff: The merch is the same as almost every park. There are some great places that are open only a VERY short time, like the Dinosaur-themed ice cream shop around their little "lagoon".

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    • #3
      Re: My Disney World Adventure

      Thanks for the reviews!


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      • #4
        Re: My Disney World Adventure

        THE MAGIC KINGDOM:


        -Basically a much bigger Disneyland, with a few major rides missing, but some other new stuff in New Fantasyland. It's actually MUCH easier to get around because of all the extra space, and the map is less confusing. No New Orleans Square so it looks a bit less neat in certain areas. The Castle is MUCH bigger and super-impressive. I like DL's cute pink version, but this one is hard not to see as its superior, just by virtue of the visual impact of its size and sheer detail.



        Oddly, despite hearing a lot about this ahead of time, and Whoopi Goldberg's rant about how severe it was getting, I found very few people on motorized scooters around the parks. Disneyland by contrast was MUCH worse for a glut of them, made worse by the narrower walkways. People must be healthier here (though the bus system is AWFUL for transporting them- I saw about five elderly bus drivers struggle for five minutes each every time someone on a cart needed to get on- I would recommend they actually have a separate bus JUST for those carts, and it can be specially called-on or something. It's special treatment, but it'd probably be better for EVERYONE, as those carts take up about six spaces on a bus). Oh, and GET HERE EARLY- I got to basically ride all the "Must-See" stuff by noon on my first day because I got here early and didn't want to brave the Anna/Elsa line. Even for the "off-season", that's pretty good- I don't think I waited for a single thing for more than fifteen minutes over two whole days of touring this park.


        Under The Sea- The Voyage of the Little Mermaid: The notorious dark ride from DCA is also here- truthfully I kinda like parts of it, as the Ariel & Ursula animatronics are REALLY advanced (though Ariel's hair in the Under The Sea sequence is REALLY off-puttingly bad, with the back piece being a whole different chunk). Some of the fish animation is horribly simplistic & cheap, though, as you notice that 98% of them are just spinnin on an axis, and some are just twirling on a large, visible mobile! Very unrealistic, against what even the movie had, and with no really elaborate movements on anyone but Sebastian. You can definitely see why people were disappointed when they imagined a Haunted Mansion-style Dark Ride and got this.



        Enchanted Tales With Belle: Effectively a super-elaborate Meet & Greet, though only the kids who appear in the play get pictures. Kind of cute, and really well-designed.


        Splash Mountain: A bit different from the Cali version (there's no bit with the sad animals mourning Br'er Rabbit's inevitable death. You get REALLY wet by sitting in the front. It kept breaking down over the day, which at one point led to me basically walking right on, as it opened up JUST after I rode Big Thunder Mountain! Apparently at least once a day, someone jumps off their boat (no belts or bars) and walks around inside it, thus earning a "talking to" by staff, though the punishment isn't really severe.


        The Parades: Festival of Fantasy is really nice, with some elaborate float design, mostly around newer features. I'm continuously freaked out by how attractive the girls playing Merida usually are- I mean, she's a CHILD in the film, but the Face Characters are SERIOUSLY good-looking. Anna & Elsa of course drew the hugest reaction upon their appearance. The Maleficent Steampunk Float was epic.


        Fantasyland Meet & Greets: I never braved the line-ups for this- I mean, FOUR HOURS to meet a couple of girls pretending to be Anna & Elsa? Also, it's weird for a single dude to be in there scoping out Princesses amongst a sea of little girls, even if the girls playing the Princesses are QUITE attractive. I saw a couple guys do this, and it always looks a bit creepy. I wonder if it's a more stressful job for the girls to play, given how they're much newer characters, and are drawing HUGE interest. Elsa in particular would be tough, as her character is a lot more dynamic in the film than the "sweet" Snow White, "nice" Cinderella, "smart & nice" Belle, etc.- she goes through so many emotional changes during the film (spending most of it isolated, then aloof, then fearful, then angry, then despondent), and is so aloof most of the time, that playing her can't be easy. I mean, what emotional "note" do you rest on? We only see her happy for like five seconds in the movie.


        Space Mountain: Holy CRAP this one is rougher than the Cali version- I've only ridden the Space Monster Halloween version, but it's a very smooth ride despite the cool effects and indoor-coaster feel. This one just PUNISHES you, smashing you all over the car and zipping around corners.


        Space Ranger Spin: heh- I totally didn't see the "Spin" bit at first, so I forgot to spin my car around. I assumed it'd be automatic! Pretty much the same as the Cali version. Not really into it, but it's more imaginative than the "Look at Screens & Shoot" Hollywood Studios shooter. Annoyingly, parents seem to be utterly incapable of moving their children quickly onto this ride- several times the ride had to come to complete halt because a doddling toddler was stumbling along with a clueless parent, unable to properly get to their vehicle in time (creating log-jams as people get trapped between groups as the toddler circles back to get a later pod). PAY ATTENTION, PEOPLE! When I joked about this with the Cast Members on the "Exit" end, they both basically laughed and said that this happened constantly ("I think little kids have a problem getting on in time" "Yeah, AND getting off!").


        Winnie the Pooh: A simple little dark ride with a kiddie-theme. Not really into this one either, but the KIDS sure do love it. They really offed Mr. Toad's Wild Ride for this? No wonder fans were upset!


        The Haunted Mansion: The building doesn't look nearly as good as Cali's, but the ride is pretty much the same. One of the super-headliners for good reason, and a neat mix of creepy & silly/creepy (Marc Davis' contribution). The best bit? The ride breaking down during our "Keys to the Kingdom" tour, and getting to WALK through the attraction's graveyard & "Hitchhiking Ghosts" scene with the lights on! When do you EVER get a view like THAT on these rides? Plus I got a FastPass for later anyways. The only downside was waiting twenty minutes to get off- the Graveyard Song isn't good enough to listen to for that long.


        The Country Bears Jamboree: A pretty notorious bit that often gets made fun of the way Chuck E. Cheese's does, though I appreciate it a lot more at 32 than I ever did at 16 (when I saw the DL version). The old guy who keeps singing his song about blood is pretty funny.


        The Hall of Presidents: A bit of a super-version of "Moments With Mr. Lincoln", though I liked DL's better since it's less show-y and focuses more on one guy. Seeing all the Presidents at once is pretty neat, though, and it's good that they didn't TOTALLY clone the park attractions.


        Peter Pan's Flight: Oddly, I hear very little about this one, but it's WELL-KNOWN within park fans for always being busy. I like the attraction, especially the London Flyover bit, but it's WAY too short for something that has such a massive line (it was longer than either Mountain's pretty much all day- I rode it twice by having a FastPass and getting there just before closing the next day).


        Main Street: This one's pretty much an elaborate sprawl the way Disneyland's was, though apparently it's much bigger (I didn't notice a difference, but it's been a few years). I love things like this, with all the old-timey Americana.


        The Enchanted Tiki Room: Another notorious one, it's always neat to see at least once. I'd hardly classify it as a major attraction, but it's not Disney if it doesn't have this goofy little show about singing birds. Fun Fact: They're all wearing Cashmere Sweaters so they can "breathe" properly- they tried rubber, but the feathers would shoot out when they puffed their chests, horrifying young children!



        The Jungle Cruise: Never had a line-up, unlike DL's version. Great fun as always- all four times I went I got a different spiel from the "guide"! Most do the "Back side of water" gag, but also come up with their own stuff. Fun fact: The hippos are bottomless, as are most things where you can't see the whole thing- we saw a couple on the "Keys" tour just lying around. They also have duplicates of everything in the park ready to go if one breaks.



        The Railroad: Because Walt was a railroad nerd, there MUST be railroads. Though oddly, the one park that REALLY NEEDS ONE, Epcot, doesn't. This is a fun little distraction for a bit, and gives an odd view of the park, plus a few animatronic animals that aren't visible from the boat.



        Pirates of the Caribbean: Mostly the same as the DL version, though they're apparently different- I noticed the "skeleton piloting the boat" bit is less-elaborate here. As always it's a major attraction and great fun.


        The Swiss Family Treehouse: I like having both this and the Tarzan version at DL around- though it's a bit dull (it's just a bunch of rooms and wooden stairs), it's nice to just wander around a MASSIVE treehouse.



        Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: This is WAY different from the DL version, even before the original got fit with all-new tech after a year-long refurb. The dinosaur at DL feels like it pops up right from around a corner, but this one has a more obvious "broken track" at the top. It's much better at night. There's apparently a lot of stuff in the queue to keep people interested, but I mostly skipped it and went on with shorter lines. It's always a classic- basically a "Baby Coaster" that's still fast & turn-y enough to be fun.



        Tom Sawyer Island: A good diversionary trip for an hour or so. The DL version feels a lot more sprawling, though that might be because some caverns were closed when I went. The DL one is less of a maze, but includes a lot of Pirates-themed stuff instead of Tom & Huck-stuff. But this version has the WHOLE FORT YOU CAN PLAY IN, which would have been unspeakably rad to me as a kid. There's animatronic horses & a sleeping guard and stuff, too. Really neat to see all this (the DL version's was closed for fall-protection or something when I was there. I don't know if it's still possible to go in).



        The Liberty Belle Riverboat: A slow riverboat ride around the river in the park. Like the Island, it's a neat diversion meant for a second day or a busy time in the park. There's fewer animals in this one than at DL, but it shows a Pirate's Cove hang-out. You can barely hear the narration in this one at ALL- it's really bad audio.



        it's a small world: Well ya gotta go on this one at least once. It's not as good as the DL version I don't think, but includes a few different zones. Much fewer Disney-themed characters (the DL version has Ariel, Woody, etc.), which might enthuse some purists, though.



        Mickey's PhilharMagic: Yet ANOTHER 3-D Theatrical presentation, though this one gets some mileage out of Donald Duck (the REAL star), who is, as always, the only really interesting member of the Big Five. Plus short cameos by Ariel & Jasmine! Not a bad offering.



        Tomorrowland PeopleMover: A slightly-amusing little speedy ride around Tomorrowland, which gives you some nice views. There's also a bit of a shot at a few models, plus the inside of a store.



        Stitch's Great Escape: This one is like the It's Tough to be a Bug attraction- it's a forgettable show that is more notable for the terrified reactions of the children in the room- as a jumbo-sized version of Stitch escapes his enclosure, he jumps onto different pods (which of course you're stuck in) and makes gross sounds and smells. Kind of amusing for people (though it gets VERY bad reviews, I've found), but hilarious because of the shrieking children who completely panic when Stitch talks into their ear or jumps on their pod. Partway through the attraction, I saw a mother & child basically fleeing the ride in terror- I think you'd have to somehow draw the attention of a Cast Member to do this, which is pretty absurd.


        Carousel of Progress: I'm glad I actually saw this one- thinking it was just another Innoventions or the thing the DL Tomorrowland had- y'know kid stuff and "house of the future" gadgets. It's at the very end of my Guidebook, and only THEN did I discover that it's my favourite kind of thing- the weird audio-animatronic show! A cutesy little look at the various eras of history, with their various new inventions. This is the kind of stuff that usually gets brought up when people poke fun at Disney (along with his weird obsession with building perfect futuristic societies... or accusations of Anti-Semitism or being cryogenically frozen, these days)- all the weird Retro-Future stuff. But it's neat, and classic old-school Disney. These are way better than 3-D Theatres or what have you- I actually enjoy seeing things you can ONLY see live and in-person.


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        • #5
          Re: My Disney World Adventure

          Cool report! Would love to see any photos if possible.
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          No matter where you go, there you are.

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          • #6
            Re: My Disney World Adventure

            Any pics?

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            • #7
              Re: My Disney World Adventure

              I can post some from my phone, I think. I'm still getting used to it.

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              • #8
                Re: My Disney World Adventure

                OK, here's some of the pics I took:




                These things have SUCH great art on them, but they're all found on products for little girls- I would TOTALLY buy prints featuring this kind of art!














                OKAPI!!! My favourite animal!

                More neat art that doesn't really exist on anything that isn't super-expensive and a big print.

                Belle's Meet & Greet thing


                What are these birds? I saw a bunch of them in Disney World.

                I at least found a regular $40 print of this one- very great art.
                Last edited by Jabroniville; 05-08-2014, 11:31 PM.

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                • #9
                  Re: My Disney World Adventure

                  One of the advantages of the Keys to the Kingdom Tour is that you can get into the park before any of the regular guests and take empty-ish pictures of Main Street:






                  This one's Epcot, naturally.

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                  • #10
                    Re: My Disney World Adventure

                    Wizarding World and other stuff:




                    ROBO-LINCOLN!!



                    The view from Cinderella's Royal Table. I think the wires kind of alter the milieu of the medieval castle setting, but whatevs- it's a room with light bulbs in it anyways.
                    Last edited by Jabroniville; 05-09-2014, 02:15 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Re: My Disney World Adventure

                      Nice report, I look forward to hearing what you have to say about Epcot. A few comments on AK:

                      Kali River Rapids: The original concept for this was Tiger Rapids Run and was going to be a much longer boat safari ride, shame if ended up getting scaled back so far.

                      Kilimanjaro Safaris: I thought they had removed the story element, but I guess they have just been scaling it back. It's definitely not as big a part of the attraction as it used to be.

                      You actually didn't miss Camp Minnie Mickey or Festival of the Lion King since neither of them was open when you were there. CMM has been removed to make way for Avatar, and Lion King is currently being moved to the Africa section of the park.

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                      • #12
                        Re: My Disney World Adventure

                        EPCOT:
                        -The much-fabled "Super-dated version of the future", Epcot was a huge dream of Walt's, and ended up being a counterpart park to The Magic Kingdom, way before they added another pair of parks in Orlando. I pretty much only have heard about, or recognize, the giant geodesic dome, and haven't heard too much about the rest of the park, oddly enough. I mean, some of these rides are things I've never heard of ANYWHERE. It started raining almost immediately, and kept going for about 24 hours- good old Florida spring. Not that it really matters- most of Epcot is indoors. It DID shut down Test Track though, so I never rode that. I didn't realize it was a whole pavilion either, so I accidentally skipped it over.

                        A helpful Cast Member told me that Walt was very good at parks and animation, but not so much at designing cities... looking at this place (which was initially supposed to be a future-town) I can definitely see that point. This was the most poorly laid-out thing I've ever seen, with massive buildings completely hiding others behind them (and it's tricky to figure out where you're supposed to go to get to certain places- buildings block access points), and a giant dome that looks the same from all directions, making it a difficult proposition to judge your location by. All the buildings are in a screwy shape and there's no real transportation- it's just a 15-minute walk from the main buildings to the middle of the International Showcase stuff, and I walk FAST- if you want to go from one place to another quickly, you're screwed.

                        Maelstrom: A decent, very short dark ride, with super-ancient looking animatronics (the best kind). Nordic-accented trolls sending you "O'er DA falls!" is pretty funny, as is the giant slow-moving polar bear.

                        World Showcase: A HUGE chunk of walking distance, it's largely a collection of restaurants with a few themed shops, and probably the only place in WDW where you can actually get stuff that isn't replicated in every other shop on property. I mean, the Morocco section actually has RUGS and stuff, and the English section is all about soccer. I liked the China pavilion with its historical relics, and the Japan one because it totally reflects what stores looked like in Japan when I went there in 1998- I could have spent HOURS in that one. Some of the others were pretty dull and contained little other than various restaurants. I skipped most of the theatrical presentations because... well, 20 minutes is a combination of being too short to really learn anything substantial about a country (I mean, this is a world of 180 Travel-based shows), and too long to be spending valuable park time watching some indoor thing.

                        I did notice one thing during a Belle Meet & Greet in France- some of these girls are REALLY well-trained in the specifics. I noticed Belle actually stood in a very particular way JUST LIKE the film character- with one leg held behind her like a ballerina (the inspiration for her movements in Beauty & The Beast). She even kind of did the subtle flowing movements. It's kind of odd that the Epcot Princesses just give these short, quick lines on the hour, while in the Fairytale Hall they're basically doing hardcore marathons with hours of waiting in line.

                        Living With The Land: A weird sort of mini-dark ride (animatronic farm animals!) combined with a boat-tour through a hydroponic lab. Interesting and a bit educational. Some weird-lookin' fruit, too.

                        Gran Fiesta Tour: Combines the cheapest Dark Ride ever with something they chopped out of It's A Small World. Not bad, but not that great. I liked the ruined pyramids section, though- it's sorta like the part of Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland where you can see the restaurant as you go by.

                        Spaceship Earth: AWESOME. Totally an old-school documentary/animatronic thing, now with a Steve Jobs homage talking about computers. Some VERY big sets as well, as you go all through the giant dome.

                        Captain EO: The greatest thing in Epcot, fer shoor. Just the most '80s thing ever- it's funny to imagine that this was once state-of-the-art 3-D by a high-end Hollywood director- both this & Terminator 3-D show their age in the best way. The hyper-annoying cast of idiotic rebel puppets (why didn't they just kill the stupid elephant? Not only does he screw up MULTIPLE TIMES, but he EATS THEIR MAP!!) is SO eighties, but Michael takes the cake by saving the universe with boss dance moves on a vicious alien cyber-queen.

                        Innoventions: Kid stuff; totally skippable. I only spent about 15 minutes total there. Some Princesses were hanging out here since it was raining in the other sections.

                        Journey Into Imagination (with Figment): I kinda wandered into here right at the end, figuring I'd at least check out one more thing. I regret this decision more than you could possible imagine. This is the worst Dark Ride in history, with the most annoying song ever (the CM who sits there and sees you off at the end of the ride? The one who has to listen to that song on an endless loop? He cannot possible be making enough money)- it's like somebody took all the most annoying bits of Jar-Jar Binks, promoted him like he was the collectible toy of the century, and stuck an annoying Englishman in there with him just to REALLY make you envy the dead. People are talking about adding a Frozen-themed ride since it made billions of dollars and is the biggest hit Disney's had in eons... I can think of something it could replace and nobody would ever mind. No need to kill Maelstrom or something cool for that.

                        Mission: SPACE: This one has a list of warnings a million miles long since two people died on it ten years ago, but it's really not that hardcore. I went on both versions (there's a baby version and a hard one), and neither did much to me- they're just fun 3-D ride simulators. The impression of spinning around on that thing's centrifuge is actually REALLY weird, as it pinned me to the chair and pushed me so that I got hardcore double-chin that began CHOKING me . The most-memorable part is either that or the young girl in the pod on the "easy" version who pretty much started screaming and wailing as soon as it got "rough", and cried to be let off, when that was impossible. I tried not to laugh- I promise.

                        Soarin': Oh pooh, it's exactly the same as the California one- with Patrick Warburton and all doing the narration! At least I couldn't see the top of the screen on this one (that TOTALLY brings you out of the mood), though sitting in the middle pod thingie means you get to see people's feet hanging above you. Some cool views, but they REALLY have to work on the transitions... you can't really get into it when they just rapidly switch from one scene to the next- how 'bout some fade-ins or something, guys?

                        Finding Nemo & Aquarium Stuff: Wow- this is an AWFUL Dark Ride. I mean, it's basically moving around in a chair while you look at screens. YOU CAN DO THIS AT HOME. At least the whole aquarium is excellent, and they have MANATEES IS IT. I've never seen a Manatee before!! Also most of the Finding Nemo fish are around here somewhere. I... I liked the movie, but it wasn't NEARLY as good as a lot of people say it is. Children were basically obsessed with it, and I think that's 90% because something sad happened in the beginning, and because the movie hits you over the head with cuteness. I like cuteness as much as the next guy (THAT TINY TURTLE IS SO HUGGABLE), but there is no reason that movie needed 960 different characters other than to sell more toys and draw more juvenile attention. Compare it to nearly every other Disney/Pixar thing, and you'll see the rest have much more economy-sized casts. Cripes, Frozen has like ten people who say anything in it.

                        I skipped Turtle Talk With Crush. The illusion was destroyed by the guy on our Keys To The Kingdom tour. Plus I saw it in California, and it's mostly for kids.

                        The Food: Pretty much the big "meal" park, Epcot has all the ethnic stuff and about a billion restaurants to choose from, making it a pretty expensive and complex option- you'd kind of have to live here to appreciate even HALF of it. I went with generic English fish & chips when I came by at night, and on the full day I went with the walk-up service Mexican place (actually much better than I expected) and Le Cellier, since it's apparently a top of the line Disney dining thing. Alas... since I AM Canadian, the Canadian beef they use is pretty utterly ordinary to me, so these legendary steaks were really no better than what you can get at a place like The Keg (steakhouse popular in Western Canada). I mean, it's GOOD, but I had a FORTY-SIX DOLLAR FILET MIGNON- something that expensive, and it should do the kinds of things to you that you need to follow up with a cigarette. A Keg steak is half the price and tastes just as good, and it's only a little bit smaller (you can TELL you're in a fancy restaurant when you're meat comes in a giant cube, not a big flat slab). It's also funny to see this high-class establishment with ultra-dark lighting... and find it full of fat bearded guys in jorts .

                        The France section has awesome ice cream, though. And the pretzel bread at Le Cellier is rad. I'm not a foodie, and HATE food reviews and the way people go on and on about what they're eating, so that's all you're getting out of me .
                        Last edited by Jabroniville; 05-11-2014, 02:05 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Re: My Disney World Adventure

                          Originally posted by Jabroniville View Post
                          EPCOT:
                          -The much-fabled "Super-dated version of the future", Epcot was a huge dream of Walt's, and ended up being a counterpart park to The Magic Kingdom, way before they added another pair of parks in Orlando. I pretty much only have heard about, or recognize, the giant geodesic dome, and haven't heard too much about the rest of the park, oddly enough. I mean, some of these rides are things I've never heard of ANYWHERE. It started raining almost immediately, and kept going for about 24 hours- good old Florida spring. Not that it really matters- most of Epcot is indoors. It DID shut down Test Track though, so I never rode that. I didn't realize it was a whole pavilion either, so I accidentally skipped it over.

                          A helpful Cast Member told me that Walt was very good at parks and animation, but not so much at designing cities... looking at this place (which was initially supposed to be a future-town) I can definitely see that point. This was the most poorly laid-out thing I've ever seen, with massive buildings completely hiding others behind them (and it's tricky to figure out where you're supposed to go to get to certain places- buildings block access points), and a giant dome that looks the same from all directions, making it a difficult proposition to judge your location by. All the buildings are in a screwy shape and there's no real transportation- it's just a 15-minute walk from the main buildings to the middle of the International Showcase stuff, and I walk FAST- if you want to go from one place to another quickly, you're screwed.
                          EPCOT, while being designed as a city, was never built as a city. If you check out some of the old pictures of Walt showing off EPCOT it really isn't much of what they have in Orlando. EPCOT was changed a lot between Walts death and the building of it.

                          http://media.designingdisney.com/sit...ok/epcot-1.jpg

                          If you look at the picture you can see that it doesn't look at all like what Walt envisioned as "EPCOT". As a city, the central hub would have been the business section with all kinds of transportation tubes, people movers and so on. The outer sections would be the residential section.

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                          • #14
                            Re: My Disney World Adventure

                            Great photos. Too bad it rained during your tour of Magic Kingdom. But that's FLorida for you.
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                            No matter where you go, there you are.

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                            • #15
                              Re: My Disney World Adventure

                              Thanks! I didn't even realize it was in 16:9 ratio, because of course my phone is naturally that shape, and so it felt natural to have the photos fill the whole screen- it wasn't until looking at them at home that I noticed they were all tall & thin.

                              The rain at MK wasn't so bad, as it only lasted for most of the morning, and someone gave me one of their torn ponchos while on the tour (I could have simple went and bought one... or brought my jacket, but I stubbornly figured I could handle it ), so I was fine. The full-day's rain and Epcot was a little worse, because even my JACKET (I knew it was gonna rain all day then... though a week earlier, it said sunshine all week long) failed to prevent me from getting soaked. That combined with the humidity basically left me completely drenched most of the day.

                              A friend online lectured me for WEEKS before I left to go in the fall instead, because it was "actually cool" and didn't rain all the time- is this accurate? The average temperature doesn't look all THAT different from looking at averages online, but I'm not sure how often it rains there. I figured Florida dealt with that pretty often.

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                              • #16
                                Re: My Disney World Adventure

                                Universal Studios:

                                I devoted two days of my vacation here, figuring I'd spend ABOUT one day at each. On the first day, I was at Islands of Adventure till it closed at 6, then went over to the regular Universal till around 9 (they have weird hours). Then next day both closed at 7 (and I was mostly finishing Universal, then went to IOA), so I went over to the Magic Kingdom again at the end of the day (it's like ten bucks to add a day once you're there for five days). This was enough to see just about everything both had to offer, I think.



                                Islands of Adventure is the super-addition to the park (what USED to be here?), effectively being a second gate to the main Universal section- they're right beside each other. It's basically a bunch of different "lands" that are connected in a big loop. There's Marvel Adventure Island (which is HILARIOUS, since Disney now officially owns Marvel, meaning Universal is now selling Disney-themed stuff in their own gift shops. THAT'S gotta be awkward, especially if Disney adds Marvel attractions to their own parks), a land for old Cartoon characters no kid today would recognize (seriously- *I* know what Gasoline Alley is and what it meant for comic strips, but what kid ever would? Then there's Jurassic Park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Lost Continent (based around dated action-fantasy stuff), and Seuss Landing. I found it odd that this highly-touted thing has two kiddie-areas, though the Toon Lagoon bit is more about water-rides.



                                There's lockers for almost every exciting ride, which makes for some odd waits and a LOT of confusion, as these are apparently too complex for most people to figure out. I would think anyone of average intelligence could figure it out, though.


                                Word of Advice: Get there MUCH earlier if you want to be there at rope-drop, and have your passes ready. The fairly-short line took HALF AN HOUR to get down, because I'm pretty sure absolutely every person ahead of me didn't know WHAT they wanted, and then had to deal with a staffer trying to convince them to get upgrades (I mean, I KNEW what I wanted, but the guy STILL tried to sell me Express Passes and stuff). If the parks had been packed and I missed rope-drop, I'd have been annoyed.


                                Spider-Man: This is one of the early 3-D Motion Simulator "You're in a car and you're tossed around while 3-D stuff plays in front of you" rides, meaning it's now a bit dated (ESPECIALLY the bad CGI and the super-'90s-looking roster of Spider-villains... I mean, SCREAM? A forgotten member of Carnage's Symbiotic offspring?). Most of the guides say this is some kind of awe-inspiring super-attraction, so I was a bit disappointed, though I can see how it was a huge deal when it debuted.


                                The Incredible Hulk Coaster: BLURGH. Not a coaster fan at all, really- I liked the initial take-off, but the multiple "Spinning Loop" things just didn't agree with me at all. I don't like spending 1 1/2 minutes physically holding in my lunch, so I had enough of coasters after this one, and thus skipped the others. Also, coasters are kind of boring aside from the whole "Flying around at top-speed" thing- there's nothing to really LOOK at. Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at least has attraction-type qualities to it. And I oddly found that & Mission: Space much easier to deal with physically as well. Also, the Single Rider option is REALLY, REALLY SLOW, as I waited far in excess of the stated time on the outside (which was for the REGULAR RIDER LINE)- they may've just had the wrong time posted.



                                The whole Marvel area is kind of weird, as it's got garish comic-booky colours and doesn't look like any part of the Marvel Universe itself- the Face Characters are super-heroes who do this weird periodical thing where they... jump onto motorcycles and drive off? WHY DOES SPIDER-MAN NEED A BIKE!?! Naturally there's a comic book store (that of course mostly sells overpriced statuettes), and some lunch counters. The meatball sub at that one places is merely okay- it's kind of a buffet thing, so you can't expect greatness.



                                Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges: Hey, it's a better version of the Kali River Rapids- and they work REALLY HARD at getting you wet, allowing people on a bridge to shoot at you with water while all sorts of trickles and spouts get you. There's even more to see thematically, and a longer, more interesting ride! Though how many kids get the "Popeye" theme now? There's a Splash Mountain thing set around Dudley Do-Right, but I didn't go on the first day, and it was down the second.


                                Jurassic Park: Less fun than LA's version- there's only one encounter with the T-Rex here. And what is it with these parks shutting down the waterfall in front of it? It's no fun coming across a motionless T-Rex on armatures because the water is no longer hiding it! The dinos are all starting to look their age, with simple animatronic motions. This needs an upgrade. Though you still get REALLY WET in the front. The whole JP area is quite cool, with dino skeletons and a museum-esque thing set up around it. Definitely more work than the LA version, though I skipped the Pteranodon Flier thing that only kids can ride solo.


                                Harry Potter & The Forbidden Journey: How good is this whole section of the park? It's so good that it makes me wish I gave a damn about the world of Harry Potter. Unfortunately, I really never got into the films (despite having seen more than half of them), so a lot of this fails to REALLY appeal to me- most of the people I know were agog and super-envious that I even got to SEE Hogwart's, much less got to ride something. The ride is more of a Motion Simulator, but with no 3-D glasses- it's a phenomenal attraction (this whole set-up is the only part of Universal that truly rivals Disney's All-In Approach to thematic decorations) that sends you spinning around, watching Quidditch (with it's broken rule-set; everything is pointless but catching that golden thing), attacked by various HP-verse things, and more. A very long attraction, and worth the wait. Though I never found myself waiting for long, even after accidentally wandering into the non-Single Rider line. ALWAYS GO IN THE OFF-SEASON.



                                The animatronics were great on the Dragon, though the Spiders & Dementors should move a bit more- I don't think the Spiders do ANYTHING, which kind of lessens the appeal. I rode the thing three times, which is pretty unusual given how busy this thing is usually supposed to be. The whole area around it is super in-depth as well, and creates the odd effect of having SHOPS that are busier than most parks' RIDES- you're packed in like sardines to look at cheap Potter merch. There's that book with teeth in it, a candy shop, and BUTTERBEER. Now, this didn't sound tempting on first hearing about it, but Thorp turned me on to the idea, and now he owes me money for diabeetus medication, because OH MY GOD IT'S CREAM SODA WITH A BUTTERSCOTCH HEAD YOU GUYS! I had to limit myself to two the first day, and one the second, or else I'd have been sick.



                                The main issue is the log-jams set up around the shops (or the dreaded lockers inside The Forbidden Journey). Adding another Potter-verse section to the other park is going to be HUGE- this is the one area where Universal is FINALLY starting to compete with Disney on every level. If only I really cared for Potter.


                                The Lost Continent: I only went on the Poseidon's Fury thing and not the stunt-show for Sinbad. It's a pretty in-depth skit show combined with a screen-based thing and special effects as Poseidon fights some Dark Wizard guy with over-the-top bad acting and poor CGI, but the in-show effects are great, especially with all the rooms shifting around, giving secret entrances and turning the lights off. This land kind of looks like something out of Hercules or Xena, which unfortunately results in it looking SUPER-dated, so I can definitely imagine this whole place being gobbled up for more Potter stuff, or the next big thing to come down the line.



                                Dr. Seuss Stuff: I barely remember these books at all, and there's only one ride that's really meant for everyone. The dark ride is okay and kind of inventive (there's plenty to look at, though The Cat In The Hat isn't really an in-depth story), though still highly-kiddie. I find it weird that this adventure-themed high-impact park has TWO Kiddie areas.
                                Last edited by Jabroniville; 05-17-2014, 03:19 AM.

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                                • #17
                                  Re: My Disney World Adventure

                                  Universal Studios:


                                  -I went here at the end of the first day, and for most of the second. It's laid out a bit funny, and a lot of it is in generic square theatre buildings, then springs off elsewhere and copies a lot of "Street Scenes" from famous cities- you can see the work on the Harry Potter/London bit over top of the barricades. I'd like the Street Scenes better if they actually let you OPEN MOST OF THE DOORS- 90% of them are just for show, or hide backstage areas (one guy popped out of a door and was like "oh, this one isn't anything"). Compare that to Disney, where you can basically go anywhere. It's definitely more well-designed than the weird "Ride stairs for 20 minutes to get to the other part of the park" L.A. version, though.



                                  Transformers: The same ride as Cali's version, which is a pretty epic 3-D thing, and the reason the Spider-Man ride seems so passe to me. However, while it blew my mind the first time, subsequent rides have made it come off rather plain, since it's just a series of fights. Oddly it wasn't very busy AT ALL. There was a great Megatron Character out there taking pictures, using audio clips from Frank Welker insulting the audience- the weird stilts make him look short-bodied, but the very fact that you can Meet And Greet with a TRANSFORMER is pretty awesome. Oddly, the toystore/gift shop is kind of mediocre- you'd figure that the actual TRANSFORMERS RIDE would have a massive museum-like set-up of all sorts of Trans-gear.



                                  Twister: A simulation of a tornado, much like the old Backdraft attraction. The best part? Helen Hunt wearing that ultra-tight white shirt from the film (GROWWWWWWRRRRRR). Though watching a real tornado show up is pretty cool. All the destruction is interesting, but falls a bit short to me.



                                  E.T. Adventure: SWEET AN ACTUAL DARK RIDE!! This reminds me very much of the old Disney Style ones, so I love it. I don't remember all the robo-aliens in the old Cali version from when I went on that one, though- there's even a bunch in the queue area! It's great fun, and weirds you out with the room full of funky aliens (that wasn't in the movie, was it? It's been a while). Alas, it had a HUGE line-up the second time I went over, so I could only ride it once.



                                  Disaster!: More or less the equivalent of part of the Cali version's Studio Tour, but cutting out all the interest studio stuff for the Earthquake Simulation (which IS pretty cool; it lacks something without the regular ride leading up to it). There's some quirky stuff with studio audience participation, but I'm not really into all that stuff- watching Christopher Walken & The Rock as performers in the pre-show is pretty fun, though. The whole Disaster Movie Cliche-storm is great.



                                  Lucy- A Tribute: A nice little mini-studio with a bunch of stuff for I Love Lucy (a show I've never actually seen). I'd actually like a lot more stuff like this in the parks, referencing old films. Even the Disney World stuff only has ONE for Walt himself.



                                  Men In Black Alien Attack: A much better version of the Toy Story rides over at Disney- especially once I figured out where to shoot the aliens (Single Rider Lines seem to skip the important rules-based stuff, or I just sped past them). Alas, both times I was mind-wiped by Will Smith; the first time I didn't do so well, and the second time I was in there with a dad who did poorly, and a son who got A SCORE OF ZERO. HOW ON EARTH DO YOU GET THAT BAD? I thought little boys were supposed to play video games 24/7 these days??



                                  Revenge of the Mummy: Wow, this one felt WAY better than the California version- are they the same? Because I thought the Cali version was pretty sub-par, and this one was amazing by contrast. The animatronics are pretty poor (the statues DON'T DO ANYTHING), but the thrill portions of the ride were pretty great.



                                  Shrek 4-D: A moderately-amusing little 3-D film that includes the standard wind/bumps/water stuff that most of these things do. I found the first Shrek to be a funny movie, but oddly I never saw the sequels- the franchise went from "it's HILARIOUS to see how they mock fairy tales & Disney!" to "this is the cash-cow franchise with the least imagination ever" REALLY quickly. Seeing Lord Farquaad again was good, but he wasn't that hilarious here.



                                  The Simpsons Ride: Same as the Cali version, which is pretty fun. Odd to see The Simpsons in 3-D though- it makes sense since I don't think running throught he ACTUAL CARTOON would be that believable in terms of feeling like you were actually there, but still. This is the funniest bit in the parks, especially with the quickie-shot of "Send Money To Universal" and the gag about "Rides ALWAYS drop you off at the Gift Shop!" The Pre-Show bits are also pretty funny if you get stuck there for a long time.



                                  Springfield in GENERAL is quite well-done with Lard Lad Donuts (the big pink one is too big for one person to possibly eat, but the little pink one is the best donut I've EVER had. And I'm CANADIAN), Moe's Tavern, Krusty Burger, etc. Unfortunately, most of these icons and buildings are just kind of plopped there in one street, not really resembling Springfield at all. There's also the giant Simpsons Ride building and some generic Carny-Game things. The best thing is still the Jebediah Springfield statue- "A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man", indeed.



                                  Terminator 2 3-D: One of the earliest 3-D Theatre shows at the parks (and something that'd become a lot bigger later on). The girl in the pre-show was a hoot ("How are you all doing... SU-PERRRRR!" *cute little head bob*), and she actually gets involved in the real show! It's a bit hard to follow all the manic action amidst the explosions and fog, so the theatrical portion's a big "meh", but a cool attraction overall. It has the coolest stuff in it's gift shop.



                                  Horror Make-Up Show: One of the neater sections, as there's great museum-type stuff in the pre-show room, and some neat info in the actual show- they use Audience Participation, some cynical wit, and other stuff to get you into it- it's over pretty quickly too, so you never get bored.



                                  Stuff I didn't see: Fear Factor Live & Beetlejuice didn't interest me, and the line-ups for Despicable Me were too long- 45 minutes isn't a LOT, but I really don't care for those films anyways (the Minions seem designed to appeal to modern random-humor-loving internet stoners). I also skipped what looks like the most demonic coaster in history, with Rip Ride Rockit. The food here is just as good at Disney parks, so long as you're not in to Fancy Sit-Down stuff, and it's easier to get into the good places. The counter service restaurants are GREAT (one of them had RIBS), and there's a restaurant that looks EXACTLY like how you imagine all those '50s Burger Joints looked- really puts you into the scene, especially with the classic cars out front.


                                  ---

                                  Overall, Universal is EXTREMELY cool here (the Cali version was highly-disappointing to me), and takes up two whole days easily. Since the parks are right next to each other, you can still do all the best stuff, but it's worth it to just wander around- the standard Universal is better-looking than the dated-looking Islands, but of course that one knocks it out of the park with the Harry Potter stuff. I liked a lot of the Museum-type stuff here with facts and the like; there should really be more of that out there. Universal is bigger for thrill rides, if that's your thing- if I liked Harry Potter a ton and wasn't such a Disney nerd, I'd probably have enjoyed it more PERIOD. As it stands, I can definitely see them riding on Disney's heels.



                                  Regarding the Disney/Universal debate, I'd say Disney EASILY wins thanks to having FOUR giant parks to sift through, a lot more focus on the looks of things in general (only Potter matches Disney's best stuff here), and more rides and attractions altogether. HOWEVER, were I a local or someone who has regular access to all the parks, I would definitely be more excited about Universal, since they're actually ADDING more stuff. Disney seems to be more resting on it's laurels and going with the old stuff... given how that old stuff is still ultra-famous and popular, I can see why, especially since they have to kill older things to put in anything new most of the time. But going back again and again to the "same old"-ish Disney Parks while Universal is putting in newer, bigger lands makes it more exciting. Coming in for the first time ever, it's pretty clear that Disney's in the lead OVERALL, with a horde of Mega-Headliners. I can't deny that the Uni parks being right next to each other makes it more convenient, though.

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                                  • #18
                                    Re: My Disney World Adventure

                                    Originally posted by Jabroniville View Post
                                    Universal Studios:

                                    I devoted two days of my vacation here, figuring I'd spend ABOUT one day at each. On the first day, I was at Islands of Adventure till it closed at 6, then went over to the regular Universal till around 9 (they have weird hours). Then next day both closed at 7 (and I was mostly finishing Universal, then went to IOA), so I went over to the Magic Kingdom again at the end of the day (it's like ten bucks to add a day once you're there for five days). This was enough to see just about everything both had to offer, I think.



                                    Islands of Adventure is the super-addition to the park (what USED to be here?), effectively being a second gate to the main Universal section- they're right beside each other. It's basically a bunch of different "lands" that are connected in a big loop. There's Marvel Adventure Island (which is HILARIOUS, since Disney now officially owns Marvel, meaning Universal is now selling Disney-themed stuff in their own gift shops. THAT'S gotta be awkward, especially if Disney adds Marvel attractions to their own parks), a land for old Cartoon characters no kid today would recognize (seriously- *I* know what Gasoline Alley is and what it meant for comic strips, but what kid ever would? Then there's Jurassic Park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Lost Continent (based around dated action-fantasy stuff), and Seuss Landing. I found it odd that this highly-touted thing has two kiddie-areas, though the Toon Lagoon bit is more about water-rides.



                                    There's lockers for almost every exciting ride, which makes for some odd waits and a LOT of confusion, as these are apparently too complex for most people to figure out. I would think anyone of average intelligence could figure it out, though.


                                    Word of Advice: Get there MUCH earlier if you want to be there at rope-drop, and have your passes ready. The fairly-short line took HALF AN HOUR to get down, because I'm pretty sure absolutely every person ahead of me didn't know WHAT they wanted, and then had to deal with a staffer trying to convince them to get upgrades (I mean, I KNEW what I wanted, but the guy STILL tried to sell me Express Passes and stuff). If the parks had been packed and I missed rope-drop, I'd have been annoyed.


                                    Spider-Man: This is one of the early 3-D Motion Simulator "You're in a car and you're tossed around while 3-D stuff plays in front of you" rides, meaning it's now a bit dated (ESPECIALLY the bad CGI and the super-'90s-looking roster of Spider-villains... I mean, SCREAM? A forgotten member of Carnage's Symbiotic offspring?). Most of the guides say this is some kind of awe-inspiring super-attraction, so I was a bit disappointed, though I can see how it was a huge deal when it debuted.


                                    The Incredible Hulk Coaster: BLURGH. Not a coaster fan at all, really- I liked the initial take-off, but the multiple "Spinning Loop" things just didn't agree with me at all. I don't like spending 1 1/2 minutes physically holding in my lunch, so I had enough of coasters after this one, and thus skipped the others. Also, coasters are kind of boring aside from the whole "Flying around at top-speed" thing- there's nothing to really LOOK at. Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at least has attraction-type qualities to it. And I oddly found that & Mission: Space much easier to deal with physically as well. Also, the Single Rider option is REALLY, REALLY SLOW, as I waited far in excess of the stated time on the outside (which was for the REGULAR RIDER LINE)- they may've just had the wrong time posted.



                                    The whole Marvel area is kind of weird, as it's got garish comic-booky colours and doesn't look like any part of the Marvel Universe itself- the Face Characters are super-heroes who do this weird periodical thing where they... jump onto motorcycles and drive off? WHY DOES SPIDER-MAN NEED A BIKE!?! Naturally there's a comic book store (that of course mostly sells overpriced statuettes), and some lunch counters. The meatball sub at that one places is merely okay- it's kind of a buffet thing, so you can't expect greatness.



                                    Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges: Hey, it's a better version of the Kali River Rapids- and they work REALLY HARD at getting you wet, allowing people on a bridge to shoot at you with water while all sorts of trickles and spouts get you. There's even more to see thematically, and a longer, more interesting ride! Though how many kids get the "Popeye" theme now? There's a Splash Mountain thing set around Dudley Do-Right, but I didn't go on the first day, and it was down the second.


                                    Jurassic Park: Less fun than LA's version- there's only one encounter with the T-Rex here. And what is it with these parks shutting down the waterfall in front of it? It's no fun coming across a motionless T-Rex on armatures because the water is no longer hiding it! The dinos are all starting to look their age, with simple animatronic motions. This needs an upgrade. Though you still get REALLY WET in the front. The whole JP area is quite cool, with dino skeletons and a museum-esque thing set up around it. Definitely more work than the LA version, though I skipped the Pteranodon Flier thing that only kids can ride solo.


                                    Harry Potter & The Forbidden Journey: How good is this whole section of the park? It's so good that it makes me wish I gave a damn about the world of Harry Potter. Unfortunately, I really never got into the films (despite having seen more than half of them), so a lot of this fails to REALLY appeal to me- most of the people I know were agog and super-envious that I even got to SEE Hogwart's, much less got to ride something. The ride is more of a Motion Simulator, but with no 3-D glasses- it's a phenomenal attraction (this whole set-up is the only part of Universal that truly rivals Disney's All-In Approach to thematic decorations) that sends you spinning around, watching Quidditch (with it's broken rule-set; everything is pointless but catching that golden thing), attacked by various HP-verse things, and more. A very long attraction, and worth the wait. Though I never found myself waiting for long, even after accidentally wandering into the non-Single Rider line. ALWAYS GO IN THE OFF-SEASON.



                                    The animatronics were great on the Dragon, though the Spiders & Dementors should move a bit more- I don't think the Spiders do ANYTHING, which kind of lessens the appeal. I rode the thing three times, which is pretty unusual given how busy this thing is usually supposed to be. The whole area around it is super in-depth as well, and creates the odd effect of having SHOPS that are busier than most parks' RIDES- you're packed in like sardines to look at cheap Potter merch. There's that book with teeth in it, a candy shop, and BUTTERBEER. Now, this didn't sound tempting on first hearing about it, but Thorp turned me on to the idea, and now he owes me money for diabeetus medication, because OH MY GOD IT'S CREAM SODA WITH A BUTTERSCOTCH HEAD YOU GUYS! I had to limit myself to two the first day, and one the second, or else I'd have been sick.



                                    The main issue is the log-jams set up around the shops (or the dreaded lockers inside The Forbidden Journey). Adding another Potter-verse section to the other park is going to be HUGE- this is the one area where Universal is FINALLY starting to compete with Disney on every level. If only I really cared for Potter.


                                    The Lost Continent: I only went on the Poseidon's Fury thing and not the stunt-show for Sinbad. It's a pretty in-depth skit show combined with a screen-based thing and special effects as Poseidon fights some Dark Wizard guy with over-the-top bad acting and poor CGI, but the in-show effects are great, especially with all the rooms shifting around, giving secret entrances and turning the lights off. This land kind of looks like something out of Hercules or Xena, which unfortunately results in it looking SUPER-dated, so I can definitely imagine this whole place being gobbled up for more Potter stuff, or the next big thing to come down the line.



                                    Dr. Seuss Stuff: I barely remember these books at all, and there's only one ride that's really meant for everyone. The dark ride is okay and kind of inventive (there's plenty to look at, though The Cat In The Hat isn't really an in-depth story), though still highly-kiddie. I find it weird that this adventure-themed high-impact park has TWO Kiddie areas.
                                    It's interesting that you say the Spiderman CGI looks dated since it was just updated a few years ago, so whatever you are seeing that makes it looked dated to you was done by choice not lack of technology. The new version is actually less cartoony then the original. Personally I still think this is a great ride, although I haven't seen Transformers yet to make the comparison.

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                                    • #19
                                      Re: My Disney World Adventure

                                      I found the characters to be overly-shiny and odd, and not very convincing as "people". I'm curious as to what it looked like before!

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                                      • #20
                                        Re: My Disney World Adventure

                                        Fantastic trip report !! My last lengthy trip to Florida, I took a day and went to USO, and was surprised how much it had changed. It was several years between visits to USO because the last time before, I felt the same way as the first time going to MGM ( Hollywood Studios ) . Nice park, no big deal. My next trip down will have 2 days put aside for USO. Thanks for taking the time to make this report !

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