Animal and Magic Kingdoms, Disney-MGM 11/21/02

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Sunday, December 1, 2002 4:00 PM
Jeff's avatar

I'll keep this one short, as there's a lot of skipping around from park to park.

Stephanie's grand parents, who live in Kissimmee in the winter, have a neighbor who is a retired carpenter from Disneyland. He was able to sign us into the Disney parks for free, and would not have hit the Disney parks otherwise. So we made it our mission to at least hit the coasters and most of Animal Kingdom.

We started there, heading to Primeval Whirl. It's a standard pair of Reverchon spinning mice. This one wasn't being trimmed at any of the blocks at all. The spinning was pretty wild as well. What was missing was darkness. I really think that Kennywood's is so much more fun in the dark. When you can easily pick out focus points (something I do as a defense mechanism on whirl-n-hurls) it doesn't seem as intense. Still, it's a nice little ride in a park that needs a little extra incentive.

Next we hit Dinosaur. We didn't know anything about this ride. Thankfully, it wasn't a film simulator, but a motion-base dark ride. And a pretty damn good one at that. I'm surprised I didn't even know about it. You board an SUV that takes you back in time, just before the meteor shower in the movie of the same name. You travel through various landscapes as meteors begin to trickle out of the sky, and encounter all kinds of nasty guys as you search for the one from the movie. What makes this ride particularly effective is the liberal use of wind to simulate speed. Great ride. Must-see.

The rest of the park was the typical zoo stuff, a great opportunity for photography. There was a pointless train ride that takes you to what amounts to a week petting zoo and gift shop. The real score was the safari ride, where they very discreetly keep the animals separate. It's a neat ride, but irritating as hell that they make it so bumpy that you can't take pictures of anything. Not only that, but the driver never slows down enough to see what's out there.

And that's the highlights of Animal Kingdom. I'm not sure what else I was expecting, I was just expecting more.

We hopped on a bus in Disney's outstanding transportation system and headed to Disney-MGM just to ride Rock-n-Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror. The coaster was a lot of fun, and surprisingly smooth. I guess as a Vekoma I was expecting the worst, but it is Disney, after all. The pre-show was clever and the on-board music was neat. It felt like they were holding back a little on the launch, but it was still fun.

Tower of Terror was totally unexpected. The attention to detail is amazing, and I had no idea that there were several show areas in addition to the actual shaft. Heck, I didn't even know your vehicle got shuffled around prior to the vertical action. I'll leave what you see out of this report, so as not to spoil it for others, but it was very cool.

We ate at the ABC Commissary for some pretty average, but solid food. Steph pointed out on the map that there was a "Pizza Planet," a la Toy Story, and that sounded familiar as if it was listed to have a DDR machine. Sure enough, a USA mix machine (the better one) was there. We played a couple of rounds, but drew no crowds to watch, because the place was empty. Four and five-step songs look impressive to people who don't know any better. ;)

Next bus to Magic Kingdom's monorail station, and on the monorail to the park. I suppose this might be a good place to mention that all three parks were checking bags as you went in. The only other place that did this was Sea World on our trip. Not a big deal, just thought I'd mention it.

With about two or three hours to close, we headed to Space Mountain. What a great ride! I don't know why it doesn't get more credit from the enthusiast community (other than the fact that it's owned by the rat), because it really is a great ride. It's full of surprises and very sudden direction changes. It's also very smooth for its age. It appears to just eat people as well.

The exit gift shop had a DDR Disney Rave machine. There we got to easily impress people. Electric Light Parade was kind of fun!

I forced Steph against her will to ride It's a Small World, and wow did she hate on me for that. ;) You know how much fun the ride wold be if they gave you a bucket of softballs to throw on that ride? That would be entertainment.

We also stopped in the Haunted Mansion for the heck of it. It's a lot of these classics that show how Disney could do anything in the old days.

Next was Big Thunder Mountain. This was a surprise as well, since I haven't been to the park in about 12 years. I forgot that it had three lifts! It's very smooth and very fast. They really don't give it a chance to slow down. The dual load station was neat too. Yet another example too of how good maintenance results in great rides, no matter how old the ride.

We finished the night on Barnstormer, what appears to be one of the first few Vekoma family coasters. This one actually had a chain lift. Count one for the track record.

We headed upstream on Main Street as people began to gather for the nightly fireworks. Of the three parks, this one was easily the busiest, but they were handling it all in stride, with walk-ons everywhere that walk-ons were possible. We did skip some other things because we were on a schedule, and skipped Epcot entirely, but we hit the stuff we really wanted to.

After the monorail and bus back to the now-empty Animal Kingdom lot, we jumped in the Mitsu Eclipse convertible, turned on some Dirty Vegas (to simulate the TV spot) and headed back to the Royal Pacific Resort at Universal. There we hopped in the hot tub where a nice girl brought me beer. That, my friends, is how you end a night of extreme park hopping...

Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - -
"Climbing as we fall, we dare to hold on to our fate, and steal away our destiny to catch ourselves with quiet grace" - The Stairs, INXS

Monday, December 2, 2002 12:03 PM
kpjb's avatar

The wife and I are heading down to Florida in January... we agreed to hit just one Disney park. (It was our comprimise since I can do without any hella-expensive park that doesn't have many thrill rides.)

We went to Epcot a few years back when we were there. I've never been to MGM, and haven't been to the Magic Kingdom in about 18 years. Animal Kingdom, quite frankly, looks boring.

That being said, would you suggest Magic Kingdom or MGM Studios?

If you could just see the beauty... these things I could never describe. Pleasures and wayward distraction; is this my wonderful prize? --Joy Division

Monday, December 2, 2002 12:45 PM
Jeff's avatar

Magic Kingdom has a lot of nostalgia for me, but the studio has lots of stuff I would've liked to hit, including Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. That's my final answer!

Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - -
"Climbing as we fall, we dare to hold on to our fate, and steal away our destiny to catch ourselves with quiet grace" - The Stairs, INXS

Monday, December 2, 2002 2:58 PM
Yeah, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is a lot of fun especially when you get in the hot seat. Actually, not being that big of a disney person, I did enjoy my trips there back in April and in April of 2000. Magic Kingdom might lack the huge thrill coasters, but it sure does make up for that.
Tuesday, December 3, 2002 3:01 PM
Great TR Jeff and it sounds like you did like what you had a chance to ride at each park.

Did you watch It's Tough to Be a Bug! at the Tree of Life(AK) or Muppet Vision 4D(Studios)? I thought both of those were absolute riots!! Millionaire and Indiana Jones are a blast to watch as well. Animal Kingdom was the only Disney park we didn't bother with this year since Whirl wasn't even open yet, but I think they're all worth a visit. Some of the other dark rides at MK are a lot of fun too and I agree about Space Mountain. I had it pretty high on my list for Mitch Hawker's poll.

Glad you had a nice trip and thanks for taking time to write! :)


Tuesday, December 3, 2002 3:08 PM
Gemini's avatar We were at the Disney Studios a few days after Who Wants to Be a Millionaire opened. It was one of the highlights of the trip, especially since we were selected to sit in one of the 10 seats on the floor.

Virtual Midway

Sunday, December 22, 2002 1:02 PM
Jeff you have to get out to epcot and ride test track next time you have the chance. They did a retheme for the dinosaur ride at animal kingdom? I rode it with the original theme and it was awesome. Well it does promote a disney movie now so it might make them more money. I agree space mountain is a very good ride. But the one in paris is superb especially with the jules verne theme. I am dying to get out to disney sea though. Speaking of disney some say that matterhorn was the first tubular steel coaster while others say it was the mine train at sfot which is correct?


Sunday, December 22, 2002 1:48 PM
I think the common word is the Matterhorn is. I liked Dinosaur alot, but Indiana Jones is a better ride, with just a different theme. The themeing from the former name, Countown to extinction is the same judging from the pre show.

See THE ULTIMATE in Orlando TR'S! Right now in the TR fourm!

Monday, December 23, 2002 6:31 PM
I think at my age,IOA beats out Disney

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