DAY 1 (SUNDAY, MAY 14, 2006)
After flying on an American Airlines plane from D/FW International Airport to Orlando International Airport, we arrived at our hotel, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. This was a fantastic hotel with very comfortable rooms, accomidating service, nice restaurants, and it had a monerail transport center to The Magic Kingdom. However, after dropping off all of our bags in the rooms, a small group and myself headed over to Disney's Animal Kingdom to hit the few rides there and never return.
We walked into the park during the middle of the parade, so the attraction we wanted to get to was blocked from our direction. Nevertheless, we waited until it was okay to cross the parade's path (after it was over, of course) and headed into It's Tough to be a Bug!, a 3-D animated movie based on the characters from A Bug's Life displaying the many talents of the common bug.
I was slightly disappointed with this one. I usually love all kinds of 3D movies, but this one was somewhat of a lame attempt to capitalize on the gimmicks (so perfectly mocked in Jim Henson's Muppetvision 3D). Throughout the show, Flik would demonstrate the flying powers of many bugs, stink bugs, giant bugs, and all sorts of fun until Hopper arrives to trash the place. This is the best part of the show, as he orders spiders to attack the audience (they come down from the ceiling), hornets to sting everybody (chairs gently poke your back), and all sorts of mischief. Everything is okay when a giant beetle saves the day. It was a slightly mediocre 3D show with some fun moments near the end.
Next on the list was the newest attraction at the park: Expedition: Everest!
This is the biggest roller coaster at the Walt Disney World Resort, as well as far and away the best themed of them all. Travelers (passengers) are all aboard to climb the incredible Mount Everest, but plans are thwarted when the Yeti himself chases the down and through the mountain. This ride was a blast. The first two minutes of it are basically like every other roller coaster, but at mid course, we reach a point where the track is dismantled and are forced to go backwards. We go up and down turns and hills backwards before switching back to the right direction and taking an 80 foot, airtime filled plunge out of the mountain. The ride ends with an encounter with an incredible animatronic of the Yeti, as it nearly grabs you. This roller coaster has it all: a good story, good airtime, good turns, good speeds, great theming, and provides a wonderful time.
We only had time for one more ride, and since Dinosaur was closed that day, we chose Primeval Whirl.
Primeval Whirl is a standard spinning wild mouse coaster with exiting and excellent theming. By this, I mean that until it spins, it hurts like crazy, but at least it looks nice. The spinning eased the pain and providing a good ride, but before that, it wasn't too much fun.
The park closed at six, and since we had 5 day Park Hopper passes (all the parks as many times as we want for five days), we headed to EPCOT Center for a few rides on the big rides there.
We had about two hours to spare here, so we rode a few things. The first thing we hit was Test Track.
The ride basically recruits passengers to participate in the testing of new GM vehicles, going through endurance testing, skidding tests, alertness tests, reaction time tests, and the speed test. This is a fun ride, and it quickly becomes an awesome ride when the cars are allowed to hit their high speed on 65 miles per hour towards the end of it.
Right next to Test Track was the park's multi-million dollar attraction Mission: Space.
With the help of NASA, Disney has created an experience to partially recreate what it is like to be an astronaut on a mission in space. Neil Armstrong has ridden the ride, and says that the experience is about 85% percent accurate to what he went through. The ride creates its experiences by spinning the passengers smoothly but quickly inside a space capsule on a mission to Mars. This ride provided the greatest force of any ride I have ever been on, pulling G's I've never experienced in my life, and I enjoyed the hell out of it.
There was time for one last ride, so we chose the newest ride at the park, Soarin.
My teacher last year told me to ride this one, pronto, and all I have to say to him: What the hell was he smoking? This ride is a very tame, very pointless addition to EPCOT Center that supposedly gives you the experience of hanggliding through the best looking scenary shots in the world. The only positive thing I can say was that it was short and had aromas of pine trees and farm land throughout the arena. The simulation offered little movement, and it was overall a boring experience.
EPCOT Center was closed, and our curfew was at midnight, so we went to Downtown Disney to waste some time.
We went to stores, the candy shop, and an ice cream parlor. At about eleven, we got on the bus ride back to the Grand Floridian and called it a night.
Day two trip report coming soon in this thread! *** Edited 5/20/2006 6:47:07 PM UTC by coastergoose***
Interesting to hear your thoughts on Soarin'. We loved it and it's easily one of our favorite Disney attractions.
See, maybe its the fact that I sat on the bottom row of the hanggliders, but I didn't find the ride worth the hour wait.
While the top is the tops, I actually don't mind other two rows because you don't suffer from parallax that you do up top---particularly at the edges. What's worse than any bad seat, though, is that for some reason the WDW prints are dusty---you can sometimes see flecks of dust in the projection, and it completely ruins the illusion for me.
I'd be pretty disappointed with an hour wait, as well. I've never waited more than 5-10 minutes, but I either ride it first thing in the day, or use fastpass. With fastpass, plus all the people-eating attractions in Orlando, I don't think I'd ever wait an hour for any attraction there, ever. There are too many other things I'd rather be doing.
*** Edited 5/21/2006 1:45:40 AM UTC by Brian Noble***
We decided that the next park to hit was Disney's MGM Studios, home of the attractions centered around Hollywood and the music industry.
We arrived at the park at around 9:30 in the morning, and since we didn't want The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror to be the first ride of the day, we went straight to the middle of the park and got on The Great Movie Ride, which takes you through classic scenes in classic films.
The Great Movie Ride takes you through the sets of such films as The Wizard of Oz, Alien, Casablanca, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. The attraction combines animatronics with live actors to create kind of a "out of control tour" feeling as the instructors guide you through the best scenes in film. If you are a fan of film, this attraction is a must-ride. I enjoyed it quite a bit, especially since the robots in the ride weren't the cheap, stiff moving king found in plenty of Six Flags parks.
Next was The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror.
Even in line for this ride is a great experience. The theming is incredible to look at and creates an environment unrivaled by any theme park ride. Right before boarding the elevator cars, guests are treated to an introduction by Rod Serling (obviously not him recording the actual monologue) recreating the beginning of another wonderful episode of The Twilight Zone, demonstrating the story behind The Hollywood Tower Hotel.
When the ride starts, guests are taken along a course for a short story about what happened. After a trip through the fifth dimension, the drops begin. Every ride is different from the rest, and the airtime given off from this ride is exhilerating. I love this ride.
The next ride was The Rockin' Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith.
Guests are taken through a tour of G-Force records, the creative managers behind such legends as Aerosmith, Queen, and Disney Mania Records. In this same building, we find Aerosmith doing a last minute tune-up for a new recording of Walk this Way, when their manager comes in and urges them to get to their concert in time, but they won't leave if their guests (us) aren't given a ride over to the concert. This is where the ride comes in. We board the limo-styled roller coaster cars and are launched 60 miles per hour in four seconds through three inversions as we travel quickly across LA traffic. The cars play the tunes of Dude Looks Like a Lady and such to add to the experience. Even if you don't like Aerosmith (or Steven Tyler's horrendous acting), it is hard not to enjoy this ride. It is a quick rush that gets the adrenaline pumping. This ride was my favorite roller coaster at the Walt Disney World Resort.
The big rides were out of the way, so we just started to hit anything that looked interesting. The next was Muppetvision 3D.
I have always found this 3D film hysterical, which makes fun of 3D style gimmicks found in all 3D films while retaining fun Muppet humor. Most people I know have ridden this attraction, and I always try to catch it when given the chance.
We wandered around the park and caught numerous attractions such as Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set, where kids and adults play in a giant playground modeled after the Honey set. We also rode Backlot Tours, which toured the Studios and its constant use as a filming location. We rerode Tower of Terror and Rockin' Roller Coaster a few times to waste some time.
We walked to the opposite side of the park to ride Star Tours, which is always a fun ride that I still feel lacks that certain Star Wars qualities (namely, the characters). Still, going through the trench is worth it alone.
We finished our day at MGM Studios by watching Live, Motors, Action! An Extreme Stunt Show. It basically showed to the audience how certain car chase scenes in film are done. It was fairly insightful and high entertaining.
About half the group decided to go back to the hotel, which myself and few others wanted a few more rides before our group dinner at 7:00 in the evening, so we used our pass hopper to go back to EPCOT Center and catch another ride on Mission: Space and Honey, I Shrunk the Audience.
While not the most entertaining 3D film I've been on, it is the most effective. The combination of 3D effects and physical, in-house effects add to the paranoia mice travel through the floor of the theatre against your legs, a giant snake tries to eat the audience, and other bits of mayhem occur as Rick Moranis and Eric Idle lead the way in the best Honey show or movie ever created.
We joined the rest of our class at the Boardwalk ESPN Club to have dinner and watch the Mavs/Spurs game (Mavs won). The game ended well past our 1:00 a.m. curfew, but it didn't matter. It only added onto a great day. *** Edited 5/21/2006 4:26:09 AM UTC by coastergoose***
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