Thursday, June 30, 2016

Disney World: Day 3 ~ Epcot Part 1, Beirgarten

We woke up bright and early, ready to head to Epcot. This was a park I had read about and was really looking forward to.

We waited about 10 minutes and got on the first Epcot bus that came to our resort.

The park opened at 9am, and we were there at about 9:15. We followed the plan that really worked the day before at Hollywood Studios - the first couple of rides we went on were the most popular ones, and then we saved our Fastpasses for the afternoon.

So the first ride was Test Track.

The queue at this attraction was really neat.

There were really cool cars and models we could look at.

Before we got on the ride, we all got to design a car.

It was an interactive activity, and there were so many options. You first scan your Magic Band (or park ticket) so the system can find you. Then you basically built the car from scratch and put in the engine, tires, decided on the structure, and lots more.

The first time we rode this ride, Nutsy and I did this part really fast and had time at the end to go back and change a few things. Mr. Lego and My Sweetie took their time and really put some powerful equipment in there. You only have about 3 minutes so it doesn't take that long.

The cool thing about this attraction was that you scanned your Magic Band right before you boarded your car. At the end of each stage of the ride, you could see how your car would have performed.

The first part of the ride is inside, as your car is put through different tests.

I took this next shot with a mirror we went by.

Then the drive moves outside for the speed part.

According to the screen, our car got up to 62 MPH.

The next big ride we wanted to get on was Mission: Space

Now this ride can be pretty intense, so there are two choices: the Green line or the Orange line. The two rides are exactly the same except that the Orange line uses centrifuge technology while the Green one does not.

These were the Orange riders.

They made a big deal about the spinning, on that card and in the line. Every 5 minutes we heard a warning, and there were lots of signs posted. Even the video that we watched in the line kept saying, "This is a spinning ride. You can leave this line and move to the Green one at any time."

I have never in my life gotten motion sick in a car, boat, or amusement park ride, but all this talk was seriously making me nervous.

We finally got on and I will say that yes, you feel like you are in close quarters. The thing closes in on you and the wall of the ride (which has all sorts of fun buttons you can push during the ride) is just a foot from you. And just  to remind you that this IS a spinning ride, there are barf bags next to each seat.

The ride started and I must say that it was amazing. You really have the sensation that you are lifting off and are in space. I read about the ride later, and you do experience 2.5 G's. The key to not using those barf bags is to not move your head side to side. Once the ride starts look straight ahead and not to the side.

And the other members in my family said that the Green line was also an amazing ride, and love every bit of it too.

And for Nutsy, the best part of this attraction was after you got off the ride. There was this whole exploration area that you could play in. And the highlight of this area was a game called Mission: Space Race, where people form teams and work together on computers to help a spaceship make repairs.

 This was the best post-attraction area of all the parks.

When we walked out of Mission: Space we saw that the line time had jumped from 20 minutes to 50, so going early had paid off.

Next we headed to The Seas with Nemo. We all sat in these clam shells and went through the ride.

The ride ended at the aquarium, which was huge!

We could have spent at least a half hour walking around and looking at the fish, dolphins and even sharks.

We had reservations at 11am for lunch at Beirgarten in the World Showcase so we headed over there at this point.

Germany was very cute!

Beirgarten was a German buffet.

Anything German, and they had it.

My plate. (A bit blurry.)

The kiddos.

The atmosphere was really neat too - it felt like you were outside, in the village square of a German town.

Everyone that works in a specific country in World Showcase is from that particular country. The kids made friends with our waiter, Evanz, and asked him questions about Germany.

We stayed for the floor show, and enjoyed the German music.

They played those cow bells above, and then later got out these massive horns.

We had full tummies and were ready to keep exploring Epcot!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Disney World: Day 2 ~ Hollywood Studios, Sci-Fi Movie Restaurant, ABC Commmisary

We were up at around 7:30 am, and ate breakfast in our room. More on eating in our room later - we found a great company that delivered groceries to our room and they fit perfectly in our mini fridge.

Outside of our hotel were the bus lines. The bus system at Disney World is pretty organized. You can choose from all four theme parks and Disney Springs (Florida's Downtown Disney).

The trick is that you CANNOT GET TO A RESORT FROM A RESORT. You must first get to a theme park, and then all of the resorts have their own bus that goes to their resort. The longest we waited was on our last day when we waited about 25 minutes for a ride to a water park. Aside from that, we were usually on a bus within 10 minutes of getting in line. There was one snag that we hit tonight, which you will read about further on down.

Hollywood Studios, I think, is Disney's response to Universal Studios. It is not a copy of California Adventure in any way, and has a completely different feel.

Disney's Hollywood Studios is divided into five parts:

Hollywood Boulevard - this area feels like you are walking down a street in LA. It is reminiscent of Main Street in Disneyland, and as everyone has to walk down it to access the park, is the perfect introduction into another world.

Muppets Courtyard - which is not too big of an area, and mainly holds the Muppet theater.

Pixar Place - all things Pixar of course.

There are gigantic game pieces as decor, and the Green Guys are marching around the area.

Echo Lake - is an actual circular lake. Star Wars is in the area, and the storm troopers make their rounds every hour or so. The Indiana Jones experience is here too.

Sunset Boulevard is at the top end of the park, and holds the thrill rides.

Animation Courtyard - this area focuses on animation movies. This area has more shows and exhibits than rides.

We had mapped out our attractions before we came, and went on the two big ones first: Aerosmith Rock N Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror.

Rock and Roller Coaster was a very cool coaster ride, that shot us all off like a bullet, going 0 to 57 mph in 2.8 seconds.

As with all of the attractions at Disney, the line you wait in had a story. Which featured Aerosmith, of course. And in the line, pressed into the concrete, we found a hidden Mickey.

Next up was the Tower of Terror. We had ridden this one in Disneyland, so we thought there were no surprises. Well, let me just say that there is one big difference in the middle of the ride, which made it thrilling all over again for us Californians. This ride still goes down as one of our favorites.

We headed over towards the Great Movie Train Ride, and on the way saw this:

The Great Movie Ride goes through some of the most well known, classic movies.

You are on a train, that goes through the sets of the movies. It was interactive too; our guide got shot halfway through by a mobster, who took over our car, but then we met up with our original guide again in the end.

And of course, the witch was melting.

Next up was Star Tours. The story line was a different one then we had seen in Disneyland.

Here is My Sweetie in line. You can see he was wearing the appropriate attire.

We walked around a bit and explored the park.

Muppets Vision was just like it was at Disneyland. I appreciated the air conditioned room and the nice, plushy seat.

We headed to the Star Wars Launch Bay.

There is some really cool stuff in here. Starting with the walk in.....

We saw lots of replicas, memorabilia, and watched a short informational film.

And how appropriate that these guys were walking by when we came out.

We had reservations at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant for lunch.

This place was really cool inside. It felt like you were outdoors, at a drive-in movie theater. And to eat you sat in cars. There were tables around the edges, but those were for guests who just walked up and did not make reservations.

This place had the best milkshakes.

While we were eating, on the big screen were clips from horror movies from the 50's and 60's. When we first read about this restaurant I was a little concerned because our family is not big horror movie fans, but the ones they showed were so over the top silly that we were totally giggling watching the clips.

My dish: a very delicious bowl of pasta with shrimp, sun dried tomatoes, capers, and Parmesan.

 The girls behind me got this yummy looking steak.

And this was Dasher's dessert - a piece of chocolatey goodness with some whipped cream.

After lunch we did a couple of Fastpasses to Tower of Terror and Rock N Roller Coaster. We found that the best thing to do at each park was to get onto our favorite two or three rides first thing in the morning, and then have our fast passes to use in the afternoon when the lines were longer.

This is where you get blasted to 57 miles per hour, in a very short amount of time.

 My ride buddy.

We also saw busts of some famous Hollywood characters.

We had to get a photo with Andy.

We wanted to catch the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular so we all chose snacks from our meal plan and got in line.

We did not use our Fastpass for this attraction so we sat on the side, but I did feel that we could see the whole show just fine.

The show was really neat, and used participants from the audience.

You are watching the 'filming' of  Raider's of the Lost Ark, and seeing it from the director and cameraman's perspective.

The stunts are great, along with some twists and surprises.

More walking.

Dinner was at the ABC Commissary.

This was our first disappointment. This was a counter service so they had the normal burgers, fries, and chicken sandwiches.

The burgers were so-so, and my salad was soggy.

This was the coolest part of our meal: The Darth Vader cupcake, which counted as a dessert credit.

It was getting later, and since Hollywood Studios closed that night at 9pm, we only had about an hour and a half left.

We headed to Toy Story Mania, thinking there would be a long line.

If you can believe it the wait was only 5 minutes, so we rode it three times in a row.

It was getting darker now. I love seeing the parks at night.

One last time on Rock N Roller Coaster.

We stopped in a few stores and came out of the park at about 9:30.

On the way out, my two Star Wars nuts.

Right after I shot this photo, we turned the corner to the bus line.

Each resort has their own line, and the one for Art of Animation was by far the longest, and was VERY long. As in, it passed three other resort lines and wound all around.

We decided to have Mr. Lego run to the other side of the bus lines, to see if the lines to the parks were long. He texted us that they were short, so we headed over that way, looking at the Disney app on our phones to see which park would be the best.

Once we got over there, Magic Kingdom's line was very short, and the bus was already there so we hopped on it. After a 15 minute ride we ended up at Magic Kingdom, which was a zoo. So we walked about 15 minutes to the Contemporary Resort, and got onto a no-waiting bus for Disney Springs. Another 15 minute ride and we were at Disney Springs, and in a fairly short line to Art of Animation (Are you following this? Because as I am writing this, I am thinking that we were a bit crazy.)

 Finally we got back to our 11pm.

Did we save time? I'll never know.

But I do know, I think I would have rather been on the move the whole time, instead of standing in line, with hundreds of other tired people and their crying babies and whining kids.

And that, friends, was our day at Hollywood Studios, and our only snag of the trip with Disney transportation.