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Everything posted by mattnz

  1. I share your pain about missing out on the log flume. If I ever pass one up, I leave feeling a little uneasy! Fabulous photos Andy.
  2. Thank you TPR for putting my last report on the front page again and to everyone out there following along - it's been a long journey, but we're not finished yet! After separate days at Epcot and the Magic Kingdom, our goal was to do the other two Walt Disney World Resort parks in one day. We felt this was a realistic goal judging by the number of things we wanted to do at each park, and by and large we felt successful. First of all we knew Disney's Animal Kingdom closed earlier than the other parks, so we went there first. None of us are really 'animal people' but we enjoyed what the park had on offer, with Expedition Everest the stand-out attraction. The themeing is extraordinary, and it definitely became my favourite mine train-style coaster, even though the Yeti ain't what he used to be. I have to agree with others out there mystified by Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama area. I read the backstory and 'get' what the park was trying to do but it just looks run down and very far below what I'd expect from Disney's Imagineers. On top of that Primeval Whirl is just two knock-off Reverchon spinning wild mouse coasters side by side. But of course I will take two new credits any day! We found Dinosaur pretty fun and, despite the chance of a soaking, gave Kali River Rapids a spin. All in all we enjoyed our brief sampling of Disney's Animal Kingdom. It's a stunning park and I'm sure Avatar: World of Pandora will be a great fit for Disney. Over at Disney's Hollywood Studios we found plenty to occupy the rest of our day. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror was absolutely fantastic, the Great Movie Ride was a nice homage to (mostly non-Disney) classics, and I was shocked at the smoothness of Vekoma's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. It was a fun ride but definitely less intense than I was expecting from a coaster with three inversions. We also did Star Tours but it mustn't have left much of an impression on me - I was surprised to find photos of it! The park's Hollywood architectural reacreations are well done but overall Disney's Hollywood Studios didn't feel very 'Disney' to me. I guess having a park that is basically a number of 'streets' with few trees and little shade took something away from the experience for me. We rounded out our day at Downtown Disney which was absolutely packed. The place is consumer-central and we were ready to do a little shopping of our own but were quite disappointed at the stores, especially World of Disney, and ended up buying very little. Maybe it was too hot and crowded for us. Fortunately we found a nice little bar by the waterfront and knocked back a few margaritas before dining at Rainforest Cafe, a noisy but unique experience! There is nothing whatsoever like it back home. We were up bright and early to hustle another day outta Disney but with more bang for our buck - park hopping across two destinations! First up was Disney's Animal Kingdom and we were struck by the beauty of the park. Here's the amazing, sculpted Tree of Life. The details on the tree were really extraordinary. Our first port of call was Expedition Everest. I've been fascinated by this coaster for a long time thanks to TPR, e.g. I made sure I looked out for 'bird on a stick'. The queue was almost as amazing as the ride. Lots of details about the Yeti legend and artifacts to see. Scary masks. Boarding area. The train is really quite long - and, as always, Disney pumped the crowds through. I was excited to ride! The ride did not disappoint, even though I could neither see nor hear 'bird on a stick'! Signature shot. Next up was the weird DinoLand U.S.A. area. Dinosaur queue. I thought the ride was quite enjoyable - it 'did the trick'. Moving on to Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama... Hmm. I 'get' what they were trying to do in terms of the theme, but really... I mean, look at this photo - cracked pavement, cheap caravan, drab carnival atmosphere. Six Flags could do a better job! But I will never sneeze at not one, but two new credits! Primeval Whirl experienced a couple of break-downs while we waited but we managed to get on both rides. I think Disney need to re-imagineer this corner of the park. Onwards to a nicer locale! I liked how the park incorporated animal life into each themed area. There was also a bit of 'culture'. Beautiful buildings fitting the theme. We lined up for Kali River Rapids. Another amazing Disney queue. The ride was interesting - especially the bit with the illegal logging operation! It wasn't as long as I was expecting though. But definitely wet! My TPR poncho blew up like a dress and barely saved the day! Also - needless to say - the themeing was second to none. We had an enjoyable visit to Animal Kingdom. I'll definitely try the jungle trek and safari next time I'm here. We scheduled more time for ourselves over at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The park was striking. But it didn't feel very 'Disney' to me. This was to be my second Tower of Terror after California's version. I'm not sure I noticed that it was better than it's Californian counterpart, but it definitely packed a punch! Some details inside. The attention to detail really adds to the experience (for me). Beautiful! Moving on down another 'street' at the park. The Hollywood recreations certainly looked authentic to me. The Chinese Theatre was particularly impressive. Inside looked equally amazing. The theatre housed the Great Movie Ride. I liked the queue through the cinema. The ride employed a "traveling theatre"-style ride system much like Universe of Energy (but smaller). Singin' in the Rain - my favourite musical! Mary Poppins... Mary Poppins was followed by my favourite part of the ride - dedicated to gangsters and The Public Enemy. But my photos sucked. So here's John Wayne. At certain points on the ride we stopped for a little live action. The Alien section got me good! After a few more stops we found ourselves in Munchkinland! Unsurprising to many, I'm a fan of The Wizard of Oz! The giant gift store at the exit had a lot of pretty good movie merch. We stopped for a much-needed iced coffee. Did I mention it was another really hot Florida day? The Streets of America section of the park. New York! San Francisco with...earthquake damage? We randomly found an open door leading to nowhere! This just doesn't scream 'Disney' to me... Meh. So apparently we rode Star Tours! I like the look of the Ewok Village entrance. I don't care what anyone says, when I was a kid the Ewoks were pretty awesome to me. But I'm not a big enough nerd to tell you what this thing is called. The 3D motion simulator vehicle. Hey girl, hey! The Sunset Boulevard area is home to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. What a shame Aerosmith suck. The ride vehicles were very cool and the ride a lot of fun. Just not as intense as I was expecting! The Florida skies opened on schedule for another stormy afternoon downpour, which was just in time for Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage. I'm not usually a 'show person' but this was nicely done. Which takes us to the end of our enjoyable Disney park-hopping day! Before I go on can I just say how incredibly cheap we found food in the United States to be. Even wine! After a little supermarket shopping it was time to hit up Downtown Disney. Which left us a bit exhausted after an already busy day. Andrew's look kind of says it all. Too...many...people! But we found a nice spot to knock back a few margaritas. World of Disney was too busy and a kind of disappointing... When we emerged it was dinner time. Rainforest Cafe was loud in more ways than one. I have no caption for this photo! Those are the only real animals you'll see... Everything else is animatronic. A LOUD dining experience, for sure - but in a good way, because it was fun! Thanks for a great day Walt Disney World Resort.
  3. Great photos Chuck! I remember reading the original TPR report and it made me want to do a trip myself. Must get to the UK one day soon!
  4. This annoys me because the media (and park) are really just encouraging a form of obsessive compulsive behaviour. I doubt very much that he actually enjoys riding the coaster. Also I'm annoyed because I went to Knott's last year and the ride was closed - so I haven't been on it once!!
  5. I find it hard to pick, I love all Intamin drop towers, including first generations. But I voted for the gyro towers as I think they're the most re-rideable, and you get an amazing view as it rotates on the way up. I love both the Kings Island and Kings Dominion versions, but felt the latter seemed to go on longer. Have to give an honorary mention to Acrophobia, where you stand as it rotates (so I guess it's a standing/gyro hybrid?). I only went on it once but it scared the living crap out of me! Definitely intrigued to see what Falcon's Fury is like.
  6. Great update Andy. Amazing shots, especially of the Flowrider. I have never laughed so hard as on Jungle Twist. What the hell was that?! Also much respect to Roxanne multi-tasking with beer, a hot dog and karoke!
  7. Next up on our Florida sojourn was the one and only Magic Kingdom, the world's most visited theme park. After a mistimed trip to Epcot, we were determined to do the Magic Kingdom right, and arrived before opening, ran straight to Space Mountain, immediately re-rode, then fast passed our way around the park. It made all the difference. Our day was very full...but relaxing. Once we knew we'd grabbed our fast passes for the next ride we could wander around and enjoy the park, just thinking slightly ahead about what we wanted to fast pass next. Simple really, but you DO have to think about it and hustle if you've only got a one-day visit planned. I was last at the Magic Kingdom in 2008 and could detect quite a few improvements. Fantasyland, which seemed a bit disjointed then, has expanded and I look forward to seeing how New Fantasyland continues to unfold. We rode Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid and ate at the Be Our Guest Restaurant, which was 'quick service' but pretty good. I also thought Storybook Circus was a good improvement over Mickey's Toontown Fair - it really seemed a better fit for the park. We enjoyed other perennial favourites like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Jungle Cruise, and so on. Some of these rides are just ageless. Take Splash Mountain for example, based on Song of the South. Disney won't even release the film, but the ride brings the characters to life, fuses it with memorable tunes and a really fun and inventive flume layout. It makes for an awesome overall family experience and reminds me why Disney are so successful with their theme parks. As with Epcot (and every day in Florida!) there were thunderstorms around 3-4pm, but we took shelter and rode a few indoor rides before heading back outside. Quick question about Space Mountain: Apparently both sides of the ride have the same top speed (27 mph) but I felt one (Omega) was a bit more intense than the other. Have I just been fooled by the Imagineers? Anyway, onto the photos, and thanks for following along our journeys. I'll try to do the next update a little quicker! Day 2 at Walt Disney World Resort was the Magic Kingdom, accessible by a quick monorail ride from our hotel, Disney's fabulous Polynesian Resort. This really is a great way to travel. Why haven't monorails caught on?! Looking over to Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. It's great to be back at the Magic Kingdom. My last - and only visit - was in 2008. Main Street, U.S.A. really is quite beautiful. The postcard shot. I think Cinderella Castle is my favourite Disney castle. It's certainly the most iconic. Space Mountain is still the Magic Kingdom's most popular attraction, so we raced over there first. It's a still a great ride. And two credits are always a bonus. But is one side more intense than the other? The Tomorrowland Speedway...we didn't take a spin today. Most popular ride conquered, twice! It's going to be a great day. I always thought this corner of the park was quite pretty and peaceful. We were on a mission to conquer another popular attraction... Big Thunder Mountain Railroad! View from the queue, which was already pretty full. Big Thunder is a really fun coaster, showcasing what good themeing can do for a ride. There are so many details that are easy to miss! We wandered through Liberty Square, a themed area unique to the Magic Kingdom. I experienced the Hall of Presidents during the Bush era, so this was a "no thanks" from me! When I was last here, the Rapunzel/Tangled Tower was the old Fantasyland Skyway station. I have to say, I do prefer the Disneyland It's a Small World facade. But the rest of 'old' Fantasyland still looks fantastic. This view is a little different now. I'm intrigued by Seven Dwarfs Mine Train! We decided to have an early lunch and try out the Be Our Guest Restaurant, themed to Beauty and the Beast. I liked how they handed out umbrellas to people queueing in the heat. The interior was gorgeous. The food was pretty good too. I tried the nicoise salad (mostly for the sake of having something healthy at a theme park for once!). The interior of the Be Our Guest Restaurant consists of a ballroom... ...with a slightly nicer decor than a Cedar Fair/Six Flags Johnny Rockets... The West Wing where the rose is kept... And the gallery with the music box featuring Belle and Beast. Nearby is Gaston's Tavern. We queued for Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid. I thought it was a particularly good queue, and I hate queues! Lots of details to enjoy while you wait. The ride featured Disney's Omnimover vehicles. It was a colourful dark ride... In the original Hans Christian Andersen story, the Little Mermaid goes through excruciating pain in order to become a human... The original tale also has a tragic ending, but all of that is absent here! Moving on, we had lots more to see... I love how to get to Tom Sawyer Island, you have travel by raft. We came back to Frontierland to ride Splash Mountain! It was a great ride, as in all its incarnations. The themeing inside is second to none. And who doesn't love Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah? (Well, maybe except when the logs get delayed at the station and you have to hear it over and over again!) We got a little wet! This corner of the park does get rather bottlenecked... We decided to watch the Country Bear Jamboree, a show I had never seen. I enjoy anything with singing audio-animatronics! Definitely a classic attraction. We rode the Haunted Mansion next. I prefer Disneyland's New Orleans/old plantation mansion, but the Magic Kingdom's Dutch Gothic style makes for an amazing show building too. Again, the queue is just awesome. There is lots to see and interact with. The stretching room... The great thing about the Haunted Mansion is that even with an enormous queue, you will likely get on in short order, due to Disney's amazing Omnimover system. Also, it's a really fun ride! Next up was Adventureland, where I paid my respects to the Enchanted Tiki Room. I LOVE Tiki Modern! Walt was a man of good taste! Pirates of the Caribbean is another Disney ride that can handle even enormous queues. Ahh! Stroller overload!! Pirates was as good as ever. Can I just say though: F**k all those complainers who made Disney censor the ride and modify their overweight wenches. The truly classic moment remains unchanged. I will say I think Disney have done a good job incorporating the Pirates of the Caribbean feature films. Around the corner from Pirates is another favourite where we bumped into Gary aka TPR's own carolinacaniac turned Jungle Cruise skipper! Hi Gary! Our skipper was a particularly funny girl who was also quite bitchy. We got bossed good! I love inanimate animals. Another classic Disney scene. The Jungle Cruise is a nice diversion. Silly but fun. Exotic Adventureland. The Magic Carpets of Aladdin looks nice, but I've always thought it's a bit 'Dumbo, mark 2'. One thing I had never done was the Swiss Family Treehouse. I hadn't seen Swiss Family Robinson either until quite recently. There was a lot of very inappropriate animal racing going on - elephants, ostriches, zebras, you name it! The 'ride' was hilarious. It was basically a very long queue. But the themeing, as always, was great. I thought this was a nice, unique attraction. Beautiful building back over on Main Street. Main Street is definitely worth exploring. We sampled some food. The Plaza Ice Cream Parlor had some nice offerings. Gorgeous structures everywhere you turn. We decided to wander back to the front of the park to ride the train... It passed right by Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Again, the details in the themeing are just amazing. The train takes you through various scenes... Some of a cultural nature... When our train arrived in the Storybook Circus area, Florida decided to pour down upon us once more, so we looked for some indoor attractions. Getting to them was a bit of a challenge. Yikes! Wet and a little tired, we had to give Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress a spin. Personally, I enjoy this attraction, mostly because of the retro value. I also enjoyed the PeopleMover ride, but I'm still not quite sure why? The rain subsided enough for us to look around the Storybook Circus. I preferred this over Mickey's Toontown Fair. The credit is still here. And I didn't get it last time! Ca-ching!! Our Kiwi friends Kevin and Craig went for a ride on Dumbo. Another iconic Disney attraction, much replicated around the world. The man and the mouse. What a day. Thanks for reading. Next up: Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios in One Day.
  8. Thanks for sharing Yin. What an impressive-looking park, and as always I love the Chinese coaster names (Flying Over the Rainforest!).
  9. Great photos Andy, loved your shots from the Oil Derrick. I will make it back to this park someday.
  10. Sounds from the update that SFMM are doing quite a bit to improve certain areas of the park, and operations are good too. Long may it continue!
  11. ^ Yay, another Ellen ride fan! I would love to have explored the shops a bit more too. And yes Neil I AM that gay!
  12. I am 35 and oddly enough I LOVE me some Bananarama! I had no idea about the history of the bands playing at Indiana Beach. That is all sorts of awesome.
  13. Yes we do Thad! I will definitely get back to Epcot sometime soon and give it a few days if I can. The Food and Wine Festival would be great!
  14. I completely agree with your review of SFMM and its rides. I haven't been since 2010 and can't believe how many coaster line-up changes have occurred since then. Definitely time to give the park another go!
  15. A new year, and the TR goes on, bringing us to the Disney portion of our trip. We decided to do Walt Disney World Resort in style, staying with friends from back home at Disney's amazing Polynesian Resort. I am a fan of all things Tiki Modern, so the resort really worked for me in more ways than one. It was an absolutely gorgeous and relaxing place to stay - obviously so close to the parks - but expensive! I was also surprised to find the bar closed so early. I was ready to spend a fortune on tropical cocktails, but there weren't too many punters hitting the bar, so I'm guessing the resort is mostly a destination for families with kids... Well, duh... But can anyone tell me if there is a more 'adult'-oriented resort at Disney World? Something a little more 'late night'? Anyway, after spending too much time enjoying everything else on offer at Disney's Polynesian Resort we completely messed up our first Disney park day - Epcot. We arrived around midday and that was our first big mistake. I had forgotten that you really have to HUSTLE the Disney parks to have a more thorough, enjoyable day. It seems that there is no longer any time of the year when the Disney World Resort parks are quiet and you have to go in expecting big crowds each and every time. You then have to RUN to the most popular ride first, then fastpass and fastpass again until you've hit up the most popular attractions before all the fastpasses run out (and they will). I had also completely forgotten that it rains in Florida every day without fail, usually around 3-4pm. The tropical thunderstorms usually pass pretty quickly, but they will inevitably close certain rides, such as Test Track. And sometimes, as on the day of our Epcot visit, the thunderstorms won't pass as quickly as you might like... For us that equalled a two hour wait to get ONE ride in on Test Track. Bloody hell! Despite totally messing up our Epcot visit, I did enjoy the park. It was beautiful, and it had some great attractions. I was even able to overlook the two hour wait for Test Track as the ride really delivered a very fun experience. In Future World, Mission: SPACE and Spaceship Earth were other highlights, and I was very surprised by Universe of Energy: Ellen's Energy Adventure. We all groaned when they annouced the 45 minute ride time, but I loved the experience of the theatre seats elaborately moving through the various scenes - which was kind of like the Carousel of Progress on acid. Alright, so everyone else in my party fell asleep, but I couldn't get over how the moving theatre worked! Walking around the World Showcase we briefly sampled the various areas before getting rained out. Epcot is definitely a theme park experience I will have to repeat in the near future. I was very interested to sample more food (and alcohol!), give some of those rare Circle-Vision 360° movies a try (I'm fascinated by this old fashioned innovation), and check out some more of the Future World pavilions, but we simply ran out of time. We did catch the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth show, which was spectacular, but before it had even ended we hustled our way back to the monorail to beat the insane crowds. By our next park - the Magic Kingdom - we had learned our lesson and ended up having a very full day there. But lesson learned at Epcot: If you're an international visitor with one day to do a Disney park, you have to work a little harder to make it a successful visit. This is the sight that greets you as you enter Disney's Polynesian Resort, opened 1971. It's pretty amazing! We stayed in the 'Aotearoa' longhouse (that's the Maori name for New Zealand, an unfortunate coincidence...). I am a fan of Tiki Modern and wanted to steal so many things. Some of this furniture would look great in my house. The resort is right on the lagoon - just across is the Magic Kingdom, a short monorail ride away, with a station by the hotel entrance. The resort had a beautiful outdoor pool! Speaking of the monorail, we went all the way around the lagoon and southwards to Epcot. We'll get to you tomorrow Magic Kingdom... A view of the best Space Mountain of them all (because it's two credits!). The monorail cuts straight through Disney's Contemporary Resort. Nice mural. The monorail finally reaches Epcot and runs around Future World. Here's a view of Test Track from above. Looking out over to the World Showcase. I loved the retro vibe of the place straight away. The Seas with Nemo and Friends. And here's the amazing Spaceship Earth. Hard to believe there's a ride inside this thing... For the rest of our Florida trip we were joined by some good friends from back home, Kevin and Craig! I don't like the look of those clouds one little bit... First up we rode Mission: SPACE which is basically a giant centrifuge with fantastic motion simulation effects. The queue was great too. Very 2001: A Space Odyssey. Of course we did the 'intense' version of the ride, and holy crap did we feel those G forces! I was looking forward to Spaceship Earth, which is now narrated by the lovely Judi Dench. Mural outside. Spaceship Earth uses Disney's Omnimover system, which works except when people are too stupid to get on the damn ride in a timely fashion! From the neanderthals to the Phoenicians... ...the Middle Ages to the Renaissance... And into my favourite period - the mid-century, where everything's retro! I love that episode of the Simpsons when Marge describes a "World of Tomorrow" ride - "what the people in 1965 thought the world would be like in 1987"! I was kind of getting that vibe here... We thought it might be time to check out the rest of the park before those ominous clouds turned into rain. I love these old school buildings! It was looking increasingly stormy over the World Showcase. But we made it to Mexico. I thought this was a good pavilion showcasing the country. This reminded me a little of the Blue Bayou Restaurant inside Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. While we were here we gave the Gran Fiesta Tour a whirl... I've never seen The Three Caballeros, and I'm not sure I will ever get round to it! Alcohol is everywhere at Epcot, which is a good thing for lushes like me. Not the first - and certainly not the last - mobility scooter we saw in Florida... Argh, those clouds! The beautiful Norway Pavilion. I do believe there's a log flume here. Cue the inner log flume enthusiast! Maelstrom was okay, but there's wasn't much 'fluming' - it was more of a boat tour with a fun backwards section. The gate outside the China Pavilion. I believe this is where one of the park's Circle-Vision 360° movies is located. These shows are disappearing fast so I was disappointed to miss it! The Germany Pavilion. They had some great architecture here. But none more so than the Italy Pavilion. We really needed more time to explore the World Showcase... But the rains finally came, and then some... America gave us shelter! We weren't planning to eat at the American Adventure, but the weather swayed our decision. I have to say the food was awesome (and came with a show!). The park got quite a soaking. Unfortunately we left our TPR ponchos at home. Seriously, it looks like a hurricane has blown through! We decided to try something indoors. So why not ride Universe of Energy: Ellen's Energy Adventure... What do you mean it takes 45 minutes?! I loved it! (And it helped that I managed to stay awake!) It was finally dry enough for Test Track to re-open. We sucked it up and got in the stand-by queue. A bit of themeing. The wait was long... Plenty of time to check out Facebook... Did I mention I hate waiting in queues for anything whatsoever? *Sigh* But you know what, Test Track was awesome! By the time we finally emerged it was nighttime. Time for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. It was a spectacular show. We had fun taking photos. The huge rotating globe was particularly impressive. We decided to leave before the end of the show to beat the massive rush to the monorail... Oh Epcot, I will be back to visit again soon... I didn't sample anywhere near enough craft beers today. Next up: Hustling the Magic Kingdom!
  16. I chose option 1. Just based on aesthetics for me, I like the overall look and smaller slideshow banner. Both are looking very nice though!
  17. Great photos and comments! I enjoyed the culture and food segment too by the way, XXX Root Beer sounds amazing!! No one has even heard of root beer in New Zealand, and I am having withdrawals. Have to agree about the consensus on Indiana Beach, it does seem to have become a bit ghetto, which I noticed on my last visit (in 2010). They have some fantastic rides. Double shots are among my favourites - always a fun ride. Hope things pick up for them.
  18. I never rode BuzzSaw Falls at Silver Dollar City, but since Powder Keg: A Blast in the Wilderness is one of the best, and most underrated rides out there, I'd certainly say the alterations were a success.
  19. Thanks for sharing. Hope the park sorts out their 'teething problems' soon. Your review of the looping slide nails it! It's over so quickly you don't notice you're going upside down (which you don't really do anyway!).
  20. I love how we doubled up on photos! I'm sure I have shots of you busy at work too. Glad you liked the lemon/white chocolate bar. I think it might have been a novelty though - you'd be hard pressed to find it even here nowadays. Great photos Andy!
  21. I do agree with The Beast, that could pick up the most incredible speed without the myriad of trims it has now. Every time I've been to KI I feel like new trims have been added since my last visit! Revolution at SFMM is another neutered ride that disappoints me. Apart from the awful OTSRs, it seems to have been pretty heavily trimmed, for e.g. you're braked very harshly after the tunnel and before threading the loop and really crawl into the final brake run. Boo.
  22. I use Pinterest the most. Instead of 'saying something' you're 'showing something' and I just love pinning awesome photos, especially roller coaster/theme park-related ones. Second would be Facebook, third Twitter. Don't upload clips to Youtube but have an account, and mostly find myself watching TPR POVs.
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