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Everything posted by Director_Guy

  1. ^Thanks! It was available on the package I bought for all the on-ride photos. We bought it after the trip, I'm not sure what difference that makes.
  2. Introducing... Orlando Group Honeymoon - The Movie I have saved the best (hopefully) for last! About three months out from this trip I started getting the Post-Disney Blues. I dove back in to all of the videos we captured on our trip and started piecing together nice little (14 minute long) video of our unforgettable week. Today, I've decided to share it with all of you. If the lengthy runtime is daunting, here are some highlights: But if you're only going to watch one part of this video, this is the part you should watch. Thank you all for joining me.
  3. Thank you for reading! Thank you! I am happy to share a bit of the magic when I can. It was fun to reminisce and, honestly, it got me thinking about a potential future trip. BUT THAT'S NOT ALL! I've got one more surprise for everyone. I should have it ready by next week. Until then...
  4. Chapter VII - The End The final day as a group had arrived. Jackie and Mikey were the first ones out, hoping to catch up on the things they missed at Hollywood Studios. Austin and Jen decided to spend their last moments before their flight that evening at Epcot (good choice). Meg, DJ, and myself were out early, but several steps behind the others. We did enjoy the extra room on the bus, however. The rest of our gang weren’t too far behind, but it’s park time, baby, you can’t waste that! We met up with Austin and Jen right away. They wanted to more soberly explore the World Showcase (at least for a little bit). We walk through the back half and stopped in Canada, Austin’s home country. I had never seen it before, but found it surprisingly enjoyable. I was almost nostalgic for a country I’ve never visited! Austin felt very homesick afterward, so we drowned our sorrows with feel-good juice in Mexico. Yes, we got two each! The line is stupidly long, man. This just saves time. We stepped outside and found Jackie, Mikey, Brian, and Vanessa. A small bee was making friends with Jackie’s Gudetama pulsh. The bee recommended we ride Mission: Space for some “sick G’s”. Well, I’ve never been one to say ‘no’ to a bee, especially a Bee that knows its G’s. The group migrated over and we blasted off. We were the only ones who wanted the intense side! We were running out of time before Austin and Jen’s flight, so we swung by Club Cool for a beloved right of passage. You can see for yourself how it went: We all got on a bus back to Jambo House to have a midday rest. DJ couldn’t wait until we got back. DJ sleepy. At last the time to say goodbye had arrived. Austin and Jen left the wonderfully strange dreamland that we got to stay in for a week and flew back to Los Angeles. But before the Alliance broke, we met once more for a last Jambo. What a great group of weirdo adventurers. After a small rest, we all met downstairs at Boma for an unbelievable “Last Meal”. Here’s my “stalker photo” inside Boma. Folks, this place is up there with ‘Ohana as just the best food at the resort. Holy crow, it was just good thing after good thing. Natalie, show ‘em what we ate: Oh man. Guys, don’t Trip Report while hungry… After Boma, we all relaxed with a somber board game. All of us were thinking it: we didn’t want to leave. Why couldn't we stay like this forever? The next day, they were gone. Ah, at least there was some evidence left. Oh, man! DJ’s Winequest! He must have quested hard. This day Meg and I were celebrating our 10 year dating anniversary. We started at Hollywood Studios… Feeling sad that our friends were gone, and exhausted from when our friends were here, we went back to Jambo House for lunch. We couldn’t leave Florida without getting another one of these cheesy suckers. Oh, Giordano’s. Meg and I then enjoyed our hotel. We lounged about, took a midday nap, enjoyed the Mufasa tub. It was a very calm day. That evening we wandered Epcot in the rain. We had a lot of the park to ourselves. There weren’t many other people who wanted to be out in the rain. We roamed until it was time for our romantic dinner reservation at Le Celier. To be honest, I was so punch drunk (and a little actually drunk from Mexico, of course) from this trip, that I barely remember eating here. I think it was good! I liked the intimate environment of the restaurant. We shared this piece of meat and went back to the hotel. Our final day had arrived. Did we spend our final day at Epcot? Yepcot!! We had a few final FastPass+ rides… ...but we mostly wandered the park soaking up as much as we could before we had to face the real world. We reflected on an incredible week. How lucky we are to have such close friends that were willing to travel halfway across the country to see us get hitched and then months later follow us all the way across the country to spend a week stuffing our faces, walking our ***es off, drinking our livers raw, and laughing at cacophonous levels. In the end, The Tragical Express comes for us all. Someday Meg and I will return; we can’t stay away too long. But, I don’t think any future trip will match up to our Orlando Group Honeymoon. It was simply perfect. Kwaheri.
  5. Love the trip so far! So, Expedition Everest was your first Disney attraction ever? That's a good one to start with! Sorry about your Blight of Passage. But, hey, another reason to return, right?
  6. I made the animation, but the source is from the Disney PhotoPass thing. A few of the rides have videos of you on portions of the ride. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is another one. Hahaha! This is the natural response to seeing people in group t-shirts. We, however, looked amazing. That sounds like a really cool experience. A nearly empty, dimly lit land at night would be like exploring a foreign planet. It honestly sounds fun. See?! Thank you! Thanks! Those awesome night shots were provided by Natalie. She is an excellent photographer and I've been including a lot of her photos when I didn't have any coverage of certain things. Like Pandora at night! I completely agree! I love the story of Harrison Hightower, but the actual thrill portion of the ride needs some plussing-up. If they transposed the story to the old Hollywood aesthetic, I think I'd be pretty happy.
  7. Chapter VI - The Honeymoon Alliance Morning came swiftly. Jen and Vanessa had the right idea that morning. After our trip around the world, it would do us all good to eat some breakfast and hydrate. We began the day at the only remaining theme park we hadn’t visited: Hollywood Studios. The rest of the crew was to meet up later; taking advantage of the fact that they are on vacation and aren’t insane people like us who want to ride rides all day. More power to them. Nick, DJ, Austin, Jen, Vanessa, Megan, and myself opened the park up. I find that while both lines can get long for the two attractions on Sunset Blvd, I’d much rather wait in the lovely queue for Tower than the outdoor switchback from Hell that is Rockin’ Rollercoaster. So, I forced everyone to go there first. DJ says, “Wait a minute… I love that idea!” What do we have here, a couple of them theme park ruffians?! Oh. You’re probably wondering about the shirts. DJ’s totally awesome gal pal was, unfortunately, unable to make it to our week long excursion. As a surprise to us, she had made and sent us all these matching shirts declaring us “The Honeymoon Alliance”. We were so thrilled and grateful. Yes, now our touristy endeavours are finally complete. We are, at last, That Group. I couldn’t be happier. Immediately following Coaster, we jumped in line for Tower. In fact, it was so great, we jumped back in line again. This ride is just so great. I couldn’t say enough about it. I miss it dearly at California Adventure, but of course I am content with the Guardians ride. It’s a great ride, but I sure love the spooky aesthetic of the old Hollywood Tower Hotel. It’s right up my alley. I don’t even see it as an IP thing. I don’t believe people sing this ride’s praises because of “The Twilight Zone”. You could remove every reference to the show and it’d still be a fantastic experience (as evidenced by the Tokyo version). I wouldn’t want the Tokyo version to replace Orlando’s version, however. I really like the Old Hollywood vibe and would really like that to stay inta- “Dude, you’re rambling. Get on with it.” Oh, jeeze. Sorry, me from the past. Let’s move on. Well, we’d been in Hollywood Studios for about an hour now. I’d say it was about time we ride the only other ride there. “I hope they’ll let me bring this on the plane.” The always excellent Star Tours. This was the first time we’d gotten a chance to see the Crait sequence. Kylo Ren held up a picture of my face because I WAS THE REBEL SPY! YES! ME THIS TIME! I WIN! Although I could have been a better spy. My t-shirt is a dead giveaway. Megan is still the champion at getting to be the Rebel Spy. I think she’s been chosen over 5 or 6 times on several different versions of Star Tours. Maybe that’s rookie numbers for some of you, but that’s insane for a casual Star Tourist. Suddenly, Natalie arrived! Just in time for us to enjoy the Henson classic, MuppetVision 3D. I sure miss this one back West. Very happy about the Philharmagic replacement, but it’s definitely a consolation prize. The Force may be strong with us, but so was The Hunger. We quickly found a place to eat adequate food. Clearly, we made the right choice. Nick and Natalie went off to have their own lunch date at Epcot. The rest of us spent some time getting a few drinks, wandering the park, and getting a few more rides in. By mid-afternoon we were back on a bus and headed to Animal Kingdom to meet with the rest of our group. Those bus rides between parks are some of the best sleep you’ll ever have. Back on Pandora! Jambo, friends. We are all together again, at last. Many of us used this opportunity to try the local flavors. These shirts sure do catch the eye, don’t they! Oh my! You know what... I kinda like walking around dressed just like 10 other people. We look pretty sharp. Time for Time Travel. “Doyouthinkhesaurus?” When we got into the vehicle, the ride operator said “You’re gonna want to get the picture for this one.” He was right. We double backed to Asia to ride Everest one last time. “Top o’ the World!” Afterward, Brian and Vanessa went to grab some Flametree BBQ dinner and the rest of us ran over to single rider Everest for one last last ride. The sun had nearly set and it was finally time to do what we were here to do. See Pandora at night. I wasn’t overly impressed with the lighting at night. It doesn’t compare to what you expect from having seen the movie Avatar. But I think it does look pretty. I do have issue with being able to see lighting equipment that’s basically out in the open and in reach of all guests. Well, it’s not really an issue for me, more like I can easily see someone messing with this. It also, looks kinda tacky. The vibe, for the most part, is pretty nice. To end the night, we exercised our FastPass for Flight of Passage. It was just as good this time as before. After that, we all went back to Jambo House for rest. Tomorrow would the last day before the alliance was broken...
  8. That's pretty funny! That might the first time a park has told its staff to be purposefully unhelpful. Epcot is the best. Beirgarten, like I said, the food wasn't great. But the atmosphere (and I assume giant glasses of beer) was top notch. New chapter coming soon! Only a couple days left to cover!
  9. Chapter V - Self-Induced Dehydration and Schnitzel There are many benefits to staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The animals, of course, but also the access to stellar food, a magnificent lobby, and large carts of plasticised feces for your close examination while you wait for a bus. Yes, and only later do you realize these are the same bowls they use in the restaurants. Meg and I struck out early this day, leaving our exhausted crew behind. We had FastPass reservations early on for anyone who wanted them, but most decided they’d have a nice sleep in and meet us for lunch. It actually wasn't that early, this time, it was like 11 o’clock. But Meg and I couldn’t wait, knowing that Walt Disney World was right outside our door. But it turned out to be a bust! What we thought would be a nice leg up on the day by heading out a bit early turned into us being stuck on Mission: SPACE for far too long. I’m not really a fan of being trapped in this ride vehicle, so we made the best out of it while annoying our other two riders by pressing every button! “Meg angry!” We were finally pulled out of the Mission: SPACE coffin and beelined it straight to Mexico for recovery. Ahh, that’s the stuff. We enjoyed our margaritas… and another… and met with our friends who had arrived at the park: DJ, Jackie, Mikey, Natalie, Austin, and Jen. They too got margaritas and thus began our day drinking around the world. DJ with Tajín in his beard. DJ realizing that’s why I took the last picture. Starting so heavily in Mexico, “uh-oh” you say. Well, we had a big lunch planned, so this'll all soak right up, right? Right? But before lunch, we climbed aboard a boat and toured the Arendelle pavilion. I was a big fan of Maelstrom and very sad when it went away. The Frozen ride, despite me not liking the movie very much, was great! The effects and environments all looked wonderful. That Olaf animatronic blew me away when I saw him walk over to us. That was nuts. Now I have another reason to be upset at Disney. They keep taking away favorite rides and replacing them with IP related attractions and, dammit, they’re actually good. I miss the days where I could complain about a classic replaced with crap when it goes under new management. Jackie, seen here getting reprimanded for the unforgivable crime of spilling beer. Lunch time had arrived. No, Jen! In the building behind you! Biergarten for lunch! Here’s the reason DJ insisted on going to Biergarten. I liked it. The atmosphere was very nice. The gentlemen performing for the crowd killed it. During the show, Mikey and Jackie got up to dance. The food was just okay, in my book. I did feel very full afterward, but unsatisfied with what I ate. I don’t see myself returning to Biergarten any time soon, despite having a good time. The food is not worth it. While we were fattening ourselves up, a few other people showed up at the park. Nick hopped aboard Not-Maelstrom as the only lone adult man on the boat… And we discovered Brian and Vanessa (not pictured, whoops!) had arrived, too! They were just in time to continue our tour around World Showcase. We stopped for a moment in America to try these drool worthy cups of chocolate: Wow is all I can say. These count for drinking around the world, right? Things got serious once we hit Japan. Our bellies were full on schnitzel and we needed to drown it with some alcohol. And thus began DJ’s Wine Quest. “Wine Quest!” “WINE QUEST!!” Our quest move us on into Morocco. Oh my god, look out to the right! Morocco is a beautiful pavilion. I love walking around through it and seeing all the shops. There is texture everywhere you look. This pavilion is worth walking all the way around World Showcase for. That’s not to say the booze along the way isn’t worth it! Ah, booze. Right! So far I barely feel a tingle. Let’s stop in and grab something… There we go. And now to continue calmly around the lake. Wait, what’s… happen… hap… happening happening…. happening… Do you hear that music? OH hey there’s DJ! DJ is here! *hiccup* Excusme. My friends are all here. We are going around Disney World with all my friends because they are here and DJ is here and we have to get him more wine! Is it just me or are things a little blurry right now? This drink is tasty. Oh, how long have I been talking to my buddy Brian? Brian is a very good friend of mine from all the way back in middle school. He would never meet me at Six Flags Great America growing up, but we went to Disneyland and I gave him a Dolewhip and now he’s my friend at Disney World, too. Oh no! What did I say to Brian to make him make this face? He must be an Citrus Swirl guy now. These drinks are goooooooood. How many have I had? We're in France now? When did...? Oh! We’re moving... we’re moving out! Oh not them, they stopped… why? Let’s listen in… “NO. MORE. HQ!” I sure am enjoying Epcot. Oof I’m dizzy…. Where am I? Okay, I think we’re almost there. Just keep looking down, maybe you won't thro- Nope. That's not working, okay look up, look up. Hey, my buddy Brian is here! Brian is a very good friend of mine from all the way back in middle school. He would never meet me at Disneyland because it was too far from Chicago. Oh no… how long have we been drinking? “I can see my own soul” RRRrrrrriiiiiiiing……. Ahoy? “WINE. QUEST.” Oh boy, folks. I think we all need to go home and lie down. Let’s get us there the fastest way possible. As far as I can tell, the Test Track cars did, in fact, drive us back to Jambo House...
  10. Chapter IV - Better Butter Beer Today’s good morning “Jambo” sounded a little less enthusiastic than usual. It wasn’t for a lack of interest, but I could tell the early mornings were starting to get to our crew. I let them know that this would be the last day we needed an early arrival. The reason I got everyone of bed so early was because we were going to tackle both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure and we only had this one day to do it. The crowd projections were on our side, but I knew there’d be a lot to cover. Everyone just needs a nice Butterbeer pick-me-up. And our first stop was indeed the Wizarding World. We rushed to Escape from Gringotts and made it through with nearly zero wait! I must say I enjoy this ride, but, like many Universal experiences, the queue is better than the actual ride. I’m know much has been said about their over reliance of screens and projections, so I will spare you my thoughts (as you probably know what they are), but I’d like to add another issue I have with this ride. It’s clear to me that whoever directed the actors did so very poorly. The acting from Domhnall Gleeson as Bill Weasley and Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix LeStrange are stilted at best. Gleeson gives a completely flat and un-whimsical performance, seemingly because it was, like, their second take and it’s shot in a way he may not be comfortable with. Carter has the most glaring issue, to me. There’s a point where it seems like she forgets her line or at least misses her cue. Am I crazy? Check out a video of the ride: It all seems awkward and unrehearsed. Maybe they only had the actors for a very limited time. After a deposit at the wizard bank, some of us were feeling a bit peckish and decided to drop in for some brekky at The Three Broomsticks. Megan tried the hot butterbeer for the first time. We now both agree that this is the preferred form of butterbeer. Liquid form, that is; the ice cream is superior. It’s so damn sweet, I love it. Speaking of, does anyone know if they changed the butterbeer recipe since around 2011? I remembered it being a lot sweeter! It’s still cloyingly sugary, but not enough for my big ol’ sweet tooth. We enjoyed our nosh and continued exploring the land. I love the detail here. We haven’t had any chance to check out what I affectionately call WestPot, at Universal Studios Hollywood (we usually only go to the park for Halloween Horror Nights, and it has yet to open for that). I was able to visit the original in 2011 and Diagon Alley once before, in 2015, and it’s my favorite theme park land to date. I am a big Harry Potter fan, but I think I’m a bigger theme park fan and the land itself satisfies all of my requirements. So many details to uncover, so many sounds and smells and tastes to take in. It’s really wonderful. I do have some issues with it, of course. For one, I mentioned earlier, the ride leaves some things to be desired. More built out environments instead of reliance on screens would be great. They have cool animatronics in the queue! Why not the ride? But, the biggest issue I have is it’s whole premise. You are a muggle visiting the Wizarding World. Excuse me? Disregard the breaking of the source material’s continuity, nobody who reads or watches Harry Potter wants to be a Muggle. It makes less sense too that we are buying wands and other magical things that wouldn’t work for us if we were Muggles. It’s a really messy premise they have set up here. Why not simply just let us be wizards and witches? There’s also a similarly weird concept where the characters and Team Members of the land will ask if you go to Hogwarts and what house to which you belong, despite myself having an obviously not English accent and being 30. My house is Gryffindor, by the way, and Slytherin can stuff it! We offered no time to explore the rest of the park and hopped right aboard the Hogwarts Express. This ride is great, I have no real issues with it, either. Especially since, apparently, they can fit ten of us in a single compartment! This picture is clearly mid-Jambo. We hopped of the train and dove right into Forbidden Journey. Great ride! Still too much reliance on screens, but a great experience that combines a lot of techniques. Love it. I really should just go to WestPot. I don’t have to fly 2,000 miles away to ride this, why do I?! It took me so long to realize that this is the Gryffindor common room! The switchbacks kind of mess with the illusion of it. And all the people. Austin is just impressed that the man in the back can magically drink from his cup without his hands! Wooooooww! After a very Harry morning, we continued on to Jurassic Park. With a few exceptions, this ride is quite superior to the Hollywood version! The lush greenery is enough to make me say so. It’s much more immersive than seeing the Frankenstein parking lot behind a brachiosaurus. Points I would give Hollywood over Orlando: The T-Rex head you see before the drop. That, of course, is irrelevant now due to the Jurassic World conversion. Megan and Austin insisted on staying dry. Kong was new for everyone. I must say I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I kind of hate the Hollywood version where Peter Jackson tells you to put on your 3D glasses and then you have to hang onto them for another 40 minutes. This one was enjoyable. Had some great practical effects mixed in. I was very surprised to see the driver on the vehicle was fake. And this thing was one of the best animatronics I’ve ever seen. It was so believable in its movements and it had a real “goopiness” to it. It could have been on set in a movie, it looked so good. Yes, I know this ride has a giant animatronic Kong, but this one is the one that wowed me. I’m not sure what Brian and Vanessa were saying here. I can only assume they were asking for change. Around this time I was getting a little nervous. The crowds had started to pick up. Wait times were getting longer and longer and my party grew hungry. We stopped at the closest place to eat, which was in Jurassic Park. I wanted people to eat something nice in CityWalk, but we were trapped in the back of the park and I didn’t want to interrupt the circuit. We finished eating and hit up Spiderman and Hulk. While walking past, those who fear no water hopped onto the Popeye rapid ride. Myself and a few others passed on this opportunity. Natalie, would you like to go with them and have water in your socks all night? “$@%& that!” Once we finished the Islands of Adventure loop, a handful of folks, who planned for a second day at Universal, went back to Jambo house to rest. As for those who remained, we hit the Studios park. Mummy and Men in Black, back to back. There was a parade going through… Jen noticed that Squidward was having a bit of a wardrobe malfunction. The sourpus face really sells how uncomfortable this must have been. I wouldn’t let anyone leave without going for a bike ride with E.T Oh man, this is the nostalgic ride of my youth. I never got why Peter Pan has a crazy long line, but if people feel about Pan how I feel about E.T., then I totally get it. I’m endlessly bummed that we have a crappy version Revenge of the Mummy over this. The sun began going down and we knew it was time for our last rides. I suggested Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit, but those who weren’t too interested wanted to get one last look at Diagon Alley and spend time in the bank vaults of Gringotts. DJ, Vanessa, and I hopped in line for HRRR and had an amazing night time ride. It was probably the best ride I’ve had on it, it didn’t even feel rough. When we got off, Dj and Vanessa wanted to ride again, and I feel bad, but I told them we should meet our friends, who were probably already off Gringotts. But it was minutes until closing… Could we make it to ride Gringotts one last time? We ran to Diagon Alley. Well, more like we theme park ran, which is running while making your upper body look like its just walking. We made it with seconds to spare! I threw my camera in a locker and we escaped from Gringotts! After our ride, our friends were waiting, surprised to see us walking out of the exit. That’s right guys, we got a HRRR ride AND a final Gringotts. Okay, I need to sit down, I’m out of breath. I limped my way back to the rideshare pickup.. Three days of theme parking during all daylight hours had finally caught up to me. The next day would have a later start, but definitely more walking…
  11. There's an unfortunate stigma (probably not here, but in the real world) that the Disney parks are made exclusively for children, but I've done the parks as both child and adult and find them more enjoyable as an adult! No need to feel guilt about leaving the kid behind, I'm sure she will enjoy future trips. MK vs Disneyland, I will always tell people there are more attractions in Disneyland than Disney World. Of course, the real answer is much more nuanced than that (especially when you get into what the definition of "attraction" is), but that fact seems to make them understand, at least without a complete dissertation. You're right, it's hard to get across. I'll have more of my trip soon. Real life got a bit in the way, but things should be rolling soon.
  12. Haha! A great point. I've started to pose for those. Mostly mean mugging. [youtu_be] [/youtu_be]1 I have eaten at the one outside, and it was fairly decent. Part of the reason I haven't eaten at the restaurant on the inside is because I hear the food isn't that great, despite being in a prime location, and I live in a city that has really great Mexican food. If anyone here says they love it I will definitely give it a try next time. The atmosphere is very nice (as long as you're in the right room, but the food is merely fine. I'd say worth a dine at least once per life. Thanks! I think they added the picture recently, within the last 2 years.
  13. Chapter III - Manic Kingdom Jambo! The day began like most days: early. This day was Magic Kingdom day. You know, we’re not monsters. We wouldn’t fill our friends up with alcohol and meat late in the evening and force them to wake up before the parks open. Meg and I told them all that we were going to the park early and that there was a FastPass reservation at 11am for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. No obligation to do any of it. Austin and Jen were the only two to take up the offer, the others enjoying some hard earned sleep. The morning was fairly relaxed. We got there pretty much just after opening and went straight to Peter Pan’s Flight. The wait wasn’t very long and we got to enjoy the queue, which is very different from Disneyland’s awful outdoor line in the harsh sun. People talk about bottling “Disney smells” but that’s one smell that may have to be left out. “There, there, Jen. It does have air conditioning.” We toured Fantasyland for a little while, taking in the sights and waiting for our FastPass. It was then that we learned Jackie, Mikey, and DJ had all rushed to get to the park by our FastPass time. They weren’t aware that it was a one hour window, so they thought we had already ridden. They went straight to the line and rode without us. The rest of our gang was on their way into the park. Our FastPass time was up, but with our gang about to be complete, we stalled for time on It’s a Small World. What to say about Small World… it’s classic. I have no feelings on it except Disneyland’s is probably better, except for the flooded set aspect. I think that looks really great, reflecting everything back off the water. And then we waited… And waited... “Oh hey there! Did you expect this trip to be more exciting? Alright, let’s skip to the good stuff.” Friends arrived and we coasted. This ride has the best on-ride photos I’ve ever seen. The lighting and post-processing is surprisingly nice! The FP was stacked this day cause up right away was Space Mountain. We made the trek across the park. DJ led the way, even though he has absolutely no idea where any of us were going. He just has an energy that can’t be depleted. You let him off the leash and off he runs! He did this his first time at Disneyland, too. Time for Space Mountain. Space for Time Mountain. This is probably the weirdest part of the ride to take a picture, second only to an on-ride picture we’ll get to in a bit. All that coasting got us hungry. Now with all the great food we’ve been having, sometimes you have to just eat what’s closest. And if we’re going to eat crummy hot dogs and hamburgers, at least we’ll do it in a unique setting watching Earth’s favorite Sonny Eclipse, in Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. I guess while everyone is eating, I’ll talk a little bit about Magic Kingdom. I like it. It’s hard not to compare it to Disneyland, which is vastly superior, I’m sorry. The attractions they both share are almost unanimously much better at Disneyland and the entire park oozes charm. But Magic Kingdom is a great park in its own right. They thankfully made room for all the people, the castle is very striking compared to Disneyland, and the peoplemover still runs. Look, I enjoy both. A lot. And on any day I’d rather be at either of them than none of them. After lunch we wandered the park some more, hitting the headliners. Big Thunda Haunted Mansion (my favorite, and actually I think this one is better than Disneyland’s) And we couldn’t miss The Tangled Restrooms, an iconic establishment. It was then that a few people in our group heard a ping sound coming from their pocket. It was a notification on their phones for a trivia game called HQ. If there’s anything to date this trip in a specific time period it’s us all stopping to play HQ in the middle of Magic Kingdom. We were stopped here a good 20 minutes answering trivia. Unfortunately, nobody won any money. We drowned our sorrows in Mickey’s Philharmagic, which I happen to really love. I’m not a huge fan of 3D shows but I will definitely see this show every time I’m in The World. If only they would update it with a digital projector. It was then time for the real feast we had planned for the day. I was surprised that they would seat this many at a table at Be Our Guest. I remember the tables not being very big the last time Meg and I ate here. What I didn’t know was that we should have requested to sit in the main dining hall because we got sat in what I like to call “The Worst Wing” and it should be forbidden. It’s not a terrible room, but the other two rooms are heavily themed and this one feels like a big afterthought. The kind of place you’d put people when they show up with a party of 11…. Oh. The food was mediocre! I think I liked this place better last time due to the atmosphere. Somehow being in a themed environment makes food taste better. The blandness of The Worst Wing really opened my eyes to the mediocrity of the food here. Unfortunate, because I really like the rest of the place. After dinner, Nick and Natalie went back to Jambo House to grab colder weather supplies. The rest of us walked through Frontierland, our bellies full, enjoying the night time ambiance. I looked up at saw a lot of birds darting around very fast. Nightbirds, I thought. But they were not birds. They were BATS! A good dozen or so, flying above us as we entered Adventureland. That’s fascinating to me. Disneyland has cats and Disney World has bats. Once in Adventureland, we hopped in for a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean. This is the weirdest spot for an on-ride picture I’ve ever seen. Nothing is happening here. Everyone is guaranteed to have a dull expression on their faces, as evidenced by our picture. It’s not that the ride is unexciting. If you took a picture of a bunch of people watching a movie it would look similar, but we don’t want to remember movies like we do rides. We want to see our excited laughing expressions, the ones we remember making. It’s really bizarre to put the picture here BEFORE the drop. Sorry, that’s a weird thing to care about, but what a strange decision! We headed for the exit. Jackie and Mikey called it for the night and returned to Jambo House. The rest of us hopped on a monorail. Epcot? Yepcot! It would be a brief trip to round out the night. In a perfect world, I’d want everyone’s first trip to Epcot to be in the daylight. But we were very good boys and girls all day and had no liquor inside of us. We needed to beeline to Cava del Tequila. DJ in search of the perfect hat. I don’t know folks… do we have a winner? HE HAS CHOSEN! SO IT SHALL BE! Mexico, my favorite Epcot pavilion. Maybe my favorite place inside a Walt Disney World theme park. I’m sure you’ve noticed they all relate to booze. But aside from the booze, the atmosphere is really nice. And there’s a ride! By the time the rest of us got our first margarita, DJ already has his second one and ready for more. He’s a machine. “You guys, I found a better hat!” Nick returned and we spent our little remaining time waiting for and riding Soarin’. Not wanting to outstay our welcome (and also we were tired and there’s already some pre-bought booze back in Jambo House), we hopped on a bus to take us back home. There was still more fun to be had. We needed rest, for tomorrow we would be breaking the sacred Disney Bubble™.
  14. That's quite a shame you only get a few days, but two days beats none! What other park are you looking to visit? I'm glad I can encourage enthusiasm for Animal Kingdom. It's a very unique park, very well designed. It definitely needs more attractions, but I do think you could absolutely spend a full day there, especially if you like to go at a slower pace.
  15. You and I think alike. I can't deny that it was probably in the top 10 days of the 10 day trip.
  16. Chapter II - Skewered Banshee Wings We woke up before dawn. I’m certain everyone hated me for this decision and I completely understand that. Normally, I am a heavy and late sleeper. I’d rather be asleep than awake in most moments. However, Disney days are not sleep-in days. You only have so much time to explore the parks and it’s a Pluto eat Goofy world out there. Pluto eat Goofy… does that make sense? The point is, you gotta wake up on time to maximize your enjoyment. Meg and I quietly came out that morning. We were among the first awake, but the rest joined us soon. We ate a small breakfast, greased our wheels, and we were out the door and on a bus just before sunrise. Last night, Brian and Vanessa (on the left) had arrived. Brian is a very good friend of mine from all the way back in middle school. He would never meet me at Six Flags Great America growing up, but in the last few years I introduced him to Disneyland and has been a straight up convert ever since. Vanessa, his fiancée (they just got engaged when we went to Japan!), is originally from Orlando/Kissimmee and has a complicated view of the parks, understandably so. I can imagine the opinion of a local is far more nuanced on the subject than those of us who are only there for a few weeks every couple of years. We were among the only ones on the bus. I think maybe one other small group. Here I am trying to steal Mikey’s beard. “Just one quick tug and it’s all mine!” When we arrived at Animal Kingdom, there was already a line out the door. We went through security and those of us who were bagless went on ahead, leaving us baggers behind. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional. I’m sure they still love us… right? “Ehhhh…” The line moved quickly and were suddenly in line for Flight of Passage. DJ! DJ is our final member, he also arrived the night before. DJ we’ve known for a relatively short amount of time, but he is always an endless source of positive energy. The nicest guy ever to love heavy metal music. We chose DJ to be the guy officiate our wedding and he KILLED it. I’ve taken DJ to Six Flags Magic Mountain a few times and he loves the thrills. The previous March we announced our engagement at Disneyland and it happened to be DJ’s first time ever! Pandora was pretty neat. The attention to detail is very impressive. As much as many of us like to say that Avatar has very little lasting cultural impact, it remains true that a good product is a good product. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is evidence that IP is irrelevant. Imagineering was tasked to create something out of an IP no one has a significant attachment to and it still turned out to be an insane success; not because of the IP but despite it. We were able to get on Flight of Passage in no time. Actually, I found arriving early to be to our detriment! The whole immersive queue I had been hearing about was almost completely bypassed. We were ushered passed all of the cool experiments and the big animatronic and put into the pre-show room. Normally I’d say this is a blessing, but we had never done any of it before. That was a small disappointment. The pre-show was a big info dump. They had a lot to say to make sure you understood the premise of the ride. It was right in the middle of the part where they “scan your DNA” when a cast member came in and told us we had to move to a different pre-show room. Jackie promptly apologized for her “garbage DNA” gumming up the works. The ride itself was pretty good, I gotta say. It’s definitely the best version of this type of simulator attraction. How far that will take you depends on your personal taste. My own tends to gravitate toward fully built out 3D environments with animatronics, but I can appreciate this ride for what it is. The motion base works very, very good and I remember so many smells and misty waterfalls that really added to the realism. “I will fight you for pins.” We wandered around Pandora for a spell, just taking it in. But it wasn’t long before we were off to Africa to see the savannah. “Listen everyone, you can only ride the fictional animals.” And there were lots of animals… What more can be said really? It's exactly what you sign up to see. Nothing too exciting or out of the ordinaOH MY GOD A BABY HIPPO!! After our safari, we took the path nearby that lets us see a bunch of apes. I dig that this park has so many walking paths that you can have your own self guided tour and just explore. It was then time for our own Himalayan escape. Austin, with all of the wonderful things that surround him, still manages to find a way to look at his phone. “Touch!” Expedition is as good as ever. Obviously, I wish the Yeti was working like it used to; the ride is missing a final climax, but I always leave it with a huge smile. First roller coaster of the trip and I don’t get to ride with my new bride?! Those who had never ridden were very impressed, especially those used to Matterhorn Bobsleds back west. I think it kinda blew Austin’s mind a little. The gang started to feel hungry, probably because I rushed them out the door so early. We filled our bellies and rested our feet at Flametree BBQ. I think Animal Kingdom has become my second favorite park in Walt Disney World behind Epcot. That’s not something I would have said when I first visited in 2006. I feel like it’s grown and improved but I also feel like I’ve spent more time in the park and gotten to know what it’s all about. I love how big it feels; how wherever you are there’s always something hidden away waiting to be found. I think the park has the best fully built themed environments, even ones that don’t relate to any IP. I still think it needs work. There are obvious sore spots like the Dinorama carnival area. The park definitely needs to be filled out more. But Disney definitely knows this and I think we are beginning to see these changes take shape. It certainly helped to expand my enjoyment of the park by staying in the hotel, though! Living there and entering the park as an extension of that theme really put me in the mindset. “Hey, Austin. We hid a used bandaid in your baked beans.” When the food was over, we continued on to the rover, that shows the dinosau...ver. DJ No! We had an enjoyable journey through the dark. Here we see the many reactions people had to watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Around midday we wandered back over to Pandora to get a better, less rushed lay of the land. We had a FastPass for Na'vi River Journey. It was really nice, I think. If I had waited in line for more than 40 minutes I'd probably be pretty upset. It's kind of an incomplete experience. But, with the use of FastPass, I found it fairly enjoyable. The animatronic at the end blows me away, but the rest of the ride is mostly "cute". Nick and Natalie I believe had a date planned in Magic Kingdom and they ran off for a while, knowing we would meet them in the MK area later. Brian & Vanessa went back to Jambo House for a little relaxation. The rest of us wandered around Animal Kingdom some more. We caught the Festival of the Lion King show which was pretty good, but probably on the list of I Don’t Have to Do That One Again. It’s a good show, but not worth my precious park time. We found some drinks and did more wandering. But the day grew hotter and we grew more tired so we all ventured back to Jambo House for a refresh (and a nap). The unsung benefit of staying on property is midday naps. How have I not been doing this before?! Anyway, naptime... And like that the sun was down and we were back out and on a bus... ...to Magic Kingdom! And then back on a monorail.... ...to my favorite place in The World. You lucky people, you, it’s the ever amazing tropical hideaway Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto! Yes, I love this bar. I love Disneyland’s and I love Walt Disney World’s. When I first walked in I said “Oh, look, a place built just for me”. Moody (almost spooky) atmosphere with colored lights, sweet drinks, interactive displays, and an intensive almost obsessive attention to detail that makes you wonder if maybe we should be spending our time and money on things that make the world better and not frivolous entertainment but who cares because I’m TTIIPPPSPSSYYYYYY. Everyone else had a great time. We got the entire surfboard to ourselves, it was great. And then the madness set in. Natalie got the lowering seat! Sam’s was a hit! We had a place to be so we vacated our surfboard to the next lucky folks and walked outside for a brief firework show… ...and back inside for… ...you guessed it, more booze! We had a reservation at 'Ohana and waited it out by patronizing the bar. These two on the right are clearly mid-”Jambo”. It wasn’t long until we made our way to our table. The food was very good. So good. I am a meat fan. I eat a lot of it. Almost exclusively meat, actually. ‘Ohana has some of the best, my god. I am such a fan of this place, it’s one of my top two restaurants in the resort. But it’s not just the meat! We had three veggie-people on the trip with us and all three of them were so happy and stuffed by the end of this. And I don’t know how we had no picture, but the BREAD PUDDING desert is fantastic. I have dreams about that thing. The kind of dreams that would be impolite to share on a family friendly forum. My god, it’s so tasty. When asked how good it was by our server, Natalie jokingly replied with “I think we’re gonna need five more of these”. And guys, they did it. They brought us five of those freaking things. Oh my god. There I am at the end clearly in the middle of the remains of a meat skewer. And of course, you can have drinks there. No, Jen, we already did this bit. ‘Ohana was fantastic. We were all so full. It was time to throw in the towel. Or hold up the white flag, either way we were done. After that, we all piled into two separate Lyfts to get back to Jambo house. It was a successful day, indeed. “You’re not gonna wake us up again early tomorrow, are you...?”
  17. Thanks! I loved Hangar Bar! it was a nice place, should have tried the food. My thoughts exactly! The trip was already at a high point and we hadn't even reached the parks yet. Thanks so much! Hard to believe it was over a year ago. To be clear, we got married in Denver not Orlando. The Big O was strictly for the honeymoon A few weeks?! How exciting! I'd sure love to go back. That's part of why I'm writing the trip report; getting all nostalgic. I hope you have a great time. You're right, the scale is massive. I'm always impressed. I love Disneyland also, mind you, but the things that work in Orlando really work. I love it. Thanks! Just you wait, more to come! I even have some video treats for y'all.
  18. Greetings friends. It's been a while since I've made a trip report; many years in fact. But I had such an amazing time in Orlando last January that I wanted to share it with the world. So, buckle up. This may take a while. Chapter I - The Arrival Chapter II - Skewered Banshee Wings Chapter III - Manic Kingdom Chapter IV - Better Butter Beer Chapter V - Self-Induced Dehydration and Schnitzel Chapter VI - The Honeymoon Alliance Chapter VII - The End Chapter VIII - The Movie Chapter I - The Arrival Eleven years ago, Megan and I met while working at Hollywood Video. We spent many years together sharing laughs, gaining valuable life experiences, traveling the country, making amazing friends, eating food, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, and, of course, visiting theme parks. And on October, Friday the 13th of 2017, we enacted a brilliant scheme of getting some of our best friends to spend a week at Walt Disney World with us by getting married. Our plan went perfectly. Those idiots were suckered in by the lure of being witness to their friends being spiritually joined as one person forever and couldn’t refuse this once in a lifetime excuse to travel to Central Florida for nearly half a month. Over the course of a year, from engagement to wedding to the big day, planned an unforgettable Group Honeymoon that folks are talking about to this day. There were eleven of us. Five couples and one lonely, but enthusiastic, man. Most of us originally come from the Midwest, but now many of us, myself included, live across the country in a small town off the Pacific called Los Angeles. There is a prerequisite. Our large group has taken several day trips to Disneyland with great success. But there are those who have never experience the East Beast known as Orlando. The plan was for 10 days in The World. On January 20th 2018, the plan unfolded. Meg and I flew out first. It’s our honeymoon, afterall. We were sure to plan a few days for us to be by ourselves, without the crew. But mostly, we wanted to get a lay of the land and prepare the hotel for everyone’s arrival. We also had a hot date planned. The flight was fine, by the best I could remember. We both were dying to get to the resort. Everything was finally coming together. What a swanky joint! Would ya look at all that swank. For the next week and a half, we called Animal Kingdom Lodge - Jambo House our home. There… Do you see it? This happy little guy served as a room signifier and wonderful greeter to our room. He seems to smirk and say, “It’s going to get wild”. The suite was… well… sweet. We had a pool table! We had our own balconies, all three of these! And it looked down at animals! King sized bed for us Honeymooners. Huge bathroom. And had a kick*** bathtub with jets and Mufasa can watch you while you’re naked! We didn’t have much time to stick around. We had a bus to catch. Enjoying Walt Disney World’s massive size is always a novelty to me, being a Disneylander. The amount of roadways and waterways and sprawling acres of (swampy) nature is fascinating to me. I love seeing it. So, we decided to hop a bus to Hollywood Studios... …to walk along the river that leads us to the Epcot located resorts. It was the first time we walked this way; on our last trip we realized we could take the boat from Hollywood Studios to Epcot. I thought it would be just as scenic and probably faster if we walked it. This path has become one of my favorite walks in Walt Disney World. I love how quiet and secluded it is: a rare find in the number one tourist destination. It reminds me of (and we don't have access to it anymore) the path that ran alongside the monorail and Downtown Disney in Disneyland. We used to walk that path because it was nice and quiet and would often be faster than the parking lot trams. Of course, this path in Walt Disney World is the extreme version of that. Quiet and secluded in Southern California means there’s only a few dozen people around, not zero. Of course, today this view looks very different. I haven’t seen them in person yet, but we walked right by the Skyliner construction. We would all prefer monorails, no doubt, but I’m also interested in being dangled over the gaping maw of a hungry alligator in a tiny, swaying, unairconditioned bird cage. When those open, things should be very exciting indeed. Meg and I finally made it over to Boardwalk. We had just been on a plane for six hours and a bus for another hour, so we were looking for a the quickest way to get alcohol into our bloodstreams. But since we didn’t pack our flask, and we also like themed bars, we waited until we could get to the newly opened Abracadabar. I would never discourage a visit to a bar with inventive drinks and a fun atmosphere. Abracadabar had some good drinks that did their job (or did they? I don’t know it was a long day and maybe I was just punch drunk from traveling)! It’s not to Trader Sam’s standards, but, so far, nothing is. We stumbled back out into the night and carried ourselves across the nearby bridge. I could feel a little excitement as Epcot could just be seen in the distance. Meg and I had decided that our Honeymoon date night must include very expensive meat and found that the Yachtsman Steakhouse was just the place to get it! I have no idea if they are the best steaks on property, but the sound of a “dry aged” steak sounded freaking awesome. And it was. Even in writing about this I feel SO. FULL. And between traveling, the constrictive clothing (dress code), the alcohol, and the meat induced sweating, we were delirious and wanted ever so much to get back to Jambo House. Yes, you will see food in this trip report. No, I’m not sorry. The best way we could think to end our first night was to get in that freakin’ tub and drink some homebrewed screwdrivers. The bathtub was necessary because gravity had severely increased after one hundred and twenty dollars worth of steak and we needed to maximize our buoyancy. We were finally able to relax and let our vacation begin. After a year of planning and waiting, it was finally here. It’s so odd to actually experience it all knowing that 10-months-ago-you has got present-day-you’s back. Apparently that guy really knew what I would want and really took care of me. The distance between Planner Me and Vacationer Me is almost a whole person different. Hell, I wasn’t even married then! It was then time for sleep, for the party would arrive in the morning. I can get used to waking up to this! Meg and I started the day by immediately breaking the sacred Disney BubbleTM. We got a room with a kitchen and dammit we are going to use it. We hailed a Lyft from out front and made the short trek to Publix. I was honestly surprised to see how close Animal Kingdom Lodge and Publix are from each other. The property line is RIGHT there and Animal Kingdom Lodge is on the far, far Southwestern corner. There was a small road that led us right there, out into the dreaded “real world”. We stocked up on supplies. Breakfast foods, liquor, beer (Meg and I don’t drink beer, but our housemates sure do), and several cases of water. Florida, I love you, but your water tastes funky. No… like… farty. Back at Jambo House... Entertaining ourselves until the rest of the gang arrives. And yes, my wife has a SICK tattoo of the Nautilus fighting the giant squid from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Then suddenly… Austin and Jen (not pictured, whoops) were the first to arrive! Jen grew up in Florida so was quite experienced with the differences from Disneyland, but Austin is a California boy and I was most eager to see his reaction to the pure size and scope of this place. He didn’t disappoint. Nick and Natalie arrived next! These two globetrotters have seen more chain-lifts and upstop wheels than I could dream. Nick is a coaster buddy of mine from way back in our days of being teenaged youths terrorizing Six Flags Great America. When he and his totally awesome wife Natalie had lived in SoCal, we would all frequently meet up to terrorize the Happiest Place on Earth. Jackie is Megan’s best friend from childhood. There’s probably no one else on earth I would say needed to be there if you were having a party or looking to party or looking to continue a party or anything. This gal knows how to have fun. She is joined by Mikey, her ever enthusiastic boyfriend who is equally gregarious. Have you been keeping track? There will be a quiz. Also, they are animal lovers and were very excited to see the critters roaming around. “Okay, half of the gang is here and the other half is coming tonight. Let’s go drink.” Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar was a treat. Similar to Abracadabar, fun themed cocktails within a themed location. Again, not up to Trader Sam’s level, but still highly enjoyable. Especially with friends. We laughed, we cried, we drank. At some point, those who have tattoos started comparing them. This has nothing to do with theme parks, I just think it’s interesting. I don’t have any tattoos myself, but always find them fascinating. There are often some very skilled people creating art on a living canvas, so to speak. It seemed to have happened naturally, but we collectively decided that our group needed a sort of signature call and response phrase. Something that would be an easy way to find every one and call out at inappropriate times. Since we were staying in Jambo House, any time one of us had joined the group or we would give a ‘cheers’ with our drinks or even when we were at a loss for what to scream on roller coasters, we would be sure to loudly shout “JAMBO!” as a group. It was such an enjoyable phrase that we still often find ourselves calling “Jambo!” any time we see one another. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh here we go, another group of drunk tourists stumbling around Walt’s Pleasure Paradise, breaking the decibel charts, and clogging up the midway”. Well, I say to you, you are probably right! And I wouldn’t do it any other way. So, a success for Jock Lindsey, I would say. But we couldn’t stay out all night, as much as we’d like to. We had the rest of the group coming soon and we had an early day ahead of us, our first park day. We got some lunch at D-luxe Burger then hopped on the first bus back to Jambo House. The sun was setting on the Vacation Kingdom of the World. Our friends slowly trickled in as the night went on. Meg and I decided long ago that we would buy our first meal for the room. Many of us hail from the midwest (Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota). We couldn’t think of a better meal than a little taste of Chicago’s own Giordano’s Pizza. It was quite a feast. We were sure to include some of Animal Kingdom Lodge’s famous zebra dome cakes that we bought downstairs at The Mara. It was a beautiful inauguration into Jambo House and into our honeymoon. But there was little time to enjoy the pool table or the giant tub (we did both, but expedited), the morning was coming fast and we didn’t want to miss it. Tomorrow we would awaken the Animal Kingdom and take our first Flights of Passage...
  19. Great stuff! And the park looks great, though maybe that's also your pictures. What kind of lens you get?
  20. Thanks! I'm especially proud of the Drinking Around The World montage.
  21. I recently made a trip with my gal out to Orlando, back in October. We went to Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World. It was... really amazing. We took a bunch of photos and I haven't quite found the time to make an epic trip report, BUT... I did throw together a video of our trip. It's sort of a vlog/fly-on-the-wall thing and I thought you guys might get a kick out of it. Oddly enough, we didn't get any video of any of the icons of the Disney parks. No castle, no Spaceship Earth. So, I like to think it's a sort of less-seen WDW. A couple highlights include Stan Shunpike, Trader Sam's, Drinking Around The World, and The Beverly. Anyway, here it is: [youtu_be] [/youtu_be] Okay, okay! Here's a couple pictures...
  22. No castle tour, either? I suppose space is a premium. I wonder what the cost difference between the three Hogsmede projects is.
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