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Photo TR: Derek and Nicole do Orlando


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This past week I finally got to see Nicole again and take her to some parks at the same time. She hadn't been to WDW since she was 8, so there was a lot of stuff to do, more stuff than a typical Derek trip to Florida would allow, so we extended it at a time when she wouldn't have to worry about work or school, her (and pretty much all of Texas and Ontario's) Spring Break.


Part 1: Animal Kingdom


Disney's newest park looks really pretty, but its small pathways and lack of rides made it really seem crowded and not worth much time. Then they built Expedition Everest, giving the park much attention that it needed. We managed to get on every attraction, but since we had lots of other stuff to do, we skipped the exploration trails. We saw 2 groups win prizes, but we were not among them.


On the way out we found the bird on a stick and his backup


We's be rolling with a giant dung ball. Word!


though we did get slightly wet from some of the other effects


At least we didn't get soaked during the big drop


Next up, Kali River Rapids, only like the 3rd rapids ride Nicole has ever been on


Oh no, Lou! Looks like Yetiball is cheating on you


EE isn't extreme, but it is fun and very good for Disney and families. Nicole wanted to ride again, good thing for single rider line. Best idea ever!


Yeti was working, but no bird on a stick this day


It was finally time to use our EE fastpasses, after a rare shot with Nicole


OMG, Celebrity sighting! No one told me Flava Flav was gonna be herr today, foshizzle


Nicole's first credit of 2007, Primeval Whirl. The other side opened shortly after 11


Safari done we ran to Dinosaur. Hi Dave, you missed all the confusion again. That IS our dino.


Wow, I think this is the first time I ever saw a male lion actually move


Fresh out of Flaming o land we see these lawn ornaments


These are elephants, not ACErs (it's ok if you were mistaken, I was too at first!)


and she brought her little one out to say hi to you too. There's some cord blood saved for you ;)


Wes, this giraffe is for you


Lots of tall grass and animals in the safari plain area


James, these hippos say hi


On the safari we encountered many deadly animals, like these rhinos, who looked pretty dead


The Kilimanjaro Safari used to be the big draw in the park, but it was walk-on now thanks to EE


On the way we pass the future sitdown restaurant, which the park direly needs in order to keep people in its gates all day


First stop of the day is Expedition Everest, which looks beautiful in the morning fog


Big fake tree, home of Tough to be a Bug


On the way to the main hub you'll encounter some animals, like these blue macaws


And hooray for Disney, they actually opened the gates early so there wasn't a giant chaotic crowd trying to get thru all at the same time (and every entrance was opened)


Welcome to DAK. Just before opening it doesn't look too crowded

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Part 2: Epcot


After Animal Kingdom we headed over to Epcot to conclude our day. Nicole had been here before, but that was a long time ago, and some things had actually changed since then. The biggest goal was to get her on Maelstrom, a ride she didn't find when she was 8, as well as all the more recent E-tickets there. In the end we managed to do everything except Soarin, which had like an 80 minute wait and no more fastpasses.


Hehe, Siemens on a big ball




Water is pretty, but more fire is needed


and to end our first night, time for some fire, earth, and water


No Lou, but I did find some Double Deckers!


Time to check out the pub, see if we run into Lou


While Japan may not have a ride, it does have some of the best entertainment


So far this makes 2 Japanese steakhouse visits for Nicole this year, 2 more than she's ever had before


I always prefer entertainment that feeds you too


Which can only mean it's time for dinner! Hooray for them postponing the rehab until after my trip


We're in Japan, just like Wally!


The American Adventure, home to good beer in November, and a "woot, go America" show year round


The boat, a good way to get to the back of the World Showcase without walking


No Soeren for us today, I know he's still in California


China still doesn't have its theater facade finished


Hooray for Maelstrom, Valhalla's grandpa (and almost as confusing as Dinosaur, just not as dark)


Oooh, Viking church, we must be in Norway


Though there's now a wall up separating the restaurant from the ride


As of now it's still called the Rio Del Tiempo


Time for some World Showcase action. First up, Mexico


This is in Mouse Gears, anyone know what it is and where it comes from?


Time for some environmental tests. Put up 2, 5, and 7. 7? Yeah, 7


Finally it's time for Nicole to experience Test Track


Poor Wonders of Life. Apparently life isn't that important to Disney


Journey, still not as good as it was back in the 80s


I wonder what Nicole is thinking about with those giant cucumbers


Hooray for 10 minute waits to see buffalo, prairie dogs, and greenhouses vs 80 minute waits to see California


Next up was The Seas with Nemo with a ride so much better and longer than those Hydrolators


Afterwards it was time for some free soda. Smart Watermelon ruled, but Nicole didn't even care about Beverly. Maybe her tastebuds were destroyed by hops.


But we chose orange to try and impress Gary more


Mission Space actually had a wait (like 30 minutes) thanks to the new option of not moving


Spaceship Earth got a new sponsor finally, hehe Siemens


Spaceship Earth, the symbol of Epcot, with a horrid wand sticking out of it. Dumb

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Part 3: Universal Studios

We took a break from Disney on Monday to hit up USF and IOA. Figuring it would be crowded, we opted for the Universal Express for IOA, at $20 a person a great deal. But before we went to IOA, we swung by USF to rack up the coaster credits there, as well as check out some of their other rides. Plus we got a special bonus.


Here comes our design team tour guide to give us a behind the scenes tour, but I wasn't allowed to take pictures. It's gonna be the best BMG show Florida has ever seen!


Finally, to end our Universal Studios time, we went over to check out the BMG theater


Fiona in a Donkey Show


Woohoo, TPR stop


You can grope my girl, just give me the pizza


I guess this is why they call him Woody Woodpecker


The old Hard Rock Cafe, are they EVER going to do something with this??


I told Nicole she could ride in the handicapped seat, but she wasn't naive enough to believe me


One final credit at USF, Woody Woodpecker


Ryan, this pounds for you!


If you want to ride this, you better hurry, only a few weeks left, then you're outatime


They never did bother putting the other 1/2 the DeLoreans back in


And since I know it's on the way out, better take her on BTTF


MiB, the best shooting ride ever. So nice we'll ride it twice...together, because we're not sad and pathetic


Old and stupid


Darnit, I didn't bring the marshmellows


At least it has fire, that gets some points


With no wait, we also managed to hit Jaws, just to see its old and stupidness


First ride of the day, Revenge of the Mummy. With no wait, we managed 2 rides in no time at all. One of the best indoor coasters ever


Obligatory shot in front of the globe

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Part 4: Islands of Adventure


IOA is a park I've been going to since it first opened. What may very well be the most beautifully themed park in the US has been on a gradual decline in the past couple of years, with slow employees, 1 train operations, and inconsistencies with regard to policies. Luckily for us we saw almost none of that on this trip, with the exception of ridiculous lines to get into the park thanks to the whole fingerprint scan for people with more than 1 day, and 1 train operation on Dragons for the last 2 hours of the night.


And with the sun setting, we decided to head out, we had accomplished everything at the park and had a few more stops yet for the night


These dudes are part of the Universal Express queue that was added recently, taking the place of the dungeon scene after Merlin's final warning


Pyrock incoming!


It's getting late, time to head back to Dragons


Nicole even got to meet Jeff's old girlfriend!


Everyone feels like a kid here with some cool theming and slides


Camp Jurassic is lots of fun to explore


Yay for cargo nets of doom


No Pteranodon Flyers for Nicole on this trip, maybe some day


Time for some fun in the caves of Camp Jurassic


In the end, we were pretty wet, but it felt nice in the hot Florida sun


Finally, Jurassic Park, which was the driest of the 3. And yup, still only 1 T-rex and 1 Ultrasaur


Next on the water ride tour, Ripsaw Falls, another super wet ride, with great airtime on the drop


Another view of Hulk, which was fun but kinda vibratey


I thought Colin's car was in the shop, not at the park!


and of course, it's always a blast to shoot people for free


No one was dry by the middle of the ride


and yeah, they were on


First up, Bilge Rat Barges, one of the wettest rapids out there if all the effects are on


Next, we changed around and did the waterride tour


Doom still delivered a good pop of air


Nicole hated Spiderman until she rode it. I think she still hates it, but respects it a little more now


and now, ultra exclusive...B&M wheels!


It's been too long since I've had a vertical loop update


The Cat In the Hat was cute as usual, but still had the usual stuff broken inside


Speaking of fish, whats up with 1 Fish 2 Fish and how the song doesn't work to keep you dry anymore??


Nicole enjoyed the CaroSeussEl mainly because she got to play with her fish


Hello sneetches


I finally had a chance to ride the Seuss Trolley. Cute stuff, but the wait was horrible


Obligatory shot of Marvel Superhero Island from Mythos' patio


I went with the blueberry and pistachio crusted pork. It was pretty tasty


Again, no balsamic chicken nor mozzarella salad


Lunchtime, that means Mythos. Voted the best theme park restaurant for like 93 years by some Orlando based theme park website


Evil sarcastic fountains rule. I could see Dave having this job, and loving it!


I just can't see this being remodeled into Harry Potter, I like it the way it is


2 trains on a rollerskater, now that's efficient, and with an enthused staff to boot


After both sides of Dragons it was time for Flying Unicorn, also with no wait yet


And the castle queue is an attraction in itself, except it gets annoying walking thru it constantly for rerides if re-entry is closed


The vertical loop duel is just Red Dawn Awesome


Because she's not a NonGerman, Nicole had no problem waiting a few extra trains for a front seat ride on Ice, the best place to experience the ride for the first time


First stop, Dueling Dragons, two of the best and more forceful B&M inverts out there


And so, our adventure begins. Will we get on every ride? With the Express passes we should


The lighthouse welcomes us to one of the nicest parks in the US

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Part 5: Magical Midway, All-Star Movies, and Boma!


Seeing how I never got a chance to ride a Starflyer before, we used this opportunity to hit the one at Magical Midway right on I-Drive. Afterwards we headed to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for an awesome dinner at Boma before checking into our Disney hotel, the All Star Movies. Normally I don't like staying at the All Star resorts, but the price was right and I knew we really wouldn't be spending too much time at the hotel because we had so much to do at the parks.


We didn't have time for the pool on this trip, but it looked like fun. The nicest thing now about the All Stars is that they finally each have their own buses, not just 1 for all of them


And I took RC out for a spin late at night


The tops and sides were themed to the soldiers from the movies


Across the way was Woody and others


We stayed in the Toy Story area, home of a giant Buzz that's taller than even Casey!


Getting to the hotel we were greeted by not so hidden mickey towels


We both ate like a bunch of ACErs and felt sick for a few hours until the food digested


and finally look at all these desserts!


Round 3, the soup experience. Apples, green peppers, and chicken, and a wild mushroom soup


Round 2, more prime rib, mango vinegarette salad, some crackers with sauce, and peanut butter and jelly


oh yeah, and my 1 and only beer of the trip, Safari Amber brewed just for Animal Kingdom by Anheuser Busch


Round 1 for me, prime rib with 3 different sauces, saffron rice, spicy potato wedges, cous cous, falafel balls, and cornbread. With apple vinegarette salad


Lots of stuff to choose from, and all of it good, even if you can't pronounce the name


Boma, an African inspired buffet at the Animal Kingdom Lodge


Even at dusk, you can see lots of stuff thanks to Florida's flatness. I think I even see the cop who gave me a ticket!


Definitely a fun ride with a great view, though kinda scary with just dinky litle chains holding you up


It looks really cool, but kinda scary. Does this carni like place really maintain it??


Magical Midway; arcade games, gocarts, a few flats, a slingshot, and now a StarFlyer

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Part 6: Magic Kingdom


The heart and soul of Disney World is MK. While the park was crowded, thanks to the knowledge of Fastpass, we managed to get on everything we had wanted, and more. The only things we skipped were the animatronic shows, the rides on a stick, and the Indy Speedway. Plus we got a special bonus!


And argh! Yup, Disney World's Dole Whips still give brainfreeze


If I had a beer in my other hand, I'd be the happiest man ever


Then it was over to Adventureland after picking up Space Mt fastpasses. Dole Whip here I come!


Because you can never get enough shots of this attraction, here's one with my finger in it!


While not the most amazing thing ever, it's better than just an empty show building


There were like 4 acts in the show, each of them lasting like 4 minutes or so


It was a cute show, not overly funny, but it's kinda hard to make jokes that both adults and kids find amusing


Nicole was sure amazed by it. She says "it's queuerrific!"


Don't you just love this queue with all the banners!?


I believe they actually used a text in the show this time too


The show wasn't too long this time, unlike what I've heard in the past. Only about 15-20 minutes


Mike was in the show too! But not Big Mike, he's still in Jersey


They've got banners hung up


And that means lots of pictures of the most amazing queue ever!


That special bonus? Yup, the Laugh Floor was in preview mode when we arrived


One really pretty castle, much more breathtaking than DLs. WDW 2-DL 0


Yay! Nicole is back at the Magic Kingdom, and this one doesn't have a big tarp in front of it like Disneyland does right now WDW 1-DL 0

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More from the Magic Kingdom


Today it turned out a coworker of mine was at Disney for the first time, so we met up with her and her family to show them around a little, and take her on her first roller coaster.


and the final Jeff Johnson credit at the Magic Kingdom!


Where's Wes?


and WDW has the shorter Small World, thus making it better


and longer, and aren't missing crucial scenes


But some of MKs darkrides are actually better


Disneyland actually has a better Fantasyland with more Dave approved Darkrides


Booo! Bring back Mr. Toad!


and unlike Nicole's mom, I'll ride the teacups with her. I like spinning, then suddenly stopping and changing the direction, but I'm sorta screwed up


Time for another credit for Nicole, Barnstormer also running 2 trains, meaning next to no wait.


The train ain't closed here. WDW 4 - DL 1


Yay for a standard not rockin Space Mountain! WDW 3-DL 1


Nicole feared palm trees on this trip, especially the metal ones


You know it's crowded when the Carousel of Progress is opened


Booo! Bring back Alien Encounter


Pirates sure has become popular since the addition of Jack, even if this one is much weaker than DLs. WDW 2-DL 1


Traumatized by her ride, we left Cheri and her family and went off for some lunch. Lucky me, the taco place was opened. Can this trip get any better?!


While Cheri held on the whole time and closed her eyes a lot, her dad really enjoyed himself.


Cheri doesn't look too scared


The crew was awesome, with 5 trains running


Finally it was time for Cheri to ride her first coaster, Big Thunder Mountain


Mansion definitely needs a rehab. Our audio worked like 20% of the time


Before heading to Big Thunder, we checked out the Haunted Mansion


And Nicole and I just hope we don't get too wet. Luckily the water cannons missed us


Cheri and her dad enjoy their first ride on a very long flume with lots of drops


They don't call this Splash Mountain because it's themed to a 80s Tom Hanks movie


Next up, Splash Mountain, my favorite ride at the Magic Kingdom, and the ride that helped make me an enthusiast


Again, not ACErs


Hi James


Hi Wes


Hey look, it's Rosie! They must be filming "The View" live today


Nicole, Cheri, and Cheri's mom all enjoy their first visit on the Jungle Cruise

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Part 7: Disney MGM Studios


For our final day, we hit up the Studios, another park that you can do most stuff in a short amount of time if you plan it right. I don't know what happened, but this park was extremely crowded, with Tower and Coaster both having fastpass return times of like 3pm by 10:30am, and standby waits posted at 60-80 minutes. Still, we managed to get both rides in, as well as some other stuff.


Mission complete. Now hopefully Nicole will go back sooner than every 16 years so we don't have to do everything and take have some relaxation time :D


and as the parade was ending, so was our time at Disney


We managed 2 rides on Tower thanks to some kids who threw out some fastpasses they had that "expired" an hour earlier. Thanks kids for throwing your garbage in the queue!


thru the cracks we see markers!


Millionaire is no more, it's been gutted for F***ing Mania!


We didn't have enough time to see the stunt show. Make sure you grab a show schedule when you get into the park to make sure you don't miss a show you want to see, they run at weird times


and I got tomato


and we both got awesome flatbread pizzas. Nicole got chicken


and I had some tomato and mozzarella in her honor


and since we were hungry and it was Elissa's birthday, we ate at Mama Melrose's just for her


Of course, we had to see Muppets. I wish they'd make a comeback


This really reminds me of when this ride first opened and actually had a line because it was like the only ride in the park!


Even Vader showed up in line, though sadly no Jedi chicks did


Artoo and Threepio are searching for a Jedimaster and the lightsaber of justice for a special food delivery mission to Master Yoda on Dagobah


Storm Troopers kept popping up at various points in the line


And when was the last time you saw the Endor queue used at Star Tours?


Great Movie Ride had a 40 minute wait, no thanks


Who would have thought Vekoma could make a smooth coaster


Luckily the real queue is still not in use, so the wait wasn't that bad. Only took us about 30 minutes, not the posted 80


80 minute standby??? Fastpass return at 5pm??? It's only 10:30!


Wow, that looks like a bad line!


Hooray for good tower!


With all his hospitality, Reed now has himself a fangirl. Shame we didn't get to spend more time with him and Stacy.


Disney MGM Studios, our final park on our final day of the trip

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Thoroughly enjoyed reading that. Looks like both of you had a really awesome time. It's been nine years since I've been to Florida. Hopefully I can work things out so I can get back this year. Reading trip reports like this just make me more anxious!


Thanks again!

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Nice TR! I have two comments.


One, the Pavilion of Life in Epcot- is that permanently gone now, open seasonally, or what? It was open for us on New Years Eve a few months ago, but I've been hearing that it was supposed to be gone now. Can anyone shed some light on that? I really hope it isn't gone, I'm a sucker for Cranium Command, and Body Wars wasn't terrible (it has the same ride system as Star Tours? Sweet!).


Two, Carousel of Progress being open when the park is busy, true, but that doesn't mean anyone rides it, sadly - in late December when we went, it was open and there were all of 6 other people in the theater with us besides my family of 4. That attraction doesn't get enough love, it's such a timeless classic that everyone needs to experience! Oh, and that song WILL be stuck in your head for months after riding.



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That was the most rigged comparison ever! You pretty much counted the train-closure twice!


Oh well. That's just because we actually maintain our rides.





Great PTR Derek! Glad you guys were able to manuever the crowds and have a great time! I really look forward to my next chance to get out there!




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I was going to give Disneyland a point for having Mr Toad, but then would have taken it back away for getting rid of Country Bears for Pooh. Plus Disneyland would have gotten a point for having a better Fantasyland, but then lost it for having important scenes missing from the darkrides. Of course, Disneyland would have gotten the point for better food, but lost points for Splash being closed, Tom Sawyer being closed, and the whole lack of "guests without bags" entrance. So overall, WDW wins.

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the whole lack of "guests without bags" entrance. So overall, WDW wins.

OMG! While it wasn't a big deal during un-solace weekend, the time previously I went to Disneyland I waited in a security line that stretched almost all the way back to the parking lot trams! I couldn't believe it! And there I was, without a bag to check, waiting in a 20 minute line that could have been avoid with the "Guest Without Bags" line.



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