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Photo TR: Kevin's First Time... to Orlando!


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Part 5 - Disney's Animal Kingdom

 

At last, Disney World! Well I actually visited this park on the second day of the trip, but still, AT LAST! This was my first visit to a Disney park outside of the two in California. This was also the Disney World park I was looking forward to the least. Having worked at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom for 7 years, animals don't get me too excited. That said, I really liked this park and regret not spending more time there.

 

What caught me off guard at first was how beautiful the park is. I think the reason why everyone in California was so thrilled with Cars Land and the other changes at DCA was because for 10+ years we only had Disneyland as the beautiful park. In Florida, they have 4 beautiful parks, and I think Animal Kingdom may have been the most beautiful.

 

I regrettably did not watch any of the shows. I was at the park on the Saturday following Thanksgiving so I wasn't too keen on waiting in the large lines for the shows. I was able to get on most of the rides I wanted to ride (didn't get the second mouse credit cause of the line) so it was mostly successful.

 

Speaking of the rides, here is what I thought of the big ones:

 

Expedition Everest - Sadly this was not the amazing ride I had hoped for. That said, it was still a fun one. I would put it kind of in the same category as Matterhorn. It's fun, and if the line is decent I'll ride it; but I'm not going to go out of my way for it.

 

Dinosaur - I liked this ride. It was a fun dark ride and had some decent surprises. That said, they may have taken the dark in dark ride a little too seriously. I could barely see anything. Also, it's just a bit outdated and could use a nice refresh like they did with Test Track. All in all, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

 

Kilimanjaro Safaris - This was pretty much as good as everyone said it would be. I got a little unlucky and sat on the right, most the animals ended up being on the left. Still was an enjoyable ride and glad my Fastpass got me past the disgustingly long line.

 

And now, photos:

 

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Welcome to Disney's Animal Kingdom!

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Big Tree... really big.

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Close up on some of the detail

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Mr. Stork is all like "Hey, you want kids? I can get you some cheap kids."

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Hey Florida residents, what the hell are these? I took like 5 pictures and then realized they weren't actually part of the exhibit.

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Everest has of of the best forced perspectives I've seen Disney do. It really looked like a full mountain when viewed in certain places.

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Obligatory Everest shot.

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Hippo. Apparently it's rare to see them out of the water.

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Traffic Jam

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These guys were horny.

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A giraffe got close...

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...really close.

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CUTE ALERT! Baby Rhino... awwwwww.

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Bird

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The new Zebra finale.

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Went on the little trail thing after the safari.

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Saw a gorilla.

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I thought this was pretty cool.

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There's Rafiki!

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The entrance to the main building.

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The inside was very much like a museum or education center, which are thing I typically enjoy. This one was no different.

 

And now come a major gripe I have with this park. Dino Land U.S.A. The area starts of looking great with the play area and restaurant.

 

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Dinosaur has a decent looking entrance.

 

But then you get to the other half of the land and are greeted with this hideous pile of Six Flags quality crap. I get that Animal Kingdom didn't open with a ton of things to do, but it's got stuff now, I think it's time to rip off the bandaid and tear this monstrosity down!

 

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At least credit whores get 2.

 

I had a thought for this land. Disney could redo this section of the park to South America. It would provide a place for more unique animals and then you could re-theme Dinosaur to a new Indiana Jones Adventure. This is not at all a cheap solution and likely not seen as necessary by WDW management. But it seems cool in my head.

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Dinosaurs aside, this is easily one of the most beautiful parks I've ever seen.

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Part 6 - Magic Kingdom

 

Got a little lazy on the TRs here, but I'm back with Magic Kingdom! I regrettably did not spend enough time at this park. I avoided crowds whenever I could and Magic Kingdom always had them. I got the major things I wanted to do in though, so I don't feel like it was a wasted trip; and now I have more to look forward to on my return trip this November!

 

The day I was at the park taking photos, they were filming the Christmas Day Parade, so Main Street and the hub were pretty packed. Overall I really liked the park. It's tough not to walk through and draw comparisons to Disneyland. But the parks were easily different enough to stand on their own two feet.

 

My only major gripe with the park is how much of a pain in the ass it is to get to the front gate, but that's easily overlooked by the awesome park and the fact that there isn't just a parking lot chilling out front, a lake is much prettier.

 

Rides:

 

Space Mountain - It was an OK ride, the left side was definitely better than the right. Overall though, I doubt I would ever wait in a long line for it.

 

Mermaid - Overall the ride itself is exactly the same as the one in California, but the queue line just absolutely awesome. It really does add to the overall experience.

 

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - Awesome. Better than Disneyland's. End of story.

 

Pirates of the Caribbean - I liked the look of the outside, but the ride itself left much to be desired.

 

Anyways, on with the photos:

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Welcome to the Magic Kingdom

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Doesn't look bigger than Disneyland's castle to me...

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Oh...

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Ohhhhhhhh....

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I understand that Disneyland's is never going to get replaced cause it's all historical and crap, but god damn...

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You can actually see it from the end of Main Street.

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City Hall

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Am I in Texas? Everything is bigger.

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There was a parade that kept stopping and then restarting on the command of some voice over the intercom, or God... wasn't sure which.

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Darth Vader was there.

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Welcome to Tomorrowland!

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...Jealous.

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Wait... They are on top of Peoplemover, not in a pit? That doesn't quite make sense.

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M.I.L.F. Who the hell thought that wouldn't go unnoticed?

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Eh...

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They were building something.

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This was a cute little area.

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Dueling Dumbos. Unlike Islands of Adventure, Magic Kingdom wasn't afraid to duel their rides.

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Nice to see a splash area at a Disney park actually working (looking at you DCA).

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Fun little coaster.

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New Fantasyland is gorgeous.

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...and it was popular.

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Gaston's, didn't get a chance to go inside, but outside looks great.

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And then, this...

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Stunning

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Waterfall

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Love looking at it.

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Weird seeing Small World with the loading area indoor.

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Does it make me less of a man to say that I loved Tangled? Oh well...

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Welcome back to Main Street... wait no, New Orleans Squa... Where the hell am I?

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Hall of Presidents... Didn't watch it.

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Ohhh... Look at the pretty mansion.

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Weird to see Tom Sawyer Island without all the Fantasmic stuff. Makes it look more like an actual river.

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Frontierland is really pretty at this park.

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And more defined that it's west coast counterpart.

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And this beauty is the best part of it!

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Seriously loved this version.

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Pretty Boat

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From the train

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Adventureland!

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Ugh... so much better than Tarzan's Bush.

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How many of these type of rides does one park need?

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Loved the outside! Inside was not as impressive.

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Nick Canon and some chick that looks 14 but sounds 34.

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AVENGERAIL! And that's where I leave you. Disney's Hollywood Studios is next, and hopefully won't take me a month to get to.

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Part 7 - Disney's Hollywood Studios

 

Whelp, I'm stuck at home sick, so I might as well wrap up the last two parts (last one tomorrow). Today we visit Disney's Hollywood Studios. This park was surprisingly great. I love the Hollywood theme, and having heard not to expect much from it, this place was a pleasant surprise. The park was small but what it had to offer were great (and at time superior to their west coast counterparts... looking at you Tower of Terror).

 

Osborne Family Festival of Lights was going, which was pretty awesome. I love Disneyland during the holidays, but WDW really does the holidays right. Other entertainment options were spectacular. Lights, Motors, Action! was an awesome show. I also enjoyed the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and American Idol, which wasn't as lame as I thought it might be. Fantasmic was ok. I definitely prefer the one in California, but the theater set up at DHS is SO MUCH BETTER. I walked it 30 minutes to showtime and got a seat with a decent view in a completely full show. Much better than camping out for hours for the best spots at Disneyland.

 

My thoughts on rides:

 

Rock n' Roller Coaster - Awesome ride. It was as fun as I always expected it to be, and really nice to see how smooth it runs being a Vekoma coaster. I ended up riding it multiple times.

 

Tower of Terror - I had always brushed off the notion that this thing was better than California's. I figured, when it came down to it, it's just a drop tower and how different could it be? Boy was I wrong! This thing is friggen awesome. And the randomized drop program seriously adds to the fun. WTH was Disney thinking when they made the one at DCA?

 

Tram Tour - Waste of Time.

 

Great Movie Ride - Thought it was lame at first, then Alien popped up and all was right with the world.

 

 

On to the pictures...

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Christmas tree

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Welcome to Disney California Adventure! (I am well aware this one was first).

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Home of Buena Vista Street

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Oswald's

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Another view of Buena Vista Street and the Disneyland Hotel at the end down there.

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Don't forget to shop at Elias & Co.

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And dine at Carthay Circle Theater

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Ride the Red Car Trolly.

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See, Anaheim.

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But seriously, Awesome Tower.

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So pretty.

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They have Fantasmic.

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Good Vekoma? The myths are true!

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It's tough to not think about crazy American Idol Stephen Tyler when I see Aerosmiith, but at least the music is good.

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I always thought this was outside the park like Universal, but it's chilling in the middle of the park.

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Alien = Awesome

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I don't think they should have covered this up with the Mickey hat.

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Osborne is ugly during the day.

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But pretty at night!

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This was pretty fun.

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Like I said, waste of time.

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I was going to do this, then I thought about how I haven't seen Rick Moranis in years and I suddenly became frightened he was living in here, so I steered clear.

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I approve of all the Muppet stuff.

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I feel like these attractions should be updated to reflect the new films, maybe breathe more life into them.

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Didn't ride, but the outside looks great!

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Was fun, but would never wait long for it.

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Oh, and like all the other Disney parks I've even been to, it's pretty too. Epcot tomorrow and then we'll be all done.

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Part 8 - Epcot and the Epcot Resorts

 

Anyone even reading these anymore? Oh well, here is the last one.

 

Epcot was amazing. I literally have nothing negative to say about this park. Even the "boring" educational rides were awesome (and got a few re-rides from me. Epcot is hands down the best theme park I have ever been to. It makes me wish times a million that WestCot had been built, just so I had something similar closer to where I live. I could have easily spent a week at this park just to eat.

 

The park was amazingly quiet, which meant I could pretty much do any ride I wanted, over and over again. The only ride that ever had a line was Soarin', which usually was at about 90 minutes. The entertainment at the park was pretty spectacular, from the basic streetmosphere in all the pavilions of World Showcase to IllumiNations, it was hard to ever be bored at this park.

 

Speaking of IllumiNations. I loved it. I caught it during the holidays, so they had the crazy finale going on. Overall it was pretty spectacular show, easily the best nighttime show at WDW. Not sure I would classify it as the best firework show I've ever seen though, I think that still belongs to Halloween Screams at Disneyland (but that's because of my personal preferences, nothing negative towards the show itself).

 

One of my days at WDW I decided to take the ferry from DHS to Epcot instead of the bus. When I got to Dolphin, I realized how beautiful the resorts were and decided to walk through them instead, so I hopped off the ferry and walked the rest of the way to Epcot. Dolphin is a seriously impressive building to behold in person, and the Boardwalk resort was spectacular to walk along. WDW definitely puts DLR to shame when it comes to the resort hotels.

 

Epcot rides:

 

Mission: Space - Loved it. I got nervous that I might get sick on the intense side; but it really wasn't too bad, just full of awesome.

 

Starship Earth - Why isn't this ride talked about more? This was the biggest surprise of my trip. I seriously loved the ride and rode it 5 times over the course of the trip.

 

Beaner Boat Ride - As awesome as Robb made it seem like it would be.

 

Living With the Land - A really nice relaxing ride, great if you wanted to just take a little break from walking. I found a lot of the stuff you saw to be interesting too. If I had more time I would have done the tour too, but alas I spent more time at Universal than I should have.

 

Universe of Energy - This was surprisingly entertaining, though It is definitely in need of an update as it was obviously dated.

 

Maelstrom - I knew next to nothing about this ride, but it was pretty awesome, especially the backwards drop.

 

The Seas with Nemo - Cute little ride, basically the Submarines at DL, but not a cramped or excruciatingly long.

 

Soarin' - Same as the one in California, but with a much better queue line. Kind of like Mermaid.

 

 

And now, I present the last of the photos!

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Hello beautiful

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Awesome fountain

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Ohhhh... I want to go ride that! Wait, GM?

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Dammit! I missed it by a day!

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This is as close as I got.

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I'll settle on this for now.

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This not the attraction you are looking for. Move along, move along...

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I'll ride this then!

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And I didn't wimp out and go green.

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Strolled through here. Not a fan of this kind of stuff, but it seems to have it's own audience.

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Holy crap, this place is PACKED!

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Christmas Tree

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Hello again beautiful.

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Ohhh... What's in here?

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Flying ride, in "The Land," ok.

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Water ride, in "The Land," ok.

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Found him!

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Ride that rolls on the the ground in "The Seas," ok.

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Fancy Pin store.

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Pretty

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Home of the Beaner Boat Ride, but more importantly, Tequila Bar!

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Norway! Maelstrom (and the rest of World Showcase) wasn't open yet, so I left and did some other parks.

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Heading back to Epcot from DHS, I walked through the Epcot Resorts. This awesome place is known as the Dolphin.

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Another view. Loved the ferries that went between DHS and Epcot stopping at the resorts along the way.

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And here is the Boardwalk resort.

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I hear when Eisner was still CEO, he always stayed at this resort. Not sure that's true, but I can see why he would.

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View across to the Yacht Club resort. Starship Earth peaking over the top.

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Epcot's back entrance.

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Those are some pretty bathrooms!

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England

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Heard music back here...

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...and found a band. They were pretty good and developed a huge crowd. People loved it.

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More prettyness

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Aboot time I made it to ol' Canada, eh?

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Fancy!

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And now I'm in France.

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Dude was standing on chairs.

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This is kind of ridiculous. I love BGW, but how does it beat Epcot on the beauty award?

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I wish I had more time to eat at all the countries.

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Morocco.

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View from Morocco.

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Japan!

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I did get a chance to eat here, and it was fantastic.

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The line to see Whoopi do Candlelight Procession.

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AMURICA!

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Benvenuti in Italia!

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I want pizza... and wine.

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Now I want beer.

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Awesome little train set.

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They were setting up IllumiNations.

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And now, China!

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Got a chance to eat here too, and again... delicious!

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And we will conclude this whole thing with a sunset over Epcot. Thanks to everyone who stuck with this whole thing.

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I don't remember having to use the pass thing to ride Mission Space last time I was there, I thought they had the lines separated and you just got in the one you wanted. Whats the reason for the pass?

It's because people still ended up on the wrong side, and were complaining. So now they HAND YOU something that clearly describes what the ride is (in I believe multiple languages), so you've now been told when you enter the queue, when you board the pre-show room, and it's IN YOUR HAND. So there should be no excuses. It's part of the whole Walt Disney World "making the guest a little more responsible" movement, which is why you have to tug-tug-tug on that yellow strap, etc.

 

It's really kinda sad, the GP really doesn't like Mission: Space, and personally I think it's one of the best rides at the resort!

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Nice! Which Florida park was your favorite?

 

Epcot for sure. I liked all the parks, but next time I think I'll spend more, if not all, of my time at WDW. All four parks were great and I wish I had more time to see them all.

 

It's really kinda sad, the GP really doesn't like Mission: Space, and personally I think it's one of the best rides at the resort!

 

Yeah! I had heard from a few people that it was totally lame and blah blah blah. I think it was by far one of the more impressive rides I went on during the whole trip.

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