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Photo TR: First Time to Orlando! WDW, Universal, Busch, More


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still astounded after all these years at just how little things have changed at WDW in comparison to Universal.

You have to understand the type of resort Walt Disney World is. They cater much more to "first time visitors" or "first time in forever" visitors than even Universal does. Your average WDW visitor either hasn't ever been to the parks before, or hasn't been in something like ten years. So they don't need to constantly be adding things. You also have to remember that the vast majority of your Orlando tourists are here because of Disney. That is the draw and the main reason they are here. Universal on the other hand, as much as we like their parks and the resort, they ARE people's 2nd choice of parks behind WDW. So they NEED to constantly be doing things to attract people to their resort. They also get a lot more of a locals crowd since their annual passes are much cheaper (about half the price of Disney).

 

In the last ten years each of the parks has received a MAJOR new attraction - Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Soarin', Toy Story Mania, Expedition Everest, and that doesn't even include all the minor improvements and upgrades that have happened all around the parks. There has actually been a LOT that's happened at WDW in the last decade.

 

So I think it's a very incorrect and unfair statement to say "how little things have changed at WDW compared to Universal." I think you simply just don't understand the demographic or the needs of the resort.

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I haven't been to Disney or Universal in 10 years, and boy has a lot changed from my perspective. They aren't parks designed with season pass holders in mind like Six Flags or Cedar Fair. Not to mention Disney and Universal attractions tend to cost way more than traditional coasters and flats due to the insanely detailed theming, landscaping, and utilizing the latest technology in animatronics and ride systems. The changes at Disney aren't quite as noticeable since they are distributed across 4 parks, also lots of money goes into keeping the parks beautiful and maintaining/updating rides that have been around since the 70's. Besides, this trip report takes place right before a new Frozen attraction (and likely revamp of Epcot's Norway area) and an entire Avatar section of Animal Kingdom are going to be built. That would be like saying "so little has changed at Universal" right before their major Potter expansion of the past few years. While I would love if a giant new attraction was built every year at WDW, it's just not realistic. And considering a major draw to Disney is the nostalgia factor (parents taking their kids to the same park their parents took them 20 years ago), they would have to compromise some of their classic rides to make room for new ones. Remember the reaction to Maelstrom last year? And that's nothing compared to the outcry that would be heard if they ever touched It's A Small World, Dumbo, Pirates, etc. Universal doesn't have that same legacy and historical value so they can get away with (what I consider to be atrocious crimes against humanity) removing Jaws and Back To The Future. Universal may be moving at a quicker pace in order to compete with Disney, but WDW has still changed significantly in the past ten years.

 

Also is "first time in forever visitors" a thing? Because that is such a great marketing slogan, it needs to be in a commercial.

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That's perfectly understandable that WDW don't need to update or add attractions at the rate of Universal due to it's timeless and endless appeal, I understand that and the incredible demand for the place, it's just as a repeat visitor (as many Brits become) I should have emphasised that this was purely a personal observation that since the major investment of the late 90's (Animal Kingdom) to mid 00's (Everest at AK), there haven't been any major new attactions in the last 9 years other than Toy Story Mania and Seven Dwarfs Mine train which are great for their audience, and a couple of attraction updates. With Avatar Land slated for 2017, that's quite a gap. It's all probably financial I know, some grand plan etc.

 

Maybe that's the problem, that I was a repeat visitor during one of the greatest investment periods ever for the Resort and became too accustomed to fresh attractions

 

98 - Animal Kingdom, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin

99 - Test Track, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, Kali River Rapids

02 - Primeval Whirl (Okay now I'm using dirty tactics to emphasise my point )

03 - Mission:SPACE, Mickey's Philharmagic

05 - Soarin', Lights, Motors, Action!

06 - Expedition Everest

 

I think you're all brill so certainly don't want to get into a war of words over this, just making a comment from a *personal* perspective having visited Orlando many times in the last 20 years that there hasn't been much to tempt me back more recently (an opinion shared by my wiser better half), and when a 7 day pass costs £275 ($415) it does inevitably make you think a little about how much value you'd get out of that. I agree as a newbie, it's good value.

 

Peace all! And anyways back to what this thread is about, Craig's first time visit and antics! Having read back through the TR once more am I right in thinking you're also a fellow former employee of the British Airways/EDF/Coca Cola London Eye? If so then cue the music "...it's a small world after all"

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There's been a lot of infrastructure work and other improvements at WDW, too, such as the new hub at the Magic Kingdom. Not as sexy as a new attraction, but perhaps even more necessary.

 

But with Avatar and what ever Disney has planned for the old Studios Tram Tour space (not to mention the Frozen ride at Epcot), it's going to be very interesting over the next few years at WDW.

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there haven't been any major new attactions in the last 9 years other than Toy Story Mania and Seven Dwarfs Mine train

Ugh, it's completely obnoxious that you would sit here and now challenge what we said because *YOUR* "personal observation" seems to dictate some sort of validation that there needs to be more going on in the parks. And it's also obnoxious and dumb that you would purposely tailor your response to make it look like there has been less going on by saying "9 years" instead of "10 years" because within 10 years, like I already said, each one of the parks has gotten major expansions, as well as tons of minor expansions.

 

I could sit here and list all of the new upgrades each park has received in terms of minor attractions additions or upgrades, restaurants, ships, new areas, etc, some of which have been super popular with guests, but I'm simply not going to waste my time on someone who is just going to come back with mis-information to prove a ridiculous point.

 

In the last 10 years there has probably been well over a billion dollars worth of changes and improvements at WDW. And that's not enough for you?

 

Edited by robbalvey
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I can see the direction this is going in and it certainly wasn't my intention to rip to shreds the considerable investment WDW have made upgrading infrastructure, character meets, restaurants etc, the problem with forums is that it can be difficult to articulate opinion which ultimately what it's about. And a sense of humour hopefully.

 

I'm only saying that when Avatar Land opens in 2017 it will have been 11 years since the opening of the last E-ticket attraction across the 4 parks. Really don't want to come across as obnoxious or anything as I'd like to think I'm far from it so apologies to all that I've caused offence to and particularly to Craig for distracting attention from his brilliant trip report.

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^ Seriously, the point you are trying to make is stupid, invalid, and mis-informed. Everyone who has read your posts is now DUMBER on the subject matter. For the sake of the other posters on the forum, can you please shut up? Thank you.

Edited by robbalvey
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To be honest Disney don't need to build anything major that often. If they built nothing (Other than the Frozen ride!) for 10 years and I went back I would still have an awesome time and I honestly don't think I would even notice there wasn't anything new. Disney is in its own league and has its own set of rules. They pretty much print their own money so I am not going to complain.

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All trip reports from now on should feature Turd Frog!

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Anyway, back on topic, this is probably one of my favorite reports in a while. It's always great to see someone who has visited a park, especially such BIG parks as the Orlando ones, for the very first time. It most certainly puts things into perspective!

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I'm curious as to why you only did three things at DAK. Were you pressed for time, or did you have no desire to do anything else at the park? It saddens me when people don't like DAK because it's my favorite park of Disney's in Florida. This is partly because it opened when I worked there, but also because I know the effort that went into transforming a flat treeless cow pasture into what the park is today. To me, that's truly an amazing feat.

 

But, why didn't you do any of the shows? Festival of the Lion King is arguably the best show at WDW. Nemo and Flight of Wonder are good too, but not my favorites. (I actually miss Tarzan Rocks!) Nothing else in Dinoland? Tough to be a Bug? NONE of the animal exhibits besides the safari? The gorillas and tigers are crazy cool! I could stand and watch the gorillas for hours. The train ride shows some cool parts of the backstage animal enclosures, and Rafiki's Planet Watch can be cool if the animal doctor people are around. Was Kali River Rapids closed while you where there? Again, not the BEST rapids ride, but it's still fun (better when it first opened for sure). I agree, though that Dinosaur is pretty sad these days. I really wish it would close down for a refurb and they'd restore it back to the Countdown to Extinction days. The cheesy dialog is what makes the ride great, but the original effects in the ride made it awesome.

 

Interesting to see how others interpret parks for the first time, especially a park like Animal Kingdom which breaks the mold when it comes to typical theme parks modeled around attractions you have to wait in line for. Lots of the park is all about discovery and exploring which, unfortunately, not many people do. But, I am curious as to why you only chose to do three attractions in a park that has a lot more.

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I'm curious as to why you only did three things at DAK. Were you pressed for time, or did you have no desire to do anything else at the park? It saddens me when people don't like DAK because it's my favorite park of Disney's in Florida. This is partly because it opened when I worked there, but also because I know the effort that went into transforming a flat treeless cow pasture into what the park is today. To me, that's truly an amazing feat.

 

But, why didn't you do any of the shows? Festival of the Lion King is arguably the best show at WDW. Nemo and Flight of Wonder are good too, but not my favorites. (I actually miss Tarzan Rocks!) Nothing else in Dinoland? Tough to be a Bug? NONE of the animal exhibits besides the safari? The gorillas and tigers are crazy cool! I could stand and watch the gorillas for hours. The train ride shows some cool parts of the backstage animal enclosures, and Rafiki's Planet Watch can be cool if the animal doctor people are around. Was Kali River Rapids closed while you where there? Again, not the BEST rapids ride, but it's still fun (better when it first opened for sure). I agree, though that Dinosaur is pretty sad these days. I really wish it would close down for a refurb and they'd restore it back to the Countdown to Extinction days. The cheesy dialog is what makes the ride great, but the original effects in the ride made it awesome.

 

Interesting to see how others interpret parks for the first time, especially a park like Animal Kingdom which breaks the mold when it comes to typical theme parks modeled around attractions you have to wait in line for. Lots of the park is all about discovery and exploring which, unfortunately, not many people do. But, I am curious as to why you only chose to do three attractions in a park that has a lot more.

Craig can probably expand on this a bit more, but from my perspective....

 

- We didn't do any of the shows because 1. We're just not "show people" for the most part, and 2. they just didn't interest us. As an Orlando local, I've actually NEVER seen Nemo or Lion King (I saw it in Hong Kong once and had no desire to see it again at DAK). I'm sure they are good shows for people who are into them, but shows were really not part of the agenda, so we skipped them.

 

- Didn't do anything else in Dinoland because, what else is there to do other than Dinosaur? Craig isn't a credit whore so we didn't do Primeval Whirl as it's just your standard spinning mouse.

 

- Tough to be a Bug? Eh, again, it sort of goes back to the "show" thing - Out of all three 4D movies, we did Muppets. That's probably the best one on property, IMO, and we just didn't have any desire to see anymore.

 

- We did briefly do the walking tour with the naked mole rats, the turd frog, and the gorillas. That was enough "nature" for us. We aren't really "zoo people." NATAZU!

 

- I think Kali was open, but it's just really not that great of a ride. We skipped it.

 

- Rafiki's Planet Watch? Again, not really zoo people, and having done the safari and the trail we filled our "nature quota" for the day.

 

- We only chose to do three attractions because they were the only three attractions that interested us at the park. There were other things on property that we wanted to do instead.

 

Personally, DAK is by far my least favorite park at WDW. In fact, I almost NEVER go there unless someone is in town and wants to ride Everest or something. I want to say that I probably only went there *maybe* 5 times in all of 2014, and I'm at the parks probably 2-3 times a week. I seriously forget sometimes it's even there. It's just not my thing, sorry.

Edited by robbalvey
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Animal Kingdom is a deceptively simple park. There are plenty of things to do and places to explore that could easily warrant a full day at the park, especially if you've never been there before. Especially if you love animals and nature. I think maybe Craig was pressed for time or just really eager to get back to Magic Kingdom and cheat on Elsa with Belle! I can't answer for him, but to be fair, if I had a limited amount of time at WDW I would also spend the least time at Animal Kingdom to get more out of Magic Kingdom and Epcot.

 

By the way, this has been a wonderful trip report through and through. It's getting me super excited to go back to Orlando next year!

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^^^That's what most people do at DAK. I do the same 3 rides plus lion king and the tiger trail only cause I love tigers. Oh not to get off topic, not sure if Robb said this or not but Disney in the last 10yrs have done what most should do and that's improve the experience for guest's. New hub and even themed the bypass which they didn't have to. Plus a lot more I just don't want to take over the topic. Awesome report though

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Great trip report! It's great seeing the parks from the eyes of someone who has never been before as I might finally go this summer and I've never been before either. I like that you include both the positives and negatives, it's a more realistic all around opinion than just someone who praises everything.

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Awesome report. You did not quite praise Dinosaur enough, but I will assume this is because it was the first time you rode it, and were so overwhelmed with greatness that you could not properly articulate your thoughts.

 

dt

 

Yes, Dinosaur's essential awesomeness often overwhelms first-time riders.

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To spend more than a half day at Animal Kingdom you really do have to be a 'zoo' or 'animal' person. For example, when we go with KT and her friends we can easily spend a full day at the park as she LOVES animals, but when just Robb and I go or we go with 'coaster people' we usually do Everest, Dinosaur, Safari, and Yak and Yeti!

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The safari and the trails are fun. I remember seeing one gorilla cold cock another gorilla there years ago. Just walked right up to the poor ape and pow--right in the mouth.

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To spend more than a half day at Animal Kingdom you really do have to be a 'zoo' or 'animal' person. For example, when we go with KT and her friends we can easily spend a full day at the park as she LOVES animals, but when just Robb and I go or we go with 'coaster people' we usually do Everest, Dinosaur, Safari, and Yak and Yeti!

 

I am a zoo/animal person, and the last time I was at Animal Kingdom, I spent basically the entire time marathoning Everest (somewhere in the 25-28 ride count).

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All trip reports from now on should feature Turd Frog!

 

Isn't he going to be in an upcoming Pixar flick?

 

I really hope so as Turd Frog: The Movie could be amazing!

 

Robb summed up pretty well why we only did 3 attractions on park. I have seen gorillas and tigers multiple times from my trips to Chessington and the 2 big conservation zoos I have within 30 mins from my house so I didn't really need to see some more.

 

Also as he said we are both not show people and I have seen the Lion King enough on DVD that I really don't need to see a show about it.

 

Don't get me wrong the park is beautiful and if you do love animals I'm sure its fantastic but if you not an animal person or someone who feels the need to ride everything there really isn't a whole lot at the park to do. Even Everest while very good I just couldn't marathon it enough to stay all day at the park. I was more than happy with the attractions we rode and have no regrets about not doing anything else on park.

 

Awesome report. You did not quite praise Dinosaur enough, but I will assume this is because it was the first time you rode it, and were so overwhelmed with greatness that you could not properly articulate your thoughts.

 

dt

 

I was pretty overwhelmed I'm not going to lie. I didn't really know how to react. What I did learn though that time travel is possible if your not Doc Brown or Doctor Who and that many many dinosaurs are "not our dino".

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- We only chose to do three attractions because they were the only three attractions that interested us at the park. There were other things on property that we wanted to do instead.

 

This is a totally fair statement. I wasn't judging you or anything, honestly just curious as to why you didn't experience the whole park because the whole design/operations of parks is a big thing for me. That all makes perfect sense, though. I'm not a crazy animal/zoo person either, but the environment of DAK just draws me in for some reason. I think it's because it's far less "concretey" than the other parks and normally not so packed (when all the walls aren't up). The details are just crazy insane at that park, too. Not DisneySea insane, but for Florida, definitely up there. I just hope with all the expansion, the atmosphere of the park is preserved while they add more rides for the non-zoo peeps.

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^ See, and I think the theming is the least interesting of the four parks. Pretty? Sure. I guess. But that's all lost on me because I'm not a fan of "nature stuff." So for me, all that detail is really just wasted. I personally think New Fantasyland looks a million times better than Animal Kingdom, but that's just me.

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