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Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures


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fantastic trip report. . . I dunno about that 5:30 am wake up time, but I hope by the time I eventually make it to either Disney Park, they will simply have the standby lines open, and I won't have to mess with boarding groups.

 

meantime, I would head to Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railways

 

There's SO much new at Orlando Disney Parks. . I haven't been since before 7 Dwarves opened. . so when I eventually make it back (hopefully in 2021), gonna need at least a full week.

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Thanks! I had no issue getting up early since I could comfortably be in the park to go for a boarding pass and be at the front of Slinky's queue. I'm hoping Rise is on standby the next time I visit so I'm not limited to just one ride per day.

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Blizzard Beach

 

And on this dark day when Tom Brady announces he's leaving the Patriots, let's drown my sorrows away at Blizzard Beach.

 

70 degrees can mean a lot of different things- an acute angle, the max angle of descent on Balder, or the point at which Floridians reach for their winter coats.

 

But I come from a land where Patriots fans go bare chested in sub-freezing conditions to show off their beer bellies and stupidity. So naturally, I reached for my bathing suit.

 

Finding a suitable water park was an issue. Typhoon Lagoon was closed for refurbishment. Aquatica was closed due to weather. Volcano Bay was open…but the water coaster was closed. So that left Blizzard Beach, which was also closed…but only on two of my three days. So I visited on the third day. And it was a Ghost Town.

 

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I felt at home with the snow.

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Calling Blizzard Beach a ghost town would have been an understatement.

 

My first and only visit to Blizzard Beach had been back in 2008. And I remember being blown away by the park. I never thought I’d find a better water park. And that was true for 11 years until I went to Dubai.

 

For one, it has a charming ski resort theme. I felt at home walking past the snowmen, icicles, and glaciers. But it also had an extremely strong slide lineup. Would that hold true?

 

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Winter's a good time to stay in and cuddle. But put me in summer and I'll be a — happy snowman!

 

I’ll start with the signature slide in Summit Plummet, one of the most iconic water slides in the world. That ski jump atop Mount Gushmore is the definition of picturesque.

 

Summit Plummet feels wildly out-of-place at a Disney park. It’s an -est. For the longest time, it was the tallest body slide. And you can feel every bit of that height as you are eye-level with Tower of Terror.

 

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One of the tallest peaks in all of Florida.

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If being at eye level with Tower of Terror before going down a water slide doesn't make you crap your pants, nothing will.

 

A lot of newer body slides have the drop pods, but there’s definitely something extra unnerving having to propel yourself down the near vertical slide. And for a split second, you feel yourself lift off the slide.

 

The biggest pitfall with these body slides is a rough landing, but I’m happy to say Summit Plummet is smooth. Maybe too smooth though since it knows how to rip bikini tops off women faster than a horny fraternity guy. 9 out of 10

 

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Still one of the best water slides in the world.

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At Mt. Olympus, you'd actually go off the ski jump.

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That's a long way down!

 

Unfortunately Slush Gusher was closed, so I spent the next hour sampling the parks tube slides. The trickiest one to ride was Teamboat Springs. Most people on this site try to solicit families to borrow their kids to ride kiddie coasters. I just want to ride the dang family raft slide!

 

The hardest part was waiting for 3 other victims people to trek up the mountain. But eventually a group of 3 arrived and I joined them on their journey. Teamboat Springs is relatively slow, but it really climbs those walls and it has a few surprise dips at the end. 7 out of 10

 

The others were no issue as a single rider.

 

Runoff Rapids- This one is in a lonely back corner of the park, but it holds its speed better than most conventional tube slides. 7 out of 10

 

Downhill Double Dipper- This is a simple slide, but it has two sizable drops with some good zip. And as a bonus, I won both races…against no one. 8 out of 10

 

Toboggan Racers- This is your average mat racing slide. I also came in first place…out of exactly 1 person. 6 out of 10

 

Snow Stormers- I remembered this being bad back in 2008, but I couldn’t remember why. Now I remember, I felt like I was going to stall at several points on the ride. 3 out of 10

 

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Checking out the lay of the land. But they're all bunny slopes compared to Summit Plummet.

 

Last but not least, I took a one-way trip atop Mount Gushmore on the Chairlift. If you want to maximize your slide time, I recommend walking. But if you want some nice views, take the Chairlift. 5 out of 10

 

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And you don't have to walk to the top of the hill to slide back down. I love the Chairlift!

 

I spent roughly 1.5 hours at Blizzard Beach and lost count of how many slides I rode. As I said at the start, the park was a ghost town. Blizzard Beach may no longer be the world’s best water park, but it’s still arguably the best in the United States.

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Blizzard Beach was closed on my last two trips to WDW but it should be open for my next trip to WDW when it reopens (hopefully by June). I've been to Volcano Bay which is my current favorite US water park (and second favorite overall after Xel Ha) so it will interesting to compare it to especially since I've been really wanting to try Blizzard Beach for a long time.

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^ Blizzard Beach would have been untouchable when it opened, but I don't think they've added anything new since.

 

I hadn't heard of Xel Ha, but that place looks very cool and unlike the other water parks out there.

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Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Disney's Animal Kingdom

 

The primary goal of my most recent Walt Disney World visit was to ride Rise of the Resistance. My secondary goal was to ride anything I had missed in my most recent visit.

 

Starting with Epcot, that meant I needed to reride the Seas with Nemo and Friends. I remember disliking the ride, but I couldn't remember why. And now I know why.

 

It has no plot, hardly any animatronics, and the video screens seem like a lazy overlay of a pre-existing attraction. The aquarium at the exit is far more enjoyable than the ride. 3 out of 10

 

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The whole ride just feels sloppy in my opinion.

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There was something weirdly satisfying seeing a manatee eat a hunk of lettuce.

 

Epcot is a park of retrofits. Another example of this is Journey into Imagination with Figment. I don't remember the original version, but this one is WAY better than that abomination that was missing Figment. 7 out of 10

 

If you love Figment, you'll love this ride. If you hate Figment, you're in for a bad time. A very bad time.

 

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Oh crap. Literally.

 

Gran Fiesta Tour is yet another retrofit. This one feels just as sloppy as the Seas, but I like this one more. It's probably because I'm a Donald Duck fan and because El Rio del Tiempo was my most hated ride at Disney as a kid. That ride was incredibly boring. 5 out of 10

 

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Universal would shed a tear at all the screens.

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But at least it has these nice animatronics at the end for variety.

 

At the end of the night, I was torn whether or not to ride Frozen Ever After with minimal wait or watch the temporary Epcot Forever. And through a stroke of luck, I was able to experience both.

 

Frozen Ever After had a full queue, but it only took about 12 minutes without any FastPasses. I couldn't believe how fast that line moves without any FastPasses at play. And unlike the other overlays, this one didn't feel cheap and it is a dramatic improvement over the original. 9 out of 10

 

As for Epcot Forever, I wasn't a fan. The pyrotechnic kites were absolute eye candy, but the music selection was suspect. It was an interesting choice to have the music sung by a choir of kids and the "Whole New World" finale seemed out-of-place after a series of Epcot classics.

 

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Let it go if you still prefer the Maelstrom. It's never coming back.

 

Flash forward to the next day and on the way to Magic Kingdom, I stopped at I made a pit stop at the Contemporary. It had been years since I had eaten a full-sized Mickey waffle and it was just as good as I remembered.

 

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After a Rise of the Resistance boarding pass, this is probably the best way to start a day at Disney World.

 

At Magic Kingdom, my primary goal was to try the Hall of Presidents. Why? It's an attraction I have never gotten around to doing. I just had to see the Donald Trump animatronic that I had heard looked suspiciously like Hillary Clinton. I'm glad I did it, but it definitely wasn't as engaging as the park's other attractions.

 

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One of these presidents is not like the other. Trump is wearing a tie.

 

Magic Kingdom was slammed. With Splash Mountain down for refurbishment, my only other goal was to get a ride on Space Mountain. I was prepared to wait if needed, but I was able to pull a mid-afternoon Fastpass. This allowed me to kill time watching the parade and getting photos with my two favorite chipmunks.

 

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It's a sad day at the Magic Kingdom when Splash Mountain is closed.

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But one day it'll splash again.

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Dale wishes I was wearing his hat instead of Slinky's.

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I love their western outfits.

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I don't think I had seen the Festival of Fantasy Parade since 2015.

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I'm going to have nightmares.

 

As for Space Mountain, it reinforced why the one at Magic Kingdom is my favorite. This one has some serious airtime and the inline seating allows for some tight maneuvers. 8.5 out of 10

 

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I can't wait for Tron. Until then, I'll ride through space getting airtime.

 

I ended the day at Animal Kingdom. And the target here was the Festival of the Lion King. And it was every bit as good as I remembered. The music, choreography, and stunts make for a memorable show.

 

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It's definitely one of the best live shows at any theme park.

 

I then entered into Pandora. I was able to grab a Na'vi River Journey FastPass to come face to face with the incredible Shaman of Songs animatronic again, but the highlight was undoubtedly Flight of Passage.

 

I hopped in line right before closing and waited approximately an hour for one of the best dark rides in the world. The visuals combined with the range of motion is incredibly immersive. 10 out of 10

 

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I know the floating mountains get all the attention, but feast your eyes on this marvel...

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The Pandora Penis as it's blowing it's load!

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I find Epcot's Grand Fiesta Tour relaxing; of course, it helps to visit the Tequila Cave first and enjoy a nice margarita.

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That last picture is to funny!

 

I still can't believe that exists in a Disney park.

 

I find Epcot's Grand Fiesta Tour relaxing; of course, it helps to visit the Tequila Cave first and enjoy a nice margarita.

 

I usually skip the margarita and instead prefer to stuff my face with carbs in Germany or Italy.

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Fun Spot America- Kissimmee

 

Since I visited Orlando in a “quiet” period (back in January), most of the Disney and Universal parks were closed by 8 pm. What was I to do? Was I actually supposed to go to my hotel room and get a full night sleep? Please…that’s how normal people vacation.

 

Instead, I went to the one park that would never dream of closing before midnight- Fun Spot.

 

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Fun Spot. The land of late hours, cheap beer, and crazy go karts.

 

I much prefer the Kissimmee location for a few reasons- Mine Blower, that gargantuan SkyCoaster, and the insane go kart track with the double down and banked turn.

 

Unfortunately, the Vortex go kart track was closed. But Fun Spot did make it up to me with a brand new roller coaster credit in the Hurricane.

 

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But first I had to find the new coaster. That was quite hard.

 

Hurricane is way back in the Old Town area. While it’s included on the Fun Spot wristband, it doesn’t feel like it’s part of the park at all. The back area of Old Town feels empty and deserted. I felt like I wasn’t even supposed to be back there.

 

Most of Miler’s coasters are of the kiddie variety. And they probably make some of the best kiddie coasters since they’re a bit more aggressive. But every once and a while, they build a full-size coaster. And the results are awkward.

 

Hurricane is sized like a family coaster, but don’t be fooled. This is an aggressive ride! This coaster has a 3-car train, but it has hairpin turns fit for a wild mouse. This results in some violent and janky laterals.

 

But the most brutal part is this low-to-the-ground, high speed turn after the second drop. I have a high tolerance for rough rides and even I’ll admit this turn was brutal. I was dreading it on every ride.

 

However, I was willing to look past that turn because of the airtime. This coaster delivered airtime on every hill. It was of the floater variety up front, but the back row had some great ejector airtime, particularly on the hills towards the end of the ride. 7 out of 10

 

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Hurricane felt deserted and empty in the back of Old Town.

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I still have PTSD over that second turn. It's brutal!

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But Hurricane does have some good airtime.

 

There was zero chance I’d skip the world’s tallest SkyCoaster. Except this time I opted to try the Sky Sled. And it was a struggle. It was unavailable on day 1 due to wind. And on day 2, I was suited up only to learn the harness had a defect and needed to be swapped out.

 

As for the Sky Sled harness, it was extremely awkward. The straps are *this* close to being a choking hazard and the straps ride up into your crotch. But you do get the terrifying visual of seeing the cable in front of you during the ascent.

 

And that cable was particularly terrifying during the drop. It comes very close to your face. Now I did find the drop much less intense on the Sky Sled since you aren’t facing the ground. This one felt more like a supersized Screamin’ Swing.

 

So when you combine the uncomfortable position with a duller drop, I don’t think I’ll be trying the Sky Sled again. 5 out of 10

 

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No matter how many times I ride this, it still makes my legs feel like Jell-O.

 

Last but not least, I took several laps on Mine Blower. I’ve always been one to defend this coaster as smooth enough. But Mine Blower was definitely running rougher. I rode in both trains and there was no difference; both jackhammered pretty badly.

 

It was still hauling through the layout though. Mine Blower still has one of the best starts of any coaster with the ejector airtime filled drop and forceful hangtime on the zero-G roll. And then every other hill offers some sort of airtime. 8 out of 10

 

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Fun Spot really is a picturesque little park.

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Mine Blower absolutely hauls.

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No one will confuse Fun Spot with Orlando’s major theme parks. And Fun Spot isn’t dumb. They know they can’t compete with them. That’s why they try to compliment them by offering the area’s only wooden coasters, crazy go karts, a pay-per-ride system, and extended hours.

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I kind of like Mine Blower, even though it's rough in spots, but I prefer White Lightning at the other Orlando Fun Spot.

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I love Mine Blower! I enjoy both parks but I prefer Kissimmee as well

 

Mine Blower, Hurricane, that Sky Coaster, and the better go kart track give it the edge.

 

I kind of like Mine Blower, even though it's rough in spots, but I prefer White Lightning at the other Orlando Fun Spot.

 

White Lightning is good too and definitely more reridable, but I do prefer Mine Blower still.

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Universal Orlando/Islands of Adventure

 

After two early mornings at Hollywood Studios, I decided to sleep in. I slept in all the way to 7:30.

 

I knew it was risky getting to Islands of Adventure early for Hagrid's. With temperatures below 60 degrees and the ride's operational issues, I was skeptical it would even open with the park.

 

Sure enough, it didn't.

 

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This was the equivalent of the Hogwarts Express arriving at Hogwarts only to find the school closed.

 

The park let us into the queue. I was optimistic since the ride was testing. But the audio prompts kept getting worse. The short delay turned into a long delay and latter an indefinite delay.

 

After 2 hours, the park cleared out the queue but gave us a special Express Pass to return. And I was secretly happy with this outcome since I could use it to get a rare night ride on Hagrid's.

 

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Arthur Weasley is a sucky mechanic.

 

And just like last time, Hagrid's was testing as the queue line was evacuated. So I decided to wait around for 5 minutes and sure enough, Hagrid's opened and I walked right onto the coaster.

 

Even though I was a single rider, I chose to use the regular queue. That way I could guarantee myself a motorbike. The elevated seating position leaves you so open and accentuates the curves.

 

And I think I preferred Hagrid's even more this time around. It's an action-packed journey from start to finish. Each launch packs a nice punch, the turns pull some good Gs, the hills had a pinch of airtime, and the surprise elements along the way give the ride character. 10 out of 10

 

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Hagrid's marches all over the grave of Dueling Dragons.

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Hagrid's may be a slow oaf in the films, but his motorbikes are certainly agile.

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I didn't remember the ride having the few spots of airtime back in October.

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I contemplated getting back in line for Hagrid's, but I couldn't locate the end of the queue (it was somewhere back in Lost Continent). So instead I decided to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

 

The ride was posting an astronomical 120 minute standby queue, so naturally I chose to use the single rider line, which was a walk-on as always. And per usual, it was one of the best dark rides in the world. 10 out of 10

 

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Hogwarts is home to many mysteries. Most importantly, why don't more people use the single rider queue?

 

The Hulk was being quite temperamental in the morning, but it eventually reopened in the afternoon. It had a lengthy queue all day, but I was able to ride it twice- once in the front and once in the back.

 

And I love that first half. The uphill launch into the zero-G roll is one of the best moments on any B&M. The cobra roll is easily the best on the planet; it pulls some serious Gs. The two loops are quite powerful and I love the corkscrew that is immediately followed by a drop into a trench.

 

The second half is a bit dull, but at least it's smooth and has the on-board audio pumping. 8 out of 10

 

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Best cobra roll on earth. It's not even a contest.

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The Hulk's first half is a mean green machine.

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Such a picturesque coaster.

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I also did something quite stupid during this visit. You see, I had a toe injury. I'm not going to go into any details, but it was covered in a bandage that I was explicitly told not to get wet.

 

So naturally I rode Jurassic Park, Popeye's, and Ripsaw Falls.

 

But I took some precautions. I wrapped my foot in multiple trash bags. Did I look ridiculous? Absolutely! Did I care? Nope. I managed to escape the wettest water rides in the world with dry feet. And honestly, it worked so well I may even do it again on future visits.

 

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Looks are certainly deceiving. I can't believe this is easily the driest water ride in the park.

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Meanwhile the log flume is freaking deluge.

 

I spent very little time on the Studios side, but I made sure to take a quick lap hitting my favorites. That included Men in Black, Mummy, Rockit, and Buddy. Who's Buddy you may ask? Why, that's the adorable weenie dog from the Secret Life of Pets.

 

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Slinky Dog isn't the only wiener dog in town.

 

But the highlight on the Studios side was undoubtedly the Rockit. I get that people find this coaster shaky, but it's such a unique and well-rounded coaster. The drops have some great airtime, the helices pull some strong Gs, and the soundtrack certainly helps. 8.5 out of 10

 

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I know people wish Universal Orlando got Hollywood Dream instead, but I actually prefer the Rockit.

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Each drop delivers some really underrated airtime.

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However, the highlight of the entire visit was riding Hagrid's twice at night. Night rides have been difficult to obtain on Hagrid's since the ride's queue closed at 3 pm all summer, but it was kept open until closing on this visit. So I was able to get two rides- once with the Express Pass and once in the standby queue.

 

I didn't find the experience any better at night, but that was no issue since it was already exemplary by day. The only difference was that the transition into the Devil's Snare feeling more seamless.

 

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Sometimes my camera's struggle to capture moving targets at night results in some cool photos like this.

 

I was also able to catch the projection show on the castle during my final wait for Hagrid's. And it made the night even more special. The show didn't last long, but it was a nice touch that added a lot of energy to the area.

 

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Everything is better with projection mapping.

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And while I might not make it back to Universal again in 2020, there are certainly some nice things coming in the near future.

 

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RIP Terminator.

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The future home of the Velocicocaster?

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Great reports. Glad to hear that the new Fun Spot coaster doesn't totally suck and that Hagrid's is so good as well. I share your opinions on Mine Blower, Hulk and HRRR. All great rides!

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Disneyland

 

I own season passes to most of the major park chains, but the most surprising season pass that I own may very well be Disneyland considering I live almost 3,000 miles away. But when I realized I'd be on the west coast roughly every quarter for work (well pre-coronavirus), I could justify the cost of the flex passport.

 

There were two new things for me on this particular trip- Star Wars Rise of the Resistance and the Magic Happens parade.

 

I had already ridden Star Wars Rise of the Resistance in Orlando, so I was familiar with the ride and process to get an early boarding pass. On a few of my visits, I happened to snag the first boarding group of the day!

 

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Social distancing wasn't yet a thing in late February.

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I didn't know they actually used Group 1!

 

One of the days, we had a boarding group in the mid-60s and Rise of the Resistance was having an absolutely awful day. Every time we would walk over to the ride, it would breakdown. Eventually we were able to catch it after an extended afternoon closure and much to my shock, all the effects were running.

 

I already posted a detailed review of the ride in the Hollywood Studios report (Here), so go there if you want the spoilers. But from a high level, this is quite simply the world's best themed dark ride and Disney's crowning achievement. The level of immersion is incredible.

 

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The Resistance were having some issues processing recruits. I blame the Jawas.

 

We ended up seeing the Magic Happens parade on its second day and lucked into a great spot behind a trash can near It's a Small World. We also purposefully planned to see the parade at night and we were quite pleased with our decision once we saw how colorful the floats were.

 

The parade was excellent. I loved the float designs. The music was catchy. And the walkaround characters interacted with guests in the front row.

 

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Mickey would totally beat Harry Potter in a duel.

 

I also rediscovered my love of Fantasmic. On my past visits, I've been crammed shoulder to shoulder in the FastPass so I haven't had the best vantage point. This time I realized I could get a better spot using Standby if I waited for the second show. I especially loved this standing spot to the left of the dining area where you had a clear view of the left water screen (which was far clearer than the middle screen) and a front row view of the boats.

 

Fantasmic was already my favorite theme park show, but I realized just how amazing the visuals were when I had a front row view. It's the perfect way to end a visit with that catchy soundtrack, the flashy effects, and all the characters.

 

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Mickey blows his load.

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Fantasmic has more colors than a rainbow.

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Mouse versus dragon. Who will win?

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Avada Kedavra!

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I've never had such a clear view of the boat.

 

One of the other highlights was marathoning Splash Mountain without getting off. I always wondered if Disney would allow rerides, but the answer is yes there's absolutely no one in line. And that was the case for Splash Mountain on a cold, rainy night when temperatures dropped into the 40s.

 

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Californias still flocked to Splash Mountain by day.

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But Slinky and I had the mountain all to ourselves at night.

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And sometimes I was able to convince a local to join me.

 

Last but not least, Space Mountain had been running the Hyperspace Mountain overlay in my past few visits. While enjoyable, I prefer the standard Space Mountain. Thankfully it was back in its former glory so I could enjoy the Michael Giacchino score while zooming through space.

 

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40 minute posted wait. Let's see how long I actually wait.

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Needless to say, I walked right onto Space Mountain.

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And I found this weird creature.

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But we quickly became friends.

 

Beyond those highlights, I spent the day riding through the park's other mountains, reliving classic films, and stuffing my face with food.

 

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New ride credit for me!

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Big Thunder's finale was down on my last visit, so it was great to see it running again!

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Indiana Jones was celebrating his 25th anniversary of rescuing tourists who can't follow one simple instruction- Don't Look into Mara's Eyes!

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The portable hole is still one of my all-time favorite effects.

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You're not you when you're hungry. Snickers satisfies.

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It's a Small World teaches young boys how to rub their cock.

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Seeing Pooh stuff his face with honey made me hungry.

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Slinky was begging for the Monte Cristo.

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I had never been to Bengal Barbecue, but I can definitely say I'll be returning. I love meat on a stick!

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I escaped the First Order's quarantine and explroed Batuu after dark.

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It was nice exploring the land without the crowds.

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Haunted Mansion was closed for refurbishment and still scaring guests with this ominous wait time.

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Goofy looks upon the castle with envy and gives Mickey the one finger salute.

 

For the past few years, I had considered Tokyo Disneyland my favorite park in the world. But after these visits, I think I now give the edge back to the original Disneyland. Rise of the Resistance and the ability to rapidly accumulate FastPasses with MaxPass tip the scales in my opinion.

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Bengal BBQ is one of the most delicious eating establishments on any Disney property. I did once get a beef skewer that was literally all gristle but they were nice and exchanged it for me.

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