Wednesday, September 28, 2011

May 2011 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 4

Day 4 – 5/24 – Magic Kingdom & Wishes

The morning started with more homework before we left for the parks.

There’s some debate about whether its faster to drive to the Magic Kingdom, park at the Ticket & Transportation Center, then take a monorail or ferry to the turnstiles, or simply take a bus from your resort directly to the MK, bypassing the T&TC altogether. Whenever we’ve had a rental car, we’ve driven. It’s usually 25 minutes or so from the time we get into our car in the AKL parking lot until we get to the turnstiles.

I say, “usually,” because for some reason, we were held on the monorail tracks just outside the MK station, for about 5 or 10 minutes. This made our trip about 30 minutes door-to-door. 

We were afraid we’d miss the welcome show, and we could see the Walt Disney World Railroad waiting on the tracks, full of the Disney characters. But we made it just in time and caught the show.

Monday, September 26, 2011

May 2011 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 3

Day 3 – 5/23 – Le Cellier

After a late night at Hyperspace Hoopla, we decided to take it easy and sleep in a little bit. Since we had pulled DD out of school for the week, her teacher was kind enough to prepare an assignment for her to do each day. It was a travel journal with questions to answer about each day, and a place for drawing a picture.

After homework was done and we were up and at ‘em, we headed over to Epcot. After grabbing some FastPasses for Soarin, we rode the Seas with Nemo and Friends, and headed over to Turtle Talk with Crush. In the queue area are a couple of tanks with some rays and fish. This puffer fish kept coming over to DD and it seemed like it was looking right at her.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

May 2011 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 2

Day 2 - 5/22 - Star Wars Weekend

About a year before our trip, DD started getting into Star Wars. I don’t remember how it started, but over that period of time we watched the original trilogy together, she watched most of the first season of Clone Wars, as well as the Clone Wars movie, and I found some old Star Wars toys on ebay that she enjoyed playing with. Santa even brought her a lightsaber and some Star Wars books.

When I told her that Star Wars Weekends would be happening when we were at Walt Disney World, she had no idea what I was talking about. After I explained what Star Wars Weekends were, she got crazy excited.  If you’re unfamiliar, here’s a fantastic site that will have all the details:

In preparation for our trip, we made a couple of Star Wars-themed shirts for DD.

And so, appropriately dressed, we made our way to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We got there about 7:15, 45 minutes before parks were scheduled to open, anticipating huge lines. Not only was this the opening weekend for SWW, it was the opening weekend for the refurbished Star Tours ride.

We were confused when they let us through the turnstiles – apparently they had made the decision to open the park early. DW took DD into the long line for Jedi Training Academy sign ups, while I got Fast Passes for Star Tours. Because of the especially large demand for JTA during SWW, they do signups in the Indiana Jones theater, and run JTAs about every 30 minutes, using the normal stage, where participants battle Darth Vader, as well as the space in front of the stage, where participants battle either Darth Maul or Ventress.

DD was really excited to do JTA, but as we got closer to the front of the sign up line, she started to explain that she only wanted to do it if she could fight Darth Vader. She said Darth Maul would be too hard to defeat because he has a double-sided light saber. We explained that there wasn’t any way to guarantee who she’d fight, and that if she didn’t want to do it, she didn’t have to. And that even if she changed her mind at the last second and didn’t want to do it, it would be OK and we wouldn’t be upset.

So with that anxiety behind us, we headed over to the new Star Tours. The standby line was posted as only 5 minutes long, so we got right on, and when we were done, we rode it a second time. They did a fantastic job with it. Not only are the effects and sound better than ever, they have a randomized experience. Each ride, there are three separate segments, separated by two mini segments. When you calculate all of the possible combinations, there are 54 unique rides you can experience.

May 2011 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 1

Day 1 – 5/21 - Departure Day & Epcot

After visiting Walt Disney World in late August/early September a few times, we wanted to mix things up a little bit, so we scheduled a May trip. On our last trip we had renewed our annual passes, and since they were running a special 15-month renewal, we figured we would be able to use our DVC points for a value studio at Animal Kingdom Villas at Jambo House, and use the remaining Southwest Rapid Rewards tickets that were due to expire later in 2011. That would enable us to go in May and October, with the only out-of-pocket expenses being for food!

We woke up early and were out the door a little before 6:00am.  We live about an hour and 15 minutes east of Buffalo, which is the closest city that Southwest flies to. It was a little foggy around our house, but when we hit the NYS Thruway, the fog really got thick.

 Luckily there wasn’t too much traffic on the road, and even though we were driving more slowly than usual, we got to the airport right on schedule. We had a little time to kill, so DD and I spent it reading the 3rd Kingdom Keepers book. She really enjoys how the characters are in the Disney Parks and riding the same rides she knows.

I was a little concerned, with all the fog, that our outbound flight would be delayed. As 8:35 am approached, it wasn’t letting up. But they didn’t seem concerned. We boarded the plane and took off on time.