Sunday, January 6, 2013

December 2012 Trip Report: Part Two

Day 2
December 9

Welcome back to my trip report! For those of you just joining us, please hold on to the handrails throughout our journey. You can read Part One here

Hooray for Hollywood would be a suitable subtitle for this part of the report. Disney's Hollywood Studios was my least liked WDW park prior to the trip. When pondering things after the trip, I think it may be my favorite. Why? Let's find out. 

We arrived at the park just before opening and went straight to Toy Story Midway Mania. This ride catches quite a bit of grief for some reason. But Toy Story is a favorite in my house and I have nothing but pure fun on this attraction. Mr. Potato Head was fully operational this morning and even managed to do his ear trick. Looks like he has done it a few too many times, however, as he's having a paint issue on the part that actually goes in to his head. After some midway games, it was time to hit up Sunset Boulevard. 

I've had a fear of thrill rides- even mild ones- for years. So I had never experienced many attractions in Walt Disney World, including Tower of Terror and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. I finally worked up the nerve to experience both. I started with RNR. I love Aerosmith, but my love for Aerosmith has conflicted with my hatred for ever being upside down. I walked on to the attraction twice, and really loved the attraction. The preshow is cool and the ride is much more fun than I ever would have expected. The picture from the launch on my first ride is priceless. I needed a deep breath after the launch. By now most of you think I'm a wimp, so I guess I'll talk about Tower now. Yep. I'd never ridden what many claim to be one of the best attractions anywhere. Like RNR, I was thoroughly impressed. The ride experience is truly a masterpiece. (#Buzzword) The level of detail in the queue, how the story is set up and the effects on the ride are truly remarkable. The drop isn't nearly as bad as I thought. We then moved to the Great Movie Ride. As cheesy as some parts are, I'm glad the attraction is still around. To me, its an important part of the park. 

Grabbed some FastPasses for Midway Mania and then moved on. Next up was The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow. 
I'll spare you and keep my comments short. 
Projections: Well done and impressive.
Actual show part: Pretty lame. Stomping on concrete doesn't produce much of a sound. 
Also, Swiper, no swiping! 
After another round of midway games it was lunch time!

My family goes by the following motto at all times while in WDW. "Any excuse to go the Boardwalk is a good one." So, Big River Grill and Brewing Works it was. The burgers here a quite delicious. I had one with mushrooms, onions and bacon! Mostly for the bacon. They have tasty fresh chips and I'd also recommend the jalapeno cheese dip. Of course the star of the show was the BEER. Which I'm pretty sure they make. Flavorful and great if you happen to be travelling with in-laws. We spent about 2 hours at the Boardwalk. I love it there.

Upon our return to DHS, our first stop was Star Tours. I hadn't ridden Star Tours since 1991, so I can't really comment in terms of comparing the two versions. It's a pretty damn fun attraction, that's for sure. I actually wish I had more time in the queue, as the only part I waited in was the boarding area. We also headed to Muppet Vision 3D. I'd love to see the Muppets get more at DHS, due to both the success of the film and the reception the 3D show gets. Both attractions seemed to be in good shape. Up next was Fantasmic! I've always enjoyed Fantasmic! and this night was no different. It certainly lacks when compared to its Anaheim or Tokyo counterparts, but all it needs is a little love. I didn't notice anything in the way of character or pyro cuts. But there is a definite need for updates. Unfortunately, it sounds like Fantasmic! will be out of DHS, and not getting any work. That's the latest rumor. We then found short waits for bot RnR and ToT, so one more ride on each was in order.

To cap off the day at DHS, next was the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights! (Presented by Sylvania-A Siemens Company) This has always been a great offering, and I was pleased to see the updates since 2009, which include more complex sequences on the canopy. Kudos to the people heading that up! The crowd control is a bit obnoxious. They have an odd one way system that takes you in near Star Tours and brings you way down to Hunchback Theater. Not only is it a pain when you can enter at the New York end instead, but it makes you feel rushed inside the Streets of America.

Overall, I found that my complaints with DHS about unthemed boxes and lazy studio theming were much less noticeable in person than I remembered. It also helps that Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard are so wonderfully done and feel so alive with streetmosphere. I spent about a half hour at the intersection of Sunset and Hollywood and its wonderful. The park could still benefit from some work, but I gained more appreciation for the park. Though as both Michael and Sean of Parkscope pointed out on Twitter, its hard to appreciate a park when you haven't ridden half the attractions, like I had previously. In addition, aside from the gangster car in the Great Movie Ride, everything was in near perfect shape, even Mr. Spell!

Day 3
December 10
I want to talk about room maintenance quickly. On Saturday, we discovered that the drain in our shower was VERY slow to drain to the point that after a day in the parks, it had just finished draining. In addition, our TV was missing 5 channels including ESPN. This was a problem. The Patriots were playing that night. After a quick call, both were fixed by the time we got back from WWoS. The cable guy was there before we even left. The man who fixed our TV said that they are encountering many problems with DirecTV. Notably, many campers have analog hookups on their trailers and not digital.

Monday was one of two days we had set aside as non-park days. I got up quite early for a morning run around Fort Wilderness. I ran up to the beach and It was a beautiful morning, despite the fog. We started the day with breakfast at Trail's End, which offers take out and buffet next to Pioneer Hall. It was there where we met Josephine, who I'd heard about online. She is the greeter and is one of the best Cast Members. She is so friendly and knows many of the Fort's long term guests by name. If you are there in the morning  you may be able to feed her pet squirrel Bart. He likes nuts. Especially cashews. Once we ate, we went to visit ESPN Wide World of Sports. I've always wanted to see an event there, though I've never had the chance. However, we wanted to at least see the facilities. The place is gorgeous. Any kid or professional athlete who can play here is very lucky. The fields are perfectly kept and Champion Stadium is the most beautiful sports facility I've ever seen. There is a very high-tech interior ESPN channel that covers activities at the complex. This also coincides with a special channel in Disney Resort hotel rooms.  It was pretty neat to watch the grounds crew in action as they fixed grass that was torn by Pop Warner. They were also preparing for a baseball and softball event. Being a family of sports fans, we were happy to go there. 

Upon our return to the Fort, we picked up our golf cart, which we had rented through Wednesday. We spent the day just enjoying the place. Swimming, relaxing at the beach, looking at decorations and enjoying one of the best remaining parts of the original Vacation Kingdom. Then came dinner. At Ohana.
I couldn't wait. We arrived early because...well because it's the Polynesian. The meal was phenomenal. The bread....the salad....the noodles and of course, the MEAT. It was all delicious and tender. We also had bread pudding, which I technically couldn't fit inside of me. It was just a really great experience. They even had a a guy roaming around and chatting up the tables while singing and playing the ukulele  That was an appreciated touch. Next was some monorail time. We stopped first at the Grand Floridian. We played fancy for a while and poked around. Gingerbread was a must. Next stop was the Contemporary. The family we were traveling with are DVC members and we had planned to watch the game from the Top of the World Lounge. They were told no guests were allowed. But we tried it anyway. Through a little trickery, we made it to the Top of the World. The view was nothing short of amazing and I was thrilled. It was a clear night and DHS, Epcot and Downtown Disney were in view. I was in my glory. We didn't watch the game up there, but headed back to the cabin. Naturally, there was an issue with the monorail and we were held in the Contemporary for 15 minutes, witnessing firsthand the magic of TDO. 

The Patriots beat Houston 42-14 and it was glorious. (Rematch next Sunday!) We also learned that wearing your team's jersey on game day is quite the conversation starter. Guy in Texans jersey the Grand Floridian-If you are reading this- HA!

That does it for Part Two! Next up is Animal Kingdom (Naht-a-zu), Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and another day at Fort Wilderness. Once again, part one is here! I'm also on Twitter! You can also leave a comment right here on the blog if you have any concerns, questions, comments or fiery balls of hatred. Thanks for reading!

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