So, I and my Fiancée are staying offshore (country inn Universal drive for those playing at home), which has a free shuttle to Epcot, so we had the fun of trying to make our way from Epcot to MK.
Bag check is outside the park... and the monorail. This left us confused as we didn't want to enter EPCOT today, and it wasn't immediately clear the monorail station was also on the far side of security. However bag check was quick and not much more than a cursory glance, there is a seperate faster line for those without bags.
At the TTC we were directed to the bus or boat, and away from the monorail :( I'm sure there's good reasons for it vis a vie getting resort guests in, but still disapointing. The boat was quick and efficient however. We must have entered not long after opening.
After getting through the will call booth and entrance, we quickly picked up our jaws from the ground and did a circuit of the Disneyland Railroad. To say it was a walk on would be an understatement... but was a nice pleasant ride and a good way to introduce my fiancée to the various parts of the park (she's not researched it as I have).
Fast pass and ride strategy was to not so much focus on the newest and greatest... but the timeless classics and those with Walt's DNA. With that in mind our 3 fastpasses were pirates of the Caribbean, haundted Manson, and then jungle cruise some time later.
We stopped by the art store and caseys on the way to adventure land. My fiancée was disapointed to learn there was no unlimited drinks option...I think this is a massive mistake - I'm not asking for slush drinks like at universal, just basic fountain drinks to help keep hydrated and cool… the Fountain drinks we did buy were overloaded with ice (3/4 of the cup on one occasion!) so tomorrow at Epcot we’ll be bottles only to try and limit the rippoff.
We clocked into Pirates, and headed through the fastpass cueue. Looking at the queue as we came through I began to feel that this was perhaps a wasted pass… I can’t say with confidence the Fastpass wait was shorter than stand by. As Dark Rides go… Yesterday I felt like ET was the Queen of Dark Rides (With Charlie and the Chocolate factory at Alton Towers a close second… With Pirates I feel like the kingdom has two duelling queens fighting for dominance. I can see why its a true classic.
We then headed to the tikitikitikitiki-tiki room… As I mentioned before I was keen to get the essence of Walt so this was on my “Must do” list. We both loved the tropical serenade… I must say I can’t see how adding Iago or Zazu would be in any way a good idea.
After this we headed into the Frontier, and had a ride on the liberty belle through the rivers. We couldn’t really hear the announcements at the bow but the set pieces were really nice to observe.
Haunted Mansion to me really showed how the old effect really can be the greatest effects… the pepper’s ghost effect blew me away, as did the stretching room. I can see why even after all these years it still has huge wait times… my guess would be it always will.
We then headed to tomorrowland after a few pictures in the Hub. the wait times for everything but Carolsel of Progress were unreasonable (stitch was closed), and I really wanted to do the Carosel (it probably has Walt’s fingerprints on it) so we jumped in to what was a walk on. In here we really could feel the difference between universal fans and disney fans, with the fans of the show clapping an infectious beat during Sherman’s theme song (damn them Sherman boys can write, It was nice to see them with “uncle” Walt in the waiting area). I can’t quite explain why its awesome, but it just is.
I was hoping to go on the peoplemover for a fleeting glance of the “real” EPCOT, but alas that queue was overflowing… and remained so all day. I really hope someone can explain why. As the wait for everything else was well over half an hour we decided to head up to Fantasyland. We didn’t venture far into Fantasyland, but did take on the Carosel after a sword in the stone pose (not much to really say about the carosel… its a Carosel. The only exceptional one I’ve ridden is the Blackpool one)… We headed to Its A Small World for another Walt Classic. Although the queue looked far more intimidating than the 15 minute posted wait, I was surprised by how quickly they were able to get through the queue. The ride looked well maintained and looked after despite the age… although it looks like the ferris wheel in the final scene is in need of some love.
It was about time for the Muppets -as a kid of the 80’s and an apologist for the new muppet series I was looking forward to seeing one of the muppet shows (even though I’ve seen both on Youtube). As a Dual Australian/Uk citizen (and my Fiancee Canadian) I was tempted to cheer the kind and vote against independence, but I couldn’t quite find it in me to be disrespectful (even though I have lived in Scotland long enough to be mildly offended by the term “King of England” (there has been no such kingdom since 1707… It was “Great Britain” during the Declaration of Independence).
As we waited for the next fastpass we took in the Country Bear Jamboree (which was nice, but I’d rather be in the Tiki room all things considered), then headed for the Jungle Cruise. With my punny sense of humour I knew I was going to love this ride… My Fiancee seemed to love it as well and said I should consider working there… I pointed out I don’t really work in my real job, so why would this be any different… We got extra fast-passes for Thunder as we left
My girlfriend started talking about a snack at this time… We had a booking for the Crystal Palace for dinner at 8pm, so given the cost we weren’t planning a full lunch. I’d dropped hints about “Dole Whip” in the last few hours, but my Girfriend was talking hot dog. We got me a Dole Whip Float, and her a hot dog. The Dole Whip in the float was great, but the pineapple juice it floated in didn’t really add anything to my mind… My Girlfriend soon realised she made the wrong choice…she loved the whip part but her hotdog was simply a frank on a bun. I would have expected a little dressing - Cheese, chilli, at least a toasted bun or butter, it was just sad looking but I was informed it did taste okay for what it was.
To Kill time whilst we waited for the Big Thunder time we did ride the carpets of Aladdin twice, since it was operating essentially as a walk on. All in all I prefered Kang + Kodos at Universal, the minigame to hit the targets as you pass was better… although the camel spit was fun.
As a low-intensity coaster, Big Thunder was a lot of fun, small but effective drops and headchopper effects. I was suprised that it did have the “right” amount of shake for what would have been a wooden coaster… and my Fiancee decided we needed another Dole Whip…. laughing that she had now been suitably converted we took in another whip each, and then realising that we had spent so much time in Frontierland and Adventureland that we were now able to navigate it blindly, we decided to rush over to Tomorrowland and see if any of the waitimes were reasonable. In the meantime I picked up a late fastpass for Mad Hatter’s Teaparty for just before our dinner appointment.
We were in luck, although Peoplemover and Astro Blasters had a huge line, the Monster’s inc Comedy show. Again, I was unfamiliar with the source, but both my Fiancee and the preshow were more than happy to fill me in. For Kid-friendly jokes the show performed well. We rushed up to Fantasyland for the Mad Hatter’s teaparty and wished each other a very happy unbirthday and gave it a whirl. Although its a classic disneyland ride, it is by no means a unique experience.
This does however strike me as an advantage over Universal. Disney does have these flat rides to soak up extra capacity, and their absence from Universal is in my mind very noticeable as it means there’s not any “quick hits” as I would do in other parks.
So, the last place we went was the Crystal Palace for an 8Pm reservation. We were about 15 minutes early, but didn’t get seated until 8:40… okay, so I’ll not count the minutes we were early for (that was our choice), but a 39 minute wait for get in to a reservation, this wasn’t really acceptable. Given we had to get across all the way to Epcot we were looking for a quick clean getaway and a long fill at the buffet… but this timing meant we needed to hurry… We did get two visits as we ate (Tigger and Eeyore) but given the long wait, the good-for-buffet-but-not-spectacular food (and how quickly we had to eat it), as well as the price, this last experience really did put a downer on the day in my eyes.
We managed to make it back over the lagoon for the last Monorail for epcot (and thus the shuttle back). The monorail ride through closed Futureworld made a great “preview Trailer” for tomorrows adventure.
Overall, I was impressed with the Magic Kingdom. Even with a weekday crowd its clearly a park you need 2 days for IMO as we didn’t really scratch the surface of Fantasyland or Tomorrowland. I did expect it to be bigger, with the lands more spread out, but the size seemed about right to me. It is a park that doesn’t seem to be built for my size. Frequently I was more hunched over than I’d like to fit in the child-sized ride seats. More seats in the shade would be very much appreciated, as well as refillable drinks… I do however feel there was more “for me” at Universal.
Tomorrows another early start for EPCOTTweet
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