Our good friend Lisa Leeman has just returned from a triumphant escape to the happy place, AKA Walt Disney World. She has kindly prepared a trip report for our readers, including New Fantasyland, Test Track 2.0 and The Legend of Jack Sparrow. Sprinkle some pixie dust and let’s head off to Neverland…
I’m not going to pretend that I’m a writer or a blogger, because I am not, but I thought I would do a synopsis of my recent trip to the world, highlighting the newest (to me) aspects!
I took a small trip with my Dad from Jan 1-10th, beginning with a stop in Fort Myers (which is a lovely quiet, beachy town). We got to Walt Disney World on the 5th, staying at the good old Pop Century, until the 10th.
We spent the evening at Downtown Disney because we didn’t want to waste a whole day ticket on a few hours. We did all the regular things, shopping and Earl of Sandwich for dinner (delicious holiday sandwiches all around, and the line was really tolerable!). My dad is a huge football fan so he asked if there was anywhere that he could watch a bit of the game, so I suggested Splitsville, as I heard they had millions of bars there, one of which was bound to be playing some form of football on the TV. I was correct, so we sat down at the main bar on the first floor.
I mean we didn’t actually bowl (which I’d assume is the main purpose of going to Splitsville), but the bar was far from friendly. My dad ordered a draught beer, and I wanted a virgin pina colada. The bartender quickly said “we don’t serve virgin drinks here” handed my dad his beer and ignored us for the rest of the time we sat there. I realize she was probably very busy, but, I really felt like there could have been a much better way to handle that situation (i.e. suggesting another drink, another area or bar?). Splitsville seems to be great for bowling, but not much else. In other news, the virgin megastore escalators still live on in Splitsville!
We took a trip to Hollywood Studios for opening at 9am. First stop was of course Toy Story Mania for Fastpasses, then straight onto The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow! This new attraction is simple, but effective, also the projections are unreal! Basically you walk into a sort of holding room, where a talking Jolly Roger greets you and asks you if you’d like to join Captain Jack on an adventure (encouraging you to ARGH! and yell MATEY’S!). Then you are lead into a larger space, including a large pirate ship, and other pirate deco. You are greeted again by the Jolly Roger host and lead through an interactive show including a SUPER lifelike projection of Captain Jack himself. The entire attraction is only about 10 minutes long, but as a HUGE pirates fan I was really entertained!
Everything else was very business as usual at the Hollywood Studios, aside from the addition of Lightening McQueen to the Lights Motors Action! stunt spectacular. They’ve removed Herbie the Lovebug, and replaced that part of the show with a Lightening McQueen car chase. It was really cute, and in my opinion, a much more recognizable and accessible addition to the age range of the audience!
We got to Magic Kingdom for rope drop! Right off the bat, I noticed that they have split the ticket turnstile areas into two halves, RFID resort guests on the right side, and regular paper tickets on the left. This trip we were regular paper ticket folks, which of course had a line about 75% longer than the RFID, though I’d assume the RFID is a much quicker entrance option.
Straight away we went to New Fantasyland, because I was too excited to do anything else. The first thing I noticed was the HUGE amount of space right at the entrance to the new area (strollers are hardly noticeable, until of course you get to the small world, peter pan corridor, which is as bad as usual).
I had some trouble convincing my dad to go for lunch at Be Our Guest, because of the line, so that’ll have to wait for my next trip, and the line for Enchanted Tales with Belle was too long for his liking as well (about an hour). We didn’t get a chance to see it, due to the 20 minute posted wait time.
It was a lovely, updated version of the classic Disney dark ride. Riding in a seashell (Finding Nemo style), you pass through the entire story of Ariel and Prince Eric, including an AWESOME Under the Sea area (Image 9). The animatronics, sound, and ride motion are all really smooth and clean, everything about this ride was enjoyable and I’d highly recommend it!
Moving onto Gaston’s Tavern, it is actually really tiny, I’d imagine that it gets quite crowded during the afternoon and evening, and seeing as all they basically serve is the lamb shank and Lefou’s Brew, I’d classify this as a one time stop, and a great photo op, but I’d take Casey’s corner over it any day!
Then we made our way to Storybook Circus, which is a bit of trek to get to until the Seven Dwarves Mine Coaster opens (You have to walk all the way around the construction area), but it’s well worth the extra walk! There is a lot of open space, superiorly well themed, and because of the double up, Dumbo does not have an extraneous long wait anymore (about 10 minutes for us, I actually convinced my Dad to ride for the first time in about 20 years!)
Overall, the older areas of Magic Kingdom are really tolerable right now because of the addition of New Fantasyland. Our longest wait was Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin at 25 minutes, and every other attraction we went on was walk-on!
We got to Epcot, just a little after opening (I needed a sleep in day!), and headed straight to Test Track for some Fastpass. Honestly, I’d go as far to say that Test Track is the best new addition of all the new areas of WDW. My best tip for you folks would be to tolerate the long waits and forgo the Fastpass option on Test Track, because you can only get the full experience when you go through the regular line.
Fastpass limits your personal car design time to a few seconds (and only give you a handful of generic cars to choose from) and they really don’t explain to the fastpassers how to design the cars properly (this took use three rides to figure out!). Eventually, when we went through the regular line, we figured out that they fully explain all the details of designing and you get a full three minutes in the design studio to design a super awesome custom vehicle! Here’s mine (which won with a score of 204!)
As for the actual track, the overlay is completely different, but the track itself is the same. The new Test Track gives you an opportunity to compare your personally designed car to the SIM car, on the actual track. The whole group riding in the SIM car with you gets to compete to see who has the best designed car based on efficiency, power etc. The Track has a brand new Tron-esque feel to it, and it all melds together nicely to give a fresh new vibe.
As for the remainder of EPCOT, everything is pretty business as usual. I didn’t get a chance to try out the new Phineas and Ferb: Agent P World Showcase Adventure, but it seemed to be quite similar to the old Kim Possible game.
A special shout-out to Catherine at the Rose and Crown, and Alvaro as San Angel Inn for the stellar service at lunch and dinner (respectively)
We made our way to Animal Kingdom from rope drop, nothing new to report, nice day, not too busy!
Special shout-out to cast member Nick on Kilimanjaro Safari. Coming from someone who never enjoys going on the Safari, he made it really fun and enjoyable. Also the male lion was out, which is always fun!
Overall, it was an enjoyable (albeit a bit rushed) trip. Looking forward to my next opportunity to see the world, and hopefully report back about Be Our Guest!