20th Anniversary Disney Trip – Day 1

You may have noticed that I have not posted anything in a while. That is in part because I haven’t had much interesting happen, and in part due to the fact that I knew I would have the following posts coming up. So, for those of you who don’t know, this past Saturday (August 9th) my family and I left for Disney World. This trip was special because it was the 20th anniversary of the first time we went to Disney World as a family back in 1994!

Now to be honest, I was not 100% excited to go on this trip. Though it is/was something 20 years in the making, I was still not thrilled to go. I’ve been to Disney several times since ’94 and to me, it’s gotten a bit stale. When I go on vacation, I like going somewhere new, and even though there were some new or updated attractions, overall, things don’t change.

Additionally, I have been jaded by age. Things I never gave a second thought to when I was younger, I now see as corney. I think and worry about how much power each ride uses and how much AC the park wastes by keeping doors open. I get bothered by all the stupid dorky people that go there and can’t help but roll my eyes at.

And lastly, I was afraid that I would be stuck with my family the entire time and not have enough time to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. However, in spite of all that, I couldn’t let literally years of thinking about and planning this trip ruin my vacation. So, here is how it went…

ArtOfAnimationSignThe sign guest’s first see upon arriving at the Art of Animation resort. The resort is split into four sections; Radiator Springs (Cars), The Little Mermaid (where Kyra and I stayed), Finding Nemo, and The Lion King.

We left Logan Airport at 6:05am. In the row behind us was a guy about my age I later found out was Johnny. While we were taxiing to the runway, he kept making stupid jokes to his sister. Stuff like, “I’m not gonna read 50 Shades of Gray, get it out of here.” They were stupid but funny and they kept the flight entertaining. Upon our arrival at MCO (at approximately 9:14am) I turned around and introduced myself and told him how much I appreciated his humor. It was a cool way to start the trip.

After taking the Magical Express bus to our respective hotels, Kyra and I stayed in The Art of Animation and our parents stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. After checking in, Kyra and I went to our room to find that there was only one bed. We called the front desk and in less than five minutes we were told a different room to go to; we didn’t even have to go back to the front desk. They sent the info to our “Magic Bands” (a bracelet with an RF-ID chip that serves as your room key and ticket to the parks) and by the time we got to our next room, our “keys” were programmed for that door. I was really impressed with how quickly and smoothly the issue was resolved. On top of that, our new room was on the other side of The Little Mermaid section, so now we had a view of the pool, rather than a view of the parking lot.

We finally got to our first park by 11:30-ish. Naturally, the first the first park we did was The Magic Kingdom. It is the quintessential symbol of Disney World and home to the new-ish Fantasyland expansion. Specifically, about a month or two ago the new Seven Dwarves Mine Train roller coaster finally opened, so it was not only new to us, but new to the park as well.

BalconyViewThe view from the balcony of our second room.

We tried to go right to the ride, but the attempt was futile. The 75-minute line overflowed out of the designated queue and back towards the carousel. Being that we were itching to get on a ride, we made our way over to Splash Mountian. This was going to be a big deal to ride because my Mom, who hates “thrill rides” was going to brave this one with us. The line was only 15 minutes shorter, but it was at least in the shade. Finally, after what seemed like endless bumps from the man behind us in line, we got on the ride. It was great as usual and really only gave my Mom a slight headache; could have been much worse. We (I) bought the on ride photo and we then made our way towards Liberty Square.

WheelWellHotelThis was at the back of the Radiator Spring/Cars section of the resort. I can only imagine they’re building Sally to put in place of where the box on the left is.

On the way, we ran into my Dad’s old friend Michael (which whom he had plans to golf later in the trip; additionally, we had plans to meet about him potentially hooking me up with a job, but more on that later) whom he used to work with at the Disney Store. Michael, who is now a big muck-a-muck at the parks, was there with his family (wife and two boys) as well and he and my Dad spoke for a while before they each went their respective way. The next thing we did was ride the classic attraction The Haunted Mansion. The wait was only 40 minutes and it went by pretty fast. However, when we got out, in typical Florida fashion, it was raining and lightinig. These cloud bursts never last too long, but they do make things uncomfortable. After dodging the worst of it in a nearby restaurant, we continued on to Tomorrowland.

FilmoreRadiator Springs is the section I would have preferred to stay in. Not only was it closer to the front of the resort, but the theming was way cooler.

There we configured our FastPass+ at the kiosk to include Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, and Space Mountain. We then slowly made our way over to Fantasyland because we had plenty of time to kill before our FastPass would be active. Eventually we got on the underwhelming ride and then made our way over to Gaston’s Tavern. There we got some snacks and drinks before going back to Tomorrowland. We were too early for our Buzz Lightyear FastPass, so we rode a family favorite, The People Mover. This was fun and relaxing as always and by the time it was done, we were able to get on Buzz Lightyear.

Sarge

I scored the highest with something like 400,000 points. The rest didn’t come close but regardless, it was a lot of fun. After that we were all pretty tired, as we’d been up since 2:30am, so we decided to leave the park. I made the mistake of saying we should try and find our brick (our family has one of the hexagonal bricks with our names on it on the path that leads to the entrance of the park) before leaving. We searched for a long time, but, not knowing the number on it, didn’t have a great idea as to where it was. After a few minutes, Kyra and I got bored and went back to out room.

LionKingSectionThe Lion King section of the resort.

After getting back, taking a dip in the pool (just me), grabbing some food, and walking around the hotel (just me), we made our way out to Downtown Disney. There we found the Marketplace Co-Op, a store I had heard about just before we left for the trip. The Marketplace is home to some exclusive merchandise that is potentially only there for a limited time. I had had in mind to buy three plates for Kyra’s apartment that I thought were really cool, so, upon finding them all almost right away, that’s what I did. I got the items shipped back to the hotel and then we moved on to the next store.

BeautyAndTheBeastPlatesThe three plates in question. Photos borrowed from the Marketplace Co-Op website.

Somehow somewhere along the lines we got into an inevitable fight about how we both envisioned the trip going; both visions drastically different from the other. This lead to tension, and after making a quick, angry jaunt through the Lego Store, I stormed off and got on a bus back to the hotel. Kyra and I reconvened over the phone, and, after getting a late dinner at the hotel, I went by myself back to the Magic Kingdom. Being that it was Saturday, they were having “Extra Magic Hours” meaning that for guests staying on Disney property, the park was open until 2am!

HipsterMickey“Hipster Mickey” art piece for sale at the Marketplace Co-Op.

Upon arriving at the park I bolted to the Seven Dwarves Mine Train ride. The wait was still 60 minutes, but, it was now dark and much cooler out. Before entering the ride, the Cast Member asked me what hotel I was staying at. This was to ensure I was staying on the property. I then began the wait. Eventually, at the main part of the queue, there were some mini-games. The first was a gem matching game that was much more fun than it should have been.

MineTrainTurnSeven Dwarves Mine Train roller coaster testing with no passengers.

All you had to do was fill a wooden crate with three empty slots with the matching gem color and shape with the gems floating by. It was a touch screen game and as the gems floated by, you dragged to appropriate one to it’s place. Once the crate was full, it lit up and made a noise. That was it, but it was a lot of fun for some reason. Plus it made you forget you were in line, so by the time you looked up, the line had moved substantially.

The next involved seven barrells filled with gems that were real, not touch screen. You had to spin the barrells and if you spun them fast enough, one of the seven dwarves images would be projeted on the ceiling. If you got them all spinning -a woman in line told me- an images of Snow White would appear dancing the center. Sure enough we got them all the spin and she appeared. The ride ended up being pretty short, but it was cute little coaster with a lot of fun theming.

WaterGoofeyWhile making my way out of the park, a Cast Member was using a brush and water to “paint” character faces on Main Street USA.

I finished with the ride at 12:43 so I decided to check out the line at Space Mountain. Upon my arrival it said 20 minutes, but surprisingly, the queue was out the building. It moved fast though, and I soon found out that the hold up was due to the Cast Members scanning room keys and “magic bands” to make sure you were in fact staying on the property.

Once this was done, the line moved pretty fast. This too was now equipped with mini-games. I got to play them a little and they were pretty fun too. When I got closer to the loading platform, a group of people behind me started a slow clap that seemed to envelop everyone. It really helped boost the energy of everyone in line. It’s stuff like that which only happens when you’re at a park late at night because that’s when all the die hards are there. The highlight however was finally getting on the ride. I always forget how much fun that coaster is. It’s not fast and it’s not long, but being in the dark with all the sharp twists, turns and drops, it still provides a thrill. It was a great way to cap off a long and sometimes frustrating day.

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