December 2017 Trip Report

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Apr 5, 2011
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I recently visited two Disney parks in one day with the main one being Animal Kingdom.  I’ll include them both here because I don’t feel I’ve done enough Hollywood Studios to justify a full review, but I will include the rides below.

Star Tours- Probably the best motion sim out there.  Amazing queue with great immersion.  The ride itself looked up to date and had scenes from The Last Jedi.  My only regret is that I wasn’t able to try it more than once to see how the random scenes worked.  Rating- Episode 7 out of the existing films.

Midway Mania- A great interactive dark ride.  Everything was fluid and responsive and even had some great forces at times.  However, the nature of the of the ride (and the park for that matter, but I’ll get into that later) meant that there were lots of kids which made for a less than desirable wait in the queue.  While it is well done, it’s not as active as the other queues at Disney so it ended up being what felt like the longest wait all day.  Rating- Toy Story 2 out of the existing films.

Tower of Terror- Holy shit.  I thought it was just a pretty drop tower but NOPE. I was blown away by every aspect of this ride.  This is the single greatest drop tower in the existence of rides, and I don’t even ride drop towers. Rating- 10 out of 10 giant floating eyeballs.

Aerosmith Coaster- This was fine….  The whole aesthetic (band or pop music) doesn’t sync with me in general, and had the (relatively) weakest queue of the park.  The ride itself was a decent 7/10, but the layout isn’t nearly as good as Flight of Fear but it was neat to have props inside the coaster. I’m also confused about why Disney picked Aerosmith.  I never really considered them family friendly.  Rating- 5 lines of coke out of 10


Dinosaur- Educational queue is always great.  Ride system is pretty amazing for its age and the animatronics look great (even if some clearly show their age).  Great forces as well.  My nitpicking (and I’m a huge dinosaur nerd, so fuck you) comes from a few aspects.  For the ride itself, I kind of thought it was too dark and chaotic.  I get why it’s so panicked, but if I want to see dinosaurs, I want a chance to admire them (like Jurassic Park River Adventure).   The story of the ride is also pretty flawed.  You’re supposed to be going back to capture an Iguanodon seconds before the asteroid hits and it ends up saving your life?  Really?  I get that they had to redo everything once the movie flopped, but that’s the best they could come up with? Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it, but in my mind JP is the much better dinosaur ride. Rating- Velociraptor out of Utahraptor (Rating Note- Velociraptor was actually the size of a large turkey and Utahraptor actually got to the size of the raptors in the popular Jurassic Park franchise and is considered the largest of the “raptor” family)

Primeval Whirl- Pretty standard off the shelf spinning mouse with cool looking trains. They’re fun, but nothing special.   Rating- Meh out of meh.

Flight of Passage- Another “holy shit” experience.  Everything about this ride felt so revolutionary.  Beautiful visuals, amazing queue, unique ride experience.  I’ve never done anything close to this before.  I will say that the pre-show/pre-loading experience bordered on too long.  I get why they do it, but you stand there for a long time while they go over lore, scan you with Kinect tech, and ask you to move around a few times while they scan you for parasites.  I wish they cut back on that a bit.  Rating- 8 blue cat people out of 10.

Na’vi River Journey- I have a soft spot for dark boat rides so this was pretty great for me.  Amazing detail was put into this ride and is just a gorgeous ride in general.  The Na’vi animatronic was amazing, but I really wish that they put in a few more native species in animatronic form instead of the (albeit amazing) projections.  Rating- 8 more years until the next Avatar movie out of 10.

Expedition Everest-  One of the themes about my visit was that I kept being caught off-guard by the various rides and experiences.  I really wasn’t expecting more a low-force family coaster but I was pretty surprised about how good it was.  I knew it was well themed, but I was not expecting a very fun  coaster out of it.  Rating- 9 yetis out of ten 10.

Now, onto the hard part of talking about my experience of the park itself.  I’m going to put my biases out front for perspective.  I’ve never been huge into traditional Disney IPs and I really don’t like kids.  My impressions prior to going were that the parks were saturated with the characters and child-friendly to the point where it impacted the entertainment of someone like me who is interested in good parks but not the Disney brand.  Looking back on my visit I’m asking myself if I was right, I think that the answer is “sort of”.

So let’s get the good out of the way.  Animal Kingdom was gorgeous.  The buildings were all amazing inside and out and there were very few times that I felt that they reached obnoxious levels.  I went into stores only to see the decor and be impressed over and over again.  Seeing non-Disney performers was also really cool as well.  Animals were also everywhere which I always enjoy and not just the standard stuff you see at all zoos.  I was kind of stoked to see a catfish exhibit.  All this I can appreciate with my home park being BGW.  

Then there’s Pandora.  Whether you not the film was great, there’s really no denying that its world building is impressive.  They did a great job turning that CG landscape into a real park.  It was amazing to take in and at night it was even better.  I was also curious how Disney would handle such a large area with an IP they didn’t own.  So yeah, with the great rides and impressive atmosphere, I’m a fan of the park itself and would like to go again.

Everything I had to eat and drink was incredibly tasty.  For lunch I went to the Pandora restaurant and had fried tofu with rice and herb sauce.  Desert was the cinnamon cream cheese mousse.  Dinner I went to the Yak and Yeti and had the best potstickers I’ve ever had.  Merch was pretty much what I expected; mostly Disney IP stuff with some generic stuff thrown in. I did really like the Pandora stuff and I wish I had more money to spend there. I did adopt a Banshee and her name is Ness.

However, the inherent problem with being a Disney park is the crowds (and strollers, fuck strollers).  I’ve been told that I went on an unusually busy day due to the Holidays (and I’m willing to accept that to a point), but I have to wonder if there are actually days where some rides don’t have a 2+ hour wait time.  Getting around the park was kind of a pain (non obvious layout doesn’t help) and I was ready to punch the next person who just randomly stopped in the middle of the path.  I understand this is normal for a park as popular as a Disney park, but like Christmastown here, I have to consider if the crowds are too much of a detriment to my enjoyment of the park to warrant future visits.  Even after messing with fastpass, I would have only barely been able to get everything done had I tried.  I missed the Safari and skipped several animal attractions because I didn’t want to push myself to my limits.

Ultimately though, I came out of this experience enjoying it.  With better planning, I would certainly be willing to try out the other parks.
 
Apr 29, 2011
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Pretzel Kaiser said:
I recently visited two Disney parks in one day with the main one being Animal Kingdom.  I’ll include them both here because I don’t feel I’ve done enough Hollywood Studios to justify a full review, but I will include the rides below.

Tower of Terror- Holy shit.  I thought it was just a pretty drop tower but NOPE. I was blown away by every aspect of this ride.  This is the single greatest drop tower in the existence of rides, and I don’t even ride drop towers. Rating- 10 out of 10 giant floating eyeballs.
I'm curious as to which drop sequence you got on your ride.  They have four different ones and they are randomized so you don't know which one you'll get.  My favorite and the best one IMO is the "Up 2" where the carriage launches up twice before sending you down a huge drop.

Then there’s Pandora.  Whether you not the film was great, there’s really no denying that its world building is impressive.  They did a great job turning that CG landscape into a real park.  It was amazing to take in and at night it was even better.
While I loved Pandora in the daylight, I'm not a fan of it at nighttime at all.  I found it way too dark and the vegetation and foliage didn't have anything close to the luminescence that it had in the movie.  They need to turn up the light on the flowers and plants.

Everything I had to eat and drink was incredibly tasty.  For lunch I went to the Pandora restaurant and had fried tofu with rice and herb sauce.  Desert was the cinnamon cream cheese mousse.
I love Satu'li Canteen.  That's my new go-to place for food in that park.  And I love how they give you actual plates and silverware to use, which isn't common for a Disney quick service restaurant.  And it's great that they have CMs there in the dining area that take your dishes for you after you're done eating which it gives it a touch of full service even though it isn't.

Dinner I went to the Yak and Yeti and had the best potstickers I’ve ever had.
 
Those potstickers are great but the ones at the Epcot Food & Wine Fest are better.

However, the inherent problem with being a Disney park is the crowds (and strollers, fuck strollers).
That's gonna be a problem with practically any theme park.  You just gotta deal with it.  I've even seen the stroller problem worse at BGW than at Magic Kingdom, which has the most out of all the WDW parks.

I’ve been told that I went on an unusually busy day due to the Holidays (and I’m willing to accept that to a point), but I have to wonder if there are actually days where some rides don’t have a 2+ hour wait time.
The Orlando Parks are usually a bit slower this time of year but a lot of locals with Florida Resident Annual Passes go for all the holiday activities.  And their passes are dark for the week of Christmas and New Years so they try to get visits in before the holiday tourists come for vacation.  Usually the only rides with 2+hour waits this time of year are Frozen Ever After and Soarin at Epcot, Seven Dwarves Mine Train at MK, and obviously the new rides in Pandora (Na'vi River at Flight of Passage) at DAK.  Toy Story Midway Mania at DHS can get pretty long as well but I usually get a fast pass for that when I go.

Getting around the park was kind of a pain (non obvious layout doesn’t help)
Actually, DAK's layout is pretty standard and not much different from MK.  You have the tree in the middle as the central focal point like the castle is in MK and everything else is in a big circle around it.  DAK is the largest of the WDW resort parks and the size of it can throw you off a bit if you're not used to it.  The immersive themed areas can get you a bit lost as well.

I missed the Safari and skipped several animal attractions because I didn’t want to push myself to my limits.
I never miss the safari whenever I go to that park. That is a MUST do ride for me.  It really feels like you're in an African savannah.  Whenever you go back you definitely have to ride this and do it as early as possible as the majority of the animals are active in the morning.  You also gotta check out Rafiki's Planet Watch where you get an up close animal experience and get to see the park's vets at work on some of their animals.  There's also a petting zoo back there.

Ultimately though, I came out of this experience enjoying it.  With better planning, I would certainly be willing to try out the other parks.
Let us know when you go back!  I can give you some advice and pointers for the other parks as I go regularly (yes I'm a WDW Annual Passholder).
 
Apr 5, 2011
7,486
14,089
113
Unagi said:
I'm curious as to which drop sequence you got on your ride. They have four different ones and they are randomized so you don't know which one you'll get. My favorite and the best one IMO is the "Up 2" where the carriage launches up twice before sending you down a huge drop.
Couldn't tell you which sequence, but I love how it encourages multiple rides.

While I loved Pandora in the daylight, I'm not a fan of it at nighttime at all. I found it way too dark and the vegetation and foliage didn't have anything close to the luminescence that it had in the movie. They need to turn up the light on the flowers and plants.
I guess I can kind of see that. There is a bit of balance to be had to not make them look too bright that they look fake though.

The Orlando Parks are usually a bit slower this time of year but a lot of locals with Florida Resident Annual Passes go for all the holiday activities. And their passes are dark for the week of Christmas and New Years so they try to get visits in before the holiday tourists come for vacation.
That must be why the crowd projections for that day were so off.  It was projecting 2/10 and the ticket prices were also non-peak.


Actually, DAK's layout is pretty standard and not much different from MK. You have the tree in the middle as the central focal point like the castle is in MK and everything else is in a big circle around it. DAK is the largest of the WDW resort parks and the size of it can throw you off a bit if you're not used to it. The immersive themed areas can get you a bit lost as well.
I understood to basic layout, but in the different areas it was hard to find my way around. It was hard to locate the big landmarks to determine where I was at times.

I never miss the safari whenever I go to that park. That is a MUST do ride for me. It really feels like you're in an African savannah. Whenever you go back you definitely have to ride this and do it as early as possible as the majority of the animals are active in the morning. You also gotta check out Rafiki's Planet Watch where you get an up close animal experience and get to see the park's vets at work on some of their animals. There's also a petting zoo back there.
I really wanted to do the Safari (once at day and once at night, but it couldn't happen.  I did do the train to the Planet Watch and did enjoy that a lot.

Let us know when you go back! I can give you some advice and pointers for the other parks as I go regularly (yes I'm a WDW Annual Passholder).
Thanks! I understand this is another "nature of the beast" thing, but I kind of felt overwhelmed trying to figure out the logistics of the visit.
Between getting between two parks (before it was pointed out to me that I get parking all day with a park hopper), fast lane, and if I can manage one and a half parks in a single day, it was quite more than what I'm used to dealing with the other Orlando parks.
 
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