Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Events: Disney World Trip May 2014 Part 2 (Days 4-7)

...and the Disney World magic continues with part 2 of our incredible trip! If you missed it, read part 1 here.

Day 4- Animal Kingdom & Back to the Magic Kingdom

 Tuesday, May 6th, was our 4th day in the parks. We hit up Animal Kingdom and had a great time visiting the safari, eating an Asian lunch at the Yak and Yeti quick service counter, vising the gift shops and going on/walking through all the attractions.

One of my favorites of the 4D shows in Disney World is "It's Tough to be a Bug" which is found inside the Animal Kingdom's iconic tree, the tree of life. For me, it's totally classic as I've been visiting that show since Animal Kingdom first opened and enjoyed it at California Adventure as well.

I was so excited to see Dug and Russel and knew we had to take a picture with them since the line was no longer than a 10 minute wait. I think the cast members are confused when adults without kids take pictures with the characters (long story), but hey, no shame! I had to capture moments with every Pixar character I could find. This was a unique opportunity since this is the only place in all the parks where you can find these beloved characters, Dug and Russel. The person inside Dug's costume was especially hilarious and never got out of character.

While waiting in line, you could press buttons on Dug's collar machine to make Dug talk to you. His voice comes on and he teaches you how to "woof" like a dog. 

Also in regards to Up around Animal Kingdom, there is a new activity/attraction there in the park where young kids can go around to different stations scattered throughout the park and earn Wilderness Explorer patches (stickers) by doing certain challenges. They can then add them to a special book they get called the Wilderness Explorer's field guide. Next time you're in Animal Kingdom, look for the cast members dressed in Wilderness Explorer's outfits (like Russel's) and they can help you get started. See more info about it here.

After most of the day in Animal Kingdom, we headed back to the Magic Kingdom to do additional rides there we hadn't done yet or repeats of ones we had done.

We hit up the Monsters Inc. laugh floor, which is another one of my favorites (of course, it is Pixar so I am a bit biased...but really it's a great show either way). 

 Waiting in line for this is always fun because of all the details. I notice something new every time! Something new that was really fun while waiting for the show doors to open is they've added a new MU segment of the pre-show video. It's an ad type clip for Monsters University, starring Art, in which he discusses the new "School of Laughing" which trains monsters to be funny. You can watch that here if you're interested.

 If you haven't been to the show, the basic story is that after the events of Monsters Inc., the monsters now invite humans into the monster world to collect their laughter, rather than monsters going through closets. The monsters put on a comedy show in hopes to fill a giant "laugh canister" up with laughter from the audience to be able to power their city. The technology to make the show possible is outstanding as the cartoon monsters talk and interact with the audience in real time.

There are running gags throughout the show which feature people up on the big screen like "that guy" (if you've seen it, you'll know what I'm talking about) and the hilarious Roz makes several appearances.  

Other Monsters University references have been scattered throughout the attraction as well, such as new MU backgrounds (seen below) for the characters and references regarding attending the school.

A big highlight of the show (and of our whole trip actually) was that we were featured up on the big screen for the longest portion of the show! I wish I got pictures or video of it but I was too in the moment. they started by having the camera on my wife Brita and monster small talked with her for a bit. He asked her name and he cracked a witty response about her water being filtered (get it?). He continued to ask her where she was from and who she was with...that's when I came in. She said "my husband Dan" and the camera shifted over to me. 

He continued to ask us how we met and how long we were married. We told him we had been together for eight years and married for two and that the last time we were there in Disney we got engaged. He then said "wow married for two years...what the secret to a successful short marriage?" I said lots of trips to Disney World. The monster then started an act that's in every show, where he had Brita pick a number, tell the audience and then the monster summons psychic powers to "guess the number." My job was to put little antennas over Brita's head and I got carried away doing over the top antennas. The monsters started cracking up and was like "what is he doing???" It was absolutely hilarious.

After the show, we hit up some more rides, shops and got a glimpse of the Incredibles during the Festival of Fantasy parade.

Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin is another classic Pixar attraction there at the Magic Kingdom. I was telling Brita, while we were there, a little interesting tidbit about the ride and I'll share it here as well. The Ride opened in November 1998, one year before the release of Toy Story 2. The big hype surrounding the ride at the time (I remember because I was there) was that it was the first time the public saw what "Evil Emperor Zurg" looked like, who at the time, was just a brief reference in the original Toy Story. I still remember how cool that was!

 Even though I've had many years more of practice than Brita, She still beats me EVERY single time at this ride. For me, it's really hard to tell where my laser is actually hitting, but Brita has figured out how and always dominates by thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands) of points. You can see by the picture below that she's taking this seriously! More on this ride later when we ride it again. 

My one claim however, is that I beat Brita EVERY single time at Toy Story Mania. I do much better at that one. It's just funny that we both have one of the Toy Story shooting games that we're better at. I'm determined still to beat Brita at this and she's still very determined to beat me at Mania one day. 

At the end of the night, after one amazing dinner at Ohana's restaurant at the Polynesian Resort and some more time at the Magic Kingdom, we hit up our resort's main area and gift shops. Some cool trinkets I found were Mike Wazowski, Mater, Lightning Mcqueen and Nemo antenna toppers. If my car had an antenna, I totally would have gone for them. 

Day 5- Hollywood Studios, Round 2

This was another full day at Hollywood Studios...there's so much to do there and we still didn't get everything done that we wanted to. Being the movie/film-making fan I am, this is my favorite park of the four. Plus, I feel this park has the most Pixar, so that adds to the favoritism. 

This day, we got there super early to get on Toy Story Mania again since we didn't have fast passes (the way they work these days is that you can't choose more than one of the popular attractions and we already had Rockin Roller Coaster for the day), but the ride wait time was already at 80 minutes and sold out. After all these years, it's still one of the most popular rides! We didn't end up waiting the long wait, but more on what happened below.

Later on that afternoon, I asked a really cool cast member where to find the hotdogs with puled pork and cole slaw I had seen people have around the park (they're amazing by the way, I totally recommend it). We chatted for a minute, he pointed the way and that was that. A little later, in a different part of the park, we went to a "fast pass kiosk" to see if there were by chance any more fast passes available for Toy Story Mania. It just so happened that the same cast member who showed me where the hot dogs were was standing there next to the fast pass guy. They were both really cool guys and we chatted for a few minutes. It turned out that they were still out of Mania fast passes and that there wouldn't be anymore for the remainder of the day so Brita and I said we would just go wait the wait.

The cast member that had told me about the hot dogs turned out to be a "magic maker" and he said "You know what? Here, you guys go enjoy yourselves." He then gave us two free fast passes eligible for any ride! " I was like "NO WAY. Why are you being so cool, man?" He told us that we were "good people" and that he enjoys spreading the Disney magic. He then wrote up yet another form which was eligible for another hot dog- for free-because he knew how much I enjoyed the first one. Such a highlight! Gotta love the Disney Magic. 

 After Toy Story Mania, walking around near Pizza Planet and lots of other rides and shows, we hit up visiting some of our favorite Pixar characters: Mike, Sulley, Lightning and Mater! 

 I always wished that they made Pizza Planet look how it is in the film-complete with the alien crane game! I'm surprised they never took advantage of that. There was so much more they could have done with this one here at Hollywood Studios. Maybe someday if they do a full Toy Story/ Pixar expansion, they'll make a full movie accurate Pizza Planet and close this one down. Hey, I can dream can't I?

 That night after all the Hollywood Studios fun and a delicious French dinner at Chef's de France, we headed back to our resort for the pool and hot tubbing. It just so happened that they were playing Monsters University on a big screen by the pool so we totally had to watch some of that! We came in around half way through and it was a classic night.

Day 6- Magic Kingdom, Round 3
 For our last full day, we spend a lot of time in the Magic Kingdom again. There's just so much to see and do there! We had a phenomenal lunch at the brand new Be Our Guest castle and explored all the New Fantasyland. 

We hit up Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin again (So I could beat Brita at it for once in my life) and, of course, she won yet again. Dang it! Maybe someday I'll come out victorious...maybe if I took it more serious like she does. I mean, come on, Look at that "gameface"! She's not messing around.

 The picture below featuring Weezy is from waiting in line for the Mickey's Philharmagic 4D show.

This day was mostly about finishing up attractions at the Magic Kingdom and doing some repeats. Mid afternoon, we took a few hours relaxing at the pool at our resort and finished the night with the whole family at dinner (the 1900 Park Fair Cinderella buffet at the Grand Floridian) and one last visit into the Magic Kingdom for some of the classics like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion. The park was so empty at this point, we were basically the only ones in the ride! 

Day7- Resort Pool, Downtown Disney and a Frantic Trip to the Magic Kingdom

The last day...always a sad day to leave the Disney magic! I spent the morning by the pool and took it easy, since the trip was so jam packed. We wish we had an extra day to finish up last minute things!

Something else I noticed before we left, was that my parents' room (right next door to us) had a cool Finding Nemo ceiling boarder. Why didn't we get that? Love it.

After some relaxing and packing, Brita and I checked out of the resort and headed to Downtown Disney so that she could get me some of my birthday requests. So excited! 

We had one of the best meals ever there at the Wolfgang Puck Express quick service restaurant and then hit up some of my favorite stores again such as Once Upon a Toy, The World of Disney and the Art of Disney.

 Unfortunately, the stores didn't have the items we were looking for. We had seen them all week in other parks and figured they would have them here. We should have just gotten them when we saw them at the time. We were very rushed to get back to the Magical Express but we thought we would have just enough time to rush to the Magic Kingdom since we were sure they had them there.

Since there is no direct bus rout from Downtown Disney to a park, we had to take a bus to the Contemporary Resort first and then run to the Magic Kingdom. I went and stayed in line for a Dole Whip float  (since Brita wanted one last one, it's one of her favorites) and Brita went to the stores to track down the items. Frustratingly, they didn't have them there either...after all that! It turns out they were only in Hollywood Studios and we should have gotten them while we were there. Oh well! It was a fun and crazy effort.

We made it JUST in time to our Resort for our Magical Express back to the airport. Below is my "sad leaving Disney World" picture- it's always a tradition! I can't even wait for next time. I hope we get to go back soon.

Now we're back safely to Rexburg and back to the real world, grateful for all of our magical 

Thanks so much for sticking with me through all of our Disney days and I really hope you enjoyed reading about all of our times there. 

If you interested in many more pictures of the entire trip, feel free to visit my full Facebook album HERE. Please like and comment! I would love to hear your thoughts.

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