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Orlando February / March 2015


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#1 Yoshi

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Posted 06 March 2015 - 04:35 PM

My family decided to take a last minute trip to Florida to spend some time at Disney World and also go to a Phillies Spring Training game in Clearwater.

 

Day 1, 2/24. We left at around 9:30 a.m. and got to South Carolina because we lost around 2 hours due to an accident in North Carolina shutting down part of I-95.

 

Day 2, 2/25. We got to Orlando at around 4:30 p.m. and checked into our hotel the Residence Inn in Lake Buena Vista which was only around 5 minutes away from Downtown Disney which is where we spent a few hours. The old parking area is gone and there is now a parking garage near Planet Hollywood. It takes around 10 minutes to walk from the garage to the Marketplace area and I can see traffic being annoying on a weekend of a holiday week until the other garages open.

 

Day 3, 2/26. Epcot was our first park day and we went to Spaceship Earth first with a 5 minute wait. It's one of my favorite rides in the park and one of the few rides that hasn't changed a lot since it opened.

 

The Seas With Nemo was next with a 10 minute wait and Journey Into Imagination With Figment, Captain Eo and Living With the Land all had no wait.

 

We had FastPass for Test Track and I was curious to see how the ride had changed. Instead of a pre-show video you design a car and see how it does with various tests during the ride. I had heard that it takes a while to go through the line even with FastPass but it wasn't too bad, maybe around 20 minutes total from when you entered the line until you get into the ride vehicle.

 

While I thought the ride looked cool with all the lights, I didn't like it as much as the old version since this new version is very confusing to what is happening during the ride and what the actual tests are where in the old version, everything was explained with signs and the video screens.

 

Universe of Energy also had no wait and the audio animatronic of Ellen and that serpent were missing from the dinosaur part of the ride.

 

After meeting some characters in Innoventions from the Disney Visa Card Meet and Greet, we went to World Showcase.

 

It's unfortunate that World Showcase only has 1 ride now. Gran Fiesta Tour is ok but not one of my favorites. It was strange to walk into Norway and not see Malestrom.

 

We walked around the rest of World Showcase, stopping at The American Adventure and watching some of Illuminations.

 

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#2 Yoshi

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Posted 08 March 2015 - 05:18 PM

Day 4, 2/27

 

This was our first of 2 days at the Magic Kingdom.

 

Someone must have cancelled their FastPass time for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train since it wasn't showing available when we first booked the FastPass times but later was available. I'm glad we didn't have to wait in standby since it was already showing a 60 minute wait just after 10:00. I knew it was a family coaster and not to expect much in terms of thrills. After a short wait that bypasses the interactive queue, we were boarding the train in the 2nd of the last car. This was the first time since 2008 when Kingda Ka was my first coaster ride of the year that my first coaster ride of the year was a new credit.

 

The tilting of the cars was fun and I liked how there was a mini dark ride section in the middle of the ride. The coaster ride time itself was over quickly, especially the part after the 2nd lift hill. I also found it interesting the train got stuck at the top of the 2nd lift hill for maybe 20 seconds probably because the train in front of it hadn't advanced to the next set of block brakes and there was an announcement mentioned that the ride had stopped. I guess they were worried about people trying to exit the train? It's more thrilling than Barnstormer but not as intense as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

 

Overall it was a fun coaster but not something I would wait more than 30 minutes for. I also miss Snow White's Scary Adventures and would have preferred that they keep both rides and put the meet and greet that took over the ride somewhere else.

 

We went to It's a Small World next with a 15 minute wait.

 

Haunted Mansion was supposed to be next but it had broken down so we could use our FastPass at any time. Instead we went to Mickey's Philhar Magic which had no wait. Haunted Mansion had reopened so we went there next. Now the FastPass line goes right to the stretching room waiting area bypassing the interactive queue where before you had the option to go into the interactive queue when there was no FastPass. It's a fun ride as always but the vehicles move so quickly it's difficult to see all the props in the ride.

 

We had a little time before our next FastPass and walked through a few shops. Peter Pan's Flight had a standby wait posted of 110 minutes. I expect that kind of wait during Christmas week but I wasn't expecting to see that long of a line on a day that was a 5 out of 10 on the crowd calendar. Thankfully with FastPass it took less than 10 minutes. In past trips, with the old FastPass system, the line could take 15 - 20 minutes so that was one advantage of FastPass+ . I would have liked to have seen the new queue but I'll gladly give up seeing it to save 100 minutes in line. This is one of my favorite dark rides since it's cool to be riding above all the show scenes and I really like the part where you fly over London at night.

 

Before lunch, we went to a kiosk to try to get a 4th FastPass, this time for Pirates of the Caribbean. We got a time for around 2 hours later. After lunch we went to Adventureland and got in line for the Jungle Cruise with a 25 minute wait and then went to the Enchanted Tiki Room. A few minutes after the show started, people started to walk out and then more and more people started leaving which I have never seen before there.

 

Pirates is one of the rides that has a much longer standby line thanks to FastPass+. It was posted at 45 minutes and there were switchbacks in the entrance area that were half filled and then once the line splits off to the left, there were new switchbacks in that area as well. It was a 10 minute wait with FastPass. I had heard the front row gets soaked but we got the 3rd row and avoid getting soaked.

 

We booked another FastPass for Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin after dinner and went to Frontier Land. Since it was in the mid to upper 50's, people were avoiding Splash Mountain which had a posted 5 minute wait time and actually had no one in the queue until the loading area. We had FastPass for the ride on Sunday but took advantage of no line and got a little soaked but not too bad. This is still my favorite log flume ride with the dark ride built in and multiple drops including the drop in the dark with the uphill section right after.

 

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was 30 minutes and in past trips I never liked how every time the ride starts to go faster, you hit brakes for another lifthill compared to Runaway Mine Train that only has 1 lift. This trip I liked the ride more even though some of the effects weren't working like the boulders that move while climbing the 3rd lift hill.

 

We walked over Tomorrowland and went to Space Mountain with a 35 minute wait. In past trips the ride was rough but this trip it felt like it was running smoother and I got some air time in the last seat.

 

After dinner at Cosmic Ray's, we went to Buzz Lightyear's Spaceranger Spin to use our final FastPass of the day. This is one of my favorite rides in the Magic Kingdom because it feels like you are inside a video game. They were really favoring the FastPass line here with only a few people in standby going for every 15 - 20 people from the FastPass line. I got a new high score for me, 897,100 and I still hope to get Galactic Hero (999,999) some day.

 

After Buzz Lightyear's Spaceranger Spin we went to Main Street to find a spot for the Main Street Electrical Parade. I'm one of the few people who prefers this to Spectro Magic. After the parade we watched Wishes and went back to the monorail to go to the Ticket and Transportation Center.

 

A rainy day at Hollywood Studios is next.

 

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#3 Yoshi

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 08:22 PM

Day 5, 2/28

 

Every day of the trip, the weather forecast kept changing with rain and then at the last minute, changing to cloudy with no rain or sunny. It was supposed to rain on and off all day and unfortunately it rained the entire time we were at Hollywood Studios. Almost everything is indoors which was good and the rain probably kept locals away as wait times were mostly low even though the crowd calendar had the day as a 6 out of 10. Because of the tiers, we couldn't get Fastpass both Toy Story Mania and The Great Movie Ride so we went to standby for The Great Movie Ride and waited 20 minutes. We got the Cowboy scene which was cool since in past trips, they were only running the gangster scene or we ended up getting the last car which gets the gangster scene. The alien that drops down from the ceiling wasn't working.

 

Toy Story Mania had a posted standby wait time of 45 minutes which is the lowest I have ever seen in my trips to the park since the ride opened. With Fastpass, it took just over 10 minutes. It's a fun ride but I still prefer Buzz Lightyear's Spaceranger Spin since I don't like at Toy Story Mania how the games take place on screens.

 

One Man's Dream was next and I liked how they had the butler robot from Horizons in one of the display windows in the museum area.

 

We went to the animation building and saw the film and then went to Animation Academy to draw a character. This time it was Minnie Mouse.

 

After lunch we had a Fastpass time for Voyage of the Little Mermaid and then went to Muppet Vision 3D.

 

It felt strange to walk past the Backlot Tour entrance and not ride since that was something we almost always stopped at during past trips and I always liked Catastrophe Canyon.

 

Rock N Roller Coaster had a posted wait time of 40 minutes and I went to the single rider line waiting around 10 minutes. This was my first launched coaster in 2006 and I remember how different it was to be launched rather than a lift hill. Now after riding Kingda Ka so often, the launch on Rock N Rollercoaster doesn't feel that intense but is still fun. The ride was also smoother than I had remembered especially for a Vekoma. It also amazes me what Disney allows you to bring with you on the coasters. Bringing backpacks and other items isn't a problem. I had an umbrella with me and was told to put it on the floor of the coaster car.

 

The 3rd Fastpass we had was for Tower of Terror. The standby wait was posted at 30 minutes. I had never been in the front row before this trip which was good for the part when the doors open up and you see the park. The drop sequence was also really good with some airtime when the car was going back up the tower for another drop. Zumanjaro is still my favorite drop tower even though this ride was great too.

 

We weren't sure if Fantasmic was going to be cancelled or not and a cast member told us that they were likely to have the show since it was just rain but the benches would be covered in water and with the rain not clearing up, we decided to leave the park early and skip the show.

 

After going back to the hotel we decided to go to the Contemporary and walk around the hotel, have dinner at the Contempo Cafe and take a monorail ride around the resort loop. Disney removed all prize games and tickets from the ticket dispensing games in the arcade. It didn't seem to be stopping people from playing the game as I saw lots of people playing the games that used to give out tickets like Skee Ball.

 

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#4 Yoshi

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Posted 12 March 2015 - 08:58 PM

Day 6, 3/1

 

This was our 2nd Magic Kingdom day and we went to Tomorrowland first stopping again at Buzz Lightyear's Spaceranger Spin with about a 15 minute wait. It was still not time for our Space Mountain Fastpass so we went to the Tomorrowland Speedway waiting 15 minutes. I know some people want this ride removed since it takes up a lot of space but I hope they keep it since so many other parks have been removing their car rides recently and this is my favorite of the ones I have tried.

 

Space Mountain had about a 10 minute wait with FastPass and I had the chance to get the front seat. I have always wanted to try the front seat and never had the opportunity before. I thought maybe I could see some more of the track in the front but still wasn't able to see much with how dark it is inside the building.

 

Next was the Peoplemover that we had also went to Friday night that I forgot to mention. There was a short wait and I like how it takes you all over Tomorrowland and especially like being able to see the Progress City model.

 

Carousel of Progress was next. I always enjoy stopping here and seeing what inventions were such a big deal back in the 1st half of the 20th century.

 

We went to Frontierland next to have lunch at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe, rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad waiting around 25 minutes and then getting a spot for the Festival of Fantasy parade in Liberty Square. I'm not much of a parade fan but this new parade was very well done with some cool looking floats.

 

It still wasn't time for our Splash Mountain Fastpass so we went to the Walt Disney World Railroad taking a round trip. With the warmer weather compared to Friday, it wasn't as bad getting a little soaked at Splash Mountain.

 

Hall of Presidents was next and then the Liberty Square Riverboat. We had another FastPass scheduled for Peter Pan's Flight again and this time the standby wait said it was 90 minutes and with Fastpass, took less than 10 minutes.

 

After getting a 4th Fastpass Time for Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh we went back to It's A Small World with almost no wait, the line was past the Fastpass and standby merge point.

 

We had dinner at Columbia Harbor House and then walked back into Fantasyland. It wasn't time for the Fastpass yet so we walked around the new area of Fantasyland going past the closed Little Mermaid Ride and walking into Gaston's Tavern. After that it was time to go to Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh. I think I would like this ride more if I didn't know what used to be in that spot and how much better Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was with the swerving cars and 2 different tracks that went into different rooms.

 

People were starting to get spots for Spectro Magic and Fantasyland was clearing out. We checked out the new Storybook Circus area and weren't planning on stopping at the rides there but saw that Barnstormer had a posted 10 minute wait but was only a 2 train wait. It's fun for a junior coaster but since it's only around 20 seconds of coaster time from the top of the lift to the brake run, not something that I would wait more than 10 minutes for.

 

Dumbo had no wait. I remember in past trips when there was only 1 spinner in the middle of Fantasyland and seeing waits of 45 - 60 minutes so adding a 2nd spinner was a good idea and it was cool to ride at night with the water fountains that light up.

 

We walked through the stores in Main Street to leave the park seeing some of the Main Street Electrical Parade. On the way out the of the park we saw Magician Mickey had a 5 minute posted wait and decided to get in line. It was a surprise to see Mickey talking to the guests he meets and was a great way to end the day at the Magic Kingdom. We left the park after the parade ended and before Wishes had ended to avoid the crowds that exit the park after Wishes.

 

Next up is Animal Kingdom.

 

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I liked this parade float with the coaster

 

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#5 Yoshi

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 10:49 PM

Day 7, 3/2

 

This was our 5th and final day at the Disney parks and the only park that was left was Animal Kingdom. My first few trips to this park weren't good with the first trip in 1998 when the only rides were Kilimanjaro Safari, Countdown to Extinction, Discovery River Boats and the Wildlife Express Train all except maybe the train that had very long lines and then again in 2000 on a class trip where we were there for 8 hours (and only spent 4 hours at Epcot) with the same few attractions plus Kali River Rapids. With more additions since then, I have started to like the park more but it is still my least favorite of the 4 parks.

 

We went to It's Tough To Be A Bug first with no wait. My favorite part is at the end after the film ends when everyone screams after an announcement is made. I won't spoil it for anyone that hasn't been to the film yet but anyone who has been there probably knows what I am referring to.

 

Expedition Everest was next. This was my favorite coaster in Disney World. I wanted to ride twice so went to the single rider line waiting less than 5 minutes and the backwards section gave me a headache on this trip. I waited a few minutes and rode again using the single rider line getting the last row and it wasn't as bad that time. It's a shame the Yeti still isn't working and isn't that easy to see unless you know where to look. I think Space Mountain is going to be my favorite Disney World coaster again after this.

 

After Everest we walked over to Africa for our Kilimanjaro Safari Fastpass time. It's a fun ride but I have always thought Great Adventure's safari is much better.

 

We had Fastpass+ for Dinosaur later in the day but cancelled them when we saw it was a 10 minute standby wait after lunch. It was fun as always and unlike a past trip, the ride didn't stop with the lights turned on.

 

I always plan on skipping Primevial Whirl since I know I can ride the clone of it at Steel Pier even though I still haven't gone there and ridden the coaster. Since it was a 10 minute wait, I decided to stop there. It's an ok ride but I prefer regular non spinning Wild Mouse coasters like The Dark Knight.

 

Our next Fastpass was for Festival of the Lion King that moved from Camp Minnie Mickey to a new theater in Africa. Even with low crowds, the standby line looked very crowded and after the show there were a lot of people waiting for the next show in standby.

 

Next was the Pangini Forest Exploration Trail.

 

No one wanted to go on Kali River Rapids knowing you can get soaked if you are facing backwards on the drop and there was nothing else anyone wanted to stop at so we left the park a little before 5:00 even though the park was open until 7:00.

 

It's always sad walking out of the parks for the last time on a trip but the time at the Disney parks was great and FastPass+ wasn't as bad as I thought it would be even though I still miss the old system (and if it was a more crowded time I may not have liked it as much).

 

Next is the rest of day 7 including a stop at another non Disney park.

 

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#6 Yoshi

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Posted 16 March 2015 - 08:58 PM

Day 7, 3/2 continued

 

When going to Disney World, if possible I like to include another park into the drop. We didn't really have time to spend another day at a different park since we also had a Spring Training game to go to the next day, so I thought if we had some spare time after Animal Kingdom I would try to get to Fun Spot since there is no admission to get in.

 

Unfortunately, there was a shooting there 9 days before I went there but wasn't going to let that stop me. I had also read that starting the Friday before I was there they were going to be having bag checks and using hand held metal detector wands on everyone entering the park. I don't know if it was because of low crowds on a Monday around 6:00, but they weren't doing either of those things.

 

The rides are $3 each except the coasters that are $9 each or you can buy a wristband for $45 ($40 if you get a coupon from Walgreen's right near the park). As much as I would have wanted to get the wristband and ride White Lightning as much as I could for a few hours, I didn't have the time because we were going to Downtown Disney later for dinner at the T-Rex Cafe, I decided to just pay for 1 ride on each of the 2 coasters. They have a deal if you spend $20, you get $24 worth of ride credits but that wouldn't have helped me since it still wouldn't have been enough for another ride on a coaster. I skipped the 3rd coaster which is a Miler kiddie coaster that was running at Playland's Castaway Cove in Ocean City until 2012 and had already gotten the credit years ago.

 

I went to Freedom Flyer first. There was no one riding and no one in line. Instead of scanning a card or wristband at a turnstyle like at Morey's, the ride op has a handheld scanner that they used to scan the card or band and if using the card, it deducts the cost of the ride from the card.

 

Since there was no one riding, I went for the front row and had a solo ride. I know the earlier Vekoma family inverted coasters are supposed to be rough but this coaster was very smooth and had very comfortable seats and restraints with just a lapbar connected to a seatbelt. The ride was good for a family coaster and tame yet still fun.

 

Next was the coaster I was really looking forward to, White Lightning. The last time I rode a GCI in Florida was horrible and I was hoping that this coaster would be better. The coaster runs 6 row Millennium Flyer trains and they have 2 trains (as does Freedom Flyer) but only 1 train was running because the park was so empty. 

 

White Lightning was very smooth and I really liked the double up followed by the double down and the banked turn around. GCI did a great job of fitting the coaster into the space and if it wasn't for the smaller trains, I think it would be a great coaster style to see to see at Great Adventure for something more thrilling than Skull Mountain, Runaway Mine Train and the Dark Knight but not up to the thrill level of the B&M coasters, Kingda Ka and El Toro. White Lightning ended up being my favorite coaster of the trip and I am putting it as #5 on my wooden coaster rankings. It was also my 99th coaster and I'm hoping whatever coaster #100 is, it is a good coaster unlike number 50 that was Rollie's Coaster at Morey's.

 

Next time I am in Orlando, I would like to plan on spending a few hours here, get the wristband and check out the rest of the park since I only walked in, rode both coasters and left.

 

After dinner, we did some final shopping at Downtown Disney. I got a baseball to add to my collection. It was a little disappointing that many items like most of the baseballs said both Disney World and Disney Land on them rather than just being Disney World specific. Even worse, some items like a Big Thunder Mountain jigsaw puzzle I saw only said Disney Land on it with no mention of Disney World. I ended up getting a 2015 Disney World baseball and a set of 12 attraction posters that are 12" x 18" and smaller versions of the posters that are under the train station in the Magic Kingdom when you enter the park. The set was $20 which seemed surprisingly cheap.

 

We got back to the hotel and packed the car up for the drive to Clearwater the next morning.

 

Day 8, 3/3

After about an hour and 40 minute drive we arrived at Bright House Field. The entrance to the stadium is in a shopping center parking lot with stores on one side and a Buffalo Wild Wings on the other side which was different. It was the first game of Spring Training against another MLB team and it was nice to be able to watch baseball again. The Phillies were beating the Yankees 5 to 1 until the 9th inning when Mario Hollands gave up 4 runs to tie the game. Since Spring Training games end in a tie, that was what happened since the Phillies couldn't score a run in the bottom of the 9th inning.

 

After the game we ran into some rush hour traffic around Tampa and got to Georgia.

 

Day 9, 3/4

 

Not much to say about this day as we spent the entire day driving back home and I did get to see some of King's Dominion when we drove past it. I have to get back there eventually to give the park another chance since Cedar Fair bought the Paramount Parks.

 

It was a very nice trip and it was fun to be able to ride some coasters in February and early March.

 

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#7 Sfguy

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 04:07 PM

Nice tr! Sounds like it was a fun trip. Fun Spot is definitely a park I'll visit whenever I finally go to Orlando. I completely forgot they have Sea Serpent, too. That was my first ever coaster and what got me hooked at a young age, so that's definitely one I'd make a point to ride when I go down there.


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#8 BMac

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 05:01 PM

White Lightning seems like that charming little coaster every park needs, I love the old school train company logos they have.


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#9 Yoshi

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 07:44 PM

Yeah the logos were really cool looking.

 

Nice tr! Sounds like it was a fun trip. Fun Spot is definitely a park I'll visit whenever I finally go to Orlando. I completely forgot they have Sea Serpent, too. That was my first ever coaster and what got me hooked at a young age, so that's definitely one I'd make a point to ride when I go down there.

Thanks. If I ever go back and get the wristband I'd probably also go back to Sea Seprent.


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#10 coasterfreak96

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Posted 19 March 2015 - 10:14 PM

Awesome trip report, Yoshi! Sorry I missed you while you were down here! Glad you enjoyed White Lightning! It is one of my favorite coasters here in Orlando!


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#11 RC98

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Posted 19 March 2015 - 10:54 PM

Fun Spot America looks really fun, especially White Lightning!  I wasn't able to go to it during my trip over President's Day week but whenever I go back I will be sure to.


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#12 Yoshi

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Posted 21 March 2015 - 12:54 PM

Even though I didn't really explore the rest of the park, it looked like a nice park. I like that there's no gate price so you can just go in and ride the coasters without having to pay for anything else so it's possible to fit in in between a trip to other parks.

 

Awesome trip report, Yoshi! Sorry I missed you while you were down here! Glad you enjoyed White Lightning! It is one of my favorite coasters here in Orlando!

Thanks. I would say it's also one of my favorite coasters in Orlando, probably 4th right after Dragons, Incredible Hulk and Space Mountain.


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