WDW Planning Part 1: How Far Do You Plan in Advance?

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

When it comes to a Disney trip, planning is part of the fun. It not only give you that knowledge you’ll be going, but you will have some Disney magic going for you before the trip itself. Most trips might get planned a couple of months in advanced, but when it comes to a Walt Disney World trip, planning can start a lot earlier. Sometimes over a year in advance! At least that’s how I work when it comes to planning a WDW trip.

First question of course is when to go. In my family’s case options are limited because of school time. So our trip needs to be molded around that for most of the time. That gives us two options for our next trip.

Option one; A trip during Christmas and New year 2013/2014.

Option two; A trip starting from the middle of June 2014.

No, no! Those dates are correct. Our next family trip will be somewhere in 2013 and/or 2014. Is that planning it to far ahead? It looks far away and one might feel a little sad if you still have to wait that long but when you look at it from the bright side, with this early planning, I’ll be having a lot of fun.

So there are 2 possible dates as I mentioned before. This could be the last two weeks of December and a week in January or it could be the last two weeks on June and the first week in July. Both dates have their advantages and disadvantages. Heavy Christmas crowds can be a little daunting but you’ll be away from the summer heat while early summer period will still be low on crowds (US schools still in session, but the heat might already be a struggle. Of course there are other things to look at but these are just a couple of examples. Although we love the Christmas time (our last trip was during the holidays), the second option looks like the one we will go for this time.

So what do I plan so far in advance (once we set the date)? Although you can’t book a hotel yet looking at the locations where to stay is one of the first things I do for my family and me. As we are Disney Vacation Club Members it is also a bit of a given that this takes place so far in advance. We need to make sure to book at the 11 month window, otherwise we might not be able to get the room we want. So this is a good reason to start booking so early. Or maybe it is just another excuse to start planning over a year in advance. The hotels are a part of the Disney Magic, so it can happen that we do some Hotel hopping and stay at different resort. I would love to stay a couple of days at the new Disney’s Art of Animation resort. Just to see and experience it as it looks great. Another place I would love to stay at is either the Disney’s Beach Club Villas or the Disney’s Board Walk Villas. I love that erea and it would give me easy access to my favorite park with my favorite show; Epcot and Illuminations. But our main home resort is Old Key West, so it is no surprise that this one will be the one we will stay at the longest. Will I do have some Disney’s Animal Kingdom Vacation Club point too, we might use these for another location this time around.

More in Part two!

We Are Back

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

It has been a while since you’ve seen an update here but as you can see we are back in action.

So what happened? Why where we gone?

Well, we had to fight some technical difficulties on the blog that had forced it into a complete black-out.

It took a while to find the error, but as you can see the Mousekingdom blog is back on-line. Unfortunately we did loose some date, but that will not stop us from adding new stuff.

So if you like Walt Disney, Disney Parks, Disney movies and anything else related to the world of Disney (and more), brace yourself as we are ready for GO!…

Trip Diaries Day 16: Harry Potter Time

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Today was Harry Potter day. No, I am not a fan and haven’t even seen all of the movies (only two so far), but we are planning a Potter marathon in the near future to catch up. We left to Universal very early in the morning to make sure we would be there before the big crowds. Well, even with another 30 minutes to go before opening there was already a big queue at the gates of islands of adventures. Got ourselves the 2 park tickets and the VIP passes to avoid queue-ing (Have I already mentioned that I don’t like queues?). We knew that Harry Potter  and the Forbidden Journey was going to be a queue, but at least we would be able to walk on to the rest of the attraction. And i can only say I was happy we got them as otherwise me might not have done as much as we did. But I am going to fast, let’s start at the beginning.

Harry Potter queue was a good hour and they used most of the outside queue area already to have to line moving. But it was worth it. This attraction is amazing! The ride system, the scenes, everything! And the experience already starts in the queue area. What a beautiful amazing area. It might have taken us an hour but it sure didn’t feel like it. The attraction itself is awesome. This is the future! The Kuka robot arms on a track, the 3D scenes with the amazing scenes build around it. I have no words!… Disney, wake up because they are taking some of the magic and starting to use it in their parks. I already was a IoA fan, but Potter will get me back there again and again. (I don’t want to even think what the expansion will bring and the new rides at Universal Studios (replacing Jaws) will do for the park. Next time i might have to miss two days of Disney to see it all.

(more…)

Don’t be late!

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

FastPass has been part of a Walt Disney World visit since years. You get your FastPass for the attraction you want to visit and then you enjoy the rest of the park until it’s time to return on the designated time printed on the ticket without the long queue. There are, however, some changes coming our way. The rumour has been out for a while but now it looks like the Disney company is preparing their cast Members to enforce a new rule. While it was normal to stop people to enter an attraction before their time frame started it was also custom to let anybody on with a FastPass that already expired. (As long as it was for that day). 

With the new rules in place however, this will no longer be possible. According to the rumours FastPasses will no longer be accepted after their time frame. There might be a 15 minute window after the printed time, but once that has past the ticket will no longer be valid.

The other change might be that they will also open a small early window for those arriving 5 minutes before their FastPass printed time. This might help to get rid of the blockage in front of a FastPass entry by those turning up a little early and where asked to wait. Will it works? Only time will tell.

(via screamscape)

Trip Diaries Day Fifteen part 2 Back to Old Key West

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Why did I put day 15 in two parts? Well, I wanted to have the morning sun pictures from Vero Beach stand out without anything else. Didn’t see them yet? Scroll down and have a look. After that come back to read the next part of our trip.

Today we drove back to Want Disney World, checking in at Disney’s Old Key West (another “welcome home”) and would start our last 5 days of the trip. No, not complaining, still five days to go, but I couldn’t help thinking about it while checking in. It was crazy busy at Old Key West. A big queue at the check in and we had to wait a little while. We did had some problems on our first days at old Key West with 4 times chancing keys and problems with the pay option on our card forcing us to get another key. We did tell them we weren’t happy when we left and where promised a couple of special FastPasses on our next check in. So, once we got checked in we got 3 FastPasses that we could use in any park at any time. That was a nice little extra!

With the room not yet ready we decided to go and wander around Downtown Disney for a while. I still needed the special Annual Pass Orange Bird Vinylmation and I thought it would be a good idea to get it now. We got a small bite to eat before heading back to check into our room.

This time we got a slightly bigger studio. The studios at old Key West are not always the same and depending on what studio you get, you might have some more space. We were happy with it couldn’t help comparing the small Studio we got at Vero Beach. One we got everything in the room we made our way to our favourite park, Epcot. Here we used our first special fastPass and went straight on Test Track. It remains a favourite of ours, and we can only hope the rehab will do it proud. With a busy park (and not liking to queue) we did some of the smaller rides. So we got to see Nemo and his friends, visit Figment and got ourselves a nice helping of free drinks. (No, not Beverly). After that we wandered around the different countries and ended up in Japan for a quick bite while listening to de drums.

Always love Japan and for some reason get stuck there for longer than we are in most other countries. Still, we did make it out of Japan and walk towards Norway to see some Trolls. Well, with a queue all the way outside the building (and like I said before, we don’t like queue’s and there is always another day) we walked on to see if Donald had some room in his boats at Mexico. Look at that, no queue, so we could do another ride before we went for some shopping. My son found himself an amazing Pirates skeleton jacket we just had to buy. A nice finisher for yet another fantastic Disney day.

But I couldn’t go back to the room yet. I needed to stop at Olivia’s in Old Key West because I was graving for their awesome cheesecake. Got myself a nice piece of cake and a hot chocolate before we walked back to our room near Turtle Pond to call it a night.

Disney Parks InsidEARS

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Are you a Disney fan and can’t stop talking about the parks? Always sharing everything you know to those that want to listen? Are you, day in and day out, sharing your love for the park to everyone? But it’s still not enough and you want to share even more. Well, then you should have a look at the new Disney program where Disney fans can share their knowledge with the rest of the world as a member of the Disney parks InsidEARS project.

Disney fans like you and me can become part of the program to help Disney park visitors from all over to create their perfect trip. What better place to get your tips from then from those enthusiasts that visit the parks again and again.

The program has just been launched and is still in testing phase, but with a new site up it will not be long before the first Disney Parks InsidEARS will start helping spreading the magic.  To be able to become part of this program you will have to visit their website regularly for updates to find out on how to become part of this. Sounds like fun, something most of us Disney fans would love (and already do a lot). We never get tired of talking about the parks, don’t you agree?

More info on the Disney Parks InsidEARS website.

Picture copyrights Disney

Trip Diaries Day Ten: A Highlight of the Trip

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Getting up early every day is worth it to be able to do lots of rides, but one cannot forget a holiday should be there to relax too. So this time we got up a little later and went to Animal Kingdom to see some of our favourite animals. We took the Wildlife Express Train and went over to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Here we took the time to see some of the smaller animals up close.

There were two birds being checked at the Conservation Station Animal Care centre but we lost interest early and moved on to see all the other cool stuff here. Some of these critters are amazing and well worth a visit. Too many people forget about this part of the park and think there is nothing to do or see, but they are so wrong.

The animal caretakers are known to come out with an animal and share their knowledge with the guests. This time we got to see a hawk. Some people say it’s not nice to keep animals as they should live in the wild, but care centres like this proof that sometimes there is no other choice. If so this hawk would be long dead. It was found with an injury on one of his wings loosing the ability to hunt as it would not have been able to fly anymore. At the centre they took care the bird would be helped and taken care of. Although it can now fly short distances again, it would never make it in the wild anymore. Now, with the care of the Disney Castmembers the animal can live even longer than most of his fellow hawks.

While we love to see the animals even we have to go back. Why? Well, there were still Everest FastPasses and we did pick one up before visiting the animals. You can never enough ride that monster, it’s just a shame the Yeti is still not working. (and won’t be for a long time to come). After the yeti encounter we went to see some other kind of animals, namely Nemo and his friends. Great show! Maybe a little too long, but still a must see on a WDW trip.

Now, after all the animals it was time for something completely different. Something we already wanted to do on our previous trip but because of the high ticket price didn’t in the end. This time we said we would do it. Cirque du Soleil’s la Nouba…

There were two performances this day and we opted to go to the early one. We did go early enough so we could walk around Downtown Disney a little but we couldn’t wait to see the La Nouba performance. From the moment it started we knew it was going to be fantastic. (Yes, we somehow expected that way before that). The artist kept on showing amazing stuff but especially the young Chinese with the diabolos and the aerial ballet in silk where amazing. But the Power track and trampoline was the icing on the cake. AMAZING. With my son being a trampoline athlete himself (over 10 gold medals) this one was the one we looked forwards to the most. And it delivered. Beautiful, breathtaking, Awesome, incredible… do I need to say more. This was one of the highlights of our trips and worth the price. We hope to do this again on one of our next trip and we can only recommend it to anybody going to WDW. An absolute must and a great way to end a day at Walt Disney World.

Trip Diaries Day Nine: Just the Two of Us

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Another day of fun, although unfortunately one family member was really sick today and stayed at the room to sleep it off. It’s always a shame to be sick, but it’s always worst when you are sick on a holiday. So it was up to me and my son to enjoy the park with the two of us.

Epcot was the choice for today and again we made sure we would be there at the moment the rope dropped. Once inside we took the route everybody takes, straight to Soarin! First of all get some FastPasses and then queue for it. This time the queue was no longer then 10 minutes, something that would change very early during the day. The Soarin flight was great. We got seated in the middle “glider” in the middle row. Perfect. It does make a difference where you sit and the middle of the middle is the best place as you will (almost) see no black sides and you can focus on the screen only. There are some cracks and black spots on the film visible. That’s a real shame of course and one can only hope Disney will not wait too long to get that fixed. It does take away from the overall experience.

Once we got out of the attraction there was already a big queue. At least 45 minutes, if you would want to wait for it in the stand by queue. Just enough time for a small breakfast before we go on it again. Shared some strange sandwich with eggs, potato and meat in it. Not the best as we didn’t even finish it between the both of us. Or maybe we where to excited to fly again.

Here is the fun part on our second trip on Soarin; we got the exact same seats on our second run! All we did was switch places with each other. We also did the Living with the lands attraction before our second Soarin ride, but let’s be honest, this one isn’t that much of fun. There weren’t even any Mickey shaped pumpkins.

Today we also went on the Kuka robotic arm at Epcot’s Sum of All Thrills attraction. These are great fun. We created a jet plane attraction and it was intense. However it was also very smooth. Great experience and one that already gave us some sort of indication what to expect when going to Islands of Adventure later in the holiday. We got some more time to kill and after trenching our thirst at the cool station (no, no Beverly) we walked over to Test Track. (We did get a fastPass before).

After lunch we took the boat to Hollywood Studios where we wanted to see the Comedy Warehouse again. But we came in a little late as the performance was already completely full. We got there 20 minutes before it started and they already had to turn down guest because of a full house. Hello Disney… bring it back (in some form). As most attractions had long queues already we opted to see some shows. (We don’t queue!) Indiana was first and we got an alternate show because of the bad weather (Heavy rain). The second part was split into two parts and we got some more funny elements. The plane part was completely cut. A shame, but the little extra funny stuff was nice to see too. (however if you haven’t seen the original it is a loss). After the show we got to see the Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special. We got there early enough this time, about 40 minutes early! But it was worth it. So funny, with laughs from beginning to end.

After that we went to see the stunt show. This being a Disneyland Paris original I expected to see the same but I was surprised how much differences there are in both shows. The US version seems a little faster (probably because they don’t have the language barrier as we have in France), but also because some of the rearrangement of the stunts. They did some good improvements and it was also nice to see the water jet in action again. Great fun. After the show we had a little time left and we went to see a cartoon in a movie theatre (sorry, lost the name of the location). First time I see this place open. We got to see the Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice short. Fun movie to see once, but that’s it. Would see it again.

Now it was time to go to one of my favourite eating places. Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Luckily we where back to three, although still not feeling 100%, my lovely wife didn’t want to miss it (or maybe she missed her boys way to much and wanted to see us). Jiko is an amazing place. The food is fantastic. If you go there make sure to order the Mack & Cheese as a side order. It’s the best one in the resort.

Trip Diaries Day Eight: How I Miss the Comedy Warehouse

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

This is the third day I force myself to get out of the room early so I could be at Disney’s Hollywood Studios by the time it opens. Opening time was 7am and we got there by 6:50am. Our goal was to get to see all the different star Tour movies on this trip and after 4 rides today we seen all the different movies. No, not all 54 variations, but all short films. Our favourites are the Pod Race and the Bounty Bunter Boba Fett (with the Death Star) scenes. Before we tried to see all of them we did get another fastPass for Toy Story Mania. With Holiday crowds this is the only way to do it as lines go well over an hour, even early in the morning.

Now here is something I could not miss. The Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special at the Sounds Dangerous stage. I always loved the Comedy Warehouse at Pleasure Island and was not happy about its closure. Luckily Disney put this special (kid friendly version) inside the park and it was awesome. I just love the way they get some ideas out of the public and create a comedy sketch around it. Such a great talent! I hope Disney will bring this back in some form, not just during the holidays. It was a success as the room was packed to capacity.

Another show, not filled to capacity, we visited on this day was the Next American Idol Experience. I think we got to see the third show of 8 shows that day, but the room was only half full. The finals of the day might have been full, but with the attraction not being that old and the fully packed Hollywood Studios this attraction might already become a little bit of a failure. It was to be expected that this one couldn’t last that long. I might be wrong, but that’s the expression I got when I visited it. Still, it was fun to see the show,… once on the trip.

We also got ourselves some FastPasses for Tower of Terror today and we got to see Belle and the Beast. Nice sweet show, but Tower wins this round. It’s one of the best attractions out there and I could ride it again and again (and so could my son).

With the park being full and queue-ing not an option (I don’t queue… well, most of the time), it was time to do something different. So we took the bus over to the Wilderness Lodge to check out the hotel. I love this location, especially around the pool. We had a good look around before taking the boat over to the busses at the Magic Kingdom so we could make it back to our own hotel. It’s always nice to visit another resort and many people forget about this. Those places are also part of the Disney magic and they give you the chance to relax a little, away from the busy parks, while still being at a magical place.

Test Track 2.0

Monday, January 9th, 2012

The rumour is confirmed, Test Track will undergo a big refurbishment. The speculations have been going for a while but now Disney has put it in the open. We will get to see a new and improved Test track. While the Track of today is already a classic and loved by many, it’s a perfect timing to update it as some of the rides effects are starting to show their age. Even if it is still a fun ride in its current condition, a re-vamp will bring new live and new fans to the attraction. Now all we have to do is sit back and wait to see what Disney has in store for it.

We’ve already seen some new paint job on some of the cars (and it looks good, if I say so myself), but we can expect a whole lot more. Unfortunately there will be no TRON update as some rumours had indicated as Chevrolet, the primary new sponsor, will want to have the attraction being kept as a “modern car” experience to fit into their own brand.

It looks like Disney will keep the interactive aspect of their new and renewed attraction by adding an interactive experience as riders will start the attraction by designing and creating their own ride vehicle before buckling up and ride it on the new improved track. Sounds like fun and something to look forwards too.

Source: Disneypark Blog

Trip Diaries Day Seven: Christmas Day!

Monday, January 9th, 2012

You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to be able to enjoy some attractions without queues. I don’t like long queues and as it are the holidays I will need to do something nobody really likes; getting up early. So up at 6am and at the park at 6:58am, just in time for 7am early extra magic opening hour on this Christmas day at the Magic Kingdom.

Honestly, I don’t know any better way to celebrate the holidays as an early entree into the park. Unfortunately I was the only one in the family that could get out of bed that early for a second time in a row, so the first part of today I was alone. But that didn’t stop me from having some fun at Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and my beloved TTA and all without the queues. What else to do? How about a picture taking bonanza. Not everybody loves it that I take my camera around, so this was a great opportunity to get some extra photo’s from the Kingdom. I also got a good look at the new Fantasyland and what I can see so far looks amazing. Can’t wait to see the finished land once ready and open.

But a Christmas day isn’t a Christmas day without a traditional Turkey dinner,… or lunch (as it was in our case). So back to Old Key West and meet up with my family at Olivia’s for just that. And guess what? It was great! A real nice lunch and one of my favourites on this trip. It wasn’t too busy either during the afternoon.

After lunch we got to go to Animal Kingdom. A guest leaving the park gave us 5 unused FastPasses for Expedition Everest. Nice! But we had enough time to see some apes first. We got there just in time to see them being fed a small snack by a Castmember. One of the big apes sat at the edge while he was thrown fruit to which he caught and ate. That was fun. We didn’t do much else in AK, but sometimes it’s just nice to enjoy the park without running from attraction to attraction.

A great Christmas day, but perfect when it ended with my all time favourite, Illuminations. Yes, that’s three parks on Christmas day, but it was well worth it.

Info: As I am back home from a great trip expect some more updates the next couple of days.

Trip Diaries Day Six: 5:50am

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

With crowded parks during the holidays the only thing to do is get up early if you want to avoid the big queue lines. So the alarm was set for 5:50am and although this sounds a little tough, it wasn’t too hard to get out of bed when you know it’s to have some fun. Well, it didn’t take us to long to see it was worth it. We got to the Magic Kingdom at 7:00am and where ready to hit some rides with the low crowds that had the same idea. (for those thinking we are a little crazy getting up at the crack of dawn)

Before the clock hit 9:00am we got to do a whole collection of rides. We’ve seen Pooh, Snow White and even Peter Pan without a person in the queue. Beats those 2 hours queues in the middle of the busy day. We rode the Speedway, did some shooting with Buzz, had a ride on Space Mountain, took a rocket ride at the Astro Orbitor and got a little wet on Splash Mountain. Big Thunder Mountain was closed (101), so we could not add that one to this run, but we added Pirates of the Caribbean to the mix before 9am.

How’s that for your first two hours in the park. And we didn’t even have to run or get into a sweat to get them done. Getting up this early does make you a little hungry earlier in the day so before we would continue it was time for a cup of coffee and a cookie. Once we enjoyed those it was time for some more rides at the Magic Kingdom. One of my favourites was next as we rode the TTA before heading over to the Laugh Floor. It’s a funny show!

Once we left the monsters behind we could see that the crowds where coming in. No time to lose as we headed to the Haunted Mansion. I needed to see the new queue area and enjoy the ride before queues would get out of hands. Still not too bad as the queue at HM was low. I even let people pass while I enjoyed some of the interactive fun before entering my beloved house for some Disney scares.

After that it was time for an early lunch and some 20% discount shopping. The discount came from a ticket you get when you buy food in the park. It gives you a 20% discount as long as you shop before 12:00pm. It’s also a good trap as we did buy some stuff we might have not if we didn’t have the discount. Once we got our shopping done we left the park. The crowds had build up so bad, queues would be well into the hour for the popular rides. Getting there that early was well worth it.

I also got to see some of the stuff they are building at the new Fantasyland. This is going to be amazing. Can’t wait to return for that in the future.

Once out of the park we grabbed a taxi and headed over to the city Celebration. I always wanted to see it and finally got to do it. The town centre is nice, but smaller as I thought it would be. We had some time for a drink and some ice cream and to take a couple of pictures, but stayed shorter as anticipated. The houses look nice and it might be a nice place to live, but a long visit should not be planned as there isn’t much to do. So back to Old Key West for some swimming, a little rest and to get ready for dinner.

We had reservations for the California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. We got there a little early so we could have a look around at the resort. It looks nice but for some reason not the place where I would want to stay. A little to busy for us. Doesn’t look like you can relax when staying there. (I could be wrong) The restaurant is always nice, although my 12 year old son’s food was too spicy and he could not enjoy it. I guess that’s the risqué when going from children’s menu to adults menu. The icing on the cake however is watching the fireworks from the top of the building. The best place to see it without the big crowds. Personally I am not a fan of Wishes and I will not stay in the park for it, but I am happy I could end the day seeing it from the Contemporary’s rooftop.

Trip Diaries Day Five: Hot Hot Hot…

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

It was a new record for Orlando with 85, a great time to be at Walt Disney World. It felt like a summer day! Another early start, just after rope drop, at Epcot. Soarin already had a hour line (even if it said 40 minutes it looked like a lot more once in the queue). As we don’t like long queues we were going to save that one for another day. We could not get fastpasses for it as we already got test Track once. We had enough time for Ellen’s Energy Adventure before going on Test Track. It was packed at Test Track with 50 minutes wait (and even 40 minutes on the single riders line), but our Fastpasses took us right in. Still one great ride that will need to be done some more times during this trip.

We continued to enjoy the park by wandering into Showcase (including one of those relaxing “Friendship” boat rides). Had an early lunch in Japan before going to Norway and Mexico to enjoy the rides over there. After that we did some games at Innoventions before heading back for our usual afternoon swim. Getting up early to hit the parks is paying off as we can do a lot before the big crowds.

The late afternoon started in Downtown Disney with some shopping as my son wanted extra Lego and a couple of Lego men to play with. There is some really great Lego stuff out there I wouldn’t mind owning (or playing with). Checked some more shops before we headed back for late dinner at Olivia’s in Old Key West.

Trip Diaries Day Four: Love the Tigers

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Same game plan as the previous day, be at the park for rope drop. Today that was Animal Kingdom. We got some fastpasses for Everest and the Lion King Show. Then we rode Dinosaur without a queue and with front row seats. We did it a second time, again with no queue and front row seats and then we rode it… a third time. This time second row! Once that was out of the way we did Primeval Whirl, twice. We did both sides of the attraction before we went over to Expedition Everest. What a great ride, just a shame the Yeti isn’t working. I still need to see it for the first time in full working mode. Let’s hope I will have the chance in the future, when they’ll fix him (if ever).

Once those rides where done we got ourselves some Fastpasses for Kilimanjaro Safaris before we went over to see the Lion King Show. This show remains a great attraction. Love it every time (as long as I don’t have to join in).

Our Kilimanjaro Safaris experience must have been the best one I have ever had. We have seen hippo’s out of the water, Giraffes as close as you can ever get and some other great animal spotting. They say to ride this in the morning or late evening because animals hide from the sun in the afternoon, but this time they were everywhere. What an experience. Great!!!

By noon 12:45 we’ve done some great stuff and after some overpriced chicken and frites it was time for a photo trip to see my favourite tigers. So of to Maharajah Jungle Trek. I know there is a lot to see there but I had to go over to the tigers at once to spend some time with them. I just love watching them. They are amazing animals and so photogenic too. I always wonder why so many people can’t see that this park is so much more then attractions. It’s all about the animals and one should stay a little longer and really look at them. Animal Kingdom is (and I said it many times before) an Imagineering masterpiece misunderstood by many.

Leaving the high midday crowds behind me for our usual swim and a relaxing time at Old Key West we hopped over to Epcot for some more rides. Got to see Nemo and his friends, many other fish too, visited Figment, got my son to drink Beverly (I know, that was mean) and had some fun with Donald and his amigos. Epcot looks great at night and I was tempted to stay on but a visit to Downtown Disney was already planned.

The crowds where incredible at Downtown and it was a struggle at some of the narrow places. Still, had to visit D-Street to get an Annual Passport exclusive Vinylmation before heading back on the boat to Old Key West to plan our next day…

Trip Diaries Day Three: No Camera!

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Our plan! Get up early and hit a park to do some rides and avoid the early Christmas crowds. We were at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at 8:20am, ready for the 9am opening. A big queue got formed early and they did open a little early. Straight over to Star Tours to check out what all the fuss was about. It was a walk on (as most people dashed for Toy Story Many). We could even pick our seats. With about 10 people in the attraction we started our first journey. My son was lucky enough to be the spy on this first trip. That was a great little bonus. With no queue we had to go for a second run. We got in our Star Tour cruiser but the droids messed it up and we had to leave it and board another one. Our second trip was a complete new experience. Love the new Star Tours! A great new version.

We finished our two trips on Star Tours way before 10am, and that’s with park opening at 9am. Not too bad. We even had some extra time to do the Movie Ride before we had to go over the Toy Story Mania with our fastpass. Toy Story Mania was busy and people in the queue for a fastpass already had a time slot well in the afternoon. Busy times. Once we got that out our way we went for some iced coffee and a chocolate chip cookie and wait for the first Indiana Jones Show. The show was fun, as it always is. Even if you’ve seen it multiple times before, it’s a must do.

Our game plan worked well and now the park is pretty crowded. It was time to get out for a little lunch and a midday swim. In the late afternoon we went over to visit Downtown Disney. Not a lot of time to explore it all as we had dinner reservations with Susan and Simon Veness at the Big River Grill & Brewing Works on the Boardwalk. We did get to see the new Lego Store and enjoyed the great collection of new pins before catching the bus.

We had a great meal at the Big River Grill and a great chat with Susan, Simon and their family. Great evening talking Disney and more (thanX guys). To end a perfect day we headed into Epcot, just in time for Illuminations, my all-time favourite Disney experience. Unfortunately I was forced to find a new location to view the show as they use my previous space for a dinner packet private spot.

Today I left my camera in the hotel room (for most of the day). I deliberately left it there as my son isn’t too happy when I stop every minute to take 10 pictures. I guess there will be enough other moments where I’ll have the chance to take some great shots… (Like the next day)