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Tobias's 11/30-12/1 WDW TR

Tobias

Veteran Member
Feb 25, 2014
1,182
Yesterday I got back from a WDW trip that was quite overdue, considering the last time I visited the resort was during a High School Band Trip in Spring Break of...2005. An the last time I stayed on property was 2003!

So this was a return that was a long time coming, and while I can be quite critical and cynical at the house of mouse for questionable choices and additions to the parks, last year a 1st time visit to Disneyland proved the magic is still there. So admittedly, I was intrigued to see if WDW still has it, especially since a lot of criticisms and whatnot were directed at WDW.

I can tell you right now some issues still ring true, and to rip the band-aid off the issues that still hold are..

- WDW was resting on their laurels for quite some time, where part of that was due to...
- MDX/FP+ being a really expensive project which didn't turn out as expected due to being put out way too early, leading to parks not really getting much additions for a long while. That leads to...
- The current state of Epcot. Even with Ratatouille, GotG: Cosmic Rewind and the Play! Pavilion on the way, there's still a lot of work to be done. Though right now with none of those attractions open, the park is still in a state which didn't justify me spending a whole day there, so I didn't visit that park this trip.

Now with that out of the way, onto the much nicer flipside. When it comes to the Magicbands, there's various aspects which I do like from them. I like having the room key and park tickets on them, and I do like how the onride photos and whatnot are automatically uploaded to your account via them.

For general park ops, the security and gate process is an absolute breeze now. Love the new security gates which forgo the usual bag checks, and just tapping the magicband to the sensor is way faster than anything else. Disney has usually been really good at the gate process, and this is just even faster!

As for mask compliance, out of all the places I've been to this year, WDW did have the best mask compliance out of all the parks. The CM's were also eagle eyed and made sure everything was being followed.

For ride ops, they were probably the smoothest I've seen it. Could've been due to the mix of low crowds and no Fastpass, but I sure as heck wasn't complaining!

Now with that lil intro out of the way, time for the trip proper, starting with a new hotel for me and some rather pleasant surprises (and one downright shocker) in Hollywood Studios.

Day 1: A Whole New World where the sky's the limit, and Hello Hollywood!

Pulling a page from my Universal trip earlier, I arrived in Orlando nice and late to give me plenty of time to head to the hotel and get some rest beforehand. So I took advantage of Magical Express since I was in no rush to get there, and it's complimentary. I wasn't on the official bus, but in one of the smaller Mears shuttles with one group that was heading to Pop Century. As for me, I was staying at a place I've never been to before, Art of Animation!

This was my first foray into staying at a hotel other than Wilderness Lodge (Which I've stayed at in 2001 & 2003), and I have to say AoA is a really nice hotel! Being a fan of animation, this hotel had a lot of really nice little touches. The lobby alone is a treat with all the concept art on the walls and up on the main chandelier, and I felt each section was done up nicely. While the Lion King suites would've been well up my alley, those would be money better spent when I'm with family and friends, so I was over in the Little Mermaid section. While it's the furthest out of all the buildings, the walk is nowhere near as long as I thought it would be, it's actually fairly quick for me. I also was fine with that area having outdoor entry to the rooms since it would prove to come in handy in checking the temp/weather, especially for the next day.

While the first day is Hollywood Studios, I actually took a more relaxed approach and didn't start the day until the afternoon, this is due to me having a particular lunch reservation in Disney Springs which I didn't want to miss. So it was off to the bus station where I got to see first-hand how the buses were being handled. I can happily report they were being handled incredibly well at AoA, since the buses were coming in fleets of 3-4 for each park, followed by a extra bus or two right afterwards. An it didn't take long to get on mine.

Disney Springs

With the exception of a couple stores, this place is completely unrecognizable compared to it's Downtown Disney/Pleasure Island days! The whole area looks really nice, and I've never seen the area so populated compared to my times previously here, to be honest it was really nice to see it that way. The only place that was a lil bare was the West End, but it's understandable since Cirque Du Soleil isn't performing yet, Jaelo is only open on the weekends, Beatrix is under construction and the NBA Experience is...well it does have the wonderful lil Haunted Mansion inspired Christmas tree outside it! Now then, time for the reason I was down here for lunch...

Homecomin'

So out of the bajillion new restaurants which have opened since I was last at the resort, this was one that had a -lot- of hype behind it. It sounded great, it looks great...it was also pretty hard getting a reservation since even at the 60-Day mark there were 0 available dinner reservations. Lunch was the only thing available and I had to end up changing my trip plans to squeeze it in. So was it all worth it? HECK. YES.
I had the thigh high chicken biscuits, a side of mac and I finished it off with the Shine cake. All of it was really good, and I can see why this place can be packed with reservations. I can also see how easy it can be to go into a food coma in here, thankfully I avoided that...but man is it tempting! All in all, this was a fantastic way to start the trip! After lunch, it was back to the hotel to head off to Hollywood Studios in a brand new way.

The Disney Skyliner

I won't lie, when Disney first announced this I was in the boat of skeptics. I didn't think a gondola system was the brightest of ideas in Florida weather, nor was it gonna' be quick etc. So welp, I ate a big honkin' plate of crow on this one! It's honestly a great addition to the resort, and it's way faster and more convenient than I thought it was gonna' be. It's a huge get for the hotels it does service, especially AoA and Pop Century since those hotels are already pretty close to AK, DS and the water parks, so having real quick access to HS and Epcot is a huge boon. It's a real quick and easy trip to Hollywood Studios, and the Skyliner was gonna' come in handy at the end of my trip as well. (More on that, later.)

An as I glide over to Hollywood Studios, it's off to the next part detailing that 1st day!
 

Tobias

Veteran Member
Feb 25, 2014
1,182
So now that I'm back at Hollywood Studios, I made my way straight back to the ride I missed the most...

Tower of Terror

For me, ToT is still one of Disney's best. It's a masterclass in suspense as it begins the moment you turn onto Sunset Blvd and see the tower looming in the distance. It continues as you go through the winding gardens, into the suddenly abandoned lobby lost in time, (the preshow continues it as well, when it's running of course.), it keeps building when you're in the boiler room with generators which have seen far better days, and it ramps up when you're taken up the elevator, through the 5th dimension where you find yourself in the drop shaft for the heart pounding climax. An once you're safely back on terra firma, one thing rushed through my head...

"That was significantly WEAKER than any of the programs in Mission: Breakout"

...


wwwwwWHHHAAATTT?!?!?!?

So yeah, in completely unpredictable year, I got the shocker of the century as the drop program was really weak compared to what I experienced last year on Mission: Breakout in Cali. I don't think things have been changed/toned down for pandemic mode, so I was legit stunned by this. Don't get me wrong, ToT still remains one of Disney's best, but it definitely showed me how much Cali amped up their tower.

After that stunner, I attempted to get a boarding pass for Rise of the Resistance. Didn't get one, but I knew I had one more attempt at the end of my trip. Also, a few days later I would discover something on my phone which probably borked my chance to get a pass this day. (More on that later.) Since I knew I wasn't getting on RotR today, it was off to revisiting several attractions.

Rock n' Roller Coaster - Thankfully, this was still as good as I remembered!
Star Tours - Got several new routes which I didn't get in Cali, still a fun ride.
Muppet*Vision 3-D - This remains one of my favorite 3-D shows, super solid and funny writing which still holds up to this day!
Toy Story Midway Mania! - This is one of those rides which grows on me the more I ride it, and I really appreciated the line was usually under 30 minutes for me. (Something which Cali's version never got under.)
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. - So due to covid procedures, it was a completely solo run this time. This ride still remains super divisive considering one's enjoyment heavily depends on who you're with (or in this case, who you're not with), and what role you get. I can see why people do like it, but at the same time I can see how people really wouldn't like it. For me, I did enjoy my solo ride. An I had some great interactions with the CM's talking about how we never see the money from Hondo.

Now then, time for some new hotness. Starting with the ride which is actually brand new this year...even though I almost forgot it actually opened this year!

Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway

This was my first full-on trackless darkride, and I felt this is a really cute ride. There's a lot of nice touches, and I think the framing device in and out of the ride itself is a really clever touch. It can be a bit overwhelming at first since there's a lot going on, so it's certainly one to reride. The only nitpicks I got with the ride is it really felt like the cars should've circled around that tornado rather than pass by it, especially since it looked like there was space to do it. Another thing is I wish there was more moments of the set-pieces changing, since when it does happen it's -really- cool. I just wish there was more moments like that. Besides that, it's a really nice ride and it's gonna' be a great addition to Disneyland's Toontown!

I also recalled reading some people griping at the Daisy Dance Studio scene due to the moment, and I had no idea what people were talking about since the waltz section was really smooth and graceful...then came what I can best describe as the "CongOW". Yeah, that lil bit is not as smooth and graceful. XD

Near the end of the night, I had some dinner at Docking Bay 7 which I never went to over in Cali. Going off some recommendations I tried the Felucian Kefta and Hummus Garden Spread, and that was pretty dang tasty! The (plant-based) meatballs had a surprisingly meaty texture to them, and the meal was both filling yet not heavy whatsoever.

To end the night, I got in line for another new ride for me, and it was one I felt was gonna' be great at night!

Slinky Dog Dash

When this one was first announced, I had a feeling it was gonna' be a nice kiddy/family coaster and that was pretty much it. However after riding it, this firmly goes in the "Just. Plain. FUN." category like Big Thunder Mountain and Hagrid for me. It packs enough of a punch to be enjoyable, and there's a ton of cute touches throughout the ride from the sound effects, the chaser lights, the lil show in the second launch, the lil show at the end of the ride, and then of course you have Slinky giving the Española safety spiel which is right up there with Tow Mater in Junkyard Jamboree in things you never knew you wanted until you hear it.

All in all, it was a really good 1st day. Next up is Day 2 at Animal Kingdom where I encountered a lot of firsts in Florida, as well as even more surprises.
 

Tobias

Veteran Member
Feb 25, 2014
1,182
Day 2: A Wild (and CHILLY) Day!

For Tuesday I woke up nice and early since I was moving to my 2nd hotel of the trip, and checking the weather outside I was greeted by a very frigid air which I haven't felt in Florida since well...Ever! In my band trip way back there was a very chilly morning one day, but that was it and it warmed up quickly once the sun came up. Today however, it started in the 40's and got marginally warmer later in the day. Definitely the coldest day I've encountered at the park, though fittingly the 2nd hotel I was heading to is a real good place to warm up as it's my WDW Home Away from Home, Wilderness Lodge!

Wilderness Lodge has always been my go-to hotel at WDW, loved it when I was there with my family, and I still love it. The theme is great, it's got a good location, and I always love the boat ride to MK. But that'll have to wait till tomorrow since today it's off to Animal Kingdom, where what normally feels like the hottest park in the summer is gonna' feel like the coldest. Great timing on my part!

Anyways, Animal Kingdom is one of my favorites. The theming is great and I've always loved the atmosphere, at the time I just wished it had more rides. Thankfully it's gotten a couple more since I last was there, so how were they? Once I arrived at the park it was straight to a new land which has been highly discussed in so many ways, by myself included, it's off to Pandora and onto it's headlining ride.

Flight of Passage

So, this ride has usually been the center of attention in any discussion of the land. There are those who absolutely LOVE it, and there are those who're wondering what the former were smoking to come up with that opinion. After all, at it's very core it's a simulator. It's not a big, massive darkride like Spiderman, Forbidden Journey, Rise of the Resistance etc. I've certainly read a lot of varying opinions of this ride, but ultimately I had to go in with a open mind and see for myself.

Hitting this up before the park opened was a great move since I walked straight onto the ride, and boy that is a HUGE queue! It felt like I walked a good mile or so in that line, and thankfully it's a nice queue! There's a nice bit to look at, especially when you get further into the queue and the lab. As for the preshows, it's currently one as they have everyone split into the two preshow rooms and simultaneously play a truncated safety video. (Like what they do in Universal Bourne Stuntacular with guests held in the queue.) I think that was a blessing on my half since it sounded like the 1st preshow is uh, a tad more awkward than the second one.

As for the ride itself, honestly? For being one who doesn't really care about Avatar, I thought it was a really nice simulator! I was impressed by the maneuvers it was able to pull off, the visuals were nice, the smells were pleasant, the fine mist sprays were quite nice as well. I think one of the nicest aspects besides the movement was actually the music!

The best analogy I can give this ride is it's Soarin' Over Pandora. Now I recall seeing some folks on forums who got absolutely cheesed if anyone made that comparison, but in all honesty that's exactly the kind of ride it is, and that's not a bad thing. You tell me something is like Soarin', and I'm imagining a nice relaxing attraction with nice visuals and great music. An those things can be found in FoP as well, now FoP does pack a bit more of a punch, but overall it's a relaxing journey for me. That and Soarin' is a giant crowd pleaser with the GP, anything that can emulate that pretty well is bound to get a similar result which FoP has gotten.

Now have some folks overhyped it? Yeah, I still also think some folks were latching onto this since it was the newest thing around for Disney and trying to puff things up, believe me the irony was not lost on seeing folks praising a screen attraction when they were razzing on Universal for years for screens. An yes, like with any other simulator of this type, the illusion is killed if you turn your head, though that's nature of the beast since the same thing happens if you do that with the Simpsons. That and I didn't do that until my second ride, and I got the appreciate seeing how the tech works. I also do agree there are some effects like the Banshee breathing which would be more killer if this was a VR attraction (same with being able to see the banshee and yourself as the Avatar), but those are more of a nitpick/shoulda, coulda, woulda.

All in all, I do like the ride. I may not hold it in high praise like others, but this is something I'd be happy to go on again.

Na'vi River Journey

While probably overshadowed by FoP, this is a nice lil boat ride. The screen and projection effects were nice, and the Shaman AA is great. It's a nice ride to get a break off your feet and enjoy some AC.

Later in the day, I had lunch at Satu'li Canteen which is one thing at Pandora I've heard nothing but unanimous praise for. An you can add me to that bunch since that was a really nice meal! I had the beef & chicken combo with rice and beans, and the creamy herb sauce. That is some solid eats right there, complete with a big portion, too. The Blueberry Mousse dessert was nice as well.

Also while eating, I couldn't help but notice the nice music that's played inside the restaurant which got me thinking. Both Batuu and Pandora run into the same "hyper-realistic" conundrum with their soundscapes. Outside Pandora focuses on the alien wildlife noises, which Batuu focuses on ships, wildlife and machinery...but most of them are pretty unremarkable compared to the music you hear in the rides and restaurants, go figure!

Expedition Everest

I was looking forward to this ever since I saw it under construction during my Spring Break trip in 2005, Everest just looms over everything else and it's probably the most intimidating looking of all the Disney mountains. The queue which set's up the legend and mystery of the Yeti is quite nice, and as for the ride it does a nice job building things up to the eventual encounter with the legend himself. Now after my first ride, I was feeling a tad underwhelmed. The ride didn't really pack much of a punch, if at all. So I was kinda' bummed that the ride I was really looking forward to didn't live up to my hype. But I chalk that first ride up to the ride not being fully warmed up yet, since it was delayed in opening due to the cold weather (Oh, the IRONY). Thankfully on my second ride later in the day, the ride was much faster and packed the punch I was hoping it would have, so it left a much better impression on me!

Besides the new things, I hit up Kilimanjaro Safari's which is still a crown jewel of the park, and the animals were surprisingly active in the chilly weather. I also hit up the trails which are always nice, same for It's Tough to Be a Bug which for the first time didn't have any parents leaving with terrified kids during the spider drop. An that leaves one particular attraction in Dinoland U.S.A.

Dinosaur

I've always had a soft spot for this ride. My very first time riding it was in the very front, which proved to be a memorable and wild experience. I've always likened this to a amped up classic darkride where it's mainly dark until the dinosaurs are lit up, and you're in a much more active ride vehicle. Spring Break 2005 was also a wonderful time as this ride scared the ever living heck out of my classmates! Now last year I finally got to ride Indy in Cali, and yeah Dinosaur is nowhere near as themed as Indy. But I was still looking forward to returning to this ride since it works well on it's own.

Well, I don't know when they changed the lighting to black lights, but holy crap this ride got more intense! The black lights make the Carnotaurus attacks even more of a surprise, it felt like there were a lot more meteor strikes and the projections of the Compy's were a huge improvement over the practical effect which never worked when I went on it. Same for the rapid fire meteor strikes near the end. And the finale got a nice punch up, too! Overall, this ride got a great update!

After a wonderful time at AK, it was back to Disney Springs for the night where I had a wonderful dinner at Morimoto Asia, another place I was looking forward to and it didn't disappoint. I had Morimoto's "Buri-Bop" which was most excellent, the Starry Skies pocket cocktail was very nice, too! Did a bit of shopping afterwards, and got myself a batch of cupcakes from Sprinkle's cupcake ATM. (Which is rather appropriate for being social distance friendly!)

Next up is the Magic Kingdom, where some old favorites await, many with new surprises, if not queues!
 

Tobias

Veteran Member
Feb 25, 2014
1,182
Day 3: The Magic is Still Here.

Today was the Magic Kingdom, and it started off with a nice boat ride over there from Wilderness Lodge. That's always been my preferred way to getting to MK, and it's one of the aspects I do love about WL. After seeing multiple characters greeting everyone at the train station, it was off to the Seven Dwarves Mine Train...which was currently closed due to the cold weather so it's off to Peter Pan's flight! That ride's queue definitely got a really nice upgrade, and while I prefer DL's version to this one, it's still nice. Kinda' shocked I never saw the line above 25 minutes. A far cry from the 80 minute wait I had my first time back in 2001!

After Peter Pan, 7DMT was still warming up, so it was off to Winnie the Pooh which got both a queue -and- entrance upgrade! When it comes to the stateside WtP rides, this one is way better than Cali's. After that, I noticed 7DMT was testing with CM's on it, so I smartly lined up for it and it shortly opened afterwards.

Seven Dwarves Mine Train

This is honestly a cute lil coaster, emphasis on "cute" and "lil" since it's both cute and unfortunately on the little side. When you do get the carts swinging it is pretty fun, but both coaster segments do feel just a tad short. If it was a little bit longer, I think they would've had a legit winner here. Though as it stands, it's a nice kiddy/family coaster, but not one that you'd wanna' wait real long for. (Conversely, Slinky Dog Dash is a shorter ride that 7DMT, but Slinky's coaster sections (and the fact he's launched) pack enough of a punch to make up for the fact it's a shorter ride.)

Since 7DMT was the main new attraction for me, it was pretty much reride central for me on everything else.

Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid - Woah, this one clearly got the bigger budget for a great façade and queue! I also liked that this one has the Ursula silhouette at the end getting zapped and writhing about. Unlike Cali's which just has her off in the background which is still kinda' hilarious how that was handled and set aside.

Space Mountain - So this definitely got some new updates/additions since I last rode it! I love that the main building is overall darker, making for a wilder and faster feeling ride. The speakers along the track for sound effects/soundtrack were a nice touch...if a tad low-budget. I'll admit I've always liked WDW's SM, yes Hyperspace Mountain at DL is better, but I still have a great time on WDW's.

Astro Orbiter - Well here's something I haven't been on since 2001/2003, it seemed to load and unload a lot faster than before. Still a nice spin up high with some surprising forces depending on the angle you were at.

Carousel of Progress - This is still one of my favorites of the classic attractions, and I definitely noticed a moment come "full-circle". When I saw the show in 2003, we all kind of laughed at the virtual reality headsets, and everything being voice automated...so imagine my surprise seeing that scene NOW and we literally have those things! They weren't kidding the Tomorrowland conundrum is "Tomorrow becomes Today"!

Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin - Got a far bigger score than I've normally gotten on this thing, though DL's is better with the guns that aren't fixed to the car.

Philharmagic - Still a really delightful 3-D show!

Haunted Mansion - Still a wonderful classic, and I loved the updates such as the giant M.C. Escher staircase! I still think both coasts HM's are pretty even, though I wasn't able to experience the 3-D sound of the ghost host in the stretching room which I hear is really good.

Big Thunder Mountain - The queue looks like it got a wonderful upgrade, and the ride is still plain fun. I gotta' give the edge to DL's for the updated third lift hill finale.

Splash Mountain - This was mainly riding it for memory sake, and this variant is certainly better than DL's so I'm looking forward to seeing this undergo the Princess and the Frog transformation. I was also incredibly thankful the wetness was toned down, especially with those blasted water cannons pointed at the second lift hill just blasting air.

Pirates of the Caribbean - WDW's certainly has the better queue, though DL's is still the far better and longer ride.

Lunch at MK was over at the Skipper Canteen, and I enjoyed that quite a bit! I had a double dose of appetizers in the form of the Orinoco Ida's Cachapas and one item that wasn't on the menu which were these wonderful bread cheese balls. An for the entrée I had the thai noodles which were tasty as well. I liked the décor of the place, as well as the lil bit of Jungle Cruise silliness as well.

Speaking of Jungle Cruise, there was one more attraction I had to hit up, and I had to hit it up at night.

The Jingle Cruise

A holiday overlay of the Jungle Cruise that's bound to be on the quick, cheap and corny side? IM IN!
In all seriousness, I thought the Jingle Cruise was a nice little overlay. The various decorations were simple enough and worked for me, and I had a boat with pretty much all adults who were all-in on the ride so it was a great experience. Our skipper really sold it with a ton of jokes I haven't heard before, plus some great dark humor ones as well.

After another wonderful time at MK (plus another batch of characters wishing everyone well at the train station), it was off to the Monorail to head to the Express to the TTC...wait no, that's not the station I was supposed to be at. *Scrambles all the way back down and takes the correct "left" side the CM said* Ok, off to the monorail that heads to the Contemporary! (Seriously, I was right at the platform ready to go on the Monorail when I realized it was the wrong one. For someone that's gone to theme parks for years, I sure felt like a dummy there.)

Once I was at the Contemporary, it was up to the top floor for dinner at California Grill. I last ate here back in 2003 and it was one of the more memorable meals I've had, so I knew this would be a good spot to enjoy the last night of the trip. The décor may have gotten a refresh, but the food was absolutely wonderful. I had the Braised Beef Short Rib Wontons (and took the waitress's advice of sopping up the Doenjang Miso-Cola-Onion Sauce with the sourdough bread which was wonderful), the Jumbo Scallops and finished it off with the Valrhona Chocolate Soufflé. Add all that with a San Francisco Mai Thai and that was a wonderful last dinner of the trip!

Next up is the last day of the trip, it's back to Hollywood Studios where there was really one main goal, get on Rise of the Resistance.
 

Tobias

Veteran Member
Feb 25, 2014
1,182
Day 4: Rise of the Resistance, now with the friendliest prison you'll ever be detained in! *BONUS* A Mad Dash for Merch!

It was another nice and early day, this time to attempt to get a Rise of the Resistance boarding group. Now throughout the trip, I was oddly unable to do mobile ordering, pull up menu's via the QR codes and then some, which I found puzzling since I had no issues with those back at Disneyland last year. At Skipper Canteen, I took a hunch and disabled my phone's VPN and *BOOP*, everything now worked! I have a feeling that actually borked my chance of getting a 2pm boarding group, so I was hopeful I could land one this morning. 7am came and BAM, got boarding group 41! It's a very awesome feeling landing a boarding group, so I was in high spirits for the morning.

This time I had breakfast, down at Whispering Canyon Café which I've always fondly remembered for both good food and fun shenanigan's from the waitstaff. Now since it was early morning and pandemic mode, there was no "KETCHUP"! moments, but the waitstaff were still the wonderfully entertaining (and downright nutty) folks I remembered. Now I know stuff like that can be hit or miss for folks, but Whispering Canyon has been the right kind of crazy for me. It's not overbearing, but if you play along with it you're gonna' get some great interactions. It also helps the food they serve is quite good.

After WCC, it was back to the Studios where I first went to Slinky Dog Dash for one more ride, and then I walked over to RoTR to see what boarding group it's at...and then my heart dropped a little to see all the CM's standing out front since that meant one thing, it's not open yet. There was still hope left, so I headed off to Star Tours for my Star Wars fix. After that I took another peek on the app and nope, still not running. Either way it was time for my lunch at the Hollywood Brown Derby to take my mind off of things. HBD is still a wonderful restaurant in the studios, and I certainly enjoyed the Cobb Salad and a slice of that Grapefruit cake. I finished up around noon and when I took a look at the app, RotR was now up and running! It was currently taking groups 1-12, which now provided a little conundrum for me. I figured I had to leave the park around 3:30pm to catch my ride back to the airport, so depending on how fast or slow the groups went, I might not be here by the time group 41 rolls around. I was informed by my waitress that patience and honesty does pay off, so undeterred I headed off to ToT for one more ride.

For my ride on TOT, I was in for a treat since I finally got the "fake ending" program which I've never got before! Took a while to get that one, but I'm glad I did since it provided a great finale! I then checked the app to see where RotR was for the boarding groups and it moved up to group 13...this wasn't gonna' cut it out for me so I headed off to RotR and kindly informed a CM of my situation and showed her my plane tickets. She was completely understanding of the situation, did a check to see what the estimate was for 41 and saw that was gonna' cut things way too close then when I had to leave, so she gave me an upgrade to my pass so I could head right in! Definitely an act I'm incredibly grateful for!

Rise of the Resistance

After years of waiting, and seeing the massive show building at DL's Galaxy's Edge, I was finally in line! The queue moved nice and quick, and before I knew it I was in the first preshow which had both a nice AA of BB-8 and a really great hologram, too! Then it was off to the transport ship and what can be best described as a combo preshow+ride, since that had a lot more movement than I thought it would have! It was a great way to set things up and that brings us to one of the MoneyShot's of the ride, entering the massive hangar bay. This is a moment where everyone's jaw collectively drops, and it really nails the sheer sense of scale they've gone with this attraction. So I'm getting guided in the makeshift queue and up in front of the Stormtroopers, and then I notice we're. not. moving. Fffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuu...

Yup, when you have a brand new high tech dark ride, you're bound to run into breakdowns which is exactly what happened. We stopped around 2pm, and a couple more groups were let into the hangar bay. However one or two groups after mine were allowed to stay in the hangar, everyone else ended up escorted out of the building so this was a huge lucky break for me! From there a First Order CM kindly informed us about the delay, and we could sit down and if we needed to use the bathroom or need anything, to just let them know. I have to give props to the CM's here, since they did a great job of checking up on everyone...which was also funny with the First Order being quite courteous! Now a couple behind me had to leave since they were unfortunately going to miss their flight if they stayed, which reminded me of my own. I decided to call my town car and asked if they could delay it an hour, and thankfully they were able to do so, so I was put at ease with having more time in the park. I just decided to lay back on the floor and let me tell you, that floor in the hangar bay is super comfy, leading me to dub this as the friendliest prison you'd be detained in.

After about 45 minutes, I had to use the bathroom, and shortly after I was out a First Order CM rushed in the hangar to get everyone up as the ride was back on! The nice Disney mode was promptly tossed out the window and we were directed to the cells. Now before the cells, I envy the CM's in that area since they were wonderfully intimidating and downright snarky. A part which still got me was the couple in my group mentioned "Star Wars", which led to the First Order CM getting taken aback and quipping "Wha- Stars don't have any Wars!". Who needs torturing from Kylo Ren when this man has nearly killed us right here? XD

Once in the cell, the final preshow went off just fine with some simple and effective effects. An then it was onto the escape transport for the ride itself which worked from beginning to end.

So after all that, was it worth it? Yes, YES and YES.

The ride is what I hoped it was, a trackless darkride on a grand scale. It really pulled off a frantic adventure with some great effects and surprises. Speaking of effects, there was only a couple which I noticed weren't working. The only obvious one was the cannons, and the fact the ride itself was only running one transport vehicle to the side lift. (Granted, I knew the front lift hasn't been working for a while.) I think the Finn AA was working, kinda' hard to tell since I was in the back row -and- that scene is pretty overwhelming. Other than that, everything was working and the final Kylo AA was working as well, so I got the full finale.

Overall, Disney has a honest-to-god winner here. This is a Top 5 (possibly a Top 3 when I can get more rides in) darkride for sure, and I'm happy someone really went for the multi-attraction concept that the Star Trek Experience did with the Klingon Encounter. It works really well for Star Wars, and is it any wonder that the producer that gave us one of the GOAT darkrides (Spider-Man) is also responsible for this one? Way to go, Scott!

So RotR was my last ride for the trip, and I can't think of a better way to finish it. I finally got on, and I look forward to riding it again hopefully soon!

Afterwards it was a hunt to find a particular holiday shirt in XL for my dad, a feat which turned into it's own little adventure as the gift shops in Hollywood Studios didn't have it in XL! I was starting to run short on time, and while I knew the Mercantile in WL had those shirts, I forgot what sizes they had last time I checked and didn't want to go there and find out they were out. Then I had a idea, knowing the Ink & Paint Shop in Art of Animation had a big selection, and considering it's a quick trip via the Skyliner...it all came full circle in a blur.

- I ran on the Skyliner and transferred to AoA.
- Ran to the Ink & Paint Shop which did have the shirt in XL!
- Ran back to the Skyliner and made my way back to Hollywood Studios.
- Ran to the bus station where the Wilderness Lodge bus was parked and made it back to the hotel with time to spare!

I can't believe that idea actually worked, just more proof the Skyliner was a really great addition!

So that does it for the trip, the final part is my final thoughts.
 

Tobias

Veteran Member
Feb 25, 2014
1,182
Final Thoughts

So after 15 years, is the Magic still at WDW? I'm happy to say, Yes.

WDW is really one of those major resort experiences you're not gonna' find in many places, when you're in there, you're away from it all. An after this trip, I do wanna' head back with my friends and family once things have settled down, after the great experience at Art of Animation, that hotel would be a great pick for me if something like Wilderness Lodge is out of my budget. Especially if I wanna' do something like a WDW/HHN trip for the Fall.

Naturally whenever I do return I'm gonna' miss the lower crowds and ops running smoothly with no Fastpass, but at the same time I'm gonna' be happy seeing the parks packed again.

Until then, TTFN!
-Tobias