grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

28NOV16 - Disney World, FL (hollywood studios)

Monday morning we went to the last of the four Disney World parks – Hollywood Studios.  Upon our arrival we were treated to marching Imperial Stormtroopers down the main street.  Since kids & grandkids were running late (maybe the last three days were catching up to them?).  We then toured a Star Wars exhibit/store where you could purchase a Darth Vader costume for $3000!  Corrie made the mistake of touching a Jawa character for a photo op, & was instantly reprimanded by a Disney staffer.

Why so much Star Wars emphasis?  Because Disney, which has always had a business tie w/George Lucas & Star Wars, now has complete rights to all things Star Wars.  In fact there is 14 acre Star Wars site being constructed as we speak – the largest Disney park expansion ever.

Then we hooked up with the kids & grandkids just in time for the Stormtroopers once again marching back thru the streets to a stage for a show (apparently they do this throughout the day).  We are not sure marching Imperial Stormtroopers are part of the holiday spirit, decorations, & shows that is the theme for all of Disney World from Thanksgiving through New Years Day?

Then it was off to the “Disney Junior – Live” show (can you say – oh Toodles?).  Unfortunately all seating was on the floorL  Next time we run into this, we will stand against the back wall.

From there it was time for snacks for lunch at Starring Roles Café.  As we said in prior Disney World BLOG, the kids & grandkids get one meal & two snacks per day.  Today their meal will be dinner & we will not be there with them.  You would think this would make Dan’s plan to eat for free by waiting for leftovers, unworkable.  But it turns out the snacks are quite substantial; & when all eight are ordered at once there were lots of leftovers for Dan!
Next up was the show “Beauty & the Beast - Live”.  Pretty good show.  But we have one complaint that applies to all the shows, films & animatronics we viewed over the last four days – they are too loud!!!  These aren’t rock concerts, & from our perspective the majority of the children (& their parents) didn’t like it.  Even Dan (who still plays his music at 11 on the stereo) didn’t appreciate the volume, & doesn’t see the need for it.

We are not sure if it was musophobia or Disney World burn out, but everyone decided to call it an early day.  Especially since Rebecca & Raymond’s dinner plan has them eating dinner at a restaurant located in the Animal Kingdom park later in the day.  So the kids & grandkids headed back to their Disney hotel until dinner time; & we headed back to the RV to prepare for our departure tomorrow.
Lastly two further changes we noted at Disney World since our 2009 visit:

Starbucks has one location in each of the four Disney World parks.  These are very large “shops” & are in prime locations.  The first of four opened in 2013, the last one opened in Animal Kingdom in 2015.  Disney maps don’t say Starbucks, & they have names like Trolley Car Café.  But they are easily spotted by the constant stream of customers coming out with their lattes & espressos in traditional Starbucks cups.

Alcohol was discreetly served at a few locations in the parks – like full service restaurants, & small carts that were almost hidden from view & not shown on Disney maps.  And you were not allowed to walk around the park with your adult beverage.  Now Disney World is almost like a cleaner & quieter French Quarter?  You will find one or two adult beverages at every stand/cart serving liquid refreshments (like smoothie stands, juice carts, etc).  Also, full service bars are outside & fully visible.  Lastly, everything is served in to-go cups, & you are allowed to carry your beverage with you.

Monday, November 28, 2016

27NOV16 - Disney World, FL (animal kingdom)

Sunday morning we headed to Disney World’s Animal Kingdom to meet the kids & grandkids.  While waiting we first walked thru the “Oasis Exhibit”, & then walked thru the “Maharajah Jungle Trek”.

After the kids & grandkids arrived we rode the “Kali River Rapids” & got soaked.  Raymond & Rebecca were prepared & had brought a change of clothes for the grandkids.

Next we all wondered over to Dinoland USA.  When we were here in 2009, this was a small area that recreated roadside attractions from the 50s.  We don’t remember any rides or shows back then - just old style attractions to take pictures in/on.  Now the area is much bigger with old style rides for the kids & expansive play areas.  Unfortunately there were long waits for the rides, so Jaxson & Mason could only enjoy the play structures.

We then we had a late lunch at Rainforest Café.  This restaurant is unique in that non Disney World customers can enter from the parking lot, but not exit into Animal Kingdom.  Since we had Disney World tickets we entered from the rear & exited back into the park.  Many years ago we ate at a Rainforest Café somewhere.  We were not impressed then, & are not now.  We find the food average at best, & the noise level excessive (even the grandkids didn’t like the noise level when the animatronics fire-up).  Using his new meal plan, Dan again eats for free!

After lunch we finished the day by:

---riding “safari” trucks on the attraction “Kilimanjaro Safaris”

---watching the musical/acrobatic show “Festival of the Lion King”

---finishing the day w/the ride “DINOSAUR”

Sunday, November 27, 2016

26NOV16 - Disney World, FL (magic kingdom)

Early Saturday morning it was off to Magic Kingdom, always the busiest & most crowded of the four parks comprising Disney World.  At the other parks you park the car & ride a tram to the entrance.  Cars arrive at the Magic Kingdom parking area, then you take tram a to another area, & then choose between a ferry boat or monorail to the Main Street entrance.  Recommendation – don’t take the ferry.

Upon entering Main Street we encountered a small (four floats) “X-mas” parade.  Even though early, Main Street was wall-to-wall people not going anywhere fast.  As we noted in our DEC 2009 BLOG, you are further impeded by countless strollers; often carrying older kids who should be walking!  (not to miss a money making opportunity, Disney rents single strollers for $35/day!).
Something we did not notice in 2009 that has significantly increased the congestion in the park – is cellphones!!!  Now every other person has there nosed glued to their cell phone & are constantly impeding everyone else.  To make matters worse is that you strongly encouraged (dare we say coerced?) by Disney to download their APP “My Disney Experience” to plan your entire visit, & then to monitor & modify your visit (if necessary) while in the park.  So now countless visitors are constantly looking at their cell phone to tell them where they are, what is happening in the park at this moment, next Fast Pass event, & most importantly – the latest Disney “good deal” just for them!
After fighting our way thru the Main Street crowd, we met Rebecca, Raymond, Jaxson & Mason at Tomorrowland for the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin ride.  On this ride you try to it as many targets as you can with your laser.  For some reason the ride stopped for a minute?  At this point one of the targets was right in front of Dan; Dan immediately locked in on it & ran his score up.  Needless to say, Dan outscored everyone.

Tomorrowland Speedway – this is the classic go-cart ride that originally introduced at Disney Land decades ago

Mad Party Tea – spinning tea cups, also another Disney Land classic

The Barnstormer – roller coaster suitable for kids

Disney World Train – this is a train using a real steam engine that encircles the entire park; with stops at Fantasyland, Frontierland, & Main Street.  We thought the grandkids would enjoy it & it would be relaxing way to get to other side of park without battling the crowd of walking cell phone zombies.  Big mistake!  It was relaxing & everyone was enjoying it, until we got to Main Street station.  There we stopped, & sat & sat & sat.  Turns out there was a Disney character parade scheduled for Main Street & the floats have to cross RR tracks to get to the staging area.  Disney constantly touts there planning & imagineers in creating the best place on earth, but we were not impressed that no one foresaw daily the bottleneck?
After sitting there for 20 minutes & being told we could not watch the parade from the train platform because of safety (can you say BS?), we headed down to Main Street to watch the parade.  Dan noted the following Disney movies represented in the parade – Beauty & the Beast, Frozen, Tangled, Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, Brave, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, Dumbo, next to last was Donald & Daisy, & last was Mickey & Minnie.  The only one Dan didn’t know was some “steampunk”, fire breathing, mechanical dragon – maybe from an Oz movie?  We then re-boarded the train only to sit & sit because the parade floats were now crossing the tracks back to their garage!

Splash Mountain – which combines a log flume ride with the story of Br’er Rabbit

Next was a late lunch at Pecos Bills, where Dan decided to try his new economy meal plan by not ordering anything.  Dan’s plan is based on the fact the kids & grandkids are getting four pre-paid meals (2 adult, 2 child), & Corrie would order something.  Out of those five people, only Raymond would probably finish his meal.  Dan’s theory was correct, & he had more than enough to eatJ

That afternoon we walked some more thru the Magic Kingdom before heading toward the Peter Pan’s Flight ride.  Our Fast Passes for this ride were not good for almost two hours & the wait in line time was 70 minutes.  So we decided to just get in line, because everyone was ready to go home as soon as possible.  Thankfully the grandkids were pretty good during the long time in line, but next time we will probably just leave the park & give up a Fast Pass.
So we all boarded the monorail & headed back to the parking lot trams to go "home".