Thursday, July 19, 2018

WDW Girls Trip March 2018, Animal Kingdom and Harry Potter World

WDW Girls Trip March 2018, Animal Kingdom and Harry Potter World

Day 5 Animal Kingdom
Elephants behind the scenes tour

During the lunch with animal specialists we learned about the Caring for Giants tour.  You get to go behind the scenes and spend time just viewing elephants.  

Cute name tags are made on elephant poop paper :)

We heard stories about the different elephants-which ones like to hang out together, how the adolescent male is adjusting to growing up.

Really relaxed way to see the animals. 

Later we took the Safari ride and saw the elephants again, but it goes by fast.  I like the more traditional walking paths where you go at your own pace.  Gorillas, fruit bats, tigers!

Took the train to the back half of the park with the petting zoo, interactive exhibits and the veterinarian.  
They have quite a large staff and take care of all the animals at WDW.  This was the best-every day the vet is doing something different so who knows what animal you might see.  We had a goose that was limping-trying to keep it calm during the examination was a challenge!

For fans of Up, this is the place to get your Wilderness Explorers badge.  

The book is quite detailed, you could surely build your day around it.

Festival of the Lion King.
 We just happened to be walking by as a show was starting and were able to get great seats!  Fun shortened version of the story.

Yak & Yeti lunch

As a kid I would listen to The Jungle Book record over and over.  Ka is a great villain, sneaky and subtle.


Animal Kingdom has a brand new Pandora world!  They must have been working on this forever because that movie was forever ago.
We rode the new Avatar Flight of Passage-nothing else quite like it!  Maybe avoid if you get car sick, this is VR immersive.
Ate dinner at the cafe-a fun selection of items you can't get elsewhere.  They did a nice job with seating by adding in high back booths that break up the giant room.

Evening show is Rivers of Light - pretty, they have a bit of a story they are trying to tell, but they maybe need a little more.

Day 6 Harry Potter World
Sure, it is Universal Studios, but we only cared about the Harry Potter world.  Yes, the atmosphere is amazing. You have walked into a whole other world...except for the crowds.

There are very few rides so we spent much of our time with the wand.  They have a clever wand and many spots where you do the right wand motion and the thing inside the window stops or starts whatever it does.  It needs to be just a little more clever.  If you aren't aimed exactly right it doesn't work and causes frustration.  When it works it is like magic!

Eating is also a big part of the atmosphere.  There are like 3 versions of butter beer to be tried and the candy shop is not to be missed.

The castle and grounds are a good line experience.

The train is the reason to get the park hopper.  It is a ride though, not transportation-the wait time is about an hour.  The station is a clean version of real life with magical touches.

Sometimes I know I will never get a good photograph and so I just buy the postcards-lol!

Like the night bus, which always has a crowd of people around it.

Or creepy Diagon Alley where the light is bad, the people are bad and the magic is strong.

Or the Gingots dragon-we were never in the right place to really see his fire breathing, maybe next time :)

Thursday, July 5, 2018

WDW Girls Trip March 2018, Hollywood Studios and Epcot

WDW Girls Trip March 2018, Hollywood Studios and Epcot

A happy Disney World tour is, for me, a delicate balance of planning and serendipity.  I spent time before we arrived picking fast passes and one special meal per day.  In WDW people are nuts about food and reservations for sit down meals fill fast.  Character meals are especially in demand, so I booked those early.  This meant I had to pick the order we would visit the parks-a lot of responsibility! 

It worked great for our group-we had a little structure to each day, but enough free time to do almost anything that appealed in the moment.  We didn't optimize for rides or meeting all the characters but I check in with the group at the start of the day and get everybody's number one priority ride/character is-then make sure to do it!

It seems like a shame to leave a park to go to a special dinner at the resorts, so I put those on a non-park day.  On our first night I booked the special Luau dinner at the Polynesian.  The Polynesian is one of the original resorts and some folks have been working there since it opened!  It is beautiful and worth a trip just to check it out.

Landscaping is lovely!  Turns out my flight was delayed due to bad weather and I missed the dinner but the rest of the group adjusted and had a great experience.

Day 1 Hollywood Studios 
This park has fewer attractions so you may not need to spend the whole day...until they add Star Wars Land next year in which case it will be a mob scene!  I knew we would be a couple hours off because of light jet lag so gave us a lazy morning-no need to arrive at the park first thing.  This is the only day this happens!
We had just entered when it became clear it is All Star Wars All The Time in Hollywood land.  Storm Troopers right down main street to the plaza.
Storm Troopers, it turns out, troop through the land regularly and do a show at the plaza.  It's great because you don't need to plan for it and the view is pretty good from anywhere.

If you have a little one who wants to participate in Jedi Training, plan to go right away to the sign up area.  Kids used to just get picked out of the audience but it became too popular.  We got in line for Star Tours while a training was happening and after walking under the big At-At, you can see the show from the back.
We almost had a melt down after riding Star Tours. Turns out we left the BB-8 hat on Star Tours.  Luckily we were still in the gift shop, turned around and the helpful ride attendents found them super fast-phew!

Don't skip the 'museum' area-you can see artifacts from the movies while waiting (in air conditioned comfort) to meet Chewbacca,

It seems a little silly to play video games in the middle of a park...but if you never play the at home 10 minutes of this is pretty great!

Not Star Wars also happens at Hollywood Studios!
Beauty and the Beast musical

Lunch at the Italian place is out special treat today because it comes with good seating for Fantasmic!
Just outside is the Miss Piggy fountain.  Love The Muppets from watching the show as a kid and I'm so glad they haven't tried to replace them.

Inside the restaurants are photos of famous celebrities.  We had just been discussing our 'Gilligan' hats-and there he is!

Only I went on the Tower of Terror this trip.  I love the styling of the old hotel and am glad they haven't changed it up.
Finale of the evening is Fantasmic-it's huge!  I had no idea!  In Disneyland everyone tries to crowd around the Rivers of America area and I usually skip it because it is just too much.  Disney has figured out that people love it and built a set of bleacher for a few thousand people.  So smart!  We had a really lovely time.

Day 2 Epcot
First off we meet the nicest family on the bus.  The two moms totally bond and the kids are just trying to ignore each other. I pick The Slowest Security Line Ever.  ugg.  The day improves from there!

Our special meal is princess breakfast in the Norwegian house.  Princesses are not as popular in our little group as a few years ago.  Notice that the little one has already moved on to BB-8.  But still enough awe to really enjoy it.

Elsa and Anna topiary

The Epcot ride!  Super fun takes you on a history tour of human kind-and lets you pick your future!

Soarin' Around the World is an IMAX plus flying feeling-great ride.  I did love it more when it was California-themed but I understand that it is easier to put this up in more places.  I'll be keeping an eye out if they ever bring back the original film

A picture with The  Mouse is a must do and the lines are always long.  Since this group wasn't interested in the fast rides at Epcot, I used one of the fast passes to meet Mickey and Friends.

Figment of your Imagination-the youngling remembered this ride from our previous visit.  Between the ride and the gift shop are a ton of interactive play areas-don't skip them!  If you can get a bunch of people together in the music area it's impressive!

Last time her favorite ride was Living with the Land.  It is from the 70s and takes you past hydroponic and aquaculture gardens and everyone was able to just walk on.  This time we have to skip it because it is too popular-the wait time is over an hour!!!

It is super hot so we take a bit to cool off at the Coca-Cola tasting room.  Such a great idea-try a bunch of flavors from other countries.

We are here during the Flower Garden Festival so we get to visit the butterfly house.  One of the best set ups I've seen-love to just hang out here.

Countries of the World at the back of Epcot has some of the best stuff.
In 'Mexico' I would have purchased Coco merchandise but they only had kid size t-shirts, so we settled for stickers.  And rode The Three Amigos ride.  This one seems ready for a make over-it would be great to turn it over to Coco.

It is certainly cool to visit all the countries represented and try the food (crepe dinner in France!), hear the music, and learn the culture.  But irresistible to me is the scavenger hunt.  Last time was a Muppets themed hunt tied in with the movie.

This time we have two hunts-holiday bonus!  The first is associated with the Flower Festival and you hunt down Spike the Bee.

Like in the English Garden where you learn about tea.

The bonus is the Easter theme.  Giant eggs are hidden in different lands and you place the correct sticker on that land.  At the end of the day you turn in your complete sheets and get a special treat-too fun :)