Archive for the 'Disney World' category

Disney World: Day 5 – Departure

| July 4, 2007 6:29 am

We flew out Wednesday July 4th.  Our bus took us straight to the airport but our last night was spent watching the fireworks over the Magic Kingdom.  Unfortunately, without a tripod, the photos weren’t too spectacular.  Over all we had a good time but Disney World is a fairly expensive proposition no matter what the marketing commercials say on TV.

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Disney World: Day 4 – Animal Kingdom

| July 3, 2007 6:00 pm

Exhausted from the heat and long walks, we decided to head out to the Animal Kingdom with the intent of not staying there too long. We didn’t expect too many attractions that we or the kids would like but we were grateful and surprised about some of the Animal Kingdom’s hidden features.


First, the Animal Kingdom was built to include many many trees! There were plenty of shaded areas to walk along and stand by when visiting attractions. The sun’s rays were tamed by so much shading.

Secondly, many of the attractions had heavy foliage which also limited the sun’s powerful heat.


Like other parks, Animal Kingdom suffered from “commercialism” and “consumerism” and lacked some creativity. Here’s a shot of A Bug’s Life character.

We took the Safari and encountered various animals during the trip….

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The exciting part was how close up we could get to some of these animals.  The ride takes about 30 minutes and is entertaining but we were too exhausted to take advantage of too many other attractions.


The last shot we took by the Tree of Life.  Note the shade!

Disney World: Day 3 – MGM Studios

| July 2, 2007 6:00 pm

We didn’t have a late start on Sunday despite being very weary and tired from our first two days at Disney World. On arrival, we had booked a fishing tour to go out on the lake and catch a few fish. Our scheduled departure was 7:00 a.m. so we got up at 6:00 a.m. to get ready and head out.

Marge surprised us all by catching the first three fish. Bart was getting a little agitated that he and no one else was catching any fish. Our boat captain took us over to a different part of the lake where the fish were biting for everyone.

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After our two hour fishing tour, we headed back to the hotel to clean up and have breakfast. We ate at the snack facility and headed out to MGM Studios. Unfortunately, there was no monorail connecting our hotel to MGM, so we had to wait for and take a bus from our hotel to MGM Studios.

This was our first visit to MGM for all of us and we enjoyed our day although I had a few complaints. Evidently Disney didn’t think it necessary to plant any trees at MGM because the whole facility seems to be made entirely of concrete and brick. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem were it not for the fact that the sun bears down on you all day long and there is very little shading. The concrete also reflects the heat so it makes it even worse as you walk around.

I won’t complain about the “creativity” factor here because MGM Studios is by default all about making movies and mass consumerism. We visited the Chronicles of Narnia exhibit, A Bug’s Life Playground, and various other attractions which were fun for the kids but rather lame for the adults.

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The more memorable ones however were the stunt shows for Indiana Jones and Light’s, Camera, Stunts.

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The kids had fun painting their faces, meeting various characters and taking photos with them.

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Our night concluded with dinner at our hotel with a few Disney characters from Cinderella’s Castle:

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Disney World: Day 2 – Magic Kingdom

| July 1, 2007 6:00 pm

We started the day late on Saturday. We were dead tired from Epcot and slept in till 9:00 a.m. We headed down for breakfast at one of the snack eateries and weren’t surprised to see a charge for $20 for breakfast. We took the monorail from our hotel over to the Magic Kingdom. We were surprised to have to connect at a transportation center to get on board a second monorail to actually get to the Magic Kingdom.

I stated yesterday that I had visited this park about 20 years ago and the park looked relatively the same although it did seem a bit smaller than I remembered it. Marge & Bart headed out to space mountain while Lisa and I rode the kiddie rides. Lisa was too short to get on many of the bigger kid rides but we had fun nonetheless at the Teacups, Carousel, Dumbo, and Cinderella’s Castle.
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We regrouped and waited around for Bart & Marge to ride splash mountain. The wait there was about an hour for them to ride while I waited patiently below to capture the screaming terror as they plunged and splashed down the mountain. I did have some fun taking pictures of other people’s expressions and I’ve included my favorites below.

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We spend the rest of the day visiting various shows and attractions. We stopped by to see one of the many shows at Cinderella’s Castle in the afternoon.

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We left around 5pm that evening right after the above pictures were taken since a storm rolled in and hit hard.  We took a boat ferry from the Magic Kingdom back to our hotel, the Grand Floridian and the rain pounded the little boat.   After the rain cleared, we headed out to the rock pool and relaxed for a few hours.

Disney World: Day 1 – Epcot Center

| June 30, 2007 6:00 pm

It’s been a while since we’ve gone on a decent vacation. Between work, kids school, family events and other activities, we’ve found it impossible to get away for more than a weekend trip getaway here and there. We finally bit the bullet and decided to head out to Disney World this fourth of July Holiday.

We headed out on Saturday and our primary concern was the heavy rainstorms predicted for our four day stay at Disney World.  We flew out in the morning and arrived around noon at Orlando International Airport.   I was extremely pleased with Disney’s luggage pickup and delivery service.   Disney essentially grabs your luggage for you and delivers it to your room.  No need to wait at baggage claim!

We didn’t rent a car for this trip since we knew we could get free transfers to and from the airport through Disney.  We checked in rather quickly and were on our way within minutes!   The bus ride from the airport to our hotel took approximately 30 minutes.   The only complaint we had is that the bus makes a stop or two before getting you to your hotel.  Our bus stopped first at the Polynesian Hotel then took us to our hotel, the Grand Floridian.


We weren’t sure how much money we were going to end up paying for this trip.  Since we booked at the last minute, we simply booked an Expedia package that included Air & Hotel at the Floridian.  The cost for the trip so far had been $3500 but when we checked in, we realized the price tag would be much higher.   First, the hotel asked if we wanted to leave a credit card for “incidentals.”  Disney offers a credit card like card which serves as your room key, park entrance, and “charge” card.  We agreed to a revolving line and the clerk quickly authorized $1500!

We didn’t think anything of it but by the end of the trip, we’d use a little over $1500 in Disney charges during our stay.

After getting settled, we decided to head out to our first park, Epcot Center.   The kids were excited about riding the monorail so we headed upstairs to board the magnetic train.


I had visited Disney World as a kid about 20 years ago and at the time, there were only two parks: Magic Kingdom and Epcot Center.  Back then, Epcot had cheesy animatronics talking about the “world of tomorrow”  and it hasn’t really changed much in those twenty years.

There were some new rides which were fun, Mission to Mars was Bart’s favorite as we rode that twice and wanted to go back for more but  we had to meet up with Marge & Lisa who were enjoying some of the kiddie activities.


The new entertainment attractions basically centered around popular movies like Nemo (see pictures below) and perhaps that’s my primary complaint with Epcot and Disney, the “creativity” factor has gone away and has been replaced with “consumerism popularity” and “merchandising” far too much.

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The rides that did have some creativity were all booked solid.  We desperately wanted to get on Soarin but there was a 90 minute wait time.  Epcot (and the other parks) have “Fast Pass” access which allow you to get a ticket for faster entry but this ride wasn’t issuing any more Fast Passes so we were bummed.


We ate our first meal in “Canada” at Epcot center.  We were so tired and hungry from our travel and first park visit that we simply decided to stop at the closest restaurant which happened to be a Canada themed restaurant.   I had New York Strip steak and Marge had some pork chops, the food was quite good but as soon as we got the tab, we realized the $1500 authorization would be “eaten” up rather quickly.  Our tab for dinner for two was $80!  We had spent another $10 buying chicken nuggets for the kids at a kiosk a few minutes earlier so the entire cost of the food for a half day was almost $100!

After a few hours, we decided to head back to get some rest.