Friday, July 22, 2016

Hollywood Studios, June 2016

To continue through our June 2016 vacation, we head to Hollywood Studios for our third day in the park.  My planned fastpasses were for  Star Tours at 10-11, Toy Story Mania at 11:40-12:40, and Tower of Terror at 1:25-2:25.  If you've been following along, you will also remember that we gained an extra fastpass from the night before when the Jungle Book show got cancelled.  If you missed that post, you can read about it here. (Animal Kingdom) On this day, Hollywood Studios was open from 9-9.

As always, if staying on property, I recommend trying to be at the bus stop an hour before the park opens.  Like at Animal Kingdom, even though there is no welcome show here, there will be plenty of people waiting to get in when the park opens and you want to be among those early few.

Even though we always rush to get there early, we still always stop for that first picture of the park's iconic location.

If you've seen my post of Littlecjc's 2nd birthday (found here) you know that she is a huge Toy Story fan, so our first stop today was to meet Woody and Buzz.  Therefore, we went straight to Pixar Place to meet Woody and Buzz, characters 1 & 2.  

Later we decided that we should have also jumped in the line for the Toy Story Mania, because Littlecjc loved that ride.  However, we knew we would come back later when our fastpass time came around.  Instead, Littlecjc decided to start a Disney World pressed penny collection thanks to the machine with Toy Story characters in Pixar Place.

From here, we moved to The Great Movie Ride, attraction #1.  This attraction has become very popular lately, and although I do enjoy this attraction, I do not want to wait an hour to ride it.  Hence, it became our first ride of the day and we walked right on.  Before Littlecjc, we would always run to Rock N Rollercoaster first, but I would have felt too guilty starting the day with a ride that she could not ride.  So, this is how our plans changed this year.  As we exited The Great Movie Ride, we saw Character #3, Max, right out front of the theater.

I don't know if he is still here on a normal basis, but this is a popular spot for character greetings.  When we went to get our stroller from the parking area here, we spotted these stormtroopers out on patrol.

Littlecjc was so cute.  She was really concerned for Patrick and she yelled out for him to watch out, behind him, and she pointed them out for him.

I honestly don't remember why we started walking down Commissary Lane, but we did and we were rewarded.  We happened to come across Chip and Dale, characters 4 & 5.  

If you look in the background of the above picture, you can see the red sign of Mickey and Minnie's new meet and greet location, which was our next stop.  This was a very new location for them at the time and I guess it was early still, but there literally was no line at all to meet them.  So, we met Sorcerer Mickey and Red Carpet Minnie, characters 6 & 7.

After this meet and greet we went to use our fastpass and ride Star Tours.  Now, our first group of riders must have actually entered the line before 10.  Normally, if you're 5 minutes early it's no big deal and they let  you in anyway.  We didn't realize it at the time, but since we had the free pass from the day before, it picked up this pass instead of our Star Tours pass.  To be honest, we didn't even double check the time or anything before we walked in, but we realized later that this is what must have happened.  Regardless of fastpasses, Star Tours - The Adventures Continue became attraction #2 & 3.  We attempted to watch some Jedi Training while not riding, but that ended early when the rain poured in.  When both groups were done with the ride, we found Olaf's new area.  He had a bit of a line, but really not too bad.  I'm really just not used to waiting to see characters, because they have never been a big interest for us before Littlecjc.  So, it was maybe a 30 minute wait.  Either way, we met Olaf, character 8.

After meeting Olaf, we walked next door and had lunch at the ABC Commissary.  

When we finished with lunch, we went back to Pixar Place to use our second fastpass at Toy Story Mania, attraction #4.  Littlecjc loved this ride!

At this point, we walked over to Sunset Boulevard to try to get a seat for the Beauty and the Beast show.  Of course, you can't go down Sunset Boulevard without getting a picture.

We made it in time for the 1:00 show so for touring purposes, I'm counting shows as attractions.  Therefore, we saw Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage, attraction #5.  This is a great show, but Littlecjc could not make it through this one.  However, when the show ended, and the rest of our party joined us, we headed to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, attraction #6 & 7.

I always feel as though there is this time period in the afternoon between 1-4 when the parks seem extra crowded and all those park goers are extra grouchy.  Today, we really felt the toll of this.  Thankfully, when we left Tower of Terror, we put Littlecjc in her stroller and she crashed to take an afternoon nap.  I say thankfully, because we then headed to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, attraction #8 and 9.  Patrick waited in the single rider line, but it did not move.  He actually might have been better off waiting in the regular line.  When he finally did get on and then off, Littlecjc was still asleep so we left her with Mamaw and Papaw and Patrick and I went through the fastpass line with our rider swap ticket and got to ride it together.

We decided to take this silly sleeping ride photo since that's what our Littlecjc was doing on the outside.

When we finally left this area, we headed over to the Animation Courtyard and the new Star Wars Launch Bay in particular.  This is another iconic location for this park.  So of course, we needed another picture.

There were about 45 minutes wait time to meet both Chewbacca and Kylo Ren, so we decided to pass on those thinking that we might make it back later in the day.  We did find the Star Wars meet and greet exclusive for the Disney Visa Cardholders where we walked right in to meet Kylo Ren, character 9.  

While wandering around the Star Wars Launch Bay we also ran into a Jawa, character 10.  

This was not an actual meet and greet, but instead he was wandering around the crowd, probably looking for things to trade.  Therefore, keep in mind that this character does not have a photopass castmember with them, but they will pose for pictures.

We stayed in this area, and attempted to meet the Disney Jr. characters at this time.  First, we met Jake, character 11.

After Jake, we went to Sofia's line.  While waiting to see Sofia, the rain blew in yet again.  This time, it was a true downpour.  At the time we were waiting under the awning out of the rain, so we just stayed put for a while, waiting it out to see what was going to happen. 

When we were standing there, we picked up a new fastpass for the Disney Jr. Live show at 4:50. Littlecjc decided that she needed to use the restroom, so we did that and then headed to Disney Jr. Live.  A little advice, there's no need to arrive early.  In fact, the line for stand-by entrance was under a covered awning, while those of us standing in the fastpass line got completely drenched.  I'm always one to take advantage of the rain while at Disney, but this is the one time we all stood in a circle with our heads down and just had to take the beating.  Eventually, they opened the doors and we were able to enter and watch Disney Junior Live on Stage, attraction #10.

This was the first time we watched this show and it wasn't at all what I expected, but it was really enjoyable.  Fair warning though, you sit on the floor.  

When we got out of the theater, the rain had let up enough that the characters had come back out to meet everyone.  The characters here are under cover from the rain, so they will meet when it is a light rain.  We started again with Sofia the First, character 12.

We then stepped next door to meet with Doc McStuffins, character 13.

After using our fastpass for the Disney Junior Live show, we picked up another additional fastpass, this time for the Voyage of the Little Mermaid, so we now needed to walk across the courtyard.

We easily made it before showtime, so attraction #11 became Voyage of the Little Mermaid.  When the show ended, we made our way to the Backlot Express for another quick-service dinner.

After taking our time with dinner, we walked over to the Muppet Courtyard to watch Muppet*Vision 3D, attraction #12.  If you remember from the beginning of our day, Patrick still hadn't used his free fastpass from the day before.  So, he used it now, taking Littlecjc on her favorite ride again, Toy Story Mania, attraction #13.  

She still talks about this ride, and I can't wait to take her on it again.

It was after 8 by time Patrick and Littlecjc joined us outside of Toy Story Mania, and we needed to make our way to the Fantasmic theater.  Even with a fastpass, you still need to arrive early for this show.  In fact, our fastpass arrival time was 8:25 - 8:45.  I don't remember at what time we actually walked in, but we were seated on the side of the theater, actually the furthest from the center I've ever been.  Thank goodness every seat in this theater is still a good one, because this show is probably my favorite.  I don't ever mind getting here early to get a seat, because this is not a show I'm willing to miss.

At 9:00 we watched Fantasmic which is the perfect ending to any day.

Yes, it's true that Hollywood Studios is undergoing a major overhaul right now, but that doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of things to still do here.  In fact, we had a filled day here, but there are still things that we didn't get in such as the Indiana Jones Stunt Show, the Frozen Sing-a-long, and the current Star Wars show.  We did see 13 attractions though, and 13 characters which I think is still great, especially considering all the rain.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Animal Kingdom, June 2016

Day 2 in the parks brings us to Animal Kingdom.  Again, I planned three fastpasses ahead of time; Safari, Everest, and Dinosaur.  As I said in my last post, though, I'm all about changing things up when you think something else might work better for you that day.  On this day, the park was open from 9-11:00, with extra magic hour from 8-9.  The impact from Tropical Storm Colin was also expected to affect the area sometime that afternoon.  With this in mind, we really made up the day as we went along.

Like always, I suggest being at the bus stop, if staying on property, an hour before the park opens.  There's no opening show at this time at Animal Kingdom, but there was still a large crowd waiting to get in at 8.

Thinking about the weather threat, we went straight to Expedition Everest. Yes, we had fastpasses for this attraction later in the day, but we were worried that the ride would shut down if the weather got bad.  However, when we got to Everest a line was forming outside the attraction as it was temporarily closed.  We debated our options, and decided to wait it out to see if it would open soon.  There was a merchandise stand next to the line, so Littlecjc suckered Patrick into a new toy to entertain her while we waited.

Our patients was rewarded and the ride opened making Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, attraction #1 & 2.  If you missed my last post, I'm counting this as two attractions, since we had to do a rider swap.

Animal Kingdom is always a slower paced day for us, because we feel that to truly experience this park, you need to take your time to notice the animals and hidden fun.  So, we headed to the Maharajah Jungle Trek, attraction #3.

Littlecjc also got some water play in after our jungle trek, before heading out to the safari.

At this point, we needed to head to Africa to take advantage of our first fastpass at Kilimanjaro Safaris, attraction #4.  

The giraffes were extra close on this journey.

After leaving the safari, we took a walk through the Pangani Forest, attraction #5.  Our next thought was to head to Rafiki's Planet Watch, but by the end of our walk, Littlecjc had fallen asleep so we decided we didn't want to move her from the stroller.  Instead we decided we would watch the next Flight of Wonder show.

We were a little early, so we got a drink and had a seat close by across from the Tree of Life to just take a break.  Strollers aren't permitted in the theater and Littlecjc was still asleep at showtime, so Patrick stayed out with her and the rest of us saw Flight of Wonder, attraction #6.  When we got out, Littlecjc was awake again.

This trip was the first time we've done character dining since I was a kid.  I now understand why everyone spends the extra money.  The look on Littlecjc's face during the entire meal was priceless.  If you haven't already guessed, we ate lunch at Tusker House Restaurant, where we met our first characters of the day.  Here we met Safari Mickey, character 1; Safari Donald, character 2; Safari Goofy, character 3; and Safari Daisy, character 4.

We had a blast! The food was great, and I think we will definitely return here again.  I'm now sold on character dining.

After our amazing lunch, we were off to Dinoland.  Of course, we needed to make a quick stop.  We didn't see any photopass people out in front of the tree during the early entry hour, so we needed to stop now to get our picture taken.

By this time, we were pushing our luck with the incoming weather and as we were standing in line for the TriceraTop Spin it began to pour.  We put on our ponchos and decided to ride it anyway making TriceraTop Spin attraction #7.  We got completely soaked, but while at Disney, who cares.

Across from the TriceraTop Spin, we were able to meet Fisherman Goofy, character 5, and Pluto, character 6.

It was now time to use our next fastpass at Dinosaur, attraction #8.

Sometimes, fastpass lines get backed up as well.  This was the case with this ride, so while Mamaw and Patrick went on the ride (yes, only Patrick actually rode it and is in the picture) Papaw and I took Littlecjc over to the Boneyard, attraction #9.  

We spent a little time shopping during this hour.  We had purchased cheap ponchos from the dollar store before leaving home for this trip.  However, with the tropical storm blowing in, we knew it was going to rain a lot the next few days, so we decided to upgrade our rain gear and bought the Mickey ponchos to match everyone else in the park. They even had kid sizes for Littlecjc.

At some point during the day, after we decided we weren't going to use our fastpass for Everest, we picked up fastpasses for the Lion King show.  With the fastpass, it stated to enter between 3:30 and 3:50, so after updating our rain gear we headed that way.

The hour started with Festival of the Lion King, attraction #10.  I love this show and never tire of it.  After the show, we walked over to the tree of life for It's Tough to be a Bug, attraction #11.  

We were overdue for some character meet and greets, so we headed to the Adventures Outpost to meet Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, characters 7 & 8.  

As of now, this is the only place to meet them both in the same room on any given day in the parks.  We weren't quite finished with characters though.  We headed over to character landing to meet character 9, Pocahontas.  

Her line moved slowly, but these two had such a sweet moment it was worth the wait.  Littlecjc never really talked to the characters this trip, so I guess Pocahontas didn't want to scare her and whispered to her.  So this precious moment truly was just between the two of them as I have no idea what she was saying to Littlecjc.

This hour was mostly devoted to dinner.  We ate at the Flame Tree Barbecue.  I'm guessing it was the rain, but the place was empty.  After dinner, we made our way to the Finding Nemo show.

So, attraction #12 became Finding Nemo The Musical.  I wasn't sure that Littlecjc would sit still for this one, but she did great!

At this point, we were feeling a little water-logged and we were debating our plan for the evening.  Sometime during the day, Patrick had acquired fastpasses for the new Jungle Book show at 9:00.  We didn't want to miss it if it was actually going to happen, but we were guessing it was going to be cancelled due to all the rain.

So while we were still making up our minds, we headed back to Dinoland and and rode TriceraTop Spin, attraction #13 again. Littlecjc then sweet talked Mamaw into riding TriceraTop Spin, attraction #14 one more time while Mom and Dad took a spin on Primeval Whirl, attraction #15.  Littlecjc also got to "play" some Fossil Fun Games.

I'm not actually counting this in our attraction number though, because we never actually paid for these games.  The castmembers were just great employees that allowed her to sit there and think that she was playing.  I think by this point, the rain had scared most park guest away.  After getting her away from the games, we made our way over to Dinosaur, attraction #16 where I walked right in regardless of my rider swap ticket.

 When I got off the ride, I got the official notification that the Jungle Book show had in fact been cancelled for the evening.  Since Patrick had gotten us fastasses for the show, when they cancelled it we were given free fastpasses to use either that night still or for any ride the next day in any of the parks.  Since we had already ridden everything in this park, we chose to save them for the next day.  So, we made our way to the front of the park to watch the Tree of Life come alive with magic.

This was our first time seeing this show, since this was the first year that Animal Kingdom stayed open until dark.  I really hope that they continue these awakenings, because we only stayed around to watch one but I would love to see more.

It was probably around 9 when we left for the night.  It had been a very rainy day, but we still felt like we had accomplished everything that we wanted to get in with the exception of the Jungle Book show.  It was a little disappointing that we couldn't see this, but we understood why it was cancelled and weren't upset by this outcome.  In all honesty, we were ready to get out of the rain ourselves.

So, in case you're keeping track here are our totals for today: we rode/saw 16 attractions with 3 fastpasses and met 9 characters.  Check back soon to see our journey through Hollywood Studios next.