The TM and I returned from Disney a couple of weeks back and I think I've finally organized my thoughts enough to write coherently about the trip.
First a couple of general thoughts, and then my likes and dislikes.
Thought 1: This may be surprising to my readers, but as great a time as I had this trip, I think I'm okay not going again for a couple of years. There are some things that occurred to me during the trip that make me feel like I've been going about it all wrong the last few visits, and maybe I burned myself out a bit.
The thing I need to remind myself is that I'm not a rookie. I'm not going for just a couple of days. I've seen everything several times. I know what I love, and what I can live without. And yet... I attack the visit like a rookie. Every time. I try to cram in everything. I try to plan every day and meal and whatever, and if I'm being honest with myself... I'm done with that.
I could go, literally, 20 more visits without riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and a) I know it'll be there on visit 21, and b) I know that every turn and twist will be the same as it has been for ever one of my previous 15 visits. That's the beauty of Disney World. The classics (for the most part) aren't going anywhere. They so rarely close major attractions. I mean... they don't need to. They usually would just expand. It's not without exception, but you know... even if they were to get rid of Big Thunder? I would be bummed I didn't ride it one last time, but not devastated.
There are a few rides I would be devastated about... Pirates. Haunted Mansion. Kilimanjaro Safari. Soarin. They aren't going anywhere.
My point is... Skipping a ride due to a long line, or to preserve my sanity? That's gotta be something I embrace from now on. Time to take a deep breath. Time to plan less, enjoy more, and not stress about fitting it all in. (That's what she said)
Thought 2: I can barely tolerate crowds anymore. Like... at all. We chose the 2nd slowest time of year, and it was still really crowded when compared to a shopping mall or whatever. I need to find every way possible to eliminate the crowds from my experience. How do I do that? a) Bring rain gear - One of the best times we had was after a torrential rain. We had the whole World Showcase to our selves (you know... relatively). Of course two hours after the rain, the crowd was back to normal. b) Avoid the bus system whenever possible. I hate the buses. They are crowded, and well... crowded. They make me stressed out for like.. 2 hours prior to getting on them. Thats no good. This pretty much leaves us with 2 different hotel choices in the future. The Yacht Club and The Boardwalk. Sadly, these are also much more expensive, so the frequency of visits will need to be adjusted. These two resorts have alternate access to two of the four parks. This appeals to me. They also tend to have generally less crowded buses. And, especially with the Boardwalk, they have interesting things to do when you're not at the park.
Things I liked:
- The new restaurant in Mexico was the best meal I had the whole time. It was awesome. I'd heard some mixed things about it, but I loved what I got, and the setting is great. It's the new "place to eat and watch Illuminations". Really good stuff.
- The Fantasyland Expansion plans. Seriously, that shit is going to be awesome.
- Best Kilimanjaro Safari experience (annoying people notwithstanding) I've had in ages. It was all about the giraffes this time around, and I really enjoyed it.
- Fucking DOLE WHIP. I mean... I'd always heard about Dole Whip being this thing you got in Adventureland, and I never thought about it much past that. Well... We tried it this time, and my god. It's seriously the best shit ever. I can't believe I waited so long.
- The Wishes Fireworks. I'm not a fireworks guy, but damn.... those are some good fireworks indeed. Very impressive.
- Port Orleans French Quarter. It's probably my favorite of all of the hotels I've stayed in Disney, and even though my comments about the buses are sincere, they shouldn't reflect poorly on this place. It's really nice.
- Finding Nemo the Musical. I know I've talked about it before at least a little, but that's a damned good show for a theme park. Great music. Excellent acting. It's all of the things missing from the poor Great Movie Ride.
- Tower of Terror. I've never been shy about how little I like roller coasters (very little), and the reason for this being the terrifying drops and plummets and whatnot. Well... Let's call this the exception to the rule. We rode it twice in a row, and I seriously laughed like a kook both times. It's so much damned fun. They do this thing where each ride is a little different, because its' on some computer randomizer thing. It's less like falling than like being a giant yo-yo. I love it.
- STAR TOURS. I admit I've never been a great fan of Star Tours, despite the theming. That has all changed since they refurbished it. The changes were inspired. There were all these rumors about it being converted into a pod racing simulator, which sounded cool, but I was also wary of, because pod racing only showed up in the terrible first chapter. Well... There are over FIFTY possible stories (including pod racing), and the story is random. in fact, you'd have to ride it for 6 straight hours to experience all of the stories. How cool is that?! Also, it's 3D now, and incredibly smooth. Darth Vader threw our vehicle with THE FORCE. Awesome.
-Taking Fisheye and Wide Angle photos of my favorite Disney things. The lead photo is a fisheye lens photo of Spaceship Earth. From immediately beneath it. Amazing. Here's a good one of Magic Kingdom:
There were, of course, more things that I liked and have liked for years, but for the sake of brevity, I'm keeping it at these NEW developments.
Things I didn't like so much...
- Most of the rest of the food. It's not that it's bad, but god damn is it overpriced. I wasn't even paying for most of it outside of the dining plan, but they make the mistake of showing us the bills even when we are paying with plan. The Dining Plan is definitely reasonable, and I have no complaints. We ended up using almost all of our snacks during the Food and Wine Festival, whcih was fun, but still... overall the quality of the food wasn't equivalent to the price. Not even close. We're talking about movie-theater popcorn level overpriced. It's hard to remember sometimes that in the end, you're dealing with family restaurants that are glossed up for the location. The food is generally boring.
- Again... the crowds. If I had to choose one specific target? Strollers, Scooters, and Wheelchairs. I would never begrudge someone who really needed one of these things, but FAR too many people were using their strollers are glorified shopping carts. Far too many people were using their scooters as battering rams. Far too many people just loved to stop in the middle of an already crowded walkway and block everything up with their damned strollers and carts and whatever. That shit makes me crazy. I am 100% convinced that I identified several people who were using the wheelchairs as an excuse to get their whole party to the front of lines. I get that you want to bring your little kids. I would never say that's wrong. Just have some fucking respect for others, please. In general, I find people rude. How difficult is it to walk around a poor guy taking one photo. Or, you know... wait for a few seconds. Apparently impossible.
You know... Those are really the two main problems I had this time.
The Flash Photography craze I noted last time seems to have ebbed, thankfully.
Disney seems to be on the right track with their updates. Even the tired-ass Swiss Family Treehouse is being refurbished. The Fantasyland expansion will be great. I'm really looking forward to the James Cameron assisted new land in Animal Kingdom (I think I may have to write a whole blog about that).
There's a million great things to come at my beloved Disney World. I just have to remember that I don't need to do everything every time. I had an amazing time, and I can't wait to go back... Whenever that might be.