A Very Disney New Year

A Very Disney New Year

As I mentioned last week, we rang in the new year down in Disney World this year. It was a spectacular trip from beginning to end. Since I’ve already written quite a bit about past Disney trips, I thought this time I would stick to the trip’s highlights.

The Magic Kingdom
Knowing that the Magic Kingdom was going to be one of the busiest parks later in our trip, we decided to hit it early and that decision really paid off. We arrived shortly after the park opened and went straight to Fantasy Land. That allowed us to blow through some of the park’s most lengthy attractions before lunch time. We didn’t even have to wait in line to ride It’s A Small World! There was a new-to-us ride featuring the seven dwarves in a mine-train mini-roller coaster and that was really our only significant wait of the morning.

But the highlight of the day was Pirates of the Caribbean. It was probably the most anticipated ride of the day. Last time I was there, it hadn’t been updated to include Jack Sparrow, though I read prior to my trip that the California park received the upgrade. So I was blown away when we spotted him three times during the ride. Not only that, but the beginning has been updated to include faces of other characters from the movies projected in smoke (such as Blackbeard and Davey Jones). In fact we spotted other new additions, including a mermaid skeleton among the bones of the dead men. We were so excited, we hopped right back in line for a second ride!

The Animal Kingdom
For me, Animal Kingdom was one of the most anticipated parks because I hoped I would be able to return to the Yak and Yeti. After showing the menu to my family, they were happy to make a reservation. Of course, Animal Kingdom days always start early to hit the safari ride first thing, and we saw a ton of animals for the effort. Even though my second visit to Yak and Yeti was as fantastic as the first, the highlight of the day was the Expedition Everest ride.

After the safari, and a quick stop at the Lion King show, I urged everyone over to the Asia portion of the park in hopes that we could ride Everest before the line got long. My mother-in-law is still a bit leery about rollercoasters and her first comment was that it didn’t look like she would enjoy it. I knew that she would, but couldn’t say why (it kind of ruins the charm of the ride if you know what’s going to happen ahead of time). On our way up that first hill she called “Oh Megan!” over her shoulder, as if I had just stabbed her in the back. Of course, by the time we got off the ride she wanted to go again. She checked the times all day and finally, just before the park closed, we hopped in line to make it our final experience.

Hollywood Studios
I can’t pick just one highlight from Hollywood Studios. Honestly, I think it was my favorite day from this trip. The only real trip-up was waiting two and a half hours to ride Aerosmith, but it was also my mother-in-law’s first time riding a rollercoaster that went upside down, so it was worth it. Once again, we hit the park early and flitted from high-profile ride to high-profile ride before the lines got long. That allowed us to ride the Toy Story Midway ride twice and Star Tours four times.

During my last trip to Disney, they had just updated the Star Tours ride to include several new scenarios, plus a randomizer so that each ride would be different. We heard people boasting about 32 different possibilities, but the Wikidpedia page now says that there are 96 possible combinations made up of 13 different segments. When there was no line after our first ride, I suggested we put this claim to the test. Our second ride was completely different than the first, much to our excitement. As the day went on we experienced most of the planetary segments. The only place we didn’t get to visit was Jakku, but I suppose that leaves more mystery for future visits!

But for me, nothing can come close to seeing Fantasmic a second time. I haven’t seen it since my honeymoon, almost fourteen years ago. My in-laws paid for a special package that got us dinner at the Brown Derby and priority seats for the early Fantasmic show. Dinner was amazing. We ate so much fantastic food (and then we rode Tower of Terror because we had fast passes XD). They’ve changed the Fantasmic show since my husband and I first saw it in 2003, but it’s core still the same. And it still features my favorite sequence where Mickey squares off against Maleficent in dragon form. My in-laws had never seen this show before and it was cool to see how my mother-in-law reacted to various portions of the show. It isn’t often I have feelings of total contentment, where I don’t care what the world has in store for me, but watching this show on New Year’s Eve was one of them.

It’s hard for me to write a ‘highlights’ portion of our Epcot visit because it’s my favorite park. I love pretty much everything there, especially the worlds fair. My husband and I did take a couple of hours to walk the circuit and see how the various areas of the worlds fair have changed. We really enjoyed the exhibit in China detailing the opening of Beijing’s Disney resort (it sounds like a great place to visit). Plus, we ate in the giant pyramid in Mexico for the first time. The food was so amazing, and so filling, we weren’t even hungry for dinner that night.

But my absolute favorite moment of the day was when we decided to ride Imagination. Nathan’s mother was particularly keen to see it. We got about thirty seconds into the ride before my husband turned around to confront his mother about what she had brought him on. I guess he didn’t enjoy the bouncing purple dragon singing about fun and imagination as much as I did (he was disappointed by the ‘upside down’ portion of the ride). Funnier still was when we reached the exploration area after disembarking and I asked if he wanted to skip it (we intended to run back to China to buy a gift for his mother). He said that he wanted to look around first, despite it just being more of the same. It only took him a minute to change his mind again.

Bonus: Islands of Adventure
I probably don’t have enough material about the time we spent in Universal to do another post, so I’ll just add these here. Our trip to Islands of Adventure fell on one of those lucky unbusy days, so we were able to ride pretty much everything twice. There were many awesome moments I could choose as my favorite. Such as riding the Hulk for the very first time and then riding it again because there was no line. I could choose screaming my head off while we got soaked on Popeye because the water was so flipin’ cold! I could choose getting even MORE soaked on Dudley Do Right (like three times as soaked).

But I think the best moment was riding Jurassic Park. We sat third row back and received a light spray from the final drop, which was pretty consistent with my experience on that ride. Since there was no line, we hopped right back on and ended up in the second row. Apparently that makes all the difference because we got soaked.

Bonus: Universal Studios
For various reasons, it’s hard for me to pinpoint a favorite moment from our day at Universal. Since most of the rides are simulators, most of them end up being similar experiences. And it was busy the day we hit this park so lines were long. The Transformers ride, which was new to all of us, was pretty epic. But so was its line. I think the thing I enjoyed the most was riding the Mummy. I recall being disappointed in it the last time we went (and my old blog confirms that), so the fact that I was eager to ride it a second time is telling. It’s a pretty awesome ride. Especially when we rode it the first time and the mummy told us to behold our fate. There was a slight delay in the ride at that point and my husband screamed “I’m beholding!” We beheld much faster on our second trip.

If you have a favorite moment from your Christmas (or any recent) holiday, please share it in the comments!

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