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Walt Disney World Day 4 Report

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Trip Log:

Started off the morning with a 6:00am wake-up call and a 6:20 delivery of room service.  We were on our way to the Magic Kingdom by 7:00am for the Magic Behind our Steam Train Tour.  After the tour  we walked down Main Street to grab a snack at Casey’s.  It was not open yet and no signs of live inside so we turned around and headed for the ferry, TTC  and a bus over to the Studios.  Wandered out to Toy Story and picked up a Fastpass (it was about 11am and the return time was 5:40pm).  Doubled back to the Great Movie attraction and then a quick snack before heading out to the backlot.  Some visited the Muppets and we headed back down Hollywood Blvd to check some reservations for dinners.  We met up at the exit to Muppets and then headed for the Lights, Motors, Action show.  After the show it was lunch time at the Sci Fi Diner.  After lunch visited the Backlot tram tour and then headed for the Friendship launch to EPCOT.  Others went back to the room for a break.  We disembarked at the Yacht Club and walked to EPCOT.  Picked up a Kim Possible mission card near the International Gateway (had about 30 minutes to kill before our pickup at Norway).  We walked around the World Showcase Lagoon stopping at Japan to check out a menu then the American Gardens theater to see the Flower Power concert.  Continued on around to Norway and picked up our Kimunicator.  Our mission was in Mexico.  We did our mission and then wandered into Future World.    Headed to Club Cool and then doubled back through Innoventions East.   Popped out to see Universe of Energy which was down so headed over to Innoventions West then decided to hop the Monorail to the TTC then walked over to the Polynesian.  Watched the 8:00pm Luau and then took the monorail around to the Contemporary to call it a night. 

Thoughts & Observations:

  • We started off the morning with the Magic Behind our Steam Trains tour at the Magic Kingdom.
    • I have been on this tour a couple of times over the years and it is always interesting to me. I am not a huge train buff, but just seeing these great machines up close and learning a little about them is fun. Two other great aspects of this tour are you get to the Magic Kingdom well ahead of opening and get to see the park in a peaceful state. And secondly you spend some time backstage at the round house. The only real change is now get a pin instead of a railroad spike.
    • The tour itself was nearly identical to the previous times I went on it, in terms of the stops. You meet right in front of the Magic Kingdom. You get a great photo op of a train stopped dead center in front of the Main Street Station then the train goes for a round trip journey of the park and you enter and walk up to the platform. You board and are taken around to the Toontown Station. There the track is switched and your train backs into the Round House. After a brief stop in the round house the train pulls forward a bit and you get to disembark and get up close with another engine. The train we were on headed out for the park as it was to be used for the opening celebration with the characters. After learning about the various components of the steam train, spending some time in the cab, etc.. the train is fired up as we watched. Then we boarded and headed for the park. After a brief stop at Toontown the train rolls into Main Street where we get off and the train begins its normal operation for the day. Our tour continues at the Main Street station with some history of Disney, the trains, and the trains namesakes.
    • For more thoughts on the Magic Behind our Steam Trains (or other WDW tours) check out our tour section

  • Next up we spent some time at the Studios. The line for Toy Story was longer than our tolerance and amazingly there were Fastpasses but unfortunately for 6 hours later almost. So we opted instead to visit one of the original attractions of the park (the Studios turned 20 on May 1st), the Great Movie Ride. I would really like to see a new scene or two in the attraction.. or at least some updates to existing ones... its really looking dated. When we rode through there seemed to be some problems and we were stopped for several minutes several times (starting in the gangster scene, then again in the pyramid, and mummy as well as the Wizard of Oz.

  • We decided to catch the Lights Motors Action before lunch. Looking at the timing we should have had about 5 minutes from the end of the show till our reservation at the Sci Fi Diner.. well the tractor that is used to pull some of the set pieces around decided to break down right before the finale. After about 5 minutes of waiting and not much visible progress (there were a handful of techs around the tractor) we headed out for lunch. So we caught most of the show but missed the finale. Later in the day we noticed a different tractor was being used, so they switched to a backup. Not sure why that did not happen faster while we all waited.

  • Lunch at the Sci Fi was great as usual. We just enjoy the atmosphere. The food is about average, but its just a fun environment which makes a nice lunch.

  • After lunch went on the Studio Backlot Tour which has slipped even a step further down the road of being a terrible attraction. The trams now have pre-recorded spiels. There is still a cast member sitting in the front car but they basically press the play button then sit there the rest of the ride. The pre-recorded spiel just seemed very canned to me. Add to that the fact that the attraction really is not dynamic anymore and it seems to me its time to rework/expand or cut your losses and close it down. It would have also been nice to an update to the effects tank at the beginning of the attraction. Its still the Pearl Harbor scene. There are some Pirates props in the waiting area, it would be interesting to see a Pirate makeover to the show...

  • We were pretty much done with the Studios but still had several hours until our Toy Story Fastpass and the line was over an hour so we headed for EPCOT via Friendship launch... still one of the slowest ways to travel...

  • At EPCOT I spent some time visiting some of the Flower and Garden Festival locations/displays. Most were on par with years past. There seemed to be more topiaries this year on this display, seems it keeps growing year after year. I was disappointed by two aspects of the show this year. First is the Flower Power Concert series only takes place on weekends, and of course we picked a weekend with a remembrance band and not the real performers. I really enjoyed spending a week and seeing a 2-4 different groups perform. Also the Wonders of Life/Festival Center was only open on the weekend and reduced hours at that. So I never made it in there this trip either.

  • I gave the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure a try.
    • I walked up to the cart near the International Gateway. They scan your ticket and give you a Fastpass type ticket that has a location and time on it. Mine was to report to Norway in about 30 minutes. (I thought it was a little odd to have to walk all the way around World Showcase but it was good since it gave me a chance to get some Flower and Garden shots and the Flower Power Concert was going on).
    • I checked in at Norway where they took my Fastpass and issued me a Kimunicator (a cell phone). The phone is used to explain the mission, your objectives, and to activate different things in World Showcase.
    • I was given a mission in Mexico, which was great since it was rather warm out and everything at Mexico takes place inside. There are seven missions you can be assigned to, so most of World Showcase participates.
    • The mission consisted of going to several locations inside Mexico (I would say about a half dozen or so, but i forgot to keep track). Since Mexico is relatively small it meant going back and forth between the lower courtyard/shopping area and the entrance/art exhibit area. At each spot you pressed a button to activate a clue or interact with the pavilion.
    • For example you had to walk under some pinatas in the shopping are and once you activated them numbers lit up on the bottom and you typed in the code. Or for the finale you activate a rocket to launch which is projected on the main volcano in the back of the pavilion.
    • Overall I thought this was a great game and can see how/why many are hooked on it and want to try many of the missions. I wish I had some more time to try another mission, but I guess that will have to wait until my next trip. It took me about 20 minutes to work through the mission.
    • Once completed you have the option of going on to another mission or returning your Kimunicator.

  • For dinner we visited the Spirit of Aloha dinner show at the Polynesian. We had never scene this show and I have read mixed reviews over the years. But since we were on a plan and had plenty of nights I decided to give it a try.
    • Upon arrival you checked in and there was an opportunity to have a family photo taken. We skipped this. I was surprised to see this was not integrated with Photopass. So if you had your picture taken you had to buy it from them (they came around during dinner with a print out and prices).
    • Once checked in everyone waited in an area. I thought it was interesting there was a bar in the area where you could order (and of course had to pay for) drinks.
    • A few minutes before show time everyone is ushered into the dining area and shown to your seats. We had great seats (thanks again to the plan coordinator). We were seated in the dead center in the very front.
    • The food is all you care to eat and they just keep bringing it if you ask for more. A scanned the menu, click here to see what is included and what is an extra cost. In between courses the some brief segments of the show go on. Then after you eat the main show begins.
    • The show itself had a couple of small segments that set up the storyline and pushed it through the meal. I found these to be rather plain and not that entertaining. Then after the meal the main show started which consisted of a visit to several islands/cultures via dance. The highlight for many was the fire dance finale. The crowd really came a live for this great performance.
    • Overall we were pleasantly surprised by the evening. My expectations were fairly low after reading reviews that were all over the map. I found the food to be decent and the show was entertaining (let me clarify I thought the main show was good.. the storyline and small segments leading up to it I did not care for that much and found them to be rather odd). I would have also liked to have seen the band perform more while we were eating. Our table was incredible so the view of the show was unobstructed and perfect. I am not sure if I would have had the same thoughts if I was at a table further back. I have sat in the back for another event (they used to have church services in this venue) and it is a bit hard to see from the back half. One other interesting note.. this dining option includes wine, beer, and tips... I do not believe any of the other shows/choices include all three. Not sure if that is a selling point for anyone but thought I would mention it. We did not have any so I cannot comment on the quality/type.
    • The question I am sure I will be asked is would I recommend the show. This is hard to say. If you had a choice between the Hoop Dee Do and this I would choose the Hoop Dee Do. If you ask was the table, food, and show worth the $274 sticker price I would be hard pressed to say I would spend that much out of my own pocket. But if I were on a food plan and have never seen the show (or similar shows) I would probably say to give it a try.

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