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The final instalment of our 2012 New Years Celebration Trip Report! If you are just joining us you can catch up by reading the previous Trip Reports.

For our final full day in Walt Disney World we wanted to visit all four parks in one day. We did the same thing on a previous trip. We call it our “Best Of” day where we ride all our favourite attractions one last time! Our day started at Animal Kingdom. It was the first time we’ve been there before it opened! Our first plan of attack was grabbing Fast Passes for Expedition Everest and wait in Standby. There was a mad rush of people but we got our Fast Passes after choosing the line where the machine decides to break down. We then hopped into Standby (while it was only 15 minutes) and got put on the very back row! You can really feel a lot of the drops by sitting in the back, it was awesome!

Backseat Drop!

Backseat Drop!

While there was still time before we could use our Fast Passes we walked over to Dinosaur and rode that one last time. Once we smuggled our dino friend back to the present it was time to use our Fast Passes for Expedition Everest.This time we asked if we could go in the front row. We had to wait a bit longer but it was well worth it!

Front Seats!

Front Seats!

Front Seat Drop Photo!

Front Seat Drop Photo!

That was all the time we had for but before we left we got our photos taken with Doug and Russel from UP! It took a bit longer than we hoped. We got up to the very front of the line then it was their break time. Had to wait an extra 15 minutes for them to return. But once they came back we got our fun pictures taken! There’s some resemblance between John and Russel, don’t you think?

Doug, Russel, John, & Chris

Doug, Russel, John, & Chris

Next on our “Best Of” was Hollywood Studios. As usual the Fast Passes for Toy Story Mania were completely gone by this point. Thankfully there were still some left for everything else! Grabbed Fast Passes for Rockin’ Roller Coaster. We were going to wait in Standby for Star Tours but a guest caught us just before getting in line and gave us two Fast Passes they couldn’t use. We thanked the generous stranger and went on our way to a Galaxy Far Far Away.

Hollywood Studios was incredibly busy

Hollywood Studios was incredibly busy

By now it was after 12pm and we were both pretty hungry! It was decided that we wanted to head to Pizza Planet for lunch. It was going to be busy no matter where we went. It’s a terrible idea to eat at peak times but at this point in the trip we didn’t mind.

On our way to Pizza Planet we passed two gentlemen that appeared to be filming. Being the polite Canadians that we are, we simply didn’t bother them. While passing, one of them asked to talk to me for a moment. Now normally anywhere else I’d tell the person no thank you since it’s usually for money or along those lines. Since this is Disney, how can I resist?

The gentlemen explained that they were filming a commercial that is going to be shown on TV throughout the Disney Resorts. They called it the “ABCs of Disney”. I was wearing my, now infamous, Duffy Ears and they said it was perfect for the letter D. They asked me to sit in a chair and say “D is for Duffy!” while pointing to my Duffy Ears. They also did a few shots with John having him say “The ABCs for Disney!”.

I have received more attention with my Duffy Ears than I like to admit. I was incredibly lucky to be chosen to be used for a commercial. Now who knows if they’ll actually use the portion they recorded but it’s still awesome none the less. So keep an eye out for the “ABCs of Disney” on the TV at any of the Walt Disney World Resorts! They never told us when it will be airing but I imagine some time this year! If you happen to see it please let me know!

Phineas and Ferb

Phineas and Ferb

After lunch we walked right over to The Muppets 3D and checked out a show that Phineas and Ferb were doing right down the street. We then made our way down to Rockin’ Roller Coasted and hopped into the Single Rider line. Our Fast Passes weren’t valid yet so we figured we’d do this while we were waiting. Met with a nice family from Chicago and it was their first time in Walt Disney World. Gave them a few tips and suggestions! It’s always a treat getting to share tips with strangers!

After that we headed on over to the Tower of Terror. This is the only attraction that I still get nervous about even though I’ve been on it multiple times. By the time we were finished it was time to ride Rockin’ Roller Coaster one last time!

Rockin Roller Coaster Faces

Rockin Roller Coaster Faces

We decided to try our luck and see if we could get a reservation for dinner at the 50s Prime Time Cafe. Lucked out and were able to get a table for 7pm! There was still two hours before dinner so we grabbed a Weezy-Breezy-Freezy (slush) and waited in line to get our photos with Buzz and Woody!

The Chosen One

The Chosen One

Buzz, Woody, Chris, & John

Buzz, Woody, Chris, & John

Before heading off to dinner we walked through One Man’s Dream and enjoyed all the photos and information about all the Disney Resorts around the world.

One Man's Dream

One Man's Dream

Snow White

Snow White

Tokyo Disney Resort

Tokyo Disney Resort

Shanghai Disney Resort coming in 2015!

Shanghai Disney Resort coming in 2015!

For dinner I had the Roast with Vanilla Coke and for dessert, cheesecake! The restaurant was full but we were put way in the back corner where it was nice and quiet! It was a fantastic meal to have for our final meal of the trip.

50s Prime Time Cafe

50s Prime Time Cafe

50s Prime Time Cafe Roast

50s Prime Time Cafe Roast

50s Prime Time Cafe Vanilla Coke

50s Prime Time Cafe Vanilla Coke

50s Prime Time Cafe Cheesecake

50s Prime Time Cafe Cheesecake

Before heading off to EPCOT we rode Tower of Terror one more time for good measure. Next up was EPCOT. We took the boat all the way there! Sadly by the time we reached EPCOT we noticed the time and we weren’t going to have enough time to do anything in EPCOT. We arrived at the World Showcase and took one final walk around before we headed to the entrance of the park to take the monorail to the Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom Entrance

Magic Kingdom Entrance

Arrived at the Magic Kingdom just in time for The Magic, Memories, and You! This was our first time this trip that we encounter an extremely rude guest. The Cast Members were asking everyone to move forward to make room for other guests. The lady in front of me refused to move so we moved past her because there was this huge gap in front of her and she refused to move. When we moved she grabbed my shoulder and said “Don’t stand there I’ve been waiting here for over an hour!”. I politely told her that the Cast Members asked us to move and that she wasn’t moving so I did. She muttered something under her breath but I wasn’t going to let her ruin our evening!

After “The Magic, Memories, and You!” and Wishes we went to ride our favourite attractions before park closing! The park was nearly empty, as a result we were given the option to ride Splash Mountain more than once. If it wasn’t cold and we weren’t wet it would have been a great idea. Big Thunder Mountain was right after and it’s by far my favourite attraction to do in the evening. Next was The Haunted Mansion and right after was Space Mountain! We were literally the last group to ride Space Mountain. It was weird to see literally no one behind you as the line in front of you is moving.

No one made it

No one made it

The park was now closed but we weren’t ready to go yet! It was the perfect opportunity to grab photos of Cinderella’s Castle lit up with icicles without the massive crowds. There was maybe a handful of guests doing the same as us. Captured a few great photos!

Since there was no crowd I decided to sit right in front of Cinderella’s Castle and just sit there and soak up everything around me. Being in the moment. I felt relaxed, safe, thankful, and happy. Most of you will know what I’m talking about. John some how captured that moment on camera without me knowing …

Remember…Dreams Come True

Remember…Dreams Come True

Chip 'N Dale in front of Cinderella's Castle

Chip 'N Dale in front of Cinderella's Castle

It was time to say “see you real soon” to the Magic Kingdom as we made our way down Main Street thinking about the magical trip we just experienced. I’m extremely happy to have been able to see all the Christmas decorations and celebrate new years at the place “Where Dreams Come True”.

That’s the end of our 2012 New Years Celebration Trip Report! It was a long one but we did it! Really hope that everyone enjoyed it and the next Trip Report I do is hopefully from Disneyland Paris! Thank you for reading.


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This is our second half of the Backstage Magic Tour Trip Report! To those just joining you can read the first edition of the trip report! Also just as a warning I will be describing what we’ve seen on the tour which could reveal some of the magic. If you wish to not read this, that is understandable! You can read the other Trip Reports that pertain to our New Years Celebration 2012 Trip! Lets pick up where we left off!

Horticulture

Ever wonder where all the plants within the parks are grown? They do it right on property for a vast majority of the plants you see in the parks. One woman is in charge of it all and she does an amazing job! They were already in the process of growing the plants for the yearly Flower & Garden Festival in EPCOT.

They also grow all the topiaries you see in the parks, especially in EPCOT. They are built with wireframes and have their own watering system built right in so they stay nice and green while they are on display. We got to see where they were all kept when they are either being created or kept for the next event.

This was one of the rare places we were able to take photos since there were no strollers to be seen. There were many unfinished and in progress topiaries in the building. I managed to take a lot of photos of them.

The topiaries they wish to keep for another event is hooked up to the water system so the plants and moss can stay alive. Usually the topiaries they use in the previous Flower & Garden Festival are kept to be used the following year.

Those topiaries that are not going to be used or are beyond repair are put into what they call the “graveyard”. They are put in the sun just outside the building and allow the moss and plants on the wireframes to turn into compost. It’s a bit eerie seeing what is clearly Disney characters sitting in the sun and slowly rotting away.

Topiary Graveyard

Topiary Graveyard

One of the more impressive Topiaries was Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars. They were fairly gigantic and extremely detailed. Sadly I did not get a photo of these guys.

Central Shops

The next stop on our tour was Central Shops. This is where Disney creates almost everything that is used in the parks. Vehicles for attractions, decor, character heads, animatronics, and almost anything else you can think of.

The main area of Central Shops is roughly 9 football fields long. This is where repairs, touch ups, and construction of new projects happen. It’s best describe as an assembly line. Where it goes in one end of the shop and comes out the other when it’s done.

Every imaginable trade is under this roof. Electricians, Plumbers, Mechanics, etc. You name it and there’s probably someone that does it.

In the main area we saw vehicles for Space Mountain, it’s a small world, Aladdin, elephants from Jungle Cruise, and other unknown pieces of attractions. Cast Members would either work on them in that spot or carry them off to one of the small shops.

We were shown a room where all the character heads are kept when they are being repaired or created. They didn’t allow us to go into the room but we got to peek through the window on the door. The heads were laying in such a way that we could only see the hole where your head would go. It was rather difficult to see what characters we were looking at. I did however manage to see the head of Winnie The Pooh sitting there, it’s as creepy as you think.

Next we got to see some animatronics that was in the process of being repaired. One of the baby elephants from the Jungle Cruise was being repainted as the water it was sitting in took it’s told on the poor guy. Carmen showed us that there is a lot of detail where guests will see the animal above water, but below the water line there isn’t much in terms of detail, since guests aren’t going to see that part. It had a simple coat of grey paint and looked rather plain.

Another animatronic we saw was one of the birds from the Enchanted Tiki Room. They were testing out some new technology to allow the birds to have more fluid movement. It was connected to a small box with various buttons on it. Pressing them in certain combinations would result in different movements. We got to play around with this and make the bird move around!

Magic Kingdom

After Central Shops it was off to our last stop of the tour, the Magic Kingdom! We arrived just before the 3 o’clock parade “Celebrate A Dream Come True”. Our bus parked just behind City Hall and we went through one of the Cast Member entrances to Main Street. They had a spot reserved just for us right where the Parade begins. Carmen gave us a challenge to see if we can find the drivers inside the floats. I couldn’t see any because of the sun unfortunately.

Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade

Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade

Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade

Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade

Carmen explained to us how they keep the music in sync throughout the entire parade and keep it going as the parade moves down the street. As most people know there are speakers hidden throughout the park and these are used to have the over laying beat for the music. Some speakers are only used during parades and are reviled when it begins. An example are small windows on the buildings along Main Street will slide open and close when the parade is over.

Then there is music that comes from the floats themselves, with lyrics and sounds/dialogue from the characters. It’s done is such a way that it sounds like everything is coming right from the floats themselves. Also to keep all the floats in sync with each other there are small metal plates along the parade route that will trigger when it is to begin it’s loop over again.

It’s a little complicated but the result is an in sync and flawless sounding parade for all the guests to enjoy!

Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade

Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade

Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade

Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade

Once the parade had passed us we walked down Main Street and we were shown all the names that you can see if you look closely at the windows along Main Street. The names are of those that have contributed something extraordinary to the company. There are specific individuals who worked with Walt himself up there. There is even a window that is dedicated to all the Cast Members who make magic happen everyday!

Some time you are enjoying Main Street take a moment to look at the windows and take note of the names you see on them.

Mainstreet USA

Text is small but you can see the writing on them with the names

After walking down Main Street we went to the right and walked towards Tomorrowland, we then went backstage right by the washrooms before you entered into Tomorrowland. I noticed that just before going from backstage to onstage there are mirrors so Cast Members can check themselves one last time.

Next up was heading down into the Utilidors under the Magic Kingdom. This is how Cast Members get from one end of the park to the other in a reasonable amount of time. Also it ensures that you do not see a Cast Member who works in Tomorrowland walking through Adventureland. Walt wanted to ensure the guests immersion was not interrupted.

This is where they transport food, characters, Cast Members, trash, and supplies across the park without interrupting the guest experience. If you notice you will never see a Cast Member dragging a huge pile of garbage across the hub in front of the Castle or Mickey making his way through Fantasyland to get where he needs to go. They always just appear or disappear. Pay close attention to where you see characters head off to when they are going for tea next time!

The garbage shoot is a tube that runs along the ceiling and it’s a vacuum that sucks the garbage through to where it’s all kept. There are bicycles everywhere, these are used by Cast Members to get from one place to another rather quickly. You will also notice battery powered vehicles carrying supplies back and forth.

It was very surreal seeing all the different Cast Members in their costumes. Unfortunately we did not see any head or face characters in the tunnels. There were huge maps of the tunnels at every major “intersection”. I can see how one can easily become lost.

The Utilidors are actually built above ground level and the Magic Kingdom park is technically the second floor. The reason for this is since the area is mainly swamp and building anything below ground level would result in flooding.

That is it for our time at the Magic Kingdom and it was back to the bus to head back to EPCOT.

Back to EPCOT

Sadly this is where our tour ended. As a gift for being on the tour we were given a special collectible pin that you can only get from coming on the tour. We were told to make sure we don’t allow a 10 year told trade us for them in the parks.

Backstage Magic Pin

Backstage Magic Pin – Only given out to those that go on the tour!

We then spent the rest of our day in EPCOT taking in the attractions and beer! Tried MISSION: Space on the more intense side for the first time.

Space Mickey

Space Mickey

The entire tour was much more than I was expecting. Learning about how parts of the parks operate is completely fascinating. For me personally it didn’t take away from the magic but only enhanced it. The price tag is a little steep but if you are a huge Disney fan then it’s worth every penny, and who can say no to a collectible pin? I highly recommend this tour if you love learning how Disney creates some of their magic and wish to do something different for your next visit!

Thank you for reading and if you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them!


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This trip we wanted to do an activity we have never down before. Backstage Magic Tour was one of those activities. It’s an all day tour which takes us to all four parks and we get to see the backstage areas. While we don’t get to see everything because that would take longer than a day, you get to see enough to make it worth the price tag of $229 per person. Also it’s a 16+ only tour, meaning no children are allowed.

As a warning this edition of our trip report will mention what we saw on the tour and will reveal some of the magic. You may wish to stop reading now if you do not want to spoil anything. You can always read the past editions of this trip report! This report will also be split into two parts.

During the tour we were told if we “did not see strollers” we were not allowed to take photos. With that there are not many photos with this trip report. But I did take photos when we were allowed.

Our day started off in EPCOT right after the bag check to the park. There were a total of 32 people on the tour. This is the max number of guests in one tour. We had two magnificent Cast Members as our tour guides, Carmen & Wayne. Both have been with the Disney Corporation for years. We all got special lanyards to indicate we were on the tour. Since I was wearing my now infamous Chip Lanyard, Carmen decided to call me “Chip” instead of Chris.

Backstage Magic Tour Name Tag

Backstage Magic Tour Name Tag

 

EPCOT

Once everyone was signed in and a quick washroom stop we were off to the bus! The first stop on the tour was EPCOT and the World Showcase. We drove around the backside of World Showcase and stopped right behind the American Pavilion. From the back you can see they don’t decorate the parts of the building the guests do not see. The back of the building was rather plain and uninteresting.

We got off the bus and walked from the back of the front of the pavilion where guests usually are. World Showcase was still not open and there were Cast Members working on all the plants in the area. Carmen was our tour guide since the groups were split into two. She was explaining how they built the building in the pavilion. It’s all about perspective. The building itself is actually five stories and it is built to appear as if it’s only three (since that’s how buildings were back then). By just glancing at the building and not paying much attention is appears the way they intend you to see it. But upon further investigation, if you take the time to look, you can see it’s all perspective. As you get closer to the building you can see the doors get much taller. Even someone who is well over 6 feet will feel short.

Next we got to go in behind The American Experience show. The entire show is on a rails system and all the “actors” and set pieces are on rails that move back and forth below the stage while the show is happening. It was smooth and made next to no noise. To the guests you can’t even tell the transitions are happening! If you’ve seen the show you know how big the stage is, imagine that but 5 times as big in the back! Now it was off to our next destination.

 

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The first stop at Hollywood Studios was the Costume Department! You can see part of the department when you go on the Backlot Tour. We got to see concept art for a lot of the costumes while they are in the design phase. There were a few costumes on display from past shows such as the Tapestry of Nations that was in EPCOT.

We got to go through the area where they actually maintain, repair, alter, and sew the costumers. For the face and head character performers (the Cast Members who wear the heads and those that do not) they each get more than one outfit and are custom fitted to the performer. They are also outfitted with RFIDs to keep track of the costume.

Disney Princess performers can be “best friends” with other Disney Princesses. Meaning a performer can play more than one Disney Princess. One day they may be Cinderella then the next they are Belle. Of course the performer has to resemble the princess in some way in order to be best friends with more than one. If you a best friends with Princess Tiana, you are not going to be best friends with Ariel and vice versa.

They have a machine that will cut fabric in very specific and complicated patterns for the more elaborate designs. The design is inputted into the computer and then it will cut the fabric.

Next up was the Tower of Terror. We got to see how the attraction actually works. The elevators are not on rails when they are rolling across the floor in the beginning. There are sensors in the floor telling the elevator where to go and lets the computer know where it is. Once the elevator reaches the “drop” it is actually on a Dumbwaiter. When Imagineers were designing the ride they discovered by elevator manufactures that gravity does not pull elevators fast enough. This is why the attraction is actually using a dumbwaiter system. The elevator is actually pulled up and down to simulate the feeling of free fall.

Before heading off to the Animal Kingdom we got to use the restroom right by Rockin’ Roller coaster. Meaning we got to come from backstage to “onstage”. Which was a really neat feeling since the guests in the park really had no idea what we were doing!

 

Disney’s Animal Kingdom 

Animal Kingdom was our next stop. We were just outside of the park where they store the floats for Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade. It’s a long garage with each float one behind the other. The tires on all the vehicles are not inflated with air, they are inflated with some other substance. This is to ensure there are no flat tires while the vehicle is moving. One less thing to worry about while the parade is happening! Each of the vehicles have emergency escapes for the character performers in case they need to exit the vehicle. The character performers have to be lifted onto them.

The performers that are attached to the animals are completely harnessed in, because of this if the wind velocity is above a specific threshold they are not allowed to go out in the parade. Imagine a performer getting caught by high winds and crashing into guests? That wouldn’t be good at all.

Carmen showed up the cell tower that is in clear view of the Animal Kingdom and is dressed up to look like an actual tree. From far away you can’t tell but from where we were it’s obvious that it isn’t a tree.

Fortwilderness Lodge

Fortwilderness Lodge

Fort Wilderness Lodge – Lunch at Whispering Canyon Cafe

We were taken to the Whispering Canyon Cafe in Fort Wilderness Lodge for lunch. It was anything but whispering happening! Our server was named MT who was possibly the loudest, yet most hilarious, server I have ever had! She was an older woman and she claims she was the “cute one”.

It was a family style lunch with chicken, ribs, pulled pork, corn bread, potatoes, and baked beans. It was delicious and possibly one of the better lunches we’ve had on the trip! It was included in the price of the tour. While eating we got to know others on the tour with us. There was a group of teachers from Ontario, Canada and a couple from Alberta. Quite a bit of Canadians!

MT went around the table asking everyone what they did for a living. She poked fun at everyone at the table (playfully of course). Once she got to me and I told her I was a Software Developer all she said was “Finally someone with a real job!”.

Once everyone had their fingers cleaned from all the ribs it was back to the bus and off to the Horticulture area.

Snow White Topiary

Snow White Topiary – Sneak peek of what we saw!

To be continued ….

This concludes the first part of our Backstage Magic Tour Trip Report! The second half we will be visiting the Horticulture area, Central Shops, and the Utilidors at the Magic Kingdom! If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them!


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At last another edition of our 2012 New Years Celebration Trip Report to the Walt Disney World Resort! If you’re just joining us you can catch up by enjoy all the previous entries to this extensive Trip Report! As always you can find all the photos and videos used in our trip reports on Flickr and YouTube!

Walt Disney World New Years Celebration

Our morning began at 6AM so we could make our 7:15AM reservation at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Resort! It was still dark outside and we were the only people waiting for the Magic Kingdom Bus. The bus driver told us he would drop us off right at the Contemporary, even though they normally wouldn’t! Some times the level of customer service you receive is beyond anything I could even ask for. Even though it’s not a terribly far walk from the Magic Kingdom to the Contemporary just the fact that he dropped us off when he didn’t have to was above and beyond!

Chef Mickey's

We were among the first people here!

We arrived at the Contemporary ahead of schedule, all thanks to our amazing bus driver, and were waiting for Chef Mickey’s to open. There were a few younger families there with us while we waited. When they called our names they took us and took our photo before we were seated (We bought the photo later on)! Our seats were near the back but we noticed we were by the doors into the back, so figured we’d be among the first people to see Mickey and his friends!

After a few minutes of settling in we headed over to the breakfast buffet. If you could imagine everything you can prepare for breakfast and then some, that’s exactly what was available to devour. My first (yes first) plate was full of bacon, eggs, sausage, fruit, bananas and strawberry mix, and no Disney breakfast is complete with the infamous Mickey Waffle.

Mickey Waffle

Can't resist the Mickey Waffle

While we were eating Mickey and his friends began coming out one by one. We got to meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Pluto, and Goofy! I think Donald remembered me from New Years Eve because he really did not like my Chip lanyard that I was wearing again.

John, Chris, and Chef Mickey

John, Chris, and Chef Mickey

Donald is none too please with the Chip Lanyard

Donald is none too please with the Chip Lanyard

John and Minnie Mouse

John and Minnie Mouse

Pluto and Chris

Pluto and Chris

During breakfast they even had a little song and dance that got everyone up and out of their seats. I opted to take a video instead.

Normally dessert for breakfast is taboo but there’s no resisting the sprinkle covered brownies that you could smell from our table. You’re on vacation right? No one gains weight on vacation!

After our delicious meal with Mickey and friends we still had some time before the Magic Kingdom opened for the day. Decided to check out all the gift shops at the Contemporary and see if we can find some Vinylmations that we haven’t found yet (Star Wars set). Sadly we did not find the Star Wars Vinlymation set but we did stumble across the Alice in Wonderland set. By this point in the trip we haven’t seem them anywhere and I of course wanted some. I resisted in buying the entire box (those that collect Vinylmation can relate) and only got four boxes.

Alice in Wonderland Vinylmation

Alice in Wonderland Vinylmation

I lucked out and only got ONE duplicate this time around. The caterpillar was the duplicate (if anyone is willing to trade leave me a comment! I’m dying to get any of the Star Wars Vinylmation). While I was unboxing them in the lobby of the Contemporary a woman watched me open them and laughed saying “I really love watching men play with their toys, it’s adorable”. It was 8AM and I’ve already made someone smile, I knew it was going to be a great day!

Alice in Wonderland Vinylmation

Alice in Wonderland Vinylmation

Once our food was settled we took the Monorail to the Magic Kingdom for the morning. Space Mountain only had a standby of 15mins so we figured we’d jump into that line, when we were done we grabbed a Fast Pass for later in the morning!

Space Mountain Poses

Space Mountain Poses

Before heading to Fantasyland we ran into a little guy that seemed to have escaped from some where …

Stitch and Chris

Stitch and Chris

While walking to Fantasyland we noticed Alice and friends were taking photos in front of the Mad Tea Party. Figured we hop in line and get a photo! By the time we got up to the front the Queen and Rabbit had to leave for tea, but we got to see Alice!

We got to talk to her for a little while. She gave me pointers on how to play cricket and told me to make sure I don’t use flamingos! She asked us what we were going to be doing right after our visit and we told her we were going to go ride the Mad Tea Party for the first time! She then gave me advice to avoid becoming sick. Told me to focus on an object inside the tea cup and you won’t become dizzy! She said it works every time. After our visit with Alice it was time to ride the Tea Cups for the first time! Alice was right, focusing on something inside the tea cup works, I wasn’t dizzy and didn’t end up losing my breakfast!

Meeting Alice in Wonderland

Chatting with Alice!

Alice, Chris, and John

Alice, Chris, and John

Mad Tea Party Wait Time

The lowest wait time we'd see all trip!

As we were walking through Fantasyland we noticed that Dumbo was already closed for the new expansion. Thankfully we rode it one last time a few days ago. We wanted to ride Snow White’s Scary Adventure before it was shut down for the expansion as well. It’s a little sad seeing these classics go away but that’s progress!

Before leaving for the Animal Kingdom we visited the Haunted Mansion just so we could walk through the new queue and we almost forgot about our Fast Pass for Space Mountain so we quickly made our way over there. We took the monorail to Contemporary and grabbed the next bus to the Animal Kingdom.

Chip 'N Dale with Chris and John

Ran into Chip 'N Dale before leaving!

Once we arrived the standby for Expedition Everest was only 30mins and the Fast Passes were gone for the day. For my favourite ride at Disney I’m willing to wait the 30mins. After escaping the Yeti it was time for lunch! We decided on the Restaurantosaurus in DinoLand U.S.A. While waiting for our food one Cast Member said it was her birthday and all she wanted was for everyone to sing her happy birthday! Everyone that was waiting in line for food began singing her happy birthday!

Rhino on Kiliminjaro

Rhino on Kiliminjaro

Next up was Dinosaur and Primeval Whirl. It was my first time on Primeval Whirl and it was alright, not something I’d want to do again. After that it was off to Kilimanjaro Safari. The two week safari took us a bit longer than expected due to Rhinos walking down the path we were driving. Had two different Rhinos walk down the road causing us to have to wait.

Hollywood Studios Tower of Terror

Next up is Disney's Hollywood Studios!

Once we finally got back to our home base, it was time to head on over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We knew when we got there that the Fast Passes would be gone for everything, but we just wanted to see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights! Also while I do love Toy Story Mania, I’m not willing to wait two hours for it.

Before the Osborne show we saw Phineas and Ferb and decided to get our photos taken with them!

Phineas and Ferb

Phineas and Ferb

 

We waited for the lights to come on and that was quite the site! I’ve never seen so many lights dance and sing in my life! It was something to be seen. We also spent some time looking for the Hidden Mickey’s in the lights and did manage to find quite a few. Also with true disney style they made it snow while the light show was on!

We walked around the lights for a while and took more photos and some video as well.

We then met up with our friend Chris and his friend Becky, who are cast members, and hung out with them for a while! We were a bit bummed that the Fast Passes for Toy Story Mania were gone, then Chris told us that he had a Guest Pass that allows him to use the Fast Pass line! That really made our night even better than it already was! Of course I ended up with the highest score out of everyone!

Toy Story Mania

My score was the best in vehicle!

After our visit with Buzz and Woody we headed over to the Great Movie Ride to end the night. Now it was off to our resort to get some shut eye!

Mickey Light

Mickey Light

Before bed we were starving and decided to get pizza before bed. Normally I never eat before bed but I was pretty hungry.

POP Century Pizza

POP Century Pizza

Before bed we listened to Duffy’s Bedtime Stories on TV. We wanted to be rested for our long day that awaits us! We will be going on the Backstage Magic Tour all day! This is our first time doing a tour like this so it’s going to be very exciting!

Duffy the Disney Bear Bedtime Stories

Duffy the Disney Bear Bedtime Stories

All the photos from today can be found on Flickr! I enjoy reading your comments and answering any questions anyone may have. Hope you all enjoyed this edition of our 2012 New Years Celebration Trip Report!


Read more

Welcome to another trip report part of our New Years Celebration 2012! If you’re just joining you can catch up by reading the past reports! Also if you wish to view all the photos from this day you can view them on Flickr!

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012
We were awake by 8:30 am and decided that we wanted to have breakfast in EPCOT instead of the food at POP Century. Sunshine Seasons was our choice for breakfast. It’s very delicious and offers a different variety of food compared to POP.

After breakfast we grabbed a Fast Pass for Soarin’. The wait time was already up to an hour by this point and Fast Passes into the afternoon. Once we were done we walked over to Mission: SPACE and did the “less intense” version of the attraction. Yes I’m a bit of a wuss but I just ate so I didn’t to chance bacon and eggs ending up all over myself and the others in my spaceship. Grabbed a Fast Pass for Test Track on our way to World Showcase.

Next was walking through World Showcase and slowly touring the Pavilions. It never gets old going through them. While we were in the Japan Pavilion I picked up some Japanese chocolate, LETS GET CRUNKY! We also thought it’d be a great idea to see if we can get into Teppan EDO for dinner. This trip we didn’t make many reservations and figured we’d try our luck at doing reservations on the fly. We got lucky and we had a table for 7pm!

Crunky

Let’s get crunky!

By the time we finished touring all the pavilions our Fast Pass was ready for Soarin’. The standby wait time was well over 90 minutes and all the Fast Passes were distributed for the day. Very glad we got there when we did. I did notice that they added video games (similar concept as Space Mountain) for the Standby line. It did look like fun, but I’d rather go on the attraction than try the video game out.

We wanted to try something different this time around, doing some Resort touring. We’ve done the parks many times and haven’t had the chance to go and visit the various Resorts. Maybe we’ll find one we want to stay at during our next visit. There was plenty of time before our table reservation at Teppan EDO. We walked over to The Dolphin and walked around. While there we did notice a wizard, who was clearly on winter vacation from Hogwarts, walking around in his Gryffindor robe. The Dolphin was very beautiful inside and very high-class. While it was a very nice resort it wouldn’t be a place I’d want to stay. It felt almost too stale and since it’s not owned by Disney, it lacks the theming you see at other resorts. Regardless it’s a very nice resort and it’s worth a look around at the very least.

The Dolphin

The Dolphin

Lobby Fountains at the Dolphin

Lobby Fountains at the Dolphin

Decided to skip The Swan and take the boat to Hollywood Studios to catch a bus to Port Orleans French Quarter. We have good friends who are staying at the resort for their Honeymoon (he proposed to her in Disneyland during the Fireworks show) in September. They asked us to take some photos and we were more than happy to! It’s a beautiful resort and it was extremely quiet (from what we saw and heard). Did notice that it was almost overrun with chipmunks everywhere, but since I love chipmunks it didn’t bother me. It’s hard to explain the fine details of the resort, instead of trying to explain and fail miserably I’ll show you in pictures!

Before we left the resort we went to the gift shop to see if we can find anything we haven’t seen anywhere else. Did happen to see the Holiday 2 Vinylmation set, we haven’t seen it anywhere by this point. We cleaned it out…

Empty Vinylmation Box

Empty Vinylmation Box

After spending a ton of money on Vinylmation we headed back to our own resort to have a nap before our dinner reservation.

We arrived at Teppan EDO right at 7pm and had to wait about 20 minutes before we were seated with the other guests who would be joining us at our “table”. For those that haven’t experienced Teppan EDO its teppan-yaki style, meaning your chef cooks everything right in front of you on a hot surface and you eat it right there! Our chef was extremely skilled and it was quite the site to watch her cook our food. She even made a volcano out of onions! We both had a short conversation in Japanese after she found out I spoke it. That was a lot of fun and I got to practice some of my vocabulary!

Teppan EDO Menu in Japan Paviliion

Teppan EDO Menu in Japan Paviliion

Beside us was a couple that were talking among themselves, we eventually asked them where they were from and the normal conversational questions you ask someone you just met. They were husband and wife and they were talking about Tokyo Disneyland and how he was just there and got to visit the park on business. Turns out he is Matthew Davidson a Cast Member and is 1 of 4 people who design the costumes for Disney Parades! Parades are by far my absolute favorite part of visiting any Disney Park. He told us that he was the person that designed the costumes for Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade, and the Christmas version Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade. We explained to him that we just saw the parade the day before and thought the costumes were excellent!

Onion Volcano

Onion Volcano

 

He then explained to us about why he was visiting Tokyo Disneyland. Turns out he is helping with the 30th Anniversary Parade that will be debuting in 2013. How incredibly amazing is that?! I’ve told him that I’ve visited Tokyo Disneyland before and that the parades were my favorite part of visiting, they are extremely detailed and there’s a lot of emphasis on them in Tokyo. He’s very excited with the chance to work on the costumes and said that I will for sure have to check it out when it’s happening. Looks like I’ll be visiting Tokyo Disneyland in 2013 for sure now!

His wife was also a Cast Member, she worked in the parks for a short period and wanted to get into the Animation Studios, but that was at the time when they closed the studio down. Both of them were extremely polite and were more than happy to answer questions we asked. We didn’t ask too many as we didn’t want to bombard them as they were trying to enjoy a night out. We had a conversation about Tokyo Disneyland and how money is no object to them. If Walt Disney World spends 10 million on a project, Tokyo will go ahead and spend 30 million for the implementation (these are just random figures). Tokyo has a very high attention to detail. If you love the detail in the American parks, if you ever visit Tokyo you will see what I mean. I made sure to thank him for all the great work he has done on the parades and how much I really appreciate them. (Check out my Tokyo Disneyland Trip Reports)

Delicious chicken and beef with Shrimp, Garlic Soy, and Mustard sauce.

Delicious chicken and beef with Shrimp, Garlic Soy, and Mustard sauce.

We were very fortunate to have had met Matthew and his wife. I truly believe things happen for a reason! If we hadn’t made that random reservation earlier in the day, none of this would have happened. Some times it’s best to just go with the flow and not plan every waking minute of your vacation, you’ll be surprised what can happen!

To continue the great night we’ve been having so far we went and got some Kirin Draft from the Japan Pavilion just outside of Teppan EDO. We then headed over to the Germany Pavilion and picked up some chocolate covered marshmallow drizzled with caramel. It was a bit chilly this evening resulting in not too many people hanging around for Illuminations. We got a great view right at the entrance to World Showcase.

With a belly full of delicious Japanese food, beer, and German Chocolate it was time to head home for the night. Had to get some rest for our Chef Mickey reservation the next morning at 7:30 am. Before heading to bed I did manage to get some pin trading done!

What a fantastic day, the highlight being dinner with Matthew Davidson! Make sure to come back soon for the next edition of our New Years Celebration Trip Report! Another first where we head to Chef Mickey’s for a delicious breakfast.


Read more

Welcome to another trip report part of our New Years Celebration 2012! If you’re just joining you can catch up by reading the past reports! Also if you wish to view all the photos from this day you can view them on Flickr!


 

January 2nd, 2012

Another edition of our New Years 2012 Trip Report! The day starts off with us heading to Downtown Disney to use our 20% off coupon if you made your purchases before noon at select Disney locations. World of Disney was one of those stores we could use it and figured it would be the best place since it has the most selection of merchandise.

Loaded up on gifts for everyone and even bought myself a few things, you can’t go shopping and not spoil yourself at least a little bit. Normally I’m not one to try on clothes, especially if it’s busy. I’m sure some people can relate. It was early in the morning so there was next to no one in the store. Figured might as well try on the clothes I wanted since I wasn’t sure what size I was anymore due to my weight loss the past year.

 

We had everything sent back to our resort (seriously take advantage of this free service if you are staying on resort) and it was off to Disney’s Animal Kingdom! We wanted to experiment with the bus system and the best way to get to AK from Downtown Disney. Ended up taking the bus to Port Orleans French Quarter then transferring to a bus to head to AK. If there’s a more efficient way of doing so, please leave a comment I’d love to hear it.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Christmas Tree

Disney's Animal Kingdom Christmas Tree

Piglet - Disney's Animal Kingdom Christmas Tree

Piglet - Disney's Animal Kingdom Christmas Tree

First order of business is of course Expedition Everest. We grabbed fast passes for the early afternoon and made our way over to Dinosaur. I love how Dinosaur is pretty much exactly the same was Indiana Jones in Disneyland. For a quick breakfast snack we grabbed a cookie, not something mother would approve of but we were hungry OK!

Tried as hard as I could to have a poker face but it was completely dark and it still surprised me.

Tried as hard as I could to have a poker face but it was completely dark and it still surprised me.

We wanted to catch the first showing of Finding Nemo The Musical. What a fantastic show, it really is a Broadway quality production. I’d say this is a must do if you are heading the Animal Kingdom. It lasts for about 45 minutes, one of the longer shows in Walt Disney World.

Finding Nemo The Musical

Finding Nemo The Musical

Lunch was at Pizzafari and it’s hard to eat there without having pizza. It was fairly busy but we found a small area near the back of the restaurant where there was practically no one there. Got to enjoy our lunch in peace!

Pocahontas is one of my favourite Disney Princesses so when the opportunity to have my photo taken with her was presented I had to take it. She was inside Camp Minnie and Mickey just before you get to the Festival of the Lion King.

“Where is John Smith today?”

 

 

 


“John is on one of his grand adventures today, but he will be back for dinner. I will make sure to tell him you said hello! Where are you visiting from?”

 

 

“We’re visiting from Canada!”

 

 

 


“That’s quite the canoe ride!”

 

 

 

“Hello!”

 

 

 

“Good day, what is your name sir”

 

 

 

“John!”

 

 

 

“Oh! You can be the replacement John Smith for today!”

 

 

 

 

Meeting Pocahontas

Meeting Pocahontas

John and Pocahontas

John and Pocahontas

I always enjoy interacting with the characters and see what type of answers or reactions I’m going to get. She was fantastic!

After visiting with Pocahontas it was time for our Fast Pass engagement with Expedition Everest. This is my absolute favourite attraction in Walt Disney World. Many of you who have read my past trip reports already know this. After our mishap with the Yeti we went and grabbed a good spot for Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade. Today was the final day they were showing this version of the parade before reverting back to the normal version. Thankfully we got perfect viewing in the shade!

 

 

When Chip went by he saw my Chip Lanyard and ran over to me and grabbed it to try and make it squeak. He was successful! The cast members around him kept pointing at me saying how much it looks like him!

I quite enjoyed the parade, these are my favourite part of visiting any Disney Park. There’s something about the music and dancing that just puts me in my happy place! Before we left we took a photo of me sitting in front of the Animal Kingdom entrance. Comparing it to our first trip, you can see the weight loss that I’ve accomplished in that time span.

2012 vs 2010

We headed back to the Resort then we headed to the Outlet stores for some more shopping! We also had to stop at McDonalds for dinner. Once we got back to the Resort we decided to be classy and have some wine in plastic cups before turning in for the evening.

Wine at POP Century

Wine at POP Century

Tomorrow we end up having dinner at Teppan EDO with a very special Cast Member, all by chance! Make sure to come back for the next edition! I love hear hear feedback so if you have any questions or comments please leave them below!