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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Before heading to Fantasyland we ran into a little guy that seemed to have escaped from some where …
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
Before bed we were starving and decided to get pizza before bed. Normally I never eat before bed but I was pretty hungry.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
“Good day, what is your name sir”
“Oh! You can be the replacement John Smith for today!”
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.
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.
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!
Another edition of our 2012 New Years Celebration in Walt Disney World! You can catch up on the previous days on the Trip Reports page. Make sure to check out the New Years posts, which are split into two parts! You can also check out Flickr for all the photos used in the reports.
January 1st, 2012
After an extremely long but amazing New Years we didn’t wake up until 11am. It’s been a while since I’ve had such a deep sleep, and it was satisfying. Once we got ourselves together we headed off for Breakfast and then off to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Since we knew we were arriving at the park a bit later in the morning we checked the wait time board to plan our attack. Not surprising that Toy Story Mania had all their Fast Passes distributed for the day and the way time was up to 70 mins. We weren’t in the mood for waiting in a long standby line.
First on our hit list was Star Tours, which we got lucky and had someone give us their Fast Passes they didn’t need. The standby was only 30mins but who would pass up Fast Passes someone is giving to you? By this point I’ve rode Star Tours enough times to see all of the different scenes they use in the attraction, of course never in he same order since there’s 50+ possible combinations.
Switching gears, it was off to The Little Mermaid live stage show. While we were waiting to be seated we witnessed a small family have an argument on which attractions they wanted to do that day. The daughter wasn’t too happy with the choices and didn’t talk to them for the rest of the time we were waiting. We’ve all done that with our families at some point, so I didn’t judge.
After returning from “under the sea” we decided that waiting in lines today were just not in the cards for us. After the day before we wanted to take things easy and just go with the flow and enjoy ourselves. I’ve never seen the Indiana Jones Stunt Show, we decided to change that!
Normally I’m the type of person that avoids sugary drinks, I’ll go for tea, water, coffee, etc. Not this day, I wanted the most sugary drink imaginable and as cold as Northern Canada in the middle of January. In Canada we call them “slushes”, not entirely sure on the name in the US. I do know in Pixar Place they call them Weezy-Breezy-Freezy. That’s what I got and it was coke flavoured! After acquiring my deliciously sugary drink it was time for the Pixar Countdown to Fun Parade!
Before anyone asks, I do not know the woman in the pink shirt that is in all the above photos. After the visit with our Pixar friends we decided to take a nice walk to EPCOT and go through Boardwalk. Could have taken a bus but then would have missed all the photo opportunities on the way there!
It was a very nice and peaceful walk, not many people around. Except for the occasional crazy tourist who would be peddling the rental bikes that hold four people like a mad man. Slowly made our way through all the shops along Boardwalk and just soaking up the scenery!
Once we got to EPCOT our first stop was the Canada Pavilion and we talked to a nice Cast Member who was from Ontario (most CMs there seem to be from British Columbia or Ontario). Then it was off to Living with The Land. Did a little bit of shopping in Mouse Gears, where John found his first set of Mickey Ears that he would actually wear. Kermit the Frog Ears!
Our dinner reservation for Biergarten was at 7pm, which left us a lot of time to walk through all the Pavilions and enjoy them. We did however have a tiny snack in Italy before supper, who can resist the delicious chocolate? If you can I’d like to know how you do it.
Biergarten celebrates Oktoberfest all year round with traditional german cuisine. You are seat at long communal tables with other guests. We were seated by a mother and daughter from Taiwan and another family. We don’t’ know where the other family was from since they didn’t acknowledge anyone else at the table, even when we tried to speak with them.
The food was buffet style and there were so many choices of what to have, I really had a hard time deciding. What did I do? I tried a little bit of everything! Sauerkraut, sausage salad, and every type of sausage you could imagine. It was delicious.
Now for dessert, my absolute favorite (so much in fact I had two servings) was the Bavarian Cheesecake! I’m a huge cheesecake lover and it had to be one of the best cheesecakes I’ve had, sorry New York.
During dinner our Taiwanese friends asked us for tips on when and where they should visit in Canada. They really wanted to see Niagara Falls. There was a bit of a language carrier as they weren’t fluent in English and I don’t speak Taiwanese. There was also live entertainment throughout dinner. It encouraged people to get up and dance, there were lots of children dancing about and it was incredibly cute!
What a fantastic meal, everything about it was delicious and a lot of fun. I’d definitely do it again in future visits.
After dinner we slowly made our way to Beach Club so we could take a bus to Downtown Disney. We had a coupon (from our quick service dinning receipt) which gave you a 20% discount if you shopped before noon before January 3rd at select Disney Merchandise stores. We wanted to do some window shopping at Downtown Disney so we could plan our attack for the next day. Before we left Beach Club we checked out the delicious Gingerbread Carousel.
Once we saw everything we wanted it was time to call it a night. Still tired from the day before and we wanted to be up relatively early so we could get our shopping done (really who would turn down 20% off). Also since it was so busy we both really didn’t want to be there too long. It was back to our resort and off to bed!
All the photos taken on this day can be found over on Flickr! Have any questions or comments? Or want to ask questions that could help plan your next vacation, please feel free contact me through the comments!
The next day we are off to Downtown Disney to use our 20% off coupon and Disney’s Animal Kingdom where we get to see the final Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade for the season!
Once all the shows wrapped-up they wasted no time to get into New Years mode. A live DJ began spinning in front of Cinderella’s Castle with the best (family friendly of course) dance music.
Standing in one spot for over three hours does make one very hungry. It was extremely crowded everywhere we went and we managed to make our way over to Fantasyland through Tomorrowland. The music was pumping through the entire Magic Kingdom. The entire park was transformed into one massive family friendly dance club for the rest of the evening. While making our way to Pinocchio’s Haus to grab something to eat there were various Cast Members dancing in the streets! You could feel the energy of all the guests and Cast Members throughout the entire park.
While consuming the closest thing we could get to alcohol in the Magic Kingdom (grapes) I could hear the sounds of Eurobeat playing outside! Lets say that it made me very happy to hear this!
Wait times for all the major attractions were well above an hour, so we decided that we were just going to go around taking photos and just soaking in the entire experience. Walked around the side of the castle and snapped a few good photos.
To get out to the crowds we headed on over to Tomorrowland and went on the Carousel of Progress. A few of the guests in there had the same idea as us, but they decided to sleep as well.
We got to catch the Totally Tomorrowland Christmas show. Where Buzz Lightyear, Mike, and Stitch put on a show just outside of Space Mountain. Got a few photos of the performance.
It was around 10:00pm at this time and we thought it would be a good idea to try to find a spot for the fireworks and countdown. While we tried to make our way back to Main Street, they turned the bridge into Tomorrowland into a one-way traffic bridge. We were re-routed through the backstage area (near Buzz Lightyears Astro Blasters) to Main Street. At first I thought maybe this was always a path that I didn’t know about, but I clued in pretty quickly that they opened this to relieve the massive amounts of traffic. It was all decorated and there were people sitting in areas to watch the show. You could clearly see the castle from the backstage area.
While making our way from backstage to the beginning of Main Street it was completely wall to wall people. We saw some Paramedics literally pulling someone out of the crowd. Not entirely sure what happened but the person was pulled out of the crowd and put on a stretcher inside one of the Main Street shops.
We cut through the shops to get further down Main Street, there was no way we’d make it through the wall of people outside. Finally popped outside and blended into the crowd near the end of Main Street (it was the closest we were going to get). This was our spot for the remainder of 2011!
The DJ kept the crowd energized while it was clear that no one was going anywhere any time soon. Shortly after we got our spot they began the snowing on Main Street! Coming from Canada snow really shouldn’t make me this excited but, it’s DISNEY SNOW! Also have you ever seen thousands of people do the YMCA? I can now say I have …
A few times I noticed Cast Members going through the crowds appearing as they were looking for something. Found out later that they were actually going through to ensure no one has alcohol on them. I do recall begin able to smell beer from time to time.
At 11:50pm it was time for Fantasy in the Sky! This is their special new years fireworks (they showed them the night before as well) that goes right until Midnight! The fireworks were phenomenal. Most of the fireworks were mirrored at the entrance of the Magic Kingdom so everyone was able to see them. Once the fireworks were finished it was time for the Countdown with Mickey & his friends!
Now that it was officially 2012 we wanted to ride our first attraction of the New Year! Thankfully we grabbed Fast Passes for Space Mountain about 6-7 hours before that were good for after midnight. As you can imagine it was a complete traffic jam as Cast Members tried to herd everyone. There were people bring to leave the park and those going further into it. While we were making our way to Space Mountain we witnessed two full-grown men getting into a fist fight. The clearly didn’t know each other and their respective families were trying to hold them back. One of the guys started running down Main Street (people seemed to clear where they were so there was room for him to run). Completely unnecessary and dangerous. There were tons of families around holding infants and small children. Completely idiotic.
Finally after about 30 mins we made it to Space Mountain. The music was still pumping throughout the Magic Kingdom and Lady Gaga came on.
The crowds started to thin out a bit but you could still feel the high energy from all the guests and Cast Members. People were dancing everywhere you looked! We made our way through Fantasyland and cheered on a few Cast Members that were dancing in the middle of the street or at their snack stand! It was a lot of fun seeing everyone having so much fun.
The wait time for The Haunted Mansion was only 13 minutes (HA) then ended our evening on Big Thunder Mountain.
Walking through Adventureland you could still see a ton of people at the foot of the Castle dancing.
It was now close to 2AM and we were both completely done. Being in the park for over 19 hours was quite the adventure. The wait for our bus to get back to our resort was a couple hundred people deep. Didn’t end up getting back to the Resort until closer to 3AM.
What a day, it was like taking three normal days and cramming them into one. While it was extremely crowded (found out the park reached capacity at 10:30AM), it was a fantastic experience and got to see pretty every show you could imagine at the Magic Kingdom. I would do it again in a heartbeat. The atmosphere and energy of the park was something to experience. This isn’t for those that dislike large crowds, at all.
What a long and exhausting day but also one of the best days I’ve had at a Disney Resort thus far! Don’t worry there’s still plenty to our trip. Make sure you come back for more reports of our New Years Celebration trip!
If you wish to view all the photos from this day head on over to my Flickr!
I’ve decided to split this trip report into two. There’s just too much magic to cram into one report without having it extremely long. Here is the first part and the second will follow a few days after! All the photos for both days can be found on Flickr. Also if you missed the previous day trip report you can always catch up!
To help you get into the mood I’ve went and got some music that pertains to today’s trip report! I think you’ll enjoy it.
Saturday, December 31st, 2011
Our wake up call was for 5AM and it wasn’t exactly the easiest to wake up, but with the excitement of being in Walt Disney World for New Years was more than enough to get us out of bed! Since it was so early the food court at POP Century wasn’t open. Got to the bus stop around 6AM and we weren’t the first ones there surprisingly! There were a few more people just ahead of us who had the exact same thinking as us. The first bus came around 6:20am and there were maybe a handful of people on the bus and it was still dark.
Arrived at the Magic Kingdom around 6:40AM. While waiting at the turnstiles to get in the family that was right in front of us was chosen as the family for the rope drop ceremony. They looked pretty excited. I would be too if we were picked to open the park on the last day of 2011. Once they allowed us through the turnstiles we got a nice spot to watch the rope drop ceremony.
Took a very nice Panorama of the the entrance to the Magic Kingdom. Turned out pretty good since there weren’t that many people there just yet.
Then it was time for rope drop….
After that we headed on over to Tomorrowland and grabbed a Fast Pass for Space Mountain (which was already for 10am at this point) and hopped into standby. Nothing like a fast paced attraction at 7:30am to get the blood flowing. Next it was off to Peter Pan’s Flight where the standby was only 15mins (the lowest you’d see it all day) then the Haunted Mansion. We were getting many of the attractions done early because it was obvious the wait times were going to be insane later in the day.
On our way to Splash Mountain we passed Donald and decided to get our photo taken with him. He took one look at my Chip Lanyard and he immediately crossed his arms and was tapping his foot. Then he preceded to point his finger at me to indicate he wasn’t a fan. For the photo he made sure to flip the lanyard around so it wouldn’t be visible in the photo.
Once Donald was finished shaming me for having my Chip Lanyard we made it over to Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain (also grabbed Fast Passes). It still wasn’t too busy by this point but you could tell it was getting more and more crowded.
Made the mistake of venturing over to Main Street USA to grab something to eat for breakfast. Casey’s Corner is where we decided to eat. There was not a table in sight, so we improvised and used one of the garbage cans as our table. This is the only place I’d trust using a garbage can as a table to eat.
To allow our food to settle we walked through the shops on Main Street, then it was back over to Fantasyland to ride Dumbo (since it was closing soon for the expansion). Got to get a good ariel view of the new expansion. Then it was off to the Hall of Presidents to get out of the ever-growing crowd.
We did have a dinner reservation at the Liberty Tree Tavern but the time conflicted with all the shows we wanted to watch. Since this was our last chance to see the Christmas shows we decided to cancel our reservation. The cast member told us that they had actually overbooked for that evening and it would have been extremely crowded.
Since we were in Frontierland and it was about an hour before Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade we grabbed a spot since tons of people were already claiming all the excellent viewing sections. I loved the fact that Duffy was on the first float with Mickey and Minnie! He’s been getting a lot of exposure lately and I cannot complain!
Decided to do a few more attractions before grabbing a snack. People Mover, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain were on the hit list. When we were getting off Splash Mountain the entire area was a huge traffic jam, there were literally people on every square inch of available space. Also at this time Cast Members began handing out hats and horns for New Years. For the rest of the day that’s all you could hear were horns going off in every corner of the park and a sea of black hats everywhere you looked.
Finally after a good 15mins we made it to the Dole Whip location and got ourselves some sweet Dole Whip. No trip is complete without at least one visit. Since the park is at capacity by this point it was very rare to find a place to sit. We found a “door step” a few doors down from the Dole Whip. It was nice and tucked away from everyone. After consuming the delicious dole whip, I actually was able to have a 30mins nap sitting there against the wall. It was well needed and completely recharged my batteries for the rest of the day!
By this point in the day the park is clearly at capacity and no matter where you go it’s a wait and wall to wall people. If you’ve been to Tokyo Disneyland or visited Walt Disney World during this time, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
It was decided to find a spot for the next few shows along Main Street. We were basically forced into a spot near the end of Main Street. Which was fine with us, decided to stake our claim and stay there for the next three hours. We met two nice families from Arkansas and Texas. The family from Texas were there as a Christmas present, they gave the present to the kids on Christmas morning then drove all the way to Orlando that day. What a great present!
With the massive crowd level you are bound to run into rude guests. There were a ton of people pushing us and the two families so they could fit in, it’s one thing to try and fit one or two people but when you’re family of ten want to fit into an already filled spot, that’s not going to fit. Not much you can do but be polite to them and simply tell them they can’t fit.
While in our spot we got to see four, yes four shows!
- Cinderella’s Christmas Wish
- Main Street Electrical Parade
- The Magic, Memories, and You (with a Christmas overlay)
- Holiday Wishes
Cinderella’s Christmas Wish is the show they put on after sunset to light up the castle in icicles. Mickey and his friends make Cinderella’s wish come true!
The Main Street Electrical Parade needs no introduction and was just as bright and fun as ever!
The Magic, Memories, and You is the same show as usual but they add a bit of Christmas flair near the end.
Holiday Wishes was my favourite out of these group of shows we got to watch. It’s not just Wishes with some Christmas mixed into it, they do a completely different show.
Friday, December 30th, 2011
Arrive in Orlando just after 2pm and like most people that arrive at MCO we head on over to the Magical Express! Once we arrived at POP Century, since our bags weren’t here yet, we got our keys to the world and then it was off to the food court! I’ve now made it a tradition to start off any Disney trip with a cupcake.
Once the cupcake was nicely digested we wanted to see the Gingerbread House at the Grand Floridian before it was taken down. Took the bus to EPCOT and then hopped on the Monorail to the Grand Floridian.
As you walk into the Floridian from the monorail the first thing you see is the massive Christmas Tree in the middle of the open lobby. After you’re done viewing the beautiful tree you can see the Gingerbread House! I didn’t expect it to be as big as it was let alone have a small store inside of it that sold sweets! It was quite the site, don’t worry I took plenty of photos for you all.
They also had very nice decorations just outside the resort. Went and took some photos of those before we headed over to EPCOT for the Candlelight Processional.
Next on the list was heading on over to EPCOT. We wanted to catch the final Candlelight Processional of the season, also who doesn’t love Marlee Matlin? Once we got there we noticed a few of the decorations that were still up, so we stopped to take a few photos.
We made our way over to World Showcase. The wait times for Soarin’, Test Track, etc were too long at this point and didn’t want to miss the performance. Made our way to the standby line and waited for them to allow us to sit!
The performance was excellent and we were both glad to have had the chance to see it! I’ve never seen a choir of this magnitude before and having a celebrity “read” the story was something special! Was able to find a video of the performance we attended, it’s not the full performance. Credit to JeffLangeDVD over at YouTube for taking the video and uploading it!
While going with the flow of the crowd, I noticed something that I haven’t seen before. They project the word “Good Night” in all the different pavilion languages on the EPCOT ball. One thing about Disney I love is, that you’ll always find something you’ve never seen before, no matter how many times you’ve been there.
Before we left we got our photo with the Mickey and Minnie Topiary. While we were waiting to get our photo taken a big family was getting ready to pose for theirs. They made poor grandma sit on the ground, she had quite a struggle to get up and down.
Once back at the Resort we did a little walking around just to see the decorations. We noticed they had a table full of smaller gingerbread houses that appeared to have been in some sorta contest. They were of course Disney themed and were very cute. Here’s a couple of them.
Our first half day at Disney was rather short but enjoyable. Went to bed (after refilling our resort cups with pop of course) early so we could gear up for our 19 hour day that was awaiting for us the next day. Yes the next day is New Years Eve and we spend the entire day at the Magic Kingdom. Make sure you come back for that extremely long trip report (split into two parts), it’s going to be full of plenty of videos, photos, and music. It’s something to not be missed!
Photos from our first day can be found at flickr. The rest of the trip photos are there too if you wish to have a sneak peak of what the next trip reports will contain!
This year we wanted to do something a bit different for New Years. It was decided that Walt Disney World would be the most magical place to ring in 2012! Neither of us have visited Walt Disney World Resort during the Holidays and this was more than a perfect opportunity to do so. Since they don’t take down many of the decorations until the beginning of January, we would have plenty of time to see and experience it all. Also there are many of the Christmas shows still happening!
The trip was a full seven days and only once did we leave the property (Outlet Shopping). The trip was really about seeing everything we could at the resort and also experiencing shows and sights we haven’t seen before at Walt Disney World. We did everything from Space Mountain to breakfast at Chef Mickey’s to the Gingerbread House at the Grand Floridian.
Our trip was magical, hectic, chaotic, and relaxing all at the same time, believe it or not. The holidays at Walt Disney World are something that is not to be missed. There’s nothing more amazing than viewing Cinderella’s Castle lit up with icicles and having a live DJ ring in the New Year with Mickey and friends! Don’t worry there’s plenty of music, video, and photos to share.
There were a few things we did more of this time around than the last few times we’ve visited. Had more photos with characters, it’s a ton of fun and when you interact with the characters it’s always a surprise to see how they react. A lot more table service, one can only handle so much counter service. Also go to see more of other resorts to help us pick a resort we would love to stay at the next time we return!
As per my usual way of doing Trip Reports, this one will be no different. There will be eight different posts for each of the days we were there (I’m going to combine our arrival day with New Year Eve). They will be jam packed with photos, videos, and music for you all to enjoy.
Here’s a quick summary of the trip and what to expect in the upcoming posts!
Day One – December 30th – Arrival
- EPCOT & Candlelight Processional with Marlee Matlin
Day Two – December 31st – New Years Eve
- Magic Kingdom for 19 Hours
- Arrive at 7am for Rope Drop
- Watched almost every Christmas Entertainment playing throughout the day
- Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
- Cinderella’s Christmas Wish
- Holiday Wishes
- Fantasy in the Sky
- Electrical Parade
- A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas
- Experience an at capacity Magic Kingdom
- Live DJ spinning the latest in dance music at the stage in front of Cinderella’s Castle
- and much, much, more.
Day Three – January, 1st – New Years Day
- Waking up at 11am
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Walk to BoardWalk and view all the stores and restaurants
- Eat too much chocolate at the Italy Pavilion
- Biergarten in the German Pavilion
- Downtown Disney for shopping
Day Four – January, 2nd – Downtown Disney & Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Use 20% off coupon to purchase a ton of merchandise at DTD
- All the major attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Finding Nemo The Musical
- Met our first Disney Princess, Pocahontas
- Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade
- Attacked by a pair of Chipmunks
Day Five – January 3rd – EPCOT & Resort Hopping
- All the major attractions before lunch!
- Walked to the Dolphin and Swan Resorts
- Port Orleans French Quarter
- Teppan Edo at the Japan Pavilion for dinner in EPCOT
- Sat beside a Cast Member and his wife that works on the costumes for Disney Parades
Day Six – January 4th – Chef Mickey’s & Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
- Breakfast with Mickey and Friends at Chef Mickey’s
- Donald wasn’t liking one of the items I was wearing ….
- Met Alice
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Kilimanjaro Safari
- Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Toy Story Mania
Day Seven – January 5th – Backstage Magic Tour
- All day tour called Backstage Magic Tour (keeping the details for the post!)
- EPCOT and many beers from around the world *hiccup*
Day Eight – January 6th – One World, Four Parks
- Visit all four parks in one very jammed packed day!
That was a very short summary of our entire trip. I will be going into detail for each of those days! Make you check back often for the latest trip report.