Sunday, August 3, 2008

Bonus Sunday - Mini Reviews and Maps

My focus of this trip was of course the Magic Kingdom, but I did visit some other parks as well, so let’s take a little look at those too.

First let’s talk about EPCOT. I did like the park, but I can’t really say it was very photo worthy.

I liked “Test Track”, I think this is what Disneyland’s Rocket Rods were supposed to be like. They had this neat “prototype car” in the exit area; I think I’ve seen this in some older photos, still looks neat however.

The rest of EPCOT was good if not remarkable. The Universe of Energy was campy yet fun. Spaceship Earth was neat and reminded me of a 1964 worlds fair ride, not sure why. Soaring is the same as DCA and super fun. “Living with the Land” was neat also, very entertaining and educational, the kids seem to like it also so it works on many levels.

Journey into Imagination was also cute if not a bit dated. Honey I shrunk the Audience sucks just as bad as it does at Disneyland. Worse actually because, once again, 400 people have to cram thru 4 sets of small doors, push and shove time, bad show on top of a bad show. I never made it to the “Seas” as half the attractions close at 6pm!

The World Showcase is interesting, if not a bit contrived. Having only a few hours to visit was not enough. It seems geared towards adults and each area is themed nicely. I would definitely like to go back and spend the entire afternoon and evening there, it seems to have a lot of potential.

I had lunch in Italy and it was fantastic, everyone enjoyed their meals, I had this great chicken dish, yummy!

I think this was Japan!

Here is the big map of EPCOT. Kevin Yee did warn me this is really two parks in one. He was right; I should have allocated more time to see the whole place.

Animal Kingdom; It rained most of the day so I have no photos, sorry about that! The park is themed better than any Disney property I have ever seen. If you like animals and nature, you will LOVE this park. The Safari trip is amazing and a must do if you visit this park. Its 400 acres of wildlife in an amazingly realistic setting. There are some great shows too and lots to look at.

Expedition Everest is a blast. Think Matterhorn, mixed with Thunder Mountain, with a Dash of Viper from Six Flags. The whole “backwards” sequence is mind blowing, lots of screams! I did need to sit for a moment after riding this one.

Here is the map of Animal Kingdom. The huge tree in the middle is a bit out of place because everything else in the park is real. The food was decent and here’s a tip; if it’s raining after 6pm (the park closed at 8pm) they start giving away ice cream, for real! The vendor carts are just handing it out, pop corn too! Good show Disney!

Now for a couple “off site” parks. First up Universal Studio Florida. This park was fun and better than the Universal here in California. It only lacks an actual tram tour, which is fun in California, but since there is no real studio here I am not sure how they would do it. The neat part here is all the city streets (New York, San Francisco, Beverly Hills) are open and you walk on them. Universal California only takes you thru those streets on the tram.

They do have separate shows for some of the tram tour elements. Jaws gets its own attraction with a boat ride (Similar to the Jungle Cruise in size). It’s great, you see the shark about 5 times and he gets “toasted” in the end, just like in Jaws 2! There is a “your in the movie” show that ends with you going in a subway car and going into the earthquake subway station with the fire, flood and collapsing street, its fun to be an actual subway car and not the tram!

The Mummy was fun (duplicate of Universal CA.) The Simpsons ride was great, they play Simpsons episodes in the queue lines, especially the ones that parody theme parks, those crack me up!

Here is the front and the giant Universal Globe.

I found a couple familiar friends on the streets of Universal!

Here is the Guide Map for Universal Florida. You will have to turn you monitor upside down to read some of it, sorry.

No photos because it was raining again, here is “Universal's Islands of Adventure”. This place was great, it’s really an extension of Universal Studio’s, but has a separate gate. All the action takes place in this park. The Hulk and Twin dragons are wicked inverted roller coasters. The Spiderman show is super, think Indiana Jones mixed with 3D (hey, that would be an awesome update to add 3D to Indy at Disneyland).

They also have the Jurassic Park Ride. The lands are all themed rather well, and the Seuss Landing area is pretty amazing, it’s very well done and immersive. The Trolley ride is fun too, it offers “PeopleMover” style views of the Seuss Landing area as well as the lake.

If you have kids 11 to 17, they will like Islands of Adventure more than Universal. The food was good, but some restaurants close at 6pm, huh?

Last up here is the Guide Map from the Magic Kingdom.

I had a great trip to Florida, it could not have been better. I would recommend taking the trip to Florida at least once. While at times it seemed not so fun (the humidity takes some getting used to, if ever) and the crowds were HUGE compared to little old Anaheim, in retrospect I had a very enjoyable time and I might even go back some day.


Scott said...

Didn't make it to MGM, I mean Hollywood Studios? A lot of what is at the Studios can be found at Disneyland, but DHS' version of Tower of Terror is one of the best rides in WDW.

EPCOT is definitely a different park. Future World's pavillions are more like monoliths rather than lands like other theme parks. World Showcase is very scenic and a nice place to relax mostly.

The final plan for EPCOT was created by pushing the model for Future World and World Showcase together, so yes it is two parks in one.

Animal Kingdom is beautiful. I haven't been since Everest opened, so I haven't experienced that yet. Kilimanjaro Safaris is an incredible ride through a wildlife preserve.

I lament the loss of Back to the Future at Universal Studios. I'm just not a big Simpsons fan. I do like Hollywood's tram tour that includes King Kong, Jaws, Earthquake, etc. instead of the various separate attractions. On the other hand, once we did the tram tour in Hollywood we were struggling to find a whole lot else to do.

Islands of Adventure is fun. The two trains of Dueling Dragons come within a foot or so of each other. Dudley Do-Right's flume ride is a lot like Splash Mountain with a bit less theming and a slightly better final drop. Popeye's raft ride will get you absolutely soaked. The Hulk is an excellent launching coaster.

Glad you enjoyed your trip to the east!

Westcot2000 said...

If you go back I would recommend going between Labor Day and Presidents' Day, exclusive of Christmas Break. Way less crowds and better weather. I took the family the week before Christmas break and we walked on just about everything.

Busch Gardens Tampa is also definitely worthy of a side trip--even more so if you like roller coasters.

You didn't mention Men in Black--did you go on that?

Disneyana World said...

EPCOT not worthy!?

I beg to differ! You have to work to find photo ops there.

You are right about World Showcase though. It does seem contrived and it is geared more towards adults. The original EPCOT Center was very adult and WS is living proof.

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Scott; I did want to do the Disney Studio, but I got out voted for Universal instead. I too miss the Back to the Future attraction. People were saying it was too outdated, and while I do like the Simpsons, they are just as out dated, so that excuse does not fly. And Universal Florida sure has the space for both! I hear you on the struggle of what to do after the Tour at Universal Hollywood, if I see that darn Water World show one more time I will scream! Islands of Adventure was fun and very immersive, with a hint of Disney type themes.

Westcott; I was told by local CA folks that FL in July was crowded and hot. Well, it was crowded, but the heat and humidity could have been worse, its was upper 80’s most days, and some nights got downright nice  Men in Black was great according to the family, but I was on little kid duty for that one so I missed it.

Disneyana; Let me rephrase my not worthy comment: Nothing jumped out at me (expect the big ball of course) that screamed “take my picture”. I think because it was all so new to me I was just your typical tourist soaking it all up and not taking the time to find the good shots. If I went back today I can think of at least half a dozen spots I would target. I did like the park, and it had a “buzz” of excitement I did not expect, people were literally running to the attractions when it opened. The Monument stones thing out front was weird though.

Major Pepperidge said...

Wow, they're still running the Waterworld stunt show at Universal?? Who even remembers that movie?

I often hear a lot of people talking about how great EPCOT is, but so far there has been very little that really makes me want to go there. Sure, I'm curious, but I'm not dying to go. I can only assume that it's way better than I am imagining!

Disneyana World said...

The Leave A Legacy stones are an embarrassment to park entrances everywhere!

I miss the pretty flowers and wide open space of the old entrance.

ericpaddon said...

Major Pepperidge, the best time to see EPCOT sadly ended in the mid-90s when we first lost "World Of Motion", followed by the best version of "Spaceship Earth" (the Cronkite "Tomorrow's Child" version) and then by decade's end goodbye "Journey Into Imagination" and "Horizons". EPCOT totally lost all of the touches that made Future World special (when I went back in 04, I didn't even bother with most of Future World).