Walt Disney World Resort: 2012
Sunday, 4th March
Staying at Disney's Contemporary Resort. Had a slightly traumatic start to my stay as the hotel had no record of my booking. Luckily they found me a room and finally sorted things out with my travel agent (when I say "finally", I mean about 3 days later).
First thing to do after trying to sort out that mess was heading off to the Polynesian (where I'd stayed on my last trip to WDW) to watch Wishes, before catching the ferry across to the Magic Kingdom.
I'd never really bothered queueing to get photos of characters until last year in Disneyland Paris when I got this photo of Rapunzel. That all changed on this trip when I queued for pretty much every character I saw! Aside from the appeal of the characters themselves, I love the backdrops that some of them pose against. Plus you can't beat meeting Mickey Mouse on your first day at the parks.
The one drawback I found to taking photos of the characters by themselves is that more often than not, as I went to stand by the PhotoPass photographer to take my photos, the children next in line would rush in and the characters would think they were with me. Shoo, children!
I wandered around the Hub and rode Pirates and Jungle Cruise, before reminding myself it was around 5am UK time and I should really go back to the hotel and get some sleep!
Monday, 5th March
Before heading to Epcot, I went across to the Polynesian to take some photos. I had planned on going to the Grand Floridian but, particularly with the monorails being down for much of the time, decided against it.
I had some bad weather on my last trip to Walt Disney World and Epcot was the park to pay the price as I cut short my visit there on a sunny day to head back to watch the parade at the Magic Kingdom. This time, I was determined to spend more time there, particularly given that the International Flower & Garden Festival was on. Officially, it didn't start until Thursday, but most of the displays were already on show.
Whilst I did end up spending more time than ever before at Epcot, most of that was spent in World Showcase. The only attraction I did in Futureworld was, er, The Seas With Nemo & Friends (no queue!), unless of course you count Club Cool!
I spent too much time in World Showcase wandering between Mexico and China in the hope that La Cava del Tequila would open and I could grab something to eat there. In the meantime, I stopped off at Norway for some School Bread, before finally settling on lunch at Nine Dragons.
Lovely restaurant and an awesome Daiquiri, but I wasn't blown away by the food.
More queuing for characters:
Having reached the International Gateway, I wandered down for my first trip to the BoardWalk. I didn't stay very long but it was nice to finally make it there.
Then it was off to the Magic Kingdom as I wanted to catch Main Street Electrical Parade.
It's been years since I last saw this parade (the Disneyland Paris version) but whilst it was nice to see (and hear!) it from a nostalgia point of view, I think I actually prefer Spectromagic.
First Dole Whip of the trip!
Headed back to the hotel where I was able to watch the Electrical Water Pageant from my room!
Tuesday, 6th March
Alongside Epcot, Animal Kingdom was another park I intended to devote more time to. Before my trip, I think I spent more time looking at photos of DAK on Flickr than any other park! However, this turned out to be my only visit. I was reasonably satisfied with my photos and as it's such hit and miss how many/which animals you'll see it didn't seem worth making another trip.
First stop (as for so many others!) was the Kilimanjaro Safaris Expedition and we had a pretty good turn out.
From there, straight on to the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. Compared to the hit and miss safari ride, you can always rely on meerkats to pose for the camera!
I fell in love with the Silverback Gorillas on my last visit so was looking forward to photographing them again.
Heading from Africa to Asia and the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Some freaky looking birds. They reminded me of the Skeksis from The Dark Crystal.
On to the wonderful Finding Nemo: The Musical
Managed to get a seat at Yak & Yeti without too long a wait. Loved the food here.
Off to DinoLand USA! Didn't ride Dinosaur this time around - that damned Carnotaur freaks me out anyway!
I can't remember at which point of the day I finally rode Expedition Everest, but it was at the third attempt as they kept closing the ride. Anyway, I finally saw the Yeti, which I'd somehow managed to miss on my last trip to WDW, even if he isn't actually moving these days.
I never seem to get decent photos of Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade - and I never have a blue sky!
Time after the parade for a drink at the Dawa Bar before making it over just in time for a showing of Festival of the Lion King
Then off to Epcot to catch IllumiNations
More Sorcerer Mickey topiaries to come tomorrow...
What better to do whilst waiting for fireworks than watch fireworks!
Wednesday, 7th March
A quick wander outside the Contemporary before heading to the Hollywood Studios.
First Sorcerer Mickey topiary of the day!
Arriving at the Studios for the second MM topiary!
First stop: Toy Story Midway Mania! I picked up a fast pass then realised there actually wasn't a queue anyway.
After that, off to experience the new Star Tours - again, no queue yet so went on it twice. Hopefully, this version will find its way to Disneyland Paris before too long.
With a couple of the big rides out of the way, I wandered over to the Art of Disney Animation to get some character photos
Brave concept art
Always love seeing Sorcerer Mickey! Just maybe not so much in topiary form anymore...!
Beauty & The Beast - Live on Stage
Queue was too long for Tower of Terror so just wandered around for a bit - wasn't fussed about missing Rock'n'Rollercoaster as,unlike Space Mountain, the ride is very similar to the Disneyland Paris version. The theming of the surrounding area, however, is far superior!
Back up to Streets of America, just in time to catch Muppet Vision 3*D.
There is a LOT of Phineas & Ferb in the parks (with more to come at Epcot) however as I have never watched it, I can't comment on how awesome (or not) this is.
No ADR for lunch and everywhere was packed but ended up finding a table at the Backlot Express.
Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun! Parade - where is WALL-E? If Disneyland Paris can stick him on top of a train, surely WDW could fit him in somewhere? Heck, they've had Finding Nemo in parades too!
I love Dug, but when I posted this on tumblr I did not expect it to become my most reblogged photo!
Some of the wonderful models on display at Walt Disney - One Man's Dream. More of these to come on another day. As I figured I might never get to Disneyland, I decided to make the most of photographing models of Sleeping Castle and Paradise Pier!
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
How easy is this guy's job?!
Quick bite to eat before waiting for Fantasmic! No photograph, but I am sad to live in a country without corndogs! Pictured below, the Stop Light Margarita from High Octane Refreshments.
Back down Sunset Boulevard.
A slow wander back down Sunset Boulevard and around Echo Park before the park closed.
Thursday, 8th March
Today was the official start of the International Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot and I had ADRs there for lunch and dinner. So my original plan was to head to the Magic Kingdom for EMH and then spend the rest of the day at Epcot.
However, it suddenly occurred to me that I'd yet to see the Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade. I was only halfway through my holiday so there was still time but, leaving aside the fact I'd want to see it more than once, what if it rained?! I decided I couldn't leave it any longer but I didn't want to cancel my ADRs so this turned into a day of travelling between the Magic Kingdom and Epcot (which took longer than usual as the monorail was down during the day).
But before all that, breakfast!
Magic Kingdom Opening Ceremony
"Sharing the Magic"
Managed to get a few rides done - Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan's Flight, Snow White and IASW, plus PhilharMagic - in between trying to get a sneak peek at New Fantasyland!
I love the bronze statues in the Hub. They're one of my favourite things to photograph in Disneyland Paris, although the statues there are in a far less prominent place in Walt Disney Studios (and on occasion are in no state to photograph anyway, thanks to the birds).
The Crystal Palace was being renovated when I last visited WDW so it was lovely to see this gorgeous building again, even if I decided against a visit to the buffet!
First trip of the day to Epcot.
Bambi's Butterfly House was now open.
As was the Pixie Hollow Fairy Garden.
First time meeting Duffy!
Lunch at the Coral Reef Restaurant.
Back to the Magic Kingdom to catch the parade!
Caught the end of Dream-Along With Mickey
The Dapper Dans entertaining the crowd waiting for the parade.
First up, a parade celebrating 5 years of the Dreamers Academy.
Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade.
The best lookalike Mary Poppins I've yet to see in one of the parks.
The magic of Disney - plus scaffolding and crane!
Back to Epcot and a stop by Club Cool. Gave Beverley another chance but never again!
Time to meet more characters before my evening ADR.
Fezzes are cool...
Great meal at La Hacienda de San Angel.
Pleased to find Donald still posing for photos when I'd finished my meal.
Back to the Contemporary, where I had just about enough energy to watch the fireworks from the corridor outside my room!
But not quite the energy to finish this monster cupcake!
Friday, 9th March
Full day in the Magic Kingdom! I had originally booked lunch at the Kona Cafe as I hadn't made it to any of the restaurants in the Poly when I stayed there in 2010. But with the monorails scheduled to be down (and my feet aching!) I decided to cancel and make an ADR for the Plaza Restaurant instead.
Mayor Weaver greeting guests at the Magic Kingdom Opening Ceremony.
First stop, the Haunted Mansion and the new (to me) queue area.
A familiar face in the Pet Cemetery!
I'd intended on making it over to Tom Sawyer Island...but didn't.
Donald hanging out in Frontierland.
Next up was a visit to Tinker Bell's Magical Nook. Quite a long queue and you've no idea which fairies will be there ("No pixie peeking!") but this was my first attempt at getting Meet & Greet photos of Tink or any of her friends.
Followed by Ariel and Eric.
My first wander of the trip over to Splash Mountain - the weather was a bit gloomy and there was some rain, so didn't attempt to ride it.
Sadly, Big Thunder Mountain was closed for refurbishment during my stay.
A quick detour into Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe to get some shots of Sonny Eclipse.
Lunch at the Plaza Restaurant.
I'd caught the end of Dream-Along with Mickey on a couple of occasions (and saw the show several times on my last trip to WDW) but now was time to see the whole show.
Then it was time for the parade.
Back to the hotel for a rest (and a Glowtini!)then back for Wishes. This was also my first time seeing The Magic, The Memories and You. I hadn't paid much attention to it, thinking it was simply images projected onto the castle but it was so much more impressive than that.
Off to see Country Bears Jamboree, which was actually a lot of fun because the audience was whooping away!
I hadn't planned on watching MSEP again but when I came out of Country Bears, there was a nice empty space waiting for me.
On the way out, decided to stop by Tinker Bell's Magic Nook again. I ended up with the same characters as before, albeit different cast members.
Winnie still working hard at the Crystal Palace!
One last visit to the princesses on the way out.
Saturday 10th March
First up, Disney's Hollywood Studios where I headed straight for Tower of Terror, followed by a general wander around the park before my lunch ADR at the Brown Derby.
Had to try the Grapefruit Cake!
Another visit to Walt Disney: One Man's Dream.
Took the boat over to Epcot.
Blue skies at World Showcase!
Meeting more characters.
Flower & Garden Festival merchandise!
Meeting Duffy one more time!
Sunday, 11th March
My luck with the weather finally ran out and it was raining pretty heavily by the time I reached the Magic Kingdom. First stop for the day - the Rapunzel Meet & Greet to beat the ridiculously long queues which build up there.
Ideal weather for frogs!
Another wander around the new queue area at the Haunted Mansion.
Jack Sparrow lounging at the end of Pirates of the Caribbean.
Another ride on the Jungle Cruise.
Then off to the Enchanted Tiki Room - my first time seeing the "original" show."
Back to Town Square Theater to see Mickey. Love the detail in this room.
Lunch at Tony's Town Square Restaurant.
It was raining even harder now, so I headed back to the hotel to change (and have a Glowtini!) before heading off to Downtown Disney.
A bite to eat at T-Rex.
Back to the hotel. Watched Wishes from the observation deck, although the best spots for setting up a tripod had already been taken. This is an attempted (and failed!) shot of the monorail speeding past the fireworks!
I wandered over to the Magic Kingdom and arrived in time for the second MSEP. As the crowds on Main Street were light, I stopped to watch it again.
I decided to go and see which fairies were in Tinker Bell's Magical Nook. I'd seen Rosetta a couple of days previously - she remembered what I was wearing and my name! Pretty impressive considering how many guests they must meet.
Back to the hub.
I hung around for ages just taking photos of the castle in different colours! Hadn't seen this one before
A quick visit to Tomorrowland and Monsters Inc Laugh Floor before heading back to the hotel.
Monday, 12th March
My final day - whilst most of me was sad to be leaving, my feet were glad the end was in sight!
After the previous day's rain, it was a lovely sunny day to end my trip. There was nothing particular I wanted to do so I had a slow wander around the Magic Kingdom.
I killed time waiting for my Space Mountain Fastpass slot by queuing to meet Buzz.
One ride I hadn't done yet this trip was Splash Mountain so I headed over to get a Fastpass.
Captain Jack's Pirate Tutorial
Trying a Citrus Swirl for the first time!
As I wandered aimlessly back through Fantasyland, I suddenly realised that a path was open which hadn't been therefore...It turned out that there was a soft opening for New Fantasyland. I can't believe how close I came to missing this!
Only two rides were open - the revamped versions of Dumbo and The Barnstormer. The queue for Dumbo seemed too long but Barnstormer was only showing at about 20 minutes so I joined the queue. OK, it turned out to be a bit longer but still worth it to get a taste of the new attractions.
A view of the New Fantasyland construction from on-board the Barnstormer.
After that, it was time to head back to the Contemporary, grab a quick drink and then wait for the Magical Express. Another wonderful, if exhausting, Disney trip over. At the time, I wasn't sure if or when I'd go back to the Magic Kingdom but how can I not go and see the (almost) finished New Fantasyland? I've a trip booked for next November and can't wait to see the new attractions and restaurants and to have my first glimpse of Christmas at a US Disney Park.