So we decided to do something a little bit different this year for Father's Day and head to the parks. I figured it would be a fantastic way to spend the day. I love the parks and my son is getting old enough to really like them as well. The fact that a friend of mine was able to get us in the parks for free that day only made it all the more reason. So off we went.
We booked a hotel stay at the Royal Plaza hotel in the downtown disney area. Had I known we were getting in for free I would probably have stayed somewhere nicer, but aside from not getting access to EMH or Disney Transport, the hotel was actually pretty nice. I'd read a lot of very negative reviews about this hotel but didn't experience any of them except for the added cost of parking and resort fees that they hide a bit. That said it was still cheaper than a Disney value resort in a much nicer room. I don't regret staying there one bit.
We decided to start our day out by visiting DHS. My son has become a huge Star Wars fan over the last few weeks and all he wanted to do was to see R2D2. So we headed over to Star Tours so he could see them in the queue. Unfortunately, the Jedi Training show was taking place and he got very scared (he's only 3 1/2). We had to wait for it to end, but once it did I convinced him to enter the queue with me so that he could see them. He was very excited and my only complaint was the rude castmember who began yelling at us to move along when we stopped for 20 seconds to take a picture of Caleb in front of C3PO. There was only one other group of people in line behind us and they were also taking pictures. I understand the need to keep the line moving, but there was no reason at all for the cast member to act like that in this situation. Luckily, it was really the only bad experience we had all day. My wife and son then left the line and I stayed on to ride. I'll give my thoughts on Star Tours a bit later.
Once complete, we headed over to the Magic Kingdom for the day since the majority of rides we wanted to see were there. We had to immediately ride the Indy race cars 2 times as it is my son's favorite ride. He loves being able to drive, I just wish it wasn't so ridiculously hot in that queue. The rest of the day entailed taking it slow and seeing the Carousel of Progress a few times, The People Mover, The Jungle Cruise, and Peter Pan. By that point in time it was about dinner time and my son was getting pretty tired. So we decided to call it a day and go get some dinner.
After getting dinner I took my family back to the hotel, got them cleaned up and got my son to sleep. At this point in time it was about 8:30 and I decided to head back out by myself as a Father's Day present to me and go back to the parks to ride the stuff I could only ride alone. I debated briefly heading to Epcot to see Illuminations but instead decided just to head back to the Magic Kingdom for the night since it was open till 11. I got there at 9 and had to fight my way through the Main Street Electrical Parade crowds. About the only place I could get to was Pirates so I decided to give it a ride. It was especially nice to see it a walk-on at this point.
My goal from this point on was to try to get over to Big Thunder as soon as the parade ended and hope to beat any crowds heading there from the parade ending in the area, then hit the Haunted Mansion to check out the new upgrades before making my way over to Space Mountain at about 10:30 to use the Fastpass I'd grabbed earlier in the day. Luckily my plan worked perfectly, and since I was alone I was able to move through the mass of people fairly easily. Once I got off of Space Mountain it was 10:55 PM and I decided to jump on the People Mover one last time while I could before EMH began and I could no longer ride anything. I absolutely love the People Mover at night, it is so relaxing and Tomorrowland is beautiful. It is a perfect way to end the evening.
On my way out the Electrical parade was beginning again so I decided to stop and watch it since I've never seen it before. I enjoyed it, but the floats are terribly dated and could truly use a lighting upgrade. I really wish someone would spend some money on truly building an up to date version of the parade. At that point, I headed out of the park after doing a bit of last minute shopping and hit the monorail back to the parking lot. All in all, it was a great Father's Day.
I made a few notes regarding my thoughts on some of the rides I'd ridden that were new after I got back to the hotel room. Those thoughts are below:
1. Visiting the parks with your son is absolutely the best way to spend Fathers Day.
2. Star Tours is much better since the refurb especially with the motion syncing. Almost zero motion sickness with this version compared to the nauseating sensation with the previous version. 3D is very subtle, could have been a bit more defined but not bad. The gift shop still uses the old Star Tours as a movie set theme. Why couldn't the new theme have been used throughout the entire experience.
3. Carousel of Progress is still a great attraction that deserves some much needed attention; car phones and laserdiscs are really futuristic?
4. Im neither a fan or a critic of the new interactive queue at the Haunted Mansion. It was nice but I probably will skip it in previous visits. I didn't feel it ruined the ambience as some have said. No that is accomplished by operations insistence on skipping the lobby portion of the pre-show completely. I hate entering the lobby with the portrait already transformed and the stretching doors open. I really have to wonder how much better it makes throughput because it destroys the setup to the ride. With that said the new hitchhiking ghost effect is 100 times better than the old one. If the pre-show was fixed this would be one of the greatest attractions in the world.
5. Stereophonic sound or whatever they are calling it now on Space Mountain is worthless. The only time you can even hear it is after the descent tunnel. It's better than nothing, but just barely. The other special effects make the ride much better though. It definitely seems much faster in a darker environment and I love the updated post-show.
6. The PeopleMover is a much better attraction at night and really is the perfect way to end your day. Tomorrowland is beautiful at night and without the need for your eyes to adjust to the dark, the Space Mountain section of the ride is very cool because you can see so much more than you can during the day.