I'm sure we all know the story by now, as I've been talking it up for a couple months: I've never been to WDW before this, have always wanted to in the back of my head but never felt like I should, felt like DL was some kind of crummy second-place prize of a park, etc. And now I finally get to go despite warnings and proclimations that it's diry, there's creepy bugs, I'd have a better experience in Tokyo, etc.
So here's the TR. Since a lot of people don't care for the TR stuff, most my opinions on certain issues are labeled in bold as Controversial subject ( for things that have been discussed on this board lately) or If I may say so... (for just general opinions on certain things that remained true throughout the trip.) Look for these if you don't want to read the whole thing.
Keep in mind that I live in a resort/tourism town myself and tend to compare common elements to what I'm used to back home, where I was quite a tourist before I moved here (and I sometimes still get free rooms regardless.)
Also, this TR is huge, so I'll probably do one day at a time.
I arrive at MCO in the local 6AM hour after getting no sleep on a direct red eye flight from McCarran Intl here in Las Vegas. This has the unfortunate effect of making me a little terse for the remainder of the day, and maybe some of the next. DME goes well with no wait.
I chose POFQ because of it's reasonable bus scheduling and a reccomendation from our own WDW1974 that I was less likely to walk into a Housekeeping Nightmare at this hotel than the other mods. Check-in was fine, I was immediately given a room, and got a top-floor corner room in building 3 which filled all the requests I wanted to make but didn't have to.
Controversial subject: Room Cleanliness. Well I call it a controversial moment because it's something we've talked about here in great discussion before. I pulled the comforter down before using the bed just because you don't know where it's been, and all the sheets on the one of two beds I used were clean and dandy. No mysterious bottles of liquid left anywhere, although there was a strong cleaner scent in the air after housekeeping went through a few times. The only thing this room had that was consistant with what we've talked about is quite a bit of dirt under the bedskirt, but it wasn't a big enough deal to spoil my mood or complain about. I have a bug phobia and was jumpy for the first few hours, but never encountered any snakes, monster spiders, or flying cockroaches of doom. It was enjoyable to have four squirrels running around the tree and grounds outside the room, though.
All in all, back home I've seen luxury hotels here that were dirtier and mid-range hotels much like this one that were cleaner. So it's no big win, but no big loss, either. It was pretty had to believe that I was here and one park was already open on early hour (Epcot, but no thanks.) I went out to check on my bags which had not yet arrived (it would be a few hours) and pick up a refillable mug.
If I may say so... Refillable Mugs: I'm not quite so sure what makes this refillable mug such a bargain if you're completely uninterested in it as a souvenir. I did take it home but the hotel gift shop sells 2 liter bottles for about $3, that don't require constantly refilling at the soda fountain, that you can access in your room 24 hours, etc. Furthermore, I ended up eating at the hotel's greasy spoon a lot of the time (well, I ate at greasy spoons all but once anyway, but kept running back to my hotel) in order to save $3 on drink and get my money's worth out of the cup. Maybe if I had a large group of people this would save money, but if it were just myself again, I'd buy the 2 liter.
So it's time to head out to the old bus stop and load up for one of these parks. What'll it be? Maybe I'll go visit the old favorites, or try out Epcot because it's huge or...
So, yeah I started off at the Studios. It was the first bus to a park to pull up (I think), I kind of enjoyed the look of it I saw on TV when it opened (I remember so well the old special with Smokey Robinson singing down Hollywood Blvd as stuntmen shot each other and fell off of buildings), and TOT and RnRC were not up my alley so I could easily knock off a lot of park very quickly.
I took in the atmosphere of Hollywood Blvd and the hub for quite a bit before settling on the Great Movie Ride as my first attraction at the World. The Mickey on the ball at the entrance of the park is missing. The theater is nicer on the outside and inside than I thought it would be, especially after all these years and all this talk of maintenance neglect.
TGM is an alright ride, although the shootout is way louder than everything else and would have been a good cause for earplugs if I had them (oh yes, that's another thing, I have sensitive ears.) I wound up sitting on the far right end of the rather large car (I was kind of suprised at the size of the road this vehicle uses up. It looks like it could have been a flume ride) and it seems like everything happens on the right. First came the Alien AA which scared me half to death because I was waiting for it to pop out of anywhere except for right next to me. If it actually fired, it would have sent me all the way to my early demise except it did not, and instead I was suprised to see it's head and hands tucked away in the dark corner right next to my head, waiting to spring out. The cute mobster-girl driving the car shouted "Look out!" as nothing happened. Goes to figure, I guess. In general, I was suprised at variety of studio's films presented in the ride and how few of them were Disney's. I figured that Fantasia would get a little more recognition than it did. But, the wicked witch AA looks like it could have been a person. Does anyone know where else the AAs this advanced can be found?
Disney-MGM Studios: Though most merchandise was disappointing throughout the trip, I do love these ovoid plush so. I had to buy a Donald later.
After this, I went to the Disney Animation exhibit and saw very little more than a movie which was just more of Eddie Murphy doing more of his interchangable Mushu/Donkey shtick. There was a woman coloring a character in a glass box near the Chicken Little exhibit. I have no idea if she is a real animator or just pretending to be, but I'd like to apologize to the faux pas I made, walking past the box and muttering "I guess there's not many left of the crew that hasn't been let go" as I passed. I did not think she could hear me, and I could hear in the background her saying "Hi there!" over the speaker to the crowd that was still there after I was gone. Oops.
Disney-MGM Studios: Incredible work here, with the flowers coming out of the bucket like pouring water. I love it.
The attraction celebrating the life of Walt was a wonderful way to end this visit to the Studios. The models under glass are incredible, especially the Disneysea fortress one, although I'm not really sure how wild Walt would be about connecting Desperate Housewives and various Touchstone flicks to his legacy. The movie was worth the long wait, as it did not gloss too much over Walt's failures, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (which would become a non-issue for the company only two days later) as well as less family-friendly subjects like Walt's time in the military. There's a lot of talk from the man himself that I had never heard before, and while I'm beginning to think that Julie Andrews will jump for the first dollar TWDC will hand her, her presence here is just right. I could not have dealt with Eisner reading the script, sorry.
If I may say so... Videotaping: I'm confused about the number of places that CMs explicitly ask for no videotaping, as I'm not aware of most videotaping using any kind of unusual lighting that could damage a show. They ask for no videotaping before the Walt movie, and before the CoP, and before the Lion King enviro-movie, but not before PhilharMagic which is pointless to videotape and may interfere with effects anyway. The man opening the Walt movie asked us not to videotape the movie "because some of this film is 50 to 75 years old." I know they have to give a phony reason for the people who inevitably ask why, but in my mind I thought "And I imagine that the projection of said film is over 100." :P
Anyway, I got a larger taste of the old days at the Walt exhibit than I have at anything in Disneyland in years, and the pictures of things like old Tomorrowland were a nice touch. Leaving the Studios and trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B, I noticed how little shade there was outside. This was a comfortably warm day and not too hot or too cold, but the sunlight beating down on you is obvious. In fact, I did not find a lot of shade at WDW parks much of the time at all. Odd.
I left the Studios and took a friendship to Beach Club, where I got lost and did far too much walking around trying to find Beaches & Cream. I figured out after way too much pacing that you have to go indoors then back outdoors after the hallway. Beaches' burgers were certainly nothing special, and I was disappointed that it's menu was regular fare. I had heard so much about these single/double/triple/homerun "Fenway burgers" or something to find out they don't exist. I am a sucker for those giant meals where you have to challenge yourself to finish the whole thing, so the burger selection was a downer, and even I am not insane enough to try the kitchen sink on my own, unless someone else was paying.
I took another friendship back to MGM, then bussed to POFQ to go unpack my main bag and call the relatives.
All in all, this was an okay experience, nothing like what I would have expected out of WDW, though.
I got back home to find out what I had forgotten to pack: A USB cable connecting my camera to another device, such as a laptop or (in my case) camera link to iPod. Thinking I could solve this with a camera store, I set off to Magic Kingdom.
Ah, now this is what I wanted. That classic sound of the train arriving to the station, the Monorails criss-crossing just over my head, the walk through the tunnel and..... WOW!
I just wasn't anticipating simply how massive this thing would be. Actually, I was anticipating it, but it still floored me upon walking in. Critics be damned, I had a great big ol' smile on my face walking in here and kept it for the rest of the night.
Although I did get accustomed to it in time, the castle is huge and beautiful and visible from wherever the heck you are in the park. It's odd seeing it glow at night above Frontierland, but there it is. I walked around Main Street, ducking around into stores and looking at merchandise that was much the same as a I saw at MGM. I did get that USB cable by the way, and the camera store had that same musty scent as Main Street stores in Disneyland, which honestly suprised me. Then, I went off to Tomorrowland.
Controversial subject: Tomorrowland. This is my favorite of the current Tomorrowlands, without a doubt. HKDL's could be better in time if given more chance to grow, and some of the little touches are just beginning to wear out, but it's otherwise maaaaahvelous, dahling. If you're really going to stop trying to accurately predict the future, then you should put a lot of imagination into the fiction like they did here. It's also a depressing statement about what COULD have been done at DL if certain executives weren't total morons.
Being that I am too tired at this point to ride anything that is not a walk-on, I got to see CoP for the first time in a long time, ride the Peoplemover of course, and just walk around happy. I pulled out my cell phone and dialed my Dad just to blast the CoP music into his ear because we've missed it for decades.
I rode the train to Frontierland and wandered through that for a while before leaving around 7PM to avoid the crush.
Splash Mountain: I'm not sure how I took this shot, but it came out rather artistic for a clunker. Somehow, my camera ended up capturing the moving object as a still and the rest of the scene in motion. I guess I was moving the camera at the same speed as the log.
And that ends Day 1.
Next update, assuming anyone cares for one, will have a lot of Epcot impressions.