A Year as Annual Passholders at Walt Disney World – Week 3 – Recap

We chose quite the time to become annual passholders at Walt Disney World. Of course, it wouldn’t have changed our plans and it’s pretty cool that we chose this time of year. It’s holiday season (no not Christmas)!

July 4th is here and this is the week for the crazy fun! This week at Disney World as annual passholders, we plan to go Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Usually, we’d skip Wednesday and go Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but this is a special week.

Both July 3rd and July 4th are supposed to be spectacular at Walt Disney World. As annual passholders, we want to enjoy as much as we can, so we are going both days!

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Walt Disney World Day 10 – Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom

I will get to the July 4th craziness soon, but we started the week on Monday by going to the Animal Kingdom. This may be an underrated park for some, but it has quickly become one of our favorites. Every single time we go to the Animal Kingdom we have a blast!

Na’vi River Journey

We started with the Na’vi River Journey, which is certainly one of our favorite rides. It’s rather relaxed and makes you feel like you’ve escaped to another world. This was the first time I really felt like the ride needed to be longer as I just didn’t want to leave the colorful land.

Kali River Rapids

Kali River Rapids

Kali River Rapids

A ride my wife has been avoiding because she does too much research sometimes and gets scared, Kali River Rapids was next. The Fastpass+ line was pretty long but still shorter than Stand By. We got on in about 15 to 20 minutes and we were ready for our river rapids journey.

The people we rode with were funny as they were all laughing or covering up to keep from getting wet. We had our ponchos on, but they really weren’t necessary and next time, I will just use it to cover my backpack.

The drop my wife was afraid of was nothing really and she had a blast. I told her before the ride, I thought she would love it and would end up wanting to do it again. I am not right often, but I was this time!

She has actually said it may be one of her favorite rides and we have a complete blast on the Kali River Rapids ride!!

Avatar Flight of Passage

Avatar Flight of Passage

Avatar Flight of Passage

When we go to the Animal Kingdom, Avatar Flight of Passage is always high on our list. However, we don’t want to wait more than 120 minutes. The first time we rode it, we made friend with an employee in line for the ride. He told us, if the wait is under 120 minutes, it’s a great time to get in line.

Well, after two Fastpass+ rides, the wait was 115 minutes, so we got in line. About 20 minutes into our wait, it hopped back up to 150 minutes, which was worth the wait was when we arrived at the park.

The wait times, as we have found, are not completely accurate at Walt Disney World. As annual passholders, we are trying to learn the tricks and this is one of them. For us, we time these waits often to see how accurate they were. In the Year at Walt Disney World – Week 2 post, I shared that Toy Story Mania in Hollywood Studios was way off on the wait time. I also shared that Slinky Dog Dash was about as accurate as you can get for us on our wait time.

Avatar Flight of Passage was close, but not quite right. We were in the rooms that prepare you for the ride within 90 minutes and on the ride in about 100 minutes. This was good news for us as any wait over 90 minutes I consider to be pretty long.

Regardless, for the second time, we got to ride Flight of Passage and it’s certainly one of my favorite rides. The entire experience is rather amazing and it’s something everybody should experience once in their lifetime.

We also learned a trick from someone that rode with us. If you end up on the end of your row, the experience isn’t quite as immersive. The ride comes with smells and a few splashes of water, which I guess you don’t get as strong at the end of the row. I can’t say this personally, but that’s what we heard through the Disney grapevine.

Dinosaur

As we did the first time we rode Flight of Passage, we finished the night with the Dinosaur ride. It’s one of our other favorites at the Animal Kingdom.

This specific journey back in time to pick up a dinosaur for the scientist was extra fun. I love it when people overreact to rides. Just cracks me up and makes the ride extra fun for me. Usually, my wife has this covered on anything that remotely touches the “thriller” category.

However, since we’ve been on Dinosaur about a half dozen times, she knows what to expect. The three young girls in front of us cracked me up the entire ride. They were reacting like their life was about to end and it was hilarious. Thank you, ladies, for entertaining this guy on this ride!

Walt Disney World Day 11 – Magic Kingdom – July 4th Fireworks

Castle Fireworks

Castle Fireworks

Okay, I will let the cat out of the bag and it will probably remain a “local” secret anyway. Disney World’s Magic Kingdom does July 4th fireworks on both July 3rd and 4th. Some believe it’s better to go on the 3rd because it’s not so busy. I will tell you, if this is the case, nobody will be able to move on July 4th at the Magic Kingdom. It was absolutely PACKED on the 3rd, even though it was a Tuesday.

We didn’t ride a single ride before the fireworks as they were our priority. Instead, we posted up near the railing one level back on the main circle in front of the Castle for prime viewing. As annual passholders for Disney World, this was important to us and it may not be something we do next year, but it may be something we love and if we renew or pass, we may do it again.

Anyway, I held our spot while my wife went to explore the Hall of Presidents see the Muppet Show in Liberty Square and check things out. She came back with snacks a couple hours later.

There was a point where my nerves got tested while I was saving our spot. A group of teenie boppers decided they needed to race through (all but one was on a phone texting or doing something) and they were invading my blanket space. I had to use all my patients to avoid sticking out a leg and tripping one of them. I know, I know, not very Disney-like, but when people don’t pay much attention to anything around them it drives me a bit nutty.

Anyway, our walkway area filled up fast and it got crowded. My wife had the brilliant idea of stretching out our blanket instead of having it in half, which gave us more space. Most people respect the blanket space, which made for a great experience.

At 7pm, Mr. Energy (don’t know his real name) came out to start the dance party. This went on for 2 straight hours with jokes, dances and all kinds of fun. Then, it was fireworks time!

What a show! It was rather amazing and one of the better fireworks shows I have ever seen. I still think the one I saw at TwoEE’s Winery in Huntington, Indiana was right there with it, but the Magic Kingdom show was very cool.

After the show, we packed up and headed to do some rides.

Magic Kingdom Fireworks

Magic Kingdom Fireworks

Peoplemover

You won’t find a Fastpass+ for Peoplemover and you don’t need one. However, don’t skip this ride! It’s one of my wife’s favorites and I love the nice little break. Plus, you get to see a ton of cool stuff along the way.

Peoplemover has been one we frequent because it’s relaxing, fun and shows you Tomorrowland. You get some pretty cool views from the ride and I get to check the baseball scores, lol!

Carousel of Progress

Our first time doing the Carousel of Progress and it was rather cool. It’s a Walt Disney original. The theater actually moves and takes you through the journey of the American family from the turn of the 20th century to now. Super cool ride/show and very well done!

Peoplemover, Again

Yes, we did it again. Partially, we did it to kill time before our Fastpass+, but also because my wife really loves this ride.

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

Buzz Lightyear

Buzz Lightyear

Another ride we like, well more me than my wife, I think, is the Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. It’s a shooting game you play against your opponent as you ride the ride. I win every single time, which is fine because my wife kills me at Toy Story Mania every single time.

This was the last ride of the night for us and now it was time to see how bad the wait would be to get out of the park.

The Magic Kingdom stayed open until 12am for regular guests and had Extra Magic Hours until 2am for resort guests. We left just before 12am and it was smooth going to get on the monorail until we got on it. We barely had to wait, and then, the monorail didn’t move. It was delayed and we waited about 10 minutes before joining everybody else in the Ferry line.

From now on, we will take the Ferry to the parking lot only. The monorail was broken down when we arrived and cost us about 25 minutes getting out of the park. It took about an hour to get on the road and head home, which we expected due to the lines, but it wasn’t due to the lines this time.

Walt Disney World Day 12 – Epcot – July 4th Fireworks

Epcot

Epcot

Since we went to the Magic Kingdom on the 3rd, Epcot is our spot for the 4th. It’s the only other park doing a special fireworks show for Independence Day and as Disney World annual passholders, we want to see both shows.

It was another long wait for the fireworks, but worth it for sure. We posted up at 6:25pm in Italy and there were people you could tell had been there for a few hours already. Before we posted up, we did ride Soarin’ on the way in, but that was the only ride we got on.

After posting up, my wife headed to Mexico for a margarita and brought me some amazing guacamole. Then, I headed over to Germany for a couple of the dark beers they sell and we settled in for a long wait.

Rain at Epcot

Rain at Epcot

It wouldn’t have been too bad of a wait, but at about 8:30pm, a storm rolled in and poured down on us. Ponchos on, rain dances happening and people deciding to stay or go, the guy on the loudspeaker announced the fireworks were going to be delayed.

Storm Rolling In at Epcot

Storm Rolling In at Epcot

They were supposed to start at 9pm, but didn’t start until 9:45pm. This delay was like a domino effect taking our Epcot night and turning into chaos.

Actually getting out of the park wasn’t too bad, but getting out of the parking lot and to Highway 192 was horrible. The problem the delay caused was the time we got out of Epcot.

Typically Epcot closes at 9pm, does their show and you leave. This is earlier than all other Disney parks, so you don’t have much of a crowd to fight on the roads. The delay put us getting out of the parking lot at the same time that both Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom were closing and after the Magic Kingdom firework show, which you could see from Epcot.

This caused the roads to be filled and it took about three times the normal time to get us home after the fireworks.

All the misery aside, the show at Epcot was incredible. I think it was better than Magic Kingdom’s 4th of July show, but that’s just my opinion. They start with the normal show, which is already pretty cool, but the finale was all about Independence Day and it was awesome!

I guess if you love fireworks to music and the castle, you will love the show at the Magic Kingdom. However, if you love a massive finale that will make you jump out of your pants, Epcot has what you’re looking for.

Both shows are amazing and both will be in my top 5 EVER for a very long time. I prefer the Epcot show, however.

Walt Disney World Day 13 – Hollywood Studios

Just an average Friday night for us at Hollywood Studios. We had plans to do Star Tours and the Alien Swirling Saucers. We also were going to try to get on Slinky Dog Dash, again, but the rain and the line didn’t make that possible.

After several trips to Hollywood Studios and letting the excitement of Toy Story Land opening die down, I have realized this is a half-day park, at best for me. While there’s plenty to see and do, there aren’t enough good rides to warrant more than a half-day for me.

Star Tours

We started with Star Tours and I may never go on this ride again. This was the second time on it and both times I have felt sick after. I don’t usually get sick on rides, but this one does something to me I cannot explain.

While I think it’s well done and pretty cool, my stomach is in disagreement.

Alien Swirling Saucers

Alien Swirling Saucers

Alien Swirling Saucers

I wasn’t super excited about this ride, but it surprised me. While it’s not nearly as good as Slinky Dog Dash, it’s still pretty cool. However, we did keep crushing each other as our driver couldn’t keep our saucer straight to save his little green life!

Along with these two rides, we caught the sneak peek of Incredibles 2; saw a few things in the museum and the Little Mermaid show. All-in-all, it was a fun night, but I am now less excited about Hollywood Studios than any other park Disney offers.

For me, it’s a place to go if you want to park hop to another park after. I love the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and it may be my favorite Disney ride, but outside of it, Slinky Dog Dash and Tower of Terror, there’s not much that I would consider “must do” rides here.

When the new Star Wars Land opens, my opinion may change, but for now, it’s a half-day park for me.

Usually, I post these recaps on Sundays because we started our Year at Walt Disney World on a Sunday. However, we chose to be spontaneous and go to the Magic Kingdom on Sunday because my wife scored a Fastpass+ for 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, which we haven’t been able to get until now. It’s always at least a 75-minute wait, so we took it and ran!

Recapping the Week

July 4th Fireworks

July 4th Fireworks

What a crazy week, but WORTH IT!! I am not a huge fan of the July 4th crowds anywhere, but at Walt Disney World, it’s worth it for the incredible shows. Both Magic Kingdom and Epcot put on a great show and I was impressed with them. They both now make my top 5 for fireworks shows of all time!!

The steps may be a bit lower this week because I spent quite a bit of time holding a fireworks spot on two of the days.

Weekly Stats

  • Total Days – 4
  • Total Park Visits – 4
  • Steps – 27,281
  • Approximate time at Disney – 21 hours, 0 minute

Yearly Totals (Started June 17th, 2018)

  • Total Days – 13
  • Total Park Visits – 15
  • Steps – 117,208
  • Approximate time at Disney – 67 hours, 53 minute

Current Top 10 Walt Disney World Rides

  1. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  2. Avatar Flight of Passage
  3. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  4. Slinky Dog Dash
  5. Soarin’ Around the World
  6. Dinosaur
  7. Na’vi River Journey
  8. Toy Story Mania
  9. Kilimanjaro Safari
  10. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

Overall, it was an incredible week and more about the fireworks than the rides, even though we had some serious fun on some of the rides! I will be doing a post about both fireworks shows and some of my own tips for dealing with the 4th of July madness later on this month. Check back often and leave your comments about my Year at Disney below!!

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