We are now past our first month at Walt Disney World heading into week five. It has been quite the journey so far and we actually discussed stepping up our Disney game a bit. Instead of just going 4 or 5 days a week, we are considering going 6 days a week and just taking one full day off every week.
However, all 6 days may not be trips to Walt Disney World as we are now annual passholders for Busch Gardens and SeaWorld Orlando. We will be mixing those two parks in and we also have the MoviePass, so we will also be doing some movies along the way.
Anyway, back to the recap of the week. This week we started on Sunday with a trip to Hollywood Studios. We also have plans to go on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday this week.
Walt Disney World Day 18 – Hollywood Studios
We had just come off of spending three days in a row at the parks with the third day being a long day. It was a bit tiring, so we were a bit worn out. However, we went to Hollywood Studios for Slinky Dog Dash since we had a Fastpass+ for it.
Slinky Dog Dash
Slinky Dog Dash was our second time on the coaster in Toy Story Land and our first time during the day. It was pretty cool, once again and having a Fastpass+ made it bearable as we didn’t get stuck waiting in the heat. What a great way to kick off our day at Hollywood Studios.
Beauty and the Beast
Next up was the Beauty and the Beast show, which was a wonderful show. It’s a great telling of the story in a quicker fashion with plenty of great stage performers throughout. The only thing that wasn’t great about it was that the theater isn’t indoors and we could have really used some A/C at this point.
It was a very hot day and while we had plans to potentially do more, the heat was getting to us. We left after just two attractions, which is part of the issue we have with Hollywood Studios. There’s only so much to do and some of the lines, especially in Toy Story Land, are outside. When it’s hot, we don’t have nearly as much fun at this park as some of the others.
Of course, coming off a very long day the day before didn’t help and we were already a bit pooped when we entered the day. We thought about going to a movie but decided to just head home after our shortest day so far at Walt Disney World.
Walt Disney World Day 19 – Magic Kingdom
What an amazing day! I am going to try to remember everything we did, but I may miss something because we packed our list full today. It was a bit of a long day at the park for us, but it worked out great and we learned a new trick we will be using in the future.
We started right off the bat with catching a little bit of The Dapper Dans show as they brought down the American flag. It was pretty neat to see and hear the show as we were not planning on it or expecting it.
Peter Pan’s Flight
We started with Peter Pan’s Flight because we had a Fastpass+. Actually, we were supposed to start with Big Thunder Mountain, but it was shut down due to weather and our Fastpass+ became an All Experiences, Any Time Fastpass+. This was the second time this has happened to us with Big Thunder Mountain.
Anyway, we went on our Peter Pan journey and it did get stuck for a couple minutes during the journey. I always assume a child did something they shouldn’t have or couldn’t get on the ride at the beginning, which causes the stop.
The rain was coming down when we left the ride, so we wanted to get out of the rain, into some A/C and enjoy something. Mickey’s PhilharMagic was next door and had a 15-minute wait, so we headed there. The A/C felt great and this is one of my favorite shows. However, I realized the beginning and the end are a bit blurry, which I don’t really understand why and this part of the show hurt my eyes a bit.
Regardless, it was nice to get out of the rain and enjoy this show for the second time.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
It’s a coaster, so my wife is afraid of it, at least until we do it. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was on our list as a Fastpass+ once before and we didn’t get to do it because it was shut down. Again, it was closed because of weather this time, but we waited out the storm and used our Fastpass+ for the ride.
A pretty cool coaster, except for the sudden stop at the end that you cannot prepare for, Big Thunder Mountain was plenty of fun. I love roller coasters and while this isn’t the most thrilling in the world, it’s a fun ride and something we will do many times again.
My wife liked it, which always bodes well for me. If she likes a coaster, it means I get to do it again and again without hesitation and she will start trying to get a Fastpass+ for it. Some of the more intense coasters I will be doing the single rider line, if they have one because she doesn’t like them or is scared of them.
Tommorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
Of course, we cannot go to the Magic Kingdom without a ride on the PeopleMover. This is one of my wife’s favorites and a great choice when we need a relaxing ride. Plus, we needed to kill a little time before our next Fastpass+.
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
We’ve done this show twice now and I found out why we haven’t done it more. My wife is afraid they are going to pick on her so she doesn’t want to do it all that often. However, they didn’t pick on either one of us and we laughed quite a bit.
I like that the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor show is somewhat different each time, which makes it even more entertaining. This was our last of the 3 Fastpass+ attractions we booked, so it was time to use our trick, which we discovered by accident.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
A Fastpass+ was available for Winnie the Pooh, so it was next. We’ve done this ride once before and it’s a pretty cool journey back to our childhood. I love Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, of course, so this was an enjoyable ride for us.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Not the most thrilling ride, but we hadn’t been on it yet and there was a Fastpass+ available, so we took it. Dumbo is an iconic ride and a fun little journey. We did it at night, which makes it even cooler with the lights and water.
Pirates of the Caribbean
This was our second time on Pirates of the Caribbean, and again, a Fastpass+ was available, so we took it. This ride is a fun one with a little bit of a drop for a tiny bit of thrill. It’s a dark ride with great theming and plenty of fun scenes for anybody that enjoyed the movies.
We did more rides than normal today because we decided to just take whatever Fastpass+ we could get at the time. This allowed us to stay busy and keep the fun rolling at the Magic Kingdom.
Our goal was to be leaving right before the fireworks so that we didn’t have to fight the crowds or as much traffic. We got out of the Pirates of the Caribbean right around 9:10 and headed to the door. This is when we discovered an alternative path to the exit to skip Main Street, which made it super easy to get out of the park. There’s actually a path like this on both sides of Main Street.
We got on the Monorail within about 15 minutes, caught a little bit of the fireworks on the way out and were back to the parking lot before the fireworks were completely over!
Outside of maybe the July 3rd fireworks show for Independence Day, this may have been our best day at the Magic Kingdom. If you have read any of my other Disney recaps, you know it hasn’t been one of our favorite parks because it’s quite a bit of work to get to and usually very crowded. However, with our new Fastpass+ trick, we can stay busy and enjoy our time at the Magic Kingdom.
Now, if I can just convince the wifey to do Splash Mountain and Space Mountain, we can make this a great time for both of us!
Walt Disney World Day 20 – Animal Kingdom
We went into the day with 3 Fastpass+ options booked but ended up changing all but one. We were going to try to use the first and move the other two up, but it didn’t work. I think in the future since we have been on just about everything now, we will be booking just one Fastpass+ and getting the rest as we go to keep ourselves on more rides.
The night started with one of our favorites and I am surprised at how Dinosaur always seems to be just a little bit different. The experience can be made better if you have a few scared people in your car, but this time we didn’t. However, it seems just a slight bit different, anyway.
There are rumors this ride may be gone soon and replaced with something else, which isn’t surprising to me. While I love this ride, it’s the only thing in Dinoland U.S.A. that’s really cool, if you ask me. The entire land doesn’t really fit as Disney doesn’t have any characters for the land. They use Chip and Dale dressed up as dinosaurs and I know some people like them, but it’s just a tad bit odd to me.
We did the Kilimanjaro Safari again and it was much faster than the first time. The first time we did it; our driver actually stopped, told us far more about the animals and took her time. This time, it seemed like the guy just wanted to get it over with like it was his last one before he was leaving for the night. It became a thrill ride the way he was driving.
I will say, the animals were very active and it was probably about 30 minutes before sunset. Last time we did it right after sunset started and the animals were not quite as active, except for the lions. The lions were all sleeping on this safari, while the first time one of the females was roaring.
Na’vi River Journey
I always find the Na’vi River Journey to be peaceful and relaxing. It was our last ride of the night as we had considered getting in line for Flight of Passage but really didn’t want to stand in a line that long. Yes, we have been a bit spoiled as we have ridden it 3 times so far and it’s becoming a bit harder to convince ourselves to stand in line for much longer than an hour for some of the rides.
However, my wife did finally get a Fastpass+ for Flight of Passage at 2am that night for a day in the future!!
SeaWorld – Day 21
We recently became annual passholders for Busch Gardens and SeaWorld, so we decided to go check out SeaWorld in place of one of our Disney nights. I won’t go into nearly as much detail when we go to SeaWorld as there’s not nearly as much to ride here, but I will give a little recap.
It was a shorter night for us and we were really just trying to get the lay of the land. We rode the Empire of the Penguin, which was very well done and unique. The Penguins are interesting creatures, for sure. We also scored our two free beers and hit the TurtleTrek, which was pretty cool.
Immediately, we noticed that SeaWorld is not Disney by any means. The employees are not nearly as friendly or efficient and there are things about the park that leaves something to be desired. However, the park still has merit with their conservation effort, three thrilling coasters, a new ride coming very soon, a good water drop ride and some good stuff for the kids. Of course, the animals make the park pretty special, too.
We did realize very quickly that leaving this park when the fireworks are over is a huge mistake. The parking lot is a mess and there’s nobody there to help guide people out of the exits. Overall, it seems like SeaWorld needs to hire about two or three dozen more employees and spend time actually training their employees to be super friendly.
If I were in charge, I would remind all my employees that we are competing with the Happiest Place on Earth and they smile, they wave, they are super helpful and they act like they love their jobs. Then, I would put every employee through a solid training program teaching them about the company and what is expected of them. This place would be far better with smiling employees willing to work efficiently and with more employees to help customers throughout the park.
SeaWorld Day 22 – Dining Deal Challenge and Mayhem
Originally, we were going to go to Epcot on Saturday, but while at SeaWorld, we decided it might be fun to use our Dining Deal (received it free with the annual pass) and check out as many restaurants as possible. There are 10 total restaurants as a part of the pass and you can dine once per hour at any of them.
You get one entree (usually comes with a side included), one drink (bottled water, coke or icee) and one additional side or dessert. You get this once per hour and had we paid for the deal it would have been $34.99 per person.
I am going to do a full blog post on this in the future and detail the entire experience. For now, I will say, if you plan to visit the park for the entire day, show up before 11am, get breakfast and eat 2 other meals in the park on the dining deal plan. Then, grab a snack as often as you’d like and waters every hour. You will save plenty of cash as the waters and sodas, alone are $3+.
We crossed out two restaurants right off the bat because one only offered hot dogs (I don’t eat meat at all) and fries, while the other one only offered fries. Out of the 8 left, we hit 7 of the 8 as we got rid of the Panini stop later in the day.
The food is about equivalent to cafeteria food or buffet food, but for the price, it’s worth it. Just don’t do what we did and go just about every hour. We did this on purpose and made the day mostly about eating food because we wanted to show what they offer on my blog and on our YouTube channel, which is coming soon!
I do have to make a comment, disclaimer, and warning about the SeaWorld Dining Deal. The efficiency in most of the food lines is absolutely pathetic and it’s NOT the employee’s faults. We went to one place that had two sides you could go down (both the same), but one side was closing down, yet the line was out the door.
Seems a bit ridiculous if you’re just trying to save a bit of money on paying employees. Instead of closing it, keep it open, cut the line in half and make the people waiting in line happier. Besides, the faster you get them in and out, the faster they can get back to playing your plinko games and spending money in other areas of the park.
A few of the lines we stood in moves pretty good, but at least 3 of the 7 places we went to it took 20 to 30 minutes just to get served. Efficiency isn’t a part of the SeaWorld model when it comes to the dining deal.
Along with the food, we did ride the Wild Arctic and will never do this ride again. This ride is in serious need of updating. The videos are not HD at all, the ride makes you feel sick and you can tell it’s incredibly dated. Even the orange buttons you push to release your seatbelt are barely orange anymore. If I were SeaWorld, I would redo this ride to be more like Soarin’ at Epcot with a different theme and a bit more thrill since it’s a helicopter ride.
The Sky Tower was our next stop, which is $3 for non-passholders to ride, but worth it. We didn’t have to pay since we are passholders and you get a really beautiful view of the area. You can see downtown Orlando and the entire park from about 300 feet up.
We also rode Kraken, which I loved and my wife survived, sort of. It doesn’t have the VR, which is a bit disappointing, but even without the VR, this is a great coaster. It was thrilling, had me screaming and I am pretty sure my wife was terrified of it. This one is certainly worth riding and if you wait until later at night, like we did, you will only wait 10 minutes.
We got out of the park right after the fireworks ended and it was quite a bit smoother this time. We were already at the front of the park, so we were in the first wave of people out instead of stuck in lines in the parking lot.
Recapping the Week
A unique week for us and the first week we have not hit all 4 Walt Disney World parks; it was a fun one for sure. We got to start our SeaWorld experience and realized quickly why Disney has such a hold on the market in Central Florida. It’s amazing how the service and staff are night and day at these parks and it makes me look forward to seeing how Universal Studios stacks up.
It was a week about Disney for 3 days, and then it became about the food at SeaWorld. I can honestly say, it was a draining week with plenty of exercise and plenty of fun. Here’s the stats and my updates top rides and shows.
- Total Days – 5
- Total Park Visits – 4
- Steps – 55,395
- Approximate time at Disney – 24 hours, 37 minute
Yearly Totals (Started June 17th, 2018)
- Total Days – 22
- Total Park Visits – 23
- Steps – 201,686
- Approximate time at Disney – 107 hours, 31 minute
Current Top 20 Walt Disney World Rides
I have expanded my top rides list because there too many good rides that we have been on to keep it at just 10. Here’s my new Top 20 after riding about a half dozen new-to-us rides this week!
1. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
2. Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
3. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
4. Avatar Flight of Passage
5. Test Track
6. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
7. Slinky Dog Dash
8. Soarin’ Around the World
9. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
11. Na’vi River Journey
12. Toy Story Mania
13. Kali River Rapids
15. Kilimanjaro Safari
16. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
17. Peter Pan’s Flight
18. Spaceship Earth
19. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
20. Pirates of the Caribbean
There are still several rides we have yet to do, so this list will certainly be changing over the next few months.
Current Top 7 Walt Disney World Shows
1. River of Light
2. Festival of the Lion King
3. Mickey’s PhilharMagic
4. Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
5. It’s Tough to be a Bug
6. Up! A Great Bird Adventure
7. Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
We have only started to see some of the shows, so this list will be expanded and updated soon.
Top 10 Rides at All Florida Theme Parks
We just started doing more than Disney, so this list will probably change quite a bit. I have only been on one coaster at SeaWorld and we haven’t been to Busch Gardens yet. We also don’t have our Universal passes, yet, so bear with me on those rides. For now, this is going to start as a top 10 list and will probably expand as I ride more rides.
1. Kraken (SeaWorld)
2. Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster (Hollywood Studios)
3. Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain (Animal Kingdom)
4. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Hollywood Studios)
5. Avatar Flight of Passage (Animal Kingdom)
6. Test Track (Epcot)
7. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Magic Kingdom)
8. Slinky Dog Dash (Hollywood Studios)
9. Soarin’ Around the World (Epcot)
10. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Magic Kingdom)
Overall, it was a great week and I think adding in the new parks has helped us. Sometimes, we get a bit overstimulated with Disney and having something to remind us why Disney really is the Happiest Place on Earth is helpful. No offense to SeaWorld, but you really do get what you pay for when it comes to the service.