Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Disney World '09

I went to Disney World again, December 2nd through the 6th. It was a fun trip, though I'm starting to realize that I need some freshness in future trips, if they're going to happen. My mom and my youngest brother are fun, but I think I'd like to have the opportunity to mix things up from time to time, and that's not easy with a three-person group.

I had a sore foot for the entire trip (and still do today), so all the walking around wasn't great. I'm sure that also contributed to the trip being not as much fun as last year. No pictures this time, sorry, you'll just have to trust me when I say I was there. :)

We stayed at the Contemporary Resort, which is a monorail ride away from the Magic Kingdom and Epcot Center. The value of this convenience is substantial. Since the Magic Kingdom is my favorite park, it gave us the opportunity to mix in a Magic Kingdom trip whenever we wanted (just twice, but still). The resort also has lots of the standard Disney amenities: swimming pool with a slide, convenience mart, several restaurants, and an arcade.

The coolest thing about our room, though, was the view. Our room faced the Magic Kingdom, which had two big positives. First, we could see Cinderella's castle lit up at night, glowing in the distance. Second, we were able to appreciate the Magic Kingdom's nightly fireworks show from our pair of balconies. I'm a man who likes his fireworks.

Longtime readers may remember that our group really enjoyed the Yak and Yeti restaurant in Animal Kingdom on last year's trip. We went back again this year, and it was good, but not as good as last year. I think part of the reason is that this year, we elected to go with Disney's dining plan, which lets you choose a drink, an entree, and a dessert. It's nice, and it's a good deal, but appetizers can be just as good as main courses. It was a shame to feel like we ought not order appetizers, so that we didn't waste our dining plan. So, that part I regret.

  • Read a full-length book in less than 24 hours.
I read all of one book and part of another during the trip. I bought Slam by Nick Hornby in Dulles Airport on Wednesday morning, and finished it Wednesday night in Orlando. It was very good, though the first half was better than the second half. I bought Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk in the Orlando airport, and finished it a few days ago. It was also good, though if you know anything about Palahniuk, you know it had its share of depravity. Not necessarily in a bad way, and it definitely adds to the story, but it does prevent me from recommending the book to people who I don't perceive as having at least some level of depravity (so yes, Greg, you can borrow it). I decided somewhere in the middle of Slam that I wanted to read more books, and Chip let me borrow High Fidelity, so I started reading that (though at a normal, non-vacation pace).

Now, as I promised to Plundo, the review of Disney attractions that I saw for the first time this trip.

  • Went on a new ride (or rides) at a theme park.
Snow White's Scary Adventures (2/5)
There are a lot of rides at Disney World that are pretty similar. Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Little Nemo, etc. They're all slowish rides along a track that follow a particular Disney story, and Snow White is no different. Part of the problem for me is that I never found Snow White particularly entertaining. The ride was fine, but I'd put it behind most similar rides.

Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor (4/5)
Okay, truth be told, it's more of a three star attraction, but it was a four star experience. It's essentially a brief comedy show where they use real-time cartoons on a movie screen stage. What makes it pretty funny is that the monster comedians actually interact with people in the audience, reacting to what they say, and calling people by their names. They have a separate screen at the front that shows who they're talking to, and how they react. What made our experience particularly good is that my mom was one of the audience members featured in the show. Embarrassment is always funny. :)

Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress (1/5)
I considered giving this ride zero stars out of five, but that goes against the grading standard. Plus, it's got some marginal value. You get to sit, which is nice, and I hear that it's especially good when the weather is hot, because it's indoor and air conditioned. The attraction sits you in a rotating theater that goes through a few different years, and the scenes play out with an animatronic guy telling you about all of the new technology of that particular era. If possible, it's more boring than it sounds. Also, the guy has a dog who lives to be like 80, which would be cool, but come on.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular (4/5)
There are two parts to this attraction. There are a few action scenes with lots of stunts, including an airplane, machine guns, explosions, spears, and of course, a giant rolling boulder. The rest of the show is in between, where they involve the audience, make some jokes, and talk about what it's like to make a movie, and do stunts. The in between time is okay, and the stunts are pretty bad ass. Boom. Four stars.

Soarin' (5/5)
My sister had reported that Epcot's Soarin' was kind of a disappointment when she had gone on it, and that the line was astronomically long. The line was very long, but I thought the ride was fantastic. You sit in a row of chairs that gets lifted, putting you in front of a giant screen. The screen then goes through several hang-gliding scenes, with ups and downs, mixing in smells to go along (orange orchards and pine trees were what I remember). I think you have to let yourself just watch the screen, rather than look around at the other riders, but as long as you do that, it's an awesome ride.

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