14. June 2011 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

**I’m reminded of all those Disney reprise movies: Return to Neverland, Return from Witch Mountain, Return to Halloweentown, Return to Snowy River, etc.

Semi-impulsively, this past weekend we took a “short” trip down to Disneyworld and joined our friends Suzy and Andy’s family, and along with their neighbor’s family.  They flew down from Ohio for the week, while we joined them part way through the week after the boys were finished with their school year.

We took advantage of this year’s Disney military salute tickets…while not as big a discount as we experienced in 2009 (when Dave and I each got 5 complimentary days), 4 days + water parks for $138 per ticket is still the best Disney deal there is!  Consider that the 2-day Florida resident ticket is $133!

On this trip we used 3 of the 4 days, we’re considering a future trip combining the last Disney ticket day with Sea World and perhaps even Legoland when the weather turns cooler.

There were 12 of us (6 adults, 6 kids).  Since all 3 families had been recently, there weren’t pressing needs to meet characters, search for Hidden Mickeys or ride particular rides.  I was pleased to get to ride a couple things we didn’t get around to in 2009: Space Mountain, It’s a Small World, and Maelstrom.

It was incredibly hot on this particular trip, which made a marked difference in the boys’ behavior.  We didn’t hear the whining/complaining till day 5 when we went in December ’09.  On this trip, it was halfway through the 2nd day…Timmy sat himself down in the middle of the sidewalk at Hollywood Studios and refused to walk.

Instead of just giving you a random bunch of pictures, I thought I’d instead share some of the cool stuff we found out about this time around.  Enjoy!

1.) Announced in April 2011, the Disney World military promotion has been extended into 2012.  Tickets purchased in 2011 now don’t expire until September 30, 2012!  There is a lot of “fine print” to this promotion change, so I’ll just refer you to this website for the details.

2.) Did you know you are not restricted to that one hour window printed on your Fast Pass?  Fastpass is Disney Parks’ rider management system.  Grab a Fastpass ticket for your favorite attraction and come back at the designated time for shorter wait times…or no wait at all!  The attendants are only ever checking the start time, but if you don’t make it in that one hour window printed, come back anytime afterwards before the attraction closes and ride attendants are instructed to let you through anyway.  They don’t advertise this, since Fastpass is designed as a ridership management tool and they need most riders to return in that one hour window for the program to work smoothly.  More information about how to maximize Fastpass can be found here.

The most popular ride in Hollywood Studios.  See the non-Fastpass wait time on the left?  People waited anyway!  Even more popular than Star Tours on a Star Wars Weekend!  They are typically out of Fastpasses by 11am!  In 2009 one of us ran to this attraction as soon as we got to Hollywood Studios to grab the Fastpass.  And it was still for about 6 hours later.

3.) Disney Dining now has a mobile website that you can use from your smartphone to make dining reservations!  While we were enjoying some air conditioned goodness at Disney Quest (see #6 below), I was able to hop onto the mobile website and make dinner reservations at House of Blues across the street at Downtown Disney.  The following day, Dave got us lunchtime seating at the German Biergarten buffet on our drive into EPCOT.


4.) We caught our first glimpses of the “new Fantasyland” under construction.  Suzy and I commented to each other, “It’s about time Disney decided to do more with the more recent Princesses!”.  However, based on the article I linked above, recent “policy shifts” in Disney’s princess marketing is resulting in some last-minute changes to the original plans.  Based on the concept art, it looks like there will still be big areas dedicated to Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid.  Set to open in Fall 2012, we’re excited to get to see such quick progress.  (It was also very interesting to see such huge construction areas in general…I figured Disney would have been more discreet, do you?)  A friend who was there recently said that my pictures from June 9th had so much more visible than what she saw just 8 weeks prior.

You can see Beast’s castle in the upper left, and The Little Mermaid’s area towards the top.
Progress so far on Beast’s castle.
I love my camera’s zoom!

5.) A newly-designed Star Tours 3-D attraction opened at Hollywood Studios on May 20th, in conjunction with the first of their 4 Star Wars Weekends that are held every May/June.  The ride was closed from September 2010 for the renovation.  Dave and I had been on Star Tours in 2000, and after riding it again in 2009 it all seemed the same and rather uninteresting.  But this time around, it was WAY more interesting: the ride is now in 3D and it’s interactive in that a random passenger is photographed and shown as a “rebel spy” (our godson on our particular ride).  The movement in the ride is now smoother and flows with the storyline better.  To me, the coolest part is how there are now 54 permutations to the ride, by combining which storylines your “tourship” travels through.  In our case, we wound through Kashyyyk and Coruscant.  At the end, Princess Leia’s holographic message thanks us for protecting the rebel spy for the Alliance.  I was impressed with whatever they did with Carrie Fisher’s mouth movements to make that work…the images were straight from the original Star Wars.

I wrote about our Star Wars Weekend experience for GeekMom.

Dave looking super cool in his 3D glasses!

6.) Disney Quest: One of Walt Disney World’s best-kept secrets!  After dealing with the most crowded, hottest Disney park experience in my entire life at Hollywood Studios for a Star Wars Weekend, we left mid-afternoon and enjoyed a couple hours of air conditioned goodness at Disney Quest.  This is an interactive theme park located at Downtown Disney West Side.  We bought the military promotion tickets that included Disney Quest admission, so we spent a couple hours there and enjoyed unlimited video game play.  Usually Disney Quest is very crowded in the evenings, so to go over there from 4-6pm was delightful, we had a chance to play every video game we were interested in!