I have been working on this post for quite some time. Since early November I wanted to put into words the experiences my family and I had during our magical trip to Walt Disney World last October. The world has changed since we visited the most magical place on earth. I decided that it would still be worthwhile publishing this blog even after all this time in hopes that some of you out there would find some enjoyment and a few moments of fun in these troubled times. To answer the question you might have on your mind, Yes, we have begun planning our next trip. We thought that perhaps sooner rather than later would be better so we have begun looking into the first week of December. I believe that we will come out of our isolation stronger than before. My wish for all of you out there is to stay safe and healthy.
Our adventure in Walt Disney World has ended. What an adventure it was. From Fantastic food to Injury and Illness the trip ran the gambit from amazing to painful. The new stuff was great. The older attractions were amazing and as I remembered them. This may be my last Not So Scary Halloween party. In the few years that I have been away from the most magical place on earth, the changes have been many and varied. From new attractions to the loss of old favorites. The one thing you can count on at Walt Disney World is change.
Black Spire at Galaxy’s Edge is one of the most complex and wonderful additions to Walt Disney World for as long as I can remember. The new Star Wars land was bewildering and striking everywhere you looked. We witnessed the First Order harassing guests and resistance fighters recruiting help and as if Black Spire wasn’t amazing enough, the Disney Play app gave guests an avenue into the backstory of the post. I used mine to hack doors, droids, and even ships. It was great fun. Also, the Disney Play app allows guests to keep their credit scores from Smugglers Run. I managed to ride the attraction three times over the 10 days or so that we were in Disney World. I have to say, we had the most fun on the attraction when 5 of the 6 crew members were family members. We whooped and cheered every accomplishment and supported each other at every turn. Since there were only 5 of us and each iteration of the attraction required 6, we always had a single rider with us. The skill of the single rider always varied but that never stopped us from having a great time!
Smugglers Run has three stations with two guests at each station. The Pilots that guided the Millennium falcon through a preset course, Gunners defended the craft and had other responsibilities that I don’t really want to talk about. I don’t want to spoil the attraction too much. Finally, the engineers keep the Millennium Falcon airworthy through the ride. I was lucky enough to get to do all three rolls. Engineers didn’t really get to see what was going on outside the cockpit. They were too busy repairing the ship. Still, the engineers’ station was great fun. Gunners were responsible for shooting tie fighters, there were two modes for the gunners, manual and automatic for aiming purposes. Manual was only for the more experienced gunners. I did not number myself among the more experienced so I kept things on automatic. I believe that the left pilot controlled yaw, while the right pilot controlled pitch. This attraction was so much fun. Our longest posted wait time for us was 70 minutes. We were surprised to discover that a posted 70 minute wait time meant that the wait was only about 35 to 40 minutes of actual line time. The line moved constantly and there was lots of great stuff to look at. Guests in line for Smugglers Run could do also use the Play Disney app while in line. We often played a game called “Heads Up” on our Cell phones while in line together and the time flew by. We stole the “Heads Up” Idea from people we saw in the “Theme Park that Must Not Be Named”.
Writers note: Since I wrote this paragraph about Smugglers Run, Disney has started issuing fast passes for the attraction. The lack of fastpasses affected the wait times for Smugglers Run. Now, I’m reasonably certain that the wait times match the My Disney Experience app more closely.
We enjoyed Smugglers Run as a family because the Imagineers designed the attraction for people to cooperate. On the other hand, Flight of Passage in Pandora was a very personal experience. I loved it. My wife, who is prone to motion sickness on projection rides, did not love Flight of Passage as much. Having read a great deal about the attraction I was afraid that my son wouldn’t fit on the ride vehicle. Sadly, I was correct. While I was able to fit on the cycle, for want of a better description, my son is a big fella. He was unable to squeeze into the ride vehicle to the point where the safety system would latch properly. He was very angry, and I don’t blame him. The two Fastpasses that the cast members at the attraction gave us for any attraction and any time in the park relieved some of the stings of not getting to ride. Still, I understand how my son felt about it. Flights of Passage was one of the most talked-about attractions in the Animal Kingdom and he was unable to participate. My experience on the attraction, without too many spoilers, was absolutely exhilarating. I felt like I was really flying astride a living banshee. We Swooped and ducked our way through the beautiful landscape of Pandora. I can truly see why some people would want to wait two hours or more to experience this attraction.
My daughter and her husband joined us on Monday. It made me happy that they took a few days off and elected to spend those days with us. Disney had arranged their room at the All-Star Sports resort to be adjoining to ours. Since their flight into MOC was later in the evening. I slept through their arrival while my wife welcomed them to the resort. I feel that the All-Star resorts have a lot to offer. While they don’t have the convenient location that a lot of the Deluxe resorts the All-Stars are not all that far from the parks. Epcot and Hollywood studios are no more than 15 to 20 minutes by bus. While I think that Folks should probably catch the bus to 45 minutes before any reservations, I don’t think we ever waited more than 15 minutes at the bus stop. All-Star Sports was the first stop for busses on the routes that served all of the All-Star resorts. This is a big advantage during busy times. The food at the All-Star Sports is serviceable. Many places serve a much better meal. My son and I ate dinner at the resort. the cheeseburgers are ok, and the fries were hot and pretty tasty. My son’s food lacked flavor and he didn’t enjoy it much. Other than coffee (which is Joffrey’s coffee) we didn’t get much food or drink there. The pool area is big and loud and a pretty happening place. One evening after a particularly hot day, my family used the pool to cool off. It was very pleasant and not so crowded in the evening hours. We found our visit to the pool a perfect way to cool down and relax before bed.
Tuesday morning came with clouds and the threat of rain. This day was the day I would spend with my family at the food and wine festival. My daughter and her husband would get their first taste of the wonderful fare around the world showcase and beyond. On my way back to the room after grabbing some coffee, I turned my ankle over and went to the ground in a thud. I was unsure of the extent of my injury, so, I ask my son to get my wife. She soon arrived on the scene and after a few minutes of self-assessment, I found I could at least stand on the ankle. It hurt a lot but I could stand. The desk manager of All-Star sports, James, was on the scene very soon after I finally was able to stand. He and one of his assistance were there to offer first aid and assistance as required. He was more than helpful and offered an ECV at the parks. All we had to do was return with the receipt and he would take care of paying. Also, James offered antiseptics and dressings for the skinned knee I had suffered. I tell you this story only to praise the cast members at All-Star Sports. I feel that the staff of the All-Star Sports went beyond what I could have expected from them. The Cast Members at Disney world work constantly to make magic for their guests. James and his team were no exceptions. They managed to transform what could have been a real bummer of a day into magic. His liberal dose of pixie dust made our trip to the food and wine festival wonderful. We rented an ECV at EPCOT. The cost was reasonable and we saw no reason to submit the receipt for compensation since it was my own clumsiness that caused the situation in the first place. Later, I could take the receipt to the magic kingdom where we had purchased MNSSHP tickets. With the exception of the refundable deposit, we didn’t need to pay any additional charges. The ECV rented for $50.00 per day with a $20.00 refundable deposit when you returned the EVC. My poor wife pushed me and my rather heavy rear end in a wheelchair from the bus to the Scooter Rental location. She saved that day of our vacation for me. Her devotion to me and the love she has for me was on full display that day. Thank you, Bonnie.
On the evening of my unfortunate fall, our family attended Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. I was still on the ECV. Driving one is easy, driving an ECV and not hitting other guests is not as easy. I managed to avoid injuring anybody, but there were several close calls. Our MNSSHP was sold out. I had also heard that Disney had increased the number of tickets they sold for each party by 10,000. I couldn’t believe the number of people in the park. In the past, when we attended the party, we could walk onto attractions. The lines were short for trick or treating. This Tuesday night some of the attractions had hour waits and the lines snaked around the park for candy. Almost every aspect of the party was dismaying. For dinner that night we had planned on going to Pecos Bill’s tall tale inn and café. I really love this place. My injury kept me from properly dressing my tacos. Once again my wife and kids were there to rescue me. Unfortunately, We couldn’t find a seat inside the restaurant. But We found a table outside where the lighting was bad. I enjoyed my food in spite of the low light levels. Yet I wish I could have seen what I was eating.
The ECV caused another interesting issue. Disney doesn’t allow ECV’s in the queue for Pirates of the Caribbean. I had to transfer to a special red wheelchair to go through the Queue. We were lucky enough to find a single red wheelchair in the ECV parking area. I must say that I really liked the extra touches that Disney adds to the attraction during the MNSSHP. I won’t ever forget Pirate Bill. After we finished the attraction, We had to find an escape route through the Pirates queue. We missed out on the Chocolate coins that Disney distributed at the end of the attraction because we lost our way after exiting the elevator we took from the loading platform. We then started to look for a good place to watch the fireworks. Disney provided reserved viewing locations for Wheel Chairs and people on EVCs. As I was an ECV novice, We didn’t know this, so we found a spot on the right side of the castle near the park hub. About 5 minutes before the fireworks began, a tall guy pushed his way through the crowd and blocked my view. My wife, once again rescued my day by asking the fellow to move. He was kind enough to give me a sightline. When we returned to the Magic Kingdom on Wednesday, the park was much less crowded. My family and I were able to do many more attractions than on the previous night. My ankle was good enough to walk on by that time. We took the opportunity to go to Skippers Canteen. Lunch at Skippers was a true adventure and we really enjoyed Wednesday!
My daughter and her husband returned to Houston on Thursday. I want to take some time to express how grateful I was that we had the opportunity to share some Disney Moments with them. The trip was even more special because they were there. After some time in the park, those of us that remained at Disney World ventured into Hollywood studios again and did the attraction like the Rock and Roller coaster (one of my Favorites attractions of all time). We also watched the Beauty and the Beast show. That evening we went to the Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs to eat at Toledos. The restaurant is very nice and the food there is really good. I have, over the years, developed a fondness for Spanish food and for Jamon Iberico specifically. The outside bar was even more fun. My wife and son got drinks and we sat out and watch the sun go down from the tower. It was beautiful.
The next day, I caught a bad cold that had migrated into my chest. My wife and Son ventured out on their own to Typhoon Lagoon. In typical Disney fashion, the cast members at Typhoon Lagoon found a way to make the visit less expensive. Instead of charging the full cost of a one-day ticket, the cast members added the Plus option to our existing tickets. We probably saved about $100.00 that day considering the savings for both my son and my wife. That night we made our way to Via Napoli for Pizza. (Yummy) We had some discussion as to whether we might order delivery or even have pizza from the Resort. (less yummy). Towards the end of the day, I was feeling a bit better. I cleaned up and we went to Epcot for a better pizza. On Saturday, I was better, but I wasn’t up to wandering a park, so we went back to Typhoon lagoon. I love the Wave pool and the lazy river is well themed and lots of fun. I was happy to sit in a chair for a while and let the hot Florida sun bake the cold out of my chest. The next time you go, If you haven’t noticed before, listen for when the wave generator makes the big surfing waves. You will hear Swooosh…. AHHHHHHH…. People in the wave pool scream as the wave overtakes them. I must admit, I’m as guilty as anyone. That evening, we went to the California Grill for our goodbye Disney meal. The food was fantastic and provided one of the most magical moments of the trip. Standing on the roof of the Contemporary resort watching the fireworks. At last, after more than a week at the park, I found that 10-year-old boy in the 60-year-old man again.
I contacted Guest Services with our grievances via the My Disney app. They asked me to send an email which I did after our return expressing our disappointment with the party. I did, however, praise the efforts of James and his staff in the same email for his help after my fall. The response from Disney Guest Services didn’t disappoint us. After a quick overview of what we had experienced, Guest Services offered us three 4-day park hopper tickets that we can use anytime in the next 5 years. This more than adequately compensated for our frustration at the Halloween party. We plan on returning to the parks in late 2021. After our experience with the Halloween party, I don’t feel the need to do MVMCP this time. Disney will be offering a ton of new attractions and the whole of EPCOT will be reimagined. Most of this work should be complete before we go at the end of 2021. I look forward to experiencing the Tron Coaster and Rise of the Resistance since it wasn’t open when we were down in October. The new overlay on Cinderella’s Castle should be amazing. We will definitely try to get ADR’s for the new Space Restaurant in EPCOT. So, once again one of my favorite parts of a Disney Vacation starts. Let the planning begin.