April 2017 WDW Trip Report – Part 5

If you missed parts 1, 2, 3, or 4 of this trip report, click on the corresponding number to catch up before you begin this final part.

The next morning found us rested and in Hollywood Studios.  It’s no secret that I think the Studios can be a waste of time.  Still, there are spots that still look beautiful.  If you stick to a somewhat compact touring schedule, a few hours at Hollywood Studios is very enjoyable.  On top of that, the park has some of the best attractions in Walt Disney World.

ToT DHS up close

We started out on the Tower of Terror.

desk ToT DHS

The ride itself is technically impressive and thrilling, when you factor in the full experience and details throughout the attraction it’s hard not to put the Tower on the top of any attractions list.

Both my mom and I can get a little bit of motion sickness so starting off the day with a ride that drops multiple stories may seem like a bad idea.  Fortunately, there was no damage done here aside from me being my usual terrified self.

We didn’t have FastPasses for Rockin’ Roller Coaster and half of our group (Melissa and my dad) really like roller coasters.  So, they took used the single-rider line while my mom and I went off for a snack.  It’s not that I dislike Rockin’ Roller Coaster, I just think it’s outdated and doesn’t make me feel the best.  I’d love to see an updated version of the coaster with a new band (or more iconic band, sorry Aerosmith fans).  An action film with a great soundtrack (Guardians of the Galaxy, anyone?) would work in that space as well.

Fruit tart DHS

I’m a sucker for the fruit tart at Hollywood Studios.  I was afraid that this snack was gone since Starring Roles closed but the fruit tart found a new home in the Starbucks across the street.  It was delicious as ever and is my favorite snack at Hollywood Studios.

DHS actors car

There were a few street actors out and around Sunset Boulevard.  I was walking around the area taking a few photos.  When I took one of them, they called me the paparazzi and drove off in a hurry.  It was a nice, little memorable moment.

Model plane TSM

After Melissa and my dad finished hanging out with Aerosmith we went over to Toy Story Mania and used our FastPass there.  While I don’t think the attraction is anything that impressive, it is one of the most fun for a whole family to take part in.  My parents weren’t able to keep up with our scores there.  Don’t worry, we let them pay for lunch to make them feel better 😉

PizzeRizzo facade

We were waiting for our FastPass to Star Tours and headed over to Muppet Courtyard to pass the time.  I meant to eat at PizzeRizzo this trip but ran out of time.  I wandered around that area and liked the looks of it, although I thought it might be a little too understated.  I’ll try out the food next time, but my expectations aren’t too high for the pizza here.

Star Tours queue DHS

We had a great experience on Star Tours.  For those of us that have rode this over and over again it really is a nice treat to see a new scene.  On this instance we saw two new ones in the same ride.  All in all, I think they’ve updated Star Tours pretty well over the years to keep it relevant.  I think both Star Wars attractions that they’re developing for the IP-specific land will blow this out of the water though.  I am interested to see what happens with Star Tours in the future.  It seems like it’d be a fairly easy attraction to retheme into another IP, queue in Hollywood Studios notwithstanding.

After Star Tours we headed over to Disney Springs for lunch at Morimoto Asia.  I’ll have a review in the next couple weeks but we thoroughly enjoyed our meal there.  The atmosphere was beautiful and the food delicious.

Morimoto Asia outside

After lunch we did a little bit of shopping in the area and walked around for a little while.  While not many of the stores appeal to me, the area has vastly improved over the years.  I really enjoy the huge Uniqlo they have there, as well as some of the more unique Disney stores.

That leads me to a small complaint about merchandise at the parks.  While I don’t spend much money on souvenirs, I wish there was more attraction specific merchandise.  Now, there are some shirts that feature specific attractions but I would like to see more of them.  I do think Disney Parks merchandise has slightly improved from the low it hit a few years ago but there is still quite a long way to go.

shuffle board OKW

We returned to Old Key West via the boat from Disney Springs, which is a wonderful little ride and nice change from the buses.  Once back at our hotel we wandered around the pool area and played America’s greatest game – Shuffleboard.

I may be 70 years old at heart because I love playing shuffleboard.  I’m pretty bad at it.  After beating my parents in Toy Story Mania, Melissa and I decided to take it easy on them and beat them by less in our friendly shuffleboard game.  We headed back to our room for a quick rest before heading back to the parks.

Epcot monorail water reflection

I had a few other quick photos in Epcot that I wanted and Melissa had a souvenir she wanted from there so we stopped back by.  The park really was beautiful in the spring and I think you’d be hard pressed to find a prettier time to go to Epcot.

Flowers Canada Epcot

We made the quick walk through Epcot en route to dinner at the Yacht Club.  The Crew’s Cup Lounge is one of our favorite places currently at Walt Disney World and where we enjoyed dinner that night.  With that being said, our burgers weren’t quite as good that time as our first experience there.

The Boardwalk

We arrived to dinner a little before my parents so we sat on the beach, overlooking the Boardwalk.  There are plenty of places to relax around Walt Disney World and this might be the most serene.  We just booked our first stay at the Beach Club for August.  I’m more than a little bit excited!

After dinner, we took the boat back over to Hollywood Studios to enjoy Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular.  I really enjoy this show and the projection work done here is impressive.  At the time of seeing this, there wasn’t a show that utilized projections and fireworks quite like this one.  Now that Happily Ever After has debuted in Magic Kingdom I do wonder if this show will feel a little more redundant.  I’m guessing not, as the subject matter is pretty different.  I think the Star Wars fireworks could use a little more pyro though, as I wasn’t as impressed with it the second time around.

The show is also difficult to photograph hence the lack of photos.  I was a little impatient and didn’t set up my tripod so it made it even more difficult.  I’ll try harder next time 😉

Pirates prisoners

My parents headed back to the hotel while Melissa and I headed to Magic Kingdom.  The park was open for another hour but mainly we wanted to stay late and take photos or shop.  We did have time for a few quick rides including the TTA and Pirates.  There was a bit of a backup on Pirates as they were putting boats away for the evening, this led to some better conditions for taking photos on a dark ride.

Pirates Jack Sparrow

I still haven’t mastered that technique, as I struggle between finding the right ISO and shutter speed to keep the picture from looking too grainy or dark.  These last two photos were some of my favorites but, again, I was given the gift of a little extra time.

Pirates night

The park had closed by the time we got off the ride.  I set up to take some photos.  There was a tiny bit of cloud cover which really helps out on these photos, as long as the clouds are moving fast enough.

Splash mt. night

Adventureland, Frontierland, and Liberty Square had all emptied out at this point.  We enjoyed having the park to ourselves for a while.

TSI night fisheye

Harper's mill night

Security let us linger around the area for quite some time but eventually crept closer.  We decided it’d be a good time to head to Main Street at that point.  They let us stay in that area longer than I’ve ever been able to though.  Security is always very accommodating at this time of night.

Tomorrowland Night

There are certain feelings that keep me coming back to Disney Parks.  Being on Main Street an hour after closing is near the top of that list.  There are relatively few people, there is plenty to look at, and the atmosphere is lovely.  This was a perfect cap to our last full day at Disney World.

Mickey train station

The next morning saw us back in Magic Kingdom with my parents, catching up on a few attractions that we’d missed.  We started out in New Fantasyland because cinnamon rolls.

SDMT in motion

New Fantasyland is a beautiful area and I especially like it in the morning light.  The area is more spacious, with beautiful sight lines and wide walkways.  While I do think the area could have used a better headline attraction, I talk myself into liking it more and more every time I’m there.

Ariel castle

We shared a cinnamon roll from Gaston’s Tavern.  They’re also selling macaroons there currently and they were surprisingly good.  I think that was a smart and delicious addition to Gaston’s.  After our stomachs were full we took a ride on Journey of the Little Mermaid, which I still don’t like.

After rides on it’s a small world and Haunted Mansion we went over to The Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History.  I raved about the show back when we saw it for the first time in October.  Not much has changed since then.

Sam & Chickens

The show is still fantastic and the greatest implementation Disney has done with the Muppet characters since acquiring them over a decade ago.  This time around we saw the story of Paul Revere instead of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  The Paul Revere story wasn’t as elaborate as the alternative and not quite as well done overall.  That’s not to say it was bad, quite the opposite.  Just that if I had to choose, I would definitely rather see the Declaration of Independence story.

Muppets finale

I hope this is a show that Disney chooses to update fairly often.  The title of the show lends itself to the Muppets reenacting any of the great moments throughout the country’s history.  Of course, it’s easier for me to recommend them adding a show than actually adding one.  But having a few more stories to cycle through will keep the show even more fresh.

We had lunch at Pecos Bill’s, which was my first time eating there since they changed the menu.  A review is coming before long but the meal was pretty good.

Tomorrowland monster

We hung out in the Hub for a while after lunch, waiting for our final FastPass at Space Mountain.  Relaxing on the grass there (if the sun isn’t bearing down on you) is quite pleasant.  Naturally, the FastPass line for Space Mountain wasn’t moving to fast and we had to hustle back to the hotel in order to catch our bus to the airport.  Luckily, the bus from Magic Kingdom came at the perfect time for us and we made it back no problem.

OKW golf course

Before long, we were back at home dreaming up our next trip.  This one won’t be something I soon forget though.

Flower & Garden was a great experience, as was staying late in Animal Kingdom.  I’m glad we were able to go with my parents and hope they enjoyed going with us.  Most of all though, I’ll remember that trip because of our half marathon and the feeling we had crossing that finish line.  For those of you that are looking for a little bit of motivation when it comes to exercise, make your race a destination trip and then it will be more fun!  I’m only half kidding, as that definitely provided extra motivation for Melissa and I.  We’ll both cherish this trip, thanks to memories of that run.

IMG_1404

Thank you for reading our trip report, we look forward to the next one!  If you have questions or thoughts please share them with us in the comments below.  You can follow us on social media and subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email.  Both of those options are found on the right side of this page.  Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

– Andrew

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