Loyal readers know that I’m an advocate of Disney World’s nighttime magic hours. Even though they don’t offer the near empty parks of years ago, I still enjoy a few less people along with being able to stay in the parks late. The downside to taking part in the late magic hours is the effect it has on your sleeping schedule. Having Epcot Magic Hours on Tuesday followed by Magic Kingdom’s on Wednesday makes for a sleepy Thursday. Sleepy Thursday is the name of my future band and also where we start part 4 of this trip report.
Our extended family didn’t go to the parks on Thursday so we just had 8 with us instead of 13. Those 8 ended up going to Hollywood Studios at different times that morning. I stayed behind and slept a little extra, mainly because I didn’t care about riding Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. We checked out of the Boardwalk Resort that morning, dropped off our bags to be transferred and I enjoyed a pastry at the Boardwalk Bakery. Eventually, I caught the boat from the Boardwalk over to Hollywood Studios with my parents.
Because of #SleepyThursday and a lunch reservation at Epcot, we took it fairly easy that morning in Hollywood Studios. Once we wrangled all of the family together we headed off for our FastPass at Toy Story Mania. I will not tell you who won but I’m sure my wife would be happy to let you know.
After Toy Story Mania, a few of us rode Star Tours while others shopped. Apparently, Star Tours makes like half of my family sick. Is this normal? Do other people get motion sickness on these simulators or are they just weird? I have no problem calling my family weird. Anyway, this is probably not a topic that you (or anyone) care about.
It was extremely hot again, so the walk out of the park, followed by the boat ride to Epcot, followed by the walk through World Showcase to Via Napoli was not the most pleasant. We made it despite Sleepy Thursday turning into Sweaty Thursday. I think that will be my last joke about that but keep reading to find out!
Our meal at Via Napoli was excellent. The restaurant remains one of our favorites in Epcot and one we highly recommend. Unfortunately, this time around our meal was extremely long. Like over 2 hours long. I’m a fan of long meals and generally happy when it feels like Disney isn’t pushing you through a meal. I’m sure our large group had something to do with it, as well as our server being very friendly.
On this day, we didn’t want the meal to last so long because we had a reservation for the Behind the Seeds Tour not long after that. When making the tour reservation I didn’t think twice about a 2+ hour window between the lunch reservation and the tour being too tight. As it was, we showed up to the tour about 10 minutes late and I felt terrible about that.
I’ve already reviewed Behind the Seeds so I won’t get to deep into the tour here. In short, Behind the Seeds is an excellent introduction to Disney Parks tours thanks to the time frame and price. While the subject matter isn’t for everyone, we really enjoyed our tour as did the rest of the family. Being in greenhouses, the tour wasn’t much cooler than being outside. That was the only negative about the whole thing.
After the tour, we slowly made our way out of Epcot. I stopped for a quick photo of the empty right side of the entrance, as the Leave a Legacy monoliths had recently been removed. They just recently started on the left side of the monoliths and I’m excited to see what the entrance looks like. The open concept of the right side was really nice compared to when the tombstones were in there.
Once we left Epcot we headed out for a night at Disney Springs. We met our extended family there, grabbed some food and did a little shopping. I had a burger and shake from D-Luxe Burger while Melissa grabbed a few things from different food carts. It was a pleasant evening and nice to relax for a while.
As I said, we checked out of the Boardwalk Resort earlier that day and were checking into Animal Kingdom Lodge that night. We had the Disney Dining Plan at both places and had some extra credits leftover from the Boardwalk Resort. Instead of having to buy a bunch of extra stuff that we may or may not have eaten, cast members were nice enough to combine our credits so that they would just roll them over into our next reservation. We ended up with a bunch of extra credits but it was nice to not have to cram them all in that night.
I loved the 2-bedroom villa at Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House. We’ll have a specific review about that room soon but I was very impressed with the detail, functionality and space offered. We checked into the hotel and called it a night shortly after.
The next morning saw us back at Magic Kingdom, riding a bunch of mountains. We started off at Space Mountain before heading to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
In the last installment of this trip report I wrote about how Frozen Ever After hasn’t aged as well as I thought it would. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is on the other end of the spectrum for me. No, it’s not an E-ticket attraction but it’s an excellent family coaster that is well themed. If it was a minute longer it might be the best attraction at Magic Kingdom, as is it’s one of the best parts of the park’s Fantasyland.
After Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, it was time for my nephew’s inaugural ride on Mad Tea Party. Melissa and him had been practicing for this ride for months, spinning around in our living room from time to time. After a few seconds of hesitation, he enjoyed the ride and wanted to go again as soon as we got off.
After our three rides that morning, it was time for an early lunch at Be Our Guest. I’ll update that review in the next day or two but I thought the menu changes were fine. We still love the restaurant for lunch and the changes did little to enhance or dissuade that opinion. It is slightly more expensive now but that’s par for the course at this point.
After lunch, we walked across the park for our last FastPass of the day, Splash Mountain. We had reached the hottest point of the trip a day or two before this but were all still hoping to get cooled off on Splash. It’s days like these where I was wishing we were on the Disneyland Splash Mountain so I could get drenched. Of course, then I would have had soggy socks (among other things) and no one wants soggy socks.
Muppets Present… was performing shortly after we were off Splash Mountain so we enjoyed the show. It was the shorter, Paul Revere version which isn’t as good but still worth seeing. I’m hoping in the next year or two that they add a few other versions of the show but I can’t imagine that’s high on Disney’s priority list.
For the rest of the afternoon we checked a few things off the must-do list. This included the Tiki Room and the PeopleMover. We got on the PeopleMover right before a giant thunder storm came over Magic Kingdom. It was entertaining to see people run for cover. The ride also offered a good view of the progress on the Tron roller coaster. (Sorry about the rain drop smudge on the camera!)
We got off the ride and the rain really started coming down. Along with that, the thunder was as loud as I’ve ever heard and the lightning was right above us and struck the castle at one point. Being from the northwest, we don’t get to see thunderstorms like that very often. We may be in the minority but Melissa and I always enjoy finding a place to stand and watch the rain and lightning when these start. Luckily this time it was under cover at the train station.
I was hoping to catch a lightning bolt while taking a picture but it didn’t work out as the lightning had already moved away from the castle. Before long, the rain subsided and we made our way to the bus back to our hotel.
Once back at Animal Kingdom Lodge, we had a short rest and then had dinner at Boma with our whole group. We don’t go to many buffets but I have a hard time believing any are better than Boma at Walt Disney World. The variety of different foods is impressive and so is the ambition.
After dinner, we hung out in the lobby and said our goodbyes to our cousins, aunt and uncle. They were leaving early the next morning while we had a few more days. Eventually, we headed back to Magic Kingdom with a few from our immediate family to watch the fireworks again.
Despite arriving just a few minutes before the show, we ended up with a really good spot for the show. I set up my tripod and was ready for more Happily Ever After pictures. But then disaster struck…
Child on shoulders! It wasn’t really a disaster and I’m fairly used to this happening at this point. A few families around us weren’t pleased though and I can’t blame them. I wish they’d make everyone sit down for the fireworks at this point. We enjoyed watching the show with my nephew and then went off to ride Pirates of the Caribbean.
The changed auction scene in Pirates is the easiest to photograph in the ride. I don’t really notice that it’s brighter when just riding the attraction but I can easily tell when taking photos. Here’s a few more from the ride.
I don’t like that last scene in the ride mainly because I’m opposed to the Jack Sparrow addition to the ride. Having said that, I really like that cool blue opposed to the burnt orange that’s throughout most of the ride. When you start picking out colors in a ride that you like does that mean you have gone too many times?..
After our ride, others went to shop and go back to the hotel while I went off to take some photos. It was pretty late after closing by the time I was done so thanks to security for letting me take my time. Here are my favorites from a stroll around Frontierland, Adventureland, Liberty Square and Main Street.
Our tired legs carried us to the bus and before long we were back at the hotel asleep. We’ll pick up the next day at Animal Kingdom with the final installment of this trip report.
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