Although it has been a few weeks since last posting, I will be making up for that absence with a bunch of posts on our stay at Fort Wilderness Campground, on the grounds of The Magic Kingdom. After our first day, I had good intentions of putting a post out right away, but with so many photos and videos to sort through, plus being tired from playing tourist for 12 hours, I figured it would be best to wait until our “vacation” was over, and then work on the blog posts.
And yes, I am calling it a vacation. Many of you may think we are on a permanent vacation, but the reality is we still need to work. Our ‘house’ just has wheels and a changing view! But for this week, we went into ‘vacation’ mode. If you enjoy Disney, then hopefully you will also enjoy the next several blogs, as they will be all about Disney. If you are one of the few that can’t stand the big mouse, well……!
But first a little background. Last year we were invited to Disney by our friends Karen and Al, whom we had met at Amazon. Neither Dan nor I have ever visited any of the four parks at Disneyworld. And when it comes to Disney characters, I am pretty clueless. Karen and Al have been visiting Disney for years, and are very knowledgeable about the entire complex. We hooked up with them last year for one day at Epcot, just to get a feel of Disney. You can read about last years blog on Epcot here, as well as my blog on Disney history and pricing here. We had a great time last year, and decided to come back for a longer stay this year, so we could see all four parks.
Our opinion that Disney is still very expensive has not changed, and they just reported on the local news that Disney recorded record attendance and profits in their last quarter. So Disney can continue raising prices, and it does not appear to have any affect, so far, on their attendance. But since we changed our residency to Florida, we can now get a resident pass. For $233.00 (which includes tax), we can visit any of the four main parks, Monday thru Friday, most of the year. Holidays, summer months, and the weekends are blocked out. And we can go to more than one park in a day.
This year, we did stay at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, which is both the nicest, and the most expensive campground we have stayed at. We paid $82.00 per night (plus tax) for a premier site. They do not offer any discounts, weekly or monthly rates. And their pricing varies depending on the season (we stayed during the cheaper “off-season”). But they do allow up to 10 people per site, without an extra charge, and we did see a few sites that had both an RV and a tent (which is permitted), so if you come down with a few families, it is not a bad deal. And it does include a parking pass (which would cost $17.00 per day if not staying on the grounds). They also offer a boat shuttle to the Magic Kingdom, as well as a shuttle bus to all the other parks and Downtown Disney. We were able to link our reservations with Karen and Al, so we were all in the same loop (they have family and friends that also visit every year, and we joined in with the group).
Our first day was spent back at Epcot, on a much more relaxed pace than last year, when we were trying to see and do as much as possible! When you stay at any Disney hotel, you will receive complimentary FastPass bands, which allow you to make advance reservations for up to three rides/attractions at each park. This will allow you to avoid long waiting lines on the more popular rides. Last year we did the ‘green’ option on the popular Mission Space ride, which simulates a rocket launch and spacecraft flight. This year, we opted to try the more intense ‘orange’ ride. This one made my stomach a bit queasy, but it was not too bad, since we were familiar with the ride from last year. When it was over, I did notice several people getting off and sitting down right away on benches, holding the complimentary “space bag” that is on the ride. I would recommend not doing this ride right after eating!
After that, we toured the Journey Into Imagination, with Figment, before our next FastPass, Turtle Talk with Crush. This was an interactive, animated story telling with Crush The Turtle that is geared towards children, but is fun for adults as well. It appears that you are watching an animated movie, but the character does interact and talk with the audience.
You can tell when you are close to more kid friendly attractions, when you run into the designated stroller parking areas!
Dan and I originally set up our FastPass to include Captain EO, but Al stated there is never a long wait for this, so we did not have to waste one of our three options on this. Captain EO was originally made for Disney in 1986, and was discontinued several years ago. But after the death of Michael Jackson, Disney brought back this 18 minute 3D film. It was interesting to see how much 3D technology has changed since this was made. What was state of the art back then, just seems a little ‘ho hum’ now.
With the FastPass option at Epcot, Disney only let’s you select one of the two biggest rides. You can choose either Soaring, or Test Track, but not both. Last year we went on Soaring, which was excellent. This year we opted for Test Track, which was also a lot of fun. You design a car, and then take it for a ride along a test track to see how it performs on turns, speed and under adverse conditions.
Both would be great choices, and both have long ‘stand by’ wait times. Your best bet would be to get to the park right away and stand in one of the lines, and have a FastPass for the other later in the day.
All these rides made us hungry, so we headed over to the World Showcase portion of Epcot for a late lunch. Al had made reservations in Italy, at Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria, where we sampled several different wood-fired pizzas.
We then headed over to France, for some excellent desert at Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie. We stopped there last year, and it was so good, and reasonably priced, that I wanted to stop there again this year. We burned a few calories walking around the rest of the world, and then headed back to the campground to let the dogs out.
Since I took so many pictures last year at Epcot, I do not have a lot of photos from Epcot this year, but I did manage on finding a few more characters. This year I did a little better in guessing who they were!
Do you know how to tell these two apart?
Chip has a brown nose, and Dale has the red one. Learned something new at Epcot!
After feeding Makena, Dan and I took the free shuttle boat ride from our campground to the Magic Kingdom, to watch the evening parade and fireworks. Since this blog is already pretty long, and I took a lot of photos in the evening, that will be the topic of my next blog.
Quote for the day: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney