Wednesday, April 21, 2010

World of Disney

Thursday was our Magic Kingdom day. We had been told about two behind-the-scenes tour from friends. Backstage Magic is a 7 hour tour that spans across Magic Kingdom, Epcott, and Hollywood Studios. Keys to the Kingdom is a 5 hr tour just at Magic Kingdom. Since we haven't been to Magic Kingdom in over 10 years, we wanted to do the half-day Keys to the Kingdom and then spend the rest of the day at Magic Kingdom.

The Keys to the Kingdom tour is quite good. The tour guide explains the various names written on the windows on Main Street, the history of Walter and Roy Disney, and the history of the company. She also took us on two rides: Jungle Cruise and Haunted Mansion and gave us a lot cool information about the rides and also some of the tricks to create the rides. Then our tour guide took us behind the gates to some of the backstage areas: trash collection, parade float storage, back of Splash Mountain, etc. I can see why this tour is not allowed for anyone under 16 years old (we weren't allowed to take any photos). It definitely brings the stark reality of Magic Kingdom to life. Lastly our tour guide took us into the Utilidors, the underground tunnels below Magic Kingdom. Cast members use the tunnels to move from place to place within Magic Kingdom without disturbing the "theme" of each area (heaven forbid you see a Tomorrow Land cast member in Frontier Land) and basically get the day-to-day business of running a park completed without disturbing the visitors to the park.

After the tour, we took our time walking around Magic Kingdom and just having fun riding the rides and enjoying the entire atmosphere. We did figure out that Universal was so empty because EVERYONE was at Magic Kingdom instead. The place was quite packed with people, but it was still less crowded than the busy seasons. The rides only took about 15-30 minutes total, including Space Mountain. We had a great time at Magic Kingdom, it really is easy to get sucked into the atmosphere.

We spent friday just wandering around Orlando's tourist section. We wanted to take it pretty easy so we caught Clash of the Titans and did some of our Disney shopping then just relaxed at the hotel for the rest of the day.

We had a fantastic time in Florida. It was nice to get away for a week, and I know the dogs also had a great time in their vacation homes. I'm quite surprised they didn't sulk when they got home!

Roller coaster fun!

On Tuesday morning, we drove to Orlando and prepared to do some amusement parks.  Gray and Cindy were heading up north on their sailboat but the timing worked out so they met us on tuesday for dinner.  They had a great suggestion to meet at California Grill at the Contemporary Hotel.  California Grill is on the 15th floor and overlooks Cinderella's castle.  We hung out in the lounge grabbing various appetizers and wine for about 4.5 hours until the Magic Kingdom's fireworks show started.  The view was very very cool, plus California Grill pipes the music/sounds from the fireworks show into the restaurant.

We headed to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure for Wednesday.  Since Spring Break had just finished, the two parks were virtually empty.  We tried the new Studios coaster, Rip Ride Rockit.  The two unusual things about the ride: 1) you choose the music to listen to, it comes out of the speakers by your head, 2) the incline to the first hill is straight up.  The ride is very smooth and surprising long.  The coaster is fun but not one I found to be outstanding; however it's ALWAYS fun to ride a new coaster.

After doing some of the other Universal rides and walking around, we headed over to Islands of Adventure to ride our old favorites: Hulk coaster, and Dueling dragons coasters.  They are definitely still classic rides.  Dueling dragons is very cool because they run two coasters on two different runs, but in two places, the two coasters intertwine so it feels like you're about to run into each other.  We rode several other rides at Islands also but the coasters are definitely our favorite.

Ahhh, Florida is so beautiful

We took a nice, long, overdue vacation to Florida last week.  Usually we visit Mike's mom down in Port Charlotte around February every year but this year we waited until I was finished with work (that's a WHOLE different blog entry). 

We found pretty cheap direct flights straight to Fort Myers from National and headed down to gorgeous florida to be pampered and fed silly on April 10th.  The weather in Florida was absolutely gorgeous.  Mid-80s and sunny pretty much the entire time.  We stayed with Mike's Mom from Saturday until Tuesday morning.  Mike did some computer tech support while I made sure the chaise loungers didn't float away.  We did help Mom pull some dead bushes out of her front garden and did a little bit of weeding but really spent most of the time being completely spoiled.  I think Mom felt like she should take us somewhere like the beach but both Mike and I really wanted to just nap, eat, swim, snack, and read so we were quite happy staying put.

View from Mom's pool