I had a great time visiting the Florida Project – not that I had any doubts, but I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed it compared to the rest of the Resorts I have visited over the last 5 years. I guess I had become a bit jaded about how much better the other resorts around the world were compared to Walt Disney World. Perhaps it is my age or my new perspective in how theme parks really operate – the difference between being an just a kid, an AP, a relatively new Cast Member, and now a seasoned Cast Member at the resort. I have to say my favorite trip was the 2000 trip – even though I lost my glasses, it had the Millennium Celebration and I was just an AP – no biases about how things run or what have you, but just goober eagerness at it all.
But interestingly enough, I think I appreciated Walt Disney World more on this trip and how they operate there business and how many challenges they have. Are they the best resort? No, of course not! I always will prefer the Disneyland Resort to all the others around the world. Call it pride or what have you, but it is the one that I grew up with and the one I currently work at trying to bring special memories to all who visit. Of course it’s not easy, but we do what we can. I think I am beyond “ranking” the resorts for which is the best and which is the worst. Tokyo, Paris, and Hong Kong all have special places in my heart. I have had the privilege to visit them all and go “backstage” and realize that they are all great in their own ways and do the best they can with whatever challenges they are faced with year in and year out.
It had been 5 years since I visited Florida, and I must say that I really enjoyed all the plussed up items. The Magic Kingdom’s Stitch Encounter was certainly better than people made it out to be and honestly, I enjoyed it better than Alien Encounter. The Monster’s Inc Laugh Factory surprised me – perhaps I didn’t really know what to expect. Interesting that they chose basically a super-sized Turtle Talk concept, but they pull it off well. I have never been a fan of play areas in a Disney Park, but at least the new Winnie the Pooh play area is well themed. The new Haunted Mansion sounds better than ever! One of my complaints about WDW the last time I went is that you could not hear anything on the attractions. Certain ones are still plagued by it, but at least the Mansion is loud and clear.
Over at EPCOT, they have done a ton of work. The new Spaceship Earth is very nice, though I will always miss Walter Cronkite’s narration. The Seas with Nemo and friends is cute and it is nice to see the differences between that and our Subs. Granted, ahem, our FNSV is quite simply better in almost every way, but I love omnimovers so I give them props for that. Also, the Nemo fish swimming with real fish is a cool effect and I am glad they have something that no one else has. Soarin’ was an interesting addition to the Land Pavilion and I like how they themed it to an airport. I really hope they have multiple movies playing and that one day someone invents a digital IMAX projector!
I love the new Three Caballeros version of the Grand Fiesta Tour (it’s the boat ride in the Mexico Pavilion). I love the fact they incorporated some of the old footage, especially the cliff diver scene, though I do miss the hot tub/bar scene which granted was probably hard to include Donald. The renewed American Adventure finale and the O’ Canada refresh were well done and in the spirit of their originals. I think that is my favorite update – something that keeps it fresh while not completely ignoring the originals.
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios it was neat to see how they created Pixar Place and their version of Toy Story Midway Mania. I do like how you load on the opposite side of the station in Florida better than the DCA version, but overall, I like the themeing of actually being on the Midway in DCA better than the toy box of Florida, but then again both are executed well. I did not go see Lights, Moters, Action since I just saw the same show in Paris. It was fun to see them claim “Direct from Walt Disney Studios Paris”.
Finally, I love the new Expedition Everest section at Animal Kingdom. It seamlessly fits with the the park and would never know that whole section was an addition to the original park – quite probably one of the best new expansion additions to any park I have seen. The attraction itself was lots of fun and I really enjoyed it.
One last note about Walt Disney World. I am not sure if it is due to hurricanes, drought, or my ever-keen skills of observation, but I certainly noticed that the trees on property were pretty thinned out. I could see backstage areas like never before at all the parks and I could see into parks backstage from roads. Part of it is the ever expanding growth of the resort and the areas around it as a whole, but I do miss the Walt Disney World of 1992 where everything seemed in its own isolated world surrounded by massive amounts of trees. I hope that it never becomes so overdeveloped that it seems like a Disney Metropolis instead of a Disney World.
Pictures soon! (although I took a ton – most were just bits here and there and just playing around with the camera and of course my side trip to Kennedy Space Center.)
The views and opinions expressed on this post are mine and do not necessarily represent or reflect those of The Walt Disney Company.