Walt Disney World 2000 Day 3: Magic Kingdom, Disney/MGM, Downtown Disney

Sunday September 10, 2000
We awoke around 8:30 and were out the door at 9:45 for our day at the Magic Kingdom park. Entering the Magic Kingdom, my first observation was that the buildings were all much bigger than at Disneyland. All the shops were in different places, except for the Emporium which was undergoing some sort of renovation. We headed out to look for a place for breakfast, but unless you had reservations for the character breakfast, you were out of luck. We finally found the Pecos Bill Café and settled for lunch. From there, it was off to Pirates of the Caribbean. I will not go into detail about each ride in this report, I am going to create a separate page at the conclusion of the trip that talks about the rides that are also in Disneyland. I will mention more detail on the rides that are unique to Florida. For Pirates, and this goes for most of the attractions at Walt Disney World with cousins elsewhere, the theming was excellent but the overall ride lacked the warmth and ambiance of Disneyland. From Pirates it was off to Big Thunder, the Haunted Mansion, and then over to Tomorrowland for Space Mountain. My most lasting impression of SM was that the queue line was HUGE. I can only imagine how bad it must be in the summer or holiday season. Because of the time of year we are visiting, most of the rides had no longer than a 20 minute wait. It was then time for the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (or as I like to call it the People Mover). Since Disneyland replaced theirs with the Rocket Rods, I appreciated the opportunity to relax on a nice slow long ride.
It was then time for a Magic Kingdom exclusive – Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Despite the fact I can’t aim worth a darn, I enjoyed this cross between laser tag and Roger Rabbit’s Car-Toon Spin from DL. I was expecting just a copy of Roger Rabbit, and the interactive aspect was fun. From there it was over to another ride unique to Florida – Alien Encounter. I had heard a few things about this ride, and they are definitely true. This ride is way too intense for the kiddies, but a great show altogether. Everything from the preshow to the actual ride was well done. I certainly wish that we had this in DL instead of the pizza place. After some ice cream, it was time for the TimeKeeper. He looked like Tom Morrow, but sounded like Robin Williams. His traveling companion named Nine Eye was voiced by the Brave Little Toaster. This was another fun attraction, though a bit smart-alecky. I got the feeling from other attractions that they have updated that they are going for the Aladdin-esque humor. Overall, this ride was miles ahead of the Rocket Rods queue line (and I even recognized some of the footage).
After a few dozen shots of the castle it was off to the Tiki Birds (under new management). I know some people will hate me, but I enjoyed the show much more than the classic show, though I can see this one getting old real fast. From there, it was off to the mini-Small World and then to the Hall of Presidents. I know some people fall asleep during the show, but I enjoyed it. I always get a kick when they introduce the animatronic presidents and they all look at the ones being introduced. Good show guys! By this time, our Fastpass was up for the new Winnie the Pooh ride. Or so we thought. The Fastpass commandant informed us that we had to wait another two minutes before getting in line. This ride had the longest ride by far in the entire park at 50 minutes and was glad to have the pass. I know people were upset when Mr. Toad was let go, and that ride is a classic, but I really like the Pooh ride. I would prefer they axe Snow White instead of Toad, but I think the Pooh ride is a classic. From Pooh it was off to Mickey’s Toontown Fair. This area used to be Mickey’s Birthdayland, but was re-named and better themed after Toontown opened in DL. From there, we were off on a trip around Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom aboard the steam train. We went completely around the park and decided to get one more ride on Space Mountain and then head off to Disney-MGM Studios.
We rode the Monorail to the ticket/transportation center and transferred to the EPCOT Monorail. It is so nice to ride a Monorail for a long time without stops, a luxury we don’t get at Disneyland. At EPCOT, we boarded the bus for the Studios. With only two hours left, we decided to hit the two new attractions, the Rock and Roller Coaster and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. We got a Fastpass for the Tower, and stood in line for the Coaster. I must say the coaster kicked some major butt. It included a high-speed take off, a loop and a corkscrew – all indoors. We liked it so nice, we rode it twice. A definite favorite. We then headed over to redeem our passes for the Tower of Terror. There was still some mighty queuing and some bizarre seating arrangements to deal with, but it was well worth the wait. The TOT basically sends you up a few floors, then drops a few and then up a few and then down a few. Man – were my knuckles white. Roger loved every minute of it as well, and tomorrow when we return, we are going on both again. It was then time for Fantasmic. I am a big fan of the show at DL, and it was interesting seeing how it was staged in a theater. Keeping in the tradition of WDW, it was bigger and updated to include 1990’s movies. There was no Peter Pan sequence (replaced with an awful Pocahontas bit), and no Mark Twain (replaced by an anemic Steamboat Willie), but overall I like what they did with the show in Florida. I think I give it the slight edge over Disneyland because it has seats. But if you are in the seats at the Disney Gallery, it is worth suffering through the elephants bits and is the best way to go. After the show it was off to the hotel – finally to relax. After an hour we headed off to Downtown Disney.
Since I live in Southern California just a stones throw from Universal Studios, Downtown Disney looked a lot like a CityWalk rip-off. I remember the Marketplace and Pleasure Island from my last trip and they were mostly the same – nice shopping and store in one, and an eclectic mix of night spots in another. The West End was the blatant CityWalk spin – oversized themed buildings and all. Sorry to say for the Universal folks, but Disney did a much better job with he layout and the choice of shops and just plain overall themeing, but then that is what Disney does best. After dinner at the Wildhorse Grill (honest I didn’t know it was a country bar until we sat down) and New Year’s Eve (which is EVERY night at Pleasure Island – still) and a brief stop in a 70’s bar, it was back to the hotel and to bed. A very full day. I think we are sleeping in a bit tomorrow and then off to the Studios.