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December 26, 2005

My family's trip to Disney World

Yep, we just came back from Disney World, and we had a blast. Man, I cannot express with enough detail or justice how much fun we had! If you've never been to Disney World it is the experience of a lifetime, and I'm glad I was able to provide it to my kids. Needless to say, I hope it doesn't take me another 20 years to make it back to this magical place.

Anyway, there are a couple of details about Disney World that I have to get down before I forget. One is that Disney World teaches you patience. When you first get there and you see that the line waits are upwards of 30-40 minutes you think to yourself, "No way am I waiting that long for a ride!" But by the 4th day you consider 30 minutes to be an absolute steal and you will run into the line before it gets any longer, regardless of the ride. I believe this is the only reason I rode "It's a Small World After All."

Secondly, if Disney could put together a ride that includes 3D, a boat cruise, and a simulation they would probably be as happy as clams. Almost every place we went had at least one of each, sometimes multiple versions of each. Especially 3D movies and simulation rides, though. Sometimes they were excellent and highly entertaining ("It's Tough to Be a Bug" starring Flik from Bug's Life) and sometimes they stunk ("Star Tours," the hyped Star Wars ride, was not very good. This ticked me off.). Anyway, I'm just thinking if they could combine all three of these Disney World staples into one ride they would probably be thrilled.

Finally, if you are planning on going to Disney World, I must recommend the Disney Meal Plan as a "must have" for your trip. The plan was about $150 a day for my family, but it was worth it. I swear we did not have a "sit down" meal at Disney World for less than $130. In addition, lunch usually cost upwards of $50 for the five of us. One meal we had at the Coral Reef restaurant cost $200. One meal. But because we were on the plan we saved oodles of money.

Anyway, if you are interested, click into the extended entry for more about my family's vacation to Disney World. But be warned! There are about 20 pictures on the next page so it may take some time to load for those of you on slow connections. On with the show!


We took over 400 pictures while at Disney World. The pictures below are only the tip of the iceberg. I hope you enjoy them!


The first ride we went on was Space Mountain. Unfortunately, this was the last time we rode it, too. We went back on our last night to ride it for the last time only to be told it was having the dreaded "technical difficulties." Oh well, better luck next time!


My daughter had her picture taken with every princess we happened to come across. In the end she had her picture taken with every princess in the Disney catalog except for Ariel.


This is Splash Mountain, not your typical floom ride by any means. I usually hate flooms, but this was a very, very good, and creative, ride. I would highly recommend it. Also, because it was a little "chilly" outside (by Florida standards) the lines were very short.


We spent a lot of time at Epcot. Right after this picture was taken my kids and I went on the rocket blast simulation ride Mission Space. Wow. The ride simluates a rocket blast to outer space and then to Mars. This ride was so intense I actually got motion sickness. Fortunately I didn't blow chunks, but if we had actually taken the return trip back to Earth I may have. Yikes!


One of the more interesting rides at Epcot was called "This is the Land" where they showed you a lot of the research going on a Epcot concerning more efficient ways to produce food. This tomato plant has been turned into a tomato tree, and it has already produced almost 20,000 tomatos. And it was only planted a year ago. Yes, this is a world record, and the tree provides many of the tomatos eaten at Disney World. I thought that was cool.


While at Epcot we, of course, toured the World Showcase. This is my kids in front of the Japanese Shinto shrine. Cool stuff everywhere you looked...


Here the princess Aurora suckers me into the picture shoot with my daughter. Not that I minded (wink, wink). Note my extreme tourist appearance.


We also spent a day at Disney-MGM Studios. I must admit, we did not spend enough time here. We missed a couple of cool things, but truthfully the park may be more appropriate for adults than little kids. My kids were not as thrilled with this place as I was. Anyway, the ride above is the inside of the Rock and Roller Coaster. This ride, starring Aerosmith, starts off in this stalled postion and then blasts to 60 MPH in under 3 seconds. I don't think my oldest has forgiven me yet for putting him on this ride. It was intense. Loops, hills, and spirals. It had them all. And the ride featured the music of Aerosmith, but I couldn't hear anything over my kids' and my own screams.


Here we are after we conquered the Rock and Roller Coaster. My older son didn't talk to me for at least an hour after this ride.


My daughter walked by this sign, looked up, and said, "Hey! That looks like my god-father!" Sorry Curt. We thought that was hilarious!


Another thing that is common in Disney World besides 3D, simulations, and boat tours, are the "shows." We saw so many shows it was incredible. We saw the Indiana Jones show, a great bird show (twice), Beauty and the Beast, the Little Mermaid, the Lion King, Tarzan Rocks, and this fantastic stunt spectacular, among others. The show above featured high speed car chases and stunts that I can't adequately describe. It was a very good show.


Unfortunately, my two sons also got a recurrence of strep throat while they were at Disney World. So, we had to make a pit stop at the doctor. Bummer.


We got to have breakfast with Disney characters during our visit to the Animal Kingdom. We got pictures with Goofy, Pluto, Donald, and Mickey. The kids had a blast.


This is the outside of the Dinosaur ride at Animal Kingdom. This ride was a lot of fun and again, very intense. Not because of a bunch of loops, but because of the realistic dinosaurs screaming in your face. Wow! My daughter was freaked out! But she still went on it two more times. I swear, nothing fazed this girl. She didn't refuse to go on one ride. I couldn't believe how brave she was (she is only 5).


While at Animal Kingdom we also went on the Kilamanjaro Safari. Obviously, on the safari we saw some giraffes, but also some crocodiles, hippos, elephants, lions, flamingos, gazelles, and bunch of other animals. The ride was also wrapped up into an elaborate "poaching" story where we had to stop some poachers from making off with some ivory. I was amazed. I mean the ride would have been enough with just the animals, but then they spiced it up with stopping poachers. It was very cool.


Back to Epcot for the night (Animal Kingdom closes at 5:00). Here is the Stave Church at Norway. Interestingly enough, Norway is the only country that has any wooden churches left from the middle ages. Over 1,000 of them were built in Norway and 28 survive today. I found that very interesting.


This is a picture of probably our favorite ride at Epcot, the Test Track. In this ride you go through a series of "tests" that GM would usually put a car through including bumpy roads, brake tests, extreme conditions (like hot and cold), climbing, and, of course, speed. The outside of the ride includes a speed track that has riders zip around a velodrome type track. It was very, very cool. We must have ridden this ride at least 4 times. I even video taped the entire ride.


Back at Magic Kingdom we tried to get on as many rides as possible, including this kid favorite, the Indy Speedway.


Not the best picture, I know. Please forgive me. The last night we were there we watched the firework show at Cinderella's castle. This was an emotional moment for me knowing that I was leaving the next day, but also because my family was all together enjoying this moment. I was holding my daughter as we watched the impressive display and I was seriously consumed by love. I know it sounds sappy, but I can't help it. It is a memory I will always cherish.

So, that is my trip to Disney World. I hope to get back there someday. We had a blast!

Posted by snackeru at December 26, 2005 8:56 PM | Life


I have always wanted Drew Carey glasses, so I take the comparasion as a compliment. It sounds like you had a great time! My family went to Disney when I was less than two and again when I was a senior in high school. Don't make your kids wait this long to go again!

Curt in Grand Forks (Cleveland Rocks!)

Posted by: Curt Hanson at December 27, 2005 8:24 AM

Shane, you always look like a tourist, even here in Minnesota!

Looks and sounds like you all had a great time. I'm sure we'll discuss more in detail in person. Did you happen to get the princess' phone number? OW! Sweetheart stop punching me! It was just a joke!

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at December 27, 2005 9:36 AM

Thankfully when we went to Disney we were forewarned about the food prices. We ended up bringing food in backpacks, which helped out a lot in the cost of our trip. Also our condo was about 15 minutes from Disney World so one day we drove back to the room, ordered pizza, cooled off in the pool and went back for the evening activities. (Thankfully Disney doesn't (didn't?) charge for reentry)

Also, it seems like they have upgraded the Princess' stock since we were there last, yowza!

Finally Universal Studies/Islands of Adventure kick butt over Disney/MGM. The spiderman ride is amazing!

Posted by: freealonzo at December 27, 2005 2:17 PM

Your crew looked like they had such a good time. We went for the first time last year and had a blast. One funny thing that was different from when I went as a kid: Minnie, Mickey and all the other characters had "people"!!!! Before they'd just stroll around and you could walk up and hug them, take pics, whatever. Now they have attendants with clipboards who control access to them! Man, celebrity...

Posted by: Yvette at December 30, 2005 4:35 PM

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