MOUSE AND DUCK TALES
Welcome to our blog, where we share our tips on the latest Disney, Universal and Cruising trends, treats and tours.
One of our favorite things about travelling to Disney is knowing there will be something new to see each time. In this post we rate the new things we experienced on our most recent trip to Disney World in the summer of 2017.
1. PandorA avatar world
Animal Kingdom is home to Pandora Avatar World with the famous Flight of Passage virtual reality ride and the Na’vi River Journey ride. Because you can’t get a fast pass for both we can only really comment on Flight of Passage, but we’ve heard that the River Journey moves slowly, has bright colours and doesn’t last long, so it great for little ones. The hype for these rides is a bit overblown considering the incredible wait times, but the Valley of Mo’ara (or area surrounding the rides) is certainly something to see and pushes this to the top of our list for best new attractions. As you walk in you see large plants that look like they might reach out to eat you. You can’t help but stare at the giant rocks that are covered in vegetation. Imagine the Grand Canyon in the rain forest. There are lots of beautiful photo ops and even live music performances in the vein of Avatar.
We arrived 30 minutes before the rides opened and headed to Flight of Passage immediately and it still took us an hour to make it on to the ride. I don’t think anyone should wait longer than an hour for anything so the idea that some people wait 4 hours to ride on Flight of Passage is downright depressing. Having said that, I heard many people around me saying it was worth it. Flight of Passage is indeed an incredible and immersive experience. I did think the interior walk-way before you get on your banshee was rather depressing, and not being a fan of the movie some of the nuances were lost on me, but the ride/simulation itself was jaw dropping. You really do feel like you are riding a banshee through Pandora world. There were smells, water spray and beautiful scenery. The banshee flies to the top of cliffs and then drops you down to skim the water. You fly inside a glowing cave and get attacked by other creatures. The ride did trigger my motion sickness but that was solved by a breakfast of French toast Na’vi style in the Satu’li Canteen (unfortunately the Canteen is now only serving lunch and dinner but the unique options are worth a try). If you aren’t able to get a fast pass for these rides, at least walk over to the valley to see the scenery and check out the shop “Windtrades” that is a great extension of the theme.
2. Happily Ever After Fireworks
We’d heard so many great things about this new firework show that began on May 12, 2017 in Magic Kingdom, and it lived up to our expectations. This new show replaced the Wishes fireworks, one that we have seen a number of times. We are sentimental about Wishes because both our kids saw it as their first Disney fireworks show. But they really loved Happily Ever After.
The show is an amazing collage of characters and movie images projected onto the castle. It was neat that obscure and less popular movies were featured along with popular ones (Hercules, Brave, etc.) The fireworks themselves are almost an after-thought because the images on the castle are so engaging and seem to go on forever. The incredible imagery and length of the show mean we think is the second best new attraction at Disney World.
The downside to this show is that you need to be right in front of the castle to have the best view. It was difficult to move around, not block people behind you, and to push a stroller into place. You also need to be there early to get a good spot, it takes longer to leave after the show and you can’t really enjoy this show from the boat as you leave the park. But overall we highly recommend planning to see this show! Everyone was happy to see that our favorite fairy still made an appearance.
3. Frozen Ride
We were very excited to ride the new Frozen ride. We missed it by a few months on our trip last year - it opened in June of 2016. We are happy to report that the ride lived up to expectations so we ranked this third. This is the old Maelstorm ride transformed. The queue is decorated to resemble a Nordic town. We loved going through Oaken’s Trading Post and seeing him appear in the sauna window. The ride itself had all our favorite characters, including the Snowgies. It even showed Anna and Elsa in their winter and summer dresses. The only disappointment was the darkness of the line up that frightened our 4-year-old, who then decided not to ride at the last minute. The staff were great and gave us a baby swap pass, but we certainly wished we’d been able to get a fast pass for this one so that we didn't stand in the dark line up for as long. This ride is one that we strongly recommend getting a fast pass for, however, because of the way the fast pass system is organized you have to choose between this and Soarin' or Test Track. While we do think Frozen is great, if you are not a huge fan of the movie, you might prefer to use your fast pass elsewhere.
4. Soarin' update
Who doesn’t love Soarin' – the ride in Epcot where you soar above the world looking at film of famous destinations? Nostalgia and shortened wait times put this fourth on our list. We were relieved that the changes made to the show, adding a second screen and new destinations, were seamless. With these updates you don’t have to wait as long in line and the new show has some surprises for Disney World fans. We love this ride because it is something both our kids could ride it without being afraid and because you feel like you are flying over places you might never visit.
5. Trader Sam’s
6. Miss Adventure Falls
This water ride in Typhoon Lagoon water park wasn’t as exciting as we’d expected. At least that turned out to be good for our 4-year-old. The steep ride up certainly pushed her comfort zone any more thrills might have been too much for her. We did have a great view of the park at the top of the incline. The family raft that we rode on tossed us around a good deal. But overall we didn't feel that this slide was very different from Disney’s other family water rides.
New To Us:
We were certainly excited to eat at a table service restaurant inside Magic Kingdom. However, this meal didn’t quite live up to expectations. Our server was great, the décor of the restaurant was really well done and the atmosphere was fun, but the taste of the meal itself was lack luster.
Every year Magic Kingdom hosts Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party on select nights starting in late August. You must purchase special tickets and you can’t enter the park until 4pm. If you don’t have a Halloween ticket on party nights, you will be escorted out by 7pm. We went on the first Halloween party of the season this past August. While it was almost too hot to really enjoy the event, we did walk right on to a ton of rides. We also secured a hard to get reservation at the Skipper Canteen restaurant inside the park. There were stations throughout the park where you could line up for candy and if we had wanted to, we would have come away with enough candy to fill a suitcase. What we enjoyed more was the special Hocus Pocus show in front of the castle with Disney’s Villains (if you haven’t seen the movie Hocus Pocus it is worth watching). The Halloween fireworks feature spooky music and 180 degrees of fireworks (covering your sight-line). The parade was the main attraction and features an opening by the Headless Horseman galloping down main street. Our kids came away singing the theme song. Many of the guests wore great DIY costumes. It was super fun to see characters that don’t normally visit the park but we were surprised that the line ups to meet some of these characters were so long. We ate many of the special Halloween treats throughout the park that we purchased with our snack credits, like pumpkin cheesecake treats, cupcakes, etc.
Overall we are glad we were able to experience the park at this special time of year but attending a little closer to Halloween would make it even more special. The cost of the tickets does vary depending on the popularity of the night.
We are looking forward to visiting the new Toy Story Land, which opened in the Summer of 2018 at Hollywood Studios (watch for that blog post in January 2019). Even more exciting is Star Wars Land that will be opening at Hollywood Studios and Disneyland California in 2019. Plan to book early if you want to visit these new attractions. We expect rooms to sell out fast once the opening date for Star Wars Land is announced. You can follow our Facebook page for the latest updates.