So this past Thursday to Sunday, I was in Orlando for my bachelor party with a mixed group of theme park newbies and some of my theme park crew. It was definitely an illuminating trip, and a hell of a lot of fun. We stayed at an AirBnb, which may be my preferred method of lodging with groups bigger than ~3 moving forward. You just can't beat having a house to yourself. Thursday February 7 - Magic Kingdom On Thursday we went to the Magic Kingdom, and had FP+s for all three Mountains in hand. First, let me say how downright bad the TTC is right now. I understand that putting money into it will net Disney 0 return, but man that place looks so worn and tired. It's a bad first impression IMO, especially paired with the shabby state of the monorails. Disney also needs to adopt Universal's security setup. Disney is so painfully slow in comparison. With that being said, once you're over by the park, everything is a breeze, and the outside portions of the Magic Kingdom all look great. Upkeep on the streets and buildings is looking very good, and I like the decluttered look that has started to pop up in Tomorrowland. The paint job on Carousel of Progress is really, really great. Unfortunately, we started in Tomorrowland with Buzz Lightyear. which is definitely among the rides that is most negatively affected by FP+. On a ride where the line would be constantly moving, the Standby line is currently a painful experience, as it seems like too many FPs are in the system for this ride. This ride and SDMT were where we felt the evils of FP+ the most. Just long, long stretches of sitting still in a standby line. It's not a good look IMO. Elsewhere in TL, I really hope they take some rides down for refurbishment once TRON opens. TTA and Space Mountain in particular are feeling very shabby and could do with extended downtime. Still, Space Mountain is a lot of fun, and we all enjoyed it. Mermaid and IASW were all we did in Fantasyland and they both looked good, but IASW was the first example of something we saw a lot in MK and Epcot: Oddly quiet audio. In IASW, Splash Mountain, Gran Fiesta Tour, and Haunted Mansion I noticed a lot of sound effects and dialogue that were nearly incomprehensible due to being so quiet. We had the chicken and waffles sandwich from Sleepy Hollow for lunch, and that was a big hit. Both Splash Mountain and Big Thunder were great and looked good, outside of the aforementioned audio issues. Same with Pirates, although that new Redhead scene is...really bad. Sorry, but it is just so lame. It pains me to say it, but the Jungle Cruise looked awful. So many inoperable scenes. But it was definitely saved by the great skipper we had. Mansion is also looking a little worn around the edges, especially in the stretch room. Overall, we had a great day and I saw what would become my biggest take away from the trip: All it takes is 3-4 really great rides to form a casual guest's view on the park. MK and the Uni parks have the great ones that left a great impression on the casual guests in our group, but Epcot doesn't. At least not yet. Friday February 8 - Universal/Disney Springs/Trader Sam's We got to Universal the next day a little after 10 and went right to the Studios. Just like Disney, Uni has its own issues with the pre-park experience, namely their turnstiles. It's inexcusable how long it takes to get into the park when you're at the gate. Uni should just ripoff Disney's touchpoint entry ASAP. Once in the park, we headed for Mummy. It was weird to see the park without HHN stuff all over, as that's how I usually see the park. But things looked fresh and well taken care of for the most part. We rode Mummy first, and it was looking really good. We went to Transformers from there, but it seemed to be having some sort of nagging issue that kept taking it down, so we bailed and went to Springfield, as one of my friends is a big Simpsons fan. We didn't ride the ride, but he was in heaven in the land. We hung out, got a Duff in Moe's, and did some shopping before riding MIB. Seems like that got a little love recently, and it was looking pretty good. Then it was time for Diagon, and my friends were all blown away. We saw the shops, saw one of the Beedle the Bard shows, rode Gringotts, and got lunch at the Leaky Cauldron. From there we went to Hogsmeade, where Forbidden Journey absolutely blew everyone away. It was the consensus favorite ride for the non-theme park fans in the group. It was basically all they talked about the rest of the day. I also have to say the ride was looking superb, though the musion effects in the queue could use some TLC. From there we went to JP, and just wandered around a little bit before jumping on the ride. Other than the first Ultrasaur, which was stuck in the "up" position, I thought the ride looked great. This was another ride that got rave reviews from the group. Kong was next, and everyone enjoyed it but didn't love it. We finished our day with Spider-Man, another big hit. I think the day showed me that Universal's parks definitely speak to my generation a lot more than Disney's parks do for people who didn't grow up going to Disney all the time. While everyone enjoyed the time we spent at Disney's parks, the Universal attractions were the ones they talked about most. That being said, getting out of Universal that night was miserable. They need to somehow improve their traffic flow in the resort. It took us far too long, and we originally wanted to go to the house to shower before dinner, but because of this we didn't have the time. We went to Raglan Road for dinner, which was a lot of fun, and very good. It had been years since I went there, but it was still just as good as I remember. From there we went to Trader Sam's which is always a blast. My friends loved it, especially my cousin who repeatedly got made fun of by our server for ordering Bud Lights. This was another highlight for everyone.