Skold family annual trip 2018

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
17,073
Pittsburgh area
Now, Epcot!

  • No real reason to book here other than nostalgia. And I have that. First went in 1984 and SpaceShip Earth, Horizons, and World of Motion are still core memories for me. I lovingly watch @Marni71 vids about Communicore and Wonders of Life.
  • We haven't been here for 5 years for obvious reasons.
  • The plan was such: FP+ were secured for Frozen Ever After @ 9:15, Living with the Land @ 10:15*, and SSE @ 12:00. Let's rope drop Test Track, do FEA, see if we can fit in Soarin' before LwtL. My must-do's are SSE a few times and American Adventure,
  • *LwtL - weird choice for a FP+ right? No. Soarin' brings so many people into The Land pavilion and most spill over to this rider after. Not to mention it has one of the worst queues ever. All switchbacks, right up there with HRRR. Hasta!
  • Got to parking gate @ 8:15 for a 9:00 open. But holy crap it was raining. This will become a theme.
  • I was disappointed that I had to pay for parking after my DAK parking freebie. Oh well!
  • It was raining hard, and the gate CM was nice enough to let us know that Test Track is closed while it is raining. We know this, and already are putting Plan B Soarin' rope drop into effect. Neat that he told people though. Imagine running over there and it is closed...
  • So, they let us in under the geodesic dome to wait. I love this thing so much; even if they did ruin the descent.
  • Soarin' is quite possibly the worst ride ever. It is inexcusable that feet dangle in your field of vision. I have no idea why everyone loves it and I am glad to have it out of my system for the next 5 - 10 years. New video sucks, too. The clouds/eagle/bs transitions are quite frankly insulting. And I like Navi River Journey and F&F!
  • I loved Maelstrom, but I am okay with the Frozen overlay. Those AAs are pretty sweet.
  • The Stave church in Norway has a really nice Viking Gods exhibit. See it. These are the type of touches that I remember, and it is really great that they put this in.
  • New Mission Space: meh, jut like the old one. I may be still bitter about Horizons.
  • SpaceShip Earth: I could ride this all day.
  • Mexico has a really great Coco exhibit; again, one of those touches that I love.
  • It was raining on and off all day, so no Test Track. I dont really care, but my 11-year-old really remembers it from our 2013 visit. Oh well what can you do. If WDW was more flexible, I would have rescheduled this day. But FP+, dinner reservations I made 6 months ago, and all that.
  • It was a great day (how can a day when you go n SSE 3 times not be, despite the crappy ending), but it is bittersweet knowing what this park used to be.
  • Quick word about ponchos! Buy your own. We also had a plastic bag to carry them around when it wasn't raining (in addition to our backpack). This worked great. Easy on, easy off, carry the dripping bag separately. And, best of all, the park is less crowded when rain is pouring down so you can hit whatever you want. Unless it is Test Track. :sick:
I mostly agree with you on the new Soarin being over rated. Not the worst ride to me, but still just a so so ride with a boring queue. This may sound theme park sacrilegious to some, and I've said it before, but last year I rode Soarin and the next day I was in USF and rode Fallon. I thought the Fallon ride was better, not counting the Fallon queue which makes Fallon way better. Easy comparison on back to back days... I love SSE. I can ride that a zillion times and not get tired of it. I like the new Test Track much better than it's predecessor. Glad to see the Norway stave church has returned to it's rightful occupants. Before Frozen, I always stopped in to view the Viking exhibits. This past May 2018 Universal visit, which was around the same time as yours, was the first time we used the ponchos we bought 7 years ago. The downpour on the first Saturday we were there was that bad. I'm probably one of the few that actually likes the Mexico ride. I'll usually do it once or twice a day. I like Living with the Land. When we were there last year a 15 minute listed line turned into a 45 minute wait, so I can see why you fast passed it.
 
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GadgetGuru

Premium Member
Dec 2, 2011
2,188
Seattle, WA
I mostly agree with you on the new Soarin being over rated. Not the worst ride to me, but still just a so so ride with a boring queue. This may sound theme park sacrilegious to some, and I've said it before, but last year I rode Soarin and the next day I was in USF and rode Fallon. I thought the Fallon ride was better, not counting the Fallon queue which makes Fallon way better. Easy comparison on back to back days... I love SSE. I can ride that a zillion times and not get tired of it. I like the new Test Track much better than it's predecessor. Glad to see the Norway stave church has returned to it's rightful occupants. Before Frozen, I always stopped in to view the Viking exhibits. This past May 2018 Universal visit, which was around the same time as yours, was the first time we used the ponchos we bought 7 years ago. The downpour on the first Saturday we were there was that bad. I'm probably one of the few that actually likes the Mexico ride. I'll usually do it once or twice a day. I like Living with the Land. When we were there last year a 15 minute listed line turned into a 45 minute wait, so I can see why you fast passed it.
I've never understood how a ride with a line that long could have a queue so boring. I've done a 3 hour wait for Soarin and it was an exercise in masochism that I never want to repeat again. It's a good ride but that queue makes waiting unbearable.

This is an awesome trip report! I had no idea about the elephant tour. Please post more on your trip!
 
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Skold

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Feb 17, 2016
468
Back. I think I have two more to do: dinning and the UOR parks. Putting the UOR parks in one post because we all know them - no need for reviews or even the hidden stuff (although I have a few).

So, Dining!
  • We have a kind-of routine here, and we hit a few new things. Let's break it down.
  • So, NBC. The drive down from Athens GA is just under 7 hours. We get at CBBR around 3:00, get everything in order, and head to NBC for an early dinner. Man, this is our base in CityWalk. We love it. The last 3 time we visited were during the Stanly Cup finals and this is my hockey-loving-son's favorite place to watch them. Beside that first dinner, we did 3 late-nite (8-ish) stops for the pretzel, some beers, and a Sprite. We love it here to no end.
  • Also on my first tier: Andjtos. We don't usually have large meals and split there queso burrito. Also ,we do not split margaritas. This place is awesome, and we doubled back for our last night.
  • Used to be on my first tier: Toothsome. Been there every year since it opened. Pork sliders are good, wings are not, Reuben meh.
  • For the second year, we decided to remove Toothsome shakes for dinner, and get them to walk back via the Garden Walk. Do this instead of getting a milkshake with dinner. Otherwise, kid puke may be in your future. Just sayin.
  • We've been there on Memorial Day for the last 3 years (as our son gets older, seems like we should take him out of classes less often).
  • We hit the Kitchen at HRH and wanted to tour a bit. I love touring hotels on non-park days.
  • Done that with Sanaa, Ohanna, The Wave, Mama Della; my favorite way to see new hotels.
  • HRH is awesome! The Kitchen? Its good. Dinner menu starts at 5:00, so my 4:45 reservation was weird. We eventually got dinner after a drink (and a Sprite).
  • Great stuff on the first floor by the spa: My wife loves David Bowie, and thee is some absolutely great DB artwork down here

and



There is a is a really cool alcove down there. Right by rooms, but apparently it is acoustically perfect.

My kid tried it and sounds great (the important thing here is the GIANT "1" on the carpet). Apparently it also makes your kid look like hes strung out.



Average restaurant but I love looking around hotels for this stuff!
 

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Skold

Rookie
Feb 17, 2016
468
I forgot! Pat Obierns for the first time!

Also Finnegans and Confisco.

  • Never been to Pats before, but it is a new favorite. Dueling pianos start at 8:00 so we got there before that, but the piano player was awesome. Not sure how it is going to fit in with the future of CityWalk, but i welcome the backside, outer edge, bar serving up mac and cheese with shrimp.
  • Finnegans: what else is there to say? Scotch eggs. Fooled you - they also put us in the glass corner before the parade came by (the window says "Regal Cafe"). We saw the entire thing - awesome! And y0u can just walk out that corner door.
  • Confisco is a hidden gem. The crazy thing is that it is never busy even on busy days. The lobby has lemon water too for every time you walk by.


Edit for drunken spelling and grammar.
 
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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
17,073
Pittsburgh area
I forgot! Pat Obierns for the first time!

Also Finnegans and Confisco.

  • Never been to Pats before, but it is a new favorite. Dueling pianos start at 8:00 so we got there before that, but the piano player was awesome. Not sure how it is going to fit in with the future of CityWalk, ut i welcome te backside, outer edge, bar serving up mac and cheese with shrimp.
  • Finnegans: what else is there to say? Scotch eggs. Fooled you! They put us in the glass corner before the parade came by (the window says "Regal Cafe" We saw the entire thing . Awesome! And y0u can just walk out that corner door.
  • Confisco is a hidden gem. The crazy thing is that it is never busy even on busy says. The lobby has lemon water too for evertime you walk by.
Pat O'Briens is always a must for us. :cheers:Once or twice, or thrice every trip, and usually we get there around 8:00 PM (before the entry charge kicks in at 9:00) and generally we close the place up after 1:00 AM. Usually, the second piano player kicks in around 8:00 or 8:30. That's when it gets really rowdy.Pat O'Briens is run by Universal, so my guess is that it will stay....Loved your Antojitos comment, "we don't split Margarita's" :thumbsup::toast::lol:
 
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Skold

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Feb 17, 2016
468
Pat O'Briens is always a must for us. :cheers:Once or twice, or thrice every trip, and usually we get there around 8:00 PM (before the entry charge kicks in at 9:00) and generally we close the place up after 1:00 AM. Usually, the second piano player kicks in around 8:00 or 8:30. That's when it gets really rowdy.
Do people cheer and/or boo the pianists? This sounds awesome.
 

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
17,073
Pittsburgh area
Do people cheer and/or boo the pianists? This sounds awesome.
Never ever heard pianists get booed. They're just too good. Always lots of cheering and clapping, especially with a packed house....And every now and then you get someone like our own @UKTrigg, that goes onstage, sits next to the pianist, and sings and plays along. ....Always an awesome time...... But it may get a little too adult oriented and rowdy for the kids after 10:00. That's the kick into high gear time.:thumbsup::toast::x::rock:
 
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Skold

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Feb 17, 2016
468
Okay, I think I can wrap things up with a USF/IOA post. Obviously everyone here loves and knows the parks, so instead I'll just have some random thoughts here. This was an awesome trip. In no particular order:

  • Even though we live in Athens GA (a 6.5 hour drive) we have APs (one Preferred for all the discounts, and two Powers). A few years ago, the prices were such that an AP was the same as a five-day ticket, so we did it. And the Preferred 10% discounts make it worth renewing. Also, we were in the parks for 12 days, so the upgraded 3-park passes were great.
  • Kong. One of my favorite rides, I even wear an "Eighth Wonder" shirt and the TMs always comment on it. So, last year we saw the scare actor come through the door, cross the queue and hit the hidey-hole right at 10:00 AM. So, this year year I told my 11-year-old son when we went in at 9:30, no problem, they don't even have scare actors this early. It was a 5 minute wait, and we were the only ones in the queue, and sure enough he scared the FUCKING HELL out of my wife and kid.:lmao: I like this kind of stuff, but my boy was crying. It was f'ed up. The ride was great tho.
  • New rule: no more Kong until we get Express Pass ( note: we did a split stay w/ RPR at the end). :lmao:
  • The Universal Globe was not spinning during most of our stay. Oddly enough, it was lined up for pictures. Could this be on purpose?
  • Bypass bridge in IOA was open! Gorgeous at night. It seems to be open for every Hogwarts light show.

  • Saw Blue Man Group! Really liked it but, most importantly, my 11-year old (I'll start calling him Ash by now) LOVED it. If you linger behind, you can meet and talk to them and the musicians at the end of the show. Awesome show all around.
  • Water Days! We usually set aside one morning for Toon Lagoon. This trip, since it was two weeks, we had two days planned. No backpack with food, no insulin supplies, we are going all in to get soaked. Dudley twice, JPRA twice in the front row, and Popeye (although a TM calls it Bluto!) two or three times. Then we get a beer and let Ash do the Camp Jurassic Camp water war. lol that is more wet than any ride!
  • Popeye is the best water ride hands down. I cannot even describe it to those "Kali" peeps. The absolute best part, though, is the people in your raft who say "will we get wet?".
  • This, the octopus, and the lift are the best. The key is getting on with people who are wearing regular clothes. :tease:
 

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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
17,073
Pittsburgh area
Okay, I think I can wrap things up with a USF/IOA post. Obviously everyone here loves and knows the parks, so instead I'll just have some random thoughts here. This was an awesome trip. In no particular order:

  • Even though we live in Athens GA (a 6.5 hour drive) we have APs (one Preferred for all the discounts, and two Powers). A few years ago, the prices were such that an AP was the same as a five-day ticket, so we did it. And the Preferred 10% discounts make it worth renewing. Also, we were in the parks for 12 days, so the upgraded 3-park passes were great.
  • Kong. One of my favorite rides, I even wear an "Eighth Wonder" shirt and the TMs always comment on it. So, last year we saw the scare actor come through the door, cross the queue and hit the hidey-hole right at 10:00 AM. So, this year year I told my 11-year-old son when we went in at 9:30, no problem, they don't even have scare actors this early. It was a 5 minute wait, and we were the only ones in the queue, and sure enough he scared the FUCKING HELL out of my wife and kid.:lmao: I like this kind of stuff, but my boy was crying. It was f'ed up. The ride was great tho.
  • New rule: no more Kong until we get Express Pass ( note: we did a split stay w/ RPR at the end). :lmao:
  • The Universal Globe was not spinning during most of our stay. Oddly enough, it was lined up for pictures. Could this be on purpose?
  • Bypass bridge in IOA was open! Gorgeous at night. It seems to be open for every Hogwarts light show.

  • Saw Blue Man Group! Really liked it but, most importantly, my 11-year old (I'll start calling him Ash by now) LOVED it. If you linger behind, you can meet and talk to them and the musicians at the end of the show. Awesome show all around.
  • Water Days! We usually set aside one morning for Toon Lagoon. This trip, since it was two weeks, we had two days planned. No backpack with food, no insulin supplies, we are going all in to get soaked. Dudley twice, JPRA twice in the front row, and Popeye (although a TM calls it Bluto!) two or three times. Then we get a beer and let Ash do the Camp Jurassic Camp water war. lol that is more wet than any ride!
  • Popeye is the best water ride hands down. I cannot even describe it to those "Kali" peeps. The absolute best part, though, is the people in your raft who say "will we get wet?".
  • This, the octopus, and the lift are the best. The key is getting on with people who are wearing regular clothes. :tease:
We are kindred spirits. I 100% agree with every point on this last post (except we've not done BMG yet)....and....that's exactly the way we do it all too. And, Kong at night, with IOA finally open late, was especially great.....Note: Usually we do Kong Express, but I always stop & watch the Witch scene. Best pre show I've ever seen, anywhere.
 
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Skold

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Feb 17, 2016
468
I have a page of stuff, but will pot tomorrow.

We are kindred spirits. I 100% agree with every point on this last post (except we've not done BMG yet)....and....that's exactly the way we do it all too. And, Kong at night, with IOA finally open late, was especially great.....Note: Usually we do Kong Express, but I always stop & watch the Witch scene. Best pre show I've ever seen, anywhere.
Haha i was looking for your Mons Valley kit. Maybe next year!

Kong express is one of the worst Expess queues IMO ; nj on the stopping tho to take it in.
 
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Skold

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Feb 17, 2016
468
Continued...
  • ET: Botanicus is back!
  • High in the Sky Trolley: Awesome at night, and there are two tracks and they are very different. Ride both!
  • One day, our CBBR pool break was interrupted by a thunderstorm. We went back to the room, as everyone else did apparently. While I was taking a nap, Ash was doing Fortnite dances in the window with kids across the way. "Best Mates" is apparently one of them; that and the"L" seemed to be the most popular. It was pretty funny, and we met them down in the pool with our football later.
  • Hogwarts Night show! Beautiful. We saw it four times, including the first night when we grabbed stage-edge seats once the first show was over. I may regret putting this out on the interwebs, but you can see the show from the Hogs Head patio. We did that twice, and it was empty. The angle is a little off, but it is good. I mean, it sucks don't go there, especially during the last week of May 2019 whcih may or may not be our next visit. :grin:
  • Express Pass. We moved to RPR for the last 3 days of our trip. First time with XP. It is neat, but not needed at all for the dates we are usually there for. Hit rope drop for DMMM and HRRR, and y0u have smooth sailing. Use the app, the wait times are accurate, and plan/move around those.
  • Breaking news: Duff Garden has the two center-most tables rotated!

  • Bioreconstruct wishes he had news like this. :grin:
  • My wife re-read Potter book one on the way down, and read a few passages out loud. One was the introduction to the Leaky Cauldron. I guess it is on a London street, just sitting there between a record store and a book store. And holy poop it is!
  • We've been here 6 times since DA opened and never noticed this!
  • Got my MIB high score.
  • Big deal for me, anyway!
And to sum things up, APs are awesome. When i got them 4 or 5 years ago, it was cheaper than 5 days. Renewal rates, and the on-site discounts mean we keep them. On Memorial day, we popped in for two rides then left. Wouldn't do that with day tix.

I think that is it! A great trip! Thanks for watching!
 

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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
17,073
Pittsburgh area
Continued...
  • ET: Botanicus is back!
  • High in the Sky Trolley: Awesome at night, and there are two tracks and they are very different. Ride both!
  • One day, our CBBR pool break was interrupted by a thunderstorm. We went back to the room, as everyone else did apparently. While I was taking a nap, Ash was doing Fortnite dances in the window with kids across the way. "Best Mates" is apparently one of them; that and the"L" seemed to be the most popular. It was pretty funny, and we met them down in the pool with our football later.
  • Hogwarts Night show! Beautiful. We saw it four times, including the first night when we grabbed stage-edge seats once the first show was over. I may regret putting this out on the interwebs, but you can see the show from the Hogs Head patio. We did that twice, and it was empty. The angle is a little off, but it is good. I mean, it sucks don't go there, especially during the last week of May 2019 whcih may or may not be our next visit. :grin:
  • Express Pass. We moved to RPR for the last 3 days of our trip. First time with XP. It is neat, but not needed at all for the dates we are usually there for. Hit rope drop for DMMM and HRRR, and y0u have smooth sailing. Use the app, the wait times are accurate, and plan/move around those.
  • Breaking news: Duff Garden has the two center-most tables rotated!

  • Bioreconstruct wishes he had news like this. :grin:
  • My wife re-read Potter book one on the way down, and read a few passages out loud. One was the introduction to the Leaky Cauldron. I guess it is on a London street, just sitting there between a record store and a book store. And holy poop it is!
  • We've been here 6 times since DA opened and never noticed this!
  • Got my MIB high score.
  • Big deal for me, anyway!
And to sum things up, APs are awesome. When i got them 4 or 5 years ago, it was cheaper than 5 days. Renewal rates, and the on-site discounts mean we keep them. On Memorial day, we popped in for two rides then left. Wouldn't do that with day tix.

I think that is it! A great trip! Thanks for watching!
Seuss Trolley at night was one our most pleasant surprises this past trip. Yes, completely concur, it's awesome at night. People, especially adults who wouldn't think of riding this, really need to ride it in the dark. It's really really good.....We did the Hogwarts night show five or so times, kind of lost count. Changed spots just to see what it was like. Our best viewing was about ten yards in front of the snowman. The bridge gave a completely different look, but it was decent. LOVED the show. Can't wait for the Christmas show when we go in December since it's a bit longer and reportedly even better. Botanicus was on and off for us, depending on the day....and yes, we're AP people too. Best deal around....Yes, lot's of days we only pop into the parks for a couple of hours. As you said, we'd never do that if we were paying for regular tickets. It really adds a lot to the leisure and relaxation of a vacation to be able to do that. Gives us time to enjoy the great hotel resorts, pools and Citi Walk.
 
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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
17,073
Pittsburgh area
I never realized this! Is there one side you liked more than the other?
Both sides are excellent. All of those Seuss character ride scenes that are so so during the day, really stand out and are terrific when they're individually lit up. And the views of IOA, from both tracks are WOW....Ride it in the dark. You will become a true believer like Skold and me. Universal should point this out more strongly to their guests. No one would ever imagine the difference, unless you actually do it....IT'S A HIDDEN GEM.
 
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Skold

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Feb 17, 2016
468
I've only gotten on the trip through Circus Mcgurkis once. I must be there during slow days. Which is ok.
IMO, this track has a better retelling of the story but is not quite as scenic since it does spend time inside Circus McGurkus. So, instead of seeing the great views for that minute, you're watching people down below realize how crappy the food is there. :lol:
 

GadgetGuru

Premium Member
Dec 2, 2011
2,188
Seattle, WA
Do they consistently run both sides? I feel like I always get the side that runs through Circus McGurkus. Hate the food there, but the building is so charming. One of my favorite quick-service places in the resort.

(I know, it's weird. Chalk it up to childhood nostalgia)
 

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
17,073
Pittsburgh area
Do they consistently run both sides? I feel like I always get the side that runs through Circus McGurkus. Hate the food there, but the building is so charming. One of my favorite quick-service places in the resort.

(I know, it's weird. Chalk it up to childhood nostalgia)
Most, though not all, of the time we've been on the ride over the years, and only one track was running, they've run the Circus McGurkus side. Don't know if that's general, but that's what we've run into.
 
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