Monday, October 31, 2011

Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom - Stitch's Great Escape

Stitch's Great EscapeDate of Visit: July 31, 2011

Stitch's Great Escape is a rather weird attraction, but the special effects of the thing coming down around your neck is kind of cool.  There are even several spots for wheelchairs to park and have a thing come down to be able to experience the special effects.  The funnest part, though, was seeing Mik's wheelchair glow in the dark.  There are a few other rides it glows well in (Haunted Mansion for one), but this one is the best because there are parts of pretty much pitch black.  Overall the whole thing was not really our type of thing, as it is mostly just dark and Stitch escaping and such, but it was worth it to see Mik's wheelchair glow.

Destination Info:
Magic Kingdom - Stitch's Great Escape
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Walt Disney World: Monorail

MonorailDate of Visit: July 30, 2011

Mik hates buses, so when we wanted to get to the Magic Kingdom after a movie at Downtown Disney with Dad we thought it would be better to have Dad drop us off at the Monorail.  Mik kind of likes the Monorail better than buses, but the ramps are not fun and with no tie downs the wheelchair moved a lot during the trip.  Only thing that made it better was it was shorter than a bus ride.

Destination Info:
Walt Disney World - Monorail
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Walt Disney World: Hollywood Studios - Star Tours The Adventure Continues

Star ToursDate of Visit: July 30, 2011

Star Tours is pretty much the only transfer ride I will do with Mik since it is an easy seat to seat transfer and there is no rush with the ride vehicle not being on a track.  We had already done the new Star Tours in Disneyland and I did not much care about doing it in Disney World, but it is one of Mik's favorite rides, so we decided try the WDW version.

Star Tours
It ended up being a good choice to do it at Disney World because you actually get a better queue experience than Disneyland.  At Disneyland we just get the boring outside line and little bit interesting one room experience, but you miss out on seeing C3PO and the ride vehicle model in the regular queue when you go in the side door for the elevator.  At WDW we ended up skipping the whole line (I think only because the wait time was not that long) and going a separate way to the loading area.  We still skip the inside queue, but the way it is set up a WDW allows you to get an overlook view of C3PO and the vehicle model.

The actual boarding process is just like at Disneyland, though.  You can roll the wheelchair into the ride vehicle and the Cast Member will take it out and bring it back at the end of the ride.  The armrest can be swung to the side to make transferring easier.

Destination Info:
Disney's Hollywood Studios - Star Tours
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Walt Disney World: Animal Kingdom - TriceraTop Spin

TriceraTop SpinDate of Visit: July 30, 2011

TriceraTop Spin is kind of like the Magic Carpets of Aladdin at the Magic Kingdom except you are flying in a Triceratop.  Of course, it makes pretty much no sense.  Sure, a flying elephant like Dumbo is odd, but at least that is based on a movie.  The whole flying land dino is totally weird, but gotta love that it actually is totally wheelchair accessible.

TriceraTop Spin
They were not sure Mik's chair would work, but they were totally willing to try and if not there was a chair you could transfer to and ride in, although that would not work for Mik.  Luckily, though, Mik's wheelchair fit on the ride no problem.

TriceraTop Spin
The control, however, is kind of awkwardly located on the left side.  Mik had no problem since he is a lefty and he just likes to go straight up and stay anyways.  He did think it would be better if it was in front of him like on Dumbo, but hey at least he did not have to transfer (totally dreaming of a wheelchair accessible Dumbo with the remodel by the way!!!).

Destination Info:
Disney's Animal Kingdom - TriceraTop Spin
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Walt Disney World: Epcot - Reflections of China

China PavilionDate of Visit: July 29, 2011

Reflections of China is a Circlevision show.  You go in and stand in rows separated by hand rails.  The screens are all around you will different images.  In concept the movie was cool, but it did not really work for Mik.

Reflectins of China
For one he was sitting among the crowd of people standing.  This was not too big of an issue, as it was not crowded and we could choose to stop where the people were not too close to be in the way of his view.  The real problem, though, is he could only see about half of the screens.  He not only felt like he was missing what was going on like in the Ellen ride, but in fact he really was missing some of the stuff, as it was not all the same view.

Basically, Mik says no more to Circlevision unless he has a way of turning around his chair when and how he wants.  Technically, he could do that, but in the dark it is hard to know where others feet are and not quite sure there is actually enough room for his turning radius.

Destination Info:
Epcot - Reflections of China
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Walt Disney World: Epcot - Mexico Pavillion

Mexico PavilionDate of Visit: July 29, 2011

The Mexico Pavilion is one of the more interestingly designed ones at Epcot.  The shops and ride are set up inside a Mayan Pyramid.  It is always night in this Pavilion.

Empanada at Mexico Pavilion
Outside the Pavilion Mik and I enjoyed the cheese empanadas at La Cantina de San Angel.  Mexican food is not any special treat considering we can get plenty of that kind of thing at home in Tucson, but Mik was hungry and he had never had empanadas before.

Mexico Pavilion
To enter the Pavilion there is a ramp off to the side to get up to the doors into the pyramid.  Once there you can go around and enter even from the front, but at least the side doors at the top of the ramp do have a button to open them.

See review of Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros Boat Ride here.

Destination Info:
Epcot - Mexico Pavillion
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Walt Disney World: Epcot - Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros

Mexico PavilionDate of Visit: July 29, 2011

Mik and I both liked the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros boat ride in the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot, but the accessible boat is freaky and I doubt we would ever do it again.  The boat is designed so that you roll on in the back and then go down a ramp in the center and park the wheelchair in the front of the boat.



Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
There are no tie downs or anything to make the boarding process faster, but I wish WDW just had the same wheelchair boat in their boat rides like 'it's a small world' uses at Disneyland.  The problem is that the chair tips backwards when you leave the loading area as well as when you return.  The Cast Member warned us about it happening when we were leaving, but said nothing about it actually being worse when the boat comes back to unload.  Luckily I was paying attention, as we do not even use the tippers most of the time at Disney parks because they get in the way for hopping trolley tracks and like to catch my shoelaces.  We do usually have the tippers in the backpack and I would put them on for this ride if we did it again, but Mik would still freak out and ultimately it would really only work with people sitting on both sides and holding down the front wheels.

Destination Info:
Epcot - Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Walt Disney World: Epcot - Living with the Land

Living with the LandDate of Visit: July 29, 2011

Living with the Land is a boat ride through greenhouse rooms.  There is a wheelchair boat that you can roll right onto.  They kept insisting to wheel Mik on and off, but they we like training someone that day and took way longer to maneuver him off than necessary.  Would have been much smoother if they had just said he has to go on and off backwards and let me do it rather then the inexperienced them.  Mik was a trooper and actually did not fuss, but that is the kind of thing that would usually annoy him.  Instead he got annoyed at the elevator taking so long to get down to the ride and back out of the building after.

Living with the Land
Both Mik and I did not know what to expect from the ride, but ended up really enjoying it.  Mik like the view he was able to get with the chair being on a platform level with the edge of the boat instead of being down like the seating.  It was actually quite smooth and he would later learn that the other boat rides at WDW were not.  Good thing we did this one first, though, as otherwise he might have been too freaked to do it and this was actually a very interesting ride we were surprised we had never checked out before.

Living with the Land
As you go through the greenhouse the narration talks about the various plants being grown and the fish being raised.  A lot of it is experimental stuff and quite interesting, such as the growing of normally ground plants in a way that they hang down and with hydroponics instead of dirt.

Destination Info:
Epcot - Living with the Land
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Walt Disney World: Epcot - Ellen's Energy Adventure

Ellen's Energy AdventureDate of Visit: July 29, 2011

Ellen's Energy Adventure is an interesting ride, but it is also rather long and not exactly something we would do more than once a trip or maybe even less often.  It was worth checking out, but Mik ended up not really liking it much.  The beginning part is a movie with you in a waiting area.  The area is pretty roomy and the screens are easy to see.

Ellen's Energy Adventure
After an intro movie you go into a giant circlevision movie room with ride vehicles.  There is plenty of places of wheelchairs to be loaded into the back with the rest of the group sitting on the benches next to the wheelchair seating area.  The ride is mostly a movie on the screens around the room, but you also leave the room and go into set ups.

Ellen's Energy Adventure
Mik found that the screens being all around made him feel like he was maybe missing something since he cannot really turn around and see stuff since his spinal fusion.  However, he really did not, as the action was always only really in on the screens in easy view in front and slightly to side.

Destination Info:
Epcot - Ellen's Energy Adventure
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mickey's Halloween Party 2011 at Disneyland

Mickey PumpkinDate of Visit: September 30, 2011

We cannot remember ever doing Disneyland during Halloweentime, although we must have, as we came for my 18th birthday back in 2005 and Mik's first Disneyland trip was my 10th birthday back in 1997.  I know the Haunted Mansion Holiday at least was a thing in 2005, but somehow we do not remember there being Halloween decor or anything and really only rode Haunted Mansion Holiday once before when we visited during Thanksgiving weekend once.

This year we decided to go to Disneyland for my birthday, since we seem to most times it falls on the weekend.  Plus, we wanted to get more use out of our Premier Passes.  It also worked out great as a chance to experience the Mickey's Halloween Party for our first time with the first date of it being last night.  Also, nice to get the tickets for that when we had Annual Passes, as we saved even on the ticket for Mom.

Ghost Mickey

We went into Disneyland about 4 hours before the party.  Yeah, your supposed to only get in 3 hours before, but our tickets said the party started at 6pm (bought and printed when only for sale for Annual Passholders) and somewhere along the line it changed to a 7pm start time.  We had absolutely, no problem getting in right after 3pm, as we had planned for months to do.  Would have been nice if the party was at 6pm as we originally thought, though, as Mik did not appreciate having to waste 4 hours in Disneyland and me not wanting to wait 30 minutes to have to transfer him on Star Tours.  We did at least luck out and basically walk on to Haunted Mansion Holiday through and ride Buzz twice.

Treat Trail Entrance
The main thing we did during the actual party was wait around for the parade to start at 8:30pm.  It was kind of cool, but Mik got tired by the end of it and we only ended up hitting one more trick or treat trail.  We hit a good one, though, as we went to the one the goes through the beginning of the Pirates of the Caribbean regular queue and Mik thought it was fun to go under the archway for once, since he has only ever been through the exit.  He kind of got into the trick or treating after that, but then heard the fireworks were about to start, so we hightailed it out of the park and to check for Grumpy clothing at World of Disney.

Main Street Train Station with Spider Webs
I liked Main Street lit up after dark with the green lit windows and the projections of spiderwebs on City Hall and the Train Depot.  The Mickey ghosts and pumpkins are the park were also cool lit up and of course the Mickey Pumpkin on Main Street.

Overall a fun evening, although, next time I would hit the trick or treating spots and skip the parade, so we could actually do more before leaving the park before fireworks.  I should have known we would not last past the fireworks, since we usually purposely leave the park before them.

Now to celebrate my birthday in Disneyland with Mik today.

Destination Info:
Disneyland
1313 South Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Walt Disney World: Epcot - Norway Pavillion

Mik eating LefseDate of Visit: July 28 & 29, 2011

Pretty much the only thing we did in the Norway Pavilion was go into the Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe two days in a row.  The first time was when we were leaving Epcot for the day and Mik thought we were going to just rush past the countries we were going to come back to the next day.  However, I made him wait outside the bakery and got him all pissed until I brought out lefse.  Then he was quite happy.  The next morning we had to each get an order of lefse.

Lefse
Mik and I both love lefse having grown up having it for holidays.  A few years ago I started making it myself, but I still stink at it and last Christmas totally failed and ended up with none.  I just cannot master rolling it out thin enough.  Anyways, the lefse at Epcot is totally worth the price when it takes me so much effort to make substandard lefse and it is actually a very affordable snack (~$2, I think) considering the price of most things at Disney World is expensive.

Kringla Bakeri og KafeDestination Info:
Epcot - Norway Pavillion
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Walt Disney World: Epcot - The American Adventure

The American AdventureDate of Visit: July 28, 2011

The American Adventure is the film shown in the American Adventure Pavilion.  There is an elevator to go up to the second floor and enter the theater.  The seating area is kind of disappointing with it being along the back and the companion seats are movable chairs and not like the rest of the theater chairs like they normally are for the other shows at Disney parks.

The American Adventure
The show is totally worth it, though, and the view is good.  Mik and I both really enjoyed the show.  The show features a variety of animatronics and scenes played out from American History with Ben Franklin and Mark Twain hosting.

Destination Info:
Epcot - The American Adventure
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Walt Disney World: Epcot - Japan Pavilion

Mik PosingDate of Visit: July 28, 2011

The Japan Pavilion ended up being Mik's favorite Pavilion to explore in Epcot.  For one, he loved checking out the various anime things in the shops.  His favorite part was the Spirited Beasts: From Ancient Stories to Anime Stars exhibit.  Mik loved that there was an automatic door button for going to the Spirited Beasts exhibit and the button was even framed with wood to make it blend in with the architectural style.

Spirited Beasts Exhibit
The Spirited Beasts exhibit is a great little exhibit about Ancient Spirits and how the ancient Japanese culture has inspired the more modern Anime art.  Mik enjoyed finding many references to the various anime series he has watched on television and online.

Destination Info:
Epcot - Japan Pavilion
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Friday, September 16, 2011

Walt Disney World: Epcot - Impressions de France

Impressions de FranceDate of Visit: July 28, 2011

Impressions de France is a short film featuring scenes of various regions of France.  It is not all that amazing, but it is an indoor attraction for escaping the heat or rain when at Epcot.  Of course, Mik found it an annoying thing that I made him do before we went and got the eclair he wanted.

Impressions de France
Destination Info:
Epcot - Impressions de France
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Walt Disney World: Epcot - France Pavilion

Chocolate EclairDate of Visit: July 28, 2011

The France Pavilion is among Mik's favorite places in Epcot.  This is because of the chocolate eclairs at the Boulangerie Patisserie.  He remembered getting one back in 2007 and was one of the main things he looked forward to getting on this trip.  He was not disappointed by the actual eclair, but he does not like the bakery building set up.

Chocolate Eclair
Mik ended up waiting outside while I waited in the line to go in and get him an eclair.  There is a ramp up to the door, but the line was on the stairs and it ended up being a good choice to just leave Mik outside because the exit does not have a ramp.  You can get back down the ramp by the entrance, but that would have required asking several people to move out of the way in the cafe style seating area between the exit and the entrance.  Plus, it is quite crammed inside the bakery with two lines forming down the middle, but Mik thinks the eclair is totally worth it as long as someone else goes in and gets it for him.

Destination Info:
Epcot - France Pavillion
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Walt Disney World: Hollywood Studios - Walt Disney's One Man's Dream

EntranceDate of Visit: July 28, 2011

Walt Disney's One Man's Dream is an exhibit and movie.  You can wander through the exhibit at your leisure and then go in and watch the movie when they announce it is about to start.  However, after the movie you have to exit and have to come back around if you did not finish looking at everything before seeing the movie.  It is an okay place to get out of the heat, but the exhibit area seems to get crowded easily even though the theater seemed rather empty when we then saw the movie.

Wheelchair Seating
Mik and I both really enjoyed the displays of various things from Disney and Disney World history.   However, it got rather congested in some spots with there not being much open space to maneuver around the stuff on display and people trying to skip around.  The theater was good, though, with wheelchair spot and companion seats in the back.

Destination Info:
Disney's Hollywood Studios - Walt Disney's One Man's Dream
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Walt Disney World: Hollywood Studios - Toy Story Mania

QueueDate of Visit: July 28, 2011

The Toy Story Mania ride itself is pretty much the same as at Disney's California Adventure, but the queue and loading area is much different.  The queue is so much fun to walk through with it trying to give you the impression of being toy size in Andy's Room.  There are a lot of different toys and such around including a giant Viewmaster, a Lincoln Log cabin, and of course the talking Mr. Potato Head.  It is nice that it is mostly inside and much more interesting than in California, since it can be a long line.

Wheelchair Waiting Queue
The wheelchair loading area also separates at a different point than in California.  In Florida, the stairs are before you get on ride instead of at exit, so you end up going off to a ramp to the wheelchair vehicle loading area.  However, the wheelchair loading area is not as nice as in California.  In California, there is a long bench for you to sit on as you wait for the wheelchair vehicle to come around and it to be your turn, but there is not one in Florida.  Not a big deal, but it is kind of nice when you sometimes have to wait for the wheelchair vehicle to go out and come back a few times for your turn.

Wheelchair Loading Area
The wheelchair vehicle is the same, but it was our first time with the new system of having tie downs in the wheelchair vehicle for Toy Story Mania.  I guess a lot of people had problems of tipping back some when riding, which makes sense as the ride is kind of jerky, but surprisingly Mik has never had that problem, as he freaks out on buses with tie downs and any tiny movement.  He actually hates the addition of the tie downs.

Mik was quite annoyed that it took them about 10 to 15 minutes to get the tie downs clipped onto his wheelchair.  I barely convinced him to go a second time later in our trip by telling him they are still new to this with the tie downs being a recent addition.  Luckily, the second time the CMs were better at finding the places to clip onto his chair.  However, after our August 2011 trip to Disneyland we have realized the problem is them never seeing Mik's chair design as in Disneyland they ended up calling who we think was the supervisor to do the tie downs (the next day he came out to do it right when we started loading), but that only took about 5 minutes because they quickly realized it was better to just ask someone more experienced than figure it out themselves.  Now I also know what spot to tell them to use with the size hooks they use.

Destination Info:
Disney's Hollywood Studios - Toy Story Mania
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Walt Disney World: Epcot - The Seas with Nemo & Friends

Outside rideDate of Visit: July 27, 2011

Mik was interested in The Seas with Nemo & Friends ride because it is actually wheelchair accessible unlike the sub ride at Disneyland (makes total sense why this is not accessible and many think the alternate experience is better).  The clams for the Nemo ride reminded us of the new Little Mermaid ride at California Adventure.  However, instead of Triton's chariot, the wheelchair vehicle is just a giant clam.

Wheelchair Vehicle
Overall we enjoyed the Nemo & Friends ride, but we were surprised how long we had to wait for the clam to come around.  The ride was basically a walk on, but it felt like 15 minutes before the wheelchair clam finally came around.  They do at least have an okay area you can wait in so the line can go past you as you wait.

Wheelchair Vehicle
To get in the clam they slow the walkway, pull out the platform, and fold out the vehicles ramp.  The CM loaded Mik on, as they have the companion get in first.  It is actually pretty cool, as they just push the chair straight up onto the platform, then put the ramp back up and turn the platform back into the clam.  Like The Little Mermaid ride and the Disney World's Buzz Lightyear ride they are usually able to do this without having to stop the ride.

Jellyfish

The ride reminded me a lot of the sub ride, but is actually better.  Now that we have done this ride, Mik does not feel like he is totally missing out on the sub ride anymore, although I still keep trying to convince him to try the alternate experience for that one.

Destination Info:
Epcot - The Seas with Nemo & Friends
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Walt Disney World: Epcot - United Kingdom Pavillion

UK PavilonDate of Visit: July 27, 2011

Mik was most excited about stopping in the United Kingdom Pavilion for Fish & Chips.  We got them from the Yorkshire County Fish Shop and then took the ramped way down to the waterfront, as the tables were all crowded despite it being mid afternoon and not an actual meal time.  It actually worked out better, as there were several empty benches and it was much quieter plus a little breeze off the water to make the hot humidity not seem so bad.  However, Mik was slightly disappointed in the fish and chips.  They just are not the same to him as when he fell in love with fish and chips on his trip to London years ago.

Eating by the waterFish & Chips

Other than eating Fish and Chips we also wandered around the UK pavilion a little.  There is a nice garden area in the back.

Destination Info:
Epcot - United Kingdom Pavillion
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Friday, September 2, 2011

Walt Disney World: Epcot - Canada Pavillion

Date of Visit: July 27, 2011

Mik eating WunderbarWunderbar

We started our journey through the World Showcase with the Canada Pavillion.  Mik's original goal was to eat his way through the countries, but he ended up giving up eventually because some place like Canada only have sit down places.  However, in Canada he did decide to get a Wunderbar candy bar from the gift shop.  It sounded interesting to him because it is a peanut butter caramel candy bar and he loves peanut butter.  He did not really like it, though, because he is not a fan of the stickiness of caramel.

WaterfallRamp by Stairs

We did not spend much time in the Canada Pavillion because the area is pretty small other than the restaurant area.  We just went up to the waterfall.  There are ramps to the side of the stairs to get to the shop and then up to the waterfall.  However, to get to the movie there are stairs, so you have to go back down and through the restaurant entrance, but Mik did not feel like seeing it.

Destination Info:
Epcot - Canada Pavillion
Lake Buena Vista, FL

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