Thursday, November 29, 2007

Orlando 2007, Part Three: EPCOT, MGM & Animal Kingdom

How I wish we were able to get a clear shot of Cinderella's castle. As you can sorta see, they draped the castle in tinsel-lighting and projected a blue color on it, which changed to purple and red every 20 minutes or so. It was quite impressive. Looking back, we missed a lot of photo opportunities - partly because I was always in a hurry to get to the next ride. Also, we experienced some camera issues at the Animal Kingdom. In the spirit of disclosure, eight of the pictures below were found online and are labeled thus.


Spaceship Earth was closed! The centerpiece of EPCOT was not taking visitors. We still managed to hit the Innovation pavillions, The Land, Journey Into the Imagination, Mission to Mars and the Test Track - not to mention the world pavillions. (online pic)This blurry shot of The Land agriculture ride shows one of the neatest things about EPCOT - exhibiting current science.Such as trees with hanging roots. (online pic)But I must say that both Toe and I found the Innovation pavillions and the Journey Into the Imagination as being a little confusing and underwhelming. The Test Track, too, was underwhelming, though it had a fun line and a few moments of exhileration during the ride. But EPCOT has the flip side of its country attractions. Much of this is designed around dining. I don't think the Japanese pavillion had more than a couple of restaurants and a gift shop, though other countries had rides and short films to promote their lands. The French film (on a 180 degree screen) was one of the more enjoyable movies we watched. The Norway film was the weakest. The most notable attraction, however, was the boat ride at the Mexican pavillion. It was similar to It's A Small World, but with the Three Caballeros. And similar to The Pirates of the Caribbean in Anaheim, the ride goes past the dining hall of an atmospheric restaurant. The indoor shopping area and restaurant can be seen, fuzzily, below:Not much else to say about EPCOT that hasn't been said before. It's one of the most interesting theme parks since it does not focus on thrill rides. I found a couple of aerial shots of the Disney parks here, which might be of some interest. My Disney geography is not complete, and I wish I knew what the area was above EPCOT in the photo. EPCOT meals: Toe and I each had a burger and fries at the Electric Umbrella one morning. The smallest burger option involved two patties, and the burger was too big. It was all $$$. For the most part, we split meals and drinks after that. We also ate some reasonably priced sushi rolls at the Yakitori House as we watched Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.


The MGM park seemed smaller than the others, perhaps because it did not have a body of water in the center. Most of it harked back to Hollywood of the 20s and 30s. Instead of large mice and dog like creatures, the MGM park featured vaudeville style performers and imitation film directors and Hollywood agents. It was a noble effort, but alas, the MGM park was the lesser of the Disney parks - much like it's centerpiece, Mickey's Fantasia magic hat, is the least impressive of all the other centerpieces in the other parks.
The first ride we chose was a tour of movie history that started in this replica of Grauman's theater. It was a fun idea, but the animatronic characters were some of the least realistic I'd seen on a Disney ride. On the flip side, the line to the ride wove down a theater showing the movie trailers of the films referenced on the ride. It was a masterstroke of "in line" entertainment which Disney excels at. With the lines of Disney rides, there is always something interesting to look at. (online pic)And no theme park, which has a giant AT-AT is bad, though the Star Wars rides was nothing more than a virtual reality flight that any other theme park could do just as well. (online pic)
Here's the entrance to the Aerosmith Rockin' Roller Coaster, which is perhaps the most wild of all the Disney coasters. Toe was not expecting the coaster to launch from 0 to 60 in two seconds. It was a thrill. MGM meals: I think we only ordered some fries and a drink here from Fairfax Fries.


Animal Kingdom offered the most shade all the parks. There seemed to be a forest canopy overhead no matter where we walked. The first thing we did was get a picture with the below monkey. I'm think it was from The Lion King, though I can't place it. All I know is I thought it was kinda cute at 10am in morning (when the picture was taken). But througout the day, as I saw it on several occasions with the exact same expression, it started to scare me. I half expected to see later that night in a dark alley in Orlando. After the picture, the monkey wanted to hug me for some strange reason.
Toe's favorite area was the DinoLand USA.
The worst part about Animal Kingdom? It closes at 5pm every day. Outrageous!

Animal Kingdom meals: we split a order of chicken lomein and a tea at a place in Africa.


The Magic Kingdom is still magical to me. I've been to Disneyland three times and to the Kingdom in Orlando twice before. Toe had been to Tokyo Disneyland two dozen times, and to there was nothing particularly surprizing with this park. Yet, it still strikes me as the most interesting of all the parks. I could easily spend two or three days just at this park. We paid little visits to the Kingdom throughout our stay, usually after spending the day at another park. Saturday night the park stays open until midnight, so we untilized that after the Animal Kingdom.

Someday, I'll have enough money to shop on Mainstreet USA - but I'm not there yet. I think I only bought two souveniors for friends here. Still, I love Mainstreet USA. May it never change. (online pic)
Since we were usually at the park at night, we didn't get many daytime pictures. I was comforted to know that, what had been converted to a Tarzan treehouse in Anaheim, was still the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House in Orlando.
Likewise, the Country Bear Jamboree, which is about the finest musical review I've ever seen, is still in tack in Orlando. The last time I was in Anaheim, the show had been changed to a 50s Rock theme. Horrible. I want my Liverlips McGraw singing "I Gotta Woman" the way he was meant to.

Magic Kingdom meals: lats of sweets including a churro. We also bought a big honkin' turkey leg and soda.

Another aerial shot from the site above.Well, that's the short version of the trip. I'm sure Toe and I will return. But until that day, thanks Walt and Mickey! (online pic)

No comments: