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Special Report by Guest Writer Loren Javier - Walt Disney World Trip Report September 2010 Part One
DisneyDan  Wednesday, October 20, 2010 9:30:32 AM
Hi all,
So last month our dear friend Loren who lives in Los Angeles made a trip across the country to Walt Disney World. It was his first visit since 1998, and of course many, many things have changed in twelve years.
I asked him if he would be so kind as to write a trip report for the site, and he obliged. It has turned out to be quite long though (much like my Tokyo one from the summer!) and so I have broken it up into sections. In this first section Loren talks about his arrival at the World, and his first venture into the Magic Kingdom.
I have decided to provide some notes and commentary along the way as I see appropriate, and will make a closing statement at the end.
Like Jon and I, Loren documents all his Disney adventures on Flickr, and his WDW set can be found here.

So here is part one! I hand over now to Loren…

So, how was Walt Disney World? In a word - AWESOME!
This was my first trip to Walt Disney World since 1998. This was when Animal Kingdom first opened and Disney's Hollywood Studios was still Disney-MGM Studios. And during that particular trip, I don't think we had even visited the Magic Kingdom, so it had been quite a while since I visited that particular park. Also this was the first time I had visited since becoming a full blown Disney Geek. I'd always loved Disney, but having become an Annual Passholder at Disneyland and becoming a chronicler of all things Disney on Flickr, I see Disney in an entirely different way now. So I was very curious and excited to see what I could remember and what had changed.
We arrived in Orlando around 5:30pm on Sunday 19th September, picked up the rental car and made our way to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas. I had seen pictures of the Animal Kingdom Lodge on the Internet and in Disney Vacation Club promotionals, but it’s another thing to walk into this wonderfully opulent lobby with its huge window looking out into the hotel's Savannah. Then to walk into the room with all its "Disney goes to Africa" flourishes was such a treat. I quickly ran out to the balcony to see what animals were out there. I saw a couple of zebra and ankole cattle outside and started snapping away. Since we had both been flying all day long we were starved and walked down to the Mara, Animal Kingdom Lodge's quick service restaurant, and got the African Stew and Zebra Domes and then got a couple of drinks at the Uzima Springs bar near the pool. After some food and relaxation, we headed to the Magic Kingdom for a couple hours before the park closed at midnight that night. 
At the Magic Kingdom you have to park on one side of the Seven Seas Lagoon and take either a Monorail or the Ferry to get there. We decided to take the Ferry and as we walked toward the Ferry landing, we could see Cinderella Castle glowing from a distance. While I knew this castle was bigger than Sleeping Beauty Castle, seeing it across the Seven Seas Lagoon you realize how large it is. We crossed the Lagoon and made our way into the park. We wandered down Main Street and were struck at how large in scale it was compared to Disneyland. I admit I prefer the more intimate scale of Disneyland, but understand why they needed to make everything larger here to handle the crowds. (Disneyland Paris handles this aspect very well. They seem to have really got the balance between that intimate feeling and the larger scale to deal with crowds. We have to admit, in our recent trips to California the intense crowds in such confined spaces did become all too much at times! - Dan) Before we hit the hub we found a PhotoPass person who took our picture in front of Cinderella Castle. She was also nice enough to find Kurt a "First Time Visit" button.
We then wandered into Tomorrowland as Carousel of Progress and the Peoplemover were at the top of our list of attractions to see. Before we hit those we stopped by Stitch's Great Escape! The last time I was here it was Alien Encounter, and before that it was one of my favourite attractions - Mission to Mars. I found Stitch's Great Escape to be cute, but thought they could have done more with it. The giant shoulder harness suggested that more would have happened. After Stitch we headed over to Carousel of Progress. Kurt had never been on this nor America Sings at Disneyland which used the rotating theatre, so he had no idea how it worked. We loved Carousel despite its aging animatronics and sound system. It just has a lot of charm and one of the few things in the Magic Kingdom officially touched by Walt Disney himself, so I hope they never get rid of this ride. I'd much rather see this than Innoventions in Disneyland. Then it was off to Peoplemover which is something we both miss so much at Disneyland, and after riding it at Walt Disney World we miss it even more. The Peoplemover was definitely one of my favourite attractions during our entire visit. (For those of you who do not realise, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority in Tomorrowland recently changed it’s name back to the original “Peoplemover“ title. The commentary also changed last year, and they got rid of some scenes. This “new” version is actually not as good as the previous incarnation, in our opinion - Dan)
After Tomorrowland, we tried to get on Peter Pan's Flight, but the line was so long that we decided we'd ride it when we returned to the Magic Kingdom on Thursday. So we crossed into Liberty Square and decided to ride the Haunted Mansion. Sadly our experience on this attraction was much to be desired due to the cattle prodding. At Disneyland the cast members play spooky hosts who never break character. Here they seemed to be more concerned about getting us jammed into the stretching room so they could start the ride. (We have generally always found WDW CM’s to be very helpful, so while it is sad that you didn’t experience this on your first night, I’d like to assure folk that we have a good many WDW CM friends who are all lovely. Although I agree, they tend not to play into character - that is reserved for the characters themselves, usually. As for the cattle prodding people into attractions, again in our experience, this randomly happens across the entire Disney Parks empire, sometimes with good reason, sometimes not - Dan) While the ride itself was fairly comparable to Disneyland, this first experience was disappointing to say they least. After Haunted Mansion it was nearing midnight, so we decided to go back to the hotel to get a fresh start on the next day.

In Loren’s next report he will be talking about his first full day in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I don’t really have any further comments to make, so check back tomorrow for the next instalment!

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