So thanks to life getting in the way, I was never able to finish a more detailed recap of the trip. After all the Halloween fun was over, we spent Saturday at Epcot enjoying the many offerings that were available at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Some of highlights included the tacos at Mexico, more Cherry Wheat, and the lamb at Australia. I also continued to wear my rainbow afro visor that I picked up the night before, which continued to get several double takes and compliments. The following day brought Islands of Adventure along with the sadness of having to make the trip home. IOA was solid, as always, and attendance was surprisingly low. We only waited 15 minutes for Forbidden Journey and that was the longest that we waited for anything. We also picked up some candy from HoneyDukes for the kids and slowly made our way out of the park for a bit more shopping offsite and then the ride to the airport.
It was just an awesome trip. We had all the fun of the Halloween event, plus the food and wine festival, combined with relatively small crowds and beautiful weather. Fall is just an awesome time to visit Orlando and the parks. Julie and I plan on continuing to make this an annual event for as long as we can and maybe one of these days we will get some friends to go with us on the trip.
As far as what is next for the blog, I plan to start sharing theme park news from various sources and talk about upcoming trips. We are considering a trip Thanksgiving weekend to attend the Christmas party at Magic Kingdom and I am working on planning my next solo adventure. Maybe first I will detail my previous solo trips. Thanks for reading!
You wouldn’t know it from my lack of posts after Friday, but the trip turned out awesome. Friday saw us spend the day at the Magic Kingdom and we spent the day just experiencing the park instead of rushing around. We walked around the new FantasyLand, and I have to say it looks really good. Still quite a bit of construction going on, so I expect it will look even better as time goes on. We grabbed Fastpasses for the new Under the Sea ride and then headed for Pirates of the Caribbean. The classic ride that never disappoints and always provides a nice cool ride in the middle of the day. This led us to our lunch reservation at the Liberty Tree Tavern. We were excited about this as this is a restaurant we had not tried before and requires reservations. What we found was a nice place with great food and very generous portions. I got the Pilgrims Feast (turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and green beans) and I think our waitress Conseula was stunned that I finished the whole thing, and was even more so when I finished Julie’s pasta dish (also quite yummy), followed by a piece of their ooey gooey toffee cake. This was a preview of what we will get with the dining plan when we go back in March and I am pretty sure we are going to gain 20 pounds in the 5 days we are there. Back to Under the Sea after lunch to use our Fastpass, which included one of the highlights of the day when one of the females working the ride snatched the full drink right out of Julie’s hand as she was getting on and said, “Thank you”. It was hilarious. The ride was a well done, similar to Haunted Mansion, in that you are in a clamshell moving along a fixed track. Once done, we still had a bit more time to kill before we could pick up our wristbands for the Not-So-Scary Halloween party, so we headed for Stitch’s Great Escape, another must do on our list since Stitch is Julie’s favorite character.
Finally we were able to get our wristbands and bags for the party. Since we had decided not to wear our costumes into the park, we looked around for ways to dress up a bit. Julie decided on a “Nightmare Before Christmas” top hat, and I went with a rainbow colored wig with mouse ears, attached to a visor which was awesome and I ended wearing not only that night, but also to Epcot on Saturday. Lots of double takes and compliments on it over the course of the two days. As it started to get dark, we decided to head for the Haunted Mansion. Part of the awesomeness of the Magic Kingdom is that even though lots of things change, some things remain constant such as the pre-show for the Haunted Mansion, with your ghost host and the classic phrases like moving to the dead center of the room. We continued to tour the classics by making our way over to Space Mountain. The old girl is showing some signs of age but is still great and illustrates how far rides have come over the past 40 years. After a quick turn on Buzz Lightyear (I won), we decided to go get our spot for the fireworks. The year before we had been off to the right of the castle and decided to get a more central spot this year. We learned that we really should have moved closer to the front along Main Street for the best view. The show was just as awesome as the year before and is the best fireworks show Disney puts on. At one point, the fireworks cover a full 270 degrees and it is just a bright as the middle of the day. This left us with only 2 things to do – the parade and getting some candy from the multiple trick or treat spots. We staked out our spot at the Liberty Square so we could see the Headless Horseman and have a good view of the floats and performers as they approached. The highlight of the parade for me is always the gravediggers with their shovels. We were able to get several good pictures of the parade and they are posted on the Flickr account. This left only candy. As soon as the parade passed we headed for the stations and we were not disappointed. As we had read, the people handing out the candy were much more generous late in the evening and the lines were almost non existent. We each walked out with over a bag of candy and most of it was good stuff, such as Skittles, Reeses, and Twix.
Getting to trick or treat as an adult is great and combined with all the other elements, the Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a must do for any Disney fan and in particular Disney villain fans as they figure prominently into the whole evening. Look forward to seeing you there!
Julie and I love this event, having been 3 times in the past 4 years. We made a few changes to our approach this year to try to get in as many houses as possible. First we got to Universal Studios around 4 pm so we would be in the park before it closes. If you are staying for HHN, they setup a couple of different areas for you wait while they put out all the props and get ready. We chose the one next to Finnegan’s not only because it was close to one of the houses we were most interested in (American Werewolf in London), we could also get a drink at the bar 🙂 We also decided to purchase Express passes to help skip some of the long waits. This turned out to be a great decision. After much research (thanks Orlando Informer!), we expected this to cut the waits in half but it literally made all of our waits less than 15 minutes at all the houses we used it at despite the fact the post waited times were 100 or 110 minutes. We were stunned and amazed and I would definitely recommend them to anyone even though I am sure results vary depending on the night.
The event opens at 6:30 but since we were in the holding area, they released us at 5:45 and we went straight to American Werewolf in London. It was well done and very faithful to the movie, right down the Slaughtered Lamb sign as you walked into it. We went to Cabin in the Woods next and having just seen the movie, I will say they did an awesome job of bringing it to life. Julie decided after the first house that she would let me lead the way and after this house, she led the way the rest of night. I slowed down and allowed a gap between us and the party ahead, allowing time for all the people who jump out and scare you to get reset. This meant she got to experience almost all of the scares of the house firsthand. Like I said, I never led the way again. From there we moved on to Evil Dead and Havoc 2, both of which were good and had some scary moments. At this point, we decided to take a break from being scared and went to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure. If you haven’t been, they basically make fun of all kinds of pop culture from the past year and sprinkle in some dance numbers to the popular music of the last year. This years edition was not quite as good as last year but still contained plenty of laughs. Targets included Paula Dean, Kim and Kanye, Justin Bieber, Duck Dynasty, and Miley Cyrus. We jumped back in the houses after this with Afterlife, which features 3D. This house was not as scary as the others, but the 3D effects were well done and made for a very interesting house. La Llorona was next and this was the one house of the night when our timing was really off and we missed almost all the scares. Other people have liked it so I think we just had a bad walkthrough. Walking Dead was next on the list and one of our most anticipated houses. Having watched the show since it’s inception, it was great to see how they worked in various sets and items so you could look at them and “experience” the show itself. The scares were pretty good and if you weren’t fan, several scenes would be lost on you. This left us with only 2 things left on the list, the Rocky Horror Picture Show tribute and Resident Evil so we grabbed a quick bite and head off for the tribute. We spent a few minutes people watching in one of the scare zones along the way and it was hysterical to see all the different people get scared. The tribute show was well done and a great way to spend a half hour or so off your feet in the middle of all of the craziness. Resident Evil was the only house left so we worked our way through the crowd over to it. Again the Express pass allowed us to basically skip to the front of the line. It was not our favorite house by a long shot but we can say we went through all 8 houses in one night, a feat we had never managed before. Also due to the proximity of the lines for it and American Werewolf, we saw the Express line for it was short as well so we decided to do it again since we didn’t use our Express the first time. A few different scares the second time through made it well worth the second trip.
The night was awesome. The decisions we made allowed us to see all 8 houses and both shows in 5 hours and 15 minutes; which is incredible considering the all the most popular houses had wait times of 100 minutes or more. Overall the event was good but the heavy dependence on the Walking Dead for all the scare zones did get a bit repetitive. Also, the zombies were restricted to the scare zones this year, where in previous years the “scarers” would follow people pretty much anywhere. The houses themselves were awesome and well done. We will definitely be coming back.
So day two of the trip was just as great as the first. We decided to head to Epcot to hit the rides and have a partial sampling of the Food and Wine Festival before heading to Universal for Halloween Horror Nights 23. The day started off slow as we were still recovering from the early start and long day getting down to Florida, so we were running a bit late getting to Epcot. Once we got there, we also found out they are in the middle of replacing the entry machines so there was a bottleneck to get in. As anyone who has been to Epcot in the past few years knows, you have to get there early for Soarin’ as the FastPasses run out quickly and the line quickly builds to 90 minutes or more. So despite the fact I was at Soarin’ around 9:25, the FastPass times were already 6:45-7:45 and the line was at 50 minutes. So we decided to head over to Test Track after a quick stop to get a Fast Pass for Mission Space. The wait for Test Track has already built to 50 minutes as well so we went the single rider route. This worked out awesome as we got to be in the same car. The new test track was good and next time I will spend the time to build my custom vehicle as it puts your design in competition with other in your car. The fun continued for me on Mission Space (Julie doesn’t ride it due to issues with tight spaces), and then it was time to go to the festival.
The Food and Wine Festival did not disappoint. To get the whole thing started off right at 11 am, the Scotland kiosk was offering flights of scotch. The sampling of 12, 15, and 18 year old GlenFidditch scotch was great. We moved on to Canada for the always awesome Cheddar cheese soup and the O Canada film and followed that up with some beef sliders and key lime wine from the Florida kiosk. This was all just an appetizer to my ultimate goal .. 22 oz of Sam Adams Cherry Wheat.
It was just as awesome as it always is. We had to move pretty quickly after this to get to Halloween Horror nights so the last stop was South Korea for a kimchee dog, lettuce wrap, and a Soju fruit slush, all of which were great. That’s all from Epcot for this time .. Onto to HHN!