Top 5 Tuesday; DVC Resorts

For this week’s Top 5 I ranked the DVC resorts. We did a podcast a while back on this, so I’m late to the game, but oh well. My family tends to be the park-commando type, so the major factors for us are location and theming. The amenities and restaurants don’t play a major role in our enjoyment of a resort as much as those 2 factors, so to keep it simple I decided to rate them based on those alone.  We’ve either stayed at, or visited each of the resorts, with the exception of Saratoga Springs.  So here we go;

5. BoardWalk Villas: Theme = 3, Location=4, Total 7

After carefully rating each resort, I found myself surprised that this was #5 on my list; I had assumed it would be higher. I love the BWV, and the Boardwalk itself is a pretty neat place to spend some time, but this one falls to number 5 based on theming. The theming at the other resorts just carry them above BWV for the purposes of this list. Being able to walk into World Showcase and over to DHS is tremendous though.

4. Beach Club Villas: Theme = 3.5, Location=4, Total 7.5

For me, BC is right there with BWV, and really gets the nod because of Stormalong bay and the beach.  Just a really neat atmosphere and place for both adults and kids to have some fun away from the park. The location again is tremendous (as with its neighbor BWV), and might have been a 4.5/5 if my kids weren’t little and enjoyed walking as much as I do. The stroller factor came into play on these…

3. Animal Kingdom Lodge:  Theme = 5, Location=3, Total 8

AKL is the runaway winner on theme alone, not surprisingly. The décor in and around the resort, coupled with the ability to sit out on your balcony and look over a savannah is just unbelievable.  We’ll be staying here for the first time in January, and I am beyond excited to have a morning coffee outside watching the animals roam. The location is a tough one though. Needing to take a bus everywhere, even to the Animal Kingdom Park, is a major drawback. It’s also a bit away from MK and TTC, so going anywhere on the buses is also a bit of a drive.  Unfortunately the location was enough of a setback to make it come in at #3.

2. Wilderness Lodge:  Theme = 4.5, Location=3.5, Total 8

WL is an absolutely beautiful resort, and wins the tie breaker for #2 on my list based on the ability to take a boat ride to and from the Magic Kingdom and Contemporary.  I thoroughly enjoy the boat ride around Bay Lake, and prerfer taking a boat over taking a bus quite a bit, which helped WL get a 3.5 for location rather than a lower rank. Throw in the closeness to the campground with all the activities they provide for families and this resort is DVC at its best.

1. Bay Lake Tower:  Theme = 3.5, Location=5, Total 8.5

Disney’s newest DVC resort (until the GF) tops my list. BLT is another beautiful resort, and while it lacks the Disney theming of WL or AKL, it’s modern look and feel are really superb. BLT wins on the strength of its location, however. There’s nothing quite like watching Wishes from your balcony each night (with the music piped into channel 21 on your tv!). The walk to MK takes about 5 minutes, and is often even faster than taking the monorail. At the end of a long day, being able to go from Main Street to your room with over-tired children in less than 10 minutes is tremendous. Add in the use of the monorail, and boats to WL and the campground, and this resort is tops. (Also, this is my home-resort. Surely I wasn’t biased by that though, right? 😉

Top 5 Tuesday: MK Attractions in need of an upgrade/overhaul

So this week’s top 5 might be a little controversial, but I decided to list the top 5 current MK attractions that I think could use an upgrade or overhaul. The only rule I stuck with is that the attraction needs to remain in some form (so no totally removing IASW and replacing it with a new Monsters Inc. rollercoaster).  I also didn’t pick anything closing/changing with the Fantasyland expansion. So with those guidelines in place;

5) Swiss Family Tree-House

Given the real estate this attraction has, it should be handling more guests than it currently does. A major reason might be the fact that the Swiss Family Robinson isn’t a film many of today’s guests have seen in a long time, if ever. Updating it with a newer movie as the premise would help (I believe Disneyland did this with Tarzan). Adding more interactive games and features throughout the attraction would be a welcomed upgrade as well.

4) Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade

Seeing as this one hasn’t been changed since 1982, I think it’s due. A neat idea in a pretty good location, I can’t say I’ve even peaked in here in 10-15 years.  I think an updated shooting range using current technology (possibly a 3-D experience?), and the addition of some new Characters would draw patrons to this game, and be a neat experience. They should also take away the $1.00 pay to play charge, it can’t be generating that much income, and really should be included in the price of admission…

3) Carousel Of Progress

I personally love this attraction, and I know that it’s considered the attraction at MK with “the most Walt Disney in it” seeing as it exists in much the same for as his original version, but that lends itself to why I think it needs to be updated. The scenes go from the 1900’s, to the 1920’s to the 1940’s, and then all the way into the “future”, only the future is pretty laughable at this point (“Dad! Grandma scored 500 points!”). As time passes, I think the distance between the inventions of the 1940’s and today is too extensive. Updating this show to include other times that bridge the gap better (and a new “future” would help greatly.

2) Hall of Presidents

An original to the park, this attraction seems better suited for that time. While the audio-animatronics are pretty cool, and some of the presidents look very life-like, this show is a bit too long to hold the attention and interest of the current crowds, in my opinion. With the price of a ticket today, most guests try to get their money’s worth, and sitting through this show often isn’t even a consideration. Shortening the show, or making this a walk-through attraction with different Presidents giving various speeches they are known for might help make this attraction more popular.

1) Tommorowland Speedway

This ride is a personal pet-peeve of mine, and definitely my #1 most in need of an overhaul.  I cannot for the life of me understand how the wait time for this ride can be over 60 minutes, ever. The old-fashioned car on steel rail that you can really only turn just enough to give yourself a very uncomfortable whack in the rear, while traveling slower than even the TTA Peoplemover (at least it seems so) is just not working. Re-theming this attraction with a Cars motif, as well as making it an actual race between 2 or more cars at a time, with newer ride technology would be terrific (The drivers wouldn’t have actual control of the vehicles, but they’d travel at higher speeds on a more thrilling course with different outcomes each time). That would be a ride worth waiting for.

Just my thoughts. What are yours?

Top 5 Tuesday

Today’s Top 5 comes to us from theduck619 (David).

Top 5 Places in World Showcase to stop and smell the roses

These are five of my favorite places in the World Showcase to stop and relax, catch our breath and get lost in the atmosphere and ambiance of these magical structures.

5.   Impressions de France – France Pavilion

What I love about this place is that it is sit down viewing rather then standing and of course air conditioned for those times when the heat is a factor.  The views of France highlighted in the movie are breathtaking and make me want to visit every time I see it.  I realize that it is a little outdated in terms of the footage but it does a nice job of stirring the imagination.

4.  Maelstrom – Norway Pavilion

            Another great spot to beat the heat!  This is one of those rides that probably needs a little updating but it never fails to have a little bit of a wait when we go.  Again it helps you relax and catch your breath and even escape a crowded EPCOT while you explore Norway.  I really do not mind the pitches at the end trying to get you to visit.  After all that is what the World Showcase allows us to do, just in a less expensive and quicker way.

3.  The shops in the Morocco Pavilion

It never fails that I have a moment or two when I am in the leather or basket parts of the shop and I think I am in Northern Africa!  I think it is a combination of the smells, the music and the close quarters of the walls and shops.  It is also a great spot for a silly hat pic with a fez.

2.  The museum in the back of Japan

            I am not sure it has a specific name, but I think this is a hidden treasure.  I have met very few people who have ever taken the time to walk through it.  On each visit we have seen numerous exhibits ranging from actual samurai artifacts, Japanese baseball history, toys that were popular in Japan and Japanese music styles.  It has been a wealth of culture and education.  If you have not taken the time to walk through it, please do, you will not be sorry.

1.  Boulangerie Patisserie – France Pavilion

            First off I have no allegiance to France.  This is our absolute favorite place to sit back and relax and get lost in a little bit of France.  We enjoy some pastries and coffee and forget that thousands of our friends are on the other side of us.  It is a small quaint area and it draws you to slow down and relax.  It is a great location to rest for those who have spent the morning in the front pf the park.  If we ever cross paths in EPCOT, look for the duck here and I’ll buy you a quiche!


Top 5 Tuesday: MK Attractions… At Night

Today’s Top 5 come to us from trennr;

Top 5 Attractions at the Magic Kingdom…at night.

This is the first in a series of my Favorite Rides at night.  We all have our favorite attractions, but sometimes those rides have different “Magic” when it is nighttime.  We all love Wishes, the Parades (Spectromagic more than Main Street Electrical Parade for myself.), and seeing Cinderella’s Castle glistening at night. Here are my favorite rides at night in the Magic Kingdom.

5. Tomorrowland Transit Authority

The TTA is a favorite escape for many.  I find it a place to just relax and enjoy a peaceful tour of Tomorrowland.  When you take this ride at night you get the bonus of the wonderful lighting that is Tomorrowland.  I guess my favorite part is the trip through Space Mountain.  With your eyes already adjusted to the dark…you can see a little bit more inside. So just sit back…relax and enjoy your nighttime tour.

4. Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain

Yes…that’s 2…but it’s my list…so call it “4A” and “4B”… If you are a fan of these rides…you must experience them at night. These rides have a totally different experience at night…the absence of the sunlight just adds to the excitment…the Imagineered lighting they have for both rides is just awesome at night. You also get some awsome views of a certain Castle glowing in the distance…These are some of the Wildest Nightitme Rides in the Wilderness…and Pretty Good Sure as You’re Born!

3. Astro Orbiter

Yes that’s right…I put a “spinny ride” in my Top 5.  You simply will not believe the views from this ride (and platform) when you get there.  The Castle, Main Street, Space Mountain, the Contemporary Resort…all shining with radiant magic. This is one Spinny Ride you’ll wish would last a little longer.

2. Pirates of the Caribbean

I realize this ride is inside and underground…so why is it better at night? Well it all starts outside…Adventureland changes at night…has a certain daunting feel to it…then you take that feeling with you into the tunnel to board your boat…you might be wondering…do dead men really tell no tales???

1. The Haunted Mansion

As you approach the Haunted Mansion looming in the distance…you hear the wolf howl…you get that forboding feeling in your stomach and your thinking…”OK…is this really a place I want to go into?”  Heck Yeah!!!   Just like the POTC this inside ride is better at night because of the experience outside…you take the eerie feeling from outside…inside to the stretching room and on into your Doom Buggy. Nighttime makes those creeps a little more creepy.  Hurry baaack…be sure to bring your Death Certificate.

So that’s my short list…trust me it was hard to pick only 5 (6).  Be sure and tell us your favorite Nighttime Attractions at the Magic Kingdom.

Top 5 Tuesday: Thrill Rides

Today’s Top 5 comes to us from afwdwfan;

Everybody thinks of thrill rides when they think Disney World, don’t they?  No?  Well, ok, but the parks do have some excellent rides to satisfy the appetites of those of us who are thrill ride junkies.  I thought about the various thrills offered in Disney World and rated them on a 10 point scale.  Each ride can receive up to 4 points each for Thrill Factor (TF) and Theme (T) and 2 points for my own Personal preferences (P).   My opinion will play a role in my list, so I might as well give a value to that influence.

5.  Test Track:  TF 3.0, T 3.5, P 1.5 = 8.0.  If you want to go fast, this is the ride for you.  It is the fastest ride in Walt Disney World, and the theming is great.  As you make your way through the queue, there is plenty to look at with displays featuring various tests that cars are put through before they leave the factory.   After you get past the queue area, you get to strap into a 6 passenger test car and learn how it feels to be a crash dummy as you experience a series of tests that may or may not turn out well.

4.  Big Thunder Mountain Railroad:  TF 2.5, T 3.5, P 2.0 = 8.0.  “The wildest ride in the wilderness” has always been among my favorites… and I don’t just mean thrill rides.  This roller coaster, due to its immersive theming, really makes you feel like you’re going faster than 30 mph.  There is just so much to see as you go zipping around curves and up one hill and down the next.  My first ever roller coaster ride was on this Mountain in 1985 and it requires multiple rides any time I’m in the Magic Kingdom.

3.  Splash Mountain:  TF 3.0, T 4.0, P 1.5 = 8.5. Although BTMRR gets the nod as my favorite ride in the Magic Kingdom, its neighbor just edged it out in my thrill ride ratings.  I realize I have a few 4.0’s for theming, but how could you possibly give this ride anything less?  It is such an immersive experience as you enter a cartoon world and join Brer Rabbit and friends on a journey through the briar patch.  And I defy you to listen to the song “Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dah” and not smile.  Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Oh, and the part where you go down a big hill and get wet is fun too.

2.  Expedition Everest:  TF 3.5, T 4.0, P 1.5 = 9.0.  First of all, if they’d fix the Yeti this ride might be able to make it a tie for #1.  I’ve never experienced this ride as it was meant to be.  This roller coaster provides a very thrilling ride and that hairy arm reaching out to grab the train and send its passengers to their doom would easily bump the thrill factor up to the max.  This ride experience starts when you enter the queue, because it is by far the most detailed and most interesting queue on the property.

1.  Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith:  TF 4.0, T 4.0, P 2.0 = 10.  This ride tops the list for sooo many reasons.  The theming is fantastic all the way from the record studio pre-show to the exit at the concert venue.  We can’t end the theming discussion without mentioning the fact that you get to ride in a limo with an amazing sound system that blares Aerosmith music.  In addition to all that, this roller coaster has a launch that really gets the adrenaline flowing and it is the only one at Walt Disney World that goes upside down.  It offers a thrill factor that no other ride on property can touch.

There always seem to be rumors that Aerosmith will be replaced in the ride by The Jonas Brothers or some other tween pop flavor of the month.  It hasn’t happened yet and likely won’t.  I just have to say that if it does, I’ll remove this ride from my list and begin a campaign of mailing nasty letters and cases of Beverly to Disney Executives.

Thanks for taking the time to read my rambling opinions on thrill rides.  Please share your comments regarding which thrill rides you do or don’t like!



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