Minnie and I

Minnie and I

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Disney World Trip May 2018

On May 19, 2018, I visited Walt Disney World. I spent the day visiting all four parks. Like my previous Disney trips, I focused on character hunting. In total, I met 29 characters (5 repeats)! Also for the first time, I attended character dining at different locations. It was a unique experience and taught me a lesson I'll never forget at Disney. This Disney trip was special because it was around the same time they changed all their Mickeys and Minnies to the new versions. Walt Disney World was the penultimate to do so, Tokyo Disneyland being last.

Animal Kingdom:
I started the day at Animal Kingdom, I arrived at 9 am. First thing I did was ride Expedition Everest. Let me say that I'm not a roller coaster fan. I remember when Expedition Everest debuted in 2006, watching the reports on the Disney Channel. As a kid, I was excited and wanted to visit the Animal Kingdom and ride it. Sadly, I never got the opportunity, until now. Riding Expedition Everest was a dream come true. For not being a roller coaster fan, I enjoyed it, though my picture says otherwise. After the ride, I went to Discovery Island and met Mickey and Minnie in their safari outfits, after a 45 minute wait time. Interestingly, the queue still had safari pictures of the previous versions of Mickey and Minnie. Later, I went to the Tusker House restaurant and met Mickey, Daisy, Goofy and Donald. Afterwards, I departed to Epcot.

One thing I always look forward in Epcot is meeting Daisy near Spaceship Earth. I quickly got in line to meet her. Then I went to the Character Spot to meet Mickey, Goofy and Minnie. Before I go on, let me say that I was able to purchase Tokyo Disneyland's exclusive Minnie Mouse figure. This figure is modeled and based on the meet-n-greet version of the character. I brought my Tokyo Minnie figure to show it to Mickey and Minnie. I had an unfortunate episode with this Minnie figure, one of her eyelashes fell off. This was frustrating, because I was very careful transporting the figure from Dallas to Orlando and this was an expensive figure! Price tag of nearly $250. After my little meltdown over Minnie's eyelash, I presented the figure to Mickey Mouse. Mickey loved it! One of the cast members thought I made the figure myself. Next it was Goofy, but I didn't show the figure to him. Instead, I read him a "love" letter I wrote to him. Goofy enjoyed the letter. Sadly, I wasn't able to get that moment on video. Finally, it was time to show Minnie the figure. Her reaction was precious, worth showing it to her even with the missing eyelash. Side note, the eyelash fell inside the (custom) bag I was carrying her, and I carefully re-glued it when I got home.

Exiting the Character Spot, I traveled to the Garden Grill restaurant. At the restaurant, I was able to meet Mickey, Chip, Pluto and Dale. I was served the "Harvest Meal," which consisted of various Thanksgiving theme food items, like turkey with gravy, stuffing and pot roast. It was like a huge sample platter. I enjoyed the pot roast so much, the server brought me more of it. Yum! The food was to much, that I could not eat dessert; which was strawberry short cake (my favorite.) As I finished my meal, I noticed that it started to rain, luckily I brought my rain coat with me on the trip. As I'm exiting the park, I noticed that Daisy was all alone near Spaceship  Earth. This was probably due to guests staying inside out of the rain, since Daisy's photo location is outdoors. I took the opportunity and met her again. I'm a very tactile person, I enjoy touching and feeling soft objects. If you look at the video clip of meeting Daisy the second time, I'm grabbing on to Daisy's skirt.

My Tokyo Disneyland Minnie figure

While in line at Character Spot, Epcot

Magic Kingdom: Pt 1
I approached the Magic Kingdom by monorail. This would be my 3rd time visiting the park in my life. While the rain was still pouring, I headed to Pete's Silly Side Show and met Daisy and Minnie with their circus outfits. When I was planning this trip, I planned to meet Clarabelle Cow and Horace during the Frontierland Hoedown. Because of the rain, this wasn't possible.  Instead I headed to Tomorrowland and met Stitch. This was extra special for one reason. When I first visited Hollywood Studios in 2005, I met Stitch near the giant hat. Stitch gave me a huge hug and posed for pictures. Sadly, I lost all the pictures from that trip, including Stitch's. I told Stitch this story and we posed for another picture. After reuniting with Stitch, I took the bus to Hollywood Studios.

Hollywood Studios:
Arriving at the park, it was still raining. I made my way to meet Olaf, then Minnie and Mickey at Red Carpet Dreams. Here's a little rant; while in line to meet Minnie and Mickey, there was many guests drinking beer in line. I personally don't drink, and the last thing I need is the smell of alcohol before meeting Minnie and Mickey. After meeting them, I went to the Hollywood and Vine restaurant. Like my previous meet and greet meals, this was my first time visiting the restaurant. At the restaurant, I was able to spend time with Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Daisy in their beautiful Spring outfits. Had magical moments with all the characters, specially Goofy. I took the opportunity to re-read my "love" letter to him and get it on video. It felt like I was serenading him. It was magical and wonderful. When I finished my meal, I went over to the "Walt Disney Presents" exhibit, then over to meet Buzz and Woody. For being toys, Buzz and Woody are tall; Woody being over 6ft tall. Finally, I made my way to the bus to return to the Magic Kingdom.

Something magical happened while I was at Hollywood and Vine. For this trip, I brought some 5x7 photos of some characters for them to sign. You can see them signing the pictures in the videos. Because it was raining, the bag I was carrying got wet and some of the items in the bag got wet, including the pictures. While I was at the restaurant, I placed the pictures on my table so they could air dry. They didn't get fully wet, only on the corners. A cast member named Georgina noticed my pictures on the table. She asked about them, I told her the story. Ten minutes later, Georgina returns to my table and hands me a coupon for a free 5x7 photo at the Photo Pass location at Sid's Porch. She said she felt sorry for my wet pictures and the coupon was to accommodate for that. I never complained about my pictures (which I brought from home) and the pictures only got slightly wet on the corners. When I finished my meal, I ran to Sid's Porch to redeem the coupon. I got a picture of Goofy and me at Epcot and ran back to the restaurant and got Goofy to sign it. Thanks to Georgina, this made my trip even more memorable. I tweeted my experience to Walt Disney World Today and was told Georgina was going to get a "Cast Compliment" recognition.

The coupon I revived

My free picture of Goofy, framed in my room

Magic Kingdom: Pt 2
I returned to the Magic Kingdom and spend the rest of the time riding rides. First went to "It's a Small World." I loved the attraction. I imagined myself being at the '64 World's Fair, when the ride debuted. The ride is so simple and yet genius. Then I went over to the Haunted Mansion. Following that, I embarked on Pirates of the Caribbean. My next ride was Splash Mountain, but they temporary closed the ride by the time I got there. With that in mind, I instead went to Big Thunder Mountain, my favorite ride. Having ridden the ride at Disneyland, I noticed one big difference between Disneyland's and Magic Kingdom's. The queue at Disneyland is short and nice, but the queue at Magic Kingdom is long and like a maze. It's amazing that one spends little over an hour in line to ride a 3 minute ride. When I was done with the rides, I headed to Town Square to meet Mickey. This was exciting because they recently removed Talking Mickey, I wasn't a fan of him. It was nearly 10 pm, I was tired, sweaty and wet by the time I got to meet him, for the seventh time that day! I told Mickey that I was leaving for the Kingdom of Texas. With help of the character attendant, Mickey asked me if I was a cast member. I politely said no. I could not believe that Mickey thought I was a cast member! It's one of my dreams to work for Walt Disney World and this seemed like destiny.

This trip made me appreciate and embrace the new versions of Mickey and Minnie. Like many fans, I had mixed feelings about the new versions. I thought I would never get used to them, until I met them in person. Minnie Mouse is my favorite and still getting used to her new look. New Mickey stole my heart during this trip. So lovable and full of life. Since I only met old Mickey a hand full of times, I'm not very attached to him. New Mickey really did it to me. I love the new version of him, magical as the previous one. 

This Disney trip was pure magic. Had a wonderful time meeting the characters and enjoying the parks. Though I had a good time, I learned two lessons during my trip. Lesson one, don't give your personal camera to the Photo Pass photographer. For this trip, I brought my own digital camera and had the Photo Pass photographers use it, instead of their own. This way I could have professional pictures and not seem obligated to buy them from Photo Pass. This was not the case. The photographers would take one or two pictures with my camera and then go paparazzi with theirs. Most of them were displeased when I handed them my camera. Halfway through the day, I stopped handing the camera to them because of this issue. I understand that it's their job to take pictures with the Photo Pass camera, so one could have the option of purchasing them and make the company money. But they could be at least a bit friendlier when handling a guest's camera. Not everyone has the means to purchase Photo Pass pictures. Last year, it cost $59 to download all the pictures of one specific day, now it costs $69.99. That's just one day, imagine if you had pictures from multiple days. That would cost $199.99. Regardless, I purchased my pictures from Photo Pass. Disney is not a friendly place for your wallet.

With that said, here's lesson two: don't do multiple character meals in one day. I failed to realize that character dinning is pricey, something not clearly mentioned on their website or app. I had the breakfast buffet at Tusker House, Animal Kingdom, $36. The buffet was decent, typical breakfast items. Lunch at Garden Grill, Epcot, $50. The food was delicious, but too much food. Would recommend for dinner, not lunch. Dinner buffet at Hollywood and Vine, Hollywood Studios, $50. In my opinion, the buffet selection was poor. Seen more options at a Golden Coral. Did I eat $50 worth of food? No, not even close. I spend a total of $136 on food. I did not anticipate spending that much on food. The only reason I booked the meals was because of the characters. The most fun character dining experience was at Hollywood and Vine. Again, imagine a family of 5 going to character dining. That would be more than $200. Would I do character dining again? Maybe, probably not. This was also the first time I ate at a restaurant at the parks. I usually grab a hot dog, or popcorn along the way and that holds me up through the entire day. Unless your financially sound, or don't mind spending over $500 on a single person trip, then Walt Disney World is the place for you. For the full amount of money I spend on this trip, I could have stayed at a local resort in Texas, but they don't have Mickey or Minnie Mouse.

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