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Alex Moiseyev photo and video

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day fifteen - Disney Magic Kingdom


15th day of the trip and first day of our Disney World vacation. Highlights of the day:

Place we are staying called "Lake magic RV resort". Located reasonably close to Disney World (10 minutes to drive) and to major highways. Sites are large, there are two pools (one was closed for repair during our stay - they were rebuilding hot tub. Hey, who needs a hot tub there - water in main pool was 91 degrees!). No playground. No fire rings - too dangerous for open fire. No shade of any kind except your own awnings or whatever you have. Nice and clean showers and restrooms. Territory is huge - probably 500 sites or so, and 80% empty (may be more - there are many permanently set up cabins and park trailers, it was impossible to guess if they are occupied or not). So, pretty quiet because of low occupancy.

Getting tickets to Disney is not trivial exercise. There are multiple options and multiple places offering the tickets at different prices, so apparently we supposed to do some homework before shopping for tickets (well, he did not so we had to improvise). First we stopped at one of "cheap Disney tickets" places. What they offer is indeed much cheaper than gate price, but these guys somehow manipulate with used tickets. Request to pay cache and at the same time give them a credit card # "that will never be charged" scared us away, so we ended up buying tickets at local AAA office. Those are not as cheap, but still lot cheaper than at the gate without any tricks with used tickets.

After grabbing the tickets we went directly to Magic Kingdom - biggest and most popular of Disney World parks. From my impression, most crowded and least pleasant one. To begin with, getting in and out is a nightmare - parking is few miles from the park itself, so you have to park, walk through burning hot parking to a tram stop, wait for a tram (we were able to get only into third one), walk from tram to a monorail or a ferry, wait for a monorail, walk from monorail to an entrance, and finally walk half a mile through main street of the park itself, which has nothing good but crowd and gift shops. Number of people in the park is beyond imagination - the only comparison that comes to mind is Moscow subway in rush hour. Lanes to rides are anyway from 30 minutes to 1.5 hour and more, so one is not physically able to ride more than few in a day.
Rides themselves are much more interesting than ones in some "regular" amusement park like Six Flags or alike. They are longer and mostly enclosed, riding you through multiple animated scenes from cartoonish world. On older rides scenes are "real" (i.e. physical sculptures etc.) - newer ones have some sort of 3D images. All in all, leaving most of the rides we had a feeling that it deserved waiting.
Speaking of waiting, Disney provides a free feature to mitigate wait times, called "fastpass". Unlike six flags, it is free but it gives you no option to bypass the lane - instead, it gives you ability to return later and reduce wait time dramatically. Here is how it works: say, wait time for a ride is 45 minutes - you can wait in lane, or you can get a fastpass ticket and return 60 minutes later (time before you return is always more than wait time and you get 1 hour window to return). When you return, you wait in mush shorter and faster mowing lane - usually 5 to 10 minutes. You can then use your wait time to look around, have lunch, do some shopping etc.
You can hold more than one fastpass, but system limits how frequently you can get one, so you need to do some planning to optimize your time. There is no easy way to get information about waiting times for different rides without walking to the ride itself - unless you download special app for Android phone.
Fireworks at the end of the day is beautiful - but it is difficult to get a "perfect spot" to watch it. You need to be in front of the castle, and this area gets overcrowded an hour or two before the fireworks. We could see all the lights show on the side wall of the castle, but fireworks were partially obscured by trees and the castle itself.
And finally, getting out of park is even worse than getting in because all of the people that park accumulated during the day are trying to get out pretty much at once.

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