December 14, 2010

Why My Next Walt Disney World Vacation Can Wait

Seems like it will be many more years until I visit Walt Disney World again. This post isn't about bashing the place, how expensive it has gotten, or the lack of upkeep or new attractions. It is about what I'll miss in the meantime and why I've chosen to wait. The short answer is not all just lack of cash- it's also being willing to wait for what is coming.
I'm waiting for the new Fantasyland Forest to open in the Magic Kingdom. I love The Little Mermaid and can't wait for the attraction- even though it will debut at Disney California Adventure almost a year earlier. Fantasyland does need an extreme makeover, however, and the new plans look stunning. Ariel's Undersea Adventure and the Beauty and the Beast village setting will be worth the wait. It's about time that the Magic Kingdom finally gets a Fantasyland worthy of its beautiful castle.

While I wait for the day I can experience all this, I will certainly miss riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at night. When the trains seem to disappear into the darkness by the river, it is a thrill I just cannot get while riding the different and very fun version at Disneyland. Love those Country Bears- and I guess I won't be in Tokyo anytime soon, so I will have to return here. I'll also miss the beautiful neon of Tomorrowland while riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover or whatever its called. And what can beat the nighttime view of the Magic Kingdom from the California Grill at the outdoor viewing deck at the top of the Contemporary Resort?! (Nothing- it's one of my all time favorite Disney dining experiences!)

I'd like to be able to say I'm waiting for Epcot's new version of the once incredible Journey Into Imagination! (Wouldn't it be nice?) In the meantime, I'll pine for Test Track's thrills, the majesty of viewing Spaceship Earth, wandering into the attractions at the Land, and of course, just strolling World Showcase after dark. While Innovention and Energy bores me, I do love Turtle Talk and Soarin', but with all the cloning of attractions in the States, I can find those on my next trip to California. Certainly, the ambiance is much different at Epcot than at California Adventure- not nearly as breathtaking and elegant- but when I need a ride fix, well, you know how it works. Dining almost anywhere in World Showcase is still enjoyable after all these years, and I never tire of Illuminations!
Hitting the beach as well as the lobby at the Polynesian Village remains one of our Walt Disney World traditions. It is still as beautiful as it was the first (and second and fifth and tenth) time I saw it. Viewing the castle at night from the shores of the resort - lined with lit tiki torches- just makes me ooze with a peaceful sense of calm. Of course, a quick monorail ride away, and I can be back at the parks- if you can get me off that beach chair- and pry that tropical drink away from me!

Although Disney's Hollywood Studios needs a lot of work, as does the very beautiful but very undernourished Animal Kingdom, each contains a couple of my very favorite attractions found in any Disney park: the original and best Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Expedition Everest! Unbeatable thrills!

At the Studios, the dining options are fun-filled even though the attractions are few. At the Animal Kingdom, the rich, thick, exotic, atmosphere almost makes up for the lack of attractions. Yet, both are beautiful places for leisurely walks soaking up the surroundings. I'll gladly put off a trip to return when that Monsters Inc. coaster finally happens- and if I ever see either Australia or any other land debut in the 4th park, well, I'll just have to go! Until then, I'll be ok to wait it out a few more years. Besides, I'll have an almost entirely new park to experience in California come the end of 2012.

Dinner at the Wilderness Lodge can be duplicated in restaurants in Denver or even at the Grand Californian, although admittedly, Boma does not exist here. We love Typhoon Lagoon, eating at Gloria Estefan's Bongo's Cuban Cafe, and wandering the hotels on the property. Even seeing what remains of Pleasure Island.
Offsite, there is much to do! The beaches are an hour or so away, and there is nothing Disneymade that matches the beauty of the waves hitting the white sands of Florida. Harry Potter's Forbidden Journey is a very strong pull, but I am happy to combine it with my next trip to Walt Disney World. By then, the crowds at Islands of Adventure should thin out a bit, and I'll be able to also get in mutiple rides on the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman. I will miss having two pretty good theme parks right down the street from my Disney favorites. There's also many places here in the States and overseas to keep me busy.

What I'll miss and why I'll wait will only make me enjoy my next trip all the more. In the meantime, there's a whole big world out there- and I've got a lot of living to do!
(Photos copyright Mark Taft.)

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