NOTE: The events in this post and the following series all took place pre-COVID. Many of the rules and planning for a trip to Walt Disney World (WDW)have changed since my last trip. Be sure to do your own research as things change frequently right now at WDW and any destination in general.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resitance
The alarm went off at 6:00 AM. Maybe a little earlier or a little later. I hadn’t slept that much because I was more excited that I should be for the day ahead. We needed to move quickly if we wanted to get to Hollywood Studios before “rope drop” – that magic moment that we would be allowed into the park so we could use our Disney Experience apps to try and snag a boarding pass for the hottest ticket in town: Rise of the Resistance!
We used the portable coffee pot to heat water for the instant oatmeal we had brought, checked to make sure that we had everything we would need for the day, called for an Uber and by 7:00 AM we were on our way.
A crowd of eager Star Wars fans were already there to greet us and jostling for their position in line. Because we had packed wisely, security was not an issue for us (“bags open and ready please, all electronics out of your pockets, remove your hats, etc.”). The excitement in the air reminded me of the eager anticipation at the movie theaters when a new episode of Star Wars came out.
At about 7:30 AM were were let through the gates and moved to various sections of the park. Bob and I found a spot in Municiberg (by the way, the only “berg” I know of that ends in “berg” is an iceberg. The rest, including the town I live in end in “burg.” Okay, I guess Pittsburgh ends with an “h.”) and we waited. I grabbed a roll and Diet Coke at a stand simply called “Market” (hey, we were going to burn a lot of calories – I needed to keep my strength up) and as 8:00 AM approached I readied my app.
Minutes dragged on like days, seconds like hours, but eventually my phone indicated 8:00 AM. Furiously I pressed the button on the app to get our boarding pass, I heard cheers go up all around us and the loudest may have been mine – we did it! We had a boarding pass and for a low number. We were likely to get to experience Rise of the Resistance before noon!
Now, in theory, once the app notified us that our party was boarding we had an hour to get into the queue line – not unlike a Fast Pass. So we could have enjoyed another attraction or two while we waited or even gone over to Epcot and made it back in time to get on the attraction. The operative words being “in theory.” We choose to stay close by however and enjoyed the sites and sounds of the entire land. At first we tried to enter the Galaxy’s Edge from Toy Story Land but found that the route was currently blocked off. Not because of a problem, but because the line to the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run attraction was already so long there wasn’t room for anyone to enter from that side. So we walked around and entered by the tunnel on the other side.
I have to say, even though I had experienced the Disneyland version of Galaxy’s Edge in 2019 I was still impressed with the level of detail Disney has put into the surroundings. From the mountain peaks to the theming of the restrooms. And there were little surprises through the day. Storm Troopers are a regular site on patrol of Black Spire Outpost (as denizens of Galaxy’s Edge call their community). They seem to be constantly working crowd control and telling citizens to keep moving along. Other characters from Star Wars appear as well, including Wookies and random droids, but don’t hold your breath for any of the classic characters like Luke or Leia – they are now legends.
I did not try any of the food in this land not even the fabled blue milk nor did I get in line to purchase a custom made light saber. I guess my geekness is waning in my old age.
The attraction must have been operating pretty well the day were were there because our party boarded at around 10:00 AM. I won’t spoil things for any of you, but I was blown away by the experience. I loved the level of detail and they pulled a trick or two I hadn’t seen before. I swear that at times you could feel the ship “rumble” under foot while moving through the corridors. This attraction, IMHO, is just about as immersive as you can get while still dealing with a large crowd of people. It’s really like stepping into the movie.
Bob and I disagree on this attraction, by the way, though he was impressed I think he would have much preferred if the original legendary characters were used instead of those from the current Star Wars canon. I can’t really say I disagree with him on this point, but I also realize that I’m not the primary target audience for Disney in this case. They want the new generation of fans not those of us who won’t stand in line for a $200 display light saber or toy droid. Consarn it all!
Having accomplished our mission for the day it was time to move onto the main event: the Magic Kingdom!
The Magic Kingdom
We could have hopped a bus and gone directly to the Magic Kingdom from Hollywood Studios, but I thought that Bob might enjoy the scenic route so he could get a better feel for the scope and size of the World. We once again took the Skyliner, I think our favorite form of transportation for this trip, over to Epcot. Crossing through the World Showcase and past the construction fences we went under Spaceship Earth, pausing only for a few minutes while Bob marveled at the sheer size of this fully realized geodesic sphere, and caught the monorail.
Now maybe it’s because I grew up watching the Wonderful World of Disney as a kid and watched the sleek futuristic train zoom by on my television screen (in living color no less) or because I memorized the catchy tune from The Simpsons (monorail, monorail…hey, it put North Haverbrock on the map) but I enjoy riding the monorail. Gliding along above the Florida wetlands which make up the majority of the World’s landscape. The trip from Epcot to the Transportation Center always takes a little longer than I think it does but it is a nearly 8 mile trip and we cover it in about 14 minutes not counting the transfer to the Seven Seas Lagoon loop.
I think it was during this ride that Bob was finally able to grasp the scope and size of Walt Disney World. I tried to tell him before the trip, other friends tried to tell him, heck, even my sister told him (“start walking now Bob and wear comfortable shoes” was her advice to him when she learned of the upcoming trip)! But realizing the distances between parks really hits home when you can’t even see the spires of Cinderella’s Castle from Epcot. Epcot and Hollywood Studios are within walking distance of each other – the Magic Kingdom is almost a (Walt Disney) World away.
Upon entering the Magic Kingdom we took the usual pictures in front of the castle, I pointed out the names above the shops along Mainstreet USA, and we just in general just soaked in the atmosphere. Then, since it was well past our usual lunch times we sought out food!
Casey’s Corner was our choice for lunch. I had a Bacon Macaroni and Cheese All-Beef Footlong (a foot-long hot dog topped with macaroni & cheese and bacon served with French Fries) with a Diet Coke to drink. I’m not sure what Bob chose, but I think it was a more traditional hot dog or chili dog. However, just recently he mentioned to me that it was the best hot dog he’s ever had. The snap, the seasoning, everything just worked. The french fries in my opinion are fairly standard amusement park fare, but they hit the spot and were well prepared. Not McDonald’s, but a satisfying side.
We spent the rest of the afternoon hitting a few of the Magic Kingdom favorites including:
- The Enchanted Tiki Room
- The Haunted Mansion
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- The Hall of Presidents
I’m sad to report that our experience in Pirates was less than ideal. The people in the row behind us on the boat talked through the entire attraction – at full volume. I’ve never understood why people would pay good money – and a lot of it – to go someplace like WDW and then not pay attention to the show that’s being presented around them. They probably talk at movie theaters, too.
To make matters worse we had almost the same thing happen to us in the Haunted Mansion. In this case it seemed to be a group of teens or young adults who were fans of the ride and seemed to think that we would enjoy their narration more than the attraction’s. Given that the closest group to us was in another car they had to be be working at talking louder than the dialogue being given over the “Doom Buggy’s” internal speakers. Oh well.
It had been a long time since I had visited the Hall of Presidents and I’m glad that we did this one. The show has probably seen larger crowds, but who doesn’t feel a stirring of patriotic pride when each president is introduced?
Dinner was at the Liberty Tree Tavern. A restaurant right in the middle of Liberty Square which I had never eaten at before – what a meal I had been missing on earlier trips. We were seated in the Ben Franklin room, which was decorated with replicas of mementos from Franklin’s life. The meal was a Thanksgiving feast (all you care to eat and brought to your table) which had just about every home style comfort food you could want: a salad starter, rolls, roasted turkey breast, pot roast, and oven-roasted Pork with mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, herb stuffing, and house-made macaroni and cheese. For desert Bob had their famous Oooey Gooey Toffee Cake which is vanilla toffee cake, chocolate sauce, and vanilla ice cream. I don’t do chocolate so the waiter brought me a dish of vanilla ice cream to finish my meal. We must have put away quite a few carbs though when at the end of the meal the waiter approached Bob with a dish in hand “here sir,” he said, “this is something you might like – it’s fruit.” We’re sure he meant nothing by it but somehow it seemed to us that he was politely offering Bob something he had never seen before, a healthy alternative to what we had just enjoyed. Maybe the third helping of stuffing put us over the edge.
We had just missed the fireworks and were both exhausted from the long day so we took a few evening photos of Cinderella’s Castle and headed out to catch the bus back to the hotel.
As always, to be continued…
All photos by David P. Wahr unless otherwise noted.
Photos and words @copyright David P. Wahr