Disney World, Personal Story

Toy Story Land Weekend

The anticipation for the opening of Toy Story Land was incredibly high.  As many of you read in the post leading up to my last trip, I was beyond excited.  It was definitely one of my most memorable times in Disney World.  There was so much energy and so much excitement in the air.  It was hard to help getting wrapped up in all of it.  We arrived on Thursday late afternoon at Disney’s All-Star Music.  There was a small snafu with our room (yes, even travel agents have snafus).  Disney was quick to fix it and we just rolled with it… The Cast Member in training also learned the importance of the “save” button when checking someone in to a reservation.

Note: This is a long blog, so if there is a certain subject you are interested in, I made a couple jump tabs to make it easier on you 🙂 

Next we left to do some exploring and get as close to Magic Kingdom as we could without actually going in to Magic Kingdom, since we didn’t want to use a park ticket for a few hours.  It was hard to just stand outside the gates and dream about the fun inside, but after wiping the drool off our faces, we decided to head to the Polynesian.  Even if you are not staying at a resort, you are always welcome to walk around, visit the shops and restaurants there and just explore.  The main thing you can’t do at a Deluxe resort unless you are a guest, is use their pool.  It was so relaxing to walk around the resort and pretend we were in French Polynesia.

We followed it with a stop in Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, which to our surprise had zero wait.  If you haven’t been, it is worth the trip.  It is a super small, enchanted bar in a windowless room at the Polynesian.  Those under 21 (including kids) are allowed in until 8pm.  While it might be a little scary to the little ones, your tweens and teenagers might enjoy it.  We followed up Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto with a visit to the Ohana bar, which is the easiest way to get some bread pudding without having an Ohana reservation.  Great ending to travel day.

Friday was a fun/”work” day.  Started at Animal Kingdom and enjoying all the animals and beauty in the morning before the heat.  After we finished up there, we hopped over to Epcot and continued our photo taking and exploring there.  Unfortunately, we did not stay at Epcot very long as there was a storm blowing in and we had lunch reservations and a meeting at Grand Floridian to get to and didn’t want to get stuck in the storm.  We took the monorail over to Magic Kingdom area and proceeded to take the resort monorail to Grand Floridian just in time before the storm arrived.

Grand Floridian is a beautiful resort and was celebrating its 30 year anniversary while we were there.  Even though the resort is 30 years old, Disney has done an amazing job with all its refurbishments to keep it looking brand new.  It’s exquisite!  While there, I toured the concierge lounge located in the main building.  You can sit in the concierge lounge and listen to the piano player, the band playing or just people watch.  It is a phenomenal lounge and 3 stories tall.  We followed the tour with lunch at the Grand Floridian Cafe, which was my first time there.  The food was amazing!  If you are on the meal plan, this is only a 1 credit meal, but feels like it should be more.  The food was all so scrumptious and well prepared.  While Grand Floridian Cafe might be off the beaten path, it is worth planning in to your itinerary.

After finishing a late lunch, it was off to the Magic Kingdom.  Since we had been drooling over it since the day before, we had to make sure to get there.  The rain was still coming down, but we didn’t let that stop our fun one bit.  Central Florida is known for rain.  Please be prepared when you go.  I have a great park packing list, which also includes a poncho.  ALWAYS have a poncho.  It will rain at some point on your trip… It’s Florida… That’s just what happens in Florida.  I have always wanted a Mickey balloon picture, with the rain it made this hard, but I still tried… poorly.  Also on my list was the new churro ice cream sandwich from Sleepy Hallow.  Oh. My. Goodness!  It is AMAZING.  The menu picture doesn’t do it justice and even the instagram pictures made me wonder how it would taste, but it is PHENOMENAL.  Unless you are super talented, you can’t eat it as a sandwich… I tried.  However, as an open face sandwich and sharing with someone else is the way to go.  WORTH IT!

Now for the best part…

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We had been hearing rumors Disney was trying to do a soft opening for Toy Story Land.  The storm earlier had made it difficult and there was a lot of wonder if it would even happen.  While we were tired and had wanted to call it an early night, we decided to at least walk by and see if anything was happening.  To our excitement it was OPEN!!  People were going crazy.  The line for Slinky Dog Dash was already at 2+ hours when we got there and according to a Cast Member, they had only been open for a little over an hour.  The excitement in the new land was magical.  So many of the Cast Members and executive cast members were there to see how people liked the new land.  While the line was long, we decided to try the food at Wood’s Lunchbox.  Nick, whom I feel had a strong hand in the menu, was giving us all his recommendations and what we would like, the ingredients in the items and what his favorites are.  He was so excited to see people there that he could have talked to us for half an hour about the food, but was interrupted by us being told to “fill in all the available space in front of you”.  He followed us through a large portion of the line and was an absolute pleasure.  My friend, Amy and I split the “Totchos”, the BBQ Brisket Melt and one of each flavor of lunch box tart.

Food Review: The BBQ Brisket Melt was delicious. It is a hearty portion and more on the heavy side.  It comes with a side of potato barrels (tater tots), tomato-basil soup or vegetable macaroni salad.  We got the vegetable macaroni salad and it was fine.  It wasn’t anything amazing, but not something I would have to get next time.  Overall, the melt was very good and I would get it again.  The “Totchos” were my favorite.  They are covered in cheese, chili, beans and sour cream.  While probably not the best choice to eat and then ride rides, it was a delicious option for all the cheese fry/tot lovers.  I would definitely get it again, but probably take a Tums directly after eating (wow I sound old).  The lunch box tarts are very good.  I liked the raspberry one the best because the hazelnut one was really just a Nutella filled cookie and I’ve been there, eaten that. Again, while these were good, they are not on my top 5 list (like the churro ice cream sandwich).  Also at $3.29 each, they are also not a great use of a snack credit.  I do like them a lot, but Disney has a lot better options for desserts.  Honestly, most of the food at Hollywood Studios is mediocre, so the competition for best food at HS is minimal.  This easily climbs to the top for quick-service food overall at Hollywood Studios.  I will note the seating here is terrible.  If you are wanting to eat here, seating is incredibly limited and minimal to no shade.  We ended up sharing a table with another group because there is just no where to sit.  Even on a slow day, there is not going to be places to sit.  Best case would be to eat dinner here because lunch will be crazy hot.

Saturday!! VIP Tour Day!!

Our group of 30 + 3 VIP Tour Guides

Where do I start?! Wow! This was such an amazing opportunity.  To give you some back story, a group of travel agents and friends decided we all would love to see what the VIP Tour is all about, so we talked about it, threw ideas in the air and ended up creating 3 groups of 10 (30 of us in all) to split the cost of a VIP Tour for Toy Story Land opening day.   (Shout out to Kelley Lord for being chief organizer!!) While most of us recognized a name here and there, we all met officially Saturday morning at the Contemporary for breakfast at The Wave.  We then met our 3 tour guides (1 for each group of 10) in the lobby after breakfast.  Each and every person I met was so sweet and fun.  When 10 am rolled around and we all had to split up, I was a little sad to not be able to spend more time with everyone.  The sadness quickly faded as we loaded the van for Toy Story Land.  TOY STORY LAND!!!  (deep breath)

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We got there and the lines were insane.  I do not know what I was expecting, but I definitely was not expecting the amount of people I saw. There were well over 150 people in line for the popcorn bucket and the line to just get to the new land was thousands of people long.  This is the best video I have seen to truly show how long the line was just to GET IN.  Apparently people started arriving at 1:30/2am to stand in line outside and Disney opened the gates around 6am to start letting people in line.  With our VIP Guide Laurie (who was crazy amazing by the way), we just walked in to the FP+ line, to the ride and we were on the ride in about 7 minutes… That’s right 7 minutes (cue Monica from Friends meme now)!!  We then went over to ride the Alien Spinning Saucers.  This FP+ line took a little longer because the line had been struggling a little, but we were on in no time before a lot of people had even entered Toy Story Land.

Ride Review: Slinky Dog Dash is AMAZING!  It is a smooth ride and enjoyable regardless of where you are sitting (I rode rows 2, 8 &9).  It did not feel jerky at all and it is an absolute blast! I great addition to the park and I can’t wait to ride it again!  Alien Spinning Saucers is also fun, but I wouldn’t wait too long for it.  It doesn’t spin in circles like Tea Cups, but more sling shots you from side to side.  It was very short for how long the standby wait time was.  Overall recommendation is I HIGHLY recommend bringing an umbrella!  Honestly, this is a MUST if you plan to wait in line during the day.  The sun was soooooo hot and there is NO shade.  Even the line queues are shadeless and HOT.  The temperature difference by simply having an umbrella is uncanny.  So definitely bring one or go after the sun goes down to avoid most of the heat.7583927360_IMG_0851

Continuing with our VIP Tour was so much fun.  Our goal started out trying to accomplish all the E-ticket rides in Disney World.  A short history on Disney World/Disneyland: years and years ago (prior to 1982), guests were given tickets for the rides with the least popular being A-ticket building up to the most popular/advanced being the E-ticket rides.  This lingo is still used by some Disney goers and staff today to represent the most popular park rides.  On our quest to ride most of the E-ticket rides, we took full advantage of the VIP Tour and the van taking us behind the scenes of the park and as close to each ride entrance as we could get.  IMG_8283Our E-ticket tour accomplished: Slinky Dog Dash (3 times), Alien Spinning Saucers, Toy Story Mania, Flights of Passage, Navi River Ride, Frozen Ever After and Soarin’.  We probably could have accomplished a lot more, but we were so excited about Slinky Dog Dash.  So, we decided we wanted to head back there and ride it 2 more times before the tour ended.  Overall it was a blast!  I highly recommend it to anyone on the fence about taking one.  Our tour guide had so much energy and so much knowledge, it felt like a tour within a tour.  Yes, it is a very expensive tour, but we enjoyed every minute of it!

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