(Re-post of trip report from CoasterBuzz.)
I'll keep this one short, as there's a lot of skipping around from park to park.
Stephanie's grand parents, who live in Kissimmee in the winter, have a neighbor who is a retired carpenter from Disneyland. He was able to sign us into the Disney parks for free, and would not have hit the Disney parks otherwise. So we made it our mission to at least hit the coasters and most of Animal Kingdom.
We started there, heading to Primeval Whirl. It's a standard pair of Reverchon spinning mice. This one wasn't being trimmed at any of the blocks at all. The spinning was pretty wild as well. What was missing was darkness. I really think that Kennywood's is so much more fun in the dark. When you can easily pick out focus points (something I do as a defense mechanism on whirl-n-hurls) it doesn't seem as intense. Still, it's a nice little ride in a park that needs a little extra incentive.
Next we hit Dinosaur. We didn't know anything about this ride. Thankfully, it wasn't a film simulator, but a motion-base dark ride. And a pretty damn good one at that. I'm surprised I didn't even know about it. You board an SUV that takes you back in time, just before the meteor shower in the movie of the same name. You travel through various landscapes as meteors begin to trickle out of the sky, and encounter all kinds of nasty guys as you search for the one from the movie. What makes this ride particularly effective is the liberal use of wind to simulate speed. Great ride. Must-see.
The rest of the park was the typical zoo stuff, a great opportunity for photography. There was a pointless train ride that takes you to what amounts to a week petting zoo and gift shop. The real score was the safari ride, where they very discreetly keep the animals separate. It's a neat ride, but irritating as hell that they make it so bumpy that you can't take pictures of anything. Not only that, but the driver never slows down enough to see what's out there.
And that's the highlights of Animal Kingdom. I'm not sure what else I was expecting, I was just expecting more.
We hopped on a bus in Disney's outstanding transportation system and headed to Disney-MGM just to ride Rock-n-Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror. The coaster was a lot of fun, and surprisingly smooth. I guess as a Vekoma I was expecting the worst, but it is Disney, after all. The pre-show was clever and the on-board music was neat. It felt like they were holding back a little on the launch, but it was still fun.
Tower of Terror was totally unexpected. The attention to detail is amazing, and I had no idea that there were several show areas in addition to the actual shaft. Heck, I didn't even know your vehicle got shuffled around prior to the vertical action. I'll leave what you see out of this report, so as not to spoil it for others, but it was very cool.
We ate at the ABC Commissary for some pretty average, but solid food. Steph pointed out on the map that there was a "Pizza Planet," a la Toy Story, and that sounded familiar as if it was listed to have a DDR machine. Sure enough, a USA mix machine (the better one) was there. We played a couple of rounds, but drew no crowds to watch, because the place was empty. Four and five-step songs look impressive to people who don't know any better.
Next bus to Magic Kingdom's monorail station, and on the monorail to the park. I suppose this might be a good place to mention that all three parks were checking bags as you went in. The only other place that did this was Sea World on our trip. Not a big deal, just thought I'd mention it.
With about two or three hours to close, we headed to Space Mountain. What a great ride! I don't know why it doesn't get more credit from the enthusiast community (other than the fact that it's owned by the rat), because it really is a great ride. It's full of surprises and very sudden direction changes. It's also very smooth for its age. It appears to just eat people as well.
The exit gift shop had a DDR Disney Rave machine. There we got to easily impress people. Electric Light Parade was kind of fun!
I forced Steph against her will to ride It's a Small World, and wow did she hate on me for that. You know how much fun the ride wold be if they gave you a bucket of softballs to throw on that ride? That would be entertainment.
We also stopped in the Haunted Mansion for the heck of it. It's a lot of these classics that show how Disney could do anything in the old days.
Next was Big Thunder Mountain. This was a surprise as well, since I haven't been to the park in about 12 years. I forgot that it had three lifts! It's very smooth and very fast. They really don't give it a chance to slow down. The dual load station was neat too. Yet another example too of how good maintenance results in great rides, no matter how old the ride.
We finished the night on Barnstormer, what appears to be one of the first few Vekoma family coasters. This one actually had a chain lift. Count one for the track record.
We headed upstream on Main Street as people began to gather for the nightly fireworks. Of the three parks, this one was easily the busiest, but they were handling it all in stride, with walk-ons everywhere that walk-ons were possible. We did skip some other things because we were on a schedule, and skipped Epcot entirely, but we hit the stuff we really wanted to.
After the monorail and bus back to the now-empty Animal Kingdom lot, we jumped in the Mitsu Eclipse convertible, turned on some Dirty Vegas (to simulate the TV spot) and headed back to the Royal Pacific Resort at Universal. There we hopped in the hot tub where a nice girl brought me beer. That, my friends, is how you end a night of extreme park hopping...