Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World. Fair warning, there is a TON to share this week! We’ll be celebrating New Year’s Eve at Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Then we’ll be spending some time at Universal Orlando Resort and finishing off with the reopening of Typhoon Lagoon! Let’s go! 🙂
It’s pretty widely known that the Magic Kingdom celebrates New Year’s Eve on the 30th and 31st. This year I decided to ring in the new year twice to bring you double the coverage! The night of the 30th, I arrived a little before 9pm and used my FastPass+ for The Haunted Mansion. I don’t want to jinx it, but FastPass+ has been working great lately. The weather was also a big help: it rained consistently all night which ran off a lot of the crowd. Want to see more from New Year’s Eve Eve? Click to read more!
After The Haunted Mansion, I went to check out the dance parties going on throughout the park. If you’ve ever visited on a special event, these will look familiar. I’m adding hyperlinks here and in a few places throughout the article this week just because I want to share more than I can fit! If you’d like to see the dance party in front of the castle you can see it here. You can find the Frontierland dance party here. As you can tell from the videos, it was drizzling. I decided to stop into The Hall of Presidents just to loiter in the lobby and check my cell phone. But when the rain picked up I decided to see the show. It’s underrated, so visit if you’ve never stopped by.
Looking back at my photos you can tell I spent a lot of time trying to stay out of the rain! I have about a hundred more photos from inside the Christmas Shoppe. The new 2015 ornaments have arrived. They’re very fun and priced at $18.95. Remember you can click on any photo to see it larger.
At 11:15pm I had a FastPass+ for Peter Pan’s Flight. I was a little nervous about cutting it too close to find a spot for the fireworks, but I had nothing to fear. I was off the ride just 10 minutes later. I’ve been using manual focus on dark rides and getting much better results. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to get a photo of Smee! 🙂
I had planned to watch the midnight fireworks either in New Fantasyland or maybe along the water in Frontierland. However, when I still had 20 minutes to kill before the show I decided to be brave and see what the crowds were like on Main Street. The weather really helped me out; I would have never been able to pull this off without the rain. Just a few minutes before the show I was able to find a spot to settle into with a great view of the Castle. Here’s what the show looked like:
Getting out of the Magic Kingdom was a breeze. I walked out through the Crystal Palace backstage cut through, hopped right on a ferry boat, and was at the car by 12:45am. Keep that thought in mind, it will be important later. But for now it’s time to move on to the 31st, the real New Year’s Eve at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I decided to celebrate here because we’d never rung in the new year at this park and I had a sneaky suspicion these might be the last fireworks over the hat. While I’m happy to see the hat removed, I wanted to have the video to share with others. As you can see, arriving at the park at 7pm looked like a normal day.
Earlier in the day we’d started hunting for dinner reservations. I’ve learned that with the new My Disney Experience app you can just refresh often and amazing results pop up! We were able to book 50’s Prime Time Cafe for 8pm. I made sure that we were checked in at the podium by 7:15pm. My assumption was that the restaurant isn’t used to dealing with such crowds and I’d rather get there early and hopefully be seated by my 8pm reserved time. I was blown away when we were seated by 7:30pm! The restaurant is just what it sounds like, charming with a 50’s flair. I won’t give away more than that, but it should be on your must hit list.
For dinner we decided on the pot roast (left) and the chicken pot pie (right). Each were priced at $19.99 and delicious! The pot roast was a perfect serving for one person and heavy on the veggies. The pot pie we will share if we get it again. There must have been a pound of chicken in there! Certainly hearty for the price, but it was way too much for my hubby to finish.
But despite not finishing his meal we somehow made room for dessert! On the left are s’mores at $4.99, and on the right is a boston cream parfait at $5.49. I committed a blogging sin and almost forgot to take a photo before I started! Forgive my spoon on the s’mores! These were ssssooo wonderful. If nothing else I’d recommend just stopping in for desserts! 🙂
After dinner it was time to check out some dance parties with very full bellies! This party was bumping on the main stage. Throughout the night they switched back and forth between the band on stage and a DJ. It was loud all night with pyro effects popping off to the music here and there. Over in the Playhouse Disney theater there was a much more tame celebration happening. At 11pm we decided to grab our spot to count down the new year. Here’s what it looked like celebrating at the Studios:
You might notice that the fireworks were much better at Magic Kingdom. While I’m glad we tried the Studios, I don’t think we’ll be back for New Year’s. To drive that point home, we waited for TWO HOURS to get out of the parking lot that night. The park didn’t seem much more crowded than on other nights, but two lanes of traffic were closed down to move bus traffic. We weren’t home until 3am, so I’m glad we had a big dinner!
After all of our late night celebrating we decided to spend an evening at Universal this weekend. I wanted to make sure we visited before the Macy’s Holiday Parade ended for the year. I bet I haven’t seen this parade for over five years and, it was great to see it again. Here are a couple of my favorite photos:
So how many trips to Universal does it take before you buy a Lard Lad Donut? Well, if you’re us, exactly two! At $4.99 this is the best deal in the park. This donut is the size of a cake! (Don’t worry, we took it home as a gift. We didn’t polish off this beauty ourselves.)
With the holidays, the park was still very busy with super long lines. We wandered into Disaster! just because it had a 10 minute wait, but found a huge treat. I had no idea Christopher Walken is the host of this attraction. He’s one of my all time favorite actors! The image below right shows the 3D, life size display of the actor interacting with a live host. While photography isn’t really allowed, I couldn’t resist. I think Mr. Walken would have wanted me to have the photo! 😉
Despite the crowds, we braved our way into Diagon Alley. (Talk about a Disaster!!) We tried to walk through the shops but everything was just too packed. Somehow we ended up in Ollivanders with no wait. That gave me an idea for a blog, would anyone be interested in seeing the different wizard wands? Each of the characters has a specific wand design. When crowds die down I can show them each off if folks are interested! I was also looking at the interactive wands and the windows they work with. I’d love ideas for Universal or anything else you’d like to see. With the new year I should really start writing more than once a week!
On our way out of Diagon Alley I made a quick stop at The Hopping Pot. I’ve gotten completely addicted to the Tongue Tying Lemon Squash. It might be the best lemonade you’ve ever tried! They actually squash lemons into the drink. It’s expensive at $4.79, but no worse than indulging in a Duff beer! (Of course, the lemon squash is totally non-alcoholic)
With long waits for everything else we decided to hop on Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl. This is your basic Dumbo spinner type ride, but I thought it was worth riding. Of course, I’m the same girl that likes Dumbo! Do be warned, there was a little bit of language in the pre-ride recording. Regardless, this will be one I ride every trip!
That night we decided to wait for Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular and boy am I glad we did! I would best describe this show as World of Color lite. There were water screens, fountains, lasers, fireworks, and Morgan Freeman! (Oh, and even more Christopher Walken!!) This is a small clip from the beginning. It doesn’t do the show justice, but it’s a little taste until I can get back and record more.
While I knew I didn’t have the right lens with me to film a full view video, I wanted to include one of the photos I snapped. Take a look at this! The show was crazy and we were completely impressed.
Just one more stop this week, and that is Typhoon Lagoon for its opening day after a lengthy refurbishment. We left early and decided to drive around a bit. Check out this awesome view of Space Mountain I found outside the park! Not a bad view to go with your morning coffee on the way to open a water park!
So anyone who lives up north might want to wrap up this week and skip the next part. I don’t want to rub it in, but Sunday the high here was 84 degrees and perfect for fun in the sun. Typhoon Lagoon opened at 10am, and we were there at 9:30am to get a locker and get lined up. Large lockers are $15, and small lockers are $13; with either, you get a $5 refund when you return your key. In the past, they’d offer you a mug in place of this refund, but this time we were offered a cheap backpack with Olaf on it. For the first time we took our $5 instead!
I left the camera in our locker for most of the morning while we enjoyed all the slides and verified that the Shark Reef was still there despite rumors it was closing. If you ever find yourself in Typhoon Lagoon, you must try the mini donuts! They are the most delicious thing in the park!
While I was there I also checked out the cabanas, which are less like cabanas and more like shacks. The photo on the left is what you can expect for that hefty price tag. Included are just 6 chairs, towels, water, and a server to bring you paid food items. I’d like to include pricing info, but when I inquired, the cast members acted like I’d requested classified government documents. I didn’t think a price list would be such an odd thing to ask for?? Oh, well. I decided to hop in the lazy river instead. (below right)
I could have included a photo of the new Sunglass Hut, but who wants to see that? Let’s visit the wave pool instead! 🙂 Ready to ride a wave?
That’s everything for this week. Now let’s see what you can expect if you’re visiting next week.
Crowd Calendar: We’re finally over the holiday crowds. Especially with the marathon this weekend the parks should be nice and quiet.
Weather: The weather will be great this week with highs in the 60s and 70s and lows not dropping much below the 50s.
Remember: Leave early for the parks this weekend. The marathon will delay getting into the parks.
Here’s my top tip for this week: Are you blind like me? Great new, you can wear your prescription sunglasses all over the water parks. Just be sure to hold onto them in the wave pool!!
Do you have any news I missed or any requests for coverage next week? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and thanks so much for reading! I’m wishing all of you the Best Week Ever, until next time!