Walt Disney World Memorial Day Trip Report – Part 2

wishes-tomorrowland-bridge-near-finale


It was mid-afternoon during the Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party, and despite being up since 4:30 am and only having had about 4 hours of sleep the night before, I was feeling pretty good. Everyone has always told me that I wouldn’t be able to keep up my “hyperactive pace” as I got older, but since graduating, I’ve found that I’m now able to sleep even less. Not that any of you care about that, but I pride myself in forcing myself to push the limits, so humor me. I’m sure it will catch up to me at some point, but hopefully by that time science finds a way to replace the weak parts of me with robot features.

Sarah, on the other hand, was not doing so well. She had met me in the park after 10:30 am, and was already feeling like she needed a nap to make it through the night. In fairness, she didn’t slept until 10 am, but she takes longer to get ready and wasn’t in much of a rush to get to the park. I guess sunrise photos present a challenge when taking iPhone photos for Instagram! ;)

We decided to grab some coffee and cola from Auntie Gravity’s (their iced-coffee is small and disgusting, for what it’s worth) and wander around Tomorrowland for a bit to see if that worked as a pick me up before she decided whether she’d walk back to the Contemporary for a nap. We did the Peoplemover a couple of times, getting off in between because there was actually a line for it! I’m not sure how many times we did the Peoplemover total during the 24 hour day, but I’m going to go with “a lot.” I have some roughly hour-long gaps in between some photos, and most of those gaps can be explained by relaxing on the Peoplemover. For the record, neither of us fell asleep on the Peoplemover. It really was just a matter of relaxing and chatting. I’m a staunch ‘no talking during attractions’ person, but the Peoplemover is one exception to that rule, which is partly why we do it so much.

After these rides, Sarah decided to play it safe and head back to the room for a nap so she could make it all the way through the night. I hadn’t been taking many pictures during the afternoon, so I figured it would be a good opportunity to wander around and get some shots. Here’s what I came up with… (more…)

Walt Disney World Memorial Day Trip Report – Part 1

walt-disney-world-entrance-sign

Thanks for joining us on our Walt Disney World Memorial Day 2014 Trip Report. It’s been a while since we did one of these for Walt Disney World, and a lot of trips have occurred in between, so we figured it was time to get back to our roots with a Walt Disney World trip report…like we used to do in the ‘good ole days.’

We are fortunate in that we are able to travel regularly, a result of a dedicated effort we made a few years ago to make travel our #1 priority at this point in our lives, with any necessary spending sacrifices made elsewhere. Because we travel so regularly, it may seem a bit disingenuous when I say I was really missing Walt Disney World, because I hadn’t spent a full day in the parks since last October (I spent 2 hours in Epcot earlier this year and Sarah was down for a few days with her sister this year, but my last full day in the parks was the beginning of October 2013). I know it certainly reads like a “First World Problem,” and it is. But that’s how I felt. Even when we could only afford to go to Walt Disney World once per year, we went through ‘withdrawals’ only a couple of days after our trips were over, so I don’t think it reeks of entitlement too much that I missed the place after being away from the parks for 8 months.

In that time, we weren’t exactly taking a hiatus from Disney, so I can’t even begin to complain. Like I said, we’ve been fortunate to be able to travel a lot, but there really is something about going to Walt Disney World that I just can’t explain. For me, it’s my “home” resort and I have nostalgia for no other Disney destination besides Walt Disney World. Even though I think the parks in Tokyo are far superior to the ones at Walt Disney World, nostalgia is a powerful drug (even for me). Besides, there’s something I find legitimately, truly special about visiting Walt Disney World. Maybe I am hopelessly sentimental, but I still have a passion for Walt Disney World that I don’t think I could ever have for any other parks. I don’t know…maybe that just makes me a fool, because I have seen what the other global parks have to offer.

Still, there’s something about riding around the TTA Peoplemover as the sky turns deep blue and the neon lights illuminate Tomorrowland that just makes me smile. No matter how many times I’ve seen Impressions de France, I still get goosebumps from seeing its sights and hearing that score. I still look up at Spaceship Earth as we close down Epcot, and just marvel at its grandeur. I still tear up during the Kiss Goodnight. We may visit Walt Disney World less in favor of other places, but we still love it. Is a lot of that love rooted in nostalgia and our memories? Sure. I see nothing wrong with that, as that’s not the only reason I love Walt Disney World, and each of us do things on a daily basis grounded in our memories and attachments.

That should give you an idea of why I was approaching this trip with a good amount of excitement. I was looking forward to being back “home.” It was also nice to have plenty of time to plan and tweak our Advance Dining Reservations, and to give serious thought to what we wanted to do. Suffice to say, we packed a lot into the 5 day trip. Good thing one of those days was going to be 24 hours long! (Well, they all would be that long, but…you know what I mean!) Unfortunately, I did not have an active Annual Pass, so we couldn’t book FastPass+ in advance. Long story, but I let mine lapse and waited for our Disneyland Annual Pass to also expire so we could start fresh with Premier Annual Passes instead of having separate Annual Passes for Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

My normal ritual of getting McDonald’s from the Indianapolis Airport had to be skipped because we cut it a little close on time, so let’s fast-forward to our arrival. We were staying at the Contemporary to start our stay, and unfortunately, we had to wait about 15 minutes before even getting on a Disney’s Magical Express bus, then another 20 minutes for it to fill up, and then nearly another hour as we were the last stop for the bus. There was nothing magical about the experience, and it really has us rethinking our staunch “no rental car at Walt Disney World” policy.

Fortunately, we built some cushion into our first night schedule and didn’t schedule our ADRs at Chef Mickey’s until 9:15 pm. Unfortunately, when we got to our room, we found that our MagicBands didn’t work to open our room, so we had to go back to the front desk and spend more time with them troubleshooting the problem. Not the first problems we have had with MagicBands, and not the last, either.

To their credit, every Cast Member was incredibly nice and patient in dealing with these problems, and I can only imagine the abuse the frontline Cast Members deal with on a daily basis–despite them having no say over how the MyMagic+ system operates.

They were able to get us in the room, nixing my plans of setting up a tent in the Grand Canyon Concourse and falling asleep to the peaceful sounds of monorails gliding overhead. Also nixing my plans of having to figure out where to buy a tent in Orlando and how to convince Security (and Sarah) that sleeping in a tent in the middle of the Grand Canyon Concourse was an okay idea. (more…)

Walt Disney World Memorial Day Trip Report

Over Memorial Day weekend, we headed down to Walt Disney World for the Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party, Star Wars Weekends, and just some general good times. During our first trip to Walt Disney World of 2014, we dined at a variety of restaurants including Chef Mickey’s, Cinderella’s Royal Table, both Star Wars Character Meals, and more! We also took a ton of photos, and tried out new-to-us things at Walt Disney World.

This trip report takes a look at our experiences during our 5-day Memorial Day weekend trip. This trip report has all of the classic elements of a Bricker trip report: little sleep, lots of photos, tons of eating, and an incredible adventure with Nicolas Cage to kill the ghost of Osama bin Laden. Okay, that reference probably only made sense to SNL fans, sorry, but it if awkward references and unfunny jokes aren’t your thing, it’s probably time to close out this browser tab!

We hope you join us on this exciting* and terrific* trip report! Bookmark this page as it will be where we organize the updates in one convenient location. Click the links below to go to each installment… (more…)

Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party Planning Tips

Dreamy Sunrise Over Cinderella CastleBefore we traveled to Walt Disney World the week between Christmas and New Year's, which is notoriously the busiest week of the year, a lot of people asked us whether we were crazy. Yes, of course we are, but that had nothing to do with our decision to visit during that week. The decision to bear those brutal crowds was made easy for us thanks to the extended operating hours and impressive New Year's Eve fireworks shows. And although we're not fans of large crowds (I'm betting not many of you have

During the Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Disneyland & Disney California Adventure will be open for 24 consecutive hours beginning on May 23, 2014 at 6 am until 6 am on May 24, 2014. This is an extension of the “Disney Side” promotion (it’ll likely be promoting Disney’s Malificent, too) and since the Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party falls on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, it’s the perfect time to take a long weekend trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland! Disney has released some details about the party, which you can read here.

We participated in the events of “One More Disney Day” (the 24-hour Leap Day event in 2012) and Monstrous Summer (the 24-hour Memorial Day party in 2013) and both were a ton of fun. They were also great, unique opportunities for photography. This is not a hard ticket event, so a normal, single day ticket will entitle you to visit the parks for the full 24-hour party!

Based upon our experiences at the parties, here are some tips for enjoying these special events if you’re going to be Walt Disney World or Disneyland, and also some tips for those of you watching the fun from home! While this planning guide is a great primer, if you want a better idea of what to expect during the 24 hour event, I strongly encourage you to read our trip report from 2012′s “One More Disney Day” 24 hour event. Even if you’re not going, there are some pretty photos from the event! This post was originally written for the first party, and it has been updated for each of the two parties since.

Also, check out our general Disneyland Trip Planning Guide and Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide if you’re not a “regular” at either park for more general planning tips. With that said, here are our Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party tips! (more…)

“One More Disney Day” Disneyland Trip Report Pt 5

For previous installments in this Disney trip report, visit its index

Unlike Part 4, which was heavy on text and light on photos, this installment of our “One More Disney Day” Disneyland trip report will be heavier on photos and lighter on words (I can almost hear the collective sighs of relief!).

The caffeine (or the shock from how disgusting it tasted) from the Nescafe gave me exactly the jolt I needed to make it through the rest of the day.  Our next stop was Star Tours; the wait there had finally subsided after being one of the longest waits only a few hours prior. We still had a bit of a wait, but it was well worth it when we saw Shaun White and his entourage in line for the Starspeeder next to us. He was a lot shorter than I expected, and seemed very down to earth as we creepily watched him interact with his friends. Unlike Leonardo DiCaprio, he did not have an escort (at least that we saw–maybe the Cast Member waited outside the attraction?) and was truly just goofing around with friends. Sarah, once again, was very excited to see a celebrity!

After we exited Star Tours we noticed that the end was near! At was around 4:30 am at this point, and the crowds had really started to break up. Given that, we all decided that it was time to start focusing on photos again!

We each headed our own ways at this point, and Sarah and I encountered Henry–unsurprisingly, he had made it to the park! We hadn’t seen him since the previous November, so it was nice to catch up briefly.

Henry had a shot idea for me that he just couldn’t wait to share. Sarah felt that I should ignore him, but I knew the best course of action was to humor him. Sort of like you do with your kid when they offer career or wardrobe advice. “Oh really, you think I should do that? Well, that’s a VERY good idea, thank you for your suggestion!” Here is what his idea yielded:

Not too bad, actually, but a tough shot to get. Definitely would have been better with a longer lens. I guess I can’t give Henry too much grief. Unlike his previous Pirates of the Caribbean queue shot ideas, this one was actually pretty good in concept. I failed a bit on the execution.

We made our way over to “it’s a small world,” which apparently was a meeting ground for every other photographer in Disneyland. A casual passerby probably wondered why the paparazzi were so keen on two dolphin topiaries. Little did they realize that these were celebrity dolphin topiaries!

We moved from dolphins to whale. I prefer manatees, but Disneyland is surprisingly lacking in that department!

From there it was on to the rest of Fantasyland. Sarah did some attractions here while Henry supervised me in photographing the facades of all of the Fantasyland dark rides.  After about an hour of doing this, we joined her for our last attraction of the day, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Fitting, as “One More Disney Day” had been one (toad-filled?) wild ride!

From there it was to the hub to wait for the 6 am announcement. Every hour, on the hour, there had been a countdown announcement that had drawn cheers from the crowd. We expected some real excitement for the 6 am one, so we wanted to be on Main Street for it. This worried me as I thought I might not be able to get to New Orleans Square (where I wanted to photograph the sunrise) afterward, but I was willing to risk it to hear that 6 am closing announcement.

The crowd, unsurprisingly, went nuts at 6 am. It was really cool–and odd–to hear people get so excited when told it was time for them to leave the park. It was certainly unprecedented, as the end of the day is usually not something that guests anticipate with excitement.

As soon as that announcement ended, I darted over to New Orleans Square and the Rivers of America. Luckily, Disneyland didn’t sweep the park right at 6 am. I guess they really couldn’t, as there were still lines of people at Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain, and a few other popular attractions. Plus, some restaurants were still serving right up to close, and they had to cycle those people out.

This area of the park was a veritable ghost town. It was clear that no zombies had actually been here, as this part of the park was basically in pristine condition (how?!) and no longer littered with bodies. After I snapped a few shots here, I decided to head back towards the hub to see if I could do any shooting in Tomorrowland. People were still lingering there, too, so I snapped a few shots.

Then, it was back to the hub to close out my “One More Disney Day.” It was such a beautiful and peaceful morning waiting for that second sunrise.

There are two pages in this post. Check out the conclusion of “One More Disney Day” by clicking Page 2 below!