In Part 1 of our Walt Disney World Fall Trip Recap, I left off with an anecdote about arriving to Magic Kingdom at night via water taxi, and how it was like an oddly utopian scene. In this installment, we pick up once inside the park, riding another quasi-utopian form of transportation: the TTA Peoplemover.
For most of the last year, our ‘success’ riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority has been limited. Of course, we measure success in terms of being able to walk onto the attraction and being able to loop it without getting off, which can only be done if there’s no line. By any other criterion, we’ve had great success with the attraction, riding dozens of times over the course of the year.
This night on the PeopleMover was one of those old school successes, the kind that future Disney fans who have yet to even be born will some day read about in the history books (assuming ‘history books’ is the lingo kids use for ‘trip reports’ in a couple decades).
We started riding at around 8:30 p.m., at which point the TTA had a short line. As compared to what we’ve experienced this year, it was nothing. As we finished our first ride, we noticed there was no line, so it was decision time: do we ask to loop, or do we go grab spots for Happily Ever After? (Presumably, that’s the reason why there was no line.)
We chose wisely, asking the Cast Member if we could loop. (Side note: does anyone else call this “looping” the TTA, or is “re-ride” the more conventional parlance? Side-side note: when requesting to loop TTA, do you start by twirling your index finger in the air, as a baseball umpire would signal a home run before verbally requesting it once you get closer?)
After looping the TTA once more, Happily Ever After began. Which brings us to the main point of this anecdote. In our Happily Ever After Review, I went on a diatribe about how the fireworks show stands on its own without the projections, which shouldn’t be held against it.
I got a decent amount of pushback on that, and I still hear people complain about Happily Ever After being inferior to Wishes because it’s only good when you have a view of Cinderella Castle. This TTA ride (well, rides plural) during Happily Ever After only cemented my belief that the you can miss the projections and still have a ‘complete’ Happily Ever After experience.
Reasonable minds may differ as to whether the soundtrack is as compelling or the show has more or less emotional heft. Those are subjective questions and there can be no definitive answer. (For what it’s worth, I think Happily Ever After’s soundtrack is better, but the show doesn’t tug at the heartstrings to quite the same degree.)
What is not a subjective question is the level of pyro. There is just as much pyro in Happily Ever After as Wishes. In addition to that pyro, there is now more “other stuff” eye candy in the form of lasers, spotlights, and projections. In terms of visuals, I find the position that Happily Ever After is superior to Wishes to be unassailable.
This actually wasn’t some sudden epiphany while riding the TTA, the experience just reminded me of it. I’ve photographed Happily Ever After from New Fantasyland and the Transportation & Ticket Center in the last few months, and have thought the same thing from those locations several times.
As for watching Happily Ever After from the Peoplemover, it was a pretty cool experience.
I did notice that Space Mountain now has graphics on the ‘old’ interactive queue displays. These were turned off when the Play Disney Parks app launched, but this section of the queue was really dark, which I assume is why they’re back.
We love Carousel of Progress, but this scene always makes us chuckle.
I’m betting it’s not something that would be included if the attraction were built today. It’s entirely good-natured, but somewhat awkward if you think about it.
Part of me really wants to see the attraction refreshed and a new final scene added, but another part worries it might do more harm than good.
On an unequivocally positive note, no Tomorrowland dance party is great news for Carousel of Progress fans!
We did Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at night early in the trip, and were allowed to loop it without getting off. We haven’t had that happen in years!
On a related note, the above night scene is a new shot I’m chasing. The version above is fine, but I think I can do much better. I’ll keep you posted on my ‘progress.’
The Plant-based Loaded-slaw Dog at Casey’s Corner is way better than it has any business being. It’s arguably the best thing on the menu.
I’m guessing it doesn’t get ordered much, as Sarah was “warned” that it doesn’t have meat in it when she ordered it. I found that mildly amusing.
Other than this, I didn’t take many photos of Magic Kingdom. The beginning of the trip on non-party nights was the least-crowded we’ve experienced Magic Kingdom in a while (even less-so than in August and September), so we tried to focus on enjoying the park rather than taking photos.
Another night, I photographed HalloWishes from the Transportation & Ticket Center.
You cannot see projection mapping on Cinderella Castle from here, which is probably at least in part because there’s no projection mapping in HalloWishes. Aside from that, the show looks about as good as Happily Ever After looks from here. That is, until you get to the finale, when the perimeter bursts put HalloWishes over the top.
Moving along to Epcot…
After our last trip had a strong focus on Epcot for the start of Food & Wine Festival, we didn’t spend much time there this go-round.
The evenings we did visit, including one for evening Extra Magic Hours, were great–albeit crowded in World Showcase. Accordingly, we spent most of our time in Future World, which was dead.
I really like the Living with the Land load and unload murals (and the queue, for that matter). They have such a warm, comforting style.
Even though these might look “dated” by current standards, I can’t see Disney bothering enough to paint over these (thankfully!). Living with the Land seems to be the one old school EPCOT Center attraction in no danger of being replaced. (Watch an official announcement come out of the blue tomorrow now that I’ve said that…)
Most rumors point to Spaceship Earth and Wonders of Life being the next Future World refurbishment projects. I’m not sure why Journey into Imagination keeps getting bumped from the ‘queue’, but I’m ready for its overhaul.
The current incarnation of the ride is just so sad. I’d absolutely love a version restoring Figment and Dreamfinder to their former glory, but at this point I’ve come to terms with a future that includes neither. It’ll make me sad when that day does actually come (if it comes), but the current ride has hobbled on for too long and is now the longest-running version of the attraction. It’s time for something truly ambitious and imaginative–in some form or another.
We also made a point of revisiting some favorite Epcot International Food & Wine Festival booths during the trip. Here are a few photos of items we tried (again):
So, the Impossible Slider. In our Earth Eats Booth Review, I remarked that it was like a “stale, overcooked meat patty” and further commented that “the best vegan burger isn’t as good as the worst beef burger, but it’s sure a close call here.”
Pretty much every comment on that post disagreed with me, which is why we decided to give this one a second chance. The second time around, the patty was definitely better; not overcooked but still lacking the same tender, juicy quality of beef. Still easily the best vegan/vegetarian burger I’ve ever had, but nothing remarkable.
Sarah, on the other hand, raved about it. She couldn’t believe that it wasn’t meat, and thought it was one of the best items of the entire festival. We tried the exact same burger and our opinions were pretty far from one another, so perhaps it’s just a matter of personal taste?
That’s it for this Walt Disney World trip recap, hope you enjoyed reading it! I started drafting a Part 3 to this, but after nearly finishing it, I realized it was just as much an Animal Kingdom update as a recap of our experiences there, so it’ll probably be titled accordingly.
I know we didn’t cover a ton about our visits to the parks, but between spending a lot of time at the resorts and covering each park individually, there’s not a ton of new ground to cover here. I’m sure we’ll be back to Magic Kingdom and Epcot a lot in November and December, as we absolutely love the atmosphere at both parks during the holiday season, especially Main Street in Magic Kingdom. As for Epcot, this might be our last chance to see the World War III “Peace” on Earth tag, and I want to take full advantage as I love that ending to IllumiNations.
Are you a Happily Ever After hater, or do you prefer it to Wishes? Are you a TTA looper…or re-rider? Other feedback on this Walt Disney World trip recap? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!