It’s the start of summer, time for our (now) annual Memorial Day Weekend trip to Disney! We had planned this back in January before my daughter went back to school since this would be our only opportunity to all go together before our annual passes go into the summer blackout period and my daughter heads to a summer language program in Vermont at the end of June.
We hit the road over to Orlando early, right after lunch, hoping to avoid the inevitable holiday traffic. As usual, that turned out to be a pipe dream (how have we not learned this yet?) and it took us just under two and half hours to get over there. At least our hotel room at the Pop Century resort was available by then so we were able to drive right to the hotel and go straight to our room to unpack. After settling in, we decided to take a bus over to Disney Springs for dinner, but while we were waiting my daughter found an open reservation at Topolino’s Terrace at the Riviera resort so we left the line and instead took the Skyliner over to the Riviera and had a very nice family dinner there instead of dealing with the craziness at Disney Springs. We hadn’t stayed at the Pop Century since back in 2010 and chose it for this trip due to the Skyliner which would make it easy to get to both Hollywood Studios and Epcot over the weekend and already it was proving to be a good decision. After dinner, we took a bus from the Riviera to Disney Springs to walk around, get some after dinner drinks (from Polite Pig, our favorite bar there), do some shopping, and picked up breakfast for tomorrow morning (Everglazed, of course) before bussing back to Pop Century.
Saturday morning we hopped on the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios. The replacement of FastPass with the (paid) Lightning Lane and Genie+ services has really messed with our habits and I’m still not completely sold (ha, $$$) on Disney’s new line management systems. Being at the parks early helps, though. We immediately got in line for Slinky Dog Dash and in under an hour had ridden both that coaster and Toy Story Mania. We also waited in the standby lines for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railroad and Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Roller Coaster, and even got in at the last minute (standing room only) to watch the Indiana Jones Stunt Show (which is finally back after being shut down during the pandemic). After that we had reservations for lunch at Oga’s Cantina in Galaxy’s Edge (the first time my daughter had been there), quickly rode Smuggler’s Run (thanks to the single rider line), and then waited in the standby line for Rise of the Resistance. That was our longest line of the day, at just under two hours, but that ride is so worth it. My daughter and I also rode Star Tours, completing the Star Wars ride trifecta. By then it was mid-afternoon so we hopped back on the Skyliner for a quick stop at the hotel to freshen up, then Skyliner’ed (is that a new verb?) our way over to Epcot for the evening. We used the standby lines again (which weren’t too bad) for Soarin’, Test Track (single rider), and Ratatouille. Then we walked around the world sampling the food from the Flower and Garden Festival, watched Thelma Houston perform, and watched the Harmonius evening fireworks show before jumping back on the Skyliner to the hotel. Quite a successful day!
Back in April, the Passholder Preview for the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind rollercoaster at Epcot had started but they “sold out” almost immediately so we weren’t able to ride early. The official opening day was Friday of this weekend (two days ago), so we were hoping to snag a spot in the virtual queue at least once over the weekend. We had park reservations for Epcot on both Sunday and Monday in order to maximize our chances. At 7am on Sunday morning we were all in the Disney app on our phones and I managed to snag a spot in the virtual queue with an estimated ride time of 2:30pm, nice! Having already ridden most of the rides we wanted to yesterday, we took our time before heading over to Epcot. Our virtual queue boarding party was finally called and we got to experience the new roller coaster. It’s amazing! My daughter and I had actively avoided any spoilers … no reading articles on the internet, avoiding all news stories, etc. so we would go in without knowing anything, and wow I’m glad I did. It is such a cool ride and is now easily my top attraction at Disney. After the ride, since it was past park-hopping time (2:00pm), we tried to take the monorail over to Magic Kingdom but found it was closed! Instead we had to take a bus over to the ticket and transportation center and then ride the ferry across the lagoon. There were some storms in the area (we heard the thunder but it never rained) so a lot of the outdoor rides were closed and the park seemed really crowded (which is typical of Magic Kingdom anyway). We were really there for the fireworks, though, so as the evening wore on we scoped out a spot on Main Street USA and just chilled while the crowd filled in around us. My daughter hadn’t seen the new Enchantment show, though, so we dealt with the crowds (mostly family with tired kids from a long, hot day at the park). Instead of going out of the park after the show (as most people were doing), we went back into the park (since it was open late) to ride a few more rides before heading back to the hotel on the bus.
Monday morning we woke up early again to attempt another virtual queue entry for Cosmic Rewind but didn’t get one this time. Maybe the system knew we had already gotten one yesterday? We weren’t able to switch our park reservation so we were stuck with Epcot until 2pm. This time, however, we noticed there was an additional virtual queue that was going to open at 1pm, but you had to be in the park. Since we had to check out of the hotel anyway, we decided to drive to Epcot this time so we could just hit the road home when we were ready. 1:00pm was crazy … it was like everyone in the park stopped and was on their phone trying to get into the queue. It reminded me of trying to get into Rise of the Resistance when it first opened: people were cheering or groaning as they tried to get a spot. We lucked out and got one, this time with an estimated time of 4:30pm! No spoilers here, but the ride just gets better every time you ride it. Afterwards, we did one more loop around the world for dinner, watched the Little River Band, and then headed out. It was later than we usually head home at the end of a three day weekend, but overall we had a great time. I am Groot! 🙂