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Mike’s 50th Trip to Siesta Key, Disney’s Boardwalk, Universal and New York, June 2014 - Part 6

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Mike, Jul 1, 2014.

  1. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    DAY 6 – Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Downtown Disney, La Nouba and Raglan Road

    I have a pretty good night (for me) and although I wake briefly for the loo around 5:00, I fall asleep again until 6:15. We are up and out by 6:45, strolling to the Boardwalk Bakery for breakfast. This isn't a favourite, but is convenient given the timescale (we don't want a full service meal and haven't got time to go off site today. We buy two breakfast sandwiches and two coffees at a cost of $22.

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    We eat at a table near the Bakery to eat. It’s a fairly dull morning, but finally dry after overnight rain.The coffee is good but the sandwiches are a bit stodgy. Not got time for a full circuit of the lake, so we stroll the length of the resort and back before heading to our room at 7:30 for showers. By 8:05 we are presentable and had off along the pleasant 'river' path to Disney's Hollywood Studios (or MGM as I like to call it!)

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    It's a warm start to the day, with broken cloud and some blue in the sky. We arrive at the park entrance before 8:30 and join the lines already forming.

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    Disney seem to have relaxed their attitude to timekeeping a bit, and we are admitted at 8:50. I presume there will be a rope -drop hold at the end of the street as in the past, but no.

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    We walk briskly round to the right and head straight to the Rock n Roller Coaster. Ah, this is where normal routines are applied! They don't allow admission to the building until 9:00 exactly.

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    It only takes us 10 minutes or so to reach the loading area and, after enjoying this, one of our old favourites, we are back outside by 9:20. The standby line is already 60 minutes, which kills off any chance of a quick repeat, as I won't wait for anything that takes longer than 20 minutes in line.

    We head back round the corner to Tower of Terror. The standby line is at 25 minutes, so we use our now open Faspasses (9:15-10:15 slot) to ride with no wait.

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    In and out by 9:35, having once again enjoyed this superb and unique attraction.

    Sadly the new Magic Bands and Fastpass Plus regime seems to have scotched our usual plan of dashing to the machines, getting passes then riding on standby. That or it's simply busier than we've experienced before. Ah well, two good rides in 30 minutes isn't bad, and we stroll back towards Mickey's Hat and around Echo Lake to The Muppetvision theatre for 9:50.

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    We are straight in, catching the new and amusing pre-show, and seated in the middle of a half-full auditorium for this dated but funny show. There are quite a few bits I'd completely forgotten.

    We leave the show at 10:20, to hazy sunshine and increasingly hot temperatures. We walk down the Streets of America, with the clever perspective-view effects,

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    … and round to Pixar Lane, which is like an oven and very busy. The standby line for Toy Story Mania is 65 minutes (I wouldn't wait that long for free beer!) but we walk straight in with our Fastpass reservations. We're pretty pathetic overall, posting scores of 70,900 (Amanda) and 114,200 (me) but it is undoubtedly great fun! I'm not sure I'd want to do it several times back to back though, as it is quite frenetic!
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    Out at 10:40, we restroom and walk across to the Indiana Jones show, arriving at 10:55. It is virtually full, but we get reasonable seats on the right side of the middle blocks.

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    I'll be sad when this show eventually goes, but it is almost past its sell-by date. The last time we came I was picked as a crowd extra, and ended up having to fake an over the top death scene! Too hot for that today, thanks, and we sit to watch the show.

    We leave the theatre at 11:50, feeling peckish, and choose the nearby Backlot Express. I'm not over keen on the fast food at MGM, sorry, DHS, but the chili dog and grilled veggie sandwich we select (with fries, and costing $19.69, charged to the Magic Band) are actually very tasty. By the time we've fished eating, the place is rammed, with several large tour groups having arrived together just after us.

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    One FP+ left now! for Star Tours. The standby line is about 30 minutes but of course we waltz right in. My kids used to like this, but I'd got a bit bored with it I've the years, so we're delighted to discover it has been completely revamped, with a fresh story line, 3D effects and great graphics! Really enjoy this.

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    It's now 12:35 and we are pretty much done for today, as we have completed our favourites and still have a busy day ahead. We stroll back along the waterside path to the Boardwalk,

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    …. having a quick peek at the Luna Pool area and the Wyland Gallery store on the way.
     
  2. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    Some distant thunder can be heard, and the atmosphere is becoming very sultry as we arrive back in our room at 1:05pm. The thunderstorm soon arrives, emptying the pool below. We rest and change for the afternoon and evening. By the time we leave the hotel at 2:20 the sun is shining once more, but by the time we arrive at Epcot rain is falling once more. The umbrella is getting a lot of use, but we are glad we're not relying on sweaty ponchos. We enter the park, and walk through to Starbucks, spending some time enjoying a coffee and watching the fountain play.

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    My (flawed) plan was to walk through Epcot, for the simple pleasure of it, and use Disney transport to get to Downtown. However, I had forgotten that the buses don't run between the parks and DTD, so we are advised to take the next bus to Port Orleans and change there. After about 10 minutes my patience evaporates and we decide to take a cab instead. This is quick, taking less than 10 more minutes, and cheap enough at $11 including tip.

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    It's raining again, although not heavily. We wander the shops, including the Silver jewellers, Disney and Harley stores, then head down to the Wolfgang Puck Express for a snack. Amanda has a slice of cheesecake, I have a brownie. $9.59. It's 4:30pm. I text our friends, Hayley and Dave, who are flying out to New York today. They landed at 3:30, and we're through immigration and into their cab by 4:00pm! Result. We are meeting them in NYC next week.

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    We meander on, browsing the odd store. Downtown Disney is in the middle of a substantial rebuilding scheme at the moment, and it is far less attractive as a result. Many of the formerly open vistas across the lake and other parts of the site are hidden behind tall hoardings. We decide to rest up for a while and settle in at the Hole in the Wall bar/courtyard at the back of Raglan Road.

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    Because of the earlier rain (it’s fine again now, somewhat cloudy, but dry and bright) most of the tables are a bit damp, so we sit at the bar with 2 other couples. I order a Sam Adams, Amanda has a glass of Sauv Blanc. We spend a happy hour here, having another round (this time in glass glasses, hoorah!) and the barmaid offers to take our photo. It’s a good people-watching spot, and the bar tables gradually fill up.

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    At 5:50 we pay the bill ($27) and head towards La Nouba. It seems remarkably quiet as we enter the theatre, and make our way to our row: we are held briefly at the stairs, due to performers using the walkways inside….and it dawns on me, with much embarrassment, that we are LATE!!! I have an almost pathological horror of being late, and am invariably early for everything. Basically I had always thought the show started at 6:30 (never thinking to read the tickets!) and so we have missed the first couple of minutes! Doh!

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    We do the outcast shuffle along the row to our seats, treading on a few feet along the way. The guy next to my seat is about 30 stone, with a large tray of refreshments balanced precariously on his ample lap, and I end up on very intimate terms with him as I squeeze past!

    Drama over, we sit to enjoy the show. I LOVE Cirque du Soleil, and have seen several of their touring shows in the UK, and this one probably 5 times. Over the years we have had various seats, mostly in the (expensive) premium sections to the very front and sides of the stage. As the top tickets are now $150+, and as the different sets have always afforded good views, we decided to penny pinch this time and have gone for the absolute cheapest (I think we paid less than $60 each) in the top tier of the very left hand rows, Block 201.

    It turns out to have been a great move. We can see virtually all the stage, side on, and have a different perspective with lots more detail than from directly in front. The trapeze act and the finale with the trampolines particularly are much more compelling and dramatic from this angle!

    Overall, the show is very familiar, but there have obviously been changes in the years since our last visit, and we are pleased to see several new elements. The time flies by and we are soon leaving. It’s 7:35, still fine and warm. We use the restrooms under the entrance steps (and vow never to drink beer again before a long show, I’ve been crossing my legs for an hour!).

    Because of my senior moment regarding the show time, our ADR at Raglan Road is not until 8:30, so we walk slowly in the general direction, pausing to admire the sunset and to take photographs.

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    We enter the reception early, at about 8:20 and receive a pager. There’s a small ‘Oirish’ Gift Shoppe to the side, which occupies us for about a minute – we are good for plastic leprechauns and shillelaghs thank you – so we go back outside to watch the evening sky while we wait.

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    The pager sounds at 8:35 and we are shown to a table in the rear dining room. I hadn’t appreciated just how big this place is! There is a large, central bar, with an adjacent stage (on which an Irish folk group are performing) but most of the space is taken up with dining rooms and alcoves. Personally I prefer not to be subjected to very loud music while eating or chatting, so the position of our table is perfect, with the band simply providing background noise.
    Our server introduces himself and gives us menus. He takes our drinks order (Sam Adams and Sauv Blanc again) and leaves us to study the menu.

    Amanda decides on “It’s Not Bleedin’ Chowder!” (Fish and potato, er.. chowder!) while I pick Schnitzel Savvy (breaded and seared ham, smoked bacon baked beans, a fried egg and chips) with a side of onion rings.

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    The food arrives reasonably promptly. It’s very tasty and we enjoy the meal. Several, mixed reviews (some from friends) had us wondering whether this was a good bet or not, but we are satisfied with the service and atmosphere tonight. We had planned to have dessert tonight, but the entrees are large enough that we don’t really have room! How anyone could eat a 3 course dinner here is beyond me, and I can eat!

    We ask for the check ($72), pay and leave about 9:40pm. It’s drizzling (again!) although it more or less stops before we reach the bus stop behind the Rainforest Café. An Epcot Resort area bus is already waiting, and we’re soon on our way.

    The Swan & Dolphin is the first stop, so we get off and wander into the foyer for a brief recce before our meal here tomorrow. We walk slowly back over the bridge, to ‘our’ Boardwalk, and up to the room by 10:30.

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    Tired but not ready for bed, we sit out on the balcony with a nightcap until 11:30.

    Goodnight everyone.

    Mike & Amanda x

    TOMORROW – Friday the 13th… mwahh-ha-ha!!! Oh, and we do Bob Evans, Seaworld, Mall at Milennia, Garden Grove, Magic Kingdom & WISHES.
     
  3. Watchinherskip
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    Watchinherskip Better known as "That Guy"

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    Mike, there are some really good photos here. You did this with your phone? Wow.
     
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  4. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    Actually I thought today's pics were a bit rough, we didn't take that many because of the rain so it was slim pickings, but yes, all the images on the report are from our iphone 5's :)
     
  5. sarah
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    sarah Addicted to Mickey

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    I have enjoyed reading your latest post
    What will I read before bed when you have finished your trip report?!?!?!?!
     
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  6. keith
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    keith Camera nut Staff Member Administrator Forum Host

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    I agree, I'm really enjoying them all. It's like being there except you seem to get to a lot more places than I do!
     
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  7. Mags
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    Mags Serious Forum Regular

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    Another great day Mike. I agree with you, it is always going to be MGM! I love Amanda's hat BTW! I am surprised that you didn't stop off at Writer's Stop in MGM for coffee. Have you ever done it before?
    Can't believe that you fitted so much into your day yet again. :)
     
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  8. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    Lol at the hat Mags! :D I was a bit worried it might be too big, but it seems I fit a treat! ;)
    No, never done the coffee stop at MGM... we always seem to be on a ride mission there, then escape to quieter climes.
    You watching the footy tonight bud? Cheering for the Argies I expect? ;)
     
  9. Mags
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    Mags Serious Forum Regular

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    Mike, you are missing a treat if you haven't tried Writer's Stop. It is a little oasis of calm in MGM and has always served real coffee while other venues have been plying us with a leprous distillment of filth! lol It also sells darned good cookies and muffins not found elsewhere. As for the football, you know my loyalties full well. Go Germany! I feel a bit guilty as you know because my good friend who is Argentinian will have to have my posts on FB hidden from her. :(
     
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  10. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    Ha ha!!! I am going to break the habit of a month and actually watch a World Cup match tonight... Not seen one yet!! And I'll be cheering the Germans on.

    Re the Writers Stop, we'll definitely look in if/when we're back in Orlando. Been chatting today during our walk in Derbyshire, and both of the mind that our next trip is likely to be a week in New York, followed by a week in 'our' cottage on Siesta Key, with just one WDW night sandwiched in between, so we can do Celebration, Epcot, Illuminations and Jellyrolls. As we feel now, reflecting on the recent trip, we could both skip the rest of WDW, even Universal/IOA. We'd get our coaster fix at Busch Gardens. We'll see! :)
     
  11. Wendy
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    Wendy A hui hou kakou makuakane Staff Member Administrator

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    Writer's Stop is a must :yes: and I'm another one that still calls it MGM :D
     
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  12. Mags
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    Mags Serious Forum Regular

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    It is an oasis of calm in MGM. The coffee is good, the food is good, it is never crowded and the staff is always pleasant and will take time to chat. Let's hope that the estate agency business is so good in the next few years Mike that there will be another trip in the offing.

    Mags
     

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