Theme Park Snapshot – May 4, 2011


I’m here in Orlando for a few days, spending a little time with some family I haven’t seen for a while, so I thought I’d share with you all a quick snapshot of the sights and sounds around the parks. Of course, these impressions of mine are very subjective and limited to just what I’ve experienced first-hand, but as a Disney-obsessed person, I know that I always like to see a little bit of what’s going on in the World when I’m not there — I hope you do, too!

I left rainy, chilly Washington DC early Wednesday morning. A short two hours later after an uneventful flight, I was in sunny Orlando, where the temperature was already 73, on its way to the sultry 80s! That’s what I call WINNING!


I made my way to my hotel and checked in, but unfortunately, my room wasn’t ready yet. So I made a quick change in the restroom, shedding my jeans and sweater for shorts and a t-shirt, then checked my bags and headed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to meet up with my aunt and assorted cousins.


As I passed through the turnstiles, I found that they were waiting for the start of the Beauty and the Beast show, so I ran down Sunset Boulevard to meet up with them. Along the way, I couldn’t help but notice all the Citizens of Hollywood that were out and about, delighting the relatively light crowds.


I reached the theater and reunited with my family — so good to see them — and we watched a lovely performance of the Beauty and the Beast Show. I’ve seen this show countless times and it just never gets old. The vividness of the costumes, the uplifting music, the fun choreography, and of course the beautiful voices of the cast — I always feel like I’ve made a quick trip to Broadway after seeing this special show.


After the show, everyone was ready for a quick bite, so we strolled over to the Backlot Express. The Jedi Training Academy was in process, so I stopped to watch for a bit, and walked around the still-closed Star Tours attraction. Because it was so-called “Star Wars Day” (May the Fourth — as in, “May the Force be with you…”), there had been rumors that there might be a soft-opening for the much-anticipated renovated Star Tours, but I didn’t see any signs of that. That’s not to say there wasn’t any activity in the area, however — I spotted a group of cast members who I believe are Imagineers, making a visual inspection of the attraction’s exterior, taking notes on a clipboard. I can’t wait until this attraction reopens — and I’ll be down there when it does on May 20!


In general most of the other attractions we saw that afternoon were walk-ons — crowds were very manageable. We walked right into Muppet Vision, and waited only about 5 minutes at the Backlot Tour, where things were as Catastrophic as usual.


My cousins were even able to get a Fastpass at Toy Story Mania around 11 a.m. — granted their return time was until 6 p.m., but normally Fastpasses are long gone for TSM by 11 a.m. The standby wait time for Toy Story Mania was about 50 minutes when we walked past after lunch — of course, that’s too long, but still, I’m used to seeing it at 70
minutes or more.

Since I still had to check in properly at my hotel, I said goodbye to my cousins around 4 p.m., with plans to meet up with them again Thursday.

But my day was far from over, as I also was meeting my aunt and her fiancee for dinner in Epcot!

I had a little time before meeting up with them, so I wandered around to see the topiaries that hadn’t been in place when I was in Epcot back in March at the begining of the Flower and Garden Festival.



We had dinner at La Hacienda, in the Mexico pavilion, my first time there. The restaurant is beautiful inside, with a lovely view of World Showcase lagoon. We tried a couple of the specialty margaritas — my aunt really enjoyed her rose-infused “Rosita” — and thoroughly
enjoyed our meals. I had the roast pork with mole, which I thought was very good.



After indulging in dessert, we waddled out of there, and my aunt and her fiancee left. I originally planned to stay in the park for IllumiNations, but the long day was catching up with me, so I started the walk back to my hotel. I stopped on the bridge at the Boardwalk and saw most of the aerial fireworks from there, so I didn’t learn whether the inferno barge was back in service (I’d heard it had been out earlier in the week).

I returned to the room exhausted, then glanced at my pedometer. Ah, that would explain it. 18,815 steps. For me that’s about 8.9 miles. I think I earned my early night.

Debra Martin Koma wrote about food, travel and lifestyle issues for a number of local and national publications before she fell in love with Walt Disney World on her first visit — when she was 34! She's returned to her Laughing Place more times than she can count in the ensuing years, and enthusiastically shares her passion with readers of AllEars.Net and AllEars®. Deb also co-authored (along with Deb Wills) PassPorter's Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line, a travel guide designed for all travelers to Walt Disney World who may require special attention, from special diets to mobility issues.

Find me on: Facebook

6 Replies to “Theme Park Snapshot – May 4, 2011”

  1. Deb,

    Let me know what you thought about Wild Africa Trek. I was sweatin’ bullets but I thought it was well worth it. Now I want to do more behind the scenes tours (although I think this one will top any others)

  2. Hi, I was also there on May 5th! We arrived about noon also (same as Penny.) The crowds were pretty light but we still didn’t get to do Toy Story. If I had gotten a fast-pass it would’ve been with a return time of 6:30 to 7:00 and I knew we wouldn’t still be there that late.
    I had thought about seeing Beauty & the Beast but it didn’t work out so we’ll be sure to catch it next time.
    This may sound silly, but…whenever I read about someone having enjoyed their trip to Disney and how wonderful it was to spend that precious, quality time with family…it gives Me a great feeling just the same as if it had been me & my family.
    I’m genuinely glad you had a great time. ~ Johnny.

  3. Hi Deb,
    Glad you had fun.
    I just got back myself from a 4 day quicky vacation. I went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Thursday May 5 around noonish and the time for the Toy Story standby line also said 50 mins but it took me 30 from start to finish. As I left they had changed the wait time to 40 mins. Since the park closed early that day and there was no Fantasmic, there was a fairly light crowd so my wait time for rides was minimal. Something to think about for future visits!
    I did the Wild Animal Trek on Tuesday @ Animal Kingdom Park and that was fantastic!! Jason and Aaron were our guides and they were great. Aaron was a treasure trove of knowledge and Jason was just fun sweet guy. Had dinner @ Kouzzina’s and Sanaa. I recommend both.
    I miss the parks already!

    Deb Koma replies: Hi Penny! I’m scheduled to do the Wild Africa Trek next week — really looking forward to it! And Sanaa is one of my absolute favorites, a real hidden gem. Thanks for the tips!

  4. We were in Epcot April 8-11 and the Tow Mater topiary was not sitting next to Lightning McQueen! I wish he had been, because he’s one of my favorites off of that movie. Also, Lilo was missing off the Lilo and Stitch Topiary. There was a spot for her, she just wasn’t in it. Did you happen to notice if she had been placed there? Thanks for sharing your day!

    Deb Koma replies: Sorry, I didn’t notice the missing Lilo — though I do recall seeing Stitch. Not sure if Lilo was meant to be alongside him, or not.

  5. You just reminded me to get a pedometer ready for our 2 week September trip (I’m looking forward to meeting you during the trip) – I just made our ADRs, so I need to do plenty of walking 🙂

    Deb Koma replies: I’ll look forward to meeting you as well thanks! And I should have added that I walked about 16,700 steps my second day. A mere 6.95 miles!

  6. Hi Debra,
    Thanks for the great pictures. How often do you get to visit The World? I am so jealous!!!We went twice last year (which is unusual) so (big sigh) we are not going this year:-(
    Enjoy your time there!

    Deb Koma replies: Hi Christine. I’m lucky enough to get to WDW at least 5-6 times a year, but usually my trips are fairly short. This last trip was just two nights. But I’ll be back in two weeks for the reopening of Star Tours! Can’t wait for that!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *