Trip Report

Walt Disney World & Universal Orlando

July 11-26, 2009

A trip report and photo highlight from an epic two-week trip to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando in July of 2009.

Traditionally, a summer trip to Florida, whether it's to one of the hundreds of beaches or a visit to the theme parks, is common for many of today's families throughout most of the country.  And today, many of the central Florida visitors are from all over the world, whether they're from Europe, Asia, or even South America.

The summer is one of the busier times of the year for the theme parks.  The crowds aren't quite as intense as they are for the Christmas / New Year's or Easter visits, but it can still get pretty busy at times, especially if you're in the same park as one doing Extra Magic Hours.

The biggest difference between being in central Florida during the summer versus any other time of year is the weather.  As expected, it was hot and humid every single day and the afternoon pop-up thunderstorms wrecked havoc over the theme parks.  The afternoon storms are normal for Florida throughout the summer, but the number of times that we experienced the weather was a bit unusual.  It wasn't normal to experience the storms every single day like what we did during the two week trip.  The plus side of the storms is that I'm a certified weather geek and I have quite a few cool storm pictures that I'll be sharing here on this website and even in this trip report.

Other than the high number of thunderstorms, the trip went along as expected.  It always feels good making the voyage down to Orlando, and coming back home feels just as welcoming at the end of the trip.

A few random thoughts:

- The Kissimmee area as a whole continues to deteriorate, and this includes along 192 just off of Disney property.

- Universal Orlando really needs clear signs on how to go from the parking decks back to I-4.  Advance warning about knowing which lane you'll be needing will really help the flow of traffic (along with a direct road back to the interstate instead of sitting through all of those poorly timed traffic lights).

- "Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure" is a great addition to Epcot and would be perfect in Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios.

- Tomorrowland felt naked without "Space Mountain" or even TTA operating.  The crowds in the Magic Kingdom were mainly in Fantasyland and Frontierland.

- The new version of Universal 360 is still just as bad as the original, and it's a complete waste of time even though the workers continue making announcements for it in the line queue for Revenge of the Mummy.  Unfortunately, Universal will pretty much never have a good nighttime fireworks show until their residential neighbors allow it to happen.

- The new Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit looks like fun.  Too bad it still wasn't open even at the end of the trip.

- The security checkpoints at Disney and Universal are useless, and several security guards are arrogant losers who like to bully people.  This will be covered in more detail later.

- No matter what, people will continue to shoot flash pictures on Pirates of the Caribbean and it's a small world, ruining the experience of the ride for a lot of people.  Save rides like those until the end of the day.  The lines are significantly shorter and most of the people are too tired to talk out loud or use flash photography.

- Many parents are more interested in texting or talking on their cell phone instead of paying attention to their surroundings or even their children.

This trip report is organized a little bit differently than the previous reports.  Going day by day would be too time consuming and rather boring, so instead this report is divided into different sections.  The first part features "what's new" in the Disney and Universal parks.  The next section has general vacation highlight pictures along with comments pertaining to this past trip, and the last two sections deal with animals and the weather.