Hello fellow A.netters, and welcome to my sixth trip report!
“A trip to Disney World? How normal and unexotic,” is what you may be thinking. Well, for me, this was not just “another old” trip to some Disney theme park. While some of my friends go to Disneyland (much closer to home) every year, my family pretty much avoids theme parks; I can’t clearly remember my last experience at one, and I don’t think that’s normal for a kid, in this country at least. But anyways, this trip was not for me: it was for my sister, who last visited Disneyland/World when she was 4, and doesn’t remember a thing. Back to me: what seemed like my first visit to Disney World turned out to be a really great, thrilling experience, and I’ve included some pictures of the parks below.
Now, you may also wonder, “why would someone go to Disney World when Disneyland is an 1hr-long flight away?” Well, supposedly Disney World is of better quality? Anyways, I’m not complaining: for me, visiting Florida is a lot more exciting than California, and I feel “the longer flight the better!” – as in you usually get more amenities. OK, not really on U.S. domestic flights, and maybe spending 5hrs in the back of a low-cost airline’s 737 is not all that great.
In terms of the flights: there are two airlines with nonstop service between Las Vegas and Orlando – Delta and Southwest Airlines. Since this was just going to be a long-weekend trip (for any non-American readers: Monday was President’s Day), we opted for the cheaper option, Southwest Airlines. The departure timings were a bit odd: 5pm departure from LAS and 12am arrival in Orlando, which meant we would probably be in bed by 2-3am. The arrival timings were better: 3pm departure from MCO and a 5:30pm arrival back home. On the return flight, what this report is mainly about, I had an unexpectedly above-average experience: Southwest offered free live TV (on select flights apparently; courtesy Dish Network) and a flight tracker via their WiFi network!
Unfortunately, this trip coincided with a truckload of homework: a group project and twelve paragraphs for a research paper. Oh well, I guess I’ll be up doing work on the plane ride, and probably won’t be interested in taking photos for a report. On the inbound flight, though, I suddenly decided how great it would be to make another report, so started snapping away – and that’s how I got here!
And now, let’s get on with the report. I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to leave a comment.
Note: The first post of this report is about the outbound flight and includes pictures of Disney World. If you are uninterested, the main part of the report, on the inbound flight, can be found in the second post.
When I got home Thursday afternoon, there was less than an hour before we left for the airport. I spent most of that time rushing to digitally submit some assignments due Sunday, and checking on how my group project was coming along. As the pressure built up, I almost didn’t want to leave on vacation – but those feelings were short-lived. After doing some last-minute packing, getting into the car, and turning onto the freeway, I checked our flight status: 25 minute delay.
Eventually we reached the C-Gates concourse, and I can’t remember the last time I was here (we rarely fly Southwest, who totally occupies the C gates). This low-ceiling, crowded concourse sure differs from the newer D-Gates concourse, where I find myself more often. Now we had to pick up some dinner for the flight, which was a disgusting sandwich; I think it had a smear of dijon mustard in it.
On board, I spent a few hours working on my research paper, and a few sleeping. It was quite the uneventful flight, with barely anything to see outside – although, on take-off, we got to fly right over the Strip!
Note: Since I was not planning to make a trip report, I did not bring along my camera, and used my phone’s camera instead. So I do apologize for the poor quality in some of the pictures.
My first experience with the Boeing Sky Interior
Taxiing to the runway; it was a short taxi
You can see pretty much the entire Strip here; the Stratosphere is at the top-right corner
The Rio Hotel and Casino is on the right
It took multiple photos to get the flashing red light to illuminate the wing
Working on my research paper
Taxiing off of the runway
Parked at gate A-122
At 2am, of course the airport was deserted, but it was quite spacious. We still had to pick up our rental car and drive 30min to our hotel, just outside the park. So we walked all the way to where the cars are, but the kiosk there was closed; then we walked back to the terminal, and back again to pick up our car. And we would wake up 5 hours later – bound for the Magic Kingdom!
My time at Disney World was great. I especially enjoyed the Animal Kingdom, where they had an interesting recreation of a fictional Indian town, Anandapur; the level of detail was amazing. My favorite ride was also at the Animal Kingdom: “Expedition Everest,” and, for those who have not experienced this roller coaster ride, I will say nothing more than it is really thrilling.
Here was how we spent our four days (the last day was only a half day, before we left) at the park:
Day 1: Magic Kingdom
Day 2: Animal Kingdom
Day 3: Epcot
Day 4: Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Inspired by the representation of different countries at Disney World, and Uncyclopedia’s article on Disneyland, I will be reporting on my time at the park as if it were a real “journey.” Please try to disregard the (severe) illogical-ness of the story. I hope you enjoy it!
Day 1: Magic Kingdom
We arrived early this morning on Air Magic Flight #279. Luckily, our aircraft was equipped with seat-back screens, so I spent most of the flight watching movies; oddly, only Disney movies were available. After arriving at our hotel, I dozed off for only about 5 hours. When I awoke, it was only a short drive to the city, although there was a security checkpoint we had to pass and a boat ride before we actually reached Magic Kingdom City.
Downtown offered various attractions, including the famed Cinderella’s castle, although elevator service to the top had been suspended due to construction, and the Electric Parade late in the night. There was also the fireworks show that I had forgotten about. All in all I had a great time downtown; unfortunately, we could only spend one day in M.K. City.
Traffic was busy today, as most people decided to just walk on the road
Crossing the Mickelina River
You can see the construction efforts here
These explosions scared me, especially with the security concerns that have arisen; luckily it was only the (wonderful) fireworks display
Our next stop was Harambe, Africa. There are no nonstop flights from M.K. City, so we flew with Air France via Paris-Charles de Gaulle. The Magic Kingdom - Paris leg was operated by a sleek Boeing 777-300ER, but the Paris - Harambe leg was on an aging Airbus A340-300. The experience with Air France was alright, nothing to write home about.
Day 2: Animal Kingdom
We spent a short time in Harambe; the main reason we were stopping here was for our adventurous train journey to Anandapur, India, and eventually to Mount Everest! We at least got to visit Harambe’s main attraction. It was located in Downtown so was easy to find, but, again, the traffic was heavy.
The “Tree of Life”
Our friendly guide then took us to the Harambe Central Train Station, where we boarded our train for Anandapur, making stops in Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Khartoum, Cairo, Tel Aviv, Amman, Baghdad, Tehran, Kabul, Lahore, New Delhi, and finally Anandapur. Of course I thought about flying – after all, Emirates does have thrice-a-day flights to Dubai from Harambe, as well as daily flights to Anandapur on their A330s – but I needed to experience something “different.”
What a long and difficult journey that was – with the scorching deserts, bribery, pirates, bombs, fire, smoke, protests, “security” guards, and times when I thought the train was going to derail and explode – but at least I got to meet some really nice locals and see some beautiful places along the way.
Boarding the train in Harambe
For those who disembarked in Addis Ababa
I picked up some delicious naan, chicken curry, and jasmine rice on the final leg from Delhi to Anandapur:
Finally we arrived in Anandapur. There was a small beverage stall near the train station, which surprisingly sold Coca-Colas.
Then it was time to explore the city. We had quite a bit of time to spend in Anandapur before heading to Mt. Everest. Thankfully we didn’t need to actually hike the mountain; a new train service has been established, although some have remarked that it is poorly constructed and not safe. Oh well, I already paid for the tickets.
Some sitar players welcomed us to Anandapur
Posters outside a (outrageously expensive) tourist shop
An interesting sign
Then it was time for our train ride to the foot of Mt. Everest. Our guide took us to a nearby ancient Indian temple in ruins, and we were truly overjoyed, if not a bit frightened, to see a sleeping Bengal tiger.
It seems the locals have decorated the temple
There was another temple that we explored, just before getting on the train for the summit of Mt. Everest. Let me tell you ... I will never ride that train again. I was shocked to see how dilapadated this “new” ride was; part of the track seemed to have been ripped off! In fact, I left my eyes closed for ¾ of the journey.
Stunning views; you can see a part of the train tracks on the left
We returned to Anandapur towards the evening. There was a new amusement park on the outskirts of the city, which was clearly inspired by Disney theme parks. After that, it was time to head back home, by plane this time. Since we were traveling eastwards over the Pacific, we decided to take a break in Los Angeles and explore Hollywood.
An old sign
At the amusement park
Our transportation to the airport
Departing the Animal Kingdom
Days 3, 4: Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Finally we were back in the United States. But Los Angeles did not look like what I had expected: I couldn’t find the Hollywood sign – only a gigantic golf ball and a magician’s hat on Sunset Boulevard.
That golf ball, and we couldn’t even get inside of it
Some gardens and a lake while we walked to Sunset Blvd.
The new symbol of Hollywood, I suppose
We returned to the giant golf ball at night
[Edited 2014-02-23 16:41:23]