Rides with Friends with Shalon

This week’s Rides with Friends is by Shalon Given and features pictures by Chris Ridgeway (who has another amazing Walt Disney World blog http://www.growingupdisney.com).

I hope that you enjoy it!!!!

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An essential part of any trip to Disney World is hitting a few rides.  Although I love so many of the rides and could do them any time day or night I always have the most fun when I get to share a ride with a friend….or twenty.  Much to my delight Disney announced they would be doing a special pass holder event to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Expedition Everest.  Without even thinking I signed up for the event mainly because it was occurring after the park closed and being in Animal Kingdom after sunset is a rare treat.  There were several meet ups during the day inside Animal Kingdom leading up to the event and this allowed new and old friends to connect and plan out our attack for the evening’s festivities.

Once the time came for the parks normal closing hours we all headed for the entrance to get our special wrist bands for the event.  Within minutes we were all rushing to get the first ride of the night in on Everest.  Knowing this event was limited to a smaller group we couldn’t wait to see how many rides we could get in that night.  The first ride of the night was fun with several familiar faces, but at this time the crowds were still a little heavy.  To break up the night we decided to bounce between Everest and Dinosaur which was also open for the event.

The view from the top of Expedition Everest!

As we headed over to the Dinoland area we were greeted with the growing sound of dance music as we got closer and closer.  Much too many of our delights Disney had set up a mini dance party area with a DJ, lights and free goodies.  On several of our journeys between the two rides that night we stopped for a dance break.  This may not count as a “ride” but I definitely took away some great memories from dancing with all of my friends in the park.  After we got our groove on it was time to take on Dinosaur.

Party People!!!

Being that Dinosaur holds fewer guests than Everest we were able to secure a vehicle with all of our friends occupying it.  Of course we had all been on this ride numerous times so we tend to try and find new ways to “spice” it up.  This came in forms of grown men screaming like school girls and everyone doing their best “I’m scared to death” faces when the big Dino roars at us.  Needless to say we had a few very memorable photo ops from those rides.


As the sun finally set we decided to head back over to Asia to get a ride that most of us had never experienced, Expedition Everest at night.  Many people know that for the past few years the large Yeti audio animatronic hasn’t been working properly.  These days he sits motionless in the mountain with only fans blowing his fur and strobe lights illuminating him.  Because of this many Disney fans have affectionately nick named him, Disco Yeti.  On this last and final ride of the night I believe the entire Everest train was filled with familiar faces.  Since we all knew each other we were much more comfortable “goofing” off on the ride without fear of ruining it for a first timer.  I was lucky enough to sit in the very front seat on this ride and as we started up the first small light hill a light bulb went off.  Since it was night time the entire ride was basically pitch black, the only lights we’d see would come from the aforementioned “Disco Yeti”.  Thanks to technology I quickly pulled out my iPhone and turned on a strobe light app I had and pointed it towards all my friends riding on the train behind me, which was instantly followed by laughs of my nearby passengers.  We had successfully boarded the first disco train in Disney history!  This night and that particular ride on Everest will go down as one of my most memorable and cherished Disney memories thanks to all my wonderful friends.

The gang on Expedition Everest earlier in the night.

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As always, if you are interested in sharing your ‘Rides with Friends’ story and pictures, please feel free to drop me a line at shelley@onthegoinmco.com!!!

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Rides with Friends – A First Ride with Zoe

The thing that I was the MOST excited about when we decided to move to Orlando was not having to endure a few months or even a year of waiting for Zoe’s next Disney Milestone. She got her first haircut at the Harmony Barber Shop, she rode The Barnstormer as her first roller coaster, and learned that fairy tales come true when she met the Fairy Godmother as her first character experience.

Goofy's Barnstormer Zoe First Ride

And while Zoe is a lover of all the mountains (Space, Thunder, and Splash), there was one thrill that she still had on her list (that she is tall enough to ride)…The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

So after months of debating, she finally agreed to ride The Tower of Terror!

We walked the queue in silence sharing quick glances, waiting for her to chicken out. Then as we walked through the lobby, we realized that it was really going to happen we all got nervously excited. As the preshow “movie”, as Zoe called it, ended she led us to the elevators. After being strapped in, she took a death grip on both mine and Dave’s hands…and the rest is history!

Tower of Terror Zoe First Ride

I hope that you all enjoy sharing the terror and joy that was Zoe’s first ride on Tower of Terror!!!

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Rides with friends by Betsy (@Floridamingo)

It has been called many things over the years: WEDWay PeopleMover, Tomorrowland Transit Authority, the Blue Line, Highway in the Sky, and now Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover (or TTAP as I affectionately call it). This beloved attraction that traverses the upper levels of Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom is one of my favorites. Sure, it isn’t as exciting as Space Mountain, doesn’t promote the competion of Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, or inspire the singalong that is There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow on Carousel of Progress (well, unless you’re amongst my friends), but it is a classic.

For those not familiar with TTAP, let me give you a little run down. The ride is a relatively slow moving, open air tram ride (think elevated train a la the “L” in Chicago, sort of). Its station is located on the second story of Rockettower Plaza, pretty much smack in the middle of Tomorrowland. You travel up an elevated moving walkway to the loading platform where cars are constantly moving, slowing down just enough to allow people to board. The cars comfortably seat four adults, but Cast Members have been known to occasionally squish in another if you are a party of five (not fun, trust me). Once you have boarded, you zip off to ride around and through several of the ride buildings in the land. The aerial view is incredible, especially at night.

View of Cinderella Castle from TTAP

So why do I love TTAP? Let me count the ways … 1) it is a fun ride that allows you to see most of the attractions of Tomorrowland, typically without any wait 2) even in the heat of the day, it is often a cool ride since the track is covered and you travel inside air conditioned buildings 3) I like hearing the page for Mr. Tom Morrow 4) the view of the Castle is unique and is a pretty cool photo op, but probably my favorite is 5) you can carry on a conversation with your friends/family while riding.

Some of my favorite park memories have been on TTAP. After having only met the illustrious Shelley Caran once before, our friendship was forged after a couple of memorable back to back rides in December. While Space Mountain was being repainted, we caught a glimpse of a worker taking a nap on the side of the building. After forgetting to snap a picture when we re-emerged from SM, we decided we needed to ride again. This was the beginning of many TTAP rides together, and a beautiful friendship.

Painter on Space Mountain - missed the pic of him taking a nap

Another favorite ride was the trip with my best friend, her husband and daughter, Katie. This was Katie’s first trip and we finally got to ride TTAP on the last day of our trip. I have been known to be a bit of a goofball and to act like a big kid, so when I go around bends in the ride, I throw my arms up in the air and yell “wheee!” I taught this tradition to Katie and even got the whole family to embrace it on our trip around the Highway in the Sky. They loved it and it provided me with some of my favorite pictures of the trip.

Now as for the whole conversation thing, I have certainly had some interesting ones on TTAP. Almost everything has been brought up from what has been your favorite thing you’ve done of your trip so far to the existence of God and philosophical and theological discussions that ensued. I tend to favor the more laid back conversations, or even the singing in the round. A few of my friends have a tradition of singing the song “There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” one word at a time sung by each person. This can be quite humorous, based on the varying degrees of singing talent and whether or not you remember your word when it is your turn. We’ve also played the alphabet game when we go around and have to name a Disney ride or character that starts with each letter of the alphabet.

Friends deep in conversation while riding

TTAP is different each time based on who you are riding with at the time. I’ve had some truly epic and unforgettable rides, but there have been some I’d also choose to forget. The thing is, no matter what your motivation for riding, the scenery will never be exactly the same. Sure, the view is pretty much the same, but you may not look at the same thing from the same angle each time. The people watching from above is always entertaining. Then, of course, there is the audio track that accompanies the ride if all else fails. I hope you all will take a look at the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover and see that it doesn’t just move people, but it can bring people together. So, whether you ride it to take a break from the sweltering heat, to get out of the rain, just to sit for a spell without having to wait in line first, or if you want to have a conversation with some friends, show the TTAP some love next time you’re in the Magic Kingdom and I can almost guarantee you won’t regret it.

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