As parents, most of us are familiar with trying to get our kids to try something new. New foods, new clubs, sports or activities are always on our radar and we want our kids to have diverse experiences so they can find out what they like best, what they are good at and what it means to be well-rounded. But do we actually take our own advice? Our family travels to the Walt Disney World Resort often, and our family mantra is “Try something new!” The most amazing aspect of a Disney Parks vacation is that despite all of our trips, there is always something new to check out.
On our last family vacation, however, I came to a realization. I had NEVER, with too many Disney trips under my belt to count, ridden the Astro Orbiter at the Magic Kingdom. Despite it being a Tomorrowland fixture since November 28, 1974 (its previous incarnation was called Star Jets), I had always walked right past the towering white rocket with USA painted in red across its side. In January of 1994, Star Jets underwent a refurbishment and emerged on April 30, 1994 as the planet-themed Astro Orbiter, but I still ignored the ride. I think the original reason for my avoidance was threefold: lines are typically quite long, the ride spins (I also avoid the Mad Tea Party tea cups for this reason) and the actual riding time is very brief (about a minute and a half). It just didn’t seem worth the wait to ride what basically seemed to be similar to the Dumbo The Flying Elephant ride, albeit a lot higher off the ground.
Armed with something to prove and some encouragement from my family, I decided to practice what I preach and take a spin on the Astro Orbiter. Luckily, we hit rope drop and headed to Tomorrowland before the big crowds. While my kids had ridden several times before, my sister-in-law, Sonja, agreed to be my co-pilot for the galactic launch! The wait in line on the ground was minimal due to the early hour and soon we were boarding the small elevator that would transport us to our “new” experience.
DIStracted Tip: For those of you who are claustrophobic, this elevator is small, but it is brief. If you suffer from dizziness, back or neck problems you may want to skip this ride. Children under 7 years must be accompanied by a person age 14 or older to ride. The attraction is handicap-accessible but riders must transfer to ride. Astro Orbiter is not available as a FastPass+ selection.
We boarded our spaceship (two people can ride in the same vehicle) and rocketed up toward the planets orbiting overhead. Each spaceship is equipped with a joystick that allows riders to move up and down, very much like Dumbo the Flying Elephant or The Magic Carpets of Aladdin. The ride itself was pretty tame, but the view of Tomorrowland was amazing and worth the wait. Plus, I was pretty excited just to be testing it out after 35 years of visits to the Magic Kingdom. And in a quick 90 seconds, it was over.
After riding, I started mentioning to other friends and family that I had just ridden the Astro Orbiter for the first time and was amazed to hear that I was not alone … it seems that most people have one or two rides or attractions they have never experienced, despite many opportunities; The Hall of Presidents, Stitch’s Great Escape!, Tom Sawyer Island, even Mickey’s PhilharMagic were titles I heard most often. I think it becomes habit to skip the same attractions over and over, and in our race to enjoy our favorites, we might actually be missing out on some of the Disney magic. So, here is my challenge to you. On your next visit, check out something you haven’t done before. Try it … you’ll like it!
What is the ride you have never tried before, the show you haven’t seen, the attraction you have been avoiding? We would love to hear from you … just comment below!
Please take a moment to sign up for the Magical DIStractions newsletter, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+, so you can be kept up-to-date on all the latest news and articles! Our YouTube channel features videos taken by our team and new videos will be added soon. Believe me when I say, you don’t want to miss a single thing!