I had last been to DisneyWorld about 15 years ago with an old girlfriend. We spent a long weekend in Florida taking one day for the Magic Kingdom, one day for Epcot, and one day we drove out to Cape Kennedy to tour the museum there. We were content.
This time, with my family, was a totally different experience. Planning with an eleven year old in mind put a totally different spin on our visit. Kyle’s mother and step-father wanted to go as well, so we invited them to come with us. Five people, two poodles and about 240 square feet of Aluminum goodness. Sounds fun, right? Hey… Disney World is the happiest place on earth.
Our first stop was to the Disney website to make reservations and buy our Park Hopper passes. For the uninitiated, Park Hoppers allow you to see more than one park in a day with return privileges to any of the parks previously visited that day. Since we were going in our Airstream so we made reservations at Fort Wilderness campgrounds. All of this was done about six months in advance.
Our next stop was to our friends from church, Gregg and Sherrye, a couple who have been to Disney roughly 45 times in the last five years. We asked for some advice and their first words were, “Reconcile yourselves right now to the fact that you won’t be able to do it all.”. They were right. Planning is key. Decide what you want to see and plan accordingly. It turned out that Greg and Sherri also went the same week that we did. So in addition to seeing them at Sunday morning services at the Main Gate congregation, we also ran into them at Magic Kingdom. It’s a small world after all.
We spent eight days at Disney. With Kyle working in the mornings, Kathryn and I went out and then met him in the afternoons. Here was our schedule:
Saturday: We arrived around 2:00 pm for check-in at Fort Wilderness. After getting set up, we absonded for the Magic Kingdom.
Kathryn liked the Mad Tea Party almost as much as riding the Tilt-A-Whirl with Emma at Lakeside Amusement Park.
Kyle managed to drag Kathryn into Space Mountain by not telling her what the ride was. I’m sure at some point he’ll be able to stop sleeping with one eye open….. maybe….
On Sunday, after attending church services with Main Gate church of Christ, we headed over to Animal Kingdom.
Animal kingdom is essentially a zoo with some other attractions mixed in. Kathryn loves animals of all kinds, so this park was especially fun for her. The animals that fascinated us the most were the Malayan flying foxes, a species of large fruit bats. They only weigh in at 1.5 to 2.5 lbs, but have a wingspan of up to five feet. We spent some time watching them walk around upside down and fly across their enclosure.
We even found an Airstream here. It’s part of the dining room at the Restaurantosaurus.
That evening we returned to Magic Kingdom.
On Monday, Kathryn and I headed over to Epcot while Kyle settled in for another day of work. After Kyle finished for the day, we headed over to Hollywood Disney. Kyle and Kathryn had fun trying to outshoot each other at Toy Story Mania. We all enjoyed The Great Movie Ride. We got our pictures taken with Lightning and Mater. We think Cars was one of Pixar’s best movies, being both an Ode to travel, small town dreams and the importance of friendship.
There were two things we enjoyed most about Hollywood Disney. The first was the show Fantasmic! Its a 25 minute water, fireworks and live action show. Imagine Fantasia happening right before your eyes and you’d come close. They had two showings on Monday night. We were able to walk right in to the first one without waiting, and got great seats right down front. Wow, this was fun.
The other thing we really enjoyed was The Osbourne Familly Spectacle of Dancing Lights. Disney has decorated the Streets of America with millions of Christmas lights synchronized to Holiday music.
Tuesday Kathryn and I headed over to Universal Studios for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Kathryn first read all seven books between August and October of her seventh year. Since then she’s reread the books and watched/rewatched the movies several times. So this was even higher on her list than Disney World.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was ridden five times. Kathryn also enjoyed the Flight of the Hippogriff.
And of course we had to head over to the Three Broomsticks for some butterbeer, which was very good.
We then did lots of window shopping around Hogsmeade.
That night we picked up Kyle and headed out to Epcot.
We again enjoyed lots of different rides and attractions, with Soarin’ being our favorite.
On Wednesday morning, we returned to Hollywood Disney for more fun. Kyle’s birthday also fell on this day.
So he got to enjoy Magic Kingdom on his birthday and stayed for the parade, light and fireworks show that night. Great way to celebrate your birthday.
Thursday morning brought more fun at Magic Kingdom. That afternoon it turned cool and rainy, so we headed over to Downtown Disney. We enjoyed some more shopping and after dinner we again blew our diet… We stopped at the Ghiradelli shop. I got a white chocolate mocha, while the two kids had ice cream. Kyle had a triple scoop sundae with marshmellow cream and dark chocolate hot fudge. Kathryn had a large chocolate malt.
On Friday Kathryn stayed at the Airstream with Kyle. Bill, Jean and I headed out to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Epcot to revisit things that we enjoyed. That night we all went back to Epcot for some rides, dinner and the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth show.
On Saturday we all enjoyed the Magic Kingdom one last time.
The highlights of our week were the Fantasmic! show and the Christmas lights at Hollywood Disney, fireworks any night at Magic Kingdom, Soarin’ at Epcot, Safari ride at Animal Kingdom, Ghiradelli ice cream at Downtown Disney and Butterbeer at Harry Potter world!
Staying on the Disney property shows you see where your money goes: straight into infrastructure. Wherever you are, Disney has transportation for you to any other Disney park. They take good care of you!
We all had a lot of fun this week. One week was the right amount of time to see all we wanted to and feel that we had all seen and done everything we wanted to. Kyle thinks it might be fun to work a retirement gig here in 30 years or so. It would be fun to help other people have all the fun that we did this week.