There’s so much to say about our trip that I’m going to have to break it down into sections. And would you believe Paul has beaten me to the punch by doing write ups about each of the parks over on his blog? So, we went to Florida for a week. If you’re from NJ you know that we went now because our schools always have off two days in November for the teachers’ conference. At least that’s the way it was when we were kids. But now our school district has decided to add days off for parent-teacher conferences, leaving a mere 1/2 day of school in session on Monday. As you might guess, a lot of people who want a family trip to Disneyworld go now because who can resist those days? A much less crowded time, it’s not a million degrees, it’s ideal. We have been to Disneyworld as a family twice before. The first time was one day in Magic Kingdom. I had to go to Orlando for a work thing and we couldn’t pass up a first visit. Tabby was infant and Clark was 2. We took our first big trip when Clark was in kindergarten and Tabby was 3. It was wonderful. Tabby didn’t remember too much about that trip, so almost everything was new to her this time. I’m a big fan of Disney and believe that the parks have something to offer everyone of all ages and that if you don’t have a good time there you must be a sourpuss curmudgeon. For this trip we decided to go to Disneyworld for 4 days and Universal Studios for 2. We were all really excited about the world of Harry Potter (we watched the first 4 movies of HP this summer) and left that for the end of our trip.
We did experience what I now think of as our usual “serendipitous vacation good luck” several times on our trip, but we had one really big bump in the vacation–both kids got sick with stomach bugs. It was pretty rough, especially on Tabby. There were a solid three days where at least one person was unable to eat/drink, weak/tired, not feeling well. And I’ll never forget having both my kids throw up right there in the parks (2 out of 4!) However, I don’t think that’s what they’re going to remember and we ended with two days of everyone feeling marvelously healthy and energized, so that’s good.
One of the great things about this trip was how we got there and back. We flew out of our new favorite small airport, rather than Newark or Philly. It was so awesome and made the trip a breeze. Not only that, but we also flew to the smaller Orlando airport. Since we were renting a car (and even brought our audiobook with us) it was easy and efficient. We stayed at the same resort as before, which is lovely. The pools are beautiful and even though it was actually chilly out the first couple days, we all went swimming anyway.
So, let’s get to the pictures and what we did!
Day 1: arrive, swim, a fun lunch out, settling in
Day 2: Animal Kingdom. I feel like this park gets the shaft when people talk about Disneyworld and I’m not sure why. I find it enchanting. I love the entire Indonesian section. It’s probably as close as I’ll ever get to actually visiting Tibet, India, etc and it seems authentically replicated-at least in terms of visuals. All the beauty, none of the less nice aspects!
We enjoyed the safari and animals walks (though the Komodo dragon and bats would not come out because it was too cold for them!). We also did not experience any lines that were too long and were able to ride Dinosaur (much anticipated) twice in a row, get right on Primeval Whirl (a favorite-spinning around and going up and down and around corners), and right into It’s Tough to be a Bug (which I can remember waiting for a long time many years ago.)
It was a beautiful day for exploring and a good choice for our first day, because I think you can enjoy it at a reasonably leisurely pace.
At the end of the day we decided to give the big roller coast-Expedition Everest-a try. Using a clever combo of fast passes and single riders, Paul, Tabby, and I all got to ride it twice (Clark didn’t want to go on this one.) Exhilarating and exciting with great Yeti effects, plus you go backwards through the dark for part of it. It was a wonderful end to our first day! [Paul’s write-up, which has a ride rundown.]
(Sadly, in the middle of the night Tabby woke up throwing up and continued to do so all night long.)
Day 3: We had planned to do Epcot in the morning and evening, leaving the afternoon for hanging out at our hotel. We did end up going in the morning, though not too early, after Tabby felt up to going out. Clark’s most looked forward to think at Epcot was going on Spaceship Earth.
I’m not sure why, other than it is pretty cool to go into that ball and it is iconic. So we got online to do it first thing. Unfortunately Tabby threw up on line. Paul and Clark did end up loving the attraction and all it had to offer while Tabby and I rested in a comfortable spot. After a while and some scrapings of a frozen lemonade she perked up considerably and we set off to explore the World Showcase. We participated in a Phineas & Ferb secret agent mission, which was pretty cool. We explored a little, had wonderful snacks in Norway (but were bummed that the Maelstrom ride has been removed to make way for a Frozen attraction) and then left the park to swim and relax for the afternoon.
We returned in the evening, but it really wasn’t quite as good as we’d hoped it would be. Our luck was not with us this time (see Paul’s description) and I’ve concluded that as much as the Illuminations show is fantastic, Epcot is really more fun in the daytime.
We did happen to be there during the International Food & Wine Festival, which meant that in addition to the usual fare from around the world there were over a dozen new small booths featuring rather fancy foods from around the world. Delicious small bites that, had everyone been healthy & hungry, we probably would have sample more of. As it was, the things we did try were amazing.
Day 4: Magic Kingdom. Tabby was much better, just a little tired still, but excited and ready to explore the star attraction–Magic Kingdom.
We did a lot here, though we just didn’t get around to exploring the new section of Fantasyland, as I’d hoped we would. But who cares because we had the best time ever riding Splash Mountain two times in a row and Big Thunder Railroad twice, going on Space Mountain, and soaking in all the magical details. Boy do we ever love trying on ears and hats and stuff in the gift shops. ARggh! It’s Pirates of the Caribbean!
Clark got his giant turkey leg.
Again, we did not stay for any nighttime performances or fireworks, but we did catch the end of a parade and saw the castle lit up, which was sufficient. We don’t usually get the pictures they take of you going down rides (but love to see them at the end), but we couldn’t resist these since our trips on Splash Mountain were so especially wonderful and a terrific end to the day. [Here’s what Paul had to say.]
Unfortunately…that night Clark is the one who was throwing up in the middle of the night. He seemed to rally more quickly than Tabby and we were able to go to Hollywood Studios by midmorning. This is probably my second favorite of the parks.
I absolutely love how they’ve created the film noir days of Hollywood. We took it pretty easy, strolling around, sitting for the long Indiana Jones stunt spectacular (which I’d never seen and I do love those movies), enjoying the Muppet 3D-vision (it never gets old), and playing around in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area.
My top two attractions at this park are Star Tours and Hollywood Tower of Terror. I would have happily ridden Star Tours several times, but Clark didn’t feel too great after one time and so we stuck together. This has been revamped since I was last on it, and it’s great.
We also went to see the Beauty and the Beast stage show, which is wonderful, and Tabby adored it. And we had planned on skipping it, but there was just enough time for my little thrill seeker and I to go on the Tower of Terror. Oh my gosh, I love this ride so much. The backstory! The setting! The insane drop of the elevator! It’s awesome. Here’s me and Tabby making our anticipated scared face while we waited:
[And here’s Paul’s Hollywood Studios rundown. You might be surprised that we write different things about all this! ]Basically what I love about Disney and what so impresses me, is the attention to detail. In nooks and crannies all over the parks you’ll find things that complete the illusions that you really are in some back alley of NYC, in a store in 1940s Hollywood, in a fairytale, and so on. Someone remarked to me that she was surprised our family likes Disney so much given that we like “literature” so much. I thought that was kind of strange because can’t I love books and literature and rides too? But anyway, the other thing I love about Disney, is that it is a place that rewards and celebrates imagination and creativity. And I feel like in most people’s daily lives it’s hard to find that. In fact, I often feel that people put down creativity and imagination (the old “you have way too much time on your hands to do that” insult) and it’s nice to be somewhere you can truly be wrapped up in it.
We had a wonderful time! Disneyworld, I love you and you are loads of fun! (post Space Mountain ride. Btw, if you are ever on a thrill ride with me, be forewarned-I’m a screamer! I love to scream and laugh hysterically as I am whizzed about up and down, around corners, and dropped.)
Stay tuned for Part II, in which will tell all about what an especially magical time we had at Universal Studios.