BIG KID ALERT! – If you’re more of a Dismal Land fan and don’t enjoy the Disney magic then don’t read ahead with this post because there’s so much of it, that you may start to see the glimmer of pixie dust in your eyes afterwards! Let me start of by saying that I’ve been lucky enough to visit Disneyworld in Florida twice now, when I was 8 years old and when I was 24 years old and I can can confidently say that I’ve enjoyed it more the second time around instead of 16 years ago! Maybe Disney have advanced so much and so well to be able to create this magical world that makes you feel like you’re in about 20 different Disney films at once or maybe I’ve just learnt to appreciate the hard work of Walt Disney and his team and what they’ve put in to create this Kingdom. For weeks prior to flying to America I’d already been full of excitement, not only because I was going to Disneyworld but I was going to see a lot of my family that I hadn’t seen since I’d left the UK this time last year so it made the 6 hour bus journey, 14 hour flight, 2 hour connection waiting time and another 4 and a half hour flight, just to get there, all worth the while! (I hadn’t actually thought about how I felt about leaving Australia at this point in time but more on that later!)
So catching up with everyone was lovely and we were all staying together, yes all 15 of us in one villa not far from Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Disney thought of EVERYTHING in terms of their parks, attractions, entertainment etc they’ve also got a great app to help plan out your day and speed up the queuing times! My Disney Experience allows each member of your party to link their swipe cards that gain you access into the park gates, to the app and helps you create a group itinerary where you can easily book your Fast Passes and beat the queues – for free!
Enough of the travel advice crap I hear you say, tell me about the magic! Okay so Disneyworld is made up of four separate parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and The Animal Kingdom. Alongside those there is also Disney’s two water parks; Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon and then there’s Downtown Disney which is full of restaurants and bars. We spent our first day in Disney at the Magic Kingdom which I throughly recommend as the first park you visit because it’s full of classic Disney and has the iconic castle.
Surrounding the castle Magic Kingdom is divided into 4 more different smaller parks along, with Main Street USA there is Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Liberty Square, Frontierland and Adventureland. I’ll focus on my favourite of them all; Fantasyland.
Fantasyland has the most attractions out of all of the smaller parks and is filled with mainly classic Disney character based things such as Peter Pan’s Flight, Gaston’s Tavern, Ariel’s Grotto, The Mad Tea Party and The Seven Dwarks Mine Train. It even has Rupenzel’s tower from Tangled and ruins of the castle from Beauty and The Beast! It has a real Disney, medieval theme about it which is bought to life as the sun goes down and all the walk ways and hanging bunting is lit with lanterns.
Next on the itinerary was The Animal Kingdom which is also pretty awesome! It’s made up of Oasis, DinoLand, Asia, Africa, & Discovery Island. The park is full of animals from Asia and Africa and is built up like a jungle so you don’t actually feel like you’re in Disneyworld at all, one minute you can be walking through a deserted Asia and then through an African Savanna! The main attraction here is definitely the Kilimanjaro Safari, you actually drive through a massive piece of the land and see native animals to Africa – we experienced this during a huge storm! But the animals all made appearances which sent the kids crazy :)
If you like unexpected happenings in a ride the you HAVE to go on Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, this was a particularly funny photo to see in the shop afterwards after I had convinced my Mum that this ride was a regular, Mum friendly ride with nothing to worry about…
Kali River Rapids is a must for families as is Dinosaur and, not just because I’m a former Lion King employee, but The Festival of The Lion King is also worth going to see. It’s the most popular show out of all the Disney Parks and it didn’t disappoint! If you’re expecting a mini version of the Broadway or West End production the you will be disappointed, it’s similar in the sense that it has puppets and vibrant costumes but there are more acrobats, African singing, dancing and celebrations through the half an hour performance. There’s also Finding Nemo – The Musical which was packed with puppets and songs and heaps of colour everywhere!
I want to say that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is another one of my favourite Disney parks but then I’m going to sound indecisive! But it is EPIC! Frozen fans will love the Hollywood Studios because it’s plastered absolutely everywhere – but I am guilty of saying that I went to the First Time in Forever: A “Frozen” Sing-Along Celebration. (And had a bloody great time!)
The park itself is designed like a movie set, there are various streets and parts of New York set back through the 40’s and 50’s and some parts even date back further. The first thing we saw when we entered was a Frozen parade which, I have to say, must have been magical for all the little girls and boys who love the movie because miraculously there was a snow flurry through the parade in the 35 degree Florida heat!
So aside from the Frozen-ness in Hollywood Studios, there’s also heaps of cool stuff to interest you. The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show and by far one of the best shows for me throughout the Disney Parks, they’re both set up like movie sets with the Indiana Jones one being awesome because well, it’s Indiana? And the Lights, Motors, Action one is packed with driving stunts, cars bikes, jet ski’s the lot. If you’re a Fast & Furious fan like myself then you’ll be in your element!
The new technology for rides these days, seems to be a simulation AND roller coaster ride combined together to create a realistic sensation that you’re actually experiencing what’s in front of you. Disney seems to use this a lot throughout their parks now, as does Universal and it has such an impact on the way you experience a ride these days! It’s so damn clever! The Star Tours – The Adventures Continue is a Star Wars ride in a simulator with about 48 different experiences so each ride is different each time you go on – unless you queue up over 48 times for you die hard Star Wars fans! Muppet Vision 3D is another classic 3D experience as is Toy Story Midway Mania in the Pixar Studios :)
For roller coaster riders like myself, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is a must and the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith is one of the most famous roller coasters ever – I would say! You’re essentially in a limousine being whisked away to an Aerosmith concert with the band themselves but the ride is known for it’s immediate high speed!
The final Disney Park is Epcot which I think is very underrated compared to the rest of the parks. It doesn’t have the big roller coaster attractions like the others but it does have an absolutely huge aquarium (which you can swim with sharks in!) as well as heaps of rides, educational shows and attractions and the World Showcase which is made up of 11 different countries and LOADS of restaurants filled with their cuisines.
We only managed to do a couple of the rides and attractions in Epcot but they’re definitely worth mentioning, especially if you’re visiting with children. The Seas with Nemo & Friends was a really lovely ride, it takes you around the aquarium and had distal projections of the characters from Finding Nemo in the aquarium itself! The kids went crazy for it and as you exit the ride you’re in the aquarium so there’s heaps of fun for kids.
The other rides that we managed to do were Soarin’ – a hang gliding simulation over California and Mission: SPACE which was a horrendous experience in itself! I knew from the description of the ride that you were in a simulated rocket that shot up to space and travelled to Mars, baring in mind this was chosen by me for the kids, when I was asked at the queue whether we wanted the “normal” or “intense” experience I thought I’d choose “intense” just for giggles. I definitely did not giggle. Throughout the whole queuing process they stress to you that if you suffer from motion sickness or claustrophobia the you should re-consider the ride but I thought it made it all the more fun and assumed it was part of the build up to your flight to space. You’re seated in a simulator that looks like a rocket and then the spaceship controls are bought down right in front of you – that’s the claustrophobia part. Then you’re told, on many occasions to keep your head back and if you experience sickness then just keep your eyes ahead, even if you feel like you need to close them – they also provided sick bags, that’s how “intense” this became! Once the rocket launches you actually experience the motion as if being in a rocket. Dizziness, motion sickness, you feel like your head is going to explode and your eyes are deceiving you, claustrophobia with controls and lights all around you in your face. I felt drunk when I got off and couldn’t walk in a straight line and when I looked at my 6 year old niece and asked if she was okay, she replied “I feel reallyyyyyyy funnyyyyyy” with a slightly green face. So, being honest, I wouldn’t recommend that ride personally but if you like that kinda thing then go for it! Knock yourself out – literally!
I know this post is a MEGA post but it’s actually just a taster of the parks that Walt Disney has created. There is no place like Disneyworld and there never will be, it is an experience of a lifetime that I think the majority of people can relate too because we all know who Disney is and what Disney does. We all know the Disney films, the characters and the affect it has on everyone, not just kids! There are hundreds of things to experience alongside all the rides, there are the parades, the fireworks, the shows etc. It can work out as a pricey holiday but I think it is something people should try and experience at least once in their life, there are plenty of ways to do Disney on a budget – Go find that inner kid in you!
Remember there’s more Disney goodness over on my Instagram! & you can read about the Night Parade, Fireworks & breakfast with the Disney Princesses here!