Disney is truly one of my greatest loves. I’m sure that sounds dramatic and intense but I love everything about the brand. I love and own all of the movies and have seen them hundreds of times. And gosh do I love Disney World.
I didn’t first go to Disney world until I was a senior in high school. I was lucky enough to attend my senior trip and experience the magic as I had always dreamed of. The trip was wonderful however as the years went by and I actually had disposable income for traveling, my itch to go back grew. I wanted to go to Disney and do it the way that I wanted to do it (not with 60 other students and teachers with opinions, timelines, and ideas of what to do).
After saving, my now-husband (then boyfriend) booked the trip! Now, this trip was really special because it was our first trip traveling alone as adults. I didn’t yet have any confidence in my traveling abilities and wanted to not only experience the magic of Disney, but wanted somewhere that would be safe and intuitive (from a planning perspective). Disney really is the perfect trip for inexperienced travelers.
Stepping out of the Orlando airport the warm air and sunshine immediately hit my cheeks.
Every part of my being was buzzing with excitement. We hopped onto the magical bus and headed to our value resort. Staying on Disney property is always a must for me because your transportation is taken care of. After quickly freshening up, we were back onto the bus and heading to our first destination – Hollywood Studios.
Hungry from our travels we first decided to grab a bite to eat. Loaded hot dogs (mac and cheese on mine and coleslaw on his) was the heavenly (and terrible for you) meal we were in need of to fuel up for our busy day. At Hollywood Studios, we checked off Toy Story Mania, Rocking Rollercoaster and Tower or Terror. For thrill ride seekers, Rocking Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror are both musts. By the evening we were craving the motherland, Magic Kingdom, and made our way there. Cue the floating balloons, mouse ears, busy roads filled with smiling faces, friendly staff, and exciting rides – our trip was turning into everything we could have imagined.
The next day we were up bright and early and headed straight for Magic Kingdom. We got soaked on Splash Mountain and ate a yummy lunch at Pecos Bill Café. My favorite ride in all of the parks is Space Mountain. As soon as you step in line inside you’re transported to a spacelike tunnel. There is dim lighting overhead with glowing buttons and planet exhibits along the way. The music fits with sounds of lasers ping-ponging around. Once on the ride, you zoom the entire way completely in the dark with only a few pinpricks of light. There are dips and sharp turns that you don’t see coming as you whiz around in the dark. There are also multiple cars that go through the track at once too so you can hear other passengers laughing and screaming from delight.
After a full morning at Magic Kingdom we headed over to my other favorite park, Epcot, where we rode Nemo and Friends, Spaceship Earth, and Ellen’s Energy Adventure. Ellen’s ride isn’t the most thrilling but if you’re looking to sit (after all the walking) and get out of the heat this is a great ride for that.
The best part about Epcot, however, is the World Showcase. There are eleven different countries featured, each feeling like you’re stepping into a slice of that country. In Japan native dancers swung around swords while playing drums. In Germany we drank Barenjager beer. In the United Kingdom, we sat on a curb and listened to a band play the Beatles, feeling like locals. Getting to step from one country to the next within seconds, but feeling like you’ve traveled across the globe, is incredible.
We went back to our hotel for a quick break since our feet were killing us. They were red, bruised and blistered – but worth it. We ordered a pizza and wings and ate in bed (they deliver to your room via golf cart)! After eating and resting, we went back out since we couldn’t resist a little more magic. After enjoying a few more rides we took in the beauty of the fireworks. The bright lights burst against the starry sky with classic Disney tunes to accompany that will leave you with a smile plastered on your face. There is nothing that will make you feel at peace, in the moment, and filled with childlike wonder like the Magic Kingdom fireworks show will. After the firework show, we stuck around to watch the fun and bright, Electric Parade. (Note that the Electric Parade is now in Disney Land and not a show at Disney World any longer.)
The following day was a rest day from the parks and we visited Shepard Park at Cocoa beach. If you are looking for a quiet escape, this is it. We went into the day with no expectations however we got lucky enough to catch a NASA rocket launch! Unbeknownst to us Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral is right near Cocoa beach. As soon as we pulled up to the beach and settled in we noticed everyone staring to the left. We asked around and learned of the rocket launch. Before we knew it we could see a small speck and stream of smoke behind the rocket. The Kennedy Space Center has launch times on their website so if you go to Cocoa Beach, check to see if you can time it right to see a launch as well.
The next was our day for Universal Studios. This trip still remains the one and only time I’ve ever been to Universal. We rode Transformers and Mummy rides before heading to Harry Potter. I’m a total Harry Potter fanatic so it was SO much fun. All of the set design was done just as you’ve seen in the movies with the Harry Potter theme song piped through the speakers, making you feel as if you’re actually at Hogwarts. First, we rode The Escape from Gringots and then breaked for croissant sandwiches for lunch. If you’re there, take the Hogwarts Express over to the Island of Adventure. The most notable ride of the day was the Forbidden Journey. With a big screen featuring scenes with the actors from the movie, you dip and fly along for an adventure. Even when waiting in line you’re in what feels like a classroom at Hogwarts with floating candles and then in a cave underground. Pro tip – they have the lockers that you can lock valuables in – DO IT! Phil almost lost his phone on this ride so he didn’t even get to enjoy it.
The final day of our trip we went to Animal Kingdom. To me, this park feels entirely different from all of the other parks because it’s very specific in its theme. There are different countries with interesting and authentic restaurants and entertainment.
I recommend attending a show while you’re at Disney. We watched The Lion King show which featured detailed costumes, talented singers and dancers, and beautiful sets. And I can’t talk about Animal Kingdom and not mention Expedition Everest, one of our favorite rides of all time. This is a really well-themed ride all about the illustrious Yeti. Although definitely a ride that racks up long wait times, the line experience is one of the best. No spoilers on this ride but there is a stomach-flipping moment that catches you by surprise. It’s amazing the first time especially!
Last but not least, we rode Kilmanjaro Safari. This bumpy ride lets you experience a taste of the African savanna with a friendly tour guide.
The trip was incredible and it was nice doing things exactly the way we wanted. This trip also gave us the confidence to start expanding our traveling although I will admit – our next vacation was also at Disney too. You can’t blame me – you like what you like, right?