A magical place

Because of last nights events were fortunate enough to get to visit one of the most magical places in the world today – Walt Disney World. We found out it’s not just for children. There are some pretty cool aspects to Disney that you can appreciate as an adult.

I must preface this post with a few important pieces of information. First, we had a limited amount of time here and an ambitious plan to see all four parks in Disney World. Second, as a result, this post is particularly long as we did see and do a whole lot today (so stick with us). Third, if you do ever attempt this, plan ahead a little and prepare to be thoroughly exhausted by the end of the day! (So much so, you wish someone would just carry you like this little girl…)

Attempting to see all four parks takes a small amount of planning which we were able to accomplish on the drive down – we looked at all of the attractions and wrote down our must see’s. Packing a bunch of snacks, water, sunscreen and the camera we set out.

Note we wanted to continue our free Disney quest into today, but to save time we payed for parking. It was $14 (which is all we spent today), and it allowed us to park at all 4 of the parks. If you have the time, patience and ability to carry everything you need without going back to the car, you can park in Downtown Disney and take the busses or monorails throughout the park for free.

Park 1: Hollywood Studios

Our ‘must see’ list:

  • Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

We started out with a bit of a show near the central Sorcerer Mickey Hat. We quickly headed on to see Indiana Jones but just caught the second half of the packed show.

Afterwards we roamed on to see a few of the cities. Who knew we could visit San Francisco and New York all in an afternoon.

We also got shrunk and headed into the “Honey I shrunk the kids” garden

After that we had a blast on the Toy Story Mania 4D ride where you have target practice.

I ended up only just beating Andrew, though his accuracy was far better than mine.

Next, we found Walt Disney’s One Man’s Dream.

It was a walk through + video. It was pretty interesting to see where Disney all started and how it has progressed. Waking through you realize this guy was well ahead of his time, doing some of the earliest programming, robotics and cinematography. Just truly visionary stuff.

The Multiplane camera was used by Disney for several cartoons prior to newer animation technology.  This took one picture and broke it into seven layers which allowed for depth to be created and the illusion of zooming in/out of a scene which was actually not moving at all.

After a bit of an education we were off to do some rides; we saw classic sorcerer Mickey and Route 66 along the way.

We eventually made it to the Tower of Terror. Despite the scaffolding, which is not confidence inspiring, the ride was in working order. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

Then we headed Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster before hightailing it out of there.

Capturing this priceless photo as a souvenier.

That ended our Hollywood Studios tour – all of it was a great time but If you’re on a limited time span I would at least go see the Tower of Terror and Toy Story rides (if you’re feeling a little competitive).

This park was a success, we felt like we got to see everything we wanted (and more) so we headed back to the van for a bite to eat and onwards to Epcot to see the world.

Park 2: Epcot

Our ‘must see’ list:

  • Leave a legacy
  • Journey into the imagination with Figment
  • Canada (of course)

We started off in the giant dome centrepiece of the park for the Re-imagined Spaceship Earth ride.

The ride was a fabulous interactive experience, the only one of the day that I would have done twice if we had time. It was just a lot of fun and we even got to see our future – check it out!

We continued on to Mission Space where we did our training and became astronauts for a while. The G-forces were definitely real and our Mission was a success.

Onwards to the Test Track where we played crash test dummies for a little while.

Then we journeyed into Figment’s imagination and enjoyed playing in after the ride.

On our way out we walked through another great group of learning areas with fire safety and Segway lessons etc.

Epcot also has a World Showcase where you can visit Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, America, Japan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom and Canada. Of course we visited Canada, but had to skip the others because of our time crunch. It was interesting to see how we’re viewed by America.

I had no idea so much of Canada is moose, bears, totem poles and fur hats!

In Epcot, each country has a couple restaurants showcasing their foods. The Canadian one was a french steakhouse called Le Cellier Steakhouse. It was also the only world with just one dining option. I have to wonder where the heck the beaver tails or poutine was? These are good cheap park foods, surely.

We did catch some Celtic Rock:

This wrapped up our visit. If you’re going to Epcot definitely don’t skip Spaceship Earth or your own home country.

Back to the van, park 2 was a success, we saw everything we wanted and were surprised by a few extras. A quick wardrobe change to warmer clothes, a water refill and a quick sandwich for dinner and we were off to our next park. Though by this point we knew we wouldn’t make it to all four parks so we weighed our options and decided on Magic Kindgom as we had seen a bit of the Animal Kingdom yesterday at the lodge.

Park 3: Magic Kingdom

Our ‘must see’ list:

  • The Haunted Mansion
  • Space Mountain
  • The Wishes Fireworks show

This park you can only get to using Disney transportation (ferry or monorail) as it is surrounded by the “Seven Seas Lagoon”.

We opted to try both – take the Ferry there and Monorail back (as it would be colder later in the night).

The first thing we did was visit Tomorrowland and hopped on the Carousel of Progress where they go through the past and future about how electricity and technology has affected our lives in the past 50-60 years.  The most interesting part is that there are 5 acts that depict this change but the seats actually rotate around the theater so when you are done with the first one you get rotated to the second one.  This also allows people to get on every 4 minutes because a new set of theatre seats have opened up.  It was a fun way to spend a bit of time sitting and relaxing after a full day of walking. Once our show was done we went straight to the Wishes fireworks show. It  was set to music and was pretty great with the castle as the backdrop.

We also saw a couple get engaged right in front of the castle during the show.  He asked her to make his dreams come true, and she said yes!  They were really cute.

Afterwards we went to famous roller coaster ride Space Mountain before the park shut down for the night.

When we got out though, we thought we were getting lucky when the clock struck 10 and the rides were still open. As it turned out we were there on a night that allowed hotel guests to ride after hours by showing their room key. So we seized the chance to wander around and check out the rest of the park.  We travelled through the Cinderella’s castle in Fantasyland, saw Liberty Square where they keep a replica liberty bell and visited Adventureland where we roamed into Aladdin’s place to pet a camel…

We had pretty much exhausted all of our options in this park.  We didn’t get to everything on our list but we were satisfied that we got our Disney fill.

Reflecting on the day, we gained an appreciation for Disney, even as adults – in-fact several of the rides we went on I would not see many children enjoying as much as we did.  Aside from the fun factor, Disney has an incredible fore-thought for everything. Just as one example of many would be that you keep your belongings with you at all times (even in the rides that go upside-down). You always enter in one entrance and leave in a completely different place. This way Disney can ensure the flow of people is maintained. The ticket prices may be expensive but the rest is taken care of – transport between parks by ferry, bus, monorail are all free.  A bit of planning (food, water, & must sees) and anyone can pull off an awesome day at Disney. A magical place indeed.