We recently visited Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, US. It is the most popular vacation destination in the entire world, with approximately 52.5 million visitors per year. It covers 42,000 acres and includes 24 resorts, 4 theme parks, 2 water parks and more. Over 130,000 people visit the theme parks daily, with over one third of those heading to the Magic Kingdom alone.
It was our 4th time going as a family. I honestly didn’t think we would be back this many times but even at 18, 21 and almost 24, my children still love it. Trying to keep this short and sweet will be impossible so I will try to limit it to a few of the highlights.
We stayed in the Art of Animation Resort, which offered rooms and suites in themes of Little Mermaid, Lion King, Cars and Finding Nemo. We stayed in a Cars suite. It was like stepping into the movie- complete with the Cozy Cone Motel sign that circled with a few of the lights burnt out. On the “road” that led to our building, I noticed that adults had a tendency to follow the rules of the road and stay to the right. Kids, on the other hand, did not feel the same way.
Animal Kingdom was built in 1998, covers 500 acres and is themed entirely around animal conservation. On the Kilimanjaro Safari, we got to see the animals of Africa roaming freely about the land. This rhino was oblivious to the truck and nearly walked right into the side of it. We also rode on the Kali River Rapids and I got drenched. It happens to me every time! The park is not huge or overwhelming- quite do-able in one day.
Epcot opened in 1982, the 2nd to be built. This park is separated into 2 different worlds. The first is Future World and it features innovations, including science and technology. Future World is the home to Spaceship Earth, or “the golf ball” which is the park’s landmark. World Showcase shares the culture and cuisine of 11 different countries. My favorites are Italy and England. The cast members (employees) in each of the countries are actually from the country and they are happy to answer any questions you might have. That funny looking guy is in Norway and it has been a tradition for me to take a picture of my kids, posing with it.
Hollywood Studios, originally MGM Studios in 1989, is devoted to show business. It is like walking onto an old-time movie set mixed in with some popular modern day favorites. My grandson was able to take part in Jedi Training. He did not have to battle Darth Vader but the Sith Lord he was pitted against was quite scary- especially when you are only 4!!! Toy Story’s Midway Mania is one ride everyone should experience. Just standing in line (which is what I did) is a trip. All of the toys are much larger than life and it’s a real kick to see the kids get so excited. In this ride, you get to ride in a car and play all the popular midway carnival games. For dinner we went to the 50’s Prime Time Diner. It was like stepping into a 1950’s kitchen, complete with décor, comfort food and television sets showing the popular tv shows of the times. My pot roast was amazing!
Last, but not least, is the Magic Kingdom, my personal favorite. To me it is what most people imagine when they think of Disney World. Not that a person could begin to fully realize what it’s like unless they visit it. The attention to detail is incredible- from the architecture, characters and music that fills the streets to the attractions and parades. When you walk down Main Street USA and see Cinderella’s Castle at the end for the first time, it takes your breath away. The Festival of Fantasy Parade was fun to watch. Disney knows how to put on a parade! One of my all time favorite rides is the Winnie the Pooh ride. We have gone on it every single time we have gone to the Magic Kingdom. My kids are great sports about accompanying me since the 18 year old is the only other Pooh fan in the group. And a trip to the Magic Kingdom would not be complete with “It’s a Small World.” That’s one of those ‘you either love it or hate it’ rides.
It’s an incredible experience and if you have the chance to go, I strongly recommend it. Everyone should see it at least once in their lives.