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With only two days to spend at the Walt Disney Resort, we knew the hours in Orlando, Florida would be action-packed. We started our Disney visit at the Magic Kingdom. Visiting the park for the first time as 50-somethings, it was an enjoyable day, but not particularly “magical” at first. I kept watching for the fairy spark above the castle as I had seen on Sunday nights as a child at the television. The Main Street was too rushed so we verged to the left side of the park, which was less crowded. In October, the park is very festival-like with fall harvest decorations and a beautiful place to slow down and enjoy a quiet walk just a few steps from Main Street.
We climbed through the tree house at an easy pace and then over to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride with no waiting. These short rides are compelling for children, but also entertaining for adults. I was impressed throughout the park at the costuming and themed decorations. The attention to small details underpins every element. Autumn is a wonderful season for a visit to Florida.
After a walk to the back of the park, we did have a 30-minute wait for the raft ride to Tom Sawyer Island, but once we arrived were soon exploring the island’s caves, bridges, forts and hideaway passages. Back in the main park arena, the Hall of Presidents display was a highlight of our day. This exhibit has robotic presidents (no laughing, they really are robotic presidents) and synchronized speaking. The presidents educated the guests through the timeline of America’s history.
After lunch, we enjoyed watching and then riding the Mad Tea Party. Next event on the program was the featured parade, which was exciting and beautiful with the many costumed characters and lively music.
Humming along afterward, we went to Disney’s Tomorrowland. The only exhibit that captured our attention in that section was a rotating exhibit showing the history of technology. It was entertaining and educational, and a perfect segue. After a few other rides and displays, we headed to the monorail for the quick ride over to Epcot, concluding our time in the Walt Disney Resort’s The Magic Kingdom.
Continuing our first day at Walt Disney World, the monorail ride over to Epcot was quick and comfortable. Compared to the morning bus shuttle, the monorail has more room for passengers and their belongings. The seats are more comfortable as well.
Epcot at Walt Disney World
Upon arrival at Epcot, we walked through several exhibits and then nestled into a clam shell with seating for two for a relaxing and cool ride in the Nemo and Friends building. By this time, it had been a long day with almost constant walking, so we headed to the other side of the Epcot park for the bridge access to Disney’s BoardWalk Inn for our overnight stay.
One recommendation for visiting Disney is to plan ahead for meals, especially dinner in the hotel restaurants. The wait at the Flying Fish Cafe was unscheduled time for us and we were perfectly satisfied with the option for seats at the counter. The menu had a variety of selections and our food arrived timely. We ordered romaine salads along with entree dishes of scallops. The service was extremely good, considering that the bar staff was attending to their bar duties in addition to overseeing the patrons seated at the counter.
While I’m covering evening meals, on the previous night, we had pizza by the slice at the walk-up window on the boardwalk. It was more expensive than our local take-out options back home, but delicious and instant service.
After dinner at the Flying Fish Cafe, we strolled the boardwalk, which had active entertainers – juggling, storytelling, and other such street performances are the norm for the Boardwalk Hotel experience.
Disney Hollywood Studios
Day 2 begins…A quick breakfast at the BoardWalk Bakery and then it was a ferry ride over to Disney Hollywood Studios. We planned to spend a few hours here and then head to Epcot and the International Food Festival. Our schedule was packed and the day had only just begun.
The Disney Hollywood Studios park was less crowded than the Magic Kingdom and the weather was much more pleasant for being outdoors, compared to the previous day. This park was so much fun and great for exploring all things Disney. We attended a special effects show with an Indiana Jones theme, did a back lot tour, and learned the history of how the park was designed and then built.
The history of the Disney cartoons and evolution to international recognition was fascinating and since we both enjoy history, it was a good educational experience.
Oswald and Steamboat Willie were the beginning for the cartoonist. The skills Walt Disney honed on these early sketches were instrumental to the creation of Mickey Mouse and all that came afterward.
When I struggle with simple graphics, I now recall how much this man accomplished in a vastly different era.
Walt Disney’s life story and the challenges through the years brought a new perspective to all that surrounded us.
The back lot tour demonstrated some unique aspects of filming movies and we saw Herbie, the Love Bug car while touring on the trolley.
During the ferry ride back to the Boardwalk Inn, we decided to have lunch at the Beaches and Cream Restaurant at the Beaches Yacht Club resort. The food was tasty, but service very slow, even with few patrons in the store. Our seats were at the dining counter again, so we were able to watch the staff build the “kitchen sink” ice cream extravagances and deliver them to the ice cream lovers. After lunch, we walked through some of the areas of this resort and admired the beach theme decor.
International Food and Wine Festival
Next stop. A short walk to Epcot and the International Food and Wine Festival. The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is the ultimate reunion for those who long for a taste of their homeland and the international foodie adventurers who gather for this annual event.
We were very fortunate that our trip dates coincided with the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. On the previous night, we walked through the area and knew it would be worth the return trip on the second day for more food and more browsing.
The international cuisine sampling booths represented many countries and all senses were fully engaged with sights, smells and sounds of the converged homelands. About half way through our journey around the world, we moved to the technology region of Epcot and then later returned into the mix of food, wine, and good times as the evening rolled in. We finished our evening listening to live music at the Canada pavilion – a relaxing end to a wonderful day.
Soarin’ at Walt Disney World
A highlight of our entire trip was the Soarin’® exhibit. This is a interesting experience and suitable for older children and adult guests. The wait time at the entry was about an hour, with no FastPass tickets available. However, the wait was easy because the walls of the waiting area have been transformed into floor-to-ceiling interactive games for the waiting groups to participate with and compete against each other. Fun to play, fun to watch, and a great way to pass the time while standing in the waiting lines.
The Soarin’® experience is a simulation of a hang glider over the coastline and landscape of California. The IMAX screen projects simulations of ocean waves, pristine white ski slopes, the inspiring redwood forests, and some familiar city scenes. It is captivating entertainment and a memorable ride. The air moves in the room as the scenery changes, giving the illusion of fast movement. This was a very fun and we’ve recommended it to many of our friends as they plan for their trips to Florida.
In the same building, hot air balloon sculptures near the ceiling are very pretty with vivid colors. There is a nature ride through the research area of the Epcot Center. This ride included some agricultural research experiments including tomatoes on trees and above-ground potatoes. As gardening enthusiasts, this was an interesting exhibit to wrap up our final day.
Recommendations for Disney Orlando
Be prepared to walk. Comfortable shoes, and umbrella (for rain or sun protection)
Drink water and stay hydrated
Make a plan, but be flexible about new experiences that may appear.
Take time to have fun and time to learn.
These parks are an experience with many different contexts. Relax, enjoy, and absorb.
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