Walt Disney World by Amanda

There are two kinds of people in this world…… “Disney people” and non-Disney people. Justin and I would be in the later category. When we decided to embark on this long road trip, we promised the kids that we would take them to Walt Disney World when we were in Florida in December. We often held the trip over the kids head when they misbehaved. Justin could often be heard yelling at the kids, “If you don’t listen, I will cancel the Disney Trip!” This threat worked really well and as December got closer, the kids began to get more and more excited about it, which ended up being contagious. Justin and I started to get excited too. As we started to pick the rides we wanted for our Fast Passes and create our dinner reservations, I started to feel a bit of that Disney magic, though I wouldn’t admit it. I would often go to the Disney App on my phone to see how long the line was for Space Mountain. I claimed I was just learning how to use the App, but I was hooked into the excitement of it all!

Planning a Disney trip is extremely overwhelming!! Since I was spending a huge amount of my limited alone time planning this entire road trip, also planning a Disney Trip was just too much. A friend recommended using a Disney consultant (YES! This exists!) and I couldn’t have been more pleased with my expierence with Amy at Ears of Experience. All I had to do was complete an easy questionnaire about where we wanted to stay and what we’d like to do, and Amy did the rest for us! She picked the best days to be at the different parks, registered the Fast Passes, recommended the best meal package for our family and even found us a great deal on a photo package. I was bracing myself for what the final price tag for our four days at Disney would be, and I was pleasantly surprised at how the trip came in far under what I expected as the final cost.

A HUGE cost saver for staying at Disney is to stay at the Fort Wilderness campsites. Since we had Silvia with us, we knew from the beginning that we wanted to stay at the Disney campground, but I was shocked to learn it was only $90 a night to stay there! The nearby KOAs and RV parks are comparable in price, but at Fort Wilderness you get the joy and ease of staying on the Disney property! It was so convienant to be able to stay in our own home while easily taking a bus or boat to the Disney parks. Another unexpected highlight were the campground decorations put up by all the “Disney people” who were staying at the campground. I have been to campsites where people decorated for Halloween and such, but nothing prepared me for the holiday decorations put up by everyday campers at Fort Wilderness. There were tons of blow-up holiday Mickey and Minnies, other Disney characters that light up and moved and one site that even had a fake snow machine!! It was great to come back at night and see the entire campground lit up with all things Disney. The kids loved it!

Going into these four days at Disney, Justin and I felt that we would be immune to all the Disney magic. Oh how wrong we were! We spent Day One at the Magic Kingdom and had one of the funniest days we’ve experienced on the trip. The kids loved the roller coaster rides and Justin finally conquered his fear of Space Mountain. (At age 10 he ran from the line to the exit because he was too scared to do it!) We were also lucky to be there on a day that was not very crowded and we were able to get about eight rides under our belt before lunch!! It was so great laughing and screaming with the kids and seeing the joy in their faces! Each day at Disney we had a fantastic time and you can learn a lot about your kids when standing in a forty-five minute line!

As you know, healthy eating is very important to Justin and I. We like good food and tend to eat more vegetarian and shy away from the traditional “fast food”. We were worried we’d be stuck eating hot dogs or pizza all week, but we were extremely surprised at how great all the food offerings are at Disney. It was never hard to find a good salad or veggie option for lunch (the cauliflower tacos at Magic Kingdom are to die for!) and we had great luck with all our dinner reservations. We HAD to spend our first night at the Hoop-De-Do Review at Fort Wilderness, the wild west variety show they put on. I had gone to the Hoop-De-Do Review when I first visited Disney at age eight and I had such fond memories, I really wanted that for the kids too. And the show and the food did not disappoint! We were impressed with how good their fried chicken was and really enjoyed the all-you-can-drink sangria….. perhaps that’s why the chicken was so good. My favorite place to eat in all the parks is the Restaurant Marrakesh at Morocco in Epcot. It is one of the best kept secrets at Walt Disney World!! Each night they have a belly dancer that comes around the tables which is really cool but the food is absolutely fabulous. They have several great lamb dishes, cous cous and kebabs which Tabatha devoured and some unique desserts. You can get a real culinary adventure here and I would recommend it to anyone. We also splurged on our last night and ate at Tiffins at Animal Kingdom, which is like a five star restaurant! It’s a very eclectic meditteranean restaurant that I think it just superb. It’s a higher price tag but totally worth the cost!

I am nostalgic and a purest, so to me the best ride at all of Disney is Space Mountain. I love whipping around in the dark and flying down that track, but I was really impressed with some of the new rides that have been added to the park in the past fifteen years. Fast Track and Soarin’ at Epcot are wonderful and worth the long wait. I was also very impressed with the new Rock n’ Roll coaster at Hollywood Studios. It’s almost as good at the old classic Tower of Terror, which Justin and the kids hated! I love Tower of Terror. I don’t know what their problems were…scaredy cats! This was also my first visit to Animal Kingdom and I absolutely loved it! I don’t know how I missed it all these years. Everest and the Safari rides are exceptional and of course the Flight of Passage at Pandora is truly one of a kind. We ended our time at Disney at Animal Kingdom and Flight of Passage was our last ride, where you are simulating riding a banshee from the movie Avatar! This ride has everything… you soar through the sky, you feel the wind in your hair, you can smell flowers, you dive through a waterfall. It’s stimulating to all of your senses and it was a great way to end an amazing time at Disney.

So, are Justin and I sucked into the magic. Yes! I hate to admit it but yes. Might we become “Disney people”? I doubt it, but you never know. I was surprised how sad I felt when the four days were over. I look back and feel such pure joy, dare I say Disney magic?, when I think about our time there. Everyone is happy at Disney World. Everyone wants to talk to you, know where you are from, give you a great tip, or high five you when you leave a ride. The magic and happiness is contagious. We are already talking about going back when the Star Wars land in Hollywood Studios is open. Right now, the Star Wars ride and Hollywood Studios is pretty cool, and we did get to hug Chewbacca, which is life changing, so I can only imagine what Star World, or whatever they are calling it, is going to be like for Star Wars fans like it. It will probably blow our minds!

It’s nice to be in a utopia for a few days. It’s hard to leave. It’s hard not to envy the “Disney people” a little, because they are on to something. It’s fun to live outside of reality for just a few days at least.