Gah! This took me too long to post. Apologies. Anyways. What do you do at Disney World?
This is the question I asked B countless times in the years between when he first suggested going and when we finally went. I had never been and I really just didn’t *get it*. I mean… we’re not those people who love kids movies or would geek out over see winnie the pooh. And we don’t really like kids all that much. Plus– B doesn’t ride rides! So I was seriously so confused as to what it was we’d actually do at Disney World if we were to go, and I never felt like I got a good answer from B (who generally just said “the food is so good! And then there is like… shows and stuff.” Um… ok?).
So! Here is the post I’ve been excited to write about WHAT it is we did, so other people who haven’t been to Disney before can see what kind of stuff you can do– even if you’re not someone who has kids or cares about Disney characters or rides rides.
First though, I should state that we went to Disney (unknowingly) at the PERFECT time. My friend who lives in Orlando and worked at Disney for three years said the park is NEVER more dead than it was when we were there— which I guess makes a certain amount of sense since we were there during the first few weeks of school (so after the summer rush and before parents would feel comfortable pulling kids out for a vacation). This means that we really had no problems with crowds and we didn’t have get a single fastpass (a free service that sort of lets you make a reservation for something later in the day to avoid lines). The longest we waited for anything was 20 minutes, and most things we waited a mere 5-10 minutes. So that was pretty awesome and I highly recommend the first few weeks of September if you’re going to go to Disney and can swing it!
Day 1 – Friday – Downtown Disney/Disney Quest
We decided to go to Downtown Disney our first day because by the time we were settled into the hotel it was already 2pm and we didn’t want to pay for a day’s ticket at the parks when we’d only use it for half the day. Downtown Disney is a free area that has a ton of restaurants and shopping, and also has Disney Quest. Disney Quest is a five floor arcade that is kind of awesome. Tickets were $44 a person, which made my eyes pop out of my head when we saw that… but I can’t deny it was a lot of fun.
In addition to all the normal arcade games, sports games (like basketball and boxing and DDR), and classic arcade games, there was also several virtual reality games. Some had simulators, and some had those helmet things that you put on and it looks like you’re in the game. My absolute FAVORITE thing at Disney Quest was the roller coaster simulator though! You get a card to swipe at one of the computers in a little computer lab type room, and then a program guides you through building your own coaster. You get to choose each track section and add things like hills, loops, and barrel rolls. When you’re done, you take the card to a guy standing outside of a little room and he shows you into a little 2-seater simulator thing. The simulator pod closes over you and you have a normal roller coaster harness on, and then you actually get to ride your coaster! Like, you actually roll all the way around and flip over. By far the best simulator I’ve ever been on and it really felt like you were on a coaster! So much fun.
We ended up spending about 4.5 hours in the arcade, and I’m not even what I’d call a real “game person”… so that should tell you something about the amount of stuff there is to do there. We had a great time and it was the perfect thing to do with a random half day. (But not really the kind of thing you take a ton of pictures of… so sorry about that!)
Day 2 – Animal Kingdom – Hollywood Studios
We decided on Animal Kingdom for our first day in the parks because it was supposed to be sunny out and we knew we’d be outside a lot for Animal Kingdom. We got to the park right when it opened at 9am and headed straight for the Kilimanjaro Safari Expedition. We headed for this first because it was what I wanted to do most in the park, and because it was most likely to have a line so we thought if it was busy we could get a fastpass and come back later. Luckily it only had about a 20 minute wait and it took us almost that long to walk through the switch-backs— so it felt like no time at all. It was, in a word, awesome. You get loaded onto an open air tram-type vehicle and get driven through a fake safari where lots of animals are roaming free. We almost had a giraffe stick his head in our tram. I am a huge animal lover (especially african animals) so this was super fun to see! You can tell how close we are especially because every photo in this post, including those below, was taken with my iphone!**
Next up we took the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail which is basically just like walking through the African animal area of any larger zoo. Since I really like apes and whatnot, I enjoyed myself.
Once we were done in Africa, we decided to head over to Asia for another self-guided stroll through the Asian animal area called the Maharajah Jungle Trek. Tigers and bats the size of cats… what more can a girl ask for?
Okay so this is a really shitty blurry photo of a peacock-like bird. But I wanted to show it to you so I could tell this story. About 5 seconds after I took this photo I said “wow this bird is like… HUGE. I wonder what he looks like when he flies!!” and then like 3 seconds after that the bird ran away and took flight and totally dusted this chick standing 10 feet behind us who SHRIEKED and hit the ground like someone was shooting at her. I might have laughed my ass off. A lot.
We then saw our first show of the trip, the Flights of Wonder show which was about half an hour long and had somewhere between fifteen and twenty free-flying birds doing tricks. Very cool to watch. After a quick lunch at Yak and Yeti, we decided we were done with the animals (there is really only the African and Asian sections for animals).
We headed to the big tree in the center of the park, which is where the It’s Tough to Be a Bug show was. This was something B loved as a kid and wanted me to see. It was definitely geared for children but it was fun nonetheless. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t been to Disney– but I will say it was something I’d not experienced before and is a really fun (and short) show to see.
Once we were done with the bug show, we decided we were done with Animal Kingdom. If we’d had more time we probably would’ve seen the Festival of the Lion King show which is a 30 minute broadway type show, but it wasn’t important enough to us to delay going to Hollywood Studios. Otherwise there was nothing more we really wanted to see at Animal Kingdom because we don’t do rides and the Dino area seemed totally inundated with kids.
So– off to Hollywood Studios we went! As with Animal Kingdom, we decided quickly what we most wanted to do and headed for that first. That brought us to the Star Tours attraction which is a simulator-type Star Wars thing. I know a simulator might not sound cool, but Disney simulators were way better than any others I’ve ever been on. You do really feel like you’re on a space ship and it was very cool. This is the cool hat-thing at the center of Hollywood Studios. I didn’t take many pictures of the rides or shows because we were too busy doing to stop and take photos!
Next up we did the Studio Backlot Tour which takes you on a bus around fake movie sets and shows you how some of the special effects and stuff work. This was our only real dud of the parks. B said it used to be cooler but it kind of wasn’t worth the half hour we spent on it. What was cool was the building you walk through on your way out of the tour which has real costumes from movie sets. We both really enjoyed looking at them all!
After the tour we went to the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show which was a stadium-type event. It was about a half hour long and showed some amazzzzing stunt driving. It also showed some crazy modifications to cars and how the cars in movies can do some of the things you see them do. I liked the show, but B LOVED it. This was his favorite thing at Hollywood Studios.
We then headed to the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular which was a smaller show (and mercifully under cover) showing how stunt men work. I thought it was really fun, especially because I’m kind of an Indiana Jones geek.
By the time this show was done it was dinner time and we did the Sci-Fi Drive in Theater for dinner, which took a while. Once we were done it was time to head to the big pavilion to see the nightly show: Fantasmic. I thought it was going to be a fireworks thing, but it was more of a water/laser show with a few fireworks at the end. This wasn’t really my favorite thing of the day, but I’m glad we did it just to say I’d seen it and it is probably worth doing if you’re into Disney characters at all.
And that brings to an end our first full day at Disney! It was over 12 hours and kind of exhausting, but there was definitely no shortage of stuff to do like I’d been concerned about!
Our second full day in the parks began and ended at Epcot. I don’t fully understand what the big golf-ball-ish thing at the center of the park is all about, but it sure was cool looking. Especially in the white-hazy sky we dealt with first thing that morning.
We decided to do the mostly indoor stuff in the morning because it looked like it might rain at any moment, and was actually drizzling on at off. The front half of Epcot is called “future world” and isn’t necessarily futuristic so much as it is random cool stuff that is hard to categorize. The back half of Epcot is all the worlds you generally hear about.
So the first thing we headed for was called Soarin’. You sit in a thing that reminded me of a long ski lift (maybe 8 seats across) with a roller coaster type harness that comes down over you. There are 9 of those lift-type deals that everyone gets sorted into and strapped down in. Once you’re in, you get lifted up and forwards (feet dangling!) into a huuuuge white screen that is shaped like a bowl tipped on its side. So no matter where you look, up down or side to side, all you see is white screen. Then this amazing imax movie plays and your “lift” tilts and moves so it seems like you are flying through the trees, over the ocean, etc. Seriously SO COOL.
Next up we hit the Nemo building. The Nemo ride itself was just okay. Kids would love it and it was a decent place to grab a minute to make out with your husband (who me? lol) but mostly it was just okay. The rest of the building was AWESOME though. I’m kind of a sucker for aquariums, but these were particularly good in my opinion. Check out the real Nemo! And friends! (lol I might be really lame but these were super exciting to me)
We were also super lucky that we just happened to be around at 10am which is when they go into the massively huge (think millions of gallons, the size of a gymnasium) tank and feed the sting ray. I wish I knew how to post videos because I took an awesome one, but all my photos turned out blurry because of the water + darkness + movement + iphone. Sorry!
Once we were done there we went back to the Land Pavilion where we had seen Soarin’ to do the Living with the Land boat ride (through a building) which was all about sustainable food and showing laboratories and green houses that actually supply a lot of the veggies at the Disney World Parks. After lunch in the UK area (which is close to Future World) we headed to the Imagination! Pavillion to do the Figment ride, which was a favorite of B’s from when he was a kid. This was all about how you perceive your five senses and how sometimes our brain fills in gaps for things that we don’t really perceive. It was interesting but we both agreed it was probably cooler when you were about 10 haha.
We were super excited that there was no line at all so we got to go right in. This is where we made a little bit of an error though. There are two options for this, green line or orange line. The green line is the “mild” version and the orange is the “intense” version. However, this is “just” a simulator (hahahaha yea we were dumb). Even though B gets sick on roller coasters and rides he thought that because it was a simulator he’d be fine and we went through the orange line. Past about five warnings that people who get motion sickness should ask to be moved to the green line. You see where this is going. This ride was, as described, INTENSE. It was as gut-twisting as any roller coaster I’ve ever been on, and I’ve ridden a lot of roller coasters. Let’s just say… it’s a good thing that there were air sickness bags at every seat (this should’ve been about our tenth clue that maybe it was a bad idea). I was okay but B required a bit of sitting after this one– poor guy!
Our primary goal after the Mars ride was to find something that we could sit down in for a while but didn’t move too fast. The Spaceship Earth attraction was just the right thing. This is the ride that is actually inside of the golf-ball type deal.
This is basically the history of mankind that you see on a slow-moving tram type thing that takes you up to the peak of the golf ball thing and then back down again. Once we were done with that, my friend from high school and her boyfriend met us to walk the worlds!! I won’t go through what we saw in every world, but I will say that we stopped in all of them except the US (um, I live here) and Mexico (just ran out of time before our dinner reservation, also? we’ve been there). Mostly the worlds have cool shopping, architecture, and restaurants. A few of them have museum or gallery type buildings and at least one of them (Norway) has a ride, which we did not do. I was mostly in it for the shopping and the food, as it should be in my opinion! Here are a few random photos. Oh also? street performers!
I won’t go through my days 4-5 because B was at his conference and mostly we just hung with my friends, but it is worth mentioning that our hotel had an amazing series of pools (most of them do, if not all), and there is also the COOLEST put-put ever right by Epcot. I don’t remember the name of the place, but it was directly next to the Epcot hotels and it had like… real mini golf. Like golf, but mini. So the greens were something like 100 ft long with actual hills and sand traps and no nice barriers around the edges. And it was HARD. Like… it took us 2.5 hours to play 18 holes hard. Like I laughed so hard I cried at how bad we all sucked, hard. So if you’re into mini golf, I highly recommend it!!
Well… that is it. And maybe my longest post ever at almost three. THOUSAND. words. Wowza. Sorry about that. But I guess it speaks to my point: there is stuff to do at Disney World. Even if you don’t care about Disney characters and you don’t ride roller coasters and you don’t super love the food. You will not be bored! And if you do love all of those things? Even better! I will say that I felt our two days was totally sufficient at the parks. I had no desire to see Magic Kingdom since from what I hear it is mostly roller coasters, characters, and kids… so that did help with the briefness. I’d say if I wanted to really fully see all the parks, 4 days would be more than enough. I’m not really sure what people do when they go for like… 7-10 days… but I guess things probably take longer with kids and/or when it is a lot busier. And thus ends my Disney reviews… WHEW.
**Might seem kind of weird that I just got this awesome new camera then went on vacation and only took iPhone pics. Nope, didn’t forget the camera… actually chose not to take it. I knew this vacation was going to be a lot of being hot (Florida in early September!) and a lot of walking, at least some rides that would require me to leave my personal belongings off my person, and possibly some rain. Mostly, I just did not want to stress about my camera or have to lug it around for two days. I wanted to just be present and enjoy myself and actually planned to NOT take pictures. Except I’m me and I had my phone in my pocket, so obviously I ended up taking like 150 photos anyways. Ah well!