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    Disney World – Orlando, Florida USA Part 4

    I hope everyone had a beautiful and stuffed Thanksgiving yesterday! How does time pass so quickly? How the heck did Thanksgiving past already, and almost at the end of 2016? What? Didn’t 2016 just start? Ugh. What do you mean I went on vacation 4 months ago and still haven’t finished writing about it?

    Sorry! Work has been busy and I have been traveling for work/personal lately… so many things to do, so little time. Adulting is hard (did I forget to take my gummy vitamins today again? I don’t remember). But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, the magical world of Disney.

    I think I’ve been to Disney World 5 times now. Twice as a baby/kid, three times as an adult. Ha! And I will not go back until my future kiddies want to go to Disney World. However, Disney World is such a well run machine. They do try to make it really the happiest place on earth. Yes, the rides are for kids but the overall theme, decor, staff, music, feels makes you feel like a kid again. Bless up.

    Disney World is comprised of 4 theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom; and 2 water parks: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.

    I went to Magic Kingdom a few years ago for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and it was the cutest thing. I heard the same about Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. If you could only go to Disney one day, I’d definitely recommend trying to go during these two events. And especially if you’ve never been to any Disney park before, Magic Kingdom is the OG classic… the heart of it all. Although the event itself usually starts at 7PM, but with your event ticket, you can enter the park as early as 4PM. Many rides are still open during the event. The event is so FRIGGIN cute, even if you are not a Disney fanatic (but enjoy watching children dressed in the cutest costumes trick or treat around the park).

    The classic Cinderella Castle shot.
    The classic Cinderella Castle shot.

    Anyway, I was only in Disney for 2 days and chose Magic Kingdom and Epcot for my 2 days. The company I interned for closed down Animal Kingdom for a few hours on a summer evening so that was pretty cool; they only have one coaster I believe, yet I remember that being pretty fun. Hollywood Studios only had 2 rides that are for ‘bigger’ kids: Aerosmith’s Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror but other than that, I didn’t think I would’ve wanted to spend the whole day there. I never went to the water parks so I can’t talk about those.

    In this post, I’ll go into:

    • Getting from Port Canaveral to Disney World via rental car
    • Accommodations
    • Magic Kingdom and Epcot
      • Overall experience/tips
      • Favorite and least favorite attractions
      • Food
    • Disney Springs

    Enjoy!

    Getting from Port Canaveral to Disney World

    We returned to Port Canaveral on Sunday and took a free shuttle back to the Avis car rental center. If you rent a car and need to go there from the cruise terminal, just exit the port and follow the signs for the rental car shuttle area. There’s no designated spot for each company; essentially, wherever it pulls up in is where you need to board. We drove from Port Canaveral to Lake Buena Vista and dropped off the car at Avis inside The Hilton Hotel near Disney Springs. That was the closest we found to/inside Disney World. Although there is a shuttle to Disney Springs, we were not patient and just dragged our suitcases to Disney Springs’ bus terminal, and boarded a bus to Walt Disney’s World Dolphin Hotel.

    Another awesome thing about the Disney experience is the transportation inside Disney World. Buses, monorail, boats are all free and convenient to transport to any park, hotel, or shopping areas inside Disney World.

    Accommodations

    When I was younger and went to Disney World with my family, I remember staying in a more off-set budget-friendly hotel called Disney All Stars: Sports. This time, I wanted to experience what’d it be like to stay actually within walking distance of a park, or at least feel like I’m ‘more part of the park’. Luckily, being an SPGbae, I found two SPG hotels inside Disney World: Dolphin (10,000 pts/night) and Swan (12,000 pts/night). They are literally right next to each other but I chose Dolphin only because it was 2K points less a night. The Dolphin was fine – a bit outdated but the staff was super friendly and I was mostly comfortable. Plus the location is awesome. It’s along the boardwalk, and only a 10-15 min walk from Epcot. If you’re SPG Platinum, you get to waive the $25 resort fee they throw at all guests.

    Since it’s inside Disney World but not a Disney-owned hotel, you’ll get a lot of extra benefits that other guests at Disney-owned hotels guests get.. but not all. Some of those benefits:

    • Everyone gets FastPass+ for free, where you can reserve up to 3 rides in a day. Normal guests can do this 30 days in advance, but you can do this 60 days in advance.
    • Extra magic hours: Each day one of the four Disney Theme Parks opens an hour early or stays open up to an extra two hours after regular closing for you to enjoy select attractions. (Valid Theme Park ticket and Disney Resort ID required for each adult).
    • Free parking at Disney World parks
    • Free delivery of gifts bought inside the park to your hotel
    • All other benefits: http://www.swandolphin.com/aboutus/benefits.html

    There are “Friend Ship” boats right outdoors (CUTE NAME obvy) that goes to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. There is a bus stop for all other Disney parks and areas.

    Once we checked in, we dropped off our bags to be stored as our room wasn’t ready yet, and headed off to Magic Kingdom!

    Magic Kingdom

    Overall Experience/Tips

    I think I already said this but if you never been to Disney World and could only go to one, this is the park to go to. It obviously has the picture-esque Cinderella Castle that you need to take a picture in front of. The fireworks show at the end of the day is really cool. Everything seems outdated but that’s because it’s Disney. They don’t need to make new rides to keep the crowds coming. It is the most ‘classic Disney’ themed of all the parks, and you’ll get to see fun characters roaming around (with kids and adults lined up to take a picture with them and get their autograph). It also has the most attractions, I believe. Lines were mostly crazy for all the popular rides when I went in August; thank goodness for FastPass+. Seriously, plan which days at which parks you’ll be at and set an alarm in your calendar to book your FastPass+ selections. It’s absolutely worth it. And it’s complimentary with your ticket, so why not. Watch out for the crazy Florida weather. It’s nice that there are many indoor areas, or rides that are indoors, just to stay out of the rain. It was downpouring for a good 30 minutes and what my BF and I did was kept going on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover ride (all under awnings / indoor ride) repetitively until the rain stopped. Also, be aware of what you bring in! They DO NOT allow selfie sticks inside the park. They will nicely keep it for you at will call but it’s just annoying to have to do that.

    Attractions

    It’s definitely because I’m not a kid anymore, but the rides are not very thrilling for me. They’re cute. But not thrilling. However, the rides I did enjoy for what it is: Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, It’s a Small World (love the message of this ride), Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Mickey’s PhilharMagic.

    Rides that I thought were boring: Tomorrowland Speedway, Haunted Mansion

    Food

    We ate lunch at Casey’s Corner inside Main Street, USA; we shared corndog nuggets and a pulled pork hot dog with fries and a bag of apples. The wait is a bit long and the food average, but I didn’t expect a lot anyway.

    caseyscorner
    Lunch at Casey’s Corner

    We ate a snack at Sleepy Hollow in Liberty Square. A yelp search told me that the waffle desserts here were bomb. They were right.

    waffle_at_liberty_square
    Fresh Fruit Waffle ($7.49) at Sleepy Hollow in Liberty Square

    We were exhausted and done with the park by 6ish (lol we are so old) so we decided to not wait for the fireworks at 9PM and just go eat dinner and walk around Disney Springs, since we were going to see the fireworks at Epcot the next day. We took a bus from Magic Kingdom to Disney Springs.

    Disney Springs

    This used to be known as “Downtown Disney” but no longer has comedy clubs, clubs, or anything remotely ‘non-family’ friendly. It has a lot of stores you can find in your local mall as well as restaurants to eat it. There’s a movie theatre, bowling alley, and lots of music entertainment. It’s still a pretty cool place to check out and doesn’t have much Disney feel here, which is a nice change up.

    My yelp skills found Earl of Sandwich for dinner – it’s actually pretty cheap for a Theme Park area and it’s delicious! It’s a line-up-order and find-your-own-seating-and-wait-for-your-number-to-be-called kind of place = no tip = less money I’ll have to spend!

    A delish Hawaiian BBQ at Earl of Sandwich
    A delish Hawaiian BBQ at Earl of Sandwich (only $6.99)
    Equally delish Chipotle Chicken Avocado at Earl of Sandwich
    Equally delish Chipotle Chicken Avocado at Earl of Sandwich ($6.99)

    There is also a Uniqlo store where I saw cool Disney-themed shirts in the window. I ended up buying an awesome shirt to wear the next day at Epcot.

    Uniqlo Disney Shirts! ($15)
    Uniqlo Disney Shirts! ($15)
    XIAO LONG BAO MICKEY MOUSE YO!
    XIAO LONG BAO MICKEY MOUSE YO!

    Epcot

    Overall Experience/Tips

    As an adult, this is my favorite theme park out of all of them. As if you couldn’t already tell, I love traveling the world and experiencing, learning about, and most importantly, eating food of all cultures. This is the place to do all that… in one day! I recently learned Epcot was supposed to stand for Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow and it was Walt Disney’s plans to make it a living community “of the future”, trying out cool technologies to solve current living problems. Here’s more on that if you’re interested: www.the-original-epcot.com. Anyway, while I think it would’ve been cool to see what it was supposed to be, the current park is pretty cool too.

    Attractions

    I went ‘all around the world’, through each of the 11 countries in the World Showcase and went on a few rides in FutureWorld. I thought Disney did a great job creating an experience of immersion in each of its countries. The staff working in each country apparently are from that country, which is neat. My favorite rides were: Test Track and Living With the Land. I wanted to go on Soarin’ and Frozen Ever After but I couldn’t get another FastPass+ selection (you could only choose 1 between Test Track, Soarin’, and Frozen) and the lines were way too long. Pixar Short Film Festival and Gran Fiesta Tour were both closed that day, ugh.

    They have character meet ups and various entertainment acts happening throughout the day. One I did catch was the Chinese acrobat performance in China and that was cool to see. The Illuminations/Fireworks show is an amazing treat. We stood in Italy and got a pretty sweet view.

    Here’s some shots from my trip around the world!

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    Food

    I really wanted to try foods that I didn’t normally have access to, but living in New York City, it’s a bit of a challenge. Since France was closest to the back entrance of Epcot (where the friend ship dock was… we took the boat the Dolphin hotel) and I love French food, we ate breakfast as the Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie (France).

     

    Chocolate Croissant at Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie in France ($3.35)
    Chocolate Croissant at Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie in France ($3.35)
    I forgot what this is, sorry! Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie in France
    I forgot what this was, sorry! Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie in France

    Lunch at Tangierine Cafe (Morocco). This was average.

    Mediterranean Sliders Combo at Tangierine Café in Morocco ($14.99) ; we (2) split this
    Mediterranean Sliders Combo at Tangierine Café in Morocco ($14.99) ; we (2) split this

    Tacos at La Cantina De San Angel (Mexico) for a snack later in the day. The food at those places are pretty good, but again I wasn’t going to expect anything amazing. What was surprisingly amazingly good was my dinner: the Norwegian Club sandwich at Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe (Norway). What a superb sandwich combo. Bravo Norway. Bravo. The Schoolbread was okay. A lot of people raved about it on Yelp. The BF had the Ham and Apple sandwich and he said it was really good too.

    Norwegian Club at Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe ($8.49)
    Norwegian Club at Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in Norway  ($8.49)
    Schoolbread at the Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in Norway ($3.19)
    Schoolbread at the Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in Norway ($3.19)

    Overall, it was an awesome 2 days spent at Disney! I’m done with Disney for now, but I can’t wait to share this magical world with my future potatoes. Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any questions or tips for next time!

    xoxo Eileen

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