In 2011 I not only went to Florida for the first time, but then I went to Disney World nine months later! My friend Tania works for ESPN, and because they’re owned by Disney she receives certain discounts and a number of free tickets to the park every year. So she invited me and two other friends to finally take advantage of the perks! Let the magic begin.
(November 7 2011) Day 1. Flying out from Boston, Landing in Orlando, Entering Disney World.
I arrived early Thursday morning. My other friends had arrived the night before, but per usual I needed the extra vacation hours and met them there. We stayed on campus at the All Star Movies Resort. The hotel room itself was pretty standard, but there were a couple of nice pools, an on-site cafeteria and souvenir shop, and fun decorations throughout.
After I checked into the room we hopped on the bus and spent our first day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We were pretty hungry by the time we arrived, so we went to a restaurant with a drive-in space space theme for lunch. It was fun, with booths made of antique cars and old sci-fi movies playing on a large screen.
Our first ride of the trip was the Spectacular Journey Into the Movies. Then we did some more rides, including the Studios Backlot Tour, Tower of Terror, StarTours, and Rockin’ Roller Coaster. We also visited the Magic of Disney Animation exhibit, where we got pictures with Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh.
Tired and happy, we ended our day back at the hotel with an outdoor viewing of Beauty and the Beast. Perfect!
(November 8 2011) Day 2. Disney World.
The next day was devoted to Magic Kingdom. From the get go it was pure magic. I mean, that castle! Who doesn’t love a castle? We visited all of the areas, including Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Fronteirland, and Main Street USA. This is also when Lauren and Tania each bought their Mickey ears, which they wore for the majority of the remaining vacation. We went on a lot of rides: Haunted mansion, Big Thunder, Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain, Stitch’s Great Escape, the PeopleMover…
We also got a photo of Lauren with Stitch, her favorite Disney character. Yes, we waited in line for the picture, but it was worth it to get the photo of him pointing to her ankle Stitch tattoo. We hung out for the nighttime parade because earlier we ran into a fellow high school friend who works at Disney and let us know he’d be performing in the parade that night. It was so much fun! I definitely got into the celebration spirit and danced in the sidewalk with the performers and children.
(November 9 2011) Day 3. Day Trip to Universal Studios.
Even though our main destination for this trip was Disney World, I was possibly even more excited for our planned day trip to Universal Studios in order to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I am a book geek to the core, and have always especially had a special love for the Harry Potter series. Luckily, Lauren happened to have a friend that worked at Universal and we were able to score discounted passes!
Oh man. What can I say? It was amazing. More than I even imagined. The sets were spectacular. Hogwarts Express and all of the shops were exactly what I imagined them to look like. We heard the frog choir sing, went on the Dragon roller coaster, toured Hogwarts and went on the ride inside. I drank Butter Beer and purchased a sweatshirt. Danielle even mailed a postcard home from the Owl Post.
We did eventually check out the rest of Universal Studios, too. Highlights included the rides for Jurassic Park and Jaws, but we also went on a lot of 3D rides based on various other shows and movies like Shrek and the Simpsons…and then we went back to Harry Potter World for one last look to end the day. So fun!
(November 10 2011) Day 4. Disney World.
We began our last full day at Disney resting by the pool at our hotel. This was our first day sleeping in and swimming, which felt awesome. We had been waking up early and walking around endlessly every day of vacation so far, and we needed some rest.
Once we felt refreshed enough to leave the pool, we spent the afternoon at EPCOT. We knew that we would be there during the International Food and Wine Festival, which is why we didn’t want to start the day too early. We purchased our passport cards and began the tour around the world, which we completed at least twice. Between the four of us, I think we hit each country at least once for food and/or beer or wine. Everything was delicious! We also went on a couple of rides along the way, including the Spirit of Norway and the Seas with Nemo and Friends.
We left around the time the fireworks began. We were very tired, very full, and very happy.
(November 11 2011) Day 5. Leaving Disney World, Flying out from Orlando, Heading Home.
Out flight was not until 6 p.m., so before catching the Disney’s Magical Express back to the airport we spent the first part of the day at the Disney’s last theme park: Animal Kingdom. I definitely want to spend more time in this park during my next trip to Orlando. We were able to see the Tree of Life and go on the Safari and Dinosaur rides (which were both super fun), but I still feel as though there was much more to be seen.
All in all, Disney World was everything I imagined it would be. I was not disappointed at all – and can’t wait to go back! I need to see the updated Fantasyland that we saw numerous advertisements for and has since opened and the assumed additions to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (when that happens). Hopefully Tania will still be working for Disney when I plan my next trip so that we can get the same great deals : )