While my title is a little snarky – we really did have the best time visiting the theme parks in Orlando this past week! I just wasn’t prepared for the humidity. I complain about the heat in Phoenix a lot, but I finally found something worse: heat + humidity. I will never complain about “dry heat” ever again!
Day 1 | Animal Kingdom
We hit the ground running on after only 5 hours of sleep in Animal Kingdom. Not ideal but we were so excited for Disney that we didn’t even feel tired! We got very lucky by heading straight to the Avatar ride Flight of Passage first. I have heard that this ride is really hard to get on without a FastPass or a long wait, but the line said 75 minutes and we decided to go for it – we only waited about 30 minutes! It was an amazing ride and I’m really glad we didn’t let the wait time scare us off. Animal Kingdom is sort of like a theme park and zoo all in one, so we just walked around a lot and enjoyed looking at all the animals.
Things sort of fell apart after late afternoon. I’m a die-hard at Disney parks, and always go “rope drop to fireworks” (or open to close, for you non-Disnerds!). But I completely underestimated the humidity; I was drinking water but it wasn’t nearly enough, and by 5:00 I was in tears over my overpriced dinner – too nauseous to eat and just dehydrated, exhausted and sad that I felt like we only got a half-day’s worth of time in the park. But Jacob was calm and patient and talked me into leaving early. No amount of money spent is worth our health and happiness, and I learned that lesson hard the first day. I’m SO glad we called it early. As soon as we got back to the hotel, I fell asleep for a 3-hour air conditioned nap, woke up and ate the rest of my overpriced dinner, and then fell back asleep for another 9 hours – I clearly needed it!
Day 2 | EPCOT
The second day was infinitely better! EPCOT opened a little later, so we enjoyed a slow morning and I was able to plan much better for the elements after getting a lot of sleep and rehydrating. I cut my caffeine consumption in half and increased water. It was also the Food & Wine Festival, which meant we were literally eating every 30 minutes or so when we wandered across something delicious. I never got so hungry that I had the jitters, and I got to try some amazing foods from all over the “world”! Our favorite were these chicken buns from Japan; we ate one and then backtracked through three or four countries to get another one, they were that good!
Again we got lucky on rides, and even got to do one of our favorites twice – Soarin’ Around the World! It is such an incredible ride that simulates flying over some amazing places all over the planet: above Antarctic glaciers, the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal and even Monument Valley, just a few hours from us. We had a reservation for dinner in England, and we watched the evening rainstorm over Fish & Chips and Shepherd’s Pie – soo delicious! We ended the night sharing an Irish pudding dessert and hot tea while watching the fireworks / light show called Illuminations, which is ending at the end of September, so it was neat to see that before it is retired.
Day 3 | Magic Kingdom
We were running low on sleep again by the third day, and our feet were sore from walking 10 miles a day, but we didn’t care because it was Magic Kingdom day! This was the park I was most excited for. There’s just something so fun about truly feeling like a kid again – the castle, Mickey & Minnie, and seeing all the joy on the kids’ faces. We had breakfast at the Be Our Guest restaurant before the park was even open, and it was one of my favorite experience the whole trip! The dining room was absolutely lovely, and the food was really good. My only regret is that we didn’t have a chance to try the gray stuff and see if it was truly delicious 😉
I couldn’t believe how fortunate we were getting with rides! I thought for sure we wouldn’t get on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride, as it was always a long wait every other time I had checked it. But it was the same exact situation as Flight of Passage! We got in a line that said 70 minutes, and waited just under 40. For the rest of the day, we bounced around the park and saw as much as we could. We watched the cute parade and dance party in front of the castle, rode rides and took little nap breaks inside the air-conditioned shows (my new favorite Disney hack). We also sat to have our caricature drawn, just as we did at Disneyland back in January. It is so fun to see how the different artists capture us, and I think it will be a tradition we continue for every Disney visit.
Our dinner was a buffet with the characters from Winnie the Pooh, and I have to say we had such an amazing time! I wasn’t sure we’d enjoy something meant entirely for the kids, but as Walt Disney once said about the parks, “You’re dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.” We had such a fun time laughing with the characters and snapping pictures. And even more fun watching the kids enjoy it so much. It ended up being our most expensive meal of the trip, but I’d say it was well worth it for the laughs we had!
The night ended with a great view of the fireworks over the castle. I wish I had taken a picture or two, but I was so enraptured I didn’t even think to take my phone out – which I suppose is a good thing! Disney always does a fantastic job with their fireworks show, and this one might be the best I’ve seen yet. It managed to give me chills, make me laugh and make me cry all in one! It was marvelous. Here’s a video of the show I found on YouTube – it’s worth the watch! And a whole bunch more photos from the day:
Day 4 | Universal Studios
Our final day of the trip was the parks at Universal Studios, or should I just say Harry Potter World because let’s be honest, that’s clearly the best part about it. We were dead tired and sore, but determined to make the most of this last day! We were determined to get on the newest ride at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure! But when we arrived the wait was already 3.5 hours, and we resigned ourselves to the fact that we probably wouldn’t get to go on it.
So we wandered between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, enjoying the other short ride times and taking in the fantastic job they did portraying the wizarding world. We also managed the catch the show about animal actors and how they are trained, and it is the cutest thing on earth! It’s amazing what they can teach the animals (all kinds of animals!) to do. I even got to pet the sweetest Corgi, Alice, after the show. I was so excited I only got blurry pictures, but she was just so adorable.
By the time we had wandered back over near Hagrid’s, the wait was down to 90 minutes! We had heard the ride was amazing, so it seemed worth it to wait. And per our usual luck this trip, we only waited exactly an hour for the best roller coaster I’ve ever been on! It was thrilling but not too scary, and the theming was wonderful. I hope next time we visit, the waits won’t be as long and we can ride it more than once, because it really was the most incredible ride!
We did a little bit of souvenir shopping – we usually buy ornaments for the Christmas tree to remind us of our travels, and then brought home some edible souvenirs like candy from Honeyduke’s! By the time we left the park, it was like our bodies had realized the fun was over and just completely gave out. We hobbled like 90-year-olds for the rest of the evening and throughout the airport the next day.
While we definitely went pretty hard this trip, I wouldn’t change it for the world! We got to see everything we wanted to see, go on all the rides and eat some amazing food, plus I even reconnected a little with my yoga practice – mainly because we needed something after all the walking and standing and riding we were putting our bodies through. But just 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night was enough to remind me why I love yoga and get me back to practicing when I got home. Can’t wait for our next magical Disney vacation – maybe….Disneyland Paris?! 😉