Well, the wife and I returned from our 5 day stay at WDW. For those keeping score, I had posted some questions about the parks, where to stay, etc as I had not been to WDW or Epcot in about 20 years, and the wife had never been there.
The wife and I live in the Pacific Northwest so we knew the first day was going to consist of 9 hours of airport/flight switching fun as we made our way across the country.
We arrived in Orlando at 6:00pm anxious and tired with plenty of time to find the Port Orleans Riverside (or so we thought). We grabbed our rental car and headed out of the airport snapping shots of the beautiful Florida sunset as we paid the tolls heading towards the Magic Kingdom.
Rule number one when visiting the Magic Kingdom for the first time:
If you miss a turnoff to your hotel, STOP AND GET DIRECTIONS. Being the stubborn male breed of human, I did not and we circled the Disney grounds for 1 complete hour before finding the hotel. Making matters worse was the priceless look on the cast members face at the Magic Kingdoms parking hut when we asked for directions only to be told, "it's real simple, just follow the bus on your right".
10 Minutes later we were at the Hotel. After getting the "all clear" from the guard out front, the gate lifted and we were on our way to check in. Check in was an absolute breeze, and it was off to the room. The night environment around PO Riverside was fantastic, w/ folks walking around, talking, and just vacationing. We on the otherhand were a mess after flying all day and trying to find the dang place. We grabbed a bite to eat at the River Mill and went straight to bed.
Rule number two when visiting the Magic Kingdom for the first time:
You will not see everything you want to see in 5 days. Period. Plan accordingly.
Instead of taking a huge amount of time writing what we did everyday, I'll just give a brief thought on the following days, and our thoughts on what we saw.
First Day: Animal Kingdom
Simply put. Amazing. We loved it like no other amusement park we have ever been to. The stuff to see and do there is astounding. We simply could not and have not got enough of it. The wife got a great shot of me hearding a duck and it's ducklings across one of the main paths in the park as they made their way to a pond on the other side. Even one of the park cast members gave me a "Thank you" and "Great Job" Momma and the kids spashed away in the pond. Kodak moment for sure.
First Night: Downtown Disney
Great to stroll through and unwind. Had dinner at Planet Hollywood, and the food was fine. It's a pretty upbeat kind of place, so there is no "quiet dining" atmosphere there. Downtown Disney is one I don't think would be on our "need to go back and see" list, but we would return if time allowed. Most the stuff in the shops we were interested in could be found at the parks themselves.
Second Day: Kennedy Space Center.
Not Disney, but in short, it should not be missed. Fantastic stuff there.
Third Day: Epcot
Oh boy. If there is a park that requires more than one day, this is it. Epcot is like nothing else. From the wife picking oysters for pearls in Japan, to me walking around France with a glass of wine in my hand, we simply LOVED Epcot. I was there 20 years ago and Epcot is nothing like it was when I was there as a high school kid. The cast members were fantastic and the things to see overwhelming. We did not hit one single ride at Epcot that day.
Third Night: The Magic Kingdom
This one was perplexing. The wife and I have been to Disneyland many times so outside of some of the rides there really is no HUGE difference. But, in our "litmus test" between the two, and with thanks to you who gave us ideas on what not to miss, we found the following w/ our opinions:
Splash Mountain is better at MK.
Tomorrow Land is LOADS better at MK. Disneylands one time jewel is a travesty right now, and it is quite sad.
Pirates is better at Disneyland. Though good at MK.
Space Mountain is better at Disneyland. Though quite good at MK.
Small world is better at Disneyland, although the song is equally disturbing at getting in your head at both parks. ;-)
Haunted mansion was closed at MK, so we get to make no opinion.
Thunder Mountain is a dead heat tie for us. Both parks are great.
All in all, we liked the Magic Kingdom. The firework show was fabulous and we liked Main Street a little better at MK.
Forth 1/2 day: Magic Kingdom
Finished up what we missed at the Magic Kingdom and rode the WDW version of one of my all time favorite rides at Disneyland, the people mover. Bravo WDW for keeping that alive.
Forth 2nd part of the day: Epcot
Fantastic. Still feel we have not seen it all. Rode Test Track, Mission Space, and others loving them all. Reflections is fantastic and should not be missed. Sadly, it was just after Reflections when the wife and I realized that our brief stay at WDW was coming to an end. We sure did not want it to happen though.
As we awoke on the 5th day, we both were just moping around the room because it just went too fast. The Port Orleans was great, Boatwrights was great, the atmosphere was great, the cast members were great, we on the other hand were not. Although dog tired, we still wanted to see more as we felt we had no time to truly "relax". We were on the go from the minute we landed in order to see all the "big stuff" before we left. We accomplished that, but in so doing, we forgot to take a vacation.
Tuckered out, we spent all of the 5th wrapping up our stay and heading to the airport to make our 4pm flight.
As we were skimming the atmosphere in our metal tube at 35,000 feet, I asked the wife how she liked it, never being to WDW or Florida before. Her answer was a kiss on my cheek and a simple question; "When can we come back?"
Last night, a full 5 days after returning, we resereved our club level room at the Animal Kindom Lodge for 6 days this November.
I guess you could say, we really enjoyed ourselves. :-)
Thanks to you all who pointed out things to see. We may not have hit all of them last week...... but we will in November. :-)
Port Orleans Riverside...
What a great tree...
Great Balancing act. He later snapped the thing in two like it was a twig...
Who has not taken this shot?
Twain's sister ship...
Just before the show....
Picture perfect look at Epcot...
Could not get enough of this show...
The worst part of the trip..... having to leave...