Disney World has four amazing parks. Usually when we go, we end up visiting Magic Kingdom because it has so many favorites, everyone in our group loves it, and you can spend the entire there basking in it's glory. The other parks though are amazing in their own rights, and we wanted to at least visit the things we knew and loved (or suspected we would love), and since we were only there for one day, we decided to go for it! Our first stop was Animal Kingdom where they have the new thrill ride: Avatar Flight of Passage. My daughter has already been to see it and ride, with a group of friends (on a different day). None of the rest of us had seen it, so that was our first stop.
We'd heard the lines were atrocious because everyone wants to experience this... it is fairly new so we took out our tickets and logged in online to try and secure a Fast Pass. They were all gone, for the entire day!! Yee-ikes. We got there just after the park opened so we thought our chances were still good. The scenery on the way was amazing.
The line, however, was not. A 3-hour wait. We hemmed and hawed for a bit, trying to decide what to do. We really did want to see it, and my daughter's testimony encouraged us waiting. She told us it was amazing and definitely worth the wait. If we waited, however, it would shorten our time at the other parks. Remember, we had a 4-park-in-1-day agenda.
We snapped a few photos, and decided to move on... it really was a difficult decision to make.
Rest assured, we will return. How could we not? Just the entry into this ride is enough to make you want to come back. If they've done such a fabulous job up to this point, how much more incredible is the ride itself going to be? Honestly, we're excited to see...and in the words of someone famous (not Disney related), we'll be baaack. ;)
Animal Kingdom is by far the largest of the four Disney World parks. With 580 acres, it is easily a place where we could have happily spent the whole day. From wild animal safaris, to live music, to great shows, an area just for kids, and more...our choices were vast, and oh so good. In keeping with our agenda though, we decided to visit a couple of areas we knew and loved, and then to move on.
Again, the scenery along the way was breathtaking. Nobody creates a mood like Disney, part of the reason they are so very well loved.
It really seems like you are visiting another area of the world when you walk through certain parts of the park, and that is true right down to the smallest details.
When we pass this open area monkey house, we always stop because the it's fun to see the antics those little guys are going to be up to for the day. I'm always amazed at how high they go. We saw a couple as high as you could possibly get, and they were perfectly comfortable and fine. The pair we came across here, doing their gymnastics, did not disappoint. They were having a blast, and we were too, just watching them. This is always a must-see on my list.
Though there were other things we would have loved to see/do, we opted for just one more thing before we left: Expedition Everest. This is the steel roller coaster that takes you up a mountain, stops you at the top, and then rolls you down backwards. Thrills are always our favorite, and this one is smooth, fast and fun.
Our next stop was Disney's Hollywood Studios. Honestly, I haven't been for years, since the grown boys were little...since my now 18-year-old daughter was in a stroller! I remember seeing and absolutely loving the Fantasmic Show (still a favorite for me, this many years later), and I was happy to see it was still there! We didn't stay to attend though, we had one thing on our minds...those thrill rides. Hollywood Studios has two of them...and after all these years, I still remembered the path right to them.
We stopped for a couple of photo opps along the way, but kept moving towards our intended destination...
The Tower of Terror. I have been on it many times over the years (we used to visit often when the grown boys were young), but the two kiddos I had with me that day, my 18-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son, had not ridden. Ever. One look and my girl was all in. She's a thrill-seeker like her mama was at her age. ;) My boy though, not so much, which surprised me. He's usually gung ho for these kinds of things, but this one was different. This is a 199 ft. elevator drop, in the dark, in a building that (intentionally) looks like it has seen better days.
The walk through the hotel is laced with (fake) cobwebs in a setting that makes it look like the hotel was abandoned in it's heyday...long, long ago.
What could have happened, to have this hotel that was once so obviously glorious, in such a state of disarray? A walk into the dark room, a scary bit of The Twilight Zone on the Movie screen, and then an excerpt letting you know 5 people mysteriously disappeared from this very hotel's elevator (yeah, the one we were now sitting on), led to a very apprehensive 10-year-old by my side. He's so thin too, that when the ride was dropping he would fly up out of his seat a little bit. The terrified look on his face had me cracking up. I really couldn't help it, I'm awful like that... and when we got off, he emphatically said, 'Never Again!' My daughter and I loved it, lol, and we had something to tease him about (just a little bit). ;)
Our next move was just a hop, skip and jump away to visit the Rock 'N' Roll Roller Coaster, featuring the rock music of Aerosmith. Again, I'd been on this ride before and knew how fun it was going to be. The two kiddos with me had not. My son loves roller coasters, but he's never been on one that went upside down.
I'm not sure what triggered him to start asking if the ride flipped (ahem), but all of the sudden he was consumed with the thought, and trying to still act cool hahahahhahahahaa. Oh, how I love that kid. :)
At one point, his 3rd time to say something like, 'Just tell me if it goes upside down' he was standing directly in front of this sign. I snapped a picture to be a smarty pants and show him later, and his sister got the joke. ;) An announcement came on at that point discussing the sharp turns, and upside-down maneuvers. The joke then, was on me. I showed him the picture (above) and he laughed too. I knew he'd love the ride though, and he did. One of the smoothest, fastest, fun rides around this one was loved by all three of us. It made the trip to Hollywood Studios so very worthwhile. And while there was more we wanted to explore (I especially wanted to see how things had changed over the years), we still had 2 more parks to visit, so we headed out and were on our way to destination #3.
On our way out, we did stop for a line-up of Storm Troopers out taking a stroll. You definitely don't see that everyday. Though completely unrelated to Star Wars, it reminded me of an old parade that Hollywood Studios used to host (Mulan); one I read they no longer do. Maybe we were in the same spot? I can't say for sure, but I do remember that parade was absolutely awesome! Back on topic: Seeing these guys casually walking by was pretty cool too. ;)
The beauty of visiting all four parks (or even more than one, if you don't want to overwhelm yourself with too many things to do in one day) is that they are all just a few minutes drive from one another. The parking pass you pay for at the first park is good all day at any of the 4. Our next step...Epcot!
Epcot is the best place to go for a day of relaxing strolls, education, culture and delightful dining. That is not what we had in mind for our vacation this time, and while I really wanted to see the (new-to-me) Frozen attractions/rides we didn't stay long enough to do so. It was getting ready to pour down rain, so the kids just wanted to go on the 'the big ball ride,' more eloquently named "Spaceship Earth," and then head on over to Magic Kingdom.
You can see the sky is getting cloudy and dark. It was only a matter of time before the rain fell, and it looked like it was going to be a doozy.
Fortunately, we did have our Fast Passes programmed for this ride, so we were in and on board in no time at all. This is a slow cart ride up a track, in the dark, that takes you all around the 'Earth.' There is an interactive piece at the end that lets you choose your ending. It was kind of cute, taking your picture and putting your face into the story. I don't remember it doing that before, but it's been a long time since I've been on it, so maybe that's not new?
The Flip Side:
To be fair, despite the pros of visiting all four parks in one day, there are also some cons. We couldn't really carve out the time to watch a parade and I missed that... I really like the parades. In fact, anything that required a big chunk of time we had to skip (character breakfast, shows, long-line rides, etc.). Also, the Fast Pass only works at one park, and we'd used ours at Epcot, so at Magic Kingdom we had to wait or skip out on the fun. Had I known we could only use it at one park per day, we'd have scheduled our passes to be used at Magic Kingdom since the majority of our time was spent there. Now we know. Also, you don't get to thoroughly give your attention to the park you're in at the time. If you are there all day, you can mosey around and take your sweet time. Each of the four locations has so many wonderful things to see, that it might seem like you're shortchanging yourself to visit more than one park, if going at a slower pace is what you're used to doing.
Would we do 4 parks in one day again? My 18-year-old says absolutely, "yes!" She loved picking and choosing what she wanted to do at each park. Setting the check list and then ticking them off one by one suited her really well. Me? I'm not adverse to it, but I'm not against all day at a park either. Certainly there is enough entertainment at any of the four location choices, to be able to enjoy a rich, full day just staying put. I guess when it comes down to it, I'll gladly take Disney any way you want to dish it out. :)