Well folks, it’s officially Autumn once again which means back to school for the kiddies, the sun goes down earlier, the leaves change colors, and it is time for my annual trip to Walt Disney World.
And not a moment too soon.
Stephen and I will once again be partners-in-crime down there and unlike our trip last Halloween, we decided to extend this one to a whole week. Yes, I will be spending 6 magical nights and 7 whole days in the happiest place on Earth and ecstatic does not even begin to describe how I feel about this. I keep thinking about that Disney commercial where the kids are up late talking about their upcoming vacation and when their mom catches them, the adorable little boy answers, “We’re too excited to sleep!”
Now Stephen and I have both had some time to think about what we wanted to do on this visit. Ever the organized planners, we’ve been jotting down ideas, times, and restaurants we want to try ever since we set this up last May. (Yes, we are those 180-day people. I have no shame in admitting this.) So now, less than a week to go, I realize there are a ton of new things I’m going to experience on this trip and while some have been in the back of my mind for a while, others are completely brand new.
Here’s my list–
1. For the first time ever, we will be staying at Saratoga Springs Resort near Downtown Disney. Usually, Stephen and I are Pop Century folks. I had no complaints last year when we stayed there, but after some digging, we realized that renting DVC points is actually pretty easy to do. MUCH thanks to Andrew and Adam for answering what probably was a million questions at the time and pointing us in the right direction. I don’t think Stephen and I would have been confident enough to do this without their help. Finding a reliable family was pretty easy and with some quick calculations, we were offered a room at SSR. My old CP roommate worked there so I was familiar with how the place looked, but one worry I had (and still do have actually) is the size of the resort. It’s huge. So will buses now take even longer? I mean, I’m from New York so I am definitely no stranger to long wait times and crowded buses, but it’s a vacation so the idea of dealing with that does not thrill me. However, being walking distance from and having a view of Downtown Disney miiiiight make up for it.
2. Deciding against Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party, we’re instead using that extra money towards the water parks. Let me preface this by saying that I have never stepped foot in either of them, nor am I really a water park person, but I feel like Disney may change me on this. At the moment, we don’t know which park to go to yet. Stephen has been to Typhoon Lagoon before so we may visit Blizzard Beach simply because it will be new to both of us. Do any of you have an opinion of which we should visit? Let me know! We are not scared of thrill rides at all (in fact, the scarier the better as far as Stephen is concerned).
3. ADRs!! This was by far the most difficult aspect because when you have so much time, suddenly you have a million choices to make. Originally, my eyes wandered to many of my favorite places, but then I decided to put them on hold. Instead, Stephen and I made a list of restaurants we had always wanted to try and I tried my best to fit them all in. Thankfully, we got a reservation at every place we wanted without sacrificing some of our all time favorites.
We could not go to Disney without eating at Yak and Yeti and despite my indifference towards Animal Kingdom, I could not let a vacation go without some of the Crispy Mahi Mahi. Neither could I go without a visit to my favorite Hollywood Studios restaurant, The Sci-Fi Dine In. I know Stephen is looking forward to their Angus Chuck burger!
As for the new places we will be visiting, we will be eating at Ohana for the first time. Stephen and I are in no way vegetarians and I was told if I enjoy meat, I will enjoy this experience. I’m also looking forward to exploring the Polynesian Resort since I have never been there and I really need to find out what all the fuss is about! We also set up a lunch at The Wave over at the Contemporary and after seeing pictures of how pretty the place is (or how delicious the Bison cheeseburger looks) I knew we would want to try it.
Luckily, we will be there for the International Food and Wine festival and while we do plan on spending much time sampling the fine cuisine from around the world, I am also excited to be eating at the Coral Reef restaurant. Ever since I saw that episode of Full House when Danny is trying to propose to Vickie while Joey and Jessie are in the fish tank for their radio show, I’ve wanted to eat there. While seafood is a plus, I think it’s environment I am looking forward to most.
4. I am finally going on a tour! When deciding which to take, we almost went with the Keys to the Kingdom tour, but I wanted to choose something Stephen hadn’t done before. Steve shares Walt Disney’s love of trains and when he suggested doing the Magic Behind our Steam Trains tour in the Magic Kingdom, I thought, why not? It is a three-hour tour (ha! you know you were humming Gilligan there) that begins before the park even opens to the public. So yes, we will be getting up at an ungodly hour but where else would you get a closer look at the 4 trains named Lilly Belle, Roy O. Disney, Roger E. Broggie and Walter E. Disney that all circle the Magic Kingdom? While I’m sure Stephen will get all kinds of facts and tidbits from this tour, I’m simply looking forward to riding some trains in the early morning.
5. EPCOT’s 30th Anniversary is on October 1st and we will be there bright and early to celebrate. As of right now, I’m not sure what kinds (if any) plans Disney has made to commemorate this event, but I for one am looking forward to the Retro Day that seems to have been created by guests who are attending. I’ll be on the lookout for neon hats and 80’s Figment t-shirts. I can’t say whether Stephen and I will participate, but I’ll be sure to snap some photos to show later on.
So there you have it — all the reasons why I’m anxious for September to get a move on so I can hop a plane down south. Of course, I’m also excited to see what’s new in Fantasyland thus far as well as take a gander at the Art of Animation resort. We’ll be making a stop at Universal Studios and it’ll be my first time there in fifteen years. I hear they’ve added some stuff since? I’ll be interested to see all the new attractions, especially the Wizarding World of Harry Potter because I’m quite insistent that my invitation to attend Hogwarts got lost somewhere when I was eleven.
All joking aside though, I’m mostly looking forward to having a break from work and school. It will be nice to escape for a little while and recharge with a close friend. Despite all the craziness that takes place on a vacation to Disney, I find that I get a lot of thinking done while I’m down there (you gotta do something during that 2-hour Toy Story mania line). Sometimes I think that Stephen missed his calling as a therapist because we usually have very meaningful and deep conversations and I look forward to having some while people watching near the Innovention fountains in EPCOT. Or perhaps we’ll just sit and enjoy the musical water show. Either way, it’s ending with me trying to steal as many craisins as I can from the Ocean Spray guy standing in the artificial cranberry bog.