A week ago, James and I were watching Illuminations and munching on goodies from the new bakery in France.
Tonight, I’m sitting in my pajamas waiting for Smash to come on TV. I’ve had park music on endlessly since our return, and while it’s not completely filling my empty little heart (ha), it’s softening the blow of returning to real life. (I told Sarah from Running at Disney coming back from a Disney World vacation is like reeling from a bad breakup. Oh the dread!)
Anyway, to kick off some recaps about our trip, I decided to play a little game of “Hit or Miss”. I divulged that our vacation was a little different than others. I was under the impression we would get so much done before of our one-park-a-day tickets but nothing could have prepared us for the overwhelming crowds and the strange weather. Luckily, James and I are great about making the most out of less than stellar days (in other words, DRINK BEER) but the tone of our trip was definitely not what we thought we were getting into.
Hope you enjoy this one!
Miss: The crowds.
I know it was Spring Break, but in all my time visiting the parks (which has been during many different times of the year) I have never seen it THIS jam packed with people. Spring breakers, Easter, Orlando residents, and Disney World’s discount during that time had to have something to do with it. This severely affected our park touring. Even for two people who know a lot of the in and outs of making the most of the park, it was really really hard.
We spent an average of 8 hours in every park (to be precise: 14 in Epcot, 10 in MK, 10 hours in DHS) and still didn’t get to see everything we wanted. It got to the point that we were just snacking and drinking to at least try to find enjoyment in the day. Thankfully wonderful performances by Voices of Liberty and even the Evening Block Party at Animal Kingdom were nice ways to spend our time. But, wow, was it frustrating.
Hit: Extra magic hours. (FYI: this is a privilege for resort guests only.)
If it wasn’t for the early morning hours especially, we would have missed out on Soarin, Toy Story Midway Mania, Expedition Everest, and more. Twice we went to Magic Kingdom before the sun was even up and we felt like the we had the park all to ourselves. We only really needed the extra night hours at Epcot… where we polished off our to-do list that went to waste during the day hours. Two hours and four attractions we didn’t get to in over eight hours earlier. Insanity.
Miss: Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
Let me start by saying, New Fantasyland expansion is beautiful. The details, the castles, are just gorgeous. We spent a lot of time walking around there (because there’s not much to do?) but, even after reading all the reviews since the opening, I was still letdown by the lack of cohesiveness of the Under the Sea attraction. Scuttle is the narrator and hardly mutters a word, Ariel doesn’t say anything… and like James pointed out, unless you know the entire movie, you are going to be a bit loss. Minor tweaks could really make this ride more fulfilling. I was also sad there was a total disregard for the King Triton and Ariel storyline; it’s such a huge part of her struggle to choose between being a human and staying a mermaid. I don’t see myself trying to get on this ride on every visit.
Hit: Brand new Tangled bathrooms
One word: beautiful. I could have spent a ton of time in here. (And I preferred to do that over the Under the Sea adventure.) From the outside (hidden Pascals!) to the beautiful paint job inside + all of Rapunzel’s treasures, it really is a gem. My one reservation is the flow from the bathrooms to the Liberty Square / Haunted Mansion area. The (gorgeous) Tangled background music is a little too loud and takes away from the eerie feeling of that area. I’m hoping this changes a bit in the future (maybe some trees too?).
Miss: Waiting over 85 minutes for Kilimanjaro Safaris.
I feel like Animal Kingdom was hitting some crowd records when we were there last Wednesday. Oh man, in 15 years, I have never seen it quite like that. (It also seemed like the cast members didn’t know how to handle it either.) After James and I obtained our fast pass for Expedition Everest (after a nasty woman gave us an attitude because she said we were cutting? hilarious because the cast member guarding the FP queue had no idea what he was doing and was allowing people to cut all over the place. No order at ALL). Anyway, 85 minutes is a really long time. I thought the clock was just bullshitting us and it would be 45 minutes tops. But nope. I was more than wrong. Thankfully, we had a great safari and saw a lot of animals. I didn’t feel like it was rushed even though the park was so full and lots of guests were waiting, but wow, that took out of a chunk of our day.
Hit: Catching the Jammin Jungle Parade from the Yak + Yeti during lunch.
Having a lunch reservation felt like a safe haven during this trip. We booked at 3 p.m. at Yak + Yeti, in hopes of catching the 3:45 parade from an upstairs window. The cast members were super gracious and our timing worked out perfectly. During our meal, the parade started and we had a great view. Plus we were away from the giant amoeba of people forming outside. Score!
Miss: The weather.
Well, the tornado warning that turned into a dark, disastrous rain storm with high winds and people running for cover… that was real and not marketing for Oz. James and I hid in the Storybook Circus bathrooms and still got completely soaked, with a huge chunk of our afternoon stolen by the untimely storm. The weather really cooled down the weather too. I wore shorts for two days + the last few, I wore jeans and almost every layer I brought with me. (Yay for overpacking and a jean jacket!) It wasn’t exactly the sunny and warm Spring Break we were hoping for… but we still had fun.
Hit: Behind the Seeds Tour
When there are New York temperatures outside, it’s always warm in a greenhouse. Because of the utter chaos at the Land Pavilion and the slim chance of seeing any of the bigger attractions, James and I decided to last minute join the first Behind the Seeds tour. For about 18 dollars a person (a bargain in WDW), you spend an hour in a small group with a tour guide getting an in-depth look at the plants and hydroponics you see while passing through on The Land boats. We both agree that it was a really cool and laidback behind-the-scenes look at an attraction we’ve done a billion times. Awesome for those plants and nature enthusiasts too, and the tour guide is willing to answer all questions. (Plus you get to taste some cucumbers!)
Miss: Having non-park hopper tickets
Before I left I had a lot of “deep thoughts” about our touring and one of them was weighing whether or not to get park hopper tickets this time around. Because of our budget, we decided to not park hop this time. We saved plenty of money, that is for sure. And while we felt satisfied while the day was rolling forward, I would get all tense towards the end realizing oh gee we are not coming back here and we have not done this and this and this. Normally, I save this feeling for the last day but it felt even more intense this time around to experience it four times.
Hit: Having non-park hopper tickets
No, this is not a typo. Even though I did feel like dread towards the end of our days, it really felt relaxing to know we weren’t moving for the entire day. A few times we took little jaunts to a resort for dinner or drinks or to hang out at the beach near the Yacht Club but other than that, committing to one park a day did ensure that we really made the most out of our time there. Even though it’s not our first choice, I think that staying true to the one-park-a-day might be our reality for as long as James is in school. If we want to go to Disney, we need to make some sacrifices and this is one we can live with. (As long as the crowds calm down.)
It’s not everything, but it’s a start!
What are some of your most recent trip triumphs and disappointments?