Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Travel Tuesday - Disney!

When I was a kid, my Grandma Tickner and my Aunt Jean moved to Florida and I got my first taste of Disney World. I was able to go several times, including once with my high school choir when we were lucky enough to perform at the Magic Kingdom. In 1997 I arranged a surprise trip for Aaron, who had never been there. On that trip we stayed in one of the resorts and had an amazing time. I could show you pictures from that, and maybe someday I will, but that would involve lots of scanning and (say it with me) ain't nobody got time for that.

Luckily we went back during the digital age. Our niece Jacqueline graduated from high school in 2011 and we started the tradition of taking our nieces and nephews on a trip of their choosing (within reason) as their graduation gift. Disney was the perfect choice for her because she's a fabulous artist, now majoring in animation, and because when she was little she used to pretend that her blanket was a magic carpet that would take us to Disney World.

We left Columbus early Thursday morning and flew to Orlando. By the way, this was Jackie's first time flying. We stayed at the Port Orleans - French Quarter resort. Tip #1: If you're staying at a Disney resort and you're flying, do NOT rent a car. There's a bus that will take you from the airport to the resort and once you're at Disney there are all kinds of ways to get from your resort to any park of your choosing.

We spent Thursday at the Magic Kingdom. One of the highlights was the Hall of Presidents. I had told Aaron and Jackie that we HAD to do it, and I know Jackie was not thrilled, but it ended up being one of her top 5 moments of the trip. One of the cool things about taking her at this age was that she had such an appreciation for how well the attractions are executed. Of course, we also rode Space Mountain and the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean and the Mad Tea Party (well, Aaron and Jackie did that; I don't do well with spinning rides).

And of course, It's a Small World:

We went back to the resort to relax for a bit because the Magic Kingdom had "extra magic hours" that night. Or so I thought. Tip #2: If you're a resort guest, you can take advantage of these extra hours. It's a different park each day and sometimes you can get in early, sometimes you can stay late. But pay close attention because I had read "Friday midnight to 3 am" and naturally assumed that meant Friday morning, so that late Thursday night you could extend your time. Wrong. It was Friday into Saturday. Oops.

Friday was spent at Epcot. I think this was the only day we got rained on but it didn't last long. Some of our favorite things here were Soarin', Mission: SPACE (in which I took the "less intense option"), Ellen's Energy Adventure and of course, all the countries. We ate lunch in Italy and dinner in Japan. Tip #3: We did a meal package and while it may have saved us some money, it was a pain to always have to figure out what fit into the plan (you can get a banana with breakfast but if you get apple slices with dipping sauce, that's extra and you don't know it until you're checking out) and then of course we scrambled toward the end to make sure we got all the meals. This probably works well for some people, but I don't think I'd do it again.

Oh, and late Friday night Jackie and I did go back to the Magic Kingdom for extra hours. Totally worth it and very fun. Riding the bus back to the resort, a little boy curled up next to Jackie and fell asleep - so cute!

Saturday we did Animal Kingdom AND Hollywood Studios. At Animal Kingdom we loved the Safari ride and were pleasantly surprised by the Lion King live show. Jackie got her face painted and Aaron tried on a funky wig.

At Hollywood Studios we took a drawing class (mine was horrible) and we loved the Tower of Terror and the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster as well as the Fantasmic show, which is quite spectacular.

Sunday was our last day and we went back to Epcot. We ate lunch in Morocco and repeated some favorite attractions. As we were leaving we saw this little boy run up to Snow White and it was just so sweet and I think the perfect picture:

We had a fantastic time. Disney is for kids and adults alike. Their attention to detail is incredible. Tip #4: If you can afford it, stay one day longer than you think you should. You'll thank me later.

I think she enjoyed herself!

Stay Tuned,

Confessions of a Gila Monster


  1. this looks like a blast, I haven't been to disney in so long. your tips are awesome, especially about the car and the meal plan!! thanks so much for linking up!!

  2. Now I want to go back to Disney!

  3. Ahhh, I seriously CANNOT wait to get there now!! We did the meal plan and have all our dinner reservations made and pretty well thought out-- but I'm not sure about the snacks/lunches etc. Is there a way to figure out what EXACTLY is covered to avoid the banana/apple situation?!

  4. This looks like a blast!

  5. True tips, all of them.

    I wish I was at Disney now.


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