This time last year I was walking into Animal Kingdom with my family for the first time in 8 years. Walt Disney World Orlando has always held a special place in my heart – I’ve been lucky enough to visit a few times with family and those trips are some of my favourite memories of my childhood.
There’s something so magical about walking down Main Street for the first time and seeing the castle sneak into view. It may sound odd to some, but there’s a sense of escapism at Disney that you just don’t feel on other holidays. Where else can you jump off a 50mph rollercoaster and grab a Mickey-shaped ice cream sandwich before bumping into Olaf for a warm hug? Not forgetting the magic of the Universal parks.
I won’t bore you with all the details of my trip, but here are some of my highlights with a mix of iPhone and camera photos! We spent the first few days of our trip to Florida in Clearwater Beach, which was stunning. Perhaps we should’ve saved this part for the end of our trip, though, as it was so relaxing and peaceful. The calm before the Disney storm!
We stayed in a Windsor Hills villa and it was perfect – a 10 minute drive from the parks with comfy beds and a lovely pool! The blue circle in the app picture above is how close we were to the parks. There is a shuttle bus, but it wasn’t as frequent as we thought so we mainly used our rental cars.
Animal Kingdom was as beautiful as ever, and the new addition of Pandora takes it up a level. My top ride (probably of the whole trip) has to be the Avatar Flight of Passage – the technology is epic! Pandora is great to wander around – make sure to try the refreshing, super-sweet Night Blossom drink. A few of my other top spots are Expedition Everest (of course), the wonderful Lion King Show and the Kali River Rapids to cool off in the Florida heat!
Magic Kingdom has always been my favourite of the parks. On our first day back there we managed to fit in 13 rides (thank you FastPass)! This trip to Disney was our first time dining inside the park restaurants, and the first we visited was Be Our Guest at the Beauty and the Beast Castle where I got to try the ‘grey stuff’ – yes, it’s delicious!
More of my favourite moments in Magic Kingdom were the three mountains (Space, Splash and Thunder), Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin in Tomorrowland and the classic Peter Pan ride. The point before the big drop on Splash Mountain, with the great view of the castle, is my favourite MK moment, as well as the Festival of Fantasy parade.
While we were in Florida, it was my cousin Amy’s 23rd birthday and we celebrated in Epcot. We had a great experience at the Nine Dragons Chinese, where they treated Amy to a slice of cake and cocktails! Epcot is a great place to wander in the sun, especially around the Epcot World Showcase. Soarin’ and Test Track are our old family favourites, too!
Hollywood Studios has another two of the best rides – the Tower of Terror and the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. We got chatting to the loveliest cast member, Edward, who gave us Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster fast passes after hearing that we didn’t have enough time to wait in the queue! The fireworks show Fantasmic was as magnificent as I remembered.
I can’t forget about the Disney waterparks and Disney Springs. Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are great to cool off in the sun in the mornings and there are so many fun rides – the 6ft tidal wave is such a rush! Disney Springs is the new ‘Downtown Disney’, with restaurants, shows and shops, including the World of Disney, the biggest Disney store!
Another highlight of my trip which was surprisingly non-theme park related was my skydive! Amy wanted to do one for her birthday and, honestly, it was one of the best experiences of my life. I’d highly recommend Florida Skydiving Lake Wales!
I hope you enjoyed my Disney Diary. Look out for more Florida posts coming soon!
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[…] I’m writing this post to hopefully help other visitors, first-time or not, get the most out of their Disney experience. However, I’m no expert and there are so many in-depth guides out there, which I’ll be linking to! You can check out more of my highlights on my previous post. […]