Updated: Feb 2, 2020
It’s been a couple of weeks since I returned from the most nostalgic trip to Disney World for a reunion with my international besties! ✈️ It’s hard to put into words what an incredible trip this was!!
First of all, I managed to pull off surprising two of my friends (with the help of their husbands) by turning up in Tampa and knocking on their doors!! The looks on their faces were absolutely priceless and 1000% worth every bit of anxiety, stress (and lying to them on FaceTime calls) in the months leading up to it 🥳✅
A couple of us then road tripped over to Orlando where the Disney World reunion began! It was 5 days of eating our body weight in Mickey-Mouse-Shaped-calories, screaming our heads off (mostly me) on the rides, and becoming a kid again as we chased our favourite Disney characters around the parks! I mean it when I say that Disney gets better the older that you get. As we age, life can start to lose those little sparks of magic that we see so often as children, and I believe that Disney is a great place for us to leave reality behind and just embrace all the things that we don’t have the opportunity to in day to day life. I wore my Minnie Mouse ears like a crown and bounded around the park in a state of sheer happiness for those 5 days!
It goes without saying that I loved it! But there’s a couple things that really stood out for me that I thought you might like to know.
First of all, this was my first visit to the parks since the Pandora section from Avatar opened, and I was extremely impressed. Not only is it filled with bright, colourful plants, stunning waterfalls and air-suspended rock formations - but the entire area glows in the dark at night time. And when I say glows, it GLOWS!!! It’s so good how they’ve designed it, that even walking around the land feels like an attraction.
Now, we HAVE to talk about Flight of Passage - the new ride in Pandora! I’ve been on lots of rides (even though I hate rollercoasters!) but let me tell you - I didn’t think anything could get better than the Harry Potter rides Universal Studios. But Disney went one step further and took this ride to a whole new level! It’s quite possibly the best ride I’ve ever experienced!! If you want it to be a complete surprise for your trip, I’d recommend you skim past this bit.
The ride is a simulation of a ride through pandora on the back of Mountain Banshees (Those flying animals in the movie that the na’vi link up to). I’ve never sat in a ride seat like this, the best way for me to describe it is to imagine that you have a motorbike in front of you - you climb onto the seat and straddle it, your legs are then strapped in and pressed up against the “bike”. The instructions prompt you to lean your body forward over the seat, then a cushioned bar presses against your body at the front and your back to secure you in. Finally you put on your 3D glasses. If you’ve been on Disney’s Soarin’ ride, it’s similar in the sense that when the ride starts, the floor falls away to give the illusion that you’re flying. Now, this ride is absolutely breathtaking!! you can feel every single drop, turn, and gust of wind as you fly through the air. You can even feel the lifting and falling of your Banshee BREATHING against your body. It’s immense!
It’s common knowledge that theme park food and snacks come with a super hefty price tag, but for this particular trip, I was still in “it’s Christmas” mode, and allowed myself to indulge in delicious theme park treats (way more than I probably should have!) 🤤 My favourite snack of the entire trip was a giant, oversized, glazed, Mickey Mouse shaped donut covered in sprinkles from Magic Kingdom 😋- The first time in my life I’ve spent $10 on a donut, but it was like eating 5 donuts in one go! And in all honesty, I would probably do it again - No regrets!
Another favourite was an $18 stick of candy floss from China in Epcot - I actually didn’t buy this, as I knew it would get too sickly for me, but my friend did and let me have some. (Yes I know, I have the best friends!) The justification of the extortionate price tag is due to the fact that the candy floss is in the shape of an oversized multicoloured flower and is absolutely huge! We took quite a few photos with it before it got demolished by my sweet-toothed friend.
I didn’t know this before, but Dole Whip is “a thing” in Disney World. My friends described it to me as a cross between a sorbet and an ice cream, and it’s usually pineapple flavour. I’m not the biggest fan of fruity ice cream - I much prefer vanilla, caramel, cookies and cream etc, but I was willing to try something new. So having the idea of “sorbet” in my head, I got a bit of a surprise when I tasted an extremely artificial, sugary pineapple flavour - it was a bit much for me.
I’ve mentioned before that Disney Fireworks are, in my opinion, the best fireworks displays in the world. It’s so crazy to think that they pull these huge displays off every single night. I saw 3 firework displays whilst I was there, one in Magic Kingdom, one in Epcot and one on the Disney Dream Cruise ship. Each display was unique and magical in its own way, but my favourite was of course the ones at Magic Kingdom. Not only are the fireworks huge, in time with the music and light up the entire sky, but clips from Disney movies are projected onto the castle and tell the most incredible story. If that wasn’t enough excitement, for the finale, Tinkerbell appears at the top of the castle and literally flies across the park!
I don’t quite understand how this has happened, but my recent Disney trip somehow revealed to me that I have a Minnie Mouse Ear obsession! I used to be perfectly satisfied with my classic Minnie ears with the polkadot bow - but then Disney went and released a pair of Minnie ears in every colour, for every occasion themed for every corner of the parks. And they are irresistible! It’s safe to say that I somewhat expanded my collection on the trip and spent many precious Disney moments admiring potential new pairs. (Now you know what to get me for Christmas! 😏)
I had such an incredible trip and it’s a shame to point out the downside, but it’s definitely something it’s helpful to be aware of when planning your trip. Social media plays a huge part in our society, and one of the major reasons I love theme parks is because they’re a great opportunity to unplug and unwind and be ‘in the moment’. Due to the demands of technology and excessive queue times, the Disney parks have attempted to diffuse this by providing free WiFi and posting new fast passes on the Disney Parks app throughout the day. In theory this sounds great, however, in reality this means that many people are looking down at their phones, constantly refreshing their apps, and it actually kind of ruins the magic that Disney worked so hard to create. I much preferred my past experiences of arriving at the park and running to my favourite rides to collect a fast-pass tickets, then I’d plan my day around those time slots. Constantly looking at the app instantly makes it less magical and creates a sense of detachment. Of course you can wait in line, but as I visited during the Disney Marathon weekend and the end of the holiday season, the queue times were insane and it just wasn’t possible to see much of the park being in line for each ride for that length of time. A combination of fast-pass tickets and standby is highly recommended.
All in all, this turned out to be the trip that I absolutely needed, and didn’t even know it. It was a great start to the year and reminded me of all the things that I already know. True friendship knows no time zone; magic is everywhere if you choose to look and Disney is the freaking BEST!!!