Monday, October 17, 2011

A Week in the World of Disney (with a little Harry Potter added)

What a week! Five consecutive days in Disney parks, a day of “rest” at a Disney pool party and archery range, another day of exploring all things Harry Potter and then some at Universal Islands of Adventure. It especially was great because Mr. B was here. Together we experienced rain the likes of which we’d never seen before (REAL rain, for HOURS on end), a birthday (Happy Birthday, Baby V!), humidity, crowds, unusually short wait times, a food festival, and lots of memorable moments.

E’s favorite parts of the week were: having Dad with us; Harry Potter land; EPCOT center (especially SOARIN’) and the pool (and pool party). V’s favorite parts of the week were: having Dad with us; Harry Potter land and the pool. So there you have it. (My favorites were having Mr. B with us, Mr. B holding my hand as we zoomed through the lines to the big rides, Mr. B giving kisses voluntarily on our anniversary while we were serenaded in Animal Kingdom, riding the ferries, watching the girls watch the parades, performances and rides that made them especially happy.)

Before we send Mr. B back home, then continue our drive south and finally west, I’ll share a few pointers we learned during this, our first, stay at Walt Disney World:

1) Five days may be enough to get to most every ride in the four parks, but you’ll need another week to include the water parks, to have time to enjoy the performances, and maybe yet another week to enjoy the myriad other opportunities on the 28,000-acre property.

2) There’s lots of free entertainment on the Disney grounds. Start at the Boardwalk any evening.

3) The meal plan may be the way to go. I didn’t know how easy it would be to use, or how flexible, so opted not to bother. But we probably would have saved a small fortune given that we ate nearly every meal for five days on Disney property (no small coin dropped there).

4) If you want anything even closely resembling healthy food (and don’t want to do your own cooking) don’t bother to eat in Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studio. Head, instead, to EPCOT (we particularly enjoyed the cafeteria downstairs in The Land).

5) While Disney provides fun transportation options (bus, ferry, monorail) all free to its guests, it won’t save you any time or frustration. If you want to get to and from the parks in reasonable time, drive. Parking throughout the property is included with lodging, so there’s no additional fee to drive yourself to the parks.

6) Wilderness Lodge Campground is a great deal – very nice campground with resort amenities – pool, hot tub, wading pool, little kids’ splash zone, video arcade, archery range, shuffle boards, outdoor theater (with nightly showings of Disney films), horseback riding, carriage rides, dinner theater, restaurant and shops. Oh, and full hook ups, hot showers, and lots of trees (and SPACE between campsites)!

Waiting "patiently" for the bus
7) Just because the campground has wi-fi doesn’t mean you’re welcome to use it. Unless, of course, you’re willing to shell out a few more bucks for the honor. (Really? Even cheap hotels provide free wi-fi with their rooms. Coffee shops provide it in trade for the purchase of a three-buck cup o’ joe. Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t even REQUIRE purchase. Come on, Disney!)

Not a lot of time on the internet this trip, so perhaps more upon our return home in less than a month.

But also wanted to drop a few lines about today’s visit to Universal – Florida. The girls, who read aloud the first Harry Potter title on the way here, particularly enjoyed the Wizarding World of Harry Potter found at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

We spent half the day here riding its three rides, checking out its shops, tasting of the Butterbeer and dining at Three Broomsticks (then returning for more riding). Hogwart’s Castle and its related ride are really great (though I’m not a huge fan of simulators, so would rather have seen that bit run outside, or on real track). Still, well done!

Mr. B and I really enjoyed BOTH tracks on the Dragon Challenge. (The girls weren’t quite up to this type of roller coaster yet. I wasn’t sure I was, either, ‘til I completed the first ride. Nicely designed coaster that left me exhilarated without leaving me nauseated. So I had to try the second line – equally exciting and well-designed.)

We spent the second half of the day seeing what we could of the rest of the Islands park and the nearby Universal Studios park. Lesson One for those who follow us: Plan one day for each park.

And whether it’s Disney’s property or Universal’s, bring LOTS of cash. You’ll need it.


  1. Wow that looks like a lot of fun. Volunteer kisses from Mr. B. Awesome. !! He really misses you guys. And I don't think I have ever seen you two holding hands, I sight I look forward to some day. I really like the carver tree, that looks cool.
    And it looks like V had an awesome Birthday.

  2. So...that gut feeling, that fear that something could go wrong was not entirely unfounded:


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