I just spent a fantastic week with my family, including my two adorable nieces, at Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. It was like being a kid again, racing to the best rides and screaming on the roller coasters. Watching a four year old and one year old experience it for the first time made it even better. I haven’t been to Disney since I was 16, wish I hadn’t waited so long! The trip was amazing and I don’t think I will ever be too old to enjoy Disney. Disney World is huge, there are so many parks to experience it is almost overwhelming. We went to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Blizzard Beach water park. To fit it all in we had a 6 day park hopper, 3 days at Magic Kingdom and one each at the rest. The only two I didn’t make it to were Animal Kingdom, I spent that day at Universal Studios touring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter instead, and Typhoon Lagoon because it was closed. To do the water parks you do need a special pass so if that is something you are interested in make sure to get it added to your package.
There is so much to see and do at each park. If you have the time do one full day at each park, plus an extra at Magic Kingdom. We were there in low season (although the Magic Kingdom was still very busy) which made it easier to go on a lot of rides. Also, all of the parks were set up of Christmas, and Disney does Christmas well. They even made Cinderella’s castle into the Frozen castle.
The highlights for me were:
Magic Kingdom: Thunder Mountain railroad, Space Mountain, watching my one year old niece meet Anna from Frozen (she was so excited and went right up to her, she is her favourite princess), and going to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas which is a special evening event with fewer guests, free hot chocolate and cookies and lots of time to go on the rides.
Epcot: The rides Soarin and Test Track. Walking through the country displays to see how they made their space represent their country. Below are pictures of Italy and Canada.
Hollywood Studios: The Christmas light show and the Rockin Roller Coaster.
Blizzard Beach: The longer tube ride and the toboggan slide. There is also a great kids area with smaller slides for young kids.
As I mentioned, we also went to Universal Studios, which was amazing. We did a 2 day park to park pass so we could ride the Hogwarts Express between the parks (without park to park you cannot do this). Universal is worth the trip, if you have the time or if you love Harry Potter. They did an amazing job on both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, the detail is fantastic and the rides are really well done. Just walking into either area brings to mind the movies, and fans will recognize most of the shops. Plus the amount of great merchandise you can buy will make any Harry Potter fan swoon. The interactive wands were my favourite, you can choose either a character wand or a wand based on the Celtic calendar, and the wands can be used to cast spells in both areas of the Wizarding World, although they do work better in Diagon Alley. The two main rides, Forbidden Journey and Escape From Gringotts are amazing, even for non-Harry Potter fans, and fans will love the detail in Gringotts and Hogwarts. Dragon Challenge is also a great roller coaster, the concept is two dragons chasing each other so there are 2 separate tracks. Make sure you go twice, once on each side as the two rides are different. The two main restaurants, the Three Broomsticks and the Leaky Cauldron, serve British food and the signature Harry Potter drinks like butter beer (tastes similar to cream soda but better) and pumpkin juice. The atmosphere in both is well worth a visit.
Aside from the Harry Potter sections, there are many fun rides at Universal, some classics like the Hulk roller coaster, plus some great 3D movie/TV rides like the Simpsons Krustyland, Spider-Man, Transformers and Men In Black. You can cover most of Universal in one busy day in low season (we rarely waited more than 10-15 minutes for a ride) but in high season with longer wait times you probably need 2 days.
It was a fabulous, but busy, trip and a great place to escape and be a kid again!