A friend told me that she could never persuade her husband to return to Disney World because he’d seen it already. Hard to believe, right? No matter how many times I visit Disney, there’s always something new to see.
Since we travel through the lands of Disney at least once a year, at some point or other we’ve explored all the parks in Florida and California. It’s different every time, not just because the attractions change but also because we change. Traipsing through Disney as a childless adult is not like seeing the attractions through the eyes of a young child, nor is it anything like trying to keep up with the teens. It’s fun every time, but each time it’s a fresh experience.
On this Florida trip, we explored Disney World with visiting Capital Region friends and my Orlando family. Our Albany friends visit Disney World resorts frequently, taking full advantage of their time share. The Orlando family, two of my sisters and their children, visit Disney World sporadically but recently splurged on the water parks annual pass.
Disney: Day 1 – Epcot: Behind The Seeds, Teppan Eddo & IllumiNations Cruise
Our Disney Day started at 10 AM when we met our friends at the Beach Club Resort, where they were staying for the week (and where my son would join them for a couple of nights.) The resort provides luxurious accommodation of the sort that my budget won’t allow right now, but all my child cared about was getting to spend a few days with his friend at the world’s coolest playground!
After dropping off his overnight bag, and purchasing park admission tickets at the Concierge desk, our large party headed into the park: 5 adults, 5 children. Or, counting them the way Disney does for ticket pricing, ages 10 and up being adults, we were 8 adults and 2 children (i.e. those young enough to fit in the stroller.)
The first stop was at the Living with the Land attraction for a Behind the Seeds at Epcot walking tour of the greenhouses. This was the undeniably educational component of our visit, but even the most learning-resistant children will admit that its an amazing place. (See my tour description in Learning Is Cool At Disney.) The whole tour took just an hour, leaving us plenty of time to do lots more at Epcot.
If I’d never visited Epcot before, I might have been tempted to try to see everything. With a large party that includes a 4 and 6-year-old, and plans to stay for the fireworks, that’s suicide. In between our reserved activities, the day was spent in a leisurely stroll through the park as we took in a few rides: Spaceship Earth, Test Track, Soarin’, Maelstorm (Norway), and the River of Time through Mexico.
At one point, we split the party for a time so that the older kids could go on rides that didn’t allow short people. This gave the young ones a chance to meet & greet their favorite Disney characters, something that the tweens didn’t mind foregoing (although one teen would have liked an autograph from the sombrero-clad Donald Duck.)
Usually, I avoid going into the shops. This time, however, I followed our friends into the Japanese Pavilion where one of the girls purchased an oyster at the Pick-a-Pearl exhibit. Growing up in the Virgin Islands, one of my many jobs in the family shop was to work the pearl station. I’ve shucked the oysters and set the pearls, but I never provided the entertaining drum roll that we heard at Disney!
We also ate dinner in Japan, Disney-style, at Teppan Eddo, a teppanyaki steakhouse. Like many hibachi-style restaurants, patrons get dinner and a show from a chef who cooks the food at your table but of course this was with a Disney twist: food shaped into Mickey Mouse ears. Our chef was very friendly and amusing, and the weary children were soon smiling over huge shrimps and steaks. I found it all to be very delicious, but I especially liked the Green Tea Ice Tea and the Green Tea Pudding.
And for the over-21 adults, I heartily recommend chasing this with an after dinner drink from the kiosk in the French Pavilion that serves Grand Marnier Orange Slush, or the Grey Goose Citron Lemonade version.
After dinner, we didn’t even try to take in any more rides. We had a long walk to the dock where we would embark on a private tour aboard a pontoon boat that culminates with a spectacular view of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, the “mesmerizing fireworks, laser and water show.” For the first time in all the years that I’ve been taking in the Disney fireworks, I had an unobstructed view and elbow room. It was wonderful!
Even better, when it was over, we had a very short walk back to the Beach Club Resort where we had parked the car for FREE. A perfect ending for a perfect day!
Disney: Day 2 – Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
On a hot, humid summer day in Florida there is no better way to spend a day at Disney than in the water parks.
Water park days at Disney are a bonus perk of the Disney magic. We usually get admission as part of the ticket package at a very reduced rate. On my son’s 3-Day Admission ticket, the additional water park days were just $9/day. And my Florida family was able to get an unlimited annual pass for less than $100/pp, even less for restricted tickets or younger park goers.
When we arrived at the Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, there was no question about splitting the party. While everyone was comfortable doing the Castaway Creek tubing experience, most of the slides and raft rides are too scary for the little ones. The youngest members of out entourage were very happy alternating between the shallow end of the Surf Pool and the slides in Ketchakiddee Creek.
Meanwhile, the tweens and teens enjoyed their freedom as we allowed them to go on the rides without parental supervision. Actually, I begged to go with them, but they insisted. So, the ‘rents hit the rides without any pesky tweens, but with the more adventurous girls in tow.
Along the way, we lost and found children, at least one of whom missed an opportunity to have ice cream. But, at the end of the day, all the children were accounted for, more or less in good condition.
We didn’t stay to the end. A few hours playing in the water park is enough to exhaust the hardiest of souls, and the kids too. Even after dropping off children and picking up take out Thai food, we were home and asleep by the time the fireworks were popping at the other Disney parks.
Next on our Disney Itinerary: cooling down at Blizzard Beach Water Park.
For lots more ideas of what to do at Disney, check out Disney Every Day.
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