Some people call it “The happiest place on Earth.” For years, all the Super Bowl champs would go there to celebrate. Chances are, you’ve probably been there once or twice yourself—as a kid, or with your kids. But Disney World is constantly changing, and you’re never too old to laugh and smile and feed your imagination. So, what’s been going on with Mickey and Minnie since your last visit? A lot. As a matter of fact, you might want to download the Walt Disney World app to keep you totally linked in to the latest events of the day, even by hour (disneyworld.disney.go.com). You’ll learn how handy it can be. And besides, all guests now have to register in advance for every day they plan to attend.
First stop: The Magic Kingdom
Walt Disney World is actually several different worlds, and trying to see more than one per day can get pretty hard, let alone expensive (add-on passes allowing you access to more than one park per day are available). The Magic Kingdom is a good place to start. It’s the first stop on the monorail and home port for a Dixie Queen-style ferry ride.
Highlights typically include Main Street, with its chocolate chip cookie and popcorn aromas plus a great photo op with Cinderella’s Castle. This time, however, notice all the names on the office windows above the stores; key Disney personnel over the years get mentions, maybe even one for Mr. M. Mouse, the name under which Walt purchased much of the property for the park in secret. Next, you’ll walk through the area where the daily Fantasy Parade occurs (still interesting in size and scope) on your way to all the rides. Everyone has their favorite (Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, etc.), all just as thrilling as they ever were. But the Jungle Cruise will certainly dish out some up-to-date puns you haven’t heard, and by the time you get there Splash Mountain may have been re-imagined, replacing the “Song of the South” music theme with something different. Also, there’s a new Tron Lightcycle/Run coaster-like ride, just don’t eat right before.
Now’s a good time to mention the latest Disney World line-hopping systems, Genie+ and Lightning Lane. For an extra per person daily charge, the Disney folks will let you and your party move to a shorter, faster lane, which can cut your wait times considerably. There are tight rules, with different options and limitations; basically, you can’t schedule your next “less-wait” experience until you’re done with your last. You might be using that Disney app a lot, so the real pros advise carrying a portable battery pack. (There’s free, semi-speedy wi-fi throughout the park.)
A pleasant way to end your day, above the crowds, might be the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover. As in all the different parks, food is readily available. Special themed meals must be reserved in advance. But you’re never far away from something to eat. One granddaughter highly recommends the Mickey Mouse ice cream bar.
See the world: EPCOT
Just in case you missed it, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, offers a somewhat different Disney experience. There are several new rides, such as a Frozen-themed journey in the Norway section and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (2021) in France. Expect long lines for the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (2022). Kids might have their own favorite must sees. But don’t overlook some of the old standbys, like Spaceship Earth, right at the entrance, or a journey with Figment and your Imagination. Just sit back and let the creative juices flow!
EPCOT also gives you a chance to sample different cultures and foods. Each country has a mixture of quick snacks and sit-down dining. Morocco has outdoor tables overlooking the World Showcase Lagoon, where you might catch a performance of global music during the day or the new evening light show, Harmonius (2021). Where else can you stroll through Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, America, Japan, Morocco, France and Canada in one day? (That’s clockwise around this world.)
Go on safari: Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Don’t be deterred; even though this park is five times the size of the Magic Kingdom, most of the land is saved for the animals, currently over 2,000 representing 300 different species. Your safari tour won’t be that rough, unless the temperature is up in the hot summer range.
Disney was intrigued with the natural world. He divided his Animal Kingdom into five main areas: Africa, Asia, DinoLand, U.S.A., Pandora—the World of Avatar, and Discovery Island, home to the Tree of Life and a 3-D theater featuring “It’s Tough to Be a Bug,” that has some unusual 4-D effects. The entire Kingdom was remodeled around 5 years ago, so everything looks new.
Some folks like to race to the Kilimanjaro Safari first thing, but the animals are out and about all day long. You’ll have plenty of time to check out DinoSue, a replica of the largest T. rex ever discovered and Avatar Passage of Flight. But, if you’re fearless, without any neck or back problems, not pregnant, and at least 44 inches tall, head straight to Expedition Everest for an out-of-control train ride through mountain peaks. By the way, you shouldn’t be afraid of meeting a Yeti either.
Be a star: Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood Boulevard, it’s all here. Not to mention the classic Hollywood Tower Hotel home to The Twilight Zone—Tower of Terror. You get the picture. If it’s related to the movie business, you’ll find some reference to it here. There are rides and shows galore. On the new-ish side, added in 2018, is Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (2019). You could wind up right in the middle of an epic conflagration between Star Wars’ adversaries aboard a full-size shuttle in space. Or, a calmer adventure might be Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railroad. This is Walt’s tribute to Hollywood. Take control of your own Millennium Falcon and soar!
Other WDW adventures
There’s always more to explore in Walt’s Florida World. Nearby Disney Springs offers restaurants, shops and entertainment that go late into the night in a pleasant waterfront setting. If the weather’s right, consider the water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, which recreates a “surprise” giant snow storm that dumped on Walt Disney World. Then Fort Wilderness has many activities, from archery to carriage rides to fishing excursions and pony rides. You also have the opportunity for golf and tennis, even the ESPN Wide World of Sports for games.
One last thing, as far as getting to and from the various parks, many hotels in the area offer shuttle service, which can be slow, stealing precious time from your day. Parking lots can run $25 to $50/day. Try a ride service. You’d be amazed how many Uber/Lyft drivers there are in Orlando. Also, Magic Express bus service fro
Other things to catch at Disney World
- Hall of Presidents (in MK), totally redesigned in 2017
- Happily Ever After fireworks, nightly over MK
- A guided behind-the-scenes tour, so many to choose from
- At least one character meal or live performance, especially with kids
- Spaceship Earth (in EPCOT), a little dated, but a decent tour of human progress
- One meal from a foreign land in the EPCOT World Showcase
- Ride the Disney Skyliner (2019) which connects some parks to hotels
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Stinne24 from Pixabay