We didn't have a rental car while we were in Orlando, so at the recommendation of the Universal hotel staff, we used Uber to get to Disney World, which worked out nicely. We had a two-day pass to the Disney parks, so we went to Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios the first day, and Epcot on the second day - which ended up being days three and four of our theme park visits, if you're keeping track.
Our Uber driver got us to the passenger drop off area at Magic Kingdom, and we thought we'd walk up to the park entrance. Um, nope. There was a huge body of water separating the parking area from the park:
Can you see Cinderella's castle waaayyy off in the distance??
Apparently, if you aren't staying at a Disney resort, you have to take either a ferry boat or the monorail to the park entrance. That was a surprise! Now, we weren't in any particular hurry, but this added a good 30 minutes to when we thought we'd be inside the park. We opted to take the ferry as there were a lot of people milling in the area and we figured the wait for the monorail would take longer. While the boat ride itself was fine, we did not enjoy the crush of people surging as we boarded it, so when the boat docked, we waited until most had disembarked before walking off.
The other thing that was off-putting was that like Universal, Disney World had metal detectors at the entrance, but if you were carrying a purse, bag, or backpack, you had to go in a long line and wait for your bag to be hand searched. HAND SEARCHED. The guard in my line unzipped every compartment in every bag that he searched. It felt very antiquated, especially considering the X-ray machines at Universal, where you put your bag in a plastic tub, just like you do at the airport, and they screen in a much quicker process. Also, I was pulled out for "additional screening" every time at Disney (they went over my body with a wand), with Jeff and the kadults being pulled out randomly as well at times, and I can't remember where, but there was one place when all four of us were pulled aside for additional screening. Let me tell you, the guards who are doing this do not act like the usual pleasant Disney staff. If I had to rate all the security I dealt with on this trip, best to worst, it would go:
- Universal - they were quick, friendly, and got the job done without much ado.
- Airport TSA - it's a tough job but they were usually pleasant.
- Disney World - I think they hired former prison guards for their security screening.
It was a beautiful day in Orlando - in the high 60s, with low humidity...ahhh!
We went on the Peoplemover first, just to get an overview of that section:
Then we went on what I call the rocket ride, officially the Astro Orbiter.We waited in line for nearly an hour to go on this ride, but it was one I remembered from childhood, so the wait was on:
SOMEONE was better prepared for the long waits than I was - what a good idea to bring your knitting!
Not us, but this was the ride - we each got our own rocket ship and got to go up and down. Not nearly as scary as I remembered from when I was a kid; good to put that memory to rest!
While we were in line, Sam played with the Disney app on his phone and discovered that we could get three free fast passes, so he scheduled us for more rides:
You have an hour to get to the ride and use your fast pass - it worked out really well.
We went on the Tomorrowland Speedway where I found out that I can't drive those cars any better now than I could when I was 10 years old:
Not us, but this was a fun ride. My family played bumper car a couple times, but not me - I behaved myself on the ride.
Then we needed to get over to Adventureland so we could ride Pirates of the Caribbean; we were a little tired from all the walking we'd done the previous two days at Universal, so we decided to take the train:
We ended up taking the train from three different stations, so we got to see the entire park via train. This was nice - it got us away from the crowds for a while, we got to not walk, and it was pretty entertaining to see the animatronic old west characters as we went through the back of Frontierland. I'm glad we were able to ride the train, as it will be closed for maintenance from January through March 2017.
We arrived at Pirates to see that they were just closing the ride for an issue. So we didn't get to ride that one or Buzz Lightyear - both were shut down midday. And Haunted Mansion was closed for maintenance, darn it - I know that ride is corny, but I always liked it plus having a ghost sit with you just plain entertains me. We ended up eating lunch over there - the food was decent but the crowds to place your order were not managed well.
We rode the train back to Tomorrowland, where we went on Space Mountain, and then we went to the Carousel of Progress attraction, mainly because we could sit down for a while. Did I mention we were pretty tired? Carousel of Progress is really entertaining for its antiquated animatronics - it was like looking back to what used to be considered advanced technology, if that makes sense.
We never went into Fantasyland; maybe if we had little kids with us, we would have done so, but there was such a huge mass of people in front of Cinderella's castle that we didn't want to bother:
A high school marching band was performing when I took this picture, but really, every time I looked at the castle, it was this crowded!
I was attempting to take a family selfie with Cinderella's castle in the background but wasn't getting a lot of cooperation, as you can see here.
I took a ton of pictures for other families during our week in Orlando - any time we were asked, I obliged. So I finally asked one woman to take our picture at Disney, with the castle in the background. It's to the left...all she needed to do was pivot a tiny bit! Oh well - it's a good picture of us, even if Sam didn't know what to do with his hands.
I went to the Starbucks on Main Street to buy a Magic Kingdom "You Are Here" mug while Jeff and the kadults went in search of Dole Whip, which I'd read about from other bloggers. It was delicious, I have to say! Then we decided to head on out to Hollywood Studios for the rest of our day. To get there, we had to take the Monorail back to the parking area and then hop on a bus to Hollywood Studios. It was a little confusing but we figured it out. After going through security and being pulled aside for additional screening again, we set out to find the Tower of Terror - I think we ended up with a fast pass for that ride, if I recall correctly:
This was a great ride - very scary and super fun!
We also went to the Muppets 3D attraction, which of course we liked because MUPPETS, and Star Tours. We walked around the park and saw pretty much everything we wanted to see - it wasn't nearly as crowded as Magic Kingdom, so it was easier to see everything. On our way out, I stopped in at the Starbucks and bought a Hollywood Studios "You Are Here" mug, and then we went to the parking lot to call an Uber, which magically appeared within a minute - there were a lot of smart Uber drivers waiting for fares at that time of day.
The next morning, we decided to take it easy - we realized a little too late that we should have built in some rest days into our week. We had a leisurely breakfast at the resort and then took another Uber to Epcot. This time, we really did arrive at the park entrance - no water crossing necessary. Security, check, additional screening check. Finally, we were at Epcot - and it was pretty cool. Of course, we headed over to the giant golf ball, or Spaceship Earth:
The line starts outside, underneath the golf ball. It was really cool to see this in person.
This was very interesting - there were all kinds of cool things to look as as the line moved forward, but this is also where Jeff nearly got thrown out of the park! He stepped over one line to look in a window at a display and the worker there did not appreciate that. Definitely did not feel like a Disney moment, but after me getting a ride stopped at Universal, it was nice to see him get in trouble too. You really can't take us anywhere.
Allie, Jeff, and Sam - in front of our favorite ride at Epcot.
We liked the Test Track ride, where we paired up and designed our own futuristic concept cars and then tested them against the other passengers on the ride, and we loved the Mission Space ride, where you are each assigned a duty as a NASA crew member of a spaceship; the ride is actually inside a spaceship command center, where you have switches to flip at certain times and - this was super cool - you got to experience G force! It was really, really neat.
I can't remember this ride - they were all in the same futuristic space area - but Allie and I rode together in one car while Sam and Jeff rode in another, and at one point early on, they made sure we knew to smile for a picture. When we got off the ride, we walked into an arcade-like area, where we saw funny images of us on huge screens:
It's like we were the Jetsons!
Of course they made goofy faces for the picture!
We walked around Epcot and went to the World Showcase - we ate lunch in China, and did a little shopping in Japan. It was fun to see everything but we didn't end up going on any of the attractions. We had a short day, but still were at Epcot for nearly seven hours! I got my last Starbucks mug, and we Ubered back to our hotel for some much-needed lazing around.
Except for a pair of Mickey Mouse earrings, these were my only souvenirs from Disney World - what can I say, I love my Starbucks mugs!
I'm glad we got to experience Disney World and their parks, especially Epcot, but if you've been to and are a fan of Disneyland, I wouldn't recommend going to Disney World. It's pretty much the same, only not quite as good? That's probably a blasphemous thing to say, but I'm going to stand by that assertion. Go to Epcot if you've never been there, but spend the majority of your Orlando visit at Universal Studios.