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My sugar momma took me to Disney. What a treat! We left early on Sunday morning as snow was falling on Chicagoland, arrived in Orlando to 80 degree weather. From Sunday through Wednesday, we enjoyed perfect Florida weather, cruised Disney in shorts and tee shirts. On Sunday afternoon, I even braved flip flops, a bit of a mistake as my feet hated me at the end of the evening. When you go to Disney, you walk and stand a whole lot.
Lisa is a Disney vet. She has a Disney time share and visits there several times a year. I had my own guide, who had an agenda to show me every possible bit of the magic kingdom she could possibly expose me to. I was thankful I listened to the little voice that told me to buy a good pair of shoes before the trip. We logged over 20,000 steps a day. Sunday was Epcot, with a nice dinner at a french restaurant in the evening. Monday morning found us in the Animal Kingdom, in line early for the Avatar ride, an awesome virtual reality experience. Just as cool as the ride was the park outside the ride. It looked like we had stepped into Pandora. A few days later, when we visited Hollywood Studios and the Star Wars section of the park, the feeling was the same. Just as Universal has created an awesome Harry Potter experience (I loved that when I took my daughter there a few years ago), Disney has done the same with Star Wars, Avatar, and Toy Story. In the Animal Kingdom, guests are greeted by the tree of life from Avatar, a very cool sight.
Of all the parks, and we went to them all, I think I enjoyed the overall atmosphere of the Animal Kingdom the best. Epcot is cool with the international feel, but Animal Kingdom just was such a pleasant place. I enjoyed the safari, an excellent representation that made me feel I was right in Africa. The Everest roller coaster was fun, especially when it reached an unexpected ending at the top, then went backwards. With the exception of Space Mountain, no ride at Disney is rough or terrifying, which I think is the goal. I am a Six Flags and Kings Island roller coaster junkie, so I know how mild the rides at Disney are. The rides at Disney are not the real magic, in my opinion. It’s the whole experience.
From Animal Kingdom, we took a bus to the Grand Floridian resort. One of the great things about Disney is the transportation system — buses, boats, monorail, and sky way. Never once during the stay was it necessary to have a rental car or to take a taxi. There is even a bus that takes everyone to/from the airport.
The Grand Floridian is beautiful and elegant. If and when I visit again, I think I want to stay there. The lobby is spectacular. The monorail or a boat is accessible right from the hotel. After our lunch there, I opted for the monorail. When I visited Disney last, which was in 1978, the monorail was a big deal. It was just as awesome last week. It zipped us quietly to the Magic Kingdom. Since we were park hopping we had to wait a few minutes to enter. We weren’t allowed to enter until 2 PM. Once inside, the magic was instantaneous. Seeing the castle and the entrance is like stepping into a fantasy. The Magic Kingdom was our first exposure to a large crowd and to lots of children. Epcot and Animal Kingdom parks were not full to capacity, with less children. We rode a Toy Story ride first, then took in the Carousel of Progress (there’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow). I was eager to ride Space Mountain, begged Lisa to ride, and was thrilled to no end. It was the big ride when I went to Disney in 1978.
We rode all the rides at Magic Kingdom. I was really disappointed in the Seven Dwarves Mine Ride. We waited in line forever for a very short, very mediocre ride. I was also disappointed that there were no fireworks. There were several things that were missing or added to the experience due to the pandemic — longer lines due to social distancing, wearing a mask all day (it was strictly enforced), washing hands endlessly, hand sanitizer stations everywhere, most interactive displays and many shops/restaurants closed. It was still wonderful.
Our first full day ended with a pizza shared outside at the Boardwalk, the lights and water mesmerizing. Our whole time there was shorts and tee shirt weather, and the place is very beautiful. After our meal, we took a boat across the lake to the Beach Club resort, which is where we stayed. Our room was great, much nicer than what I am used to. We spent some time in the hot tub and pool each night we were there. The room had a nice kitchen, so we had breakfast there each morning.
Tuesday was Hollywood Studios. Hollywood Studios is where the Star Wars rides are at. In order to get into the Ride the Resistance ride, you have to log into the Disney app at 7 AM to try to get a spot for the ride. We didn’t make it into the queue at 7, so we tried again at 1 and got a spot at 5 PM. When we got to HS, we headed for the Slinky Dog roller coaster in the Toy Story part of the park. It ended up being our favorite ride. We rode Slinky Dog three times. We also loved the Toy Story ride, where you are catapulted through an arcade, shooting as many of the targets as possible and competing with the other person in our car. Lisa beat my score both times we rode that ride, much to my dismay. We tried to get into Tower of Terror and the Rocking Roller Coaster, but both were shut down each time we tried. Perhaps my favorite at Hollywood Studios was the Runaway Train, an awesome ride through the history of Mickey and Minnie. It’s difficult to describe how well done that ride is. We had to wait in line a long time and it was well worth it.
Ride the Resistance is a must for any Star Wars fan. I won’t ruin it for anyone, but I have to tell you that you are captured and ‘interrogated’ as members of the Resistance. It’s fun. Because you can’t enter without obtaining a place through the app, the wait is minimal. We also rode the Smuggler’s Run ride, which would have been far better had we been pilots instead of engineers. I loved the Star Wars stuff. The whole part of that park was very cool.
Wednesday was our flight back to Chicagoland. There were only 24 people on our flight back. We came back to see what was left of the mess a snow storm had left in Chicago while we were gone. It didn’t feel so bad coming back to the gloom. The warmth and magic of Disney still is surrounding me, even a week later!
It was nice to have a real, honest to goodness vacation. I walked a ton, worked a lot for my enjoyment, but it was so good!