Back from the land of Mickey, Minnie and Sunshine

I just spent a little over a week in the land of Mickey, Minnie and Sunshine – Orlando, Florida!

Now wasn’t THAT an adventure! A late-twenty something woman traveling with her mid-fifties parents. First time at Disney. Ever. I mean, any Disney related adventure. Let me explain.

I have a father who is incredibly knowledgeable about history…and I mean that in the most complementary way. He once interrupted a state capitol tour guide (in front of about 25-30 fifth or sixth grade students and their chaperones) in my home state to “correct” his storytelling and facts about a particular painting hanging in a room outside the Govenor’s office (which if I remember correctly, is used for when they give media/tv announcements). And yes, the tour guide was wrong. But I was about a year ahead of the group in school, and with a bunch of my friends, so it was a bit embarrassing in the moment.

For example, one year in early middle school my family drove through six states and toured each state Capitol building, at least five (if not more) museums in the state, national parks, historical landmarks (example: I have visited and toured almost every single Laura Ingalls Wilder location, except for Missouri – and that is because it was, probably, closed. I don’t remember now, but it was something like that.), factories (tractors. Dr. Pepper. you name it.) and when we got back home – about 85% of the students who went away, went on Disney adventures or cruises or something – well, kid-like. Not that historical stuff is kid-like. I learned a lot and I don’t regret it, but sometimes as a child I was wishing I was “like the rest” so to speak.

Thus, I’m nearing the big 3-0 and have finally made it to Disney, full of wonder. I did a bit of research, but didn’t exactly plan the dates. Sure, the Times Guide is a nice way to go – figure out what shows, rides and things to see, and then match it with the Times Guide, but other than that I didn’t plan much. We did one park a day – we would get up at 7 a.m., be at the park by 8:15-8:30 a.m., park opened at 9 a.m. We spent one entire day (9 a.m. to closing fireworks!) at Hollywood Studios and one entire day at Magic Kingdom. We took in the morning (open to 3 p.m.) at Animal Kingdom, and split Epcot’s map in half – one side (Future World and World Showcase areas) one day from open to 3 p.m. (back to the resort’s lazy river, soaking up sunshine and guitar and other acoustic music in the evening), and another from open til close. On another day, we slept in til 8, took in Downtown Disney beginning at 9:30, experienced Characters in Flight, and got Wolfgang Puck to take back to the resort; and the last day we spent just lounging around the resort before going back to where we live – in an icy winter wonderland (although, yeah, sometimes not so wonderland-ish).

If you are planning a trip to Disney – with your family, just yourself, any age – check out the following links:
DISboards.com - Disney World Discussion Forums

I thought this forum was very, very well laid out – lots of sections and organized – the people were incredible with their thoughts and discussions, and I found a TON of tips there! It’s also a good perk on a forum when you can look at posts without having to register! Some forums you’ll find are very restrictive and member-only, and I adored that this one wasn’t – it was a great planning tool – I didn’t know anything about Disney World other than what I saw on the official website, so I was looking for a “been there perspective” and I got it! I also enjoyed searching for the resort I was going to stay at and seeing what forum members said about it (all great things!) I plan to register to say thank you, but probably won’t post again much until my next Disney trip, whenever that would be.

AllEars.Net – An incredible resource. I loved this site, especially for it’s meal menus – you can see not only what the different options are, but menus and pricing!

MouseSavers.com – Informative website for Disney World and Disneyland, has an interesting GPS application, as well as tips and discount announcements. I thought about using the GPS app, but didn’t.

UndercoverTourist.com – I purchased our WDW tickets here, on the recommendations on the DisBoards and other sites, instead of purchasing more expensive ones straight from Disney. I also used their “Crowd Calendar” to figure out what dates were the best to pick out what park to visit.

 

Books – Tip: No need to purchase – rent at your local library! If not at the library, ask to have it inter-library loaned!

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Walt Disney World – Amazon Links: 2012 Edition  – There is a new 2013 edition of the book, but since I borrowed the 2012 edition from the library I include it here. My parents and I loved this one as we were just starting to look!

The Hidden Magic of WDW: Over 600 Secrets – Amazon Link: Click HereVery interesting book! A must read. There is also a Planner, but I didn’t peruse that one.

 

I will edit this later as I have time to post more.

Backstage Magic Tour : Disney Florida

Discover some of the secrets behind the magic of Walt Disney World Resort! Get an in-depth look at the creative and technical operations used behind the scenes to bring innovative special effects, world-class entertainment and elaborate attractions to life.

At Epcot, we’ll reveal some of the exquisite details that make The American Adventure one of our most popular attractions. You’ll see Main Street, U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom theme park in a whole new light after your guide leads you through a hidden world—the legendary underground “Utilidor” tunnel system.

From artistic accents to eye-catching designs, nearly everything that surrounds you at Walt Disney World Resort is created and maintained by the artisans of Central Shops whose masterpieces transport you to Fantasyland and beyond. Take a break with a family-style lunch at the Whispering Canyon Café inside Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Then, see how horticulture and landscape design play a starring role in creating an endless variety of uniquely themed environments at the Walt Disney World Nursery & Tree Farm.

Head to Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park and see how Walt Disney Imagineers combined cutting-edge design with breakthrough technology to create the thrilling Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Here, as in every corner of Walt Disney World Resort, wardrobe is an integral part of the magic, so you’ll learn how the Creative Costuming team outfits the performers in Disney parades and shows. Finally, wrap up a most wonderful day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park with an up-close look at Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade.

Guests must be at least 16 years old and carry government-issued photo identification. Lunch is included with the tour. Theme Park admission is not required or included.

Duration:
6-8 hours
Price:
$229.00 per person (ages 16 and up)