I just got back from an absolutely incredible holiday to Orlando, Florida where I spent most of my time at Disneyworld. As a kid I didn’t get to go to any of the Disney parks as my Mom and brothers aren’t really Disney fans and to be honest I don’t particularly remember being desperate to go until I was in my late teens when I suddenly decided I wanted to visit every park. Florida seemed absolutely impossible but luckily due to a tax return and a decent deal found on Tui I managed to finally afford my dream holiday.
I wanted to talk about my favourite memories from that trip so here goes nothing! These are in no particular order.
I booked myself a fastpass for this without really knowing what it was – it wasn’t until I arrived really that I understood each Disney park had a night show and this was the one for Hollywood Studios. I was tired after a relatively sleepless night the night before (a long story which you can read about in my Orlando travel fails blog post) but I knew I had to hold on until 8PM to see this.
Even before I’d seen the other evening shows I knew Fantasmic was my favourite. I love Mickey Mouse and I love anything that sort of tells a story so I was really enjoying it. Unfortunately for me it got part-way through and then they had to end it early. I think it was because of a medical emergency but it was never actually stated why.
I’m not sure how much of it I missed but I don’t think it was a lot – it was still a shame because that was my only night to catch the show. It’s definitely an excuse to return one day though because I need to see Fantasmic all the way through – it was absolutely perfect!
Fireworks at Magic Kingdom
Although I didn’t particularly want to I ended up having my first visit to Magic Kingdom on a Saturday which was unfortunate as the park was heaving by lunchtime – so much so that I couldn’t find anywhere to get food that wasn’t rammed. I’d told myself to stay for the fireworks because I never knew if something was going to happen like it had with Fantasmic but in the end I left after my final fastpass of the day, had dinner in my hotel and had an early night. And you know what, I’m not even sorry.
I returned on Tuesday and was in a much better mood. Although the park was still busy it was nowhere near as bad as it had been on the Saturday, I managed to get some lunch and I was excited about seeing the fireworks.
Unfortunately when I’d visited the Paris park we’d had to leave before the fireworks, there hadn’t been any at the Hong Kong park but I had enjoyed them at the Tokyo park. That hadn’t prepared me for the Florida ones – the projections on the castle of all the different characters was incredible, the song, the fireworks, Tinkerbell flying over the crowd… It was absolutely incredible. I kept putting my phone away and telling myself to live in the moment but then something would happen and I’d be like ‘I NEED TO VIDEO THIS’.
I’m not ashamed to say I cried because honestly they were so beautiful. If I’m ever lucky enough to return to Disneyworld I want to watch them all over again but I don’t think it will top that first time. I got an amazing spot right in the middle of the castle, close enough and everyone in front of me wasn’t too tall. Couldn’t beat my first experience of the Happily Ever After fireworks.
Meeting Buzz Lightyear
At the other parks (as in not Florida) I found it really hard to meet any of the characters – in Paris we only managed to meet Mickey Mouse, we didn’t meet anyone in Tokyo and although I met a few in Hong Kong there were still some I didn’t get to meet. Buzz Lightyear has been my favourite character for about a year now but his queue got closed in Hong Kong which I was gutted about ‘cos I was wearing a Buzz Lightyear themed dress and I’d wanted to meet him.
With less than a week to go before my trip my friend Emma gave me my Christmas present which was Buzz Lightyear themed Mickey ears. She’d popped up before Christmas to ask me my favourite Disney film and character, and I’d obviously replied to say Toy Story and Buzz Lightyear. By the time she gave me the gift I’d completely forgotten she’d asked me and I was thrilled with them.
So of course I wore them to Hollywood Studios and as I entered Toy Story Land I saw you could meet Buzz Lightyear and the queue wasn’t cut! Wahoo! I joined the back and even tweeted about how excited I was. The queue didn’t take that long and soon I was at the front.
I always find the character meets a little bit awkward because I’m never sure what to say or do but it’s so much easier with the characters that can’t talk because at least there’s no awkward conversation. After exchanging hello’s etc. he pointed at my Mickey ears and I said something like “Yeah, that’s because you’re my favourite!” and he put his hand on his heart like he was flattered.
After we took the photos I expected the meet to finish as it had for everyone else but Buzz told me to take off my bags and then told me to press his buttons – I didn’t really know what he was asking me to do but luckily the photographer told me so I did and he went into Spanish mode and danced with me which was hilarious. Bless him for going that little bit further because I said he was my favourite character!
Finding Nemo – The Musical
If I were naming my favourite Disney movies ‘Finding Nemo’ wouldn’t be anywhere near the top ten, and ‘Finding Dory’ would be even lower. I don’t actively dislike them but there are definitely better movies. Either way, I wanted to see this show at Animal Kingdom because I’m not really a big thrill rides kind of girl and I was more excited about visiting Disney to see the shows. A colleague at work who had visited a couple of years previously told me she’d enjoyed it and so I was excited to see it – so much so that I made sure I got a fastpass for it!
It was actually one of the best shows I saw throughout my trip, really inventive and did make me cry a little bit (it was the last full day of my trip, I was exhausted and even in the film it is nice when Marlin and Nemo get reunited let’s be real!). If I went back I’d definitely want to see it again, it was so much fun and I loved it!
Crystal Palace Buffet
This is the dining reservation that I mentioned earlier that I had to modify because I wanted to see the fireworks. I found out about Crystal Palace through watching Disney vlogs to hype myself up – Jade Billington and her husband had breakfast there and got to meet the Winnie-the-Pooh characters, and it looked like fun. I liked the idea of a buffet and I love the Winnie-the-Pooh characters but I was worried about feeling self-conscious. Still, I may only get to go once so I booked myself a reservation.
The only perk about going so late was that it was a bit quieter but I was quite tired after a full on day park – still it was nice to just sit and eat for a bit. The only downside is that I asked my waiter for an orange juice and he must’ve misunderstood because he brought me a fizzy orange drink. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate fizzy drinks but me being British and awkward just accepted it and then asked for a water later on so I actually had something to drink.
There wasn’t a ton of choice at the buffet but they had vegetables! You know it’s bad when I actually got excited about it and filled a whole half of my plate with them. And there was unlimited bread which everyone knows is a good thing. I just wish I hadn’t been so tired (and chaffy!) to enjoy it more, I think I’d kill to sit and eat that buffet again.
Then the Winnie-the-Pooh characters came which was awesome but unfortunately the cast members don’t jump in to take photos of you so if you’re going solo you’ll need to bear that in mind. I was very lucky because a family from Denmark saw my awkward encounter with Eeyore in which I didn’t get a photo and immediately jumped in, the mother essentially becoming my own personal photographer. The only person I didn’t get a proper photo with was Piglet because I think he got a bit confused but I got some other cute photos and it was nice having the characters approach you instead of having to wait ages in line to meet them.
It was a little bit expensive but I’d say worth every penny. I only booked two dining reservations for my trip, one here and one at Chinese in Epcot and I’d return to both to be honest. Crystal Palace for the experience, the Chinese because that honey sesame chicken with rice was probably the best meal I had whilst away.
I have tons and tons of happy memories from my trip but those were definitely the top five. Let me know your favourite memories from any of the Disney parks and keep your fingers crossed that I can go back one day!