The first time I went to Disney World I was 21 and it was awesome. Back then I thought it might be a little disappointing for a girl in her 20’s since Disney is so geared towards kids, but I was wrong. It was everything I had been promised – beautiful grounds and buildings, fun rides and great fireworks to cap off the day (I think I may have stopped breathing the first time I saw Tinkerbell float out over the castle during the fireworks).
For our second trip to Disney we decided to visit two parks in one day: Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom. We weren’t obsessed with seeing everything since we had already been there, so we got a map at the front gates and plotted out our top destinations. If it’s your first time to Disney and you want to see everything but don’t want to kill yourself doing it, you’ll need two days in each park, especially the Magic Kingdom. Here’s a run down of the highlights and lowlights of each park for me:
- Kilimanjaro Safari – Though corny at times with the tour guide’s attempts to make you believe you are hunting for poachers, nothing gets old for me about seeing massive animals twenty feet away with no barricade in between.
- Affection Section – This will probably go on Brad’s lowlights list, but I had so much fun here! You get to go in an area with sheep and goats and brush them to your heart’s content. There’s something about goats that make me giggle inside. They seem insane and ready to head butt you while at the same time so tolerant and gentle.
- Expedition Everest – Some may be surprised that this roller coaster is on my bad list, but it was terrifying. I went in thinking it might be a little more intense than Thunder Mountain, but I should have done my research and thus avoided a really sore neck and back for two days. It dropped and whizzed around corners in the dark too fast, leaving my head feeling like it was literally going to pop off. Roller coaster enthusiasts will probably love this, but it is a thumbs down for me.
- Thunder Mountain – This roller coaster is pretty tame and I love it. There are no huge drops, you don’t go upside down, and your aren’t sucked backwards.
- Astro Orbiter – Brad warned me that this ride might be boring, but I thought it was fun. You get to get in your own little space ship and you can control how high or low you go.
- Mad Tea Party – aka “the tea cup ride”. We both felt like weirdos standing in line for a ride with a bunch of little girls dressed up as princesses, but it was a lot of fun! There’s a wheel in the middle that you can use to control how much you spin, which Brad whipped into overdrive and sent my brain flopping. It’s like a tilt a whirl and scrambler ride in one.
- Fireworks Spectacular – No one does fireworks like Disney. It’s all synced to music and lasts for at least ten minutes. A great way to end the day.
- Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor – Going to a show can be a great way to burn some time while you’re waiting for your Fast Pass time to become active, but this one had me on edge. It’s very audience interactive and you never know when the camera is going to focus on you and a man is going to run up to you with a microphone.
- Haunted Mansion – I imagine this would scare the snot out of little kids (and it did for one kid in our group who exited early) but I found it boring. The beginning is the scariest, where they put you in a room and make you think something’s going to jump out at you, but it slowly goes downhill and fizzles out from there. It’s basically a ride through the dark looking at robotic fake corpses and ghosts.
Five years later, Disney is still pretty amazing, but some of the magic has worn off. It’s not like Disney has fallen on hard economic times or anything like that. The paint on the castle is not peeling off and the streets are still as pristine and clean as they ever were, but the second time around the mystery goes away.
If you’ve already been to Disney World and don’t want your second trip to leave you feeling empty, try some of the following suggestions:
- Disney scavenger hunt – see who can be the first to find trash on the street, get Cinderella’s signature, and ride a roller coaster the most. Make your own list of obscure items and have fun.
- Photo tour documenting a different angle on Disney
- Fancy Date – dress to the nines and have a Disney date. Stroll down Main Street in a tux and gown, go on a few select rides, dine at one of the more high end restaurants (or not) and finish off your date with the fireworks.
While this was Susan’s second time at the Magic Kingdom, it was my fourth. I was lucky enough to be able to go two times when I was younger, and once before with Susan and my family. Though I didn’t go into it worried that the fun would wear off, we did do things a little differently than when I went with the whole family.
First, I’ll quickly give you my favourite and least favourite things in both the Animal Kingdom and the Magic Kingdom:
- The Safari – They do an amazing job of making you feel like you’re being driven across the plains of Africa. Though some of the animals were in hiding this time due to the chilly weather, it was still great fun.
A toss up between Expedition Everest & the Affection Section.
- Expedition Everest completely took me by surprise. It was incredibly intense. I’m not necessarily against intense roller coasters, but I found hurtling backwards around twists and turns in the dark to be very unenjoyable. I know it makes me sound old, but I had a sore back for days afterwards.
- As for the Affection Section, I knew it wouldn’t be up my alley right from the get go. You literally walk around the equivalent of a giant goat litter box and brush them. No thanks.
- Thunder Mountain – A roller coaster that doesn’t try to murder you
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – I know this one is meant for kids, but I have so much fun every time I go on it. Words cannot explain how excited I get waiting in line for this one.
- My favourite thing at Magic Kingdom that wasn’t a ride, was a barbershop quartet that was singing on Main Street as we entered the theme park. They were fantastic, not only in their singing ability, but they played to the crowd really well.
- My biggest disappointment was that some rides were temporarily shut down. This is common in January, since it’s not the most popular time to go. I was really looking forward to Splash Mountain, but it was out of commission.
- There were a few rides that I really only went on for tradition’s sake. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride is kind of lame, with it’s dated robotic pirates, but I can still remember being terrified as a kid when I thought I might actually get hit by the cannon balls being “shot” at our boat. I can’t go to the Magic Kingdom without going on this. The other one was the Jungle Cruise. The first time I saw the animatronic animals on the Jungle Cruise as a kid, I honestly thought they might be real. Now I prefer the real thing over at Animal Kingdom, but again, it’s one of those things I have to do when I’m at Disney. This time there was a little extra excitement when our Jungle Cruise boat got stuck inside the temple because the boat in front of us broke down. Good times.
Disney is definitely geared towards families, and specifically children. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun as a couple though. I enjoyed going to Disney as just the two of us because we could do everything at our own pace. We took lots of breaks and enjoyed the day instead of walking non-stop for 12 hours and covering our feet in blisters.
We found certain rides were especially great for couples. The Mad Tea Party was perfect for two because you can take turns turning the wheel that makes your tea cup spin. The Buzz Lightyear ride is fun for couples because they only put two people in each “cart” and you ride through these rooms and shoot things with your laser gun. There is a scoreboard on each gun so that it’s easy to see who hit more targets. Not only that, but there is a joystick in the centre of the cart that you can use you turn in any direction. This can be used to help yourself get points as well as to keep your partner from winning.
Overall we both had a great time at Disney. Though we don’t see it in the same magical light as a child, we found ways to make it fun. My biggest piece of advice is don’t feel pressured to see every single attraction. That applies to any theme park, but especially to Disney. Make the day about having fun, regardless of what you do.
FOR THE LOCALS:
Florida residents can now get a 4-Day Dream Pass for only $99! That’s a little more than the price for only one day! The catch? Offer ends May 25, 2010.