Walt Disney World: The Happiest Disney location in the World!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Arriving at Walt Disney World
I live in Florida, so I might be a little bias when I say that Walt Disney World is the happiest Disney location in the World (and it's the only Disney I've been to πŸ˜„πŸ˜Š). Well, in this blog post I will clearly state my reasons, so relive my journey to Walt Disney World by reading through. πŸ˜‰

First, as far as I know, Walt Disney World Resort, is the only Disney Resort, which has 4 theme parks that you can explore, namely: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. So, more attractions, more fun! Knowing that, it's obviously the biggest resort among others covering a 43 sq mi property and housing several themed resort hotels that can cater almost any budget. And since we are still talking about the size, Walt Disney World has more rides and attractions than any other Disney Resorts. Evidently, since it has 4 theme parks, one day is not enough to explore all 4. If you actually want to try all the rides and see all the attractions in just only one theme park, one day is not even enough.

So, to celebrate our second wedding anniversary, my husband and I decided to go to Walt Disney World. We started the early stage of planning and saving up for it since January and finally booked our stay and bought our tickets on February. Since we are Florida residents, we took advantage of the Walt Disney Resorts limited offer for tickets and rooms (yep, one of the perks of being a Floridian). We actually save $300 for the 3-day tickets (admission to one park per day) just for being a Florida resident (sweet, right?). As for the hotel, we got one of the cheapest offer and you have many more to choose from (well, depends on availability of the rooms of course). We did all this conveniently with our MyDisneyExperience account online. After a couple of weeks, before our Disney staycation, we received our complimentary MagicBands. So what are MagicBands? MagicBands are colorful, waterproof wristbands—resembling a watch or bracelet—that you can quickly and easily touch to a sensor called a touch point”. It was actually one cool tool to unlock many features of your vacation at Disney World resort. It serves as your park ticket, hotel room key, FastPass+ reservation check-in tool and even as your credit card! Yes, this is another reason why Walt Disney World is the happiest Disney location in the World. As of this date, other Disney Resorts do not have this technology of making your vacation as seamless as possible. Well, who knows, maybe in the future other Disney locations will introduce this technology, but for now, yay for Walt Disney World! Just to be clear, MagicBands are automatically given to you if you are staying at any Disney Resort hotels or if you are a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder. If you are neither any of the two, you will only receive a card when you purchase tickets for park admission.

The names of the rides and/or attractions have links, you can click on it so you can see the description of what kind of rides or attractions it is.

Our personalized MagicBands

Arriving at our hotel

DAY 1: Hollywood Studios Adventure

On March 17, we arrived at our hotel (Disney's Pop Century Resort) around 8:30 am (yes, we traveled early in the morning for 1 and a half hour drive). This hotel, although one of the cheapest was a decent place to stay. It has a 50s to 90s 'feel' as it was the theme of this resort. Standard check-in was actually at 3 pm but we are fortunate enough to have a room ready for us on our arrival. Since we already did an online check-in a day before our arrival, it was a smooth process when we arrived at the hotel. They just gave us the room number and we are all set.

Posing at one of the amazing structures in our hotel

Our first theme park to explore.
After a short rest in our room, we went ahead to our first theme park destination: Hollywood Studios. All Disney Hotels have a complimentary transportation bus that will bring you to any theme park and bring you back to the hotel afterwards. The Hollywood Studios was actually the smallest park among the 3, so there are fewer things to do and to see here. However, you will still have a hard time exploring everything because mainly, there are a lot of people and almost all of them wanted to experience everything, hence, the long lines. This is where a FastPass+ can be handy. You can reserve 3 things that you wanted to explore in a park and you will be a priority! No need to wait long hours in the line. For example, my husband and I reserved Star Tours - The Adventure Continues, Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage, and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. All of these 3 are popular attractions and entertainments in Hollywood Studios so it has commonly long lines. These 3 was actually my top 3 favorites in this theme park and I am glad we picked them for our FastPass+. We also had the chance to watch the March of the First OrderFor the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing Along Celebration and Star Wars: Path of a Jedi. We also had a chance to explore Star Wars Launch Bay and observe kids in Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple.  There were other rides you can experience like the Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Great Movie Ride, Toy Story Mania!, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™.  My husband is not a fan of roller coaster rides and horror themed rides, so we stayed away trying those. On the other hand, you can watch some shows instead like Disney Junior Live on Stage and Muppet*Vision 3D which are basically for kids, so we did not watch any of it either. If you still have time and would like to explore more, you can try Walt Disney: One Man's Dream. You can also meet some Disney Characters like Kylo Ren, Chewbacca, Olaf, Buzz Lightyear and Woody, the Disney Junior Pals, as well as Mickey and Minnie in this theme park, but you have to wait in long lines for many people would like to meet and take a picture with them too. I do not have the patience to wait that day so I was not able to meet any Disney characters.

Flaunting our R2D2 Mickey hat and Minnie Headband (with matching DBZ jackets)

Our first ride in Hollywood Studios

Our second ride in Hollywood studios
Min and Bill Dockside Diner. They serve a large serving of foot-long hot dogs!
I don't have many photos in this theme park. On our way to Disney, my husband continuously reminded me to not be overly obsessed with taking pictures. Since this is my first visit, he told me to just enjoy and feel the moment rather than get busy taking photos (which is true and absolutely worth it).

We had fun exploring our first theme park, but was so exhausted since we only had a few hours of sleep. We went back to our hotel around 6 pm so we weren't able to see the park's nighttime attractions such as Fantasmic! and Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular.

DAY 2: Magic Kingdom Fascination
The next theme park we explore the following day was the Magic Kingdom. Bigger than the Hollywood Studios, there are more things to do with this theme park. It is divided into 6 areas called: Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. The Main Street and Liberty Square area, mostly consist of restaurants, food stalls and gift shops. Upon entering, you will be amazed by Magic Kingdom's icon, the Cinderella Castle.

The icon of Magic Kingdom, Cinderella Castle at the background

It was so huge and looks like a real castle! In a short time, I felt like I was a Princess in a Disney movie!πŸ’ƒ

The 3 FastPass+ we had in this theme park was the Jungle Cruise, Tomorrowland Speedway and Under the Sea- Journey of the Little Mermaid. All our FastPass+ was scheduled in the afternoon, so we had time to explore the entirety of the park. My husband, as I have already mentioned was not a fan of roller coaster rides (or rides in general). Since I really wanted to try some rides and Splash Mountain looks fun, I tried it alone. The waiting time indicated at the entrance was 50 minutes (yes! everyone wanted to try that ride!). But in reality, it was only 20 minutes (at least by the time I waited).

Patiently waiting in line.

I conquered the Splash Mountain ride!

Aside from Splash Mountain, you can also try Walt Disney World Railroad, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Tom Sawyer Island all in the Frontierland area.

Adventureland Arc - your adventure begins here.

A Room where birds and flowers come to life and sing.
When you go to Fantasyland, you can see a lot of rides and attractions mostly for kids - Prince Charming Regal Carousel, Peter Pan's Flight, "it's a small world", Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mad Tea Party and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Some rides and attractions that will suit for a not so kid anymore includes Mickey's PhilharMagic, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid, Walt Disney World Railroad (which is also in Frontierland area), The Barnstormer and the Seven Dwarf Mine Train. You can also meet some Disney characters here in Fantasyland, such as Ariel, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Minnie and some Disney Princesses. I wasn't able to meet any of them though. I met one Disney Princess, Princess Merida of DunBroch. I was the only adult in line for this character meet, hahaha.

With Princess Merida of DunBroch #Brave
Last but not the least is the exciting rides and attractions in Tomorrowland area. The theme of this area is Disney's view of the future. Rides and attractions include Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, Stitch's Great Escape! (which, unfortunately, was close during our visit), Tomorrowland Speedway (which is one of my favorites since I've had the chance to drive on my own), Space Mountain, Astro Orbiter, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress and Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.

You may also want to stay until night to see Magic Kingdom's Wishes nighttime spectacular.

Day 3: EPCOT - Travel to the Future and Beyond
We saved the best for last - EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow). Well, this theme park is the biggest among all 4 and it was my husband's favorite (he used to work here). Upon entering the park, you won't missed noticing the EPCOT's icon - Spaceship Earth. It was actually one of our FastPass+ reservations along with The Seas with Nemo and Friends and IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth (which, by the way was amazing!).

Epcot has four areas you can explore: Future World East, Future World West, Showcase Plaza and the World Showcase.  In the Future World East there's a lot of rides and entertainments you can try like the Spaceship Earth, Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of the Future, Ellen's Energy Adventure, Mission: SPACE, Advanced Training Lab, Test Track and Innoventions.

While in the Future World West, you can try The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Turtle Talk with Crush, Soarin, The Circle of Life, Journey Into Imagination with Figment, and ImageWorks.

Showcase Plaza was basically an area for outdoor kitchens and gift shops.

Epcot's Icon, Spaceship Earth.

During our visit, Disney World have ongoing Epcot International Flower Garden Festival so there were lots of different beautiful flowers all over the park.

Some of the Beautiful Flowers in Epcot

Can't resist to take a selfie with this beautiful flowery tree.

I've got to meet so many Disney Characters here! I waited in line just to meet some of my favorites, which includes Baymax of Big Hero 6, Joy and Sadness of Inside Out, and Elsa and Ana of Frozen. Yes! I am one happy kiddo that day!😊

With two of my favorites hug-gable creatures.πŸ˜€

Having mixed emotions with Sadness, Joy and Hubby

Meeting the ever talkative Ana of Frozen

Meeting Queen Elsa

Daisy Duck made me quack quack quack

What I enjoyed the most was exploring the World Showcase: DestiNations Discovered. There were 11 countries to explore with including Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada. There were amazing structures, architectures and landscapes that will let you feel like you are really in that certain country!

The pyramid architecture in the Mexico Pavilion World Showcase was stunning. I was excited to go inside right after seeing it from afar. Once you entered, you will see the gallery display showcasing Mexican artwork and collection. The other entrance ahead will lead you to a Mexican village and Market-themed place where you can buy some Mexican souvenirs. At the edge of the plaza is an elegantly looking Mexican restaurant (that would probably cost you a fortune when you dine, yes I am exaggerating). We went to try the boat ride called Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros located at the side of the Plaza.

The Mexican Pavilion Pyramid

The Gran Fiesta Tour Boat Ride entrance
Our next stop was Norway Pavilion. It has cool Norwegian architectures and my favorite part was the Royal Sommerhus where I met the beloved sisters of Arendelle - Elsa and Anna. We wanted to try the Frozen Ever After ride, but unfortunately, it was close in the morning due to technical problems and when we tried to see if it's up and running in the afternoon (one of the cast member told us that it might run in the afternoon), the lines were really long with almost 1 and a half hour waiting timeπŸ˜”.

The Royal Sommerhus where we met Elsa and Ana

'Just watching the hours tick by...(Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock)

The famous ride that we never had the chance to experience. 😭
Stave Church replica where you can see Norway's cultural things.

The beautifully carved scary troll😁
The China Pavilion was one of our favorites. We did not do much here but we enjoyed watching the performance of the Jeweled Dragon Acrobats and just simply walking in the gift shop that has many cute things inside. My husband wanted to meet Mulan (one of his favorite Disney characters) but there was a long line and he did not like the Disney cast member who portrayed as Mulan. But you can watch the Reflections of China if you're interested to view the places and faces of China in a 14-minute film.

The Paifang Gate to China

These Pandas are so adorable!

China's Temple of Heaven at the background.
Simba and Friends topiaries
Our 4th destination was the Germany Pavilion. Focused on German folklore, this pavilion is designed to look like a German town. Like other pavilions, it has amazing architecture. There is not much to do here but appreciate Germany's landmarks and architectures along with shops and restaurant or food stalls where you can taste German food.

Flower power somewhere in Germany Pavilion.

Karamell-Kuche, one of Germany Pavilion's shops.

Clock Tower.
5. Italy
We were already so tired of walking when we arrived in Italy Pavilion, so when we found a shaded place to sit and rest for a while, we took our time to relax our sore feet. We ended up in the Neptune Fountain (reminiscent of Rome's Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy). An amazing structure in the pavilion includes the Bell Tower (the re-creation of St. Mark's Campanile in Venice, Italy) and a replica of the Doge's Palace. Shops where you can buy Italian goods are also around this pavilion.

The Bell Tower
Trying to capture the Bell Tower as our background.

Replica of Doge's Palace

Lady and the Trump topiaries.
6. The American Adventure
We actually just passed by this host pavilion because my husband is not interested in his own country.πŸ˜…πŸ˜†πŸ˜ But in case you would like to visit this pavilion, you can watch the 30-minute film, music and audio-animations called The American Adventure where you can explore the past and the future of America. There's a lot of restaurants to eat with, so enjoy your food trips! Yep, just one photo here. πŸ˜”πŸ˜πŸ˜

While passing by the pavilion, I snap a photo.
7. Japan
One of our favorites, Japan Pavilion, was also one of the smallest. The entrance of the pavilion features an amazing Japanese Pagoda and the water in front of the pavilion shows a Torii gate of the Itsukushima Shrine. Of course, cute Japanese stuff can be found in the gift shops.

Japanese Pagoda

Japanese Castle

Japanese Shop
Japanese Gift shop stalls

All about Pikachu!

8. Morocco
This is one of the smallest pavilions and one of the uninteresting one for us, so like The American Adventure, we only passed by this pavilion. The pavilion has a cool design of a Moroccan city that showcase lifestyle and culture of the Moroccan people. The realistic Minaret (a distinctive architectural structure akin to a tower) will catch your attention.

The Minaret in Morocco Pavilion.

9. France
One of the largest pavilions, France offers to showcase your typical Paris neighborhood. You can see the majestic Eiffel Tower (which I can't figure out why I miss taking a picture), shops offering genuine French goods and the popular Beauty and the Beast topiaries. You can also watch a 20-minute film where you can experience the grandeur and charm of the French countryside called Impressions de France.

Disney cast member dressed as a typical restaurant personnel in front of one of the French restaurants.

Beauty and the Beast topiaries.

Ice cream shop.
10. United Kingdom
Second to the last pavilion is the United Kingdom. This pavilion was designed to look like a typical British village. Like other pavilions, it has great architectural designs and interesting structures.

Cute house along United Kingdom Pavilion.

Sportsman's Shoppe.

Can you spot Peter Pan?

Tinker Bell Topiaries

Rose & Crown dining room.
11. Canada
Last but definitely not the least is the Canada Pavilion. You can watch a 14-minute Circle-Vision 360 film that will take you to a country tour and show its landmarks, scenery and culture. You will see the Mill Stage where a band is performing, There were only few a stores in this Pavilion and not that much to do as well.

The Mill Stage.

Trading Post.

Canadian structure.

That was the tiring long-hour walks in the entire World Showcase area. We walk back to the Showcase Plaza and stop by to check out the Butterfly garden. Although there are just few butterflies around, I enjoyed seeing some beautiful flowers inside the garden.

Beautiful colors!

Then my husband and I went to Club Cool to taste the complimentary samples of soft drinks from around the world. Refreshing indeed!

Pick your choice. 😊

After so much walking, we rested in one of the benches. We basically waited there until it's time for the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, our vacation's finale. It was a stunning fireworks display and worth the finale of our mini vacation. With a heavy, but happy heart, we left the theme park and brought our good memories home.

Next time we might visit the last theme park, Magic Kingdom. Until then...adios Walt Disney World!

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