Vacation Days: Disney World

Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Hellooooo! I have been MIA for the last week because I was off gallivanting with my family in none other than The Happiest Place on Earth!

I, of course, will continue posting about my Houston discoveries and shenanigans, but I think it's only appropriate to pay homage to this amazing vacation I just came back from.

For my 21st birthday, my parents took my sister and me to Disney World in 2006. And now in 2013, my sister chose Disney as her 21st birthday celebration. Now I know what you're probably thinking: "Nerrrrds." But hear me out - People say Las Vegas is the Disney World for adults? Please. I say Disney World is the Disney World for adults. I was 15 years old when I went on my first trip to Disney, and I've been there seven times since. And let me tell you, it only gets better the older I get. So here are my (completely biased and not in any way objective) reviews of everything Disney I experienced. Only condensed. Because we packed an s' ton of stuff in while we were there.

Winner for Best Park:

Epcot, Epcot, EPCOT! Epcot has Future World which is pretty awesome, but the real draw of this "kingdom" is the World Showcase, which houses 11 different countries where you can eat, drink booze, shop, and see each country's attraction. My family loves Epcot somuch, that we visited it four of the five days we were there.

*Helpful Tip: If you are a lady and you want to get schnockered, order a drink from the guys at the stand in Morocco. Conversely, if you are a lady and you do not want to get schnockered, do not order a drink from the guys at the stand in Morocco.

The sis pictured with her "Sultan's Slushie" - Or as we lovingly referred to it: "Death."

Winner for Best Ride:

Soarin'. Hands down. This ride is located in Epcot's The Land, and it is quite a  magical experience. I still have the theme song of it running through my head, and I hope it never goes away. You are placed in airplane-like seats and lifted into the air in front of a massive concave screen that simulates flying over different parts of California. And it feels so real - When you're over trees you smell evergreen. When you're in the orange orchards you smell oranges. The whole thing is a complete otherworldly experience.

Runner-up for Best Ride:

Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios. The ride takes you through different "games" where you compete against the person next to you, wearing 3-D glasses, shooting at targets on different screens. It is an incredibly innovative and fun ride, and it translates well to people of all ages.

Winner for Best Show:

It's a tie between Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor in Magic Kingdom and Turtle Talk with Crush at Epcot. I still have no idea how they do it, but the technology in these two shows is astounding. In both instances you are sitting in front of a screen where computer animated characters interact on the fly in real time with audience members. They're hilarious and fantastic.

Runner-up for Best Show:

Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom. If you are anything like me in that you (still) blubber like an idiot every time you hear Circle of Life, go see this. It's a non-negotiable.

Restaurant Reviews:

Jiko: Located in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, this superfancy restaurant is phenomenal. The food is ohsogood, and the dreamy decor makes you feel like you are in an African savanna at sunset. On a scale of 1-5, it's a definite 5.

Le Cellier: Located in Canada at Epcot, this actually might be one of the best meals I've ever eaten in my entire life. Honest to God. It's not cheap, so save up because it's totally worth it. And get the pork belly appetizer. Your taste buds will be forever in your debt. (I don't even know what that means). All I know is on a scale of 1-5, it's an 11.

Biergarten Restaurant: Located in Germany at Epcot, this restaurant wins the award for Most Fun Ever. If you like beer, lederhosen, schnitzel, 10-foot horns, and making friends with everyone around you, this is the place for you. My sister and I came here on our own, and it was definitely one of my favorite moments of the trip. Solid 5.

Crystal Palace: Located in the Magic Kingdom, Crystal Palace is a great spot for character dining. Every Whinnie the Pooh character will make a point to stop by your table for that must-have Disney photo-op, so be ready. The food is served buffet style, and it is pretty decent. I definitely recommend this more for families with young children, but heck - seeing Eeyore lumber over slowly to me sure did warm my heart. On a scale of 1-5, I'd give it a good 4.

Men in lederhosen playing big 'ole horns? Always a bonus.


We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which was a real treat. The second we got into our hotel room, we were greeted with giraffes just outside our balcony. The service was incredible, and the lodge was gorgeous. My only beef with Animal Kingdom Lodge was the transportation to the parks. AKL is not located off of a monorail, so we had to get to all four kingdoms via bus. Sometimes the buses worked great, and sometimes we'd wait 30 minutes before one showed up. Even though the hotel is absolutely incredible, next time I'd like to stay at one located off of the monorail.

Mickey on the bed waiting for us.

Zebras outside our balcony.

Best Resources:

The 2013 Unofficial Guide to Disney: If you're going to Disney World, this book is a must. Not only does it have up-to-date information about everything Disney, but they have got the waiting-in-line situation down to a science. I recommend buying this book, then getting the "Lines" app, created by the people at the Unofficial Guide, on your smart phone to plan out your days at the park. It may seem a little neurotic, but trust me, you'll be grateful you got it as you're bypassing all the crazy lines and getting to do everything you set out to do while there.

The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World: Written in 2009, this book is a little outdated, but it adds a lot of fun to the trip. The book is filled with interesting tidbits about all those extra little details the Imagineers put into the parks. It's a great read.

There are so many more things to talk about, but in an effort to keep this a blog post and not a novel, I should probably quit while I'm ahead. If you haven't been to magical, wonderful Disney World, I can't recommend it enough. Many of my fondest memories are from trips to Disney with my family and friends, including this most recent trip.

So start saving your pennies, and get on the Mouse Train!

And puh-lease get your family to wear matching themed shirts. God, I love those people.


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