Walt Disney World / Universal Orlando Recap + Q&A
How is everyone's January going?! I'm sure you noticed ours started out with another Disney trip, as you may have expected! There were a few hints we dropped on our social media but this trip was in fact a 'surprise' for not just you guys but also for me, Jenna! Nick planned this trip as my Christmas present. We did the whole things on an insane budget (finding flights for $11 each!) which is why the whole thing was possible last minute.
We've covered our go-to's and tips (budget and otherwise) for Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando a few times before in past blog articles, so if you haven't read those or that's what you're looking for head to the buttons below!
Now let's talk about this recent trip!
First of all, you should know that our vacation took place during an extreme cold "storm" of sorts, that covered the majority of the United States and greatly affected the East Coast. We were frozen little popsicles the entire time, wearing 4 or 5 layers of clothes at once. Hence the gloves and coats...
This trip differed from our "usual" Walt Disney World visits. The day we arrived was our laid back, hangout day. We both love the shopping district at Walt Disney World called Disney Springs, so we spent the entire day walking through shops, eating and visiting with one of my old friends.
Now onto the parks!This time we saw a few new things, rode a few new rides and took it fairly easy - in comparison to our normal speed. Taking a different route than the usual, we spent our first day at Disney's Animal Kingdom exploring Pandora, the Avatar-inspired land filled with alien technology, bioluminescence and thrilling new experiences! This was a very big deal for me because they've been building this area of the park since I last worked for Disney, years ago. Starting bright and early, we stood in line for the newest and most popular attraction in Pandora, Flight of Passage. I can't even put into words what this attraction and experience are like in person because they are so vastly different from anything else you might find in theme parks world-wide. All I can say is, it's WELL WORTH the 4 hour wait. If you ever have the opportunity, you must go! We spent a large portion of the day at Animal Kingdom, then made our way over to Hollywood Studios where we did our (again) "usual" Sci-Fi Dine In Theater date, followed by our absolute favorites - Rockin' Rollercoaster and the Hollywood Tower of Terror. Once we finished up our "must- do's" at The Studios, Nick and I headed back to Animal Kingdom to ride one of the more nostalgic attractions for both of us, Expedition Everest. Because it was nighttime and the crowds were winding down, we got to ride twice in a row and left with huge, dorky smiles on our faces.
Day 2 of our theme park adventure began with another nostalgic place for me, Magic Kingdom. Our morning was spent visiting all our FastPass+ reservations, snacking and wandering through a few of our favorite areas.
Quick story: Nick and I had stopped at a snack cart in Magic Kingdom to get a churro for him and a Mickey pretzel for myself (to eat and also for a photo). I had brought a specific pair of Minnie Mouse Keds for some fun photos, so while Nick was grabbing our treats, I had turned away, bent over, and was attempting to put my Minnie shoes on. When I turned around only a few seconds to check on the status of our snacks, Nick held out to me a huge chunk of my Mickey pretzel. He had started eating it before I could even get my shoes on or get a photo! He realized what he'd done a minute later and felt awful but we're still cracking up about it! (whooops)
Next up, we had a reservation to get to in Epcot so we again left one park to go to another. At Epcot, Nick and I couldn't help picking up a few of our favorite French desserts in the France Pavilion of the World Showcase. This was our first time visiting there since we went to Paris last year, and I couldn't help myself but to chat with a few of the International Program participants in French. The rest of the day, I couldn't help but reminisce about our time in Paris and how badly I want to go back. Nick agreed, of course, but I pointed out to him that he'll be headed back very soon! Lucky guy!
After our meal at Le Cellier, we wandered through the World Pavillion - casually strolling in and out of our favorite shops. At this point, we were so cold that we opted to buy a blanket to wrap ourselves in as we walked around. I found a really rad, thick blanket in the Mexico Pavilion that reminded Nick and I both of our grandparents and we snatched it up for only $25! See a photo of us huddled up in front of Spaceship Earth below. We decided to end our night back at Magic Kingdom.. because.. why not? There we a few rides we hadn't gotten to do there during the day, and since the lines tend to be less crazy in the evening, we went back to take advantage!
If you've read previous posts on our Disney World travels, you should know that we're HUGE fans of going on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This time around, we did both of those at night and found them to be far more thrilling in the dark! After we stayed until closing time at Magic Kingdom, the two of us grabbed dinner in Disney Springs at one of our favorite restaurants, The Boathouse.
The following day was our last day of theme-parking. Where else would it be but at Universal Studios Orlando, which is home to our favorite place... THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTERRRRRRR! (cue the confetti and fireworks) Why was this time such a big deal for us? Because we decided to finally buy wands!
90% of our day was spent with a good friend of mine, Ed, who I met when I worked for Disney and first moved to Florida over 5 years ago. He now works for Universal so got a kick out of our enthusiasm, especially since he totally doesn't get the magic/Harry Potter thing. It was a really fun day of waving our new wands, riding our favorite rides and being with wonderful company.
That more or less sums up the truly exciting bits of our trip! Now for the Q&A we promised...
Q: Worst Disney Adventure?
A: Unfortunately, there are a few WDW stories we could mention here BUT let's just leave it at being stuck in line behind someone who keeps farting. Not cool.
Q: Best situation during your trip?
A: We were hours late to our FastPass+ reservation in Magic Kingdom but they still let us in with no questions asked. It was a Christmas miracle!
Q: When did you start planning the trip? How long did it take?
A: Nick started planning this trip about 3 weeks before we went. He came across an incredible deal, kept an eye on the price and when it dropped, he went for it! After New Years, prices on hotel and flights tend to go down because of the lull in tourism. It doesn't take much planning after you have flight and hotel sorted. All we had to do was purchase park tickets online, link the tickets to the My Disney Experience App, and then choose our FastPasses in advance. Easy peasy.
Q: Do you prefer simulated rides (Simpsons Ride, etc.) or regular ones?
A: Truthfully, we cannot stand the simulated ones. So that's gonna be a regular for us, dawg.
Q: Best roller coaster you went on?
A: This is a realllllly difficult question to answer. It's a toss-up between Expedition Everest, The Mummy, and Big Thunder Mountain.
Q: Out of all the shows at Walt Disney World, what's your favorite?
A: We aren't really into shows much, but we do enjoy the Indiana Jones Stunt Show and (if this counts) The Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor... Nick's faaaaavorite.
Thanks for all your questions, guys! We hope you enjoyed the little recap! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!