Five Amazing Days at Disney (and Universal Studios)

Hello, best vacation ever.

Last week, Bill and I spent five days at Disney World, staying at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort in Orlando, Fla. And, we couldn’t stop in Orlando without also visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Because obviously.

We left on Saturday evening.

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The day we left, I literally bought an app called RealBokeh so I could add Mickey Mouse bokeh to photos as I saw fit. I’m a fiend. (And, I was just really, really excited.)

Never in a million years did I think we’d be able to afford to stay at an actual Disney resort. But some of their hotels are surprisingly affordable. We stayed at the All-Star Music Resort and loved it.

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Each building had a different musical theme, like calypso, rock’n’roll, jazz, and country. We got Broadway.

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The resort itself was lovely. Well-kept, surprisingly serene, with plenty of amenities (including two pools, a laundry service, a food court, an on-site Disney store, and complimentary transportation to/from the parks, as well as to/from the airport).

I was obsessed with the little details, like the Mickey-shaped cap on the shampoo bottles!

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Beautiful, right?

Day 1 – Animal Kingdom

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I’ll admit I’ve never been a huge fan of Animal Kingdom. I liked it well enough, but I’d always heard it called a “half-day” park—AKA it’s the kind of Disney park without much to do in it. Bill had had a similar experience.

This time around, though, we loved it.

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We got to the Kilimanjaro Safari first thing, using our first-ever Fastpass. Uhh, I’m literally never going on another Disney ride unless I have a Fastpass? Those things are amazing and we didn’t have to wait for more than five minutes to get on a ride.

I knew I wanted to get onto the safari early. I had done some reading and learned that it’s best to go on the ride in the morning when the animals are active. Previously, I’d gone on the safari in the afternoon and it was tough to catch a glimpse of the animals who might have already been seeking refuge from the sun.

We did not run into that problem this time around.

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EEEEEEEE, look at those cutie pie elephants!

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The safari was hands down my favorite part about the day. We did some walking tours, too, stopped in plenty of gift shops, and swung by the petting area, which I had no idea existed until this very trip. I ended up petting a bearded dragon. No big deal.

We also ate a Mickey-shaped pretzel. Why does Mickey-shaped food taste better?

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As well as some samosas and falafel.

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Day 2 – Disney Springs and Hollywood Studios

It was on this trip that I learned Downtown Disney has been rebranded to be Disney Springs. Mostly the same shops; different name. We had fun in the Disney merchandise store, which is supposed to be the biggest one around (it was a madhouse, though). We also stopped by the Lego store (also crazy!) and Goofy’s Candy Company (which had yummy treats).

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Then we went to Hollywood Studios, which we were super excited about because of the new Star Wars additions (especially the late-night fireworks set to Star Wars music).

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Hollywood Studios did not disappoint. Disney has been working to revamp the park, which in recent years had probably begun to feel a bit stale. Some of the updates they’ve made include substituting their American Idol experience for a new Frozen sing-a-long and changing the Art of Animation area (which previously showed a film about animation featuring Mu-Shu, the dragon from Mulan) to an immersive Star Wars experience—with STORM TROOPERS and Jawas, as well as memorabilia from the Star Wars films. The Star Wars ride has also been updated to include an appearance by the beautiful John Boyega. Sigh.

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And, of course, you can get some incredible lightsabers. Like this one.

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It was amazing. We also stuck around for the Fantasmic! evening show, which was a first for us. I’ll admit I even got a little emotional during the show. Something about it was so magical.

And, of course, we had to stay for the new Star Wars fireworks show—which was incredible. Set to Star Wars music, there was nothing about it I didn’t love.

Day 3 – Epcot

Epcot was going to be a big day for us. We knew this going in. One of Bill’s goals was to “eat and drink” his way through Epcot, an idea he and his dad came up with when Bill was a little kid. This time around, he wanted to see if he could make it happen.

I loved the idea so I threw in my full support. Also, I love food, so it was kind of a no-brainer.

I’m happy to report that HE DID IT. HE FUCKING DID IT. He ate and drank his way through all 11 countries: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, and Canada.

Not pictured are the sushi/sake from Japan; kabab/white sangria from Morocco; and salmon cake/beer from the UK because I was starting to feel a little sick from all the food and sun. But I made a comeback and we finished strong.

This photo about sums up the day.

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Bonus: it also happened to be the 2016 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, so it was beautiful.

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Bonus bonus: I just loved this photo I took of a building in China.

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Day 4 – Magic Kingdom

It’s the mother of all Disney parks, right? The park.

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So excited! We loved exploring all of the areas, including the little circus section (which I had no clue existed). Plus, we had some yummy food on this day, too. What can I say? We like to eat.

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Nutella, strawberry, and banana waffle from Sleepy Hollow in Liberty Square

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Pot roast macaroni and cheese (highly recommended) from the Friar’s Nook in Fantasyland

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And a Mickey-shaped ice cream (vanilla with milk chocolate shell), which you can get basically anywhere  It’s irresistibly cute and delicious.

Day 5 – Universal Studios

On this day, we visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Because that’s where I want to live.

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Can I move to Diagon Alley yet?

All in all: a perfect vacation. Beautiful weather, a playful resort, and so much fun every single day. I’m happy. And I’m already trying to figure out a way to go back.

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