Disney is definitely one of my favorite vacation spots. It reminds me of my childhood and it’s just so magical and light and fun. So, for Bill’s 30th, we thought there was no better place to celebrate than in the Happiest Place on Earth!
Day 1 – Disney Springs
For the first time ever, Bill and I visited Disney Springs and really checked everything out. In years past, we’ve typically stayed toward the center of Disney Springs without really venturing out and this year, we realized how much we had been missing out on! There’s so much more to see and do there than we originally thought.
It was a little warm when we arrived — in matching shirts, no less — but it was the perfect way to spend our first day in Disney. Our flight had landed in the morning, so we spent the afternoon immersing ourselves in Disney stores, realizing Disney prices are more expensive than we remembered (haha), and getting excited to finally see Disney in the fall. In addition to most of the stores having spooky, Halloween decor, the whole of Disney Springs was complete with fall decorations. So cute!
Favorite moments: Stopping at Amorette’s Patisserie for champagne and a little Mickey Mouse cake; getting silly in the stores.; picking up a nice piece of Disney art; watching the sun set on the water.
Day 2 – Animal Kingdom
We woke up and the sun was shining so it made perfect sense to start our day down by the pool! This time, like last, we stayed at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort, so we were already familiar with the entire resort and settled into a routine quickly. We wanted as much sunshine and pool time as we could get!
After a morning of swimming, it was off to Animal Kingdom. Bill and I wanted to try our hand at “Disney bounding” this time around — what the Pinterest/Instagram world calls wearing an outfit inspired by a Disney character without fully dressing up like that character — so we opted to be Piglet and Pooh. (Shout out to Amazon.com for our $10 character ears.) We got a surprising amount of compliments on them all day long, which was super fun.
We visited our favorite staples in the park, like Kilimanjaro Safari, where we saw giraffes and elephants and hippos, and walked the trails to see tigers, zebras, monkeys, and more. I loved it. Depressingly, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, which Bill and I discovered for the first time last trip, was closed! But a quick Google search revealed that they are planning to reopen in spring 2019. Woohoo!
We also tried some new (to us) things, like the Up!-inspired bird show (super cute); A Bug’s Life show inside of the Tree of Life; and the new Pandora/Avatar world. Pandora is nice during the day and really quite beautiful at night! We decided to brave the line for Flight of the Passage and waited a whopping three hours. We ended up missing the night fireworks show, but at least the ride was pretty amazing!
Favorite moments: Grabbing lunch at the Nomad Lounge; getting up close to the giraffes on the safari; walking the animal trails; getting lots of fun compliments on our Piglet and Pooh ears; and eating a Mickey ice cream bar, not even joking.
Day 3 – Magic Kingdom and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Magic Kingdom and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party was the day I was most excited about and kind of the whole inspiration behind our trip! We were both so excited to finally be able to experience Magic Kingdom near Halloween.
I decided to dress up as Minnie, while Bill went as Mickey. And let me tell you: this day/night did not disappoint! I wasn’t sure there would be enough fun and magic to make up for the fact that the Halloween party was a whole separate ticket/fee, but there was so much to do.
We started by taking a bazillion pictures of the decorations and in front of the castle. You don’t go all the way to Disney and then NOT take dozens of photos in front of the castle! Then it was off to Tomorrowland; Fantasyland; Liberty Square; Frontierland, and Adventureland.
In Tomorrowland, I whooped Bill during the Buzz Lightyear ride. Fantasyland was such a blast. I tried a pumpkin churro (delicious), we got some treats in the circus-themed gift shop, and by sheer luck, the wait time to meet Minnie Mouse was only 10 minutes long, so I got to meet Minnie for the first time ever! In Liberty Square, we visited the Haunted Mansion (of course) and pored over the gift shop. In Frontierland, we sat through the bear show and laughed a bunch because oh my gosh it’s so silly.
As the afternoon shifted to evening, it was time for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party! The crowd thinned out a little and we started seeing incredible costumes everywhere, so much so that we felt seriously underdressed. I loved seeing everyone’s over-the-top looks. So fun! With the park a little quieter, we rode the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and then decided to walk through the whole park all over again to check out all of the cute Halloween additions and changes.
We started in Tomorrowland and trick-or-treated in the Monsters Inc. Laugh Factory, where a bunch of adults (and kids, of course) rushed through the building getting free candy. BEST. NIGHT EVER? Plus, by sheer luck, I spotted RuPaul’s Drag Race season 3 icon Alexis Mateo!!! Dressed like Mickey Mouse, she was trick-or-treating with her friends, but was gracious enough to let me nab a photo. I love her so much! WILD.
Then we ventured towards the Halloween dance party with Mike and Sully; watched the Boo to You parade; was mesmerized by the Hocus Pocus show (Hocus Pocus celebrated its 20th anniversary this year so the merch was incredible); and watched the fireworks. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN! If you ever have a chance to go Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, I highly, highly recommend it.
Favorite moments: Meeting drag queen Alexis Mateo (!!); trick or treating in the Monsters Inc. Laugh Factory; watching the Boo to You parade; dancing with Sully and George Sanderson during the Halloween dance party; meeting Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck; getting a free pretzel in Tomorrowland AND a free chocolate-covered strawberry in Fantasyland because it was Bill’s birthday (woohoo!); seeing everyone’s amazing costumes; riding the Winnie the Pooh ride at nearly midnight and purchasing an adorable Winnie the Pooh and Piglet stuffed animal; watching the spooky fireworks.
Day 4 – Hollywood Studios
After a really busy day at Magic Kingdom, Bill and I were excited for a more low-key, Star Wars-filled day of fun at Hollywood Studios. To me, Hollywood Studios is still finding its footing, especially as they revamp a huge portion of the park and gear up to launch the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, so there isn’t a ton I’m personally invested in outside of Star Wars and Toy Story Land. But still, we were in for a great day!
As is tradition, we stopped at the Star Wars ride first and then watched the adorable Jedi Academy. Then we booked it to Toy Story Land and were in awe of how beautiful everything was. We loved the details like Andy’s (giant) footprint, seeing the green army men walk the park, and the sheer amount of toys everywhere. We stopped by Woody’s Lunch Box for a snack, where we tried one of their hash brown dishes (yum) and Disney’s version of a homemade Pop Tart (DOUBLE YUM). Toy Story Land is also home to my official new favorite ride: Toy Story Mania!!! YOU GUYS. It’s sort of like the Buzz Lightyear ride from Magic Kingdom only 10 times better. It’s a shootout game, but it moves so fast and you have to try it! Even the interior is beautiful, full of gigantic replicas of games like Uno and Twister.
After spending a thorough time hanging out in Toy Story Land, we left and ran into Phasma, watched the Indiana Jones show, got some beers at Baseline, and then it started to get real warm, so we called it a day, went back to the hotel, and lounged by the pool.
Favorite moments: Riding Toy Story Mania and the Star Wars Ride; meeting Chewbacca; lounging in the sunshine.
Day 5 – Epcot
Epcot always leaves me with belly aches because I eat too much, but I still love it. Though the weather wasn’t so nice and it rained, Bill and I were really excited to check out the Food and Wine Festival. Plus, I was pumped to rock my new Minnie Mouse earrings I had just purchased because aren’t they fabulous (see below)?
I loooved what they’ve done to Mexico by adding all of the Coco displays and merch. I even got a little choked up at one display. Plus, Bill got serenaded with a birthday song by a mariachi band in Mexico, too! I have it all on video and I look forward to blackmailing him in the future.
Mostly, though, we ate, and we ate A LOT. In addition to the normal countries, there also were new, pop-up countries that offered delicious food selections. Since this was the Food and Wine Festival, we felt compelled to try a lot and, like last time, I started to feel sick halfway through and needed a break. But we soldiered on!
Some of my favorite foods:
- Spicy Tuna and Salmon Handroll in Japan
- Maple Bourbon Boursin Cheesecake at The Cheese Studio
- Short Rib Tostada in Mexico
We loved watching the sun set on the water and then, by nightfall, we ventured into the ride area, which was pretty much deserted. We got onto the Finding Nemo ride in seconds and we got to go on Journey into the Imagination with Figment by ourselves. It was great! In the aquarium, Bill and I spent a lot of time watching the dolphins and fish because it was so relaxing. Then it was off to IllumiNations (my first time!), which we wanted to see before the show wrapped for good.
Favorite moments: Eating that maple bourbon cheesecake; riding Journey into the Imagination with just me and Bill; playing around in Journey into the Imagination’s music chamber; watching the dolphins play.
Day 6 – Magic Kingdom (Reprise)
Our final day at Disney was spent back at Magic Kingdom. We wanted to revisit some of our favorites (Haunted Mansion, Ariel’s Grotto, Winnie the Pooh) and we also got a chance to see the daytime parade. We watched from Pecos, the restaurant, which had a patio that offered an incredible view of the action. Tiara even waved at me, guys. I’m kind of a big deal.
Sadly, we couldn’t stick around long as we had a flight to catch, but it was still a super fun day.
Favorite moments: Watching the parade; getting waved at by Tiana; being with Bill.
Then we said farewell to Orlando and wrapped our magical vacation. It was truly a spectacular one full of fun and adventure and excitement (and expenses — lots of those bad boys, too), and I hope we can go back soon.