My annual family vacation with my mom expanded this year to include my fiancee and her daughter and it was amazing! We surprised Shequita’s daughter with the trip. It was both her and Shequita’s first time at Disney World. I’m going to share our trip details and provide our recommendations for the best things to experience at Disney World, Epcot Center, and Universal Studios Orlando. In five days (June 24 through July 1, 2017), we saw five theme park parts.
We arrived Sunday in Orlando. I did a presentation and we drove out to Melbourne to see Tia, James, and their daughter Saren. We went to the beach, had a BBQ, and hung out. From that point on, it was non-stop theme-park action for us!
THE MAGIC KINGDOM, DISNEY WORLD: On Monday, we spent open to close at the Magic Kingdom. Shequita was psyched because she got to take a picture with “Mickey Mouse.” The best rides there are Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, and the Seven Dwarves roller coaster. Also, you have to check out each night’s closing ceremony, when fireworks shoot out from Cinderella’s castle.
DISNEY HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS: Tuesday, we also stayed from open to close at Disney Hollywood Studios, home of the Pixar movies and Star Wars. The best rides are the Tower of Terror, the Buzz Light Year ride (You get to shoot stuff with a canon!), and the Aerosmith Rock and Roll roller coaster, which is similar to Space Mountain in the fact that it’s in the dark, but the Aerosmith ride goes upside down and shoots you out from a dead stop! There are two closing shows here: the Illumination show with Mickey, and the epic Star Wars fireworks show, which I can’t even begin to explain how cool it is. During the day, I ran into former UFC Featherweight Champion, Jose Aldo, just hanging at the park with his family.
EPCOT CENTER: Wednesday, we hit up Epcot Center. The best ride was Test Track, where we designed a car and raced it on a track around Epcot Center. Another amazing ride was Soarin’, a hang glider simulator that flies you all over the world. It’s so realistic and has smell-o-vision, so to speak, so that you believe you are actually soaring over the Serengeti Valley, experiencing the scent of grass. When you fly over the ocean, it smelled like sea water. It’s totally different, of course, than the flight simulators I used in the Air Force. Soarin’ employs a ultra HD concave screen, like a bowl, that is so deep your peripheral vision is totally engulfed in the screen. The whole device moves and the sound is great, so the ride is fully immersive, captivating all the senses at once.
If you have kids, you definitely want to check out the Turtle Talk with “Crush” from Finding Nemo. It’s interactive, so Crush swims up and talks to the kids, answering their questions and such, so it feels like the turtle is actually there.
Epcot attempts to be a microcosm of the world, so essentially we walked the “world,” sampling things from each country: beer in “Germany,” sweets in “France,” and dinner in “Italy.” We also watched the fireworks show that closes the day at Epcot.
ANIMAL KINGDOM: It was my first time at the Animal Kingdom, where we spent Thursday, and it was an amazing experience. There is a new Avatar “Pandora” ride. You gotta ride this!! You fly on the back of a “Banshee.” The flight experience is similar to Soarin’, but it’s also 3-D. When you fly over the ocean, water sprays on your face! You have to ride the Mount Everest roller coaster and the African Safari, where you see real, living zebras, tigers, and lions. It did get pretty hot and muggy out there, though. The closing show here does not include fireworks, so not to scare the crap out of the lions. 🙂
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS: Friday, we were tired, so we just spent half a day at Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure, another park in Orlando. The Hulk roller coaster was amazing. The Harry Potter World was fun and they have two roller coasters there called Dragon’s Challenge and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The Jurassic Park ride is amazing. You can buy the kids wands, so they can cast spells across all of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
QUEUE TIPS: You are always going to stand in line at these theme parks. When we were there, we stood in line for an hour for the Avatar ride; now the line takes about 2.5 hours. However, now there is a Disney World app called My Disney World Experience, where you view line wait times. Disney World provides you with three Fast Passes per day that you can use on the rides of your choice. We used it on the most popular rides, so we were able to save time. We planned our whole vacation through this app, including all the rides we were going to go on and the food we were going to eat. You can do all this a month in advance of your trip.
Since every trip is always a business one, besides June 24th’s presentation, I also held a Mastermind lunch Sunday before we flew home. This was a perfect trip; I don’t know how I’ll top it for next year’s family vacation!
If you’re interested in learning how you can live this lifestyle that affords amazing family vacations like this one, contact me.