In February, the entire Ricks pack (Charlie too) spend an extended weekend in Walt Disney World with a group of our closest friends. The primary purpose of the trip was to participate in the Disney Princess Half Marathon (separate posting on that!) however we decided to make it an extended weekend because Florida in February is always a good idea.
Impressions: All positive. Disney is a world class operation and while expensive, a trip worth considering for any family looking for a one-stop shop with something for everyone. On our trip home, my husband and I were analyzing how 14 adults can spend 4 days at Walt Disney World with no children and have a such a fantastic time. To sum up: easy to get there and easy to relax once you’re there. Hotels & service are superb, parks (while crowded) have something for everyone, food & drinks always available and the network of buses & boats make it super convenient to easily travel around the massive resort. Our group was 14 adults including a CEO, an overworked and overstressed attorney, an oncologist, and other fulltime working professionals who find downtime rare.
Side note: For more on the seamless operations of Walt Disney World Resort, I highly recommend the book “Creating Magic” by former WDW Chief of Operations Lee Cockrell. I heard him speak at a leadership forum several years ago and his leadership & insights into the operations of WDW is worth the read.
We had hoped to book-end this trip with a family trip to Captiva Island the weekend prior; however logistics fell through and that weekend was instead rescheduled. Nevertheless, we made the 8 hour drive to Orlando, which meant our furry-first born Charlie came along for the ride and enjoyed his stay at the Best Friends Pet Care Resort Disney World.
We also enjoyed an afternoon with family who live in Orlando/Tampa. We did the “monorail hotel crawl”, decided the Polynesian Resort might be a good “next time”, had dinner at Disney Springs and evaluated my ever-growing baby bump.
Overall it was a great extended weekend that wasn’t long enough, as many good ones are.
Highlight: Eating & drinking our way through the 11 different “countries” in the World Showcase at Epcot. Following our half-marathon, our group celebrated with a fun afternoon touring “Around the World” at Epcot. We thought each was a good (albeit “Disneyfied”) representation of England, France, Germany and Italy with Morocco departing the most from real-life, with far less trash, smells and terrorists (my husband would know).
Biggest surprise: The Little Mermaid ride (“Journey Under the Sea”) in the Magic Kingdom. My husband and I rode very few rides in each of the parks (mostly because we weren’t organized enough to take full advantage of the FastPass reservation system and opted not to wait in 60+ minute lines). This one had a short wait time, so we breezed right through the queue hopped right onto the “slow moving clamshells” for a highly entertaining ride with dancing fish & crabs & the music from the movie we all know & loved as kids.
Magic moment: Our last evening, we ate at the California Grill above the Contemporary Resort. The restaurant overlooked the Magic Kingdom and we had a front-row seat to the fireworks. Pure magic.
What I’d do different next time: Nothing! Maybe stay longer 🙂
What I’d do different with children: FastPass. FastPass. FastPass. Whoever thought up this idea was a genius.
Must- do: The safari ride at Animal Kingdom. Long wait (again, FastPass) but well done.
Worth it: The Fort Wilderness Lodge. Our group picked this for its location (easy transport to the Magic Kingdom) and style – think grand lodge in the Pacific Northwest. The lobby is huge but also somewhat intimate & cozy, the rooms are comfortable & cozy and the hotels many meeting spots (fireplaces, pool, lounge bar and restaurants) are intimate and…. cozy. Highly recommended for busy families or those just looking to relax.
Skip: IF you’re not a die-hard fan of the movie, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. It’s exactly as it was in the 1970’s, with a few Jack Sparrows thrown in. However, if you’re a fan of the movie, you must cross it off your Pirates fan bucket list. If you’re not, skip it and save yourself the huge wait time.