That’s right, we used a hashtag for our Disney trip (thanks for the inspiration, Meghan). Five fun-filled days of excellent food, drinks, and, of course, the kind of magic one can only get on a Walt Disney World vacation. Quick back story: I haven’t been down to WDW in two and a half years; The Boy hasn’t been in 10 years. So, needless to say, a lot has changed and we had plenty of new, fantasmic things to discover. Yup, that’s a top 5 list you smell…let’s get to it!
1. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
Since we were there over Halloween, this was a must-do. The party went from 7p – 12a at Magic Kingdom and was $72 each on top of park admission. The party was a new experience for us both and boy was it worth it! We donned our incredible costumes (hehe #Disneypun) and spent five solid hours running around MK, mostly going on rides and wandering around the park taking in the Halloween atmosphere which we knew would all disappear (magic!) by the next morning. I gotta say, hearing This is Halloween and Thriller blasted throughout the park was pretty awesome and seeing so many people dressed up for the holiday was quite the sight to see!
Especially our Hundred Acre Wood friends:
Here’s one of my better Nikon shots. Love that camera!
2. Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
As soon as we knew this was going on during our trip, our goal was immediately set: to eat and drink around the world. Like the Halloween party, the Food and Wine Festival was a first for us. How long does it take to eat and drink around the world, you ask? Three days. Ok, ok, we split a majority of the food and drinks to save not only our wallets, but also ourselves (Walking around Epcot schnockered in 55 degree weather? No thanks). Epcot is my favorite park as it is and this annual event made it even more lively and fun! Themed kiosks were placed between all 11 countries around World Showcase and, of all 23 countries in the festival, Ireland was our clear favorite. From the Kerry Gold cheese sampler to the chilled Irish coffee with Bunratty Potcheen, we visited this stand multiple times. Germany came in a close second with amazing beer, a refreshing Riesling sampler, and the popular roast bratwurst on a pretzel bun (yes, it was all as good as it sounds).
3. Experiencing the “Firsts”
Even in the two and a half years since I’d last visited WDW, so much has changed (i.e. magic bands). Not only was it great fun to experience a few new things for myself, but I had such a wonderful time experiencing things that were completely new to The Boy too, as well as sharing some of my favorite Disney memories, fun facts, and former cast member insights with him. In addition to the Halloween party, Food and Wine Festival, and magic bands (see below), the other new experiences were all attractions: from battling against each other in Toy Story Mania and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, to commandeering runaway trains on Everest and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (both in the front row!), Soarin over California, and visiting our animatronic friends in the Hundred Acre Wood in the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. There’s really nothing else like being with someone experiencing some Disney magic and thrills for the first time. Experiencing The Boy’s love of thrill rides was also certainly a highlight. Seven “super stretch” limo rides on Rockin’ Rollercoaster? You betcha.
4. The Contemporary
Ah, The Contemporary: 1970s modernity at it’s finest. I kid, I kid. Being on the monorail as it breezes through this resort is just so cool. I tend to have a few Disney tricks up my sleeve most of the time (what can I say, it’s just what I do) and two of them just kind of magically went the way I wanted them to. I wanted to take The Boy to California Grill, the amazing restaurant atop the resort. For the last 2 months, I tried to get a dinner reservation, but was unsuccessful. Back up plan: grab a seat at the bar about an hour before Wishes and then watch the fireworks from there. Done and done (also enjoyed a wicked Woodford old fashioned).
For my own amusement, I was also hopeful to snag a reservation at a character breakfast (Waste precious park time waiting in long lines for characters? Not this former “friend”) …again, I was not successful. Here’ s where the My Disney Experience app came in: I told The Boy my plan, he kept a watchful eye on reservations, and BOOM—we snagged a reservation for Monday morning…that we made less than 24 hours earlier. #forthewin While we noshed on breakfast, we rubbed elbows with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and, our favorite dog: Pluto.
5. Magic Bands
Where to start with these? Magic bands are incredible (just like us, hehe). Disney’s use of technology continues to amaze me. This magical little band is: your room key, park admission, fastpass, photopass, easy-access credit card, and fashionable Disney-branded accessory (all the cool kids have them). The bands can also be synced with the My Disney Experience app which was instrumental in letting us change fastpasses on the fly and scoring the Chef Mickey’s reservation the day before. They do everything! If you haven’t been down to Disney with them yet, just you wait; even entering the parks is its own special form of Disneyness. The magic bands added a whole new level of—dare I say magic?—to our already magical vacation. It was a whirlwind trip, but it was so special and we had such a blast! And are already talking about when our return will be…