Saturday, September 24, 2011

This is a summarization of my idea of THE ultimate, no worries, great time, spared no expense WDW trip. Now, I don't think everyone will agree with me on every point as far as where to eat, or where to sleep, but they will agree on the feelings you get, and maybe what parks are better than others. We'll see.

Method of Travel:

This is where it gets kind of tricky. I would drive down there in a nice RV (for comfort), but I would choose to fly back. The drive down is nice. Everyone is excited about the trip and in a really good mood, but.....oh gosh....the trip home is so long (even if it's the same distance). People are angry that they have to leave, and tired because they've just spent 4 days walking 5-7 miles per day around the parks. Worth it if you ask me, but still makes you kind of cranky. The “See Ya Real Soon!” sign really doesn't help either. So flying is the only answer to get home quickly with little to no fuss. The only drawback of the RV going down is spending so much money on gas. They're not exactly the greatest on gas mileage. The only drawbacks to the plane are a possible transfer of planes, and they're not very comfortable.

Conclusion: Drive there, fly back (even if it is really out of the norm. I mean where are you going to ditch the RV?).

Choice of Resort Hotel:

There are 33 hotels on Walt Disney World property, but only 24 of them are operated BY the Walt Disney Company. With that being said, I want the best of the best, and that would be the hotels actually owned and operated by WDW. Things to consider are proximity to the Magic Kingdom (that being the favorite park out of the (4) available), is it a Monorail Hotel (Those being the Grand Floridian, The Polynesian, or The Contemporary), and lastly aesthetics. All of these are important in making a proper choice.

Some hotels are too far away from the resorts for a quick trip back for a rest (ex: Pop Century), some are easily accessible via the Monorail (the three mentioned above). Unfortunately the monorail only goes to the Magic Kingdom, the TTC, and Epcot. It leaves out 2 parks, and Downtown Disney. I wouldn't stay at the main (3) for that reason. The monorail is awesome, but buses are an easy way to get everywhere. This leaves the hotels that have villas. Bay Lake Tower is technically a monorail hotel, so that is out. Kidani Village and Jambo House are too far away from the other parks. I'm not a fan of the Beach Club rooms. Old Key West has the same problem. Everything is pastel colored, and really hurts the eyes with its saturated colors. The rooms at Saratoga Springs seem kind of plain compared to the others. It doesn't feel like there's a definitive theme.

This brings it down to The Board Walk, and The Villas at the Wilderness Loge. I think this comes down to personal preference. The Board Walk feels like you're inside a cottage next to some large body of water. The Wilderness Lodge puts you smack dab in the middle of Yellowstone park. I know first hand that the beds are comfortable. There are carved wooden headboards. They're very quiet. And the villas themselves have a separate lobby away from the main hotel for even more privacy.

Conclusion: The Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge.

Places to Eat:

This can be kind of difficult, but it can be made easier basing it on what park, or shopping center (downtown Disney) you are on any particular day. So I'll break it down by park and Downtown Disney. These are all assuming you've eaten breakfast at your resort hotel of choice. Food courts are a wonderful thing.

Magic Kingdom:

-Lunch: Honestly the quicker, the better. And no one does that like Pecos Bill's. The food is fast and tasty. The atmosphere is comfortable and clean....but the best part.... There is a mushroom and onion bar smack dab in the middle of the place. You can load up your burgers, or even just a paper dish with some condiments.

Conclusion: Pecos Bill's

-Dinner: I'LL COME BACK TO THIS! I was going to say Kona Cafe, but they've changed their since the last time I was there. They used to have an amazing cut of Prime Rib served with Asparagus and Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes. Now I'm not so sure where I would go. This may involve a little bit of research.

After a bit of thought, I would probably make reservations at the Hoop De Doo Review located in Fort Wilderness! It's dinner and a show. They serve fried chicken, corn, baked beans, corn on the cob all while singing and dancing around the place. It's actually quite enjoyable, and the food keeps on coming as long as you have room in your stomach.

Conclusion: The Hoop Dee Doo Review!


-Lunch: The Land is a MUST! Not only does it have the ride “Living with the Land” it also has an amazing food court called “The Sunshine Seasons”. I can't narrow it down to a specific meal, but this is a place that I like to the whole “whatever looks delicious” method. I can't imagine being in Epcot and passing up an opportunity to eat in this pavilion.

Conclusion: Anywhere at the Sunshine Seasons in The Land pavilion.

-Dinner: It definitely has to be someplace in the world showcase. I love the entertainment aspect of Teppan Ito in Japan. The familiar foods of the US of A at the Liberty Inn, but when my mind wanders I think about how delicious the Mexican food is across the way from the Mexico Pavilion at La Cantina de San Angel. They give you more food than you can possibly eat, and each bite is worth 1,000 descriptive words. I won't go that far though.

Conclusion: La Cantina de San Angel

Hollywood Studios:

-Lunch: ABC Commissary hands down. It's a value counter service restaurant, but it's quick, and I love the diverse menu. It goes from a cheese burger to Asian salad.

Conclusion: ABC Commissary

Dinner: What “ultimate” trip would be complete without eating at an expensive restaurant. I've never been lucky enough to eat at the Hollywood Brown Derby. They even have a Fantasmic dining package which lets you into the show early, and offers preferred seating. A real plus when you want to be treated like a VIP.

Conclusion: Hollywood Brown Derby

Animal Kingdom:

-Lunch: The Flamtree BBQ. There's no argument here. They serve an amazing BBQ pulled pork sandwich with a side of BBQ baked beans. The sauce they use is nothing short of delicious. A little tangy, and a little spicy. Not your average BBQ sauce. It really sets the tone for the rest of the day at the park.

Conclusion: Flame Tree BBQ

-Dinner: Unfortunately the park doesn't stay open long enough to get hungry and eat dinner there.

Conclusion: You're not going to get hungry enough to eat there in time.

Downtown Disney:

I always saw this as more of a dinner place. They have bigger restaurants, so it would be worth it to go someplace nice. With restaurants like Fulton's Crab House, Captain Jack's, Planet Hollywood, Rainforest Cafe, Wolfgang Puck's, Ragland Road, House of Blues, and T-Rex the decision can be a little tough. Rainforest is out immediately. You can find this place at any large mall, and honestly, I don't think the food is that great. T-rex is sort of the same type of restaurant. Just dinosaur themed instead of jungle themed. I live on the East Coast where seafood is the best in the U.S. So that leaves Fulton's Crab House, and Captain Jack's out since I can get that pretty much any time. Raglan Road seems to be the best choice in my opinion. I've always wanted to try a few things on their menu like the shepherds pie, or the mighty mixed grill. These are all foods to be shared with multiple people, so I think it would be a fun experience.

Conclusion: Ragland Road.

Park Order:

What this really comes down to is personal preference.

1) The Magic Kingdom – Not only was it the first park to be built on property in WDW it holds most of my favorite rides. I have been able to do everything there in my 14 visits to the parks, and I'm still not bored of it. I can go head to head against my brother in Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, and a few moments later I can be terrified by the 52 foot drop on Splash Mountain. The various lands you visit within bring you into their own world which makes it feel more “magic” than the other parks. And that really is the whole point to the Magic Kingdom. It's in the name!

2) Epcot – While not as whimsical as the Magic Kingdom, Epcot still holds a sense of wonder. The first view you get when stepping off the bus is a larger than life man made geosphere. And it's not just there to look pretty. There's a ride about communication throughout history inside. It's slow moving, and dark, but a really relaxing way to start the day. That and the line is never long. Epcot also has one of the world's largest aquariums. And it doesn't stop there. The entire south half of Epcot is host to the World showcase. Different countries with different cultures. It lets you visit them without having to plane hop. Epcot is a bit educational at times, but I love learning. And you should too.

3) Disney's Hollywood Studios – I love movies, and I love what it takes to get those movies made. That's what this park is all about. The Great Movie Ride brings you on a tour of some of your favorite movies, and puts you right in the middle of them. You are surrounded by places you wish you could visit when seeing them for the first time on the screen. This park, however, is smaller compared to the other 3. You can get through everything you want to see in one day, and not being much of a thrillride junkie, I don't often go on Rockin' Roller Coaster, or the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Those kinds of things take a back seat for me.

4) Disney's Animal Kingdom – My least favorite out of the (4) parks to visit in all 47 square miles of Walt Disney World. Don't get me wrong...I love animals. I love the Flame Tree BBQ restaurant, but I don't like the fact that the park closes earlier than all of the others. It doesn't have nearly as many rides as the other parks. The coolest of all here being the Kilamanjaro Safari (the ride itself takes up more square footage than the entire Magic Kingdom). Animals (sometimes) come extremely close to the ride vehicle. It is actually pretty amazing to be that close to animals you wouldn't encounter in the city. I'm a HUGE dinosaur fan, but I don't care much for Dinoland U.S. A. (which is a bit disappointing). At the end of the day it really is just a glorified zoo.

All of the parks should be visited at night too (with the exception of the Animal Kingdom which closes early so the animals can rest). They become a whole new place. The Magic Kingdom lights up with a beautiful warm glow. There's even an entire parade dedicated to light. Epcot is even more amazing at night. It's futuristic. Even the concrete walk ways (YES THE CONCRETE!) lights up with fiber optic patterns of light. Speaking of light. Hollywood Studios has probably the most amazing Christmas light display I have ever seen in my life. It can't be topped. Not in beauty, or sheer number of lights.

A good number of days to visit is approximately 1 day per park, and 1 day for shopping and other miscellaneous activities. With this being my ultimate trip, I could easily spend 2 days each at the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. There's more than enough to explore and be able to re-ride, or revisit and attraction. With a park hopper, you can even visit multiple parks in one day. Spend the morning at Animal Kingdom, and head over to Epcot at night to check out Illuminations while sipping on a margarita in front of the Mexico Pavilion.

In conclusion, I've found it a bit difficult to put down every little thing that I would want to do while spending time there for my ultimate trip, but hey! That's what multiple visits are for! Everyone's idea of a good time is different. It could be with your family, friend, or even a day trip by yourself. There's something to do and see for everyone there. If you've gone and had a bad time, that's your own fault. You didn't let yourself open up to what it has to offer, and how it can make you feel. The second you pass through the entry sign you are transported to another place outside of your normal life. That's what vacations are for right? Doing something you wouldn't normally do. Eat things you don't normally eat. See things you wouldn't normally see when looking out onto your own back yard (assuming you have one).

If you've made it this far into reading this, I think you are ready for your next trip.

Make sure you gather your belongings, and I'll see ya real soon!

1 comment:

  1. Matt, this is a great blog especially for someone like me, who (sit down & hold onto your hat) has never been to WDW. It is someplace I have always wanted to see since I was little, & I would definitely come to you first for the good stuff before going. Keep 'em coming; I can't wait to hear more!