And we’re back from Disney World! That was indeed a world, more than a land. We were thoroughly Disney Park’d out by the time we got back, although you would never know it by the enthusiasm Ben showed on Friday morning while hanging out with his visiting cousin from Savannah (shown here in Pandora: The World of Avatar in Animal Kingdom, floating mountains in background):
Six days is a LOT of Disney time, but it turned out to be what we needed to cover all four parks. Two days each in Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, one day in Epcot and a half day in Hollywood Studios was indeed the right mix for our plans. We were able to hit all the high points on Day One in the parks, and then take it a little more slowly while spending time with my visiting family on Thursday and Friday. Despite my initial skepticism, this was indeed the right family vacation for us this year, especially since Ben and his second cousin Oliver are JUST the right age to be let loose to complete a pirate quest in Adventureland:
So now we’re back in Brooklyn, which is still magical to me, even if no one here is going to tell me to “have a magical day” as part of their mandated job scripts. Ben has also made his list of Top Ten Favorite WDW Attractions:
- Star Tours. We weren’t sure about this, since Ben had a panic attack after riding Flight of the Na’vi in Avatarland, and this was another simulator ride with some drops and a lot of movement. Ben went on it with great trepidation, but by the end, was grinning broadly from the thrill of flying through the Star Wars universe, and asked to go on it three more times during the day.
- Kali River Rapids. Identical to the Russian River Rapids in California Adventure, only with a different surrounding story of river rafting in India. We all got drenched on this one, to Ben’s joy and delight.
- Haunted Mansion. THAT’S MY BABY.
- Mission Space (Orange). Again, it was the right level of movement and simulator for Ben’s anxiety and dislike of thrill rides. Also, it is awesome.
- Soarin’. I disagree with this and think it should be first since Soarin’ over California was my favorite thing at California Adventure and Soarin’ Over the World is an upgraded version, but I suppose my nine year old son is prioritizing the space rides as he should.
- Pirates of the Caribbean. The movies are literal nightmare fuel, leading to a BEN WHY ARE YOU IN OUR ROOM IT’S 2AM incident the night before we left, but the ride remains a classic.
- Toy Story Midway Mania. It combined the joy of fairground skill games with a movie Ben loved – of course it was a favorite.
- Buzz Lightyear Laser Blasters. No surprise here either.
- Big Thunder Railway. This was a surprise since Ben was extremely nervous about riding a roller coaster. However, after riding Flight of the Na’vi, he decided it was actually awesome in that it was well balanced in its thrills.
- Kilimanjaro Safaris. This is basically a big zoo, so we had to balance our appreciation for seeing the animals with our innate dislike of keeping animals in captivity. It was a well done experience – a Jeep ride through recreated habitats for African animals – but still, not a Disney unique ride.
Ben’s top 5 WDW experiences:
- Rampaging Adventureland with his cousin on A Pirate’s Adventure
- Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, which combined Magic: The Gathering with a Disney scavenger hunt
- Dinner at Sanaa in Animal Kingdom Lodge, where we ate gluten free naan while watching giraffes outside
- The Jeweled Dragon Acrobats at the EPCOT China pavilion.
- The Big Thunder Railroad Shutdown, when we got to evacuate the train when the ride stopped with us on it – and got to see the inside of the cave with the lights on (it’s apparently the one part of Disney World that isn’t cleaned, ever)
I think we can call this another Successful Family Vacation. It was a much more exhausting experience than Disneyland, but totally worth the energy, money and time to make that many happy family memories.