Ultimate Theme Park Trip overview report

Walt Disney World, Orlando Florida

Tour Highlights
Dinner with Jason Surrell at Boma’s Restaurant, Animal Kingdom Lodge
Lunch with an Imagineer at the Brown Derby Restaurant (Disney MGM Studios)
Witnessing a Delta rocket launch from Cape Canaveral
Animal Kingdom
Illuminations (Epcot)
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (Magic Kingdom)
Haunted Mansion during the Halloween Party with Madame "Carlotta" on the lawn telling spooky stories and taunting guests (she was awesome)
Extra Magic Hours for WDW guests
Small queues
Great cast members
NFFC convention
Epcot Food and Wine Festival
Downtown Disney Marketplace (not Westside!)
Crystal Palace character dinner.
Pal Mickey
Segway tour of Epcot

Must See Attractions (Magic Kingdom)
Daily Parade
Spectromagic (Night Parade)
Haunted Mansion
Pirates of the Caribbean (the final scene with Capt Jack Sparrow is much superior at WDW than the one at Disneyland)
Splash Mountain
Big Thunder Mountain
It’s a Small World (better than Disneyland, not as good as Paris)
Mickey’s Philharmagic (same as Hong Kong)

These are unique to WDW but can’t be classed as “must see”
Country Bear Jamboree (showing its age now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it disappear)
Hall of Presidents (great show technically but was too patriotic for many members of our group)
Carousel of Progress (this actually holds its own and is preferred in many respects to Innovations at Disneyland!)
Stitch Encounter (unique but not great – I believe Alien Encounter was much better)
Tomorrowland Transit Authority (nice relaxing Peoplemover – gets you out of the crowds)

Must See Attractions (Epcot)
Mission Space
Test Track
Listen to the Land
Spaceship Earth
The Seas with Nemo (includes Turtle Talk with Crush and an Aquarium)
World Showcase and all of its rides and attractions
Illuminations (fireworks)

Must See Attractions (Disney MGM Studios)
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Rockin’ Roller Coaster (slightly better than in Paris)
The Great Movie Ride
Star Tours (great theming around the attraction – ride is the same)
Muppet Vision 3D
Backlot Tour
One Man’s Dream (especially for Disney fans)

Must See Shows (Disney MGM Studios)
Motorcars and Superstars Parade
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular
Beauty and the Beast
Lights Motors Action (Same as the Paris production)

Must See Attractions (Animal Kingdom)
Kilimanjaro Safari
Expedition Everest
Pangani Forest Exploration Trail
Maharajah Jungle Track
Kali River Rapids
It’s Tough to be a Bug
The Tree of Life

Must See Shows (Animal Kingdom)
Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade
The Legend of the Lion King
Flights of Wonder
Finding Nemo (opens late 2006)

Flight Times
From Australia it is 13 hours to Los Angeles and a further 5 hours to Orlando.
From Paris, it was 10 hours to Miami flying American airlines with a further 35 minute flight from Miami to Orlando. Allow plenty of connection time in Miami to clear immigration as the lines were long and the processing slow. Check to see if there are any direct Paris-Orlando flights as this would make travel time much less.

Transport from Orlando Airport was via the Magical Express Airport-Resort Service (MEARS). This is free to anyone staying on WDW property (except the Swan and Dolphin Resorts). You cannot buy additional tickets on this service if you need to go elsewhere during your stay – you just get the one free arrival and departure. Upon arrival at Orlando, collect your bags and head downstairs (or take the elevator) to the ground transportation level. Just follow the signs to the MEARS check in desk. They will confirm your stay, issue you with a return voucher, and direct you to the bus that will take you to the resort.

Resort Transport
Transport within the resort is all via a free shuttle bus service that links all the resorts to the theme parks and Downtown Disney. Waiting times are generally short including at peak times such as after the fireworks etc.

WDW has many resorts catering for all budgets. We stayed at the new Pop Century Resort which is fairly close to Disney MGM, Epcot and Downtown Disney – a nice centrally located resort.

Pop Century is a budget resort, but was far superior to the Santa Fe in Paris. The rooms were bright and clean, as was the whole resort area. There were three large swimming pools, laundry area, a wonderful dining room and buffet food counter. You can buy a souvenir flask for $11.99 and use it for endless drinks from tea, coffee, and hot chocolate – as well as soft drinks (great value over a ten day stay!) There is a large shop and a wonderful nostalgia-themed reception area and a video game arcade. Cable TV in all rooms with many channels.

During our stay in mid-late September, the weather was sunny, warm and humid (around 33-34 Celsius). There was an occasional (I believe twice) late afternoon thunderstorms that resulted in torrential rain for 10-15 minutes, but these were easy to avoid. It began to cool towards the end of our stay to around 28 degrees. This is the end of the hurricane season; however this year was very quiet in the Florida area.

If you wish to avoid the heat and humidity, November would likely be a better time to go, though some of our members preferred the hotter conditions of late September.

Resort Surrounds
What more can you say about a landscaped area of 46 square miles? This entire resort area is amazing with golf courses, hotel resorts, monorails, interstate highways, 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, a suburban area, you name it, WDW has got it.

This is the best Disney resort area in the world.

Other Things to do
There are other theme parks in the area including Universal, Busch Gardens, and Sea World.
NASA’s launch area at Cape Canaveral is a short drive from WDW and they offer tours.
You can hire a car and travel throughout Florida – spend a couple of days down at the Keys.
Disney Cruise Line is based out of Port Canaveral – a cruise can be tied into your WDW stay.

More selections and restaurants than you can poke a stick at…
Our members tried these ones:
Boma’s at Animal Kingdom Lodge
The Brown Derby at Disney MGM Studios
50’s Prime Time at Disney MGM Studios
Sci-fi Cafe at Disney MGM Studios
Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom
Beaches and Cream at the Beach Club
…plus many more…

Pros and Cons
Pros – the sheer scale and size of the place – so much to do!

Cons – the sheer scale and size of the place – so little time to do it!

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