I honestly don’t really even know where to begin for this trip — it was such an adventure in it’s own right — but I suppose the best place to start is the very beginning. My friend Reenie won a prize of 4 trips in 2015 from a drawing, one of which was a timeshare condo in Orlando. When she asked me to take the trip with her I was beyond excited!! It had been a few years since I had been to Disney and even longer since I had an actual Disney trip (not just a day trip during a Universal vacation) and it had been quite a while for Reenie as well. We talked about it and then finally decided to book! We decided on October so we could also hit up Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and during Memorial Day Weekend the two of us got all the details together. Soon enough, my park tickets and event ticket arrived and we could start planning!
We decided that since we wanted 5 days in the parks and the reservation was for four nights we would fly down the evening before and stay at a inexpensive motel for the night. We opted not to get Park Hopper Passes so that we had one day in each park and then an extra day at the Magic Kingdom. We did go in on a Memory Maker together, though, which ended up being the greatest!
The day of the trip arrived and my plan was to leave work early and go straight to the airport (parking in long term parking) and meeting Reenie for our flight. Our flight had already been a bit delayed by the time I left for the airport but wanting to beat traffic I didn’t stick around any extra time at work. I got to the airport in record time but spent more time trying to find long-term parking! It’s like in the next town over!! But I finally parked and went in search of a bus stop for the shuttle that would bring me to the airport.
I checked my bag and checked on Reenie – the road she normally took was closed and she was stuck in tons of traffic but on her way! Thank goodness for our delayed flight because she otherwise wouldn’t have made it. I decided to go through security and grab some dinner while I waited. I wandered around the airport, browsing shops, until I finally decided I needed to charge my phone and went to a charging station near my gate.
Reenie did eventually get there with time to spare and hadn’t eaten so we found a spot to sit down, catch up, and get her food. We also shared a bottle of wine which came in handy when Reenie’s glass went flying off our table in our excitement to see each other (yeah, we’re both pretty klutzy)!
Our flight didn’t arrive in Orlando until very late – about midnight – and we still had to collect our luggage and get to the hotel. When we finally decided to hop in a cab (Uber isn’t allowed to pick up at the Orlando airport – make note of that!), it was past the witching hour. Our cab driver got onto the highway and then decided he needed gas. He did turn off the meter while he was filling up, but we were NOT happy. He found the most inexpensive (read: sketchy) gas station and I swore we were going to die out there waiting for him to fill up. We then finally got to the hotel (thank goodness!) and I tried to pay with my credit card and it just wouldn’t go through! I was not happy but luckily Reenie had enough cash to cover it but the cab driver didn’t have change. We were frustrated but didn’t want to be in that cab any longer so just left to check in. The cab driver followed us in and we were getting pretty spooked again but he decided to get us change from the hotel lobby and then leave (sigh of relief).
The hotel lobby was normal, nothing special, but not creepy, so we were optimistic about our room. We were brought around the side and up the outside stairs, like a lot of Orlando hotels have, to our room.
The room felt like Norman Bates was about to pop in, I kid you not. It was sketchy, wallpaper peeling, random broom left like someone was interrupted during cleaning, and some of the outlets definitely didn’t work. I knew my imagination was running away with me but I seriously felt again like I would be murdered in my sleep. It was then that we realized that Reenie’s luggage had somehow gotten a TSA lock put on it at some point during security that we most definitely did not have a key for. We then googled breaking it open with no luck – we would need tools we did not have for that. I think we had like a pair of eyebrow tweezers?? So we went to work doing what we could to get that thing opened. Eventually, I was able to twist the zipper part itself open and pull one side of the lock off that way. It was late and we tried to get sleep since the next day was our first day in the parks and we were going to the Magic Kingdom!
We awoke early (or didn’t sleep at all, I’m not sure which), dressed, and packed our things. We left our luggage behind the desk so that we could grab it later before checking in at the condo and grabbed an Uber to the park!
We tried to grab breakfast at the Ticket & Transportation Center before hopping on the ferry but my card still wasn’t working so Reenie had to pay again. I decided it was time to call the bank and found out a hold had gone onto my account because of the cab system rejecting it and the bank marking it as fraudulent. With that taken care of and the freeze taken off my account we were ready to put all the bad luck behind us and have only good luck the rest of the trip!
We got to the park pre-opening and got to experience the Welcome Show which was so awesome!
We then went straight to Peter Pan’s Flight and It’s A Small World and got to walk on – something very rare indeed!
We spent the day exploring, getting on all the rides we wanted, doing character meets, and just having a blast!
After lunch we grabbed an Uber back to the hotel to grab our bags and go check in at the condo! THE CONDO WAS GORGEOUS! It was magnificent, especially compared to our hotel of the night before, and we were beyond excited.
We quickly changed into costumes and went back to the Magic Kingdom with our Halloween Party tickets! We had a blast being dressed up in the park and getting to experience the attractions and Halloween decor all around the park.
It was also so awesome to see the characters in their costumes! I unintentionally dressed like a pirate Minnie, which she loved!
We then had our Be Our Guest Reservation which was just awesome! We celebrated for Reenie’s upcoming birthday with a bottle of champagne, amazing dinner, and the Grey Stuff for dessert! Then we met the Beast himself!
One of our musts was a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean in our pirate/wench inspired costumes. That was fun AND I got the red card!
We got to watch the awesome Halloween Parade and then, since we were at the start, ran onto Splash Mountain with basically no line!
By then end of the night we were exhausted but ran into Jafar and had to get a photo op just as he was leaving!
Day 2 was at one of my favorite parks – Hollywood Studios! We had to go to a time share talk first thing but we were able to get out early since they sort of knew we didn’t have the means, being the trip winners and all, so we headed over and got lunch in my must-do at Hollywood Studios – Pizza Planet!
Since Hollywood Studios was a much smaller park than Magic Kingdom, I was able to navigate our way fairly easily. We dropped in at the Tower of Terror, jumped into the single rider line at Rockin’ Roller Coaster which we miraculously ended up sitting next to each other anyway since they had to fill the car and the kid at the front of the line was too small for the back seat!
We walked around the streets and got to ride on the new Star Tours which was cool but the movie connection was lost on a non-Star Wars person like me. Reenie loved it though 😉
We palled around with Goofy, met the stars of Cars, and enjoyed some refreshing treats before making a stop at Muppets 3-D. We made our way to our reservation at Hollywood Brown Derby where we celebrated Reenie’s birthday again 🙂 and then raced off for our Toy Story Midway Mania fast passes.
We also rode one of my favorites – The Great Movie Ride – and had our Mickey-Shaped treats!!
After that we got to enjoy the Frozen Sing-Along!! We really belted it out with all the kids which was so freaking fun. Then it was time for Fantasmic! We remembered to bring our own glow bracelets and had so much fun watching one of my favorite park shows!
Afterwards we headed to Disney Springs to see how the changes were coming. There wasn’t much open yet, but we were able to get drinks at the Hanger Bar and enjoy some shopping!
Day 3 was all about Epcot! My absolute favorite park, due mostly to this trip, Epcot was bustling with visitors for the Food & Wine Festival!
We found out about Food & Wine already into our planning and we decided to cancel dinner reservations and eat the whole day through. Since we researched ahead, I knew that there was a Tasting Sampler I wanted and also wanted to put money on a festival gift card to make things easier on myself. This I seriously recommend. It was so much easier and I’m so glad I did it. (Tip – when purchasing a Disney gift card, take a picture of the number. This way, if you lose the card you can go to guest services and get the rest of your money transferred to a new card. This happened to Reenie and luckily we had heard this tip before the trip so we were prepared)
Before we got to eating and drinking our way around the world, however, I convinced Reenie to go on Test Track. She was skeptical because her previous experience wasn’t too great, but that was before all the new details – like getting to design your own car – and we both had such a blast!
We then went to the Seas, Land, and Imagination Pavilions before making our way to Mexico to start our trip!
The food and drinks we tasted were just so awesome! We got our passports stamped and made an effort to get to every kiosk between the two of us. We also went into each pavilion for a drink so this got interesting pretty quickly! It was pouring while we were waiting for drinks outside of Mexico so we ran into the pavilion after to try to get dried off. The weather remained nice the rest of the day, however, so that was great!
I also played with some panoramic Epcot photos…
We found the perfect spot to watch Illuminations by getting a table at Spice Road Table outside. We were so lucky and it was a great end to the day!
We had anticipated going to the boardwalk after the park closed but we were not feeling up to it so we saved that for another day and traveled back to the condo for a good night’s rest.
Day 4 brought us to the Animal Kingdom which was such a treat. I hadn’t had the opportunity to really explore Animal Kingdom before, since the last few times I had been we only went at night for a party and only a few rides were open and before that I was 12, so this was fun for me. I already knew my favorite Disney coaster was Expedition Everest so we went there first even though we also had fast passes. It was great! We then were passing Dinosaur, which we had fast passes for later, and since the wait was low, decided to go on it first.
Well, my past with Dinosaur was not a good one. In fact, I hate this ride. It completely freaks me out and still scares me and I don’t plan on going on it again in the future. I went because Reenie wanted to but we ended up both disliking it. I’m not saying that it’s a bad ride, but it was just too scary for me. We decided to cancel our fast passes for it and head to the other side of the park.
For a snack I got this amazing pretzel and we cooled off in a shop before heading to Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
Then we went on safari!
Afterwards we had lunch at the Quick Service near Yak and Yeti and headed to the Kali River Rapids. By early afternoon we left the park to spend an hour pool-side (and to enjoy some of the wine Reenie packed) at the condo and then get ready for our Jiko dinner reservations. We were super excited for our dress up night 🙂
Oh my gosh if you’ve never been to Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge I encourage you to go!!! This was some of the best food we had all trip (and we had some amazing food at the festival) and it was such a great experience!
After dinner we headed to the Boardwalk since we didn’t get there the night before and experienced the awesome dueling pianos at Jelly Rolls! It was so much fun and I can’t wait to go back. We also met some people who went to the same college as us and some people who lived in the town we went to college in which was cool.
We had such a fun evening we headed straight to bed afterward (me, quite literally, falling asleep in my dress).
Our final day was at the Magic Kingdom. We packed up our stuff and checked out, leaving our bags at reception to be picked up on our way to the airport.
Since we had a whole day doing all the best things at Magic Kingdom on our first day in the park, I wanted to try something I had read about online – Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. We had a lot of fun exploring areas of the park we wouldn’t have normally and it was great! We didn’t finish because it got a little frustrating when sometimes the card we held up wasn’t picked up by the system but overall it was cool. I would definitely try again another time! We also did a bunch of character meets like Sorcerer Mickey (fast pass), Peter Pan (for me), and the princesses (Cinderella and Rapunzel)!
We ate lunch at Pinocchio Village Haus overlooking the carousel which was just so magical! We made a few more stops including the afternoon parade since we missed it on our first day while we were changing hotels. Pretty soon though we had to say “See Ya Real Soon” and get on our way to the airport.
We ate a decent dinner at the airport (next to an outlet where I was able to charge my phone) and headed home without hiccup. We shuttled to long term parking, picked up my car, and drove together back to Reenie’s house where I stayed over and left directly for work the next day (already wishing I was back in the most Magical place on Earth).
Our Favorites: My favorite part of this trip was hands down the Food & Wine Festival. I can’t wait to go again and just get a park hopper pass so I can eat every day at Epcot. This would basically be my choice in Disney vacation.
Food: All the food we ate this trip was AMAZING! From the festival food to our reservations at Be Our Guest, Hollywood Brown Derby, and Jiko, we just couldn’t go wrong! I don’t even think I could pick my favorite food from this trip because there were just such great options. If I had to recommend a restaurant from this trip though, it would be Jiko. That was just an awesome meal and I feel like a lot of people don’t venture outside the parks for food and this was like a hidden gem of a restaurant.
Haul: My haul for this trip was pretty heavy – a backpack to carry in the parks, a Food & Wine Festival shirt for myself, and Beers Around the World shirt for my dad, a model monorail for Dom, key chains for my dad and Dom, a scarf for my mom and Laureen (I was there on her birthday and this was a birthday present), wine stoppers for Mom and Jenn, and Haunted Mansion dish towels for Jenn. Oh, and the Food and Wine Festival cookbook! I think that was it, aside from my park pins!