Surprised my wife with a trip to Disney for our 5 year aniversary in June. I had everything mostly booked in advance as far as flight, hotel, car service and tickets to the parks.
We flew out of Boston at 7:30am and touched down in Orlando around 11. I booked a limo service to bring us from the airport to our hotel. We flew Jet Blue which was a pleasant flight. I watched Sportcenter on the tv while she slept. The tvs in the headrests are a definite plus for me.
I work for the Department of Defense so we stayed at the Shades of Green Resort on Disney World property. Its a great resort. Reserved for only the members of the military and their families so unfortunately its not accessible for everyone. One huge benefit to staying there was the resort was on Disney property and had its own shuttle buses. This saved us from needing to get a rental car. The resort is a short walk away from the Polynesian Resort and offers a golf cart ride down the road to cut the short trip to the Polynesian Monorail station in half which was really nice. It also was a participant in the Extra Magic hours which was great since we're more inclined to stay up late rather than get up early.
First day we went to Epcot. Walked down to the Polynesian and took the monrail over. I made reservations to eat at the HIbachi restaraunt in Japan in Worlds Showcase. We went at 330. Wasnt crowded and we sat right away. Perfect time after the lunch rush and before the dinner rush which I would recomend for all meals. You could easily lose 3 hours waiting for a table, food and the check during dinner time so we always ate "lunch" at 3 and a light dinner around 8.
The Hibachi place was better than average. Nothing you wouldnt get at any regular hibachi anywhere else but slightly more of a show added to the cooking process.(our chef was juggling the tongs and pieces as he cooked) Price was reasonable considering it is a signature spot inside the park. Overall I'd give it a B+
As far as Epcot this was the first time going to Disney for my wife and first time in 10 years for me so most of the rides were relatively new to us. Both of us loved Test Track. In order to enjoy it multiple times without wasting an hour in line is to do single rider. We were both split up in two different cars both times we went but ended up riding it 3 times in 45 mins. Good enough trade off than her screaming in my ear :P
Other notable rides we really enjoyed was living with the land, universe of energy and spaceship earth. Soarin was an hour and a half wait the whole day we were there. All the fast passes were gone by noon so we did that ride last. Very unique and fun ride but some of the excitement was sucked out from our impatience of waiting in the line.
Illuminations was really neat. Not a bad spot around the whole lagoon to experience it. Disney definitely doesnt cut corners when it comes to there firework shows. Definitely a must see!
We planned out which parks to go each day based on which park had the extra magic hours. Epcot was opened to 11 that night I think. The extra magic hours are special hours either after the normal park hours or just before the park opens that are reserved for guests staying in Disney property hotels. You just have to show your room key at the beginning of the line of rides. We were a little surprised at the number of people still at the park (and the ages of some kids still up at 1 am some nights) but the thinner crowds allowed us to hit most of our favorite rides numerous times.
I was exhausted from being up so early that morning so we went back to the hotel on the shuttle around 10:30.
Next stop: Magic Kingdom!
Woke and got a quick breakfast from this little muffin stand in our hotel and took the monorail over to the Magic Kingdom. Staying on property was SO convenient and I would definitely recomend staying on property for all trips. We were not elligible for the Disney dining plan but we heard from other guests we talked to that it was a pretty good deal for families.
The first place we stopped at was Space Mountain. We heard the night before from other guests that the fast passes go quickly on that ride. At 10am we got fast passes for 330. They certainly go quick so be sure to plan the popular rides out to ensure you get the most and best rides for your money and dont waste hours standing in long lines. After we got the fast passes we checked out buzz lightyear space ranger spin. Really fun ride for all ages. We had a blast! We went and checked out Monsters Inc Laugh Floor. One of the most underated attractions in the park. It uses random people in the audience and has the characters on the screen interact with them. Amazing the technology they have to do that. Stich's great excape was next. To be honest this attraction was extremely bizzarre and boring. After it was over my wife and I looked at each other and said "thats it?" Definitely not missing anything if you skip this one.
We ventured up to fantasyland and boy was it crowded. Every ride besides Philhar magic was more than an hour wait. Dumbo, peter pan, and winnie the pooh and even the teacups were 45 mins plus. we checked Mickeys Philhar magic instead. Wasnt anything special.
When I booked the vacation I had noticed that fantasyland was under an enormous renovation and was expanding to include the toontown fair section. All the construction areas were covered but we could see some of the towers being built along with a drawing of the new land along the walls. Looks like it will be a completely different experience and hopefully its done when they expect. Sometime in fall 2012 I think.
Eventually we walked down to Liberty Square and checked out the haunted mansion. Amizingly the wait time was only 10 mins! We liked it so much we went right back on. We continued right up to frontier land and got caught right in the middle of the parade chaos. Took us a while to navigate through the crowds but the parade took away some of the people waiting in line for thunder mountain. We got fast passes for splash mountain and got in line for thunder. If you dont need to see the parades then i strongly suggest you hit the rides near the route during the parade. The lines tend to thin a little and then spike once its over. We took the train over to Main street USA (toontown fair station was closed for renovation) and walked over to Tomorrowland for our fast pass to space mountain. Space Mountain was probably my favorite ride the whole day. Only wish the line was shorter to do it more.
We were a little hungry so we stopped at a cafe there (i think called the electrolight cafe. i got a steak and cheese and she got a caesar salad. Mine was gross. Steak was more like ground up hamburger and the cheese tasted and looked like the cheese put on nachos. Her salad was good (how can you screw up a salad) so it might not all be bad. Just stear clear of the steak and cheese there.
We walked over to the tomorrowland people mover. Perfect ride to just unwind and relax after eating. Almost always little to no line and we walked right on. A nice relaxing tram ride around tomorrowland that takes you inside space mountain and a few other surrounding attractions with a pleasant recorded voice pointing out each attraction] Went on the carousel of progress. Definitely a better "ride" last time I came in the 90s. Still a Disney classic. We went on Buzz Lightyear again and then walked over to adventure land. Pirates of the Carribean was a surprisngly short line while the jungle cruise was 45 mins. We had our fast pass for Splash mountain coming up so we headed up there next. We had reservations at Tony's Square restaurant. Themed after Lady and the Tramp. it was nice little Italian restaurant. We had reservations and overheard a guest in front of us that the wait was over an hour. Very popular place. Located