Back in June, I got to execute my long-awaited trip to Orlando – including Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando – with my parents. It had its highs and lows, but in the long run I was very pleased with how everything went. You read my parents’ side of the story; now you can read mine!
(If you’d like to hear about our trip in more detail, you can view my day-by-day accounts here!)
- There were some points of the trip where I fully expected my parents to have a good time, and the experience delivered to the fullest. Our Be Our Guest dinner was one of those times. We were seated in the ballroom, and my mother mentioned that she definitely preferred that over the other two options. Our food was delicious, we saw the Beast enter the ballroom twice with that wonderful movie score in the background, and the waitress saw to it that our desserts were free because we were celebrating my parents’ anniversary!
- I knew my parents would enjoy the Celebrate the Magic castle projection show, so I maneuvered us into just the right location – on the end of Main Street U.S.A. near Casey’s Corner. We had a nicely unobstructed view, and my parents were very impressed by the new technology being shown off.
- However, by the end of that day, I knew they weren’t about to handle a bunch of post-fireworks traffic and lines, so we actually left the park and watched Wishes from the security checkpoint. We still heard the music and saw about 95% of the fireworks, but then immediately got out of there and were the on the first bus back to Art of Animation!
- Our only day at Hollywood Studios ended up being on the afternoon that Tropical Storm Colin made its way through, but with ponchos in hand we ended up conquering almost the entire park. As a matter of fact, thanks to Colin we decided to see the Frozen Sing-A-Long Celebration, which was one of my father’s favorite things!
- This trip was very special to my mother, who had a lot of memories from her past trips to Walt Disney World as well as her trip with her own family to the 1964 New York World’s Fair. I got to hear a lot about those trips, and helped her experience attractions she’d seen 52 years ago, including the Carousel of Progress and it’s a small world. (I never realized that she loved that attraction so much!)
- Our favorite resort was easily Disney’s Yacht Club. I had suggested it for minorly selfish reasons, but it ended up surpassing their expectations. That day was supposed to be reserved for Epcot, but we spent far more time enjoying the hotel – we made the most out of the money we spent!
- My parents really enjoyed the Main Street vehicles – something that we had mistakenly thought were a paid experience in our last vacations! As a result, we went on two different vehicles – the firetruck and the horseless carriage.
- I highly recommended we take a mid-afternoon break, and on the first day my dad really resisted. But I knew we had to in order to keep our energy up the rest of the week. We were thankful for the breaks later in the week.
- Our FastPass+ experience turned out beautifully. We hit almost all of our attraction reservations, and I was able to add more through the phone. (I can’t believe it took them so long to make app reservations a reality!) The Touring Plans I created for us meant a little more walking, but we did hit way more attractions with a plan in mind.
- Tropical Storm Colin provided some needed relief from insane heat and humidity, but it did prevent me from seeing my favorite show in all of Walt Disney World: Fantasmic! In order for us to fit in my parents’ big anniversary dinner at Be Our Guest and a ride on the first incarnation of Soarin’, my plans had us in Hollywood Studios on our last Disney day. Because of this, the storm caused my once chance of seeing Fantasmic! to be rained out.
- I think my family would have enjoyed the Universal parks a little more had we gone to them first. Instead, we fit both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure on our last day, because my parents (okay, my mom) wanted to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and not much else. We did everything in the two Harry Potter lands and enjoyed it a lot, but we didn’t do anything else at those parks because we were just too exhausted!
- We had a bit of a tipping snafu when we visited Via Napoli, and I had to go back through Epcot to resolve it while my parents went ahead. A tip for gift card users: When applying a tip to a gift card, don’t immediately use that same gift card 10 minutes later to buy something else. They haven’t changed the amount withdrawn from the card at the restaurant yet!
- At Disney Springs my mother was purchasing some things using her Magic Band, but it wasn’t allowing her to charge for some reason. We had the same problem at Disney’s Pin Traders. This concerned my dad, and he hoped we weren’t going to get slammed with repeat charges since we kept trying to make it work. But we didn’t have any more problems after we left Disney Springs. (My mom and I made sure to try it out by purchasing some Mickey Bars at Art of Animation!)
All the planning, paying, worrying, and anticipating resulted in a fun, exhausting, and thrilling trip. This was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show my parents around one of my favorite places in the world, and I honestly don’t think it could have gone much better than it did!
Got any questions about our experience? Feel free to leave a comment for myself or for my parents, and I’ll make sure it gets answered!