My mom is one of the biggest fans of Disney World I have ever met. I want to say I have been to Disney World eleven or twelve times. In 2007, my mom started a family tradition where we go to Disney World for a week every December. We never used go the first week of December because that was when the Christmas parade was filmed (it has since been moved to November) and we never go the week of Christmas because that week is the busiest week of the year! I remember my first time spending a week in Disney World. I had only ever been to Magic Kingdom once before, so getting to explore the other parks and themes of the world was something that seemed to good to be true. Over the years I have chosen my favorite parts of the four parks. All of the parks are truly unique, which makes each trip to Disney World one-of-a-kind.
MGM, now known as Hollywood Studios, was at first my favorite of Disney World’s four parks because my whole life I had always wanted to go to Hollywood. I love music and celebrities, and being in MGM made me feel like a celebrity myself. One year, I auditioned for the American Idol Experience. This attraction has since closed, but when it was open it was a sister to the show American Idol. You had to pass a few rounds of auditions to make it to the big stage, and they had judges that mocked Randy, Simon, and Paula. Whoever won the day’s show got an actual ticket to skip the line at any American Idol audition location! The first audition was in a small room with two judges. They were so nice to me during my audition, even when I announced that I would be singing a verse of Taylor Swift’s song “Red,” which I’m SURE was one of a million Tswifty songs they had heard that day. Unfortunately, they told me I was too nervous to continue to the next round of auditions, which was true, because I almost peed my pants. But that was the day when my mom told me she wanted to sign me up for singing lessons because she had no idea I could hold a note and she was so pleasantly surprised! If I had continued to the next round I would have had to pick from a list of songs, learn all the lyrics, and sang it for another round of judges. I then would have had to audition on the stage in front of all the judges to make sure I had the right stage presence, and THEN I would have been in that night’s show. When I look back on it, I’m glad that all I walked out with was a button that I wore that said “I auditioned for the American Idol Experience” because I would have spent the whole day being nervous, but instead I was congratulated by all of the park staff for even trying!
The more time spent at Disney World over the years, the more I realized that Animal Kingdom topped the cake for the best park. If you are an animal person, you NEED to spend a day in this park. Animal Kingdom is split into Africa, Asia, and Dinoland, with the Tree of Life located in the very center of the park. In Asia, the famous Expedition Everest roller coaster sits in the middle where you can see groups of people with their hands up speeding down the nearly 80 foot drop around the mountain. If you like roller coasters, this ride is for you! Not only is it fast, it’s also long, it’s dark, and you go backwards! My favorite part of the park, however, is the Wildlife Safari. On the safari you are led through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve, where you see giraffes, zebras, lions, elephants, and more roaming freely about the attraction. Every ride is different because what the animals do is unpredictable. I have been on the ride when the elephants were cleaning each other with their tusks and rolling around in the mud, and I have also been on it when the giraffes were reaching up to the highest points of the trees to get the best leaves. One thing, however, never changes, and that is that the lions never move from their rock! Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I scare them. (LOL yeah, ok Courtney) But they never ever move! Whether it’s a ride through the safari, an hour in the petting zoo, or a meal in either of the continents, you are guaranteed to have a “wild” time in Animal Kingdom! (See what I did there?)
EPCOT, shortened from “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow,” is a park I have learned to appreciate more as I have grown older. As a child at Disney World, the exciting parts of the trips are the rollercoasters and the characters. EPCOT only has a few rides in the front of the park, including the famous Soarin’, as well as Test Track. The rides are absolutely incredible, and are a great way to spend the first part of the day in this park, which is how my family always started our day in EPCOT. In fact, we ALWAYS walked through the gates right into into the EPCOT ball, which has a ride inside of it called Spaceship Earth. From there we would do all of the rides, while making sure to get our daily dose of popcorn and Powerade, and then continue into the World Showcase. As a twenty-one year old, I have finally fallen in love with this part of Disney World. The World Showcase includes eleven pavilions of different countries all over the world. The employees of each pavilion are residents of these countries, which you can learn by reading their name tags. Each pavilion has restaurants, gift shops, and architecture that encompasses the country it represents. As someone who wants to travel the world, EPCOT’s World Showcase is practically like dipping my toes into eleven cultures I am so eager to see in my future. England is my favorite country in the showcase because it is incredibly floral and the food is to die for! I have always wanted to go to England, so walking through the “country” and sampling tea in the miniature cottages has always been a highlight of my days at EPCOT. England is also one of the best viewing locations for Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. At 9pm every night, the park lights go out and the attention shifts to the World Showcase Lagoon where fireworks, music, lasers, and fire come together to create a show that reflects the world around us. This show never EVER fails to make me cry. If you ever go to Disney World, this show is a must-see.
Magic Kingdom has always been my mom’s favorite park. This park truly takes you into Walt Disney’s imagination. There are characters, dancers, and magic at every turn. The seven parts to Magic Kingdom include: Tomorrowland, Mickey’s Toontown Fair, Liberty Square, Main Street USA, Adventureland, Fantasyland, and Frontierland. My mom’s favorite part of our day at Magic Kingdom has always been the Welcome Show, which unfortunately has been discontinued, but in summary was a daily countdown show to the opening of the park. Once we enter the park we head straight to the confectionary for coffee and pastries! We eat in a little side street off of Mainstreet USA and watch the other visitors race each other to all the rides. The great thing about traveling with my mom is that she is always taking in each moment. She is never in a rush (unless we have fast-passes and are stuck in A Small World. Different story for a different day). After breakfast, we ride the Haunted Mansion, and continue through each section of the park. My favorite ride in this park is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, located in Frontierland! It’s known in the park as *queue southern accent* “The Wildest Ride in the Wiiiiiiildernesssss!” *end queue.* Throughout the day there are shows in front of the castle and parades throughout the park. At night, my favorite show to see is Wishes, which is a firework display in front of the castle with music and lights that are projected all over the castle. All I have to say about this show is “Tinkerbell.” If you’ve seen this show, you know exactly what I am talking about, hehe! The best way to end the day in Magic Kingdom is what my family always does, which is to take one last stroll through the park just before closing time. It’s fascinating to see the park so quiet and serene.
Disney World is a must-see for people of all ages. Its diversity and attention to detail in every display is something that can be appreciate by everyone, and the amazement on the faces of visitors is an attraction itself! If you ever get the chance to take a trip to Disney World, do not pass it up!