Walt Disney World has to be one of our family’s favorite vacation spots. I know it’s commercial and crowded at times but there is so much to do there and for our family of Disney fans, it’s our happy place. Right now we are in the midst of making plans for a family visit in September.
I have to admit, V1 and I are happy to sit and enjoy the scenery so we end up being the designated “holding the spots for the parade” team most of the time. It isn’t something we complain about since we love listening to the park background music and people watching. Seeing the excited faces on some of the little ones as they meet their favorite princess or character for the first time puts a smile on my face (and also possibly a tear to my eye) as I appreciate this place that Walt envisioned all those years ago as a place families could enjoy together.
Even on a rainy day, the parks can be a lot of fun beginning with the Rainy Day Parade. In all of our visits, we have only seen this once so our video is a special memory.
I can still remember my very first visit to Walt Disney World. In fact, it wasn’t really WDW yet, it was more a construction site with a welcome center where you could view models of the future Magic Kingdom and talk with cast members about the future park. There was a small gift shop where my brother and I each got a Disneyland souvenir, mine was a jigsaw puzzle of Main Street U.S.A. and Sleeping Beauty’s castle.
We were super excited this park was being built since we traveled to Florida every winter and would now finally be able to visit a Disney park. You can see some old photos, a video from the welcome center, and a bit about that first visit by clicking here.
My how things have grown and changed since that time. There are now four parks plus two water parks under the WDW umbrella. EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and the original Magic Kingdom. Even within these parks, there have been many changes. The most recent is the addition of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studio. This will open on August 29th, just in time for our family visit in September. We expect there to be big crowds there but, hopefully, some of the other parks might be a little less so. Our son-in-law and youngest grandson have never visited there yet so I expect a lot of excited smiles (from the two-year-old at least!) And it was all under construction during our last visit so I’m sure his big brother will be happy to visit.
We love visiting Animal Kingdom for the general surroundings but especially for the live Lion King show and the safari tour. On our last visit, they had just begun running them after dark so we were able to see the lion’s more active than simply sitting atop of there rocks. V2 must have gone on this attraction six or seven times in a row. She is crazy for animals so this park might just be her favorite.
They have just redone the Rafiki area to include a Disney art studio where you can learn about the animals as you learn to draw them. It is definitely on our must-do list since we so enjoy the one at Disney’s California Adventure.
EPCOT is going through some changes itself with its ‘reimagining”. A Guardians of the Galaxy attraction will replace Ellen’s Energy Adventure and the Ratatouille dark trackless ride will be added to the France pavilion. Spaceship Earth will also undergo “reimagining” and be closed for two years to get ready for the 40th anniversary of the park opening in 2022. So many changes but it will be nice to see it all done. We love to visit anytime but big anniversary years usually guarantee special events and attractions that make things even more special.
I will miss the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth nighttime show at EPCOT that is being replaced by Epcot Forever, a limited-time fireworks spectacle but I expect the new show will not disappoint.
Now we come to the Magic Kingdom. Our girls grew up visiting Disneyland a lot more than WDW so they prefer the layout to that of the Magic Kingdom. It feels more comfortable and they know where everything is. I, on the other hand, like both and appreciate the differences. Also, a few of my favorite attractions are only at the Magic Kingdom, The Hall of Presidents, Country Bear Jamboree, and The Carousel of Progress.
Another thing I really like about WDW is the Magic Bands. They keep track of our photos and fast passes plus there are extra features like using your name to greet you and say goodbye on certain attractions. It’s a small thing yes but a bit of extra magic.
I was listening to our favorite Disney podcaster, Lou Mongello, who was speaking with a cast member from the Animal Kingdom Lodge on his Wednesday evening Facebook live presentation and learned about all the cultural, culinary and conservation learning opportunities they have there. Many of these opportunities are free. You can listen to the replay here. I look forward to building my string of memories on our visit.
There will be lots of opportunities to learn about animals as well. Hands-on learning is fun and effective and Walt Disney World provides several opportunities for traveling homeschoolers like us. We’re really looking forward to it.
So there you have it, a little taste of why we love to visit Walt Disney World and are planning our family visit for September.
Hope you enjoyed it!
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