As I began to write this post I started by counting how many times I have been to Walt Disney World. When I realized that I couldn’t keep count, I stopped trying, honestly feeling a little embarrassed. Some people enjoy take-out a couple of times a week, some go to Starbucks every morning on their way to work, others rent a vacation home at the beach each summer. My family wears hand me down clothing, drives hand me down cars, and goes to Walt Disney World more times than most people would consider sane. And did I mention that we eat a lot of pasta? (a lot….)
One of the questions I hear most often in response to my family’s Disney addiction is, “Why do you keep going back if you’ve surely done and seen everything by now?”
There are a million answers to this question – the magic never changes, time with family is never a waste of money, it’s FUN – but the first response is always this – “We haven’t done and seen everything.”
Last week we spent a few days at Walt Disney World to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the opening of the Magic Kingdom, and as always we found new and amazing experiences to enjoy along with our time-tested favorites. We finally had a chance to ride Primeval Whirl in Animal Kingdom, which previously was either closed for refurbishment, too long of a wait, or had a height requirement that my kids did not meet. Disney’s Animal Kingdom has always been more about experiences than rides to my family with a focus on seeing the animals on Kilimanjaro Safaris and enjoying Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo – The Musical. My kids are not yet ready for Expedition Everest and not interested in Dinosaur, so Primeval Whirl was a happy medium between TriceraTop Spin and the frightening Yeti. It is what roller coaster fans call a mousetrap ride with the car starting at the top and winding it’s way down through a series of twists and turns much like the ball in the old Mousetrap board game. Despite the 48 inch height requirement, the ride is actually incredibly tame and really just a fun spin with small dips and hills. It is now one of my seven year old’s favorite rides! We also took advantage of the Kids Discovery Club opportunities throughout Animal Kingdom during this trip, which is not something we have done in the past. Each station gave our kids a chance to learn and play simultaneously while earning a stamp for their Discovery Club passports.
While we’ve been to the Magic Kingdom so many times that there is seemingly no stone left unturned, we were thrilled to see the Enchanted Tiki Room in its newly restored state for the first time! We also found a new favorite place to watch the Wishes fireworks! I love to sit in front of the castle either near the hub or at the other end of Main Street at the train station, but this time we sat behind the castle in between Dumbo the Flying Elephant and the Prince Charming Regal Carousel. This position allowed us to see fireworks all around us, avoid huge crowds, and enjoy ice cream. We also attended Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party for the first time, which I will write about more in a future post. Every time of year offers a new special event at Walt Disney World, and this was our first time visiting in the fall.
Hollywood Studios is a theme park that we often skip when we are pressed for time, but this trip we were sure to allow a full day there to explore our favorite rides and new shows. The kids played at the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure for the first time, which was a welcome break for all of us in a shady area of the park. We were also excited to see Disney Junior – Live on Stage! for the first time having enjoyed the Playhouse Disney version of this show two years ago. The kids loved the additions and changes to the show, including the inclusion of Jake and the Neverland Pirates. We also finally made it to Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show during this trip, and the kids were mesmerized from start to finish as motorcycles and cars raced around the “stage” ending the show in a burst of fire.
This trip even included a new place to stay! We each have our favorite resorts, but this time we decided to try something new. My heart will always be with Wilderness Lodge, but I think my kids have a new favorite – Disney’s All Star Movies Resort. The gorgeous pool, fun arcade, convenient food court, playful theme, and frequent bus service to the theme parks made this resort perfect for our recent trip, and I’m sure we’ll be headed back there again soon.
Now that we’ve experienced all of these new rides and resorts, we shouldn’t need to keep going back to Walt Disney World, right? Well…2012 will bring the new Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and the opening of the expanded Fantasyland area, so…. See you at Walt Disney World in 2012?