Date of Trip: June 2008
I’ve been to Disney World in Orlando, FL about 6 or 7 times, so this wasn’t the first time I’ve been there, however, I must say that they have truly updated the place extremely well. Most assume that Disney is more a vacation for the little ones, but I’m in my 20’s and I know people who are in their 50’s who still go to Disney World for vacation. It really is an amazing place to go.
I went to Disney for about 7 days, and stayed in The Clarion Universal on Universal Blvd. It is a pretty decent hotel if you are looking for a place that is convenient, with a good price. We got a special deal off of hotwire.com, 6 nights for two people plus 6 nights rental car from Hertz for $444 which isn’t bad at all. Unfortunately, the people at Hertz-Rent-A-Car are extremely incompetent, and it took approximately an hour for them to locate the rental car, because they claimed the system was down. We used airtran for our flight, and got a round trip plane ticket for about 140 dollars, which is a really good bargain. Our flight left at 8:00 PM, we boarded and left exactly on time, and we had a layover in Atlanta, Georgia. We ended up arriving in Orlando a half hour early which was really convenient since we arrived at 12:30 AM instead of 1:00 AM. We figured we’d fly in late, and get the whole next day to explore instead of flying in the morning and wasting half the day traveling.
When we finally got our rental car, we drove to our hotel on Rt 417… Make sure you have a lot of loose change and dollar bills, because it seemed like every 5 minutes we approached a toll, and some of them accept exact change only. There was a toll for 50 cents and if you didn’t have exactly 50 cents, you get billed $100 which is a rip off. You would think they’d know better since this is a tourist town.
When we arrived at the Clarion, everyone at the front desk was extremely friendly and helpful, however, we were told they charge an extra 10 dollars a day if you want a king size bed versus two double beds. They also charge 3.00 a day for service fees (using the phone in the room, using internet access in the room, using the safe) none of which we did actually use. They tell you upfront though, which is good i guess. The lobby was clean and appealing, and they have a deli (overpriced) but has decent food, drinks, icepops, and amenities. They also have a Bar/Restaurant…we didn’t eat there but the menu didn’t look too bad. Unfortunately, there was no continental free breakfast that most hotels offer… instead they charge 10 dollars for a breakfast buffet with barely any food.
Another bad thing about the hotel was that the key card they give you to get into your room de activated about 5 times in one week, which forced both my party and I to go down to the front desk and get new ones. Their excuse is that it de activates if you keep it near electronics, but everyone keeps their card near electronics, and even when I tried not to, it still de activated. Also, when we returned from our day late at night, there was no parking and took up to an hour to wait for someone to leave a spot to get a parking spot. The hotel is next to Wet N’ Wild, so I believe instead of paying for parking at Wet n Wild, people park in the parking lot for free at the Clarion illegally, and that is why there are no spots for the people staying there. The staff at the Clarion need to realize this and give out some sort of tag for the people staying, and tow away all illegally parked cars. Other than that though, it was a nice hotel- the maids didn’t wake you up early to come and clean the room, they always left lots of towels and shampoo and soap, and there was a pretty nice pool area with two hottubs that are secluded. The hotel is 5 minutes from Universal, and offers free shuttles to Universal, Seaworld, and Wet n’ Wild. The hotel is also a few minutes from International Drive, which has tons of restaurants to eat at.
We went to all three Disney Parks- Magic Kingdom, MGM, and Epcot. Magic Kingdom has the most to do for sure- everything you can ever imagine is there. Fun for both adults and kids. The first ride we went on was the Jungle Cruise- which had the longest wait time out of everything in the park that we went on. WE waited for about 50 minutes- but it was worth it. It was a really neat ride- you get onto a boat with a tour guide and it makes you really feel like your in the jungle.. shows you elephants, alligators, and other neat things you might find in the jungle. The tourguide was also pretty funny and kept you interested. Next, was the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, which has been updated since I last rode it. They added Captain Jack Sparrow, from the Pirates movies, and it is a lot more interesting and scarier. There is a little drop in the dark that is unexpected, but it is a really great ride. We went on it twice.
The next thing is more for little kids, but we still enjoyed it- the Bear Jamboree.. you go into a theater and a bunch of bears that look very life-like sing a bunch of songs. The songs are geared more towards adults- speaking about love interests, and things that little kids wouldn’t understand, but the bears are really cute and the kids will love it. They also have a moose or two that talk from the wall.
If you are looking for a quick, healthy and not too expensive lunch considering it’s Disney World and they do rip you off quite a bit.. try the Horseshoe restaurant in Liberty Square..they offer sandwiches-turkey, ham, tuna, with cold drinks and fresh fruit in a nice atmosphere. IT started to pour after we entered, and they let us stay there, even though they closed, til it stopped raining.
The Hall of Presidents is not the most exciting thing at Magic Kingdom, but it is pretty neat how they have re created every single president. They also show a 15 minute film which is neat.
The Haunted Mansion has been updated with more scary things, and it is a lot of fun. The best part is at the end when they turn you around and you see yourself in the mirror with a ghost…very cool.. we went on that twice.
We also went on the Liberty Square riverboat which was nice and relaxing which takes you on a ride around a circle where you get a nice view of thundermountain and the neat things they built in the water. it departs every half hour.
They have also updated “small world” ride, where you go on a little boat and depart through a beautiful showcase of different worlds with glitter, colorful artwork, etc. it’s really magnificent, and fun for all ages…the best part is at the end where it says “goodbye” in a bunch of different languages on pretty leaves…it plays “it’s a small world” over and over again.
If you get tired of walking, which i’m sure you will since i certainly did, there is the disney railroad which you can pick up in any of the areas, and it will drop you off to the next town you want to go to. we were exhausted by the end of the day so we needed a break, and it’s a pretty railroad and pretty train.
Other things we went on which were nice were Pooh’s adventure, which is more geared for kids b ut takes you on an adventure with Pooh with lots of colorful pictures and takes you traveling in a honey bucket….mad tea party…lots of fun but the tea cups don’t go as fast as we’ve experienced in other places such as Six Flags..the Buzz Lightyear ride is really really neat…you can spin yourself around as much as you want in order to hit the “Z” targets and you can compete with whoever you are with.
There is a really beautiful parade if you are there at closing time,, it looks better at night with all the lights.. it happens at 11 pm right when the park closes and has some very familiar characters appear which is enjoyable.
If you are looking for places to eat, you should explore international drive- they have fridays, unos, maggianos little italy, ihop, bahama breeze, the worlds biggest mcdonalds, lots of places to eat. downtown disney also has the house of blues which is a cool atmosphere or planet hollywood which is a bit overpriced but well worth it for the atmosphere which is extremely neat.
If you want good pizza, go to the disney boardwalk.. there’s a pizza place that you order from.. a whole pie is 18 bucks but worth it, since a single slice is 3.50..plus you can sit and look at the beautiful lake and lights… its really really nice.
Epcot is better than ever this year.. if you want to eat in one of the countries i advise that you make reservations ahead of time, because we wanted to eat in Italy, but it was booked for 3 hours..if you want quick good chinese food,, go to China and there is a chinese restaurant that isn’t too expensive and has excellent orange chicken, rice, and pot stickers. Test track and Soarin’ are the best rides there.. but make sure you get fast pass or you will be waiting at least an hour for both. test track takes you on a car through fast speeds and extreme conditions.. soarin is not scary at all and is a simulator ride where you feel like you are hangliding through the sky (really really awesome, and relatively new.. just built a couple years ago)…. mission space is a good ride too it makes you feel like you are really in a spaceship.. if you don’t want too many twists and spins,, do the “green team” not the “orange team” green team is less intense…the countries look best at night and if you get a chance, stay and watch the fireworks at 9 pm they are great.
MGMstudios,, now known as hollywood studios, doesn’t have much to it..it can be completed in less than a whole day. the best things there are tower of terror where it is now randomized how many times you drop from the top of the tower.. and aerosmith’s rockin roller coaster where they play aerosmith music and you go from 0 to 60 in a minute or two… its really neat but make sure you keep your head still or it will bang and you will get a massive headache by the time your down. other favorites are the little mermaid which is great for kids..a live performance of it…. backlot tour is cool cause you get to see props from various movies and experience special effects first hand…muppets 3d show is still fun- its been there for a long time but it’s really cute for kids especially…the beauty and the beast show is classic and enjoyable…and of course i can’t forget the movie ride.. one of the best at hollywood studios a 20-25 minute ride through scenes of some of the bets movies that were ever created..
If you want to go to a cheap, delicious place that is open very late.. try the B-line diner inside the Peabody hotel on international drive.. great food late…
There are lots of pizza places that deliver til 4 in the morning in Orlando, and most hotels give you their menus under the door of your hotel room or you can ask.. so if you are starving late at night.. you can order a pizza for a good price at any hour you want.
It rains everyday in florida, so beware of that. it usually only lasts for up to an hour at the most.. and then the sun is back out again….
Overall disney is a great place to go for all ages.. its s much fun. airtran was able to give us a direct flight home instead of having to stop at georgia again, which was nice of them to offer.. so we landed in philly at 1030 pm instead of 1230 am. I recommend that everyone go to disney world in Florida at least once in their life! Twice if your lucky and more than twice if you are extremely lucky.