During my first visit to Orlando at the age of 9, I thought Epcot was the most boring park in all of Disney World. But in my recent return, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I probably appreciate this park because it’s so different than what we have in Anaheim. The park is designed in a hourglass figure and is divided into 2 sides-the Future World and the World Showcase. The park celebrates the innovations in technology and culture and is said to never be complete as long as the world is introducing and testing new materials and systems. My favorite part of this park is that all of the employees in the World Showcase are from the countries in which they represent. How legit is that?
- World Showcase – The World Showcase walks you through 11 countries around the world (Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the American Adventure, Japan, Morocco, France, UK and Canada). Each country has restaurants and cafes representing the native cuisines. I’ve seen adults turn the World Showcase into a drinking game, ordering an alcoholic beverage in each country. In true culturebite fashion, K and I tried to eat our way through the countries.
- IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth – This attraction is a light and water show at the center of the World Showcase. You can pretty much enjoy this attraction from anywhere around the lake. This is supposed to be Disney World’s equivalent to World of Color, but I enjoyed the latter so much more.
- Test Track – Similar to Radiator Spring in California Adventure, this Chevrolet sponsored ride allows you to design your own sports car and race it around a track. This ride is Epcot’s newest addition to the Future World and has long wait times.
Tip: Grab a fast pass to completely skip the “design a car” phase of the line.
- Mission:SPACE – This ride “Orange” is so intense, I’m not sure my body liked it. In this ride, you’re broken into groups of 5 with each person owning a responsibility in this mission to Mars. You sit in this tiny simulator in which they pump G-forces so you get the feeling of entering space. I got a little disoriented during the ride and had to close my eyes for a break. If you don’t want an experience this intense, you could opt for the “Green” version of the ride.
- Battleship Earth – This Siemen’s sponsored ride is the icon of Epcot. Inside the dome, you’re taken (very slowly) through the history of mankind. This one can be a snoozer, but it’s something you have to do at least once.
- Maelstrom – This is a short ride that takes you through the history of Norway in the World Showcase.
- Kringla – I found this little Norwegian bakery to serve the best food in all of Epcot. Cultural classic like rice creams, school bread and lerden bestes can be found here. My personal favorite was the rice cream – a rich rice pudding topped with strawberry preserves. Super delish and it was only $2.99!
- Crepes de Chefs de France – This kiosk in the France Pavilion serves dessert crepes at $4.50. K and I didn’t make it here, but it was on my list and it had good reviews
- Coffee Kiosk in Italy – I added this to my list because I knew finding a good latte in Disney was not going to be an easy feat. Using common sense, I figured the coffee in Italy would be worth a try (mainly because the employees in each country are natives from these countries). First thing I noticed was the price. It was the most expensive latte I’ve seen in all 4 parks – $5. The taste? Pretty darn good for a Disney park.
- Tip: I know these posts are geared more for adults, but if you’re looking for character sightings, check out the Akershus Royal Restaurant in Norway. They offer character dining here and seems to be less crowded than the other character dining spots at the other parks.
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Here I am in my mid-20s and still completely in love with the magic of Disney. There’s something about it that make me feel all warm and cuddly inside and believe that everything ends in “happily ever after.”
Being native Californians, K and I are frequent visitors to Disneyland. We thought, “Why don’t we try something different and go to Disney World?” (You’d be surprised how different the experiences are.) In just 2 weeks, we booked our hotel, flight and park tickets and headed off to the happiest place on earth. Within those 2 weeks we researched everything there is to know about the parks–food, wait times, attractions, etc. And because most people I know share the same love for Disney as me, I thought I’d come back to theculturebite to share.
Magic Kingdom is a lot like Disneyland but with fewer rides and more attractions. The park is iconic and they’ve made a few upgrades that are worth the visit alone.
- Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom (must do!) – This alone was worth the trip to the Magic Kingdom. Sorcerers is an interactive scavenger hunt around Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland and Main Street. Basically, 7 villains are trying to take over the Magic Kingdom and it’s your job to defeat them. You’ll receive a pack of random spell cards by the Fire Station before Main Street as your weapon. With a map and key in tow, you’ll unlock secret portals hidden within the Kingdom to fight the villains.
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic – This is a fun 4-d music show where Donald tries out the Sorcerer’s Hat and the PhilharMagic Orchestra gets a bit out of hand.
- Main Street Electrical Parade – A truly magical, light show parade. They don’t have this in Disneyland anymore, so this is a must see.
- The Magic, the Memories and You – Immediately after the electric parade, you divert your attention over to Cinderella’s castle for a visual light show projected onto the castle. You’ll see scenes and hear songs from your favorite Disney classics. Think World of Color, but instead of water, they use the castle as the backdrop.
- Fireworks – The evening events wrap up with the fireworks show. Even in Disneyland, this is one attraction I cannot miss.
The rides in the Magic Kingdom are also at Disneyland in Anaheim. Though, you’ll notice subtle nuances within each ride.
- Space Mountain
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Haunted Mansion
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Splash Mountain
- Be Our Guest Restaurant in new Fantasyland
Lunch: No reservations needed / Can eat in Rose Gallery (K and I did this)
Dinner: Reservations needed / Rose Gallery closed but the Beast’s Library open
- Gaston’s Tavern in new Fantasyland
Roasted Pork Shanks – Need I say more?
Le Fou’s Brew – Frozen apple juice with a hint of toasted marshmallow topped with a passion fruit-mango foam. This tastes exactly how it sounds. I wasn’t much of a fan.
Cinnamon Rolls – The cinnamon rolls here are serious and the size of half-a-loaf of bread. Of course K and I had 2 of these during our trip (with a side of extra frosting and caramel).
- Note: Sadly, the corn dogs are not the same in Orlando.
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K and I recently returned from 5 whole days in the happiest place on Earth… Orlando! I had such a good time on my trip, I wanted to share my experience and some helpful tips with you on theculturebite.
Being from California and a regular at the Disney parks in Anaheim, it was hard to understand the difference between Disneyland and Walt Disney World other than its size. WDW spans across 30,000 acres of land and consists of 4 parks – Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom. When planning for our trip, our biggest questions were:
“What Disneyland attractions are in Disney World?”
“What makes Disney World different than Disneyland?”
“Do I need to visit all Disney World parks?”
With those questions in mind, I built a grid of all Disneyland / California Adventure attractions and mapped them to the corresponding Disney World park. I’ve also listed out the current unique attractions at each Disney World park.
If you were to ask me which park I’d recommend, I don’t think I could answer. I love each park in its own way. I love Disneyland because I grew up there. I also think the biggest draw of Disneyland and California Adventure are the thrill rides. There are so many between both parks that you could spend an entire day visiting each ride only once. If you’re interested in the entertainment and activities, Orlando’s Walt Disney World is for you. The new Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom is a must see as is Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom and the Main Street Electrical Parade.
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Are you ready to save the Magic Kingdom?
I just read on the Disney Parks Blog that a new role-playing adventure called Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is coming to Walt Disney World in early 2012. Merlin the magician will be recruiting guests to become apprentice sorcerers by helping them with maps and clues to show where and how to defeat an army of Disney villains. They already have some giant crates and new spaces showing up throughout Adventureland.
This sounds really exciting! It sounds like they are adding a scavenger hunt element into the park, as if there weren’t enough things to do there. Once again, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom will be debuting in early 2012. I’ll keep you guys updated!
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