K and I spent the least amount of time at Animal Kingdom mainly because we didn’t know if we had time to make it to the largest of the 4 parks. On day 3 of our 4-day hopper pass, we managed to find a few hours and hopped on the free Disney shuttle to check it out. Here are the highlights:
- Kilimanjaro Safaris – This is a rather impressive safari built on acres of land filled with tons of animals. You almost forget that you’re in Orlando when riding through this African landscape.
- It’s Tough to be a Bug
- Expedition Everest – This is Orlando’s version of the Matterhorn, but it’s so much more fun!
- Dinosaur – Dinosaur is Orlando’s version of Indiana Jones. It’s a shame they haven’t moved Indiana over to Orlando. The dinosaur ride seems a bit generic, but the experience is the same.
- Sadly, K and I didn’t get a chance to eat at this park. We ended up taking the shuttle back to the Magic Kingdom for another roasted pork shank at Gaston’s Tavern. Though I did read that Yak and Yeti is good.
Studios celebrates the Golden Age of film making. The movie references at this park are dated and most likely unrecognizable to most children, but the main attractions here are the thrill rides. Quick tip: this is a park you won’t need a full day for. Come here in the morning and finish the day at another park.
- Beauty and the Beast-Live on Stage
- Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights – This was my absolute most favorite thing to see in all the Disney World parks. Disney decorated all of the Avenue of the Americas in thousands of lights. Every 10-15 minutes, the lights would “dance” to a Christmas song. Unfortunately, this is only around during the holidays, but it’s definitely a must see.
- Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Roller Coaster – This is similar to California Screamin’ without the big drops.
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- The Great Movie Ride – The movies in this ride are a bit out-dated, but the act the castmember plays is pretty fun.
- Toy Story Mania
- Star Tours
- Pretzel Garden – This is the only kiosk I recommend at Hollywood Studios. They have the cheese and jalapano filled pretzels here!
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’sÂ 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.Â
- 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.
Here I am in my mid-20s and still completely in love with the magic of Disney. Thereâ€™s something about it that make me feel all warm and cuddly inside and believe that everything ends in â€œhappily ever after.â€
Being native Californians, K and I are frequent visitors to Disneyland. We thought, â€œWhy donâ€™t we try something different and go to Disney World?â€ (Youâ€™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 parksâ€“food, wait times, attractions, etc. And because most people I know share the same love for Disney as me, I thought Iâ€™d come back toÂ theculturebiteÂ 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!)Â – This alone was worth the trip to the Magic Kingdom. Sorcerers is an interactive scavenger hunt around Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland and Main Street. Basically, 7Â villainsÂ 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 PhilharMagicÂ – 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 ParadeÂ – 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 YouÂ – 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 theÂ Caribbean
- Splash Mountain
- Be Our Guest RestaurantÂ 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 TavernÂ 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.
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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