Dreaming of Disney World

We live in some crazy times right now. We’re under a mandatory stay-at-home order here in Michigan for another three weeks due to the coronavirus. Life and business in the world are at a stand-still, clearly including all non-essential travel. I’ve seen a few aerial shots of Disney World, in the daytime, empty. It’s eerie and strange. By the time this crisis ends, I’m going to need a solid vacation. Anyone else? So then I got to thinking, what’s my dream Disney World trip and how do I make that happen sooner rather than later? While I ponder number two, I can definitely dream of number one.

We usually go to Disney in October, so in my mind, I’d consider this to be an early fall trip. If that isn’t a “safe” time yet, it’s going to take a lot more than one vacation to feel refreshed. I would leave my home airport early in the morning on an 8:00 am flight with my husband and two kids. It would be direct from my airport to MCO. I would tag all of our luggage with my Magical Express tags before we left home, so now we can head straight to the Magical Express. Our magic bands will scan us into the shortest line in the queue and we will walk immediately on to the hotel bus. The bus takes us to our resort, the Grand Floridian, which I’ve always wanted to stay at. We’ve stayed at the Polynesian and Beach Club before, which would be my other top choices, but a part of me feels the Grand Floridian calling me, sort of like the ocean calling Moana. We get off the bus and our room is ready early, a theme park view of Cinderella’s Castle. It’s 80 degrees and sunny in Orlando so we decide to take some time to lay by the pool and let the kids play and use the waterslide and amenities at the hotel. We have tiki cocktails by the pool. Later that evening we have dinner at the Grand Floridian’s quick-service restaurant, Gasparilla Island Grill and maybe let the kids swim a little more before bed. Then we all watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from our balcony with a glass of champagne.

The next morning, we take the Monorail over to the Magic Kingdom. We have a pre-park opening breakfast reservation at Be Our Guest. After breakfast, we’re able to ride the Mine Train 2x before the line gets long. We have FastPasses for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, and Splash Mountain. We eat lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table. The girls dress up as Princesses and wear their dresses all morning without whining that they are itchy or hot. We ride a few more rides, focusing mostly on Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Adventureland; then we head back to chill at the pool and cool off. We’ll grab a quick dinner at the hotel quick-service again and then head back for evening entertainment and maybe some roller coasters in the dark.

We spend day two at Epcot. Since Epcot is under a decent amount of construction, I’m not too concerned with rope dropping. We’ll still arrive in the morning ride Test Track and Soarin. The kids love the Nemo Ride, Turtle Talk with Crush, and Journey into Imagination with Figment so we’ll hit up those for sure. If the new Space 220 restaurant is open by then I’d love to have a reservation for that for lunch. The rest of the day I’ll leave open for the Food and Wine Festival (eating, drinking, riding rides, etc.) in the World Showcase.

The next day we’ll have a day off to play and reboot. We’d do a character dining breakfast at the new Riviera Resort at Topolino’s Terrace. It’s a breakfast with Mickey and Pals in cute French artist costumes. Otherwise, we’ll stay primarily at the hotel enjoying the pool and the beauty of the grounds. If we need another adventure we’ll head out to Disney Springs to explore and do some souvenir shopping at the World of Disney and Lilly Pullitzer. We’ll have dinner at the Grand Floridian Cafe.

The next day we’ll hopefully be super rested and get ready to rope drop Hollywood Studios to get into all those amazing Star Wars rides. We’ll get a boarding pass for Rise of the Resistance and be lucky enough to get FastPasses for Millenium Falcon Smuggler’s Run. Other can’t miss rides in my mind are all of Toy Story Land, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad and the remainder of Star Wars Land. We’d end up eating lunch at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo in Star Wars Land and in the late afternoon we’ll have happy hour at Oga’s Cantina before heading back to the hotel to spend the evening there poolside and enjoying Magic Kingdom fireworks from the room.

We spend our final day in Animal Kingdom. We’ll finally get a FastPass for Flight of Passage and will explore the rest of Avatar land as well. After Avatar land, we’ll go sign up to be Wilderness Explorers and Meet Dug and Russell (clearly) near Discovery Island. Then we’ll ride Kilamanjaro Safari and see Festival of the Lion King in Africa. In Asia, my favorite rollercoaster, Expedition Everest, is a can’t miss as well as the Up! themed bird show. I don’t have any tried and true favorite dining in Animal Kingdom so we’d probably just play that by ear. I always seem to end up at Pizzafari. Other than that I’d be open-minded and spontaneous to what the kids were interested in. We’d probably make it over to Dinoland to the Boneyard playground, always a favorite for the kids. When we get tired out, we’ll head back to the hotel and relax. We would, of course, soak up those Magic Kingdom fireworks from the hotel one last time before heading out in the morning.

On our departure day, we wouldn’t fly out until noon so we can sleep in, get breakfast, pack and get ready for the Magical Express to take us to MCO. We’d have a direct flight home to Michigan, refreshed and ready to embrace normal everyday life to the fullest, as I can’t wait to do right now.

Obviously, intermixed with this itinerary, to make it dream-trip worthy, would be lots of Mickey bars, popcorn bucket refills, character greetings, shopping, photo ops, laughter, sunshine, fun, and lifelong memories. I can’t wait for the days when dreams like this can come true at Disney for the young (and young-at-heart) worldwide. We need this type of magic in our lives again. Until this can be a reality again, hang in there, and as Dory says, “Just keep swimming” friends.

What does your dream Disney World trip look like?

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