I am seriously beyond excited to bring you this post. I have to warn you straight up front – this is going to be a long one (no really, I mean very long)! While on our honeymoon, my husband & I shot footage on a GoPro Hero4. Andrew worked diligently on piecing the captured moments together, and it’s finally here! With an incredible amount of footage to choose from he narrowed it down to 15 minutes (whoa!). If you feel like opting out of reading and just watching our video (I don’t blame you, the video speaks volumes!), you’ll find it here:
In the rest of this post you’ll find drawn out details, FOOD, and all the incredible times that I may have missed explaining on our honeymoon trip to Disney World.
Many people asked “What was your favorite part of your honeymoon?” upon our return. After reading this detailed outline of our 12 day trip, you’ll understand why it was challenging to single out just ONE favorite part! For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been dreaming of the day I could go to Disney World with my husband since I was a little girl. I’ve grown up taking incredible family vacations to Disney World, competed at the Wide World of Sports with my high school dance team twice, and also worked for Radio Disney for over 6 years. That’s just a small portion of my Disney history and provides a brief explanation of why it holds such a dear place in my heart. What you are about to embark on with this outline may provide some tips & tricks (look out for bold letters denoting “MAGIC TIP” for this) I’ve acquired over the years from visiting the parks, as well as all the worthwhile food experiences I feel you CANNOT miss. One thing to note is both Andrew & I are incredibly efficient at planning ahead, but also allowing the days / itinerary to be flexible. We were able to accomplish almost ALL parks in just one day each, where people choose to revisit them. We just tried to jam pack as much as we could while there. 🙂
The progression of our trip is as follows: 4 days at Walt Disney World resort theme parks – 3 days on the Disney Dream cruise to the Caribbean – an additional 3 days in Disney parks, with 1 day spent at Universal Studios theme parks including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
DAY 1: Travel
Andrew & I took off for our honeymoon the day after our wedding! We flew from the Eugene airport to Seattle. Then embarked on a redeye from Seattle to Orlando, Florida. The tough part about this travel day is that we arrived at the Orlando airport around 4am (YIKES!). We were able to swipe up some cold brew & donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts (seriously, why did you have to all close on the west coast DD?) and goofed around since the airport was so empty. We were a bit worried because we were arriving SO early to our hotel in Disney World (The BoardWalk Inn) that we packed outfits in our carry ons to hit the parks up right away (regardless of how tired we were).The only thing is – what to do in the few hours between 5:30am to park opening of 8am?! Disney of COURSE made magic happen & allowed us to check in at arrival of 4:45am! We were handed our Magic Bands (SERIOUS game changer of staying at the parks with these) and snapped them on our wrist.
MAGIC TIP: A Magic Band is basically a wearable wrist band where you pre-load your ID, hotel key, credit card, park tickets / hopper passes, and fast passes. There is technology throughout the park that allows you to scan your way in to parks (with magical sounds and lights), or check yourself out for dining and stores.
Wearing a Magic Band allowed me to head into parks FREE of a purse which is amazing. I was able to dance around the parks and get on rides freely without worrying about where all my things were. Oh – but one thing to note, charges can SNEAK up on you (tap my wrist here, check out at Starbucks there, bippity boppity scan). It’s fantastic if you have discipline when it comes to spending habits with a Magic Band. Which now allows us to flow into day 2 of our trip..
DAY 2: Arrival in Disney World & Epcot
Our room had a balcony with view of the boardwalk. The Disney World boardwalk is absolutely one of my favorite places in the world. If you ever are trying to choose a resort in Disney to stay in – select one on the boardwalk! The convenience of walking to Epcot & Hollywood Studios (or taking a boat), and bus transportation to additional parks cannot be beat. We both giddily headed out on to the balcony as the sun was rising. I have never seen the board walk so calm! We ditched the idea of even sleeping / napping, showered then scurried on down to the Boardwalk Bakery for some chocolate croissants & coffee. (P.S. we ate A LOT – there will be no shame of these foodie experiences). Our first day we ht up Epcot theme park! The top attractions there are Soarin’, Test Track, and Mission SPACE. We also got to ride the new converted Frozen ride in Norway!
MAGIC TIP: Pre-load your Magic Band with Fastpass+ at the 60 day mark before your trip. Think backwards, start with the last day of your trip and work your way to the first day to schedule. The top attractions will book up fast – so make sure to plan accordingly on when to load up your Magic Band. Remember, you can always modify your fast passes online, or with the My Disney Experience mobile app.
I pre-loaded the heck out of our Magic Bands with fast passes. By doing so, our average wait time for every ride we wanted to go on was 5 mins – 30 mins. Although, I do miss the trolls of Maelstorm’s past (the creepy ride that used to be in Norway) I’ve got to say the new Frozen ride equipped with my favorite character ever (OLAF) was amazing. Our exhaustion from travel started to wear down on us, so we left the park to grab a bite at ESPN Zone on the Boardwalk (their food has definitely been upgraded, and we got to try local Florida craft beers!) and take a nap back at the hotel room. We headed back into Epcot that evening for an unreal dinner at Le Cellier Steakhouse (in the video you’ll see me dancing while eating a poutine dish there). One thing you MUST know about Disney dining: your ability to start booking reservations starts at 180 days prior to your trip. I’m not kidding, if you want to dine at the places you choose – start then! It can cause some real headaches (and heartache) if you don’t start early. Oh, I forgot to mention – I planned dinner accordingly that right after we finished, we would walk out of the restaurant and the Illuminations firework show around the Epcot World Showcase would begin (nailed it!). Following the show, we tried out the new ice cream shop on the boardwalk called Ample Hills Creamery. Our eating saga was just beginning. 🙂
DAY 3: Hollywood Studios
Day 3 was reserved for Hollywood Studios – one of my favorite parks! I love it there because Tower of Terror is my ALL time favorite ride (which, in the video you will learn that Andrew ‘HATES this ride!‘ and screams like crazy haha). We took the 1.5 mile walk from Boardwalk to the park and our first stop was Starbucks (I am serious – adding Starbucks to the parks was one of the BEST ideas Disney World ever had. I’d like to see how much Starbucks makes with this account). We then had the chance to meet OLAF (you’ll see how pumped we were for this in the video)!!! The top attractions at this park are Star Tours, Rock N’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Toy Story Mania. Quite honestly, this park is undergoing a lot of changes and we really didn’t need all too much time to get everything accomplished here. In the future, they will be adding an expanded Toy Story park area, as well as the highly anticipated Star Wars land.
MAGIC TIP: Want an authentic, creepier, and more comfortable experience when riding the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror? Make sure to ride at night! During the day, when the elevator doors open you are BLASTED with Florida heat. Also, when it’s light outside you can see when the elevator doors are going to open making it more predictable of a ride. The photo gets taken when your elevator sits idle for 3 seconds or more at the top, so pose & smile big.
I am WAY more of an advocate of riding the Tower of Terror at night, but unfortunately we tuckered out around 4pm. Another thing we chose to do is making dinner reservations more of an experience (vs. convenience). We would typically head back to the hotel to shower, rest up, change & attend at a dinner reservation at another location in the resort. On this night, we headed on over the Disney’s Polynesian Resort located on the perimeter of Lake Buena Vista. We grabbed a drink at the outside bar at Trader Vic’s (very fun cocktail choices!) and then ate a family style, all-you-can-eat dinner at ‘Ohana restaurant. WHOA, were we full after this one.
DAY 4: Blizzard Beach water park & Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom
This day we hit up one of Disney’s water parks, Blizzard Beach. Disney has two water parks, and we intended to get to both on our trip – but this is where flexibility of schedule modification came into play. I dig Blizzard Beach because it’s like Christmas all around (all the slides are designed with ‘snow’ and alpine theme) and they play reggae Christmas song covers (this sometimes drives people crazy). We got to the water park right at 10 AM opening, simply because we b-lined STRAIGHT for Summit Plummet – one of the world’s largest free fall body slides. Typically, you’re hurling down that thing at an average of 60 MPH. It’s exhilarating! But it also hurts the heck out of my back, yikes. If you want to get on this attraction and you do not get in line early enough – GOOD luck. You may end up waiting over an hour and a half, or more. After taking the plunge, we went on all of the other slides & floated the lazy river. We then saw the typical Florida thunderstorm clouds rolling in, and decided to get the heck out of there. Boy, were we right. While in bus transit to get back to our hotel
MAGIC TIP: If you stay at a Disney resort, there is free bus, monorail & boat transit between all parks / resorts / and additional transit areas. This is a major perk and creates convenience when getting from place to place for your trip! You also get to avoid parking at the theme parks.
We got HAMMERED with pouring down rain. Luckily, we were already in our swimsuits so it didn’t bother us one bit! I also don’t mind Florida rain, it still is warm outside – until afterwards when you dry up in the humidity and you kind of feel like a wet dog. Once we got to the hotel we napped (we typically napped every day between the hours of 3-4pm if we could), showered and dressed up for our dinner at California Grill – the restaurant that is on the top floor at Disney’s Contemporary resort.
MAGIC TIP: Dine at California Grill to experience the Magic Kingdom firework show on a whole different level! There is a sky bridge that extends from the restaurant where guests can watch the fireworks at eye level of Cinderella’s Castle. Book your dinner reservation anywhere from an hour, to an hour and a half before the show. When the fireworks are about to begin, you can leave your table just as you like and the restaurant will pipe in the music of the firework show inside & on the sky bridge.
We had an incredible dinner and a wonderful waitress (honestly, the service in Disney is beyond compare) at California Grill. We also got to enjoy french press coffee with dessert, and take out our coffee mugs to sip on while watching the fireworks – it was incredible! After dinner, we hopped on the monorail to the Magic Kingdom for extra magic hours (each day, there is a park that is either open 2 hours early, or 2 hours later to enjoy extended, less crowded times in the parks). What a FUN time we had! The parks (Magic Kingdom especially) always look beyond gorgeous with the added effect of lights. Cinderella’s Castle is beyond stunning at night. That night we were able to ride almost EVERY attraction we wanted to in less than two hours (Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Haunted Mansion, Teacups, Mickey’s Philhar Magic, Pirates of the Caribbean). We saved a couple of the rides because we knew we were coming back to the park tomorrow (it’s great to experience the parks during the day AND night if you can). We stayed out late and got back to the room around 1:30am and absolutely crashed (Disney always gives you the BEST sleep at night).
DAY 5: Magic Kingdom
Today marked the day of visiting one of my favorite parks all day, the Magic Kingdom! We arrived bright & early – and for the first time in my life we actually watched the ‘Welcome’ celebration by Cast Members and characters before the parked open (I didn’t even realize this is a thing?!) Nothing beats walking into the park and seeing Cinderella’s Castle in all her glory as the Florida sunshine illuminates Main Street. We of course snapped a few photos in front of the castle. Andrew & I took on all of the major attractions with ease. We had a fast pass lined up for 1:00pm to get on the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride (it had over a 130 minute stand-by wait)! After taking on all of the attractions, it was finally time to get on Seven Dwarfs. We walked STRAIGHT on and Andrew & I were seated in the front car – SCORE! I was incredibly giddy. The ride started out great, I was digging it even more than Thunder Mountain Railroad.
MAGIC TIP: Make sure to check out which rides may be closed for refurbishment during your trip. You want to prepare yourself versus power walking to the ride only to find out it is closed for the season. Also, if there is any ride that has been down throughout the day in my life – it’s Space Mountain. Check out your My Disney Experience app ahead of time before walking to that corner of Tomorrowland to find out if it is up and running.
Then all of the sudden we busted out of one of the mining caves when the dwarfs started singing “HI HOOOOO” and the rain started DUMPING on us (and yes, Andrew & I were wearing matching white shirts on this day – perfect). The ride was moving so fast that the rather large raindrops pelting down felt like hail. Towards the end of the ride the gentleman sitting in the car behind us was LOVING life. Both Andrew & I were in shock (we experienced rain on the trip, but not like this). After the ride we sprinted to one of the undercover quick-service meal areas and attempted to wait it out. It took quite a bit of time, but we then made our way to Starbucks. At this time we were FREEZING from getting soaked. Thank goodness for hot coffee that brought us back to life, because we still had the rest of the day to experience in the park. I love Florida rainstorms, but the whole experience afterwards of feeling like a wet dog from the humidity & your hair drying all crazy isn’t my favorite. But you power through it! It was just about time for our lunch reservation at the new Be Our Guest restaurant in the new Fantasyland portion of Magic Kingdom in Belle’s castle! I was SO excited for this. With this experience, you can select your meal prior to your reservation. When you walk through the door, your Magic Band is recognized. Your food ‘magically’ arrives via a rolling cart from one of the Cast Members. One of my favorite Disney classics is Beauty & The Beast so my excitement was incredibly apparent while sitting to enjoy this meal. We enjoyed a croque monsieur, french onion soup, green beans, and even ‘the grey stuff’ (which is yummy oreo creme fluff topped on a chocolate cupcake). I highly recommend this restaurant for dining!
After a long & eventful day at Magic Kingdom, we headed back to the hotel room for our daily nap. Our dinner reservation was scheduled for the new Morimoto Asia restaurant in Disney Springs (formerly, Downtown Disney). The restaurant was very neat! Incredibly large ceilings, modern design touches, it almost felt like we were eating in a restaurant in Las Vegas. Let me tell you – Disney Springs has GROWN UP, big time. It’s crazy to see the evolution of what Downtown Disney used to be (night clubs, restaurants & shops) to now (no night clubs, bigger & better restaurants, a crazy amount of shops, humongous bowling alley, and more). I like to spend a lot of time in Disney Springs because of all the themed buildings, decor, and the FOOD. To top off the night we used the CUPCAKE ATM at Sprinkles! Yes, this is a thing. Yes, I’ve been waiting for this moment since I’ve heard that cupcake ATMs were launched – so that was pretty dang exciting (as you will see in the video).
DAY 5: Disney Dream cruise (1)
Today was the day that we would embark on Andrew’s FIRST cruise experience! We had a 4 day, 3 night itinerary of leaving from Port Canaveral in Florida, arriving in Nassau, Bahamas on day 2, sailing to Disney’s private island Castaway Cay in the Northern Bahamas, and arriving back to Port Canaveral on day 4 to disembark. The boarding process of getting on a cruise is ALWAYS a rush (people everywhere, luggage rolling this way, families flying that way). I also feel like a college freshman again while we wore a lanyard at first with our cruise key card and such. When we walked into port we saw SAILOR MICKEY (yippee!). I was very tempted to get a picture with him despite the crazy line. Andrew & I were a part of the first group that got to board. It’s an amazing feeling when you first walk on board and they announce your family’s name on a microphone. You walk into the grand lobby of the Disney Dream equipped with beautiful chandeliers, a grand piano, marble floors, and design details only Disney would think of. We wasted no time & swooped up the drink cocktail special of the day (that comes in a fun souvenir glass) which tasted exactly how I imagined our first cocktail of the cruise would taste.
MAGIC TIP: Although, cruises are wonderful because you pay for all food up front – the biggest trick is keeping your alcohol budget on point. Either opt to only drink the specialty cocktail of the day (a preselected drink that is only $4 a piece), or purchase a beer package up front (ours came with a cooler and delivery right to our room door). By doing so, our beers averaged to only $4 a piece each day, whereas if we bought them separately & at port they were $9 a piece – yikes!
While sipping our first cocktail, we roamed around the ship to get the grand tour. There are SO MANY incredible places on board. Whether its the several themed bars, coffee shops, sports area, multiple pools, spa, movie theatre, musical theatre, shops, you name it – there is so much to do while on board ship. We watched the Sail Away deck party (which makes me reminisce on my Radio Disney days of people gleefully dancing as we left Port Canaveral), moved to the front of this ship to feel the wind in our faces as we left port, got briefed on safety, and decided to rest before our first dinner. Our first dinner took place at Animator’s Palate and we had a great crew! Two additional couples: one from Miami and the other from England.
We decided to go big on our first night after dinner. Back in 2012, I went on a Disney cruise with my mom and we watched ‘The Match Game'(Disney cruise line’s version of ‘The Newlywed Game’) played between couples at one of the 21 and over bars. While on that ship I told myself, ‘One day I’ll get to play this game on a cruise with my future husband!’ Since Andrew & I were freshly married & on our honeymoon, the odds were great to get selected to play. They typically select the newest couple, oldest couple, and make the middle couple compete in a dance off to be chosen. To Andrew’s surprise, we were chosen to play! (I am definitely more of the extrovert, whereas Andrew is a little more reserved). The game was INTENSE, I think I forgot how crazy the questions were. The emcee certainly made our cheeks rosy red with the series of questions we were each asked. Andrew & I ended up taking 2nd, and scored another beach bag, gift certificates, bingo cards, and more! I think that was a fantastic memory to take home with us (regardless of how embarrassing some of it all was).
DAY 6: Disney Dream cruise (2)
We awoke in the morning slowly cruising into our first port of Nassau, Bahamas! It was GORGEOUS. I always love the incredibly turquoise water and the brightly colored buildings on shore. It was HOT. We loaded up on our sunscreen & bug spray, then disembarked the ship to cruise around the city. We spent a few hours roaming the streets and stopping at some of the shops. We used a $25 gift card we won from The Match Game to get bamboo shirts (totally made us look like tourists). We kept walking around to discover what they city had and stopped to watch a small boat that just got back from collecting conch shells. These were the BIGGEST conch shells we have ever seen! The vivid salmon color of the shells against the gorgeous water was such an incredible sight. After walking a little more, to our surprise we found a craft brewery on the island called Pirate Republic Brewing Co.! That was a score for us, the craft beer loving couple. We meandered our way inside and got a tasting tray and pint. The tasting room was just like one you would find in the Pacific Northwest which gave us a little taste of home. After this refreshing pick-me-up, we decided to turn in back to the ship. We aren’t much of shoppers (which most of Nassau provides), and decided to forgo a major excursion to save some money on our trip. Since the heat index was so high, we figured reading our books by the adult pool on the ship would be wonderful enough. It was time to relax!
That night we had dinner at Enchanted Garden Restaurant. All of the couples certainly received way too much sun based off how pink our skin was! Following dinner was the Pirate Party on board ship. Anyone can choose to dress like pirates & one of my FAVORITE parts of the cruise happens on this night. First, a firework spectacular shot from the decks. This firework show is unreal because you are cruising on dark water with only the light of the stars. With no interruption of light, the fireworks are outstanding! Following the fireworks there is a HUGE dance party onboard the middle of the ship. They bring out a DJ and there’s flashing lights and fog machines. Andrew & I spent the rest of the night dancing away underneath the caribbean stars!
DAY 7: Disney Dream cruise (3)
This morning we woke up already docked at our second port – Disney’s private island in the caribbean, Castaway Cay! We quickly got dressed and disembarked the ship to enjoy a full day relaxing on the beach. Castaway Cay has several parts to it and multiple beaches, from family, to teenagers only, and adults. We opted to go to Serenity Bay, the adult beach reserved for guests 18 and older. Talk about relaxing! It is beyond calm out there. We soaked up the sun, read more of our books, and I caved and got a mojito to enjoy beachside (there’s a full bar right on the beach). We swam around, entertained ourself with filming on the GoPro (p.s. ‘thinking’ you look like a mermaid on a water certainly does not equate to that), located a conch shell, and caught many fish swimming around our ankles. It was absolutely perfect! Floating around in that peaceful turquoise water is unlike any other feeling.
After a full day of relaxing on the beach, we showered & got all dressed up. This night we decided to dine in one of the adult only restaurants, Remy – a french restaurant inspired by the movie Ratatouille! The restaurant is located on the front of the ship with a gorgeous panoramic view of the ocean. This. meal. was. INCREDIBLE. It was unlike any restaurant Andrew & I have ever been to (it almost felt TOO fancy). We were greeted with a complimentary champagne cocktail from a cart, a small bite inspired by the first dish Remy cooked in the movie, a foie gras dish, incredible bread selection – and we hadn’t even ordered yet! The restaurant splits the multi-course menu by their two chefs: an American modern approach, and a French rustic approach. Andrew opted for the American modern, and I for the French rustic – that way we could taste the entire menu & share. The waitress would arrive with a partner for each dish covered by a silver platter. They would then count down in french: “Un, duex, trois!” and on three they would reveal our dish. It was amazing! There were six dishes for a total of twelve that we each got to taste. That wasn’t the ending! We each received a plated dessert, as well as a chocolate & strawberry platter celebrating our honeymoon. Along with a red rose, truffles, lollipops, and creme puffs. We seriously were SPOILED during this meal. We would not have traded it for anything! After this beyond amazing meal, we sat on the balcony of our stateroom watching the waves ruffle in the glow of the moon. The next morning we would be disembarking at Port Canaveral with our cruise coming to an end.
DAY 8: Animal Kingdom
The fun doesn’t stop! After returning back to the BoardWalk Inn, we showered & got ready to hit up a new day on our itinerary of visiting Animal Kingdom. This park is very fun & unique, but to me it is still challenging to spend a full day in it. Although, Disney is expanding the park by included a section inspired by Pandora from the movie, Avatar!
MAGIC TIP: At this time, the estimated opening for Pandora is scheduled for 2017! This, paired with the new opening of the Star Wars themed lands would make for an incredible visit to Disney World.
Unfortunately, the weather decided to take a turn on us and decided to pour all day long under grey skies! We rode Expedition Everest 3 times (one of our favorite rides, make sure to catch my yeti interpretation in the video)! We also had the opportunity to watch the Finding Nemo and Festival of the Lion King musical shows. For lunch, we grabbed a quick bite at The Rainforest Cafe.
The original plan was to spend almost a full day in the park, that way we could experience the new ‘Rivers of Light’ firework show (I have never been in the Animal Kingdom park after dusk!). Due to weather, as well as how tired we were, we decided to reconfigure this plan fast. We headed to our early dinner reservation at Boma: Flavors of Africa – an incredible, all you can eat buffet located at The Animal Kingdom Lodge resort. We then turned in early to get a full night of sleep.
DAY 9: Disney Springs
Still feeling fairly tired from the cruise, we made another modification to our itinerary. Originally, we were going to visit the second Disney water park Typhoon Lagoon. With this being a more tropical themed water park, we decided we got enough of our fill from visiting the actual caribbean! We slept in, and made our way to France in the Epcot world showcase to eat a breakfast of chocolate croissants & coffee from Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie (one of my favorites). We roamed around the World Showcase shops a bit and decided to nap even more back at the hotel room. This is the glory of a long vacation – RESTING is key & can be done so at any time!
After awakening from our napping slumber, we got ready to spend a full afternoon & evening at Disney Springs (formerly known as Downtown Disney). I know we already spent one evening there, but this place was just one of our favorites to spend time in. We first got a quick lunch at Blaze Pizza (we are really into the rapid fire pizza shops right now such as Mod & Pieology). From there, we roamed around the retail shops just browsing. It’s always fun to exercise will power to look & not buy! We then grabbed a specialty cocktail at Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar and spent over an hour just sitting by the lake. We had a little more time to kill before our dinner reservation, and made our way to explore Splitsville Luxury Lanes. Aka, one of the most insane two-story bowling alley event space I have ever seen. Talk about reinventing the way you play!
Our dinner reservation time arrived, and we made our way to Raglan Road – honestly, one of the other best restaurants we ate at on our entire trip! This was an Irish food & experience at it’s finest. The whole night included live music & Irish step dancing! I went for it and ordered the rack of ribs – a Guinness dry rubbed dish that was SO tender the meat fell off the bone. Oh my goodness, Andrew & I almost contemplated ordering another round because they were THAT good. We turned in early for the night because we knew we had a busy next day!
DAY 10: Universal Studios / Wizarding World of Harry Potter
This is one day Andrew and I were INCREDIBLY excited about (hello, nerd-ing out Harry Potter style). We took an Uber (cost effective!) to Universal Studios from the Boardwalk Inn at Disney World. We opted out of purchasing early access to the parks (which made us nervous, because the Wizarding World fills up fast) – but something magic happened. One of the Universal Studios allowed us, along with a family of 4 to play a game. As long as we screamed how excited we were all at once, he’d let us in early to access the Wizarding World! Amazing – I am entirely grateful to that employee. We speed walked to Diagon Alley to quickly get in line for the Escape from Gringotts ride! This ride was INCREDIBLE. Universal definitely blows my mind with both Harry Potter rides, that’s for sure. I don’t want to spoil any details because it’s an absolute MUST to go experience them yourselves. Since we had early access, we waited less than 25 minutes to get on the ride!
After disembarking from the ride, we explored Diagon Alley. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter most certainly is a magical place. Between the music, details, food, and overall atmosphere – they really nailed the euphoric feelings you would experience as if you were actually in the books / movies.
We took in what we can, and made our way for King’s Cross Station to board the Hogwarts Express train! This train now connects both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, and YES you get to experience ‘disappearing’ through Platform 9 3/4. While on the train, you get divvied out into separate compartments and enjoy a video of the British countryside through the window. Overall, a very nice touch – and a way to seamlessly connect to both parks (NOTE: you must have a Park-to-Park admission ticket in order to board the Hogwarts Express, and experience both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley at the Wizarding World).
Once we got to Hogsmeade, we took off quickly to get in line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (the ride that takes place in the actual Hogwarts Castle). Luckily enough, for that early access – once again we waited less than 30 minutes. We really hit the jackpot to wait less than an hour total for the two biggest attractions! Once again, this ride is AMAZING. It’s absolutely breathtaking to also get a tour of the Hogwarts Castle while waiting for the ride – it keeps you seriously entertained.
After we got off this ride, we enjoyed an incredibly delicious and code glass of BUTTERBEER! A must when you visit both of these parks. It was absolutely quenching since the temperature was rising beyond 70 as early as 10am. We hopped on the Dragon Chellenge suspended roller coaster, and also explored all of the shops in Hogsmeade. We’d be coming back later to dilly-daddle around!
Once we got the major Wizarding World attractions out of the way, we started taking on the rest of the Universal Studios parks (Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios) to hit up some of the other major rides: Jurassic Park, Amazing Adventures of Spider Man, The Incredible Hulk coaster, Doctor Doom’s Fearfall, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Men in Black Alien Attack, and Revenge of the Mummy. I am SO glad Andrew enjoys thrill rides just as much as I do! One thing is for sure, Universal Studios’ rides sure now how to whip, thrash, and throttle your neck and head. Yowza. I was very bummed to skip out on the Minion’s ride (they’re so adorable!), but it certainly wasn’t worth the 75 minute wait. We also skipped out on the new Skull Island: Reign of Kong ride – also an 80 minute wait. It was INSANE how packed both parks were, that certainly was not fun. Also, the experience of HAVING to put everything in a locker prior to getting on rides drove us notes. Half the time we dealt with scanners that failed to recognize our finger prints after we got off the rides. If I had to estimate, over an hour of our day was spent just setting up the locker & trying to get our personal possessions out of it afterwards in the most cramped fashion (end rant for Universal Studios).
In the late afternoon, in true Florida fashion, major rains fell upon us. Thank goodness we got all rides and attractions out of the way! It was POURING. It was certainly fun to experience the Wizarding World parks while it was thundering down rain. I was able to swoop up a Chocolate Cauldron treat from Honeydukes, and post up under a bridge with Andrew as we watched the rain fall. Rain / thunderstorms is just a way of Florida vacation life in the afternoon, so it’s best to get comfortable with it.
Following the rain and feeling satisfied with all we had accomplished in both parks, we grabbed an early dinner along the Universal Studios CityWalk at a restaurant called The Cowfish: a sushi burger bar. Interesting concept, but excellent food! I would recommend it if you’re there. After a long day and feeling dazed by Harry Potter magic, we took an Uber back to our resort in Disney World and called it an early night! This trip was fantastic, because each night we got the best sleep of our lives feeling tuckered out from the day’s adventures.
DAY 11: EPCOT Around-The-World bar crawl day & last day in Disney World 😦
As all fantastic vacations go – it’s most difficult to realize the last day has arrived. That’s why we set it up with a bang! We took on the EPCOT Around-The-World (modified) bar crawl!
Some would take on this experience by purchasing a drink of choice at EVERY country located in the World Showcase at EPCOT, paired with a food item. You guessed it – this usually results in a rather tipsy individual (to keep it rated PG). Andrew & I decided to get one drink to share (sometimes one each) in every other country, or so. We wanted a more glorified last day to our vacation that we would remember. 🙂 To learn more about this little adventure, check out Thrillist’s take on the Epcot Bar Crawl: Your Game Plan for Drinking in 11 Fake Countries.
After grabbing breakfast at Trattoria Al Forno on the Boardwalk, we made our way into EPCOT for the World Showcase’s opening at 11am. We started in France and Morocco (sans drinks) just exploring and walking around. We then went to Japan and got a refreshing cucumber saki cooler drink! It definitely was a subtle way to kick of the morning. As we took on this pub crawl, we also experienced all the shops and what the country’s had to offer. The World Showcase always has a wide array of live music and performances!
Following Japan, we took a brief break to watch American Music Machine (a 5 person, capella singing group) perform. They reminded Andrew & I of Pentatonix! We then made our way to Italy and picked up a sparkling wine beverage. Very refreshing, as the heat was already starting to rise in the day.
Germany came next after Italy – our favorite! We shared a bierstien of an Oktoberfest lager. Yummm. Of course we are craft beer enthusiasts and this had to be our favorite drink of the pub crawl. We also picked up a HUGE soft pretzel to split (need to keep our stomachs full!) which was fantastic. We sat, drank our beer, enjoyed our pretzel, while sitting next to the tranquil World Showcase lagoon.
We skipped purchasing a beverage in China, but still roamed around the shops and beautiful architecture. We also got a chance to really scope out what the new, Disneyland Shanghai is all about! Maybe one day we will get to experience that park during true, international travels.
We decided to pass purchasing a beverage in Norway, and made our way to Mexico! One of my favorite stops of the pub crawl because there are AMAZING margaritas inside at the tequila bar: La Cava del Tequila de San Angel Inn. This place is a gem because you get to escape the heat & crowds in a little, dimly lit bar. It’s an excellent stop for anyone over 21. Their tequila flights are quite unreal, but we opted for refreshing margaritas. Andrew opted for a pineapple margarita, and I ordered my favorite – a spicy jalapeno margarita! Mmmm, even after all of this time I can still taste them.
We ended our pub crawl in the good old, U.K. (we skipped on Canada – at that point we had enough)! We purchased beers at The Rose & Crown Pub. A jolly pub filled with cheerful Disney go-er’s and live music radiating from a jubilant singer & piano player. Andrew & I met a lovely family also enjoying a pub crawl around the World Showcase for their daughter’s 21st Birthday (how fun!). That is one thing I will ALWAYS love about Disney – you meet so many folks from many walks of life that are (typically) friendly & cheerful.
Following several hours of our epic pub crawl at the EPCOT World Showcase, we knew we needed a real, full meal. We enjoyed another early dinner at Big River Grille & Brewing Works – our last meal on Disney’s Boardwalk. We took another Uber to a hotel near the airport for our last night in Florida.
DAY 12: Travel Day Back Home
Well….there really isn’t much to say about a full day of flights back to Eugene, Oregon. The highlight of this travel day was leaving with an incredible amount of memories that my husband & I experienced on our Honeymoon!
Oh, and Chik-fil-A. We scarfed that meal down at the airport (the closest Chik-fil-A to Eugene is in Hillsboro, which is over 2 hours away!). It will always be one of our junk / fast food favorites.
The best news about heading home was also knowing we built in a few days to relax at home before returning to work. What. a. trip.
Okay, so if you made it through this ENTIRE trip outline – holy cow, please let me know! I’ll give you a high-five. If you have any questions regarding a future Disney World trip, definitely feel free to reach out! I absolutely love chatting about it. 🙂 I’ve added this nifty little contact form if you feel like saying ‘Hi’ in my inbox instead!