This past May saw me take my second trip to the beautiful city of Orlando, Florida. My fiancée Amanda and I were planning on a vacation to Spain. Her passport was supposed to arrive in 10 weeks – it didn’t. After a series of trials and tribulations, we made last-minute changes to our flights and reservations, and opted to visit Disney World instead.
Now, I’ve been to Disney World once prior – we went in March of ’06. This piece isn’t a full-fledged review of any one particular thing, just a travelogue of sorts, full of randomness, and my memories in photographic and textual form. I have done two mighty reviews of Disney theme parks prior, critiquing both Animal Kingdom and Disney-MGM Studios. Without further adieu, let’s go to Orlando!
Here I am in Cincinnati’s overly expensive airport. It’s customary, time permitting, for me to get some breakfast before a flight while watching planes takeoff.
If you ever see my on a plane, chances are, this’ll be the sight you’ll see – me sipping on ginger ale and reading a book.
When we arrived in our hotel room, this Mickey Mouse head constructed from towels was there to great us.
This is the picture that best shows our room. We didn’t take many, though. I don’t remember it this way, either, as it was never this clean again. Souvenirs, luggage, and empty Coca-Cola Cherry bottles littered it within days.
Every morning before we started off on our day, Amanda took a picture of me outside our room’s door. We were on the third floor and really liked our location. There was actually a pond nearby, which you can see in the background, and I chilled at the railing several times throughout our stay to relax and reflect.
Disney owns all kinds of resorts, and this time, we opted to say at the Disney All-Star Sports Resort. Granted, it wouldn’t have been our first pick, given more time and money, but it turned out being a lot better than either of us anticipated.
This is actually one of the lowest-tier resorts, too; that being said, I can only imagine what the most expensive ones are like. There were different themes for different buildings. We stayed in the tennis building.
This was sort of a centerpiece at the resort, and ideal for perfect touristy photos.
We were fortunate enough to be there for Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival. There were over 70 topiaries around the park, which were Disney characters built using flora.
We weren’t sure if the margaritas at Epcot were actually alcoholic or not – we soon found out they hit harder than the Incredible Hulk.
Here I am with Sleepy from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Not only is Sleepy my favorite because he likes to snooze like none other, but he also sports the longest beard of all the dwarfs.
We strolled upon his performer, near the Italy section of Epcot’s World Showcase, early during our first day in Florida. I believe this marked the official moment of realization that I was indeed on vacation.
There was an awesome exhibit in the Japan section showcasing all kinds of tin toys. Highlighted above are Ultraman, Godzilla and friends, and Amanda posing beside a robotic pal.
I actually just randomly spotted this lizard and was fortunate enough to be able to get close and get an incredible picture of it.
After the aforementioned margarita, we zipped over to the France section, where we partook in a wine tasting. Shortly after, I was a bit goofy and lightheaded, when I ran directly into Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Downtown Disney is a great place to take ridiculous photos at. I think we took at least a dozen of us wearing silly hats alone.
This is the World of Disney store – the ultimate stop for Disney shopping on our entire planet.
Here we are about to enjoy the Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom. It may appear that I’m making a cheesy face strictly for the camera, but I was genuinely that happy.
Here I am waxing philosophic with a goat about his species’ portrayal in contemporary cinema.
Pleasure Island is an area at Downtown Disney comprised of a bunch of different themed adult nightclubs. We choose 8 Trax, a place that specializes in ‘70s and ‘80s hits.
After a few drinks, we let loose, and headed down to the dance floor. They played all kinds of great stuff, like Whitney Houston, The Jackson 5, and Eddy Grant.
We caught a showing of Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage at Disney-MGM Studios. It was one of the few attractions we missed the last time we visited.
Here’s the nefarious duo of Amanda and Captain Hook.
Here are two props from Wes Anderson’s brilliant film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
We took a drawing course and learned how to create Pluto. Not pictured: Amanda’s superior drawing.
Nothing says exultant joy like a giant turkey leg and beer!
This photo depicts me as all smiles while waiting in line at one of Epcot’s coolest attractions Test Track.
The new and improved Three Caballeros.
New to Epcot this year is a ride titled The Seas with Nemo & Friends. While not exactly groundbreaking, it’s still an enjoyable addition.
I like to think Snow White and Amanda were smiling at me because I’m a really great guy – but it was actually just because I was holding a camera.
Here’s Amanda admiring one of the Chinese zodiac animals.
The only thing I found more interesting than these amazing statues was a young Chinese man working there calling me “cute”.
Don’t make this Viking girl angry!
I almost bought this hat so I could wear it at really inappropriate times, like say, the opera or a funeral.
Yes, it’s true; Captain Jack Sparrow is now a part of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.
One of the most beautiful views we enjoyed in Orlando.
At DisneyQuest Interactive Indoor Theme Park, there are all kinds of awesome things to do. But, for my money, one of the coolest features is that besides virtual reality experiences and contemporary favorites, there’s a section solely dedicated to classic games where I spent tons of time.
One night while venturing around Pleasure Island at Downtown Disney, we decided to stay out late, and check out some improvisational comedy at Comedy Warehouse.
Needless to say, before the doors opened, I got smashed on mixed drinks. My favorite, the bright green one, was titled Funmeister and I had several of them throughout our stay.
What trip to Disney World could be complete without a picture in front of Cinderella Castle?
Last year when we visited Magic Kingdom we didn’t check out Tom Sawyer Island. So, we give it a shot this time, and it was definitely worth it. There are trails, swinging suspension bridges, and mysterious caves to explore.
Here I am recreating one of my childhood fantasies in homage to the terrific animated film The Sword in the Stone.
At some point during our stay, Amanda was magically, and thankfully temporarily, transformed into a cat.
The last time we visited Disney World we totally skimped on souvenirs. So, this time, we bought all kinds of stuff to bring back home. My favorite find, and something I’ll surely be wearing around campus when it gets cooler, is this Disney World hooded sweatshirt. The back has a large collage featuring characters and attractions from all four Disney theme parks.
Like I said above, if timing allows, definitely try to visit Epcot during their yearly International Flower & Garden Festival, because some of the things you’ll see are simply breathtaking.
I love Jim Henson’s Muppets, and here I am, posing with Sweetums and Kermit the Frog.
My favorite band The Rocket Summer was coincidently playing a show at House of Blues in Downtown Disney while I was in Orlando. Unfortunately, when I went to get tickets, it was sold out. Thus, as shown above, I was relegated to sitting behind the venue, settling for listening from outside.
Amanda sent me this from a kiosk while I was occupied playing the Wii.
These photos were actually taken by Disney, giving a glimpse of our aftermath after riding Crush ‘n’ Gusher at Typhoon Lagoon.
This final photo was taken at Orlando’s airport very early in the morning on our final day in Florida. I’m holding a Caramel Frappuccino from Starbucks, and for some strange reason, a discarded piece of flimsy faux egg.
We took a couple hundred more photos, but I think the ones selected give a sufficient glimpse into our vacation. A little over a year ago I had never been to Disney World – now I’ve been twice in 14 months. It’s really a great place; the fun comes effortlessly, and I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather blow copious amounts of cash. We told each other that we wouldn’t return for many years until we had a kid of our own to bring along with us. But, we can’t fool ourselves; we’ll probably be back a lot sooner than planned.