Our Trip to Disney

Most week’s on my blog I try to write about things that I’ve done or am trying to do to help make me a better pastor, kidmin worker, father, or husband. This week however I wanted to chronicle my family’s recent vacation to Disney World. This is really more of a diary style post so feel free to skip over it if our Floridian adventures don’t appeal to you. Make sure you check back next week however when I post some of the things we learned at Disney when it relates to strategy!

Hollywood Studios

The first day we got there we went to Disney Springs out of curiosity but I wish we would’ve allowed for more time. (Also it rained on us and the whole area lost power so that didn’t help).

They have a lot of giant stores (we loved the LEGO store!) And a must-stop is their virtual reality experience. Lizzy was short by 2″ and couldn’t do it which is a little disappointing because she would have loved it! 48″ is the cut-off but any Wreck-It Ralph fans or Star Wars fans should give this a try!

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The first day we went to Hollywood Studios and had a blast. We managed to get on Slinky Dog Dash (super fun coaster) in the morning.

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Then we did the Swirling Saucers which was Lizzy’s favorite.

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We ended up coming back to Toy Story Land later for the Toy Story Mania ride because we had a fast pass. Lizzy was nervous about the ride because you had to wear 3-D glasses and you shot stuff at the screen. Depending on what you hit sometimes the ride would spray you with water or air which she wasn’t too sure about. The second day though she was ready to play on her own and really enjoyed it. This ride has the animatronic talking Mr. Potato head too while you wait for the ride and it’s pretty incredible.

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After Toy Story we caught the Incredibles Dance party. Lizzy didn’t want to participate but took pictures with her camera and reluctantly agreed to take pictures after mom and I did.

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We hit up the Star Tours ride next which was Lizzy’s second favorite at this park. The 3-D effects with the light rockiness of the ride made it fun for her.

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We ended up coming back to HollyWood Studios on Friday (the day after they opened their Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Land). It’s an incredible addition to the park with crazy cool theming and Live Storm Troopers who wander about interrogating guests 😛.

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By the time she had piloted the Millennium Falcon (and without her Star Wars fan of a Father influencing her), she may have become a Star Wars fan. She hadn’t seen any of the movies but when she saw Rey training Jedi kids how to fight the bad guys she saw on the ride, she rushed over to get a closer look!

On the first day after we did Star Tours, we caught the muppets show.

We got pizza by mobile ordering (which was awesome) and then caught the Beauty and the Beast show with ice cream.

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Since we were right by Tower of Terror (Sarah’s favorite ride) we gave it a try. Lizzy didn’t like the creepiness of the line cue and started to back out but we told her to try new things and be brave; so she did.

Then she hated it.

She did not like the scary part and especially hated the up and down feeing but she tried it and we applauded her bravery while affirming she was safe; the ride was “just pretend”; and she got to experience mommy’s favorite ride. We even got her a treat to celebrate. Regardless, she made sure to tell her grandparents later when she FaceTimed them how much she disliked it.

We skipped Rockin’ Roller Coaster (Sarah and I did the single rider line when we came back the second day) but we saw the Lightning McQueen show which was a good change of pace after the scary ride.


The afternoon came with rain showers which worked out because we were able to catch a few shows. Lizzy loved Frozen. (which was funny for adults too!)

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Lizzy liked the Indiana Jones Stunt show where they explain how they do dangerous stunts. It was a good time to remind her that everything was pretend (even scary stuff). I explained that Disney World was a bunch of adults building really big expensive toys and then inviting families to come and pretend with them. This explanation seemed to help her the rest of the week when she would get nervous about a scary ride or show.

After the Indiana Jones Show we hit up Star Tours a few more times; went to Toy Story Land for a few more rides and saw some characters

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We ended the night watching the Fantasmic Show, which Lizzy loved, I think it was her second favorite show.

Magic Kingdom

We spent the second day and actually the last day as well at the Magic Kingdom. I think it was Lizzy’s favorite park with the most rides for her to go on.

There was a Snow White Roller coaster that Lizzy liked, she was nervous at first but came around to it. We ended up getting to ride it a few times. The first day we went we could only get on it once in the early morning by arriving before the park opened so we were ready to get in line. The second time we came the crowds were lower in the morning so we could ride it several times but by the afternoon it had gone up to 85 minutes.

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Magic Kingdom has several smaller rides that almost never have a wait so we did the Winnie the Pooh Ride, the Alice in Wonderland Tea Cups ride, the Prince Charming carousel, and Dumbo. There were a few places you could meet characters but the second day Lizzy was still pretty shy so she wasn’t interested in the idea. By the time we got to the last day she came around to it and started liking the idea of meeting them, though she still wouldn’t say a word.

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The Circus part of the park and Tomorrow Land were both fun. Lizzy like the Goofy Roller Coaster: Barnstormer and the Buzz Lightyear ride was fun for her because she was able to swing our cart back and forth. I think my favorite attraction or maybe the most surprising one at Magic Kingdom was the Enchanted Tales with Belle. They take you through in a pretty small group, where you first start in Maurice’s shop. There’s a magic mirror that ends up being a screen for a video and then it actually transforms into a full-size door before your eyes! It was amazing. You get to go to Belle’s castle and the group you’re with helps act out the story with Princess Belle. It’s very interactive (which made Lizzy a little shy) but the animatronics are very lifelike.

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Magic Kingdom has a lot of shows and parades that we caught more of the second day that we were there.

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And by the end of the day at Magic Kingdom Lizzy had come around to the idea of roller coasters. We went on Splash Mountain which she did not like at all but there was a train roller coaster (that was honestly a little rough) that she loved and we ended up riding it several times. She even started raising her hands up like mom.

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The ending show at Magic Kingdom is amazing. They project onto the Cinderella Castle and transform it into a ton of different things while at the same time using fireworks. We caught it in a little Florida shower but it was still amazing.

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Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom was our 3rd day at the parks and I think it had some of our favorite rides. The Avatar world was pretty incredible with the Flight of Passage ride being absolutely amazing. This was another instance that we had to push Lizzy a little bit because she got very nervous when we got into the ride. You have to sit on what almost feels like a bike and wear 3-D glasses. The room actually moves forward into an IMAX screen and moves you around as if you’re flying a giant dragon like creature. Amazingly the ride you are on even simulates the creature breathing with an in and out motion motorized by your legs. When we first got into the room though Lizzy had no interest in riding it. However she was sitting on the ride and the restraints moved into place automatically meaning there was no going back. The first ride was accompanied with some tears but then after she asked to go on it two more times!

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The other awesome thing at Animal Kingdom is their characters and their shows. The UP Bird show was really fun with trained birds flying right over your head. Lion King has animatronics that are fun to see for the kids and amazing acrobatics and even a fire thrower. A Bugs Life is funny but Lizzy didn’t like the scary part or the stink bug spraying the audience. The best in my opinion though is the Finding Nemo musical which has huge puppets and sets that immerse you in the story. Make sure you sit up close as the actors come out in the audience which is really fun. The best show for Sarah and I though is watching Lizzy take it all in.

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The other rides at Animal Kingdom weren’t exactly Lizzy’s favorite. The farther we went in the week the more I learned it had less to do with the intensity of the ride and much more to do with the story of the ride. We went on the Dinosaur ride but Lizzy wasn’t too sure about the darkness and the mean dinosaurs. The other ride we went on was the Expedition Everest ride. She loved the roller coaster aspect, even putting her hands in the air at the beginning of the ride, but once the scary Yeti “tore up” the tracks, she was no longer a fan. She split the difference on her Everest feedback in her photo which was pretty cute! Everest was Sarah’s favorite ride at Animal Kingdom last time we made it to Disney World, so we rode it a few more times in the single rider line, with Lizzy taking turns with us seeing if we could spot the other parent.

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The last thing we did before the ending Animal Kingdom show was the Safari. We did it in the evening because we read the animals were more active and they definitely were! We got up close to a lot of them, sometimes even having to completely stop because they were right next to the trucks. The ending show at Animal Kingdom doesn’t use any fireworks because of the animals but rather lights and projections on water jets in their lake. There are some pretty cool floats and boats but if we had to do it again we probably would hit up the Avatar ride while the crowd thins due to the show.

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Epcot was last on our list to visit, we didn’t know it at the time but we actually ended up visiting it on the opening Saturday of their Food & Wine Festival. While the Festival did have some unique food options with it (their was a lobster roll that was amazing!), it mostly just came with a much busier crowd, especially toward the evening. It was probably the biggest crowds we dealt with at Disney. Epcot doesn’t have too many rides, Soarin’ was an old favorite but the Avatar Flight of Passage ride kind of puts it to shame now. The new Frozen ride was fun and really shows off how much better Disney is at making their Animatronics plus it has a few fun surprises. Epcot is due for a facelift with additional kid friendly spaces and rides being added and I would agree that it could use the addition. Honestly, I felt like the best part at Epcot for Lizzy was how many unique characters there were and how short the lines were to see them. At Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios character wait times could sometimes be 35, 45, even 60 minutes long! We didn’t wait over 10 minutes for each character and it was the only time we saw Lizzy’s favorite Princess, Sleeping Beauty!

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We had such a great time at Disney World! We did a lot of reading before hand on blogs and we learned a lot. There’s plenty of other resources out there with great advice but I wanted to share what we learned and gathered in one simple place so make sure you check back next week to see my post 7 Strategies for Success at Disney World!




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