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Orlando in October - Disney World and Universal Studios


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Well it's been a few months now and I'm finally just getting around to writing this... On the negative side, that means some of my recollections may not be perfect, but on the plus side, I think it's allowed me to collect my thoughts and more fully form opinions on the things I experienced. This trip was only my second time being to Walt Disney World, with my first visit having been over 16 years prior, and my first ever trip to Universal Orlando. However, with my only previous Disney trip being so long ago, it also ended up feeling like a first time.


This was a huge trip and I did a ton, so I'll try to be thorough, but not overly wordy (a promise that I'm not sure I can keep, but we'll try), and will be posting updates over several days/weeks. So without further adieu, let's get started.


Intro: Arrival & Hotel


We landed in Orlando around noon, picked up our rental car and headed to our hotel at WDW. There were 4 of us so we opted for a family suite at the Art of Animation Resort. The resort is technically a value resort, but is also one of the newest - if not the newest - resorts at WDW, and I found the whole resort from the food court, to the pools, to the room, and the grounds in general to be very nice. The suite was the perfect size for our group. I've heard Art of Animation described as a Value+, slightly nicer than the other value resorts but not a moderate, and I'd say that's a pretty accurate description! After getting situated in our room and waiting on a pop up thunderstorm to subside, it was almost 3 o'clock time to hop on a bus and head to Epcot!





We were all anxious to get to our first park of the trip and even more excited to get to experience the Food & Wine Festival which was in full swing - but it was time for our first Fast Pass of the day - Mission: Space (and thanks to the rain storm we were cutting it close to the end of our hour window so we had to rush. We had no issues when we got to the ride and walked right into the queue for the Orange (more intense) side.


Quick complaint: While I guess I understand the need for the tiers in a park like Epcot, we honestly didn't need a Fast Pass for this one, it only saved us about 10 minutes. But because of the tiers we selected it because it was one of the better options in 2nd tier. To be fair, with how crowded the park was and how late we got there, we may not have gotten a Fast Pass to a top tier attraction if we didn't have the option to reserve before arriving, so there's the trade off I guess. I'll sum up my Fast Pass+ opinions at the end of the report.


Back to Mission: Space. Once it was our turn to board, we climbed into our little capsule and got closed in. I don't know if it was just because it was the first ride of the trip, but I enjoyed the ride. It made me a little dizzy (and some in the group very dizzy, they also weren't amused with how claustrophobic it felt), but overall I thought it was a nice start, but not a ride that I needed to experience over again.


After Mission: Space we were all starving after our long morning of travel so we stopped into the Electric Umbrella for a late lunch, using a quick service credit from our meal plan. I had a french dip burger, fries, and a chocolate cupcake - I told myself before the trip, that even though it was included I wouldn't get desserts but that turned out  to be a lie, but hey it's vacation ;) . It was all really good I thought, and a neat little quick service restaurant.


After lunch and a little relaxing it was time for our next Fast Pass on Test Track. I was really looking forward to Test Track because I remember missing out on it the last time I was there because it was a brand new ride with a huge wait, and it did not disappoint. After the group's mixed reactions to Mission: Space, we found an attraction that everyone loved, and one of my favorites of the trip. I never got to ride it under its original theme, but I liked the Tron-esque theme a lot more than I thought I would and think it's a perfect fit for Future World. I regret only getting to ride it once on the trip.


We rode two more Future World rides that day: The Seas with Nemo & Friends and Living with the Land. The Seas with Nemo & Friends was just ok and kept stopping mid-ride which got annoying, but I assumed it was to accommodate someone boarding, so that's fine, but it happened 4-5 times during the ride. I liked the aquarium after the ride though and we spent a little bit of time in there.


Next was Living with the Land. I liked this ride actually, thought it was relaxing and a taste of "old" Epcot. Soarin's wait was over 2 hours so we skipped it too (but would get to ride later in the trip).


After LwtL, we stopped in Club Cool which was a neat little experience, but by then we were ready to go experience Food & Wine. Our third Fast Pass was for Spaceship Earth, but with us getting a late start, and having dinner reservations later that night, we wanted to get a start on some of the fun in the World Showcase, so we skipped that for the day, but would end up riding it before the trip was over thankfully.


World Showcase was PACKED. But we still had a good time exploring the different pavilions, trying  different foods and drinks along the way. I was surprised by how detailed some of theming at the pavilions is, it was more than I was expecting - very cool.


We had dinner reservations at Via Napoli so we made our way back to the Italy pavilion and got seated there. The food here was delicious and the service was great. After dinner we had about an hour left to explore World Showcase, so we looked around in some of the shops and took everything in. About 10 minutes before 10, all of the torches around World Showcase Lagoon went up in flames and announcement that IllumiNations was beginning soon was made. I loved this little effect and the music that played leading up to the show got us all really excited. We were fortunate enough to find a not too crowded viewing area near the American Adventure Pavilion. I loved IllumiNations and thought it was the perfect way to cap off our first day of vacation.


After the show we made our way to the front of the park, waited a few minutes for a bus, and headed back to the hotel.


Overall, it was a very good start to the trip. I thought Epcot was an extremely beautiful park, especially around the World Showcase. I've read many places that Future World is getting a little stale and I could definitely see that point, but essentially being first timers, it didn't take away from our experience that day. I will admit, we mainly stuck to World Showcase on later visits to Epcot during the week.


The next day would be reserved for the Magic Kingdom. To be continued.

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