A February 2003 trip
to Orlando by slabeaume
Quote: If you're looking for some great theme parks, lots of sun and humidity, lots of people, and lots of activity, then Orlando is a great choice.
We all had a blast every time we were in Disney. It's not just for kids! There's so much to see there, that one time just isn't enough. Even after four trips, we still have a lot left to see!
Don't expect to see it all in a day or two. There's just too much to see! If you're traveling with kids, make Magic Kingdom your priority park. It's not just for kids, but geared pretty much to them.
Note the hours of each park - some parks have different hours of operation than the others.
If you stay in a Disney Resort, you'll also have early entry days.
Use the Fastpass system when available. Get a fast pass ticket, then go do something else until the time on your ticket.
It can be overwhelming spending a full day there with young children! Expect them to get tired and crabby sometimes. Go back to your room, let them rest up, and head back there for the night time activities.
If you stay in the park, the monorails or park busses will take you anywhere within Disney that you want to go.
Hotel | "Orange Lake Resort and Country Club"
The resort is on Irlo Bronson, one of the main thoroughfares packed with restaurants and shops. Orange lake even owns the land, with a Publix grocery store just down Irlo Bronson from the resort.Best Things About the Resort:Location, location, location! It's within minutes of Disney World or the highways to take you anywhere else you want to go.
It holds a Gold Crown RCI rating and deserves it. It has an atmosphere of comfort and calmness. I think I could easily spend the whole week there without ever leaving the grounds.Resort Experience:Orange Lake Resort is far enough out on Irlo Bronson, that it's in a peaceful area. The resort is gated, with security guarding the gate. The resort consists of the a newer section of typical highrise units and the older section of one story "golf villas" in triplex and quadraplex form. It's a large community (1,100 acres) built within a 90 hole golfcourse. The abundance of 1 story villas gives the resort a residential look.
"Our" unit is a two bedroom, two bath golf villa. We really like that there are no noisy neighbors above or below us. The villas also have parking spots right in front of them. You'll need a car here, so it's nice having such convenient parking.
The unit is very spacious (1,200 sq. feet). It comes with a fully equiped kitchen complete with full size washer and dryer. There's a king sized bed in the master bedroom, two double beds in the second bedroom and a couch sofa bed in the livingroom. In the villas, the living room is a step down from the diningroom/kitchen area. In the high rises, they're on even flooring. The kitchen has a counter/bar between it and the dining room. The dining room has a large table with a glass top. Both baths are full baths (shower and tub). The decor is a colorful tropical style.
The grounds are beautifully landscaped. There are two lakes, one with water "toys" for rent: water tricycles, boats, etc. The other lake is surrounded by villas and the golf course and is the home to many wild birds and a beautiful fountain. There are 90 holes of golf, as well as a miniature golf course. There are also two large swim complexes and tennis courts within the resort.
There are several daily planned activities such as the welcome party with free snacks and drinks; a blast from the past party; a family sing along; a county western night; a luau; and another music night. Or you can go to the free movies in their little theatre; play video games; workout; or just kick back and check out a movie to watch in your own unit.
You don't even need to leave the resort for food. As well as a well stocked little grocery store in the resort, there are several really nice restaurants.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 1, 2003
Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orlando-Orange Lake Resort
8505 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy.
Kissimmee, Florida 34747
Attraction | "Disney's Magic Kingdom"
Through and to the left of Main Street, is Adventure land. Here's where you'll find the fun Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Cruise. You may even get a little wet in the Caribbean ride.
Above and to the left of Main Street are Liberty Square and Frontierland. A couple of my favorites in these areas are the Liberty Bell paddle wheel boat and the Big Thunder Mountain Railway. The views from the paddle wheeler are really neat. My favorite ride in Liberty Square is the Haunted House-check out the incredible holographics.
Straight through Main Street and Cinderella's castle is Fantasy Land. This area is loaded with fun child imaginative rides like It's a small World, Mad Tea Party, Dumbo the flying Elephant, and Peter Pan's Flight. The slow going rides through the different attractions, like It's a Small World, are so beautifully animated that even adults should find them fascinating.
To the back and right of Fantasyland is Mickey's Toontown Fair. No rides here, but it's a great place for taking colorful pictures. The kids will enjoy wandering around through the characters "neighborhood" while you snap away.
Then there's my favorite part of the park - Tomorrowland. Here is where the popular rollercoaster of Magic Kingdom is - Space Mountain. Although it really doesn't travel too fast, it's in darkness so you can't anticipate the turns. But my favorite atractions here are Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and Alien Encounter. Buzz is a riding shooting gallery where you control the spin of the seats and Alien Encounter can be very scarey - even if it's not your first time to it!
At night, don't miss the "SpectroMagic" Parade and the "Fantasy in the Sky" Fireworks display. Both are very well done and I've enjoyed them multiple times!
Walt Disney World Resort Magic Kingdom
Interstate 4 At U.S. Highway 192
Attraction | "Disney MGM Studios"
It's a 135-acre park with actual working studios for television and the movie industry. There are several rather interesting stage productions of favorite old movies. You can even take a backstage tour of how special effects and animation is done.
For the kid in us all, there are even a few exciting rides. My favorite is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Try to go on this at dusk--the sky was amazing when we went on it. I thought it would be scary, but the ride is quite smooth and really a lot of fun---but too short. If fast pass is working here, do use it! Star tours was another fun roller coaster ride--the only other one in MGM. For a more subdued ride, the Great Movie Ride was 20 minutes of interesting short takes on old movies.
There is a 7000 seat theatre near the entrance,too. That is where the nightly Fantasmic show is held. It is a battle of Sorcerer Mickey and friends against some Disney villains. The show is comprised of lasers, pyrotechnics, animation and water techniques. It starts about 1/2 hour before the close of the park, but get there early if you want a seat. There is standing room in the back, and the threatre is outside and tiered, so visibility is good from almost everywhere. Being outside, if the weather is bad, the show is cancelled. If the weather is good, and you've seen the show a few times already, it's a good time to go to some of the other activities without the normal crowds.
THe landscaping is cleverly done with lots of cartoon topiaries and interesting buildings. As with all the parks, there are tons of photo-ops waiting for you here.
There are many half hour long shows and rides here. To see them all, expect to spend at least a full day here -- maybe two.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 29, 2003
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Walt Disney World
Orlando, Florida 32830
As soon as you enter the park, you'll know you're really in a different kind of park. It's very lush and exotic. More than four million plants, trees, grasses and shrubs were planted to create the jungle-like atmosphere here. It's also a very large park (500 acres) -- five times larger than Magic Kingdom. But most of that is in the safari where you'll be riding in a safari vehicle.
Another Disney show not to miss is Disney’s newest 4D attraction, It’s Tough to Be a Bug. It is housed inside the Tree of Life and can be a bit scarey. Whether you've seen a 4-D attraction before or not, you're in for a real treat! Also playing in Animal Kingdom is The Festival of the Lion King. Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to see it -- this time. You will find another parade here, too -- Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade.
Plan to spend at least a full day here. There's much more here than just the very authentic safari.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 30, 2003
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Walt Disney World Resort
Orlando, Florida 32830
Attraction | "Epcot"
Some of the things in Future World that you'll learn about are dinosaurs, how your body works, how the sea is living, technology throughout the years, safety, and new advancements in growing plants and vegetables (some which are used there in the restaurants around Epcot).
In the World Showcase, you'll be able to experience what it's like in different countries -- either by ride, movies, foods, and/or skits. Even the people working there are from those countries. Each country also has shops featuring native goods. THe Tapestry of Dreams parade route is around the World Showcase Lagoon and is usually performed twice an evening. The nightly Illuminations fireworks display is done over the World Showcase lagoon.
If you're there when they have speed pass working, I recommend going straight back to Fast Track in Future World and getting a ticket for that first. Then if World Showcase is open, start checking it out from the far side of the Lagoon (most people will start around the World Showcase nearest the entrance). Be sure to make it back to Fast track in time to use your pass and you'll save lots of time. Use the fast passes whenever possible -- they are great! Expect to walk a lot, it is a large park, but it is so beautifully landscaped that the walk is nice. Take your time and eat your way through the countries -- fish and chips in England, dessert in France, a hot dog in America, etc. It may seem like 9am-9pm is too long to be there, but there will be plenty of time to rest during the shows, rides, and skits. It took me three trips to see them all. And most of them are worth seeing over and over!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 27, 2003
Walt Disney World Resort Epcot Theme Park
St. Louis, Missouri