Goat goes Disney
We have been to Walt Disney World many times. I am very familiar with Magic Kingdon, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. Less familiar with Animal Kingdom just because its not as interesting to me and the Monorail does not go to this park (Or Hollywood Studios for that matter). Nevertheless the Lady and I packed up and headed to the promise land, we had 2 days left on the 3 day pass and planned to visit Hollywood Studios (because we like the closing show the best) and Epcot for the International Food and Wine Fest (Mrs. Goat is a true foodie).
As a prudent goat would, we used airline miles that were soon to expire to book the hotel for 2 nights. American Airlines miles can be used for hotels. I only had a limited number of miles so we searched for a hotel that was reasonable close to Disney property and that I had enough miles for two nights, we settled upon Champions World Resort.
Champions World Resort is about a 10-15 minute drive to the parks. Considering we were staying for free it would take a pretty serious health violation to upset me. This place without sky-miles was would have been about $60/night so you get what you pay for. The room was reasonably clean, the refrigerator and a/c worked, the TV was a little fuzzy but I could manage. The front desk claimed they offered free WiFi but I never got it to work. Called the front desk on 2 separate occasions, they advised that it was working but that they would have maintenance “reset the router”, it never worked. We had intended to stay a 3rd night here and would have in the WiFi worked but it didn’t and we needed WiFi on Sunday to keep up with Fantasy Football so we moved hotels for the 3rd night. This led us to our favorite hotel near Disney, the Radisson Resort Orlando Celebration.
Radisson Resort Orlando Celebration, we had stayed here on prior occasions and always loved it. The only thing it’s missing is free breakfast (which is a yuge consideration for me when picking a hotel). This place has a great pool area with water falls, water slide and an outdoor tiki hut. The rooms are relatively up to date and modern. The location is a big plus, it is directly across I-75 from the Disney main entrance and has a Starbucks, Chipotle, Golden Corral (which is where you can get a good breakfast, especially if you order it to-go) and 10 or more other restaurants. I think rooms here normally run about $100/night but if you have Radisson points it can cut that in half.
If the hotel shuttle is not convenient we use Uber to the get to and from the parks. Considering parking is now $20 at the parks an Uber ride to and from the park is about the same or maybe a little more, the convenience is well worth it.
We went on a Friday afternoon. We had not seen the closing show in a while and it is our favorite. One reason it is our favorite is that there is plenty of seating. Its located in an Amphitheater whereas the other parks shows are on the streets where comfortable seating is limited. Hollywood studios is preparing for a serious addition of Star Wars themed attractions if you are into that. I’ve always like 4D attractions so we made sure to visit the Muppet Vision 3D. Also, we usually go to the Indian Jones show but not this time.
We took Uber to the park and I’m glad we did. We have probably been to Epcot close to 20 times and this was the first time I had seen the parking lot full, I mean really full, people were parking in the grass which I never imagined would happen. We arrived late afternoon and I could see the people leaving were muttering about the park being crowded, add to this it was a Saturday and it was likely the park would only get more full. We stopped at guest services before entering the park to see if they could tell us if Magic Kingdom was as full, they could not give a definitive answer but advised that because we are Florida residents we could add “park hopper” to our ticket for $14 each, we took the bait. This way if Epcot was too busy for us we had a back up plan and could ride the monorail to Magic Kingdom.
Upon entering Epcot it is tradition to start at the Spaceship Earth ride, this is the ride inside the giant “golf ball”, its sets the mood for me. We walked around the part of Epcot close to the front entrance and the crowd was big but ok, we even stood in the non-fast pass line for Soaring and only had to wait about 30 minutes. But then we went out to the “world area” and the crow was too much. You couldn’t even swing your arms when you walked, the lines to try the different foods were long enough to take the fun out of it. We did get to sample a few of the food stations but we only made it about a quarter of the way around the world before we turned back. The line at the fish and chips station (which is open year round, not just during the festival) was short enough that we stopped and shared an order.
Leaving Epcot and glad we had added the park hopper to our pass for only $14 we took the monorail to Magic Kingdom. I always recommend taking the monorail whenever you can. I believe Walt Disney intended for the monorail to go throughout the entire property but some bean counter must had put a stop to it after he died. Anyways, it helps keep you in what I call the “Disney zone” where your imagination is active and you can best appreciate the experience (which ultimately leads to a better value for us prudent people).
Magic Kingdom turned out to be busy but not terrible. Main Street was decorated with Halloween decorations. We only had a couple hours left so we went straight to our favorites, Haunted Mansion, Mickey’s Philharmagic and Splash Mountain. A secret food value that we like is to purchase the loaded nachos from Pacos Bill’s (on the way to Splash Mountain). The secret is that there is a toppings bar with lots of toppings, load’em up and share the nachos, there is no other way for 2 people to feel full at Disney for only $12 (and don’t judge, yes it’s junk food but there really aren’t much better choices in the parks).
In closing, we have visited the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival 3 out of the last 4 years and it was never this busy. The weather was beautiful so I’m sure everyone else was thinking what we were thinking. If you have never been you should give it a try but do your best to avoid the crowds because it’s not very fun that way. Use Uber if you are comfortable with that and your hotel is close to the parks. If you are a Florida resident ask guest services about your ticket options, they are often much better than what is posted. Finally, always take a small soft cooler with bottles of water and snacks, this is the way of the truly prudent.