This past weekend, my brother and I got together just the two of us for what has become our annual get together—Bro Go—this year in Disney World! Last year for our first Bro Go 2013, we spent a fun-filled weekend in Memphis enjoying beer and conversations together. But as we planned last year, we went all out this year with a four-day weekend in Orlando.
I really have to give my brother all the credit for planning the whole trip. I have never been to Disney World before so I didn’t know any of the tips or tricks for getting the most out of the time there. But through my brother’s organizational skills and past experience, he planned an excellent trip.
We arrived at the Orlando airport from separate cities around noon on Friday. We were glad to see each other and excited about what the weekend held for us. We talked about the fun we were going to have on our bus ride from the airport to our hotel.
After checking in to one of the more budget-priced Disney hotels and a quick lunch, we took another bus ride over to Epcot.
For my first ever visit, I must say I was most impressed with how Disney takes care of the details. They have obviously been very successful at figuring this out with multiple parks throughout the world. Being someone who always pays attention to the details, I really appreciated this. In Disney, queue lines—never fun to stand in—were packed with activities and visual stimuli related to the ride. What an improvement over the continuous rope queue lines of other theme parks to be able to wander through Andy‘s bedroom on your way to the Toy Story ride with you being at the scale of the toys in his room.
Upon arrival, with his vast knowledge from prior visits, my brother pulled out a typed list of rides, shows, and activities he had prepared in advance for us each day. We began with a ride on “Mission Space”, a ride that gives you the realistic sensation of being launched into outer space on a rocket. There are two levels—Green and Orange—and we chose the more aggressive Orange. Before we were strapped into our capsule, I was impressed that the trainer for our mission was a well-known movie star, Gary Sinise, star from the movie Apollo 13. I continued to see this through out our time there with narrators and video tour guides being movie stars such as Morgan Freeman and Judy Dench. But then I realized, Disney was also a movie company and had ready access to professional actors.
We followed that up with a ride where you design your own roller-coaster and then get into an aircraft-like simulator to ride on your creation. It was a thrill ride but afterwards having trouble getting my balance and feeling a little queasy in the stomach, I probably wouldn’t include as many inversions in my next design.
One of the rides I had been hearing about for a number of years from my brother was “Test Track”. It was next on our list but unfortunately, when we came out from our roller coaster ride, we found there had been a downpour of rain and the ride was closed. But since we had a Fast Pass for that ride, we found out we could come back later. It turned out to be our last ride for the day and wow was it ever memorable?
Lines and wait times can be long in a Disney park, particularly for the more popular rides but with my brother’s excellent planning and the use of “Fast Passes”, we waited very little.
Our dinner that night was at a French restaurant in the World Showcase that looked so much like a brasserie I ate at in Paris earlier this year that I really thought I was back in Paris. Another attention to detail is that the wait staff all seemed to be from France, a facet that held true for other workers in other country establishments in the World Showcase.
Dinner was excellent but I ate so quickly, I forgot to get a photograph so I had to settle for capturing a photo of my dessert before it was consumed.
To get the most for our money (which I am sure what most people want), we were up early every day and back late every night. This was not a vacation to sleep in. We had an equally fun time at Magic Kingdom on Saturday and Hollywood Studios on Sunday taking in the exciting rides and well-done shows. Monday was Animal Kingdom, a day we mostly spent in the rain. The nights were filled with light shows, one of Cinderella’s Castle where lights projected on to the exterior made it look like a frozen castle that then thawed and then exploded into a rainbow of colors and images.
Each night also ended with a firework show. I particularly love fireworks displays and those at New Year’s and 4th of July are just two infrequent for me. Getting to see three different firework displays three nights in a row was a real treat.
Disney is obviously a kid friendly park with designated stroller parking lots.
And includes very easy access for those unable to walk the long distances, with many little scooters everywhere.
Another attention to detail was the creative use of three little circles for Mickey’s head in a multitude of places.
And thanks to this little wristband, Disney makes it so easy for us to part with our money without ever realizing it. From opening our hotel room door, to buying food, drink or souvenirs, to gaining accelerated access to rides, this wristband was our constant companion. I haven’t worn a wristwatch in many, many years but feeling it on my wrist; I must have looked at it a dozen times trying to check the time before our next ride. Maybe Disney could co-develop the next generation Disney band with Apple.
Even though this was just my first visit, I quickly discovered my favorite rides that I would want to ride again.
And shows that I would gladly see again. The filming of a car chase scene with cars zooming just inches apart was one I particularly enjoyed.
But thanks to my brother’s expert help, it won’t be my last trip, as I feel like a seasoned Disney goer ready for another visit. And now that I am of an age to have grandchildren, I have even more reasons to go back again (and again…and again).
But what of souvenirs you ask? Well I had been forewarned before the trip that I would see a lot of people wearing Mickey Mouse ears and if I bought those, I wouldn’t likely wear them when I got back home.
For me, instead of mouse ears, I chose a book about the man that brought those little mouse ears to life. I look forward to a good read about how Walt created all that wonderful world of magic!