taking a ride on spaceship earth

Tomorrow morning, I’m getting on an airplane with Anne, and we’re flying across the country to Orlando. MegaCon starts a week from yesterday, and we’re going to Florida a few days early to goof off at Disney World before the con gets started.

I’m not going to lie to you, Marge: I’m ALL CAPS EXCITED to go spend four days at Disney World. I haven’t been there since December of 1997 when we took the kids right after Flubber came out.

Boy, that trip was something. At the time, we were really struggling financially, and never would have been able to afford it. But because I’d finished shooting Flubber and done a ton of press for the movie, Disney did the whole trip for us as a special gift. They even gave us a guide — Hi Jeff! We miss you! — to take care of us the whole time we were there. I still can’t believe someone at Disney agreed to do that for the four of us, but to this day I am grateful for that kindness.

When we got to Florida, it was unseasonably cold, and the kids had forgotten their jackets in California. We had to spend way too much money — which we didn’t have at the time — on some pretty ridiculous Mickey Mouse sweatshirts for them. It made me think, at the time, of when the referee’s baggage doesn’t make a flight, so they wear silly souvenir gear from the home team’s gift shop during the game.

I think we were there for five days or so, and it was just fantastic. I remember taking the kids on Space Mountain, and Anne insisted on sitting behind them, holding onto their sweatshirts, the way a guy moving a mattress on the freeway puts one hand on it to stop it from flying away. You know at some level that it’s ridiculous and pointless, but you do it anyway. I remember offering to do this thing at the studio called “Star of the Day,” where I’d ride in a car down the main street of the Disney MGM studio and then do a ceremony in front of their Chinese Theatre, sort of a way to say thank you for the trip, and to help publicize Flubber. I’d done this right around the beginning of Star Trek, and the street was lined with people three or four bodies deep, cheering teenagers, the whole thing. When I did that in 1997, a few dozen people looked up from their ice creams and wondered who the hell that was in the car, and why they should care. Boy was that humiliating.

When we last went to Disney World over a decade ago, our lives were profoundly different than they are now. What I remember most clearly is how much fun the kids had, and how a major part of my fun was just being close to that. Anne and I keep talking about how we’re doing things in reverse: we spent the first part of our lives together with kids, being parents, and now we’re getting to do the things that young couples do, like travel and stay up late and sleep in on weekdays every now and then. I’m really looking forward to taking a few days with my wife to just goof off and have fun before I spend three days getting my geek on at the convention.

Since we haven’t been there in so long, I’d love it if you’d share your must-not-miss thing at Walt Disney World with us.

108 thoughts on “taking a ride on spaceship earth”

  1. Try the new Spiced Rum Dole Whips at Epcot. Delicious! Also, there’s a new FREE (yes, FREE) Collectible Card Game at the Magic Kingdom called Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. You can pick up free starter packs for everyone at the Firehouse on Main Street.

  2. The aviary at Animal Kingdom. It’s on the tiger walk and people are so oblivious. They walk through, one minute tops, and they never stop to realize that they are absolutely surrounded by birds. The birds hide. You walk in and you think that there are none there. And then you spot a few and it’s like, oh, look, birds. But if you stop and you wait and you actually pay attention, you’ll see that there are little ones, up high in the canopy, and mid-size ones hiding in the branches, and bigger ones on the ground, dozens and dozens of them, all different, all beautiful, all ignored by almost everyone who walks through.

    The most beautiful of them all is the golden pheasant and it’s almost always hanging out in the same place, by the back wall, about five feet before the exit. Stop, crouch down, look into the shadows and keep looking. Eventually it’ll move and you’ll realize it’s been watching you all along and that it is simply stunningly beautiful, more gorgeous than a peacock.

    (Orlando resident + Mom of an animal-obsessed child + Former season-pass-holder = Excessive knowledge of Animal Kingdom. :) )

  3. As a Walt Disney World cast member, I have some weird favorites. I never leave Epcot without having ridden Living with the Land, nor can I leave the Magic Kingdom without at least one ride on the PeopleMover. One of my favorite things to do is go up to people taking pictures of each other and offer to take a shot of them all together; so few people are willing to ask, and it makes me feel awesome.

    If you visit Mission:Space any afternoon Tuesday-Thursday, you might run into Scott (Basic Instructions) while he’s there in his pretend spaceman outfit, packing people onto the ride.

    Oh, and right now for the Flower and Garden show, the Canada Pavilion is selling Dole Whip (pineapple soft-serve ice cream) with a shot of spiced rum over the top. How can you top that?!

      1. Yes indeed! They changed the name to “Tomorrowland Transit Authority” for a good long while, but recently changed it back. There’s never a line, and it’s always a delight.

        1. Pedway People Mover has always been one of my favorites. We were just in Disney this past January for the first time since ’98; I was glad to see it there, still.

      2. If you’re into the retro, the carousel of progress is a real hoot, also in tomorrowland I believe. Designed by Walt himself and yes still running (at least as of last August).

        Any/all of the indoor food in Epcot’s World Showcase is absolutely fantastic (and as close to authentic as it can be). I favor the German beer-garden/buffet, but make sure to at least grab a draft on the street there.

        Take the monorail from Kingdom to Epcot (or vice versa), something you don’t have in CA. The swing thru/over Epcot before reaching the station is a nice design touch.

        Also, the climax of the backlot ride at the Hollywood park is pretty impressive, just from a technological perspective, from one geek to another.

  4. So many magical things to do!
    Ride MISSION: Space, and REALLY imagine yourself being in a ship
    Spend some time just slowly wandering in the parks, especially Animal Kingdom, just absorbing in all the sights and sounds, people watching, looking for the little touches and details
    Eat the Kitchen Sink dessert at the Beaches & Cream restaurant (google it!), eating at the sci-fi dine-in theatre is pretty geeky and cool
    One thing that was a cool experience was riding Big Thunder mountain railroad while the fireworks were going off, I’ll always remember that.
    Have a great time!

    1. I second the Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream! They also serve an eggplant sandwich at B&C that is the most amazing sandwich I’ve ever eaten.

  5. My absolute favorite thing to do at Disney is to eat at Ohana restaurant at the Polynesian resort. It’s family style Hawaiian food and the atmosphere is amazing; you can even see Cinderella’s Castle from there. You should prepare to spend a lot of time at the Studios, it has changed the most since 1997. The Rock N Roller Coaster is great, and the Lights Motors Action stunt show is a MUST! There’s also a new Fantasy Land section at the Magic Kingdom with Belle’s house and a new Little Mermaid ride. You’re going to have a blast!! :D :D

  6. For a fancy, fantastic, amazing, unforgettable romantic dinner – Victory and Albert’s at the Grand Floridian. To get your geek on at the Magic Kingdom, check out Sorcerers of Magic. It’s a card game where you battle the bad guys from the various Disney movies. You can each get one pack of cards a day so its important to start at the beginning of your trip, even if you don’t play that day. I would love to go back with just my husband so we can play.

  7. Can’t miss: breakfast at the Grand Floridian Cafe (surprisingly inexpensive food that tastes heavenly!). Also, I’m told it’s difficult to complete, but it’s always fun to try: drinking around the world at Epcot.
    Use the fast passes; don’t wait in the crazy Spring Break lines at Magic Kingdom.

    More your style: if you have a chance, Sea World is having its Bands, Brew, and Barbecue festival now too! 25 different craft brews to sample! Sea World is much closer to the convention center, too.

    Have a fun week at Disney! See you next Saturday!

  8. Best restaurant is Ohana’s in The Polynesian. It’s an all-you-can eat Polynesian/Hawaiian dinner, they bring skewers full of meat to your table. Plus pinepple bread, pasta, dessert. It is seriously awesome. If you go at the right time you can watch the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom.

    1. Wil, listen to this man. I have been with my family probalbly 7 times in the last 10 years. The dinner at Ohana’s is far and away the best meal we have ever had there.

      1. When we have guests come in from out of town, they always want to go to ‘Ohana — it’s definitely a favorite. And since they pipe in the fireworks music from the Magic Kingdom, I can watch Wishes and have all the feels while cramming coconut pineapple bread pudding covered with ice cream into my mouth.

  9. WDW is such a fun and romantic place for adults to enjoy. Apart from Fireworks at MK and Fantasmic at HS, you’ll want to find an evening enjoying EPCOT to its finest. That place is amazing. Not sure where you are staying, but driving and around and parking yourself is annoying. Make sure you take a boat at least one time (HS to Epcot is a great choice). It’s too late for normals to make reservations at some of the best restaurants, but note WDW has some amazing amazing food. The Dole Whip mentioned previously is a must have.

  10. Well, MY recommendation is that you definitely plan a visit to some of the Downtown Disney Westside shops and visit ME. >_>

    Actually, not gonna lie, there’s a pretty cool didgeridoo player over there. And now that the Irish festival’s started, there’s a lot of fun Irish music and food all over! So definitely hit up Downtown Disney regardless of whether I’m working or not. ;)

  11. ‘m going to second the safari ride at Animal Kingdom (try to get there just as the park opens and the animals are just starting to stake out their turf for the day) and Mission:Space at EPCOT.
    IN M:S, the line getsdivided into groups of four. I got matched with a roughly 12 year-old geekling, and his parents. He was just a little too excited to be there. As we walked through the line, he was expounding on all of the displayed historic ships, going into details not on the display cards. By the time we reached the actual ride, I had the most fascinating feeling that I was watching my 12-year old self experiencing the activity.

  12. If you’re a long-time Disneylander, there are a few things at the Magic Kingdom that are now gone from out here: PeopleMover, Carousel of Progress, and Country Bear Jamboree. At Animal Kingdom, the puppet/musical show Finding Nemo the Musical is pretty good. The Tower of Terror at Disney Studios is probably superior to the one at California Adventure, and Spaceship Earth at EPCOT has gotten refurbed in the last few years with a different ending and narrator. Have fun!

  13. So many things to do!! I would say if you can, catch the Off Kilter performance in Epcot. Grab a dessert to go from the Kona restaurant at the Poly, eat it on the beach while watching the fireworks. You can NOT miss Soarin in the land pavilion in Epcot. And one of my favorite attractions in Magic Kingdom is Mickey’s Philharmagic!! Whatever you end up seeing and doing, I hope you have a wonderful trip!!!

  14. Anything at Tomorrowland is awesome. The first time I went to Disney (when I was 4) I kept dragging my parents back to that area of the park simply because it just felt so cool to be surrounded by the retro-futuristic space station feel of it.
    Tomorrowland Transit Authority is the overhead tram that winds throughout Tomorrowland. It’s relaxing and perfect for when you need to take a break.
    Disney’s Carousel of Progress, the ancient animatronic show is still cool after a bajillion years.
    And yes…Spaceship Earth at Epcot is the ultimate in cheesy nostalgia. OMG the mural at the entrance is like a 1960’s sci-fi paperback cover. Totally sweet!

  15. I went back to Disney World for the first time in like 11 years last September, was also my first real holiday away in the same amount of time, I ended up going on my own as my best friend wasn’t able to go. I stayed at a Disney resort for 10 days and had a blast, was nice to have some Orlando sunshine instead of the usual UK rain ;)

  16. I personally have not been to Disney World but my good friend’s daughter works there part time (and, yes, my friend gets to shop at the employee store when she visits – the merchandise is basically the unclaimed lost-and-found items). I’m not sure what her daughter is doing now, but she was either Chip or Dale for awhile then she was Jessie from Toy Story 2. My friend highly recommends the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, an All American fare restaurant set up like a drive-in theater with 1950s car booths for seating, it might take you back to your Stand By Me days: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/hollywood-studios/sci-fi-dine-in-theater/

  17. I grew up vacationing in Disney World and as an adult, my favorite locale is EPCOT’s World Showcase. And what’s nice is that the Flower & Garden Festival is going on right now and they’ve decided to add themed food and drink this year. I’m a huge fan of the yearly Food & Wine festival, and so the addition of beer and fruity concoctions to the F&G sounds super-great to me!

    https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/garden-marketplaces/

  18. Make a dinner reservation at the Rose and Crown on the lagoon at Epcot for the half hour or so before the fireworks are scheduled to start, and when you check in with the hostess, ask to sit on the back patio. The view of the light show is awesome.

  19. I don’t have any Disney advice, but I am someone who had kids young, and I’m very comforted at the idea of you and Anne doing everything in reverse–I spent most of my twenties parenting, and when my kids turn 18, I’ll be 41. I’m hoping to spend a lot of time doing everything my husband and I didn’t get the chance to do as young marrieds!

    1. Same here! My husband and I started out Long-Distance and became parents very shortly after I moved to be with him. I love our kids but feel like I missed out on the young couple stuff. Nice to know I haven’t missed out (and might actually be better off what with finances and all. :-))

  20. Totally jealous! LOVE WDW. You definitely need to check out the Sorcerer’s Game!! We ended up spending 3 days at MK to play it! Our faves to do are: Rock n Roll Coaster, Star Tours, Tower of Terror, Fantasmic! Splash Mountain. Who am I kidding…it’s all FUN! ENJOY yourself and looking forward to seeing you in KC and Denver!

  21. I tried to think of just one thing, but I couldn’t, so I stopped trying.

    Yes, we still have a People Mover, and you should definitely ride it, preferably at dusk. I would put a premium on things that aren’t at Disneyland, and unique to Disney World, including it and the Carousel of Progress for nostalgia. Unique thrill rides not to miss are Everest (Animal Kingdom) and Aerosmith’s Rock-n-roller coaster (Hollywood Studios). You should also ride Spaceship Earth in EPCOT and take the last safari at Animal Kingdom (it’s the best).

    But for me, Disney is about the special experiences, not the rides themselves. Like at EPCOT, I recommend eating at the Germany buffet and dancing in the hall, drinking a pint at the Rose & Crown in the UK and singing with the Hat Lady, and the water fountains outside of Journey into Imagination. You have to see them to know what I mean. You should also drink around the world, and get the shirt to prove it.

    At Magic Kingdom, watch the Dapper Dans, eat at Sleepy Hollow, and take pictures with characters. At Hollywood, interact with the street performers. At Animal Kingdom, stroll the trails, talk to cast members about their conservation work, take the train to conversation station, and drink a Disney-only Amber Ale before getting on the Safari.

    Share a great romantic dinner at Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Before or after, enjoy the outdoor fire pit and savannah views.

    Oh, and Orlando Brewing Company’s brews are on tap at the Wave bar in the Contemporary. You’re welcome.

    Enjoy!

  22. You should stay in Orlando a few more days and go to the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. I’m sure they’d let you in, and Neil Gaiman will be there. http://iafa.highpoint.edu/annual-conference/next/

  23. Best advise we can give you (from one geeky family to another) aside from go slow and enjoy it is the following:

    Stay for the fireworks in Magic Kingdom
    Ride Star Tours in Hollywood Studios at least 3 times (it is different every time generally)
    Play Toy Story Mania but get Fast Passes early in Hollywood Studios
    Play Buzz Lightyear but get separate cars.. It is harder but more fun to compare scores at the end
    Eat at Sci-Fi Drive in- the food is ok, but the 50’s/60’s sci-fi theming is awesome and silly
    Download and use the new My Disney Experience app, very useful for planning and while in the park
    Take a Keys to the Kingdom Tour, worth it for the information and greta to see behind the scenes things lie, underground areas, etc
    Ride the Great Movie Ride in Hollywood Studios
    See the Flights of Wonder show in Animal Kingdom
    Expedition Everest is a must for both a fun coaster and for the theming of the queue as well as the actual ride
    Explore Animal Kingdom, bring water and very comfortable shoes as it is just a relaxing stroll for hours

    For a fellow beer lover there are many new craft beer as well as mainstream options:
    Great beers in Italy and Germany, etc in EPCOT
    Some decent ones in Africa at Animal Kingdom as well as at the Animal Kingdom Lodge
    Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom is said to have a few decent beers but may be a bit mainstream
    La Cava de Tequilla has a huge rang of Tequillas as well as a few Mexican Beers and wines

    Again the most important thing to do is go, relax and have fun! We stay at the Wilderness Lodge as it is very tranquil and relaxing. As we go without children it is a great time to just enjoy eachothers company and if the mood strikes you, all parks have free wifi for twitter and blog posting! Feel free to drop us a line if you have any other questions.
    Daza

  24. As a former Cast Member (maybe again someday :-D) one thing I miss is Voices of Liberty- they’re an a cappella group that performs under the dome in the American Pavilion which makes the music sound glorious. Epcot is also a great place to see characters in their “home countries” with usually not as much wait as the other parks. And I will always have a special place in my heart for the Studios (it was my “home park” while I was there) so if you want a hidden gem, check out the exhibit in the Animation Building- they always have some amazing behind-the-scenes process work from one of the recent releases. Oh! and I have to second the Dole Whip recommendations and add that the churros are also simply scrumptious :-)

  25. Victoria & Albert’s is an absolutely amazing restaurant. I’m a jaded New York foodie, and it was one of the best meals of my life. Be forewarned – dinner for two will run at least $400, more if you include the wine pairings or any of the upgrades.

    Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios and Soarin’ at Epcot are two of the best rides.

  26. If you are going to be venturing beyond the Disney area (but still Orlando) Islands of Adventure is lots of fun. Great rides, Marvel characters wandering about, all around lots o’ fun. I pretty much grew up here, which basically means we only hit Disney when we had friends who could get us in. :)

    Have an amazing time!

    (Totally bummed that we can’t be at Megacon this weekend! This is what happens when all prospective babysitters for your little one are geeks, too. :) )

  27. We are Disney fanatics. I just got back a few weeks ago from running the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon. So, forgetting the rides, be sure to eat at O’hana at the Polynesian Resort for dinner. It is FABULOUS (notice the use of all caps in the word fabulous).

    They also have a cool card game at the Magic Kingdom called Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. You sign up just as you enter the park on the left near the barber shop. It is the geekiest thing in Magic Kingdom. Sort of like Pokemon had a love affair with Bambi and out popped a Disney inspired card game. You get these “spell cards” and there are spots all over the Magic Kingdom you can fight off horribly terrifying enemies with such powerful spells as “Apprentice Mickey’s Broomsticks” and “Flynn Ryder’s Flying Frying Pan.” Perfect for kids and man-boys alike

  28. Hey, Wil. I was in the Indiana Jones stunt show when you were Star of the Day the first time. (I was the German Mechanic.) I remember you visiting us backstage and hanging out at our trailer. I was a huge ST:TNG fan, so it was awesome!

    The main advice I give to anyone visiting Disneyworld is don’t eat in the parks. Grab the monorail to one of the hotels. Better food. Costs less. Silverware and plates. And you get a break from the heat and crowds.

  29. Wil,

    As someone who just went in December:

    You MUST eat at The Beats Castle in Magic Kingdom (eat in one of the rooms off the main dinning hall) and try the Potato Leak Soup and the Roast (I still have dreams about it), and have a Bavarian pretzel and beer in Germany at Epcot.

    If you can do so absolutely see the closing shows, but if you must pick just one go with either the one at Epcot or Hollywood Studio.

    At Hollywood Studio you ABSOLUTELY MUST RIDE Toy Story Mania! It is an interactive Arcadia game! The Backlot Tour is also a must and is fun and full of feels.
    At Magic Kingdom the Peter Pan ride in so cute and full of whimsy, Thunder Mountain is always fun, and Hunted Mansion is a MUST.
    Epcot is full of so many cool science rides and yummy food that you can’t go wrong (unless you get motion sick then don’t go on Mission Space).
    Animal Kingdoms Safari is fun and the park can be done in a half day as it is not as big in terms of walking distance as the others.

    Insider Tip: at the end of ever ride there is some kind of interactive play area for all ages. Even if you do not want to go on the ride you can still access these areas by going in through the gift shop exit on each ride (space mountain has a tons of cool old time arcade games so bring your quarters). Hope you guys have a blast!

  30. Go on rides that Disneyland doesn’t have or those that are better in Orlando
    * Aerosmith
    * Test track
    * Haunted Mansion
    * The Great Movie Ride
    * Indiana Jones show

    Skip
    * Everest – this is so overrated and boring. Wanna go on a fun roller coaster go to Universal and ride The Hulk or Mummy the ride or something actually fun and thrilling. While you are at it go to Island of Adventure and ride Harry Potter and Spiderman.
    * Animal Kingdom because it’s not that good actually. Buschgardens is a much better zoo with a lot better rides. But if you do go the only ride that is good is the Safari.
    * Fancy places like Victoria and Alberts. You will be bored and uncomfortable. Are you really going to Disney World to eat? Didn’t think so ;-)

  31. My family used to go to Disney every 5 years or so when I was younger. It is definitely different going to the park once you are over the legal drinking age, but I still manage to turn into a big kid every time I go. First things first I feel like it is a requirement to make sure you get one of those chocolate covered mickey head ice cream pops because a) they are delicious and b) what’s more Disney than that?

    As for things to do:
    They reintroduced the Captain EO show in Epcot. For nerdy cliche nostalgia times it’s always fun to watch that.

    Fantasmic in Hollywood Studios is a great after dark show that encompasses many favorite Disney characters.

    Mickey’s Philharmagic in Magic Kingdom uses all the music from classic Disney cartoons and adds a 3D interactive experience to it starring Donald Duck

    And I can never do Disney without riding Pirates of the Caribbean at least 5 times.

    I hope you have a great time. Totally jealous of you for going instead of me.

  32. If you like roller coasters, Expedition Everest (at Animal Kingdom) is incredible. Other than that, I’ve heard Soarin’ and Mission: Space (Epcot) are amazing, but the lines were too long when we were there last Christmas. Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor (Magic Kingdom – Tomorrowland) and Toy Story Midway Mania (Hollywood Studios) were a blast, too.
    You and Anne have fun!!

  33. For me a trip to Disney World isn’t complete without getting a swirled soft serve cone from the dinosaur stand at MGM or whatever they call it these days. It was close to the Indiana Jones show. I love the dino stand and I love the swirled cone and I wish I had one right now!

  34. If you go to Epcot. Make sure to go on the Space Ship Earth ride and see the foxy scientist during the 1970’s part. I rode the ride twice so I could get a picture of her the second time. Totally worth it.

  35. Keep an eye out for the various Hidden Mickeys around the site ; or better yet use the app http://www.hiddenmickeyguy.com/ ( I am nothing to do with the app or the site ) . Most of all Enjoy your time with Anne ; Sharon and I have been together 20 years and are only just about to take our two kids ( 9 and 4 ) to Paris Disney; we maybe havent done it the same wrong way round but we sure took our time getting there.

    1. When?? It IS a Death Star. No better way to hide something than in plain sight. As soon as the Aladdin/Lion King/Toy Story generation finishes their masters and PhD programs and take over the world’s financial markets and science research centers, the subliminal instructions from the movies will kick in and Disney will conquer the solar system!

      1. Don’t be too proud of the technological terror they’ve constructed. The ability to conquer the solar system is insignificant next to the power of The Force.

  36. I’m a Deaf man who absolutely LOVES Disney World. With that said, forget the rides, you need to see the shows! Hear me out, first… Look at your Disney maps in Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM) and check out when the shows are going to have a Sign Language interpreter present (it’ll be listed with the accommodations, usually). If your maps don’t show anything, then check out which shows you’re interested in and see if the signs have any information. They usually have 1-2 shows per day with an interpreter present and they do a phenomenal job! I especially enjoy the “Beauty & the Beast” show with interpreters. It’s an incredible Deaf culture exposure and it makes every show worth seeing, in my opinion.

  37. My husband and I honeymooned in Disney World, and go back every couple of years for 2-3 weeks. :)

    Since you haven’t been there in a long time, you’ll need to catch up on all the new things: Animal Kingdom Park [must do – Everest roller coaster], and the nearby Animal Kingdom Lodge [go to Boma or Jiko for dinner and make sure you check out the animals wandering by].

    In Hollywood Studios, Pixar Place will be new [must do – Toy Story Mania]. Since it seems you guys like cheesy stuff, eat at Sci-Fi Dine in Theatre. The food is good, but the atmosphere is what makes it! The restaurant is inside, but made to look like a drive-in movie theatre, complete with clips from old ’50s movies (like Attack of the Giant Gila Monster!). The tables are cars. You must make a reservation to get a car, though – and you can often do that on the day you want to go.

    Magic Kingdom has an entire new section of Fantasyland. Go to Tom Sawyer’s Island for a new interactive game. And watch the fireworks from the Rose Garden!

    Finally, EPCOT will take up a lot of time – the Flower and Garden festival is on right now, and they have international food booths all around the lagoon. These are great for snacks/tapas! A great uncrowded view of Illuminations is in Morocco. If you have time, do the Behind the Seeds tour to get a view of the hydroponic farming that Disney does.

    Oh, and if you have the time, visit DisneyQuest in Downtown Disney and play the Pirates of the Caribbean game and Fix it Felix (from Wrech it Ralph)!!

    Have a great time!

  38. I enjoy making rage faces when my picture is being taken at the beginning of Spaceship Earth and then watching my angry self take vacations in the future. Also, shots in Germany.

  39. Hey Wil,

    So I recently started working at a police dispatch centre in mid-western Canada. It is staffed, primarily by single moms, who are the hardest working, most amazing people I’ve had the privilege of knowing. In the last few months, they have been taking their kids to Disneyland, Disney World and on Disney Cruises. It’s just, I don’t know, a trend or something. But you know, it is so amazing to see these hard-working and frankly tired women come back with huge smiles on their faces, as they describe the excitement their kids, and let’s face it, they themselves felt when they got hugs from Mickey and Co.

    Enjoy your trip.

  40. These are all awesome suggestions, mine is slightly different. I’m a huge Disney fan, but due to a lack of funds have only been able to visit occasionally. In the last couple of years the folks who write the Unofficial Guide, and run Touring Plans.com have come up with an app, “Lines” that makes touring a pleasure. “Lines” will tell you the waiting time for all the lines for the rides, it’s got other stuff like touring plans and menus, but it’s true glory is waiting times. It is amazing, if you don’t want to do tons of planning, you can just check times, or even create your own optimized plan that you update on the fly.

    The last time I visited I have very limited time, and I used the app and it really helped me navigate the park. The app is free, but to use it you need to be a member of Touring Plans. The fee is so minimal in relation to what you will get out of it. I’m in no way affiliated with this site, but you asked for my best tip and this is it. Everyone I’ve told about this has said how it made a behemoth of a resort manageable and fun. I encourage you to check it out, you won’t be disappointed .

  41. As one of the legions of Cast Members at Walt Disney World whom I’m sure totally geeked out at this post, we welcome you! I feel ALL CAPS EXCITED for you in reading this. It’s always cool to hear someone talk so lovingly about a place in which I work and are passionate about. Bunches has changed from ’97 to now. This may be tl;dr, so I apologize. I get a little in-depth with this stuff.

    Magic Kingdom: Out of all of the parks, this one has probably changed the least from your last experience it also has the most of the attractions that would be similar to what you’d find out in Disneyland. Like many others who have suggested it, I’d try out Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, just an experience of technology and also to collect a bit of the cards. The spell cards have a feel like Magic: The Gathering cards and the first deck is free, like any good addictive substance. Stop by the Fire House on Main Street or behind the Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square. It’s a fun little thing to do in-between attractions and to see how they fit an ARG inside Magic Kingdom. Also, yes we still have the Peoplemover and it is awesome. Head back to the New Fantasyland at least to see it. Journey of the Little Mermaid is the same as in Disney California Adventure, but our space is just so much cooler. While back there, try a LeFou’s Brew in Gaston’s Tavern. Sorry, it’s not actually beer, but it’s still really good.

    Epcot: Everyone’s suggested Mission:Space, but I’d also suggest Test Track. They just re-did it and in their reboot they made the whole attraction super Tron like, which I actually prefer. I always do Living with the Land as well, but that seems to be a cast thing overall for some reason. And, of course, Spaceship Earth because it’s the title of the post. Right now is also the International Flower and Garden Festival, which they have the marketplace foodstuffs this year. Everyone’s raving with the Dole Whip and Spiced Rum, but the Frushi (a fruit sushi with strawberries, pineapple, cantaloupe, and coconut rice wrapped in honeydew melon) in Japan is also exceptionally good.

    Disney’s Hollywood Studios: The three major attractions that are always hit are Toy Story Midway Mania, Rock N’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith and Tower of Terror. Midway Mania is exactly the same as it is in Disney California Adventure, so that might be a take it or leave it. Rock is unique to WDW in the US and Tower is a completely different experience than its California counterpart, so those might still be of interest. A lot of the others are either shows or things that have comparable counterparts at Disneyland. I’d also suggest running into the Citizens of Hollywood down on Hollywood Blvd. and Sunset Blvd. They’re fun improv style shows and if you see Jack Diamond out on the streets (he’s the talent agent/close up magician), say hi for me. He’s got a fantastic show. For dining, I’m along with everyone else on the Sci-Fi Dine In. I usually describe it as MST3K: The restaurant. There are some trailers and clips from some MSTied movies in the reel as well.

    Disney’s Animal Kingdom: This will probably be the most different to all of the parks from what you’re used to. My biggest suggestion for Animal Kingdom is take it slow. If you rush the park, you’re not going to get the whole thing and probably not like it as much. The park is designed to be explored. If you want to be an animal watcher, there are two big trails Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in Africa and Maharajah Jungle Trek in Asia which have many opportunities to watch the live animals in very natural habitats. The two key attractions for Animal Kingdom are Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest. I also highly suggest Dinosaur as well. It’s probably my favorite attraction at Walt Disney World period because it’s so cheesy in plot that it feels like living through a later Mike era MST3K movie (noticing a trend here) while also being a really fun attraction. It’s essentially Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, but with dinos and time travel.

    There’s an app store app called “My Disney Experience” for Walt Disney World, which is a free Disney supported app, that may assist in on the fly planning and as a digital map if you so wish as well. Though there’s a chance our paths would cross (I’m in the parks all the time on my days off. One of the perks.), I probably, out of privacy and politeness, would probably be too hesitant to address y’all. I hope your new experience is a great one and that you and Anne have a wonderful time! If you want or would like more, doubtful after my essay here, I’m happy to assist how I can.

    Oh, and one more thing. If you want to experience a little bit of self-aggrandizing, in Journey into Imagination starring Figment in Epcot they still have one of the models of Weebo from Flubber in the queue and over at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Disney MGM Studios), I believe they still have a picture of you on their wall of fame behind the podium. Just as a thought.

  42. The 14th through the 17th a tribal bagpipe and drum band will be performing at Pleasure Island on the purple stage. @albanachmusic http://www.albannachmusic.com/ They are fantastic. If you feel like leaving the Disney area the city of Winter Park has a very quaint street called Park Avenue. Sir Paul McCartney just bought a home in Winter Park and frequents Park Ave. The Charles Hosmer Museum has an amazing collection of Tiffany glass. Nothing like it in the world. http://www.morsemuseum.org/. The Enzian theater shows independent films and serves food and adult beverages during the film. The Eden Bar attached to outside the theater is good fun. See the Orlando the locals enjoy.

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