The Happiest Place on Earth…

…I have always claimed is Shakespeare Santa Cruz, where I spent two blissful summers, and dream about spending more, but I suppose Disneyworld follows at a fairly close second.

I’ve never been to Disneyworld…have been to DisneyLAND many times, but I was really excited to go and check out the giant complex in Orlando. Plus it’s been over ten years since I’ve even been to Disneyland, so it was time for a refresher. Disneyworld is made up of four parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Disney/MGM studios. They also have two water parks, a bunch of resort hotels, Downtown Disney and Pleasure Island on the property. Whew!

I went on Monday with Brian (other assistant stage manager) and Ryan (assistant carpenter) and we met up later with Mitchell (wig supervisor) and Karl (company manager). We also later ran into Pia (“Lady of the Lake”) and Rick and Adam (both associate conductors/keyboards).

Ryan had never been to any Disney parks, so we had to do all the classic rides with him, including “It’s a Small World”, lame as it is. We were lucky to be at the park on a Monday in January, because we literally walked onto all the rides, only having to wait in line for “Peter Pan’s Flight” and “Soarin’”.

We parked at Epcot and then took the ferry over to Magic Kingdom to start the day. Here’s Ryan and Brian trying to look manly in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle:

Ryan and Brian

Ryan and Brian

We did a bunch of rides at Magic Kingdom, including “Pirates of the Caribbean” which now has a couple of Jack Sparrow animatrons, which are really realistic…which kind of makes the other animatrons look a bit dated, but oh well. The “Pirates” ride at Disneyworld also doesn’t have the drops that it has at Disneyland. We also went on “Haunted Mansion” and a bunch of others. The boys were able to get me to go on “Thunder Mountain” which was actually really fun, but I did skip “Space Mountain” which they rode twice. We had a weird experience at the “Lilo and Stitch” ride when it broke down and a staff member came in and had such a loud, weird conversation on the phone with someone else about the malfunction, that we thought it was part of the show!

Here’s Brian with Stitch:

In the afternoon we headed over to Epcot where we saw “Honey I Shrunk the Audience” which starred Eric Idle, strangely enough.  We went on “Soarin’” which was probably my favorite ride of the day – it was a simulated hang-gliding (actually probably more like parasailing) ride over a movie screen which showed all different views of places in California. There were fans on simulating wind, and they pumped in smells – pine for the forest, salt spray for the ocean. It was pretty awesome and made me miss California!

The boys also got me to go on “Test Track” which was a fairly tame ride until the end when the car you are in goes 65 miles an hour around a raised track. In the end though, it wasn’t that bad.

We met up with Karl and Mitchell for “Fantasmic” which has its own theater at Disney/MGM. It was as spectacular, as I remembered it being, although it has changed a lot. I think the last time I saw it “Lion King” and “Pocahontas” hadn’t even been released yet, so now there are elements of those movies in the show as well. After “Fantasmic” we headed back to Epcot for dinner. There is a whole area of Epcot which is made up of different “countries” – there are restaurants and shops for each. We had decided to eat at Morocco, but unfortunately got there just as the kitchen was closing. “Illuminations”, an amazing fireworks show on the lagoon, was just starting though, so we stayed and watched that. I also ran back to the United Kingdom to look in the windows of the shops and take a few pictures.

This was a great looking pub that I wish we could’ve gotten some dinner at!

This was a smaller version of Windsor Castle. 

If I ever make it back to Disneyworld, I would definitely want to stay for a few days and check out all the countries at Epcot as the shops and restaurants looked really great. We also didn’t even make it to Animal Kingdom or to MGM, except to see “Fantasmic”. But we did manage to accomplish a lot, nonetheless.

After “Illuminations” (during which, by the way, I ate my very first funnel cake, thanks to Mitchell! Yum!), we headed out to Downtown Disney, which is a shopping area with restaurants which is open late. We ate at House of Blues and then set off for Tampa. I was exhausted driving home, but Ryan did his best to poke me and keep me awake.

What a full, fun day!

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