A Quick Weekend at Disney World
My weekend at Disney World was a fabulous experience and it came at just the right time! I loved escaping the monotony of everyday life to have fun with my best friend in the warm sunshine of Florida. We rode some fun rides, ate a lot of great food and drank some fantastic cocktails. The trip was a little bit of whirlwind, but I wanted to share what we did and ate. My friend had never been to Disney before this trip, so we focused a lot more on experiencing the parks versus cramming in a ton of rides. If you are more of scenery, shows and overall experience kind of person, this post may give you an idea of things you’d like to do if you visit Disney World anytime soon!
A Weekend at Disney World
Where We Stayed
The Holiday Inn at Disney Springs
Since we were just spending the weekend at Disney World (3 nights total) at Disney, we wanted to save money while also getting the most out of our trip. We decided to stay at a Disney Springs Resort Area Hotel, the Holiday Inn to be specific. Several major chain hotels, like Holiday Inn, Best Western, and Hilton, make up the Disney Springs Hotels. These hotels are eligible for Extra Magic Hours and 60-Day FastPass+, in addition to being a short walk away from Disney Springs and providing transportation to the parks. Staying at a Disney Springs hotel gave us early access to Magic Kingdom on Friday and Animal Kingdom on Saturday. We beat the crowds going into the parks, plus this was the ONLY way we were able to ride Avatar Flight of Passage without a FastPass. We also visited two parks per day, so the extra hour was nice to keep from feeling rushed. Staying near Disney Springs was also convenient because it was opened long after the parks. We hit up Starbucks the nights before we went to the parks and bought bagels and muffins for breakfast. Extra Magic Hours started at 8 am, which meant that we caught the shuttle to the parks a little before 7. There wasn’t much time for breakfast, so we’d eat while waiting for the shuttle. Our hotel also had complimentary coffee out early, so we were set. This kept us from having to buy breakfast in the parks! We probably could have sprung for a cheaper hotel, but I think the location and perks were worth it.
What We Did
Friday: Magic Kingdom & Hollywood Studios
On Friday morning we headed to Magic Kingdom first. I loved starting the trip with seeing Cinderella’s Castle first thing. It’s always the most magical part of Disney for me! We rode Under the Sea: Voyage of the Little Mermaid first thing and then had breakfast at Be Our Guest (more about that below). After breakfast, we walked around the park picking rides with shorter wait times as we went. My friend had never been to Disney World, so I made sure we spent a lot of time just taking in the sights. It did mean less time for rides, but we rode classics like It’s a Small World and Pirates of the Carribean. Basically, every ride we rode had us in a boat riding through scenes from a movie or theme. The park was moderately crowded, due to it being a marathon weekend, but it wasn’t too bad.
We opted to see more characters in Hollywood Studios instead of waiting in the long ride lines. We met Chewbacca, Olaf, and Mike & Sully (Monster’s Inc.). We were able to snag FastPasses in advance for Toy Story Mania, which is one of my favorite rides EVER. I remembered loving it on Jesse and I’s honeymoon, but it was honestly better than I remembered. I could ride that ride for hours and still enjoy it. Definitely one of my top ride recommendations! It is also a 4D ride designed like a midway game. So you shoot at targets as you ride through, taking sharp turns and spinning occasionally. You can’t help but laugh and squeal with joy. For real.
Saturday: Animal Kingdom & Epcot
Bright and early Saturday morning, with day-old bagels and free coffee in hand, we headed to Animal Kingdom. Extra Magic Hours started at 8 am, but they were letting people in by 7:30. Our morning goal was to ride Avatar Flight of Passage because people had been raving about how great it was. The wait time was about 90 minutes before the park was technically even open, but it moved pretty quickly. The line started quite far from the ride itself, so we felt like we walked at a slow but steady pace from the end of the line to the front. The ride definitely lived up to the hype! It’s 4D as well, but instead of sitting in a seat your on something that’s more like a bike. Similar to one of those motorcycle video games at an arcade. Except the “bike” is meant to be a Banshee (flying creatures from the Avatar movies). The Banshee moves and you can feel it “breathing” as you go through the ride. If you’ve seen Avatar, then you know the visuals are phenomenal and it translates so well into a ride. It was equal parts stunning and fun. Definitely worth our wait time!
After Flight of Passage, we rode Kilimanjaro Safaris, another MUST in my book. It’s an imitation of an African safari, so you ride through the savanna and see real-life giraffes, zebras, elephants, lions and more! I’ve ridden this ride a handful of times and seen a lot of the animals pretty close to the truck. This ride in particular was fun because it was still early and the lions were actually out and about in their area.W e made sure to see the Festival of the Lion King show as well. It’s a fantastic show featuring songs from the movie, acrobats and a guy that dances with fire!
After lunch, we headed to Epcot. Since we were planning on drinking around the World, we started with riding Soarin’. This ride is a flight simulator in a huge IMAX dome. Your feet hang as your seat is lifted into the air and you “fly” around the world, taking in the sights of Paris, the Alps, the Great Wall of China and more! In case you cant tell, this is also one of my favorite rides! After Soarin’ we headed to the World Showcase, both to drink and to take in the sights. The World Showcase has always been one of my favorite parts about Disney, even when I was a kid. The architecture and culture that they pull from each of the countries is stunning. There are eleven total countries or Pavillions: Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan, Colonial America, Italy, Germany, China, Norway and Mexico all surrounding a large lagoon in the middle of the park. Each Pavillion offers a taste of the country’s architecture, food, drinks, music and various goods in the shops. I could, and have, spend an entire day just on the World Showcase! Aside from drinking and eating, we got to meet Princess Jasmine in Morocco. After we made our way around the world, we headed to Sea Base. We had dinner at The Coral Reef and afterwards checked out the aquarium itself. The aquarium houses a giant Caribbean Coral Reef and is actually one of the largest man-made reefs in the world. After the aquarium, we rode The Seas with Nemo and Friends, another ride-through style ride with characters from Finding Nemo. After all of this, we headed back towards the World Showcase Lagoon for the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth fireworks show (which is ending later in 2019).
Sunday: Disney Springs
After sleeping in and having a relaxing morning in our hotel room, we headed back over to Disney Springs for brunch and a little shopping. Brunch was lovely and walking around Disney Springs made me realize that there is SO much to see and do there! I have a mental list of some of the restaurants I want to try next time, and there is also a Cirque du Soleil show that I’d love to see. I picked up a few little gifts for Mara at the giant World of Disney store before heading to the airport to fly home.
What We Ate
Earl of Sandwich – Earl of Sandwich has been my favorite sandwich place since Jesse and I went to Disney World for our honeymoon in 2007. They have a large menu of gourmet hot sandwiches all served on their artisan bread. The bread makes the sandwich. It’s soft but slightly flaky on the outside. It’s just SO good. Whenever Jesse and I travel we always check to see if there is an Earl of Sandwich. We’ve also been known to run across airports during layovers to get it. So going here for lunch when my plane landed was a no-brainer for me.
Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar and Restaurant – Enzo’s Hideaway is a speakeasy-themed tunnel bar in Disney Springs. The menu is Italian, as are all of the servers’ accents (which is fun!). I had the Penne Rigate, a pasta dish with chicken sausage and broccolini in a creamy tomato-based sauce with a glass of Farnese Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. It was DELICIOUS and the d’Abruzzo paired well because it’s such a smooth, slightly delicate red wine. We also had to try a few of the specialty cocktails after dinner. I had the Holly Hill, which is made with Ketel One, St. Germain, Soda, and Prosecco. I’m not usually a fan of vodka, but I do like St. Germain with champagne, so I figured it would be good with prosecco too. It was so tasty! I definitely wouldn’t mind recreating it at home. Overall, the atmosphere was really cool and the drinks were delicious. It was a little pricey, so maybe not the best spot for the whole family. Definitely perfect for a night out with friends or a date night!
STK Kitchen – We had brunch at STK Kitchen on Sunday before I headed home. We sat on their patio because it wasn’t too hot out yet and people watched while we sipped mimosas and frosé. I chose the Old School, which was eggs, thick-cut bacon and home fries. It was simple and a dish that’s pretty hard to get wrong. After a weekend of indulging, simple was nice. However, my friend got the Cinnamon Monkey Bread, so of course, I stole a few bites. It was sooo yummy! I don’t do sweets in the morning often, so I’d probably order a savory breakfast and then split the monkey bread with someone if I were to go again.
Be Our Guest – It doesn’t matter the meal if you are a Disney Princess fan you have to eat at Be Our Guest. The dining room looks just like the ballroom from Beauty and the Beast. It’s absolutely magical! Also, make sure you check out the “West Wing” area. It’s just so cool to feel like you are in the castle from the movie. Breakfast and lunch are quick service at Be Our Guest, meaning that you order and pay first. They give you a “rose” that’s really a little GPS device and your food shows up at your table. We both ordered the Open-Faced Bacon and Egg Sandwich, which is poached eggs, bacon, and Brie served on a croissant. The eggs were just slightly runny and I thought it was delicious. For breakfast, they also bring a plate of assorted pastries to your table. I also HAD to have some “Grey Stuff” while I was there. For breakfast, the “Grey Stuff” is served atop a chocolate cupcake called The Master’s Cupcake. It was indeed delicious!
Backlot Express – It was almost 2 pm by the time we had lunch on Friday at Hollywood Studios, so we headed for something quick, convenient and familiar. Backlot Express is a quick service location that serves burgers, sandwiches, chicken tenders and salads. I had a burger and fries, which are amazing when you’re hot, sweaty and hungry. It’s nothing special or over-the-top, just solid classic dishes. I remember eating here with my family when I was a kid too, so it’s a solid family spot.
Woody’s Lunchbox – Woody’s Lunch Box was a spot I’d seen on a food Instagram that I follow. They Instagrammer’s family was at Disney for vacation, so he sampled a ton of different things. He said one of his favorite quick service meals was the BBQ Brisket Melt at Woody’s Lunch Box. He was not wrong. That sandwich was AMAZING! It was made with sliced brisket, pickles, melted cheddar and Monteray Jack cheeses and BBQ sauce on Sourdough bread. He got it with the Macaroni Salad, so I did too. It wasn’t over the top delicious, but it was good and paired well with the sandwich and Bud Light I ordered. Hands down, I’d eat this again.
Pizzafari – For lunch at Animal Kingdom we opted for the first place we saw when I said “I’m getting hungry,” which was Pizzafari. It’s another quick service spot that serves personal sized pizzas in several different flavors. It was good, and it was another spot I remember going to with my family as a kid. There were 6 of us on that vacation and we were ages 16, 11, 9 and 4, so pizza was an obvious winner. Disney has good food, so even with a simple, inexpensive choice you really can’t go wrong.
Tangierine Café – While we drank our way around the world, we also had some pretty good food. One of my favorite dishes from the whole trip was the Mediterranean Sliders Combo from Tangierine Café. The sliders are 3 mini pitas with one with lamb, one with chicken and one with falafel. They also have a Tahini sauce, cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes inside. They are served with lentils, tabouleh and hummus. These sliders were BOMB! We split them, since this was a “snack,” but I definitely want to have them as a meal my next Disney trip. The flavors were so on point and it was delicious.
Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe – By the time we got to Norway, we were due for another snack. We tried the Kringla Sweet Pretzel with Chocolate from Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe and it was yummy! We ordered one of our drinks, Viking Coffee, at this bakery too and they went well together. It was a great sweet treat to get us to dinner time.
Coral Reef Restaurant – The inside of the Coral Reef Restaurant is so cool. You eat right next to the giant aquarium and can see fish, turtles, rays, sharks and scuba divers swim by while you’re eating! It is a seafood restaurant, which my friend made a lot of jokes about feeling guilty eating fish in front of fish. I actually did not get seafood though (and I probably should have). After a day of drinking, I was starving and tired and not in a fish mood, so I had the sirloin and mashed potatoes. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t a great steak. I can’t say I’d not recommend the restaurant because it was frigging cool, but you should not order the steak. I did have a lovely glass of Malbec though and that wouldn’t really have paired well with fish. 😉
My Disney Gear
I did a little shopping before my trip for Disney shirts and a pair of ears. I snagged an adorable Marie (from the Aristocats) shirt that says “Because I’m a lady that’s why” and a Princess Jasmine shirt at Kohl’s. (Jasmine isn’t online for some reason!) That is actually where I got my fanny pack too! My Adidas fanny pack was one of my favorite things for February because it was so dang convenient. I will definitely be rocking this baby at theme parks and concerts for the rest of eternity! I scored my ears on Etsy from a shop called Cali and Me. They have SO many cute ears! I had a hard time choosing, but I ultimately went with solid Rose Gold sequins. I will definitely be buying a new pair for every trip to Disney from now on though!
Check out my other Disney post for tips and recommendations for Drinking Around the World at Epcot!