February 23, 2016
“Oh, reality, it's not for me
And it makes me laugh
Oh, fantasy world and Disney girls
I'm coming back”- The Beach Boys
I know it is a touristy cliché and that I should not love it as much as I do, but I just can’t help myself, I just love going to Walt Disney World and I try to go there every chance I get. This year I had an annual pass that expired on February 21st, and seeing that I was going to be in the area on my way to attend the Daytona 500, I thought I would get use of the final two days that I had left before my pass expired and visit Disney, yet again.
I started at my all-time favorite amusement park, Epcot, where I have been countless times since it opened in 1982. I love it there, and I just cannot seem to get enough of it, especially the World Showcase area where they have pavilions representing various countries around the world including Mexico, Norway, China, Italy, Germany, Morocco, Japan, France, England and Canada. Each country is staffed by natives from that locale and features food, cultural entertainment, shopping and occasional 360 degree films or rides that focus on the country.
Epcot is divided into two sections the World Showcase and Future World, which is the first area you enter through the main gate. The centerpiece of Future World is the iconic geodesic sphere known as Spaceship Earth which features a ride inside of the sphere itself. Future World has more ride-type attractions though the park does not feature the traditional rollercoasters and other thrill rides found at most amusement parks. All of the Epcot attractions were designed to educate rather than thrill park guests, though they have added more adventurous rides such as Test Track and Mission Space since first opening.
Traditional attractions such as Innovations, World of Energy, The Seas, Living With the Land, and Journey into Imagination are all still there and though some have changed and been updated over the years, the basic premise of Epcot has remained mostly unchanged over the years. Even though I have visited these attractions countless times, I still enjoy them again and again. The ride inside the Spaceship Earth, the boat ride through the Living with the Land ride, and even going to the 3D Michael Jackson film, Captain Eo, I love them all.
Of course while Epcot is my favorite Disney park, the pass I had allowed for park hopping meaning that I could go to whichever park I wanted to and on this trip I decided to go to Disney’s Holllywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom as well. The Animal Kingdom I had been to on my most recent visit and I think the Hollywood Studios is the park that I spend the least amount of time in. The Magic Kingdom is always fun, and always packed with families and kids, which while understandable often keeps me away from there due to the massive crowds and screetching children.
The Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Hollywood Studios) is my least favorite of the Disney Parks, but even it has its charms. I love the Haunted Tower of Terror Ride, The Aerosmith Rock n Roller Coaster, the backstage studio tour and Star Tours, the Star Wars based ride. Ground has been broken on what is planned as a huge Star Wars based expansion and that will be sure to raise the profile of this park that was obviously designed to compete with Universal Studios but still falls somewhat short in my opinion.
The Magic Kingdom was the first and is no doubt the most popular and iconic of all the Walt Disney World parks. It is billed as the Happiest Place on Earth and stepping into the Main Street corridor you are immediately overwhelmed by the Disney experience. The only park that had the direct influence of Walt Disney himself, the Magic Kingdom captures the Disney experience better than anyplace else and if you love that experience then this is the place to be. I have plenty of friends who just do not get my fascination with Disney, and I get that, it isn’t for everyone, it is commercial and a far cry from a natural experience that many enjoy, but I say so what. I love the outdoors, but I also love the magic that I really feel at Disney World. Call it nostalgia or foolishness or whatever, but I just can’t help it.
I enjoyed an amazing and fun two days exploring Disney once again and then I was ready to make the short drive over to Daytona Beach where I was set to attend my second Daytona 500. My pass has expired so who knows when I may be back at Disney, but my guess it won’t be too terribly long.