…and I use 2012 in this post because I hope to go back REALLY soon!!!
It’s so hard to describe the feeling you get when you are in Disney World. It is simply magical. There’s a reason why Disney has such an amazing reputation of making dreams come true… because it’s reality.
Just last week, I had the (hopefully not once-in-a-lifetime… but you get the point) opportunity to take two days off of work and head down to Orlando with my Mom. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. A little something I have not mentioned much about yet is that my Mom, who I cook with almost every night… happens to own a CHOCOLATE STORE!!! …More on that some other time. What’s important in THIS story though is that she just finished up her busy Christmas season and couldn’t have been more ready for a much deserved vacation!
The real reason for our trip was thanks to our cousins! My cousin Alex turned thirteen this past Sunday and was having her bat mitzvah the day before. We couldn’t have been happier to celebrate with them and spend some time there, as we rarely get to see this side of my family.
We flew down PHL > MCO Wednesday night after work, rented a car, and drove to our Holiday Inn right outside of Orlando. We booked both the hotel and the car through Southwest, snagging amazing deals for each. The car, a mid-size Nissan Versa, was rented Wed night – Sun afternoon, for … are you ready … $63.23 total! I was amazed. I highly recommend this hotel to anyone without young kids traveling to Disney on a budget. The Disney Parks were only about a 5-7 minute drive, or a7:50am FREE shuttle-ride away. The rooms were clean and spacious. I really couldn’t ask for more booking a hotel for Disney at just under $100 / night. It’s hard to get a hotel for that cheap ANYWHERE these days.
Our first day we decided to go all out, buying a “Park Hopper” ticket to Disney which allowed us to hop from park to park as many times as we wished. And hop we did!
We started with Disney’s newest park, Animal Kingdom. I decided the first thing we had to do was face our fears of our semi-traumatic experience we had on the “Dinosaur” ride the last time we visited (where a Jeep full of my entire family got stuck in the dark on the part of the ride where all the dinosaurs come out… lol). The ride was great, but the Dinosaur had the last laugh again- my Mom lost her sunglasses on a sharp turn! Whoops! After stopping at our first souvenir store to pick up some new sunnies, we were ready for more. We met Pluto and Goofy, laughed in the Bug’s Life 3D show, and headed over to the Safari. I’ve been on the Safari at Six Flags before but this one was much better! Our guide was funny but really knowledgeable and there were so many animals. We even were able to approach a huge “daddy” Rhino only a few feet away from our car. Although this park is geared towards a younger crowd, I really love it. It was the perfect start to our day.
Next, we were off to Disney’s Hollywood Studios aka MGM. If you didn’t get a chance to check out my post written from our lunch at the Brown Derby, you can check it out now! We had a fabulous lunch and were back on track to ride the rides. A classic ride, the “Backlot Tour” featured a Pearl-Harbor theme this time around… a personal favorite thanks to my teenage obsession with Josh Hartnett. After Backlot, we made sure to stop at Toy Story, which was one of my favorites this year. “Disney just has the best way of moving people,” we discussed several times throughout the trip… and the Toy Story ride was a great example. The waiting rooms were decorated like a toybox with life-sized board games, dominoes, crayons, and any toy you could imagine! This was our longest wait, which didn’t feel like it … and was totally worth it!
Finally, it was time to head over to Epcot, one of the most iconic of all Disney World symbols… second to only the mouse ears themselves. Sunset was the perfect time to snap a few pictures and head on into the ride INSIDE the globe. It was calm but really awesome, with an interactive game in the last few minutes of the ride. Soarin’ was also really impressive, which takes you on a hang-gliding simulator over different scenes of California.
Dinner couldn’t come soon enough as we finished up our crazy jam-packed day of Disney World fun. Mom chose an amazing restaurant for us, which any of you Full House fans out there will be sure to recognize: The Coral Reef at Epcot… where the Tanner family dines on their trip to Disney (and DJ saw Steve’s face in a watermelon… a personal favorite). The restaurant was just gorgeous, and lucky us, we got a table RIGHT in front of the 5.7 million gallon aquarium! It was so cool! They told us that the tank is so big they can fit the “Spaceship Earth” (Epcot Ball) in it with room to spare.
Our meal was fantastic. We each got a different type of Mojito… Cheers! The appetizer sampler came next. The crab cakes were good, but not amazing, and the shrimp were a great treat, something we’d never order at home. The star of this plate however was the small sample of Creamy Lobster Soup served in a tiny little mug. It was rich and flavorful and just the right amount too.
Mom ordered the “Seasonal Catch” which was a Sea Bass type fish (we forget now what type… it was delish that’s all that matters!) which was served on Roasted Mushroom Risotto with Bay Scallops, Celery Root Nage, and Parsley-Truffle Oil. The flaky and tender fish sat atop the hearty risotto which was the perfect balance with the light, delicate sauce.
The Coconut-Lime Sauce caught my eye on the menu and I had to order the Grilled Mahi Mahi served with Rock Shrimp, Hearts of Palm, Jasmine Rice, Cilantro, and the star of the meal, a tart and creamy Coconut-Lime Sauce. MMM! Our dishes were so tasty that we didn’t mind eating them while being watched by some big fishies ourselves!
Friday, we spent the morning and early afternoon in the MAGIC KINGDOM! Cinderella’s Castle, here we come!! It was just like we were both kids again. We did every ride possible in Tomorrowland, INCLUDING Space Mountain! My all time favorite. After a few other rides, photo op’s, and souvenir shopping… it was time to leave Disney 😦
We were only “okay” with leaving Disney because it meant that we were going to see our family! Everything involving the Bat Mitzvah was so well done and just GORGEOUS! Lisa, the Mom of the Bat Mitzvah Girl did such an amazing job. We celebrated a Shabbat Dinner Friday night together to start the festivities. After a spectacular job by Alex in services both Friday and Saturday, it was time to party! We had a blast catching up, dancing and taking silly pictures.
The rest of the weekend went by so fast and before we knew it, it was time to go home! BOO! After a stop at Joe’s Crab Shack and some shopping at the outlets, we dropped off the car and headed back to the airport.
We had such an amazing time together, it was hard to leave it all behind! However, I am so happy we were able to pull off such a great vacation just the two of us… and really hope we could do it again sometime.
PS… What’s your favorite Disney ride???????????
Just a little something to leave you with…