by Carmel L. Mooney
Growing up on the west coast, I know Disneyland like the back of my hand and so do our kids. And although I have been to Florida many times I had never been to Disney World.
I’ve heard the stories that Disney World requires a week to enjoy it all with the various parks and I have fully embraced that opinion. Disneyland takes a couple of days so I have always imagined that was a fair and accurate estimation. That’s probably why we’ve never gone as a family. It seems most of our Florida trips have been a few days in the Keys or on our way to or from somewhere for a few days.
However, a recent solo business trip to Orlando afforded me only one free day to get a taste of Disney World before embarking on a Disney Cruise on the new Disney Fantasy so I decided to challenge myself to the ultimate theme park challenge. I wondered if I could pull it off and if it was even worth a shot to try. But I did it. I experienced Disney World in 7 hours, solo.
Can it be done? Yes, sort of. Would I do it again? Yes, but not that way. Do I have regrets? No, because I got a taste of several parks and now know what I would like to do differently next time when I have the kids in tow. Would I recommend this? Absolutely not, but sometimes in life, you have to seize the opportunity no matter how small, and make the best of what you have. And even though getting soaked in the rain and walking about 10 miles in one day is not my idea of the perfect vacation, I am so glad I toughed it out and tried.
After hitting Epcot, the Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom all in one exhausting day, I was ever so grateful for my Ritz Carlton pedicure the next day to ease away the soreness and blisters that were created from my frenzied Disney World marathon.
My impressions of the parks are just overviews because obviously, I didn’t have much opportunity to do even a fraction of what I would do next time. I only rode one attraction and I didn’t get to see a single show. But a taste of filet mignon is better than none, right?
I was struck by the grandeur of Epcot, The enormous and beautiful gardens and flower displays were awe-inspiring. The architecture of the various parts of the world depicted throughout the park was astounding. I was thoroughly impressed with the overall organization compared to Disneyland. Digital signs allowed guests to plan their time efficiently with read-outs of attractions and wait times. Since I did not have time to go indoors to take in any shows I was as thrilled to see marching bands and dramatic musical performances throughout the park as I was outdoors on foot exploring.
I was amazed by the various transportation between parks and was thrilled to take a ferry across the water from one world to another. Monorails are the only option at Disneyland so these options of boats and ferries and shuttles were tremendous.
At the Magical Kingdom, I felt like I was at Disneyland on steroids. The train, the castle, the rides, the shops, the landscaping, everything was bigger and better and showier but all were familiar to me as was the layout. My previous dozens of trips to Disneyland proved helpful as I knew the basic route and layout which enabled me to maximize my few hours.
And at the Animal Kingdom, I was enthralled by the gorgeous art and animals and the accuracy of the various continents’ diverse food, architecture, and culture as it was displayed.
I may not have seen a fraction of the true experience of Disney World but I can say I have been, and if I am honest I will always have to divulge that I was only able to spend a total of seven hours in three parks but at least I got a taste of the magic. Like anything magnificent that you sample, you know you want more. An appetizer, is just that, an appetizer.
Next time, two weeks if possible and nothing less than a week. But I have scouted out the possibilities and I’m ready for the full Disney experience. I’m glad I got my feet wet literally and figuratively at Disney World and I know for certain we will be back.
Carmel L. Mooney is the author and the editor of Road Trips for Couples.