Walt Disney World
March 15, 2022 | 10 min read | life

Photo by Jose Mizrahi

This is the final blog post about our trip to Florida from January. This post is all about our trip to Walt Disney World.

I know it’s March, I’ve been slow to write these.

I love Walt Disney World. We haven’t been there in years. I think I was more excited for this part of the trip than any other part. I would have been happy spending our entire trip exploring Disney World. Given the opportunity, I would probably go to Disney World once or twice a year.

Disney’s Pop Century Resort

We stayed on-site at Disney’s Pop Century Resort. We had stayed here before, but I think they’ve re-done the rooms since we were there last.

The rooms were really nice. Much nicer than the other hotel we stayed at during our trip to Florida.

Since our last visit to Disney World, they’ve added a gondola called the Disney Skyliner. The Skyliner was great. It allowed us to easily travel from the resort to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. We had to take a bus to Magic Kingdom, but that was ok. The Skyliner was the perfect way to get around. I hope they can find a way to add it to get to the other parks.

Pop Century is considered a “budget” resort, but I would stay again any time.

FastPass

Disney has changed how they do FastPasses since the last time we were there. We used to walk up to a machine, and get a FastPass for a ride. It was an easy system for us to use.

Now Disney has made things more complicated. They have a system called Disney Genie+ and another system called Individual Lightning Lane(s).

Both of these systems are confusing and annoying.

Disney Genie+ is a $15/person/day version of FastPass. You purchase this daily (starting at midnight). At 7am every morning, you can then schedule your first FastPass of the day. But you’re doing this along with everyone else in the park(s), so it makes it hard to plan out your day ahead of time.

We (meaning my wife) would wake up at 6:45am, wait to schedule our first FastPass at 7am and then (try to) go back to sleep. We would usually end up with a FastPass around 10am, which was fine because the kids wanted to sleep in.

There are rules around when you get set up your next FastPass. I think it was one ride every two hours. It meant we (again, my wife) kept alarms set so we knew when to grab the next FastPass.

The Lightning Lane feels like a money grab from Disney. There are certain rides which don’t provide the normal FastPass. Instead, you need to purchase individual FastPass for a ride. Rides like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (in Magic Kingdom) and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (in Disney’s Hollywood Studios) have the Individual Lightning Lane (for a cost). The prices of these tickets range from $9/person to $15/person. The alternative was to wait up to almost 3 hours in line (depending on the day/time).

The Rise of the Resistance Lightning Lanes fill up fast. My wife was on her phone signing up for one, and by 7:05am, our time slot was for late in the evening (I forget the exact time).

We ended up buying the Lightning Lanes for the rides that we wanted and didn’t feel like waiting for because it was easier than waiting too long.

One problem with these systems is that you need to use your phone (an app). And in some sections of the parks, cell reception is spotty. It makes trying to check or schedule the next set of rides difficult.

Another problem is that planning your days in the parks is harder to do. We ended up criss-crossing each park multiple times because of the FastPasses that we were able to get.

Food

The last time we were in Disney World (it’s been years), I remember the food being really good, which included all the food from the resorts to the theme parks. I remember enjoying it all. Either my tastes have changed, or the food isn’t as good as it used to be.

The food in Universal Studios was better (all around) with two exceptions. There was a Grilled Cheese place in EPCOT with tomato soup that was delicious. The Mickey Waffles at the resort were delicious.

You can now (mobile) order your food at (some?) counter services spots, walk up and grab your food. This is all done on your phone (again, an app). They had 2 or 3 registers set aside for mobile orders and 1 register for people who walk up. That meant that the lines for folks who walk up is crazy long.

Mobile ordering had the same cell reception issues that settings up FastPasses did. Spotty cell reception made things more difficult.

The lines at food and drink places throughout the park were also insanely long. Trying to grab a water or soda while walking through the park was a pain. We ended up grabbing a few extra bottles of water at lunch or dinner and threw them in our backpack.

Hollywood Studios

Photo by Rod Long

Hollywood Studios may be my favorite park at Disney World. I’ve always loved his park, even back when it was Disney MGM Studios.

Now that they have Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, I like it even more.

This was my first time to Galaxy’s Edge and wow, it was neat. Our first FastPass of the morning was for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. The ride was great.

Once we got off the ride, my wife and kids went to explore more of the park and I explored Galaxy’s Edge. Disney did an amazing job with this area of the park. I could have spent half the day there, but there were other things I wanted to see.

The only part of the park I wasn’t thrilled with was Toy Story Land, and only because it was super crowded. It was raining that day, but this area of the park was still wall to wall people.

We rode every ride we wanted to and even rode the Millennium Falcon and Tower of Terror twice. Our last ride of the night was Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Rise of the Resistance was a lot of fun. I was (and am) bummed out that I didn’t try to ride it twice. There was so much to see, and I think I missed a lot of it. I think riding it again would let me experience things more.

Hollywood Studios is a great park.

EPCOT

Photo by Greg C

EPCOT used to be another of my favorite parks. I was disappointed this time.

A portion of the park is under construction. It will be great once the construction is done and the new rides/areas are open.

We went on a lot of the rides that they have there. The exceptions were Frozen Ever After and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Both had waits consistently over 2 hrs.

The lines for most rides we got on weren’t bad. Test Track had some long lines, but we went through the solo riders part and were on the ride in 5 minutes.

I must be getting older. We went on Mission: SPACE (the more extreme experience - Orange Mission) and I had to concentrate on not getting dizzy (and possibly sick). I’ve never had to do this before.

We always joked that we would “drink around the world” in EPCOT. We never got drunk or anything, but it was always fun to get drinks from the different countries. That was out of the question this time. The lines at the drink stations were always 30-40 people deep. There was no way we were waiting in those lines.

We did everything we wanted to in EPCOT, went back to the resort to relax and then went back for the nighttime spectacular called Harmonious. That show was fantastic. We enjoyed it.

EPCOT wasn’t as great as I remember it. Maybe it was just too crowded. But we did have a good time there.

Magic Kingdom

Photo by Jayme McColgan

Honestly, Magic Kingdom has always been my least favorite park at Disney World. This time was no exception. Of the 3 parks we visited, Magic Kingdom was my least favorite.

The park feels incredibly dated. It’s in need of some major updating. The park was insanely packed. I think this park had the most people in it of all the parks we visited.

This day was our “marathon” day. We ended up at the park pretty early and then stayed for the fireworks show (Disney Enchantment).

We went on a lot of rides in Magic Kingdom. Not every ride, but we got onto a lot of them.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was a fun ride. We did pay the extra for the Individual Lightning Lane for it. I think this may be been the best ride in this park.

We originally thought Disney Enchantment (the firework show) was when the park closed (at 10pm or 11pm), but it was at 8pm or 9pm . We got really excited that the show was earlier. It meant that we could watch it and then head back to the resort. It had been a long week and we were all tired. We were flying home the next day, and I think we were ready to go.

Disney Enchantment was a good show, but I think I enjoyed Harmonious at EPCOT more.

Mugs

I have a problem with coffee mugs. I love coffee mugs. And I like buying them as souvenirs. I have bought a mug in Disney World almost every time we’ve been there, with the exception of the first time we were there.

I bought a coffee mug at Universal and was expecting to buy one at Disney World. I had room in my backpack for 2 mugs to take home.

I always buy a coffee mug in either the Emporium on Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom or Mouse Gear in EPCOT (which isn’t there anymore). I was expecting to do the same on this trip.

Before we settled in for the firework show, I must have walked through every store on Main Street USA 3 or 4 times looking for mugs. They had none that I could find.

I ended up angry ordering 2 mugs from the online Disney shop from our hotel room once we got back. I’m not happy or proud of it, but that’s what I did.

Parks Overall

The Disney World parks were great. Both EPCOT and Magic Kingdom do need serious updating.

Like I said before, I could visit Disney World once or twice a year and love it.

I know that my wife isn’t looking forward to going back to Disney World anytime soon, but I am. I’m not sure when we’ll get back, but I’m looking forward to it.

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