Kids today are growing up faster, and stronger, whereas I am getting older and weaker. At some point in time, it was inevitable that our paths would cross. That event happened a few weeks ago and I had no choice with regard to the time. However, I did have a choice in the ‘where’. And what better place than Orlando, Florida, where Disney World meets Legoland and Universal Studios?
Stewart Goes Walkies is pleased to have another of Allen Lai’s excellent travelogues. This is Part 1 of his visit to Disney Land in Orlando, Florida.
On the flight down to Orlando from Toronto, 60 percent of the passengers were kids, so it was a very festive time. The size of Disney World combined is about 43 square miles! That is bigger than the whole of Hong Kong island (30.4 sq. miles). And Hong Kong’s Disney Land is only 0.1 sq. mile. So, it was quite a lot of ground to cover. It consists of four major theme parks, the Magic Kingdom, the Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot. And of course, nearby, we have the Universal Studios and Legoland. To maximise the time, we stayed in the Legoland and Disney Resort inside the park. We took advantage of the fact that they provide direct access to different parks by skyliner and shuttle bus. As for Legoland, it was about an hour and half drive.
Arriving in Orlando, the first thing that struck us was the long line at the car rentals. For some reason, there’s a serious shortage of car rentals all over North America. Some have said it is because of the world economy causing logistic problems in car manufacturing, some said it’s the increasing number of domestic travelers. Whatever the reason, what used to be around US$100 a day is now US$500 plus. And you should consider yourself lucky if you can actually secure one.
We arrived at the Legoland Resort hotel late at night after a long day. But stepping into the lobby, the kids were alive with excitement as the setting is anything but a hotel. The lobby is filled with Lego toys and looked more like a daycare centre.
The rooms are surprisingly big, but everything is designed for the kids. The rooms have bunk beds, and signs stating: “Adults Keep Out”.
The hotel is not cheap, but it is worth every penny as it is right inside the theme park, and there were interactive activities throughout the day. Built for kids 2 to 12, (and adults of all ages) they includes the interactive Theme Park with more than 50 rides, shows, and attractions inspired by LEGO brands and characters, plus the LEGOLAND Water Park.
It also features the brand-new Peppa Pig Theme Park, designed to be the ultimate day for little ones! Due to time restraints, we only visited the theme park, but even then, there was so much to see and do. I even managed to make some new friends.
Another of the many displays was the Mini USA.
The Pop Century Resort
After Legoland, we transferred to the Pop Century Resort, which is a Walt Disney Resort. A 3-star lodging, but because it’s inside Disney World, it’s 5-star pricing. Inside, we experienced the unforgettable fads of the 1950s through the 1990s all over again. There are decorations from yo-yos and Play-Doh to Rubik’s Cube and rollerblades. This resort hotel salutes the timeless fashions, catchphrases, toys, and dances that captivated the world through the decades. There are three swimming pools, a Disney shop, a food court, and a mini-mart. It has everything a kid-at-heart traveler will need.
From here, we started our exploration of Disney World.
Hollywood Studios, the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, I was here 30 years ago. But there are a lot of changes and new rides. One thing I found particularly different is, of course, technology. There’s free wifi everywhere in the park, with the App, we can easily find out where the next ride is, the wait time, real-time GPS, and directions. Gone are the days when we had to rely on the guidebook.
And, with the “Fast Pass”, we can even register a time slot to avoid the long lineup. The rides are smoother, much faster, and fun. Another great innovation was the 3D simulation rides, the graphics are so realistic, and, of course, safer for small children.
Disneyland was closed down for two years because of COVID, and the attendance has still not fully recovered. Judging from the parking lot, it’s less than one-third full.
As a result, most of the popular rides took less than 2 hours to wait. With the “Fast Pass” we purchased, the majority of rides we could just walk through. If you are on a tight schedule, the “Fast Pass”, though expensive, is a worthwhile investment.
Fireworks at the Magic Kingdom
Every day was a long day, as the park opened around 9 am. There was so much to do, and the fireworks started at 9 pm. One cannot say you have been to Magic Kingdom without seeing the firework over Cinderella’s Castle.
And the latest and most spectacular Harmonious Light Show at Epcot, where massive floating setup pieces, custom-built LED panels, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics lasers, and fireworks filled the lake and night sky is another must-see.
Conclusion to Part 1
Once again, Stewart Goes Walkies is grateful to our old friend, Allen Lai for his excellent reporting and photos. There is still a lot to see from his adventures in Disney Land and we will be posting Part 2 soon. Stay tuned!
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