Hey there, my name is Sean Nyberg and I am a reporter for The DisInsider and I host The Disney Beat podcast every week. Last week my fiancé and myself flew down to Orlando and spent nine days at Walt Disney World (and one day at Universal Orlando). I will be publishing a number of stories from this trip here at The DisInsider.
Growing up on the west coast, all the way up near Seattle, my Disney trips were exclusively to Disneyland, a park I have visited over fifty times. I had never taken the trek down to Florida to experience Walt Disney World. Being a Disneyland fanatic and a Disney Parks reporter, it was an exhilarating experience walking into a resort I knew so well, yet had never visited.
Over the next few days I will be posting tips and tricks for a Walt Disney World vacation, comparisons between Walt Disney World and Disneyland, what rides and shows surpassed my expectations and which ones left me disappointed, I will rank the rides and lands, and share my favorite snacks and meals.
For this first entry I just wanted to give an overview of our trip, where we stayed, what we did, and our overall impressions.
My partner Paul and I flew from Seattle to Orlando on Easter morning (sorry Mom). The flight is roughly six hours and we landed at 5:30PM.
Disney’s shuttle service, the Magical Express, took us from the airport to our hotel. This service will be ending at the end of this year, so enjoy it while it lasts. The ride took about 20 minutes and the social distancing safety rules were well executed and enforced.
We stayed at Disney’s Yacht Club, the sister hotel to Disney’s Beach Club. The two are located within a five minute walk to Epcot’s International Gate entrance and to Disney’s Skyliner. I would highly recommend the Yacht Club, or any of the “Epcot hotels,” due to their location to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The Epcot hotels include Disney’s Yacht and Beach and Boardwalk. The Swan and Dolphin hotel is also in this area, but it is not officially a Disney Hotel, even though guests get some of the perks of staying at a Disney hotel. It is a weird hybrid that can lead to some confusion.
Yacht and Beach also share a pool called Stormalong Bay. This pool is three acres and is, easily, the best pool in Walt Disney World. It includes sand bottom pools, the largest slide outside of Disney’s two water parks, a lazy river, a whirlpool that spins you circles, a number of hot tubs, and hundreds of chairs and tables.
The location, the size of the rooms, and the amazing pool, all put Disney’s Yacht Club in the Deluxe Level which makes it significantly more expensive than the moderate or value hotels. There are great options that are less expensive, but if you can afford it, I would highly recommend Disney’s Yacht Club.
After we arrived we quickly grabbed a bus to Disney Springs for dinner at Art Smith’s Homecomin’, I will save any comments on food, transportation, and shopping, for my other entries, as this is just an overview.
Our first full day at Walt Disney World we purposefully left open with no park reservations. Since this was our first time there we wanted a day to adjust for the three hour time difference, get our bearings within the massive Walt Disney World complex, and just get settled. We knew we would be running hard once we started in the parks, so we opted to have our first day free so we could prepare.
This worked out being a great idea. We did much of our shopping that first day, had a few amazing meals, enjoyed the Stormalong Bay pool, and rode Disney’s Skyliner to get a feel for where the parks were located and how to get around.
We used a lot of the information gathered on that first day for the rest of our trip.
The next five days were a blur, we visited each park and took advantage of the park hopping feature. We managed to ride all of the big rides I had on my list, including: Star Wars Rise of the Resistance, Avatar’s Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Slinky Dog Dash, and Splash Mountain. We hit every ride we wanted to, but these were the ones I was really looking forward to riding.
Rise of the Resistance did open in Disneyland prior to the shutdown, but I never got to the park in the two months it was open prior to the closure. And while I have ridden Disneyland’s Splash Mountain dozens of times, I was excited to give Magic Kingdom’s version a try. I will review these rides in a later post.
Halfway through our trip, two of our good friends joined us, which was a lot of fun. It helped amp up the energy and refresh the trip.
Our final park day was spent over in Universal, where we park hopped between Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. I won’t go too far into that experience, as this is a Disney focused news site, but I will share that the day was full of torrential downpours that was far and above the normal Florida thunderstorm. The streets were flooding, the local team members didn’t know what to do, there were thousands of lightning strikes, and it lasted six hours. But we did end up getting on Hagrid’s Magical Motorbike Adventure, the one ride I was looking forward to in that park.
We flew home on the ninth day of our trip, full of amazing memories, lots of videos and pictures, and sore bodies. Over the six park days we put in 87 miles of walking. We have been back for a few days and my feet are still aching. But I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
So there it is, the general overview of our trip. I will be sharing more insights and controversial takes over the next week. Some rides blew my mind and others, yes, even some classics, disappointed me greatly.
Keep an eye out for those entries here at TheDisInsider.com