Orlando, Florida Trip Part 1
While we're all in lockdown and unable to travel to our heart's content, I figured I would reflect on one of the best holidays I've ever had. In October of 2019, me and my mum headed to Orlando, Florida for what would become a dream vacation. This post will focus on the arrival day and day one, and from here I will be uploading a new post for each day of the trip.
The first thing I remember getting off the plane was the incredible heat...it was something else! The entire trip we were experiencing around 35 degree heat (95 degrees farenheit) and my Scottish body could not take it! However I was also taken aback by the incredibly beauty of Florida. The palm trees littered the streets, swaying gently in the breeze, and every night the sunsets were the most beautiful I had ever seen. We couldn't help but be completely relaxed there.
We were fortunate enough on this trip to stay at the Grand Floridian, which was the grandest hotel I've ever stayed at! It was so luxurious. As soon as you walked in the lobby you could smell a pleasant sweet smell that reminded me of oranges. A band was playing sultry lounge music as if they were welcoming us in to our home for the next week. It was the perfect welcome, and we couldn't believe how lucky we were to be staying there. Unfortunately we did not get much opportunity to explore on this occasion, as jet lag was firmly setting in, and we were ready to settle in to our incredibly comfy beds!
Our first full day arrived and I was very keen to head to the park I was most excited for: the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (or Epcot if you will). We took the Monorail over to the park, which proved to be a good choice, as it allowed us the most beautiful entrance in.
As soon as the park opened we headed straight for Soarin', a gliding experience in front of a screen that makes visitors feel like they're flying around icons of the world. I cannot express how amazing this ride is; it was definitely my favourite of the trip! We then quickly moved over to the ride right next door: Living with the Land. This is a slow-moving boat ride taking you through how humans around the world live with the land collaboratively. It's actually a pretty informative and poignant ride, and it was a lovely rest after the exhilaration we were feeling from Soarin'!
At that, we had completed two rides, and we weren't even an hour in to the day! Fuelled by our new-found confidence, we scuttled over the Under the Sea with Nemo and Friends, which was a very sweet ride, but maybe aimed at a younger crowd.
By this point, it was time for our first Fast Pass for Spaceship Earth. This ride is inside the giant Epcot Ball; it was so exciting heading into such an amazing architectural feat. The ride itself was also one of my favourites; it takes you through the history of communication, and the set pieces were fantastic. We particularly enjoyed the surprise of getting our picture taken, leading to some very funny results! After Spaceship Earth we had some time before our next Fast Pass. We were originally going to go on Test Track, however it was down for maintenance. You have to roll with the punches at Disney! So we headed over to join the by now very long queue for Soarin'. That's right, we went on it twice!
We got off Soarin' just in time for our Fast Pass for Journey into Imagination with Figment, and let me say...this was a weird one. Even now, six months on, I still can't decide how I feel about this ride, it's just...weird. If you've been on this ride, let me know what you think!
By this point it was time to head over to World Showcase, which is an entire section of Epcot dedicated to highlighting the cultures, architecture, and foods of different countries throughout the world. I think this was probably my favourite part of any park I experienced throughout this trip, and if you enjoy travelling I would definitely recommend giving it a visit if you're in the area. We were both keen to get exploring, however our stomachs said otherwise. We decided to take a pit stop of a place called Spice Road Table, a restaurant in the Moroccan Pavilion. Not only was it a great way to get out of the heat and away from the crowds, but the food itself was incredible. It awakened a love of Mediterranean food that I had forgotten, and it has not left me since. We got the Mediterranean Vegetable Platter with a side of hummus. Turned out the platter came with hummus, so we certainly had a lot of it! We really enjoyed the experience at Spice Road Table, and I would certainly go back if I visited Epcot again.
Suitably full, we headed off for our adventure around the World Showcase. It was so much fun. We went in and out of each country, feeling as if we were really venturing in those cities. We weaved between France, Japan, Norway, and Germany, to name a few. We looked in the shops and watched street entertainment to our hearts content. It was such a unique experience, I'm sure I'll never experience anything similar to it elsewhere. Not only where there shops and restaurants to explore, but there were also rides, which we were more than ready for. We took a gentle, yet kind of trippy, boat ride through Mexico on The Gran Fiesta Tour with the Three Caballeros; we journeyed through China in Reflections of China, and we Let It Go on Frozen Ever After. By the way I cannot recommend the Fast Pass system enough; we walked right on to the Frozen ride, bypassing at least an hour wait!
Night was falling at this point, and we were ready for a lot of food, and where best to go for that but the Italy pavilion? The restaurant we went to was called Via Napoli, and the inside was beautiful; it really felt like we were sitting in a restaurant in Italy, rather than in the middle of Florida! We shared a pizza and some tomato pasta which was far and away the nicest pasta I have ever eaten. We got pretty lucky with our food at Epcot!
Getting sleepy and ready for bed, we pushed ourselves to sit at the lakefront and watch the fireworks show. Let me tell you, it was definitely worth pushing ourselves to stay. I know everyone knows that Disney fireworks are amazing, but they really were fantastic, and an amazing end to an amazing day. Completely done in, we headed back to the hotel ready to turn in.
Tune in for day two tomorrow!