Christmas Day 2018 – Mark Vawser
Four Parks, One Day. If you only have one day at Disney World strap on your oversized shoes and prepare to run like a Streetrat. Disney World Orlando is made up of four parks: Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Magical Kingdom. Starting at Hollywood studio’s and finishing at the Magical Kingdom, let’s see if Disney World delivers on that Disney magic of the 90s golden age and the integration of its new accusation Star Wars. We’re going to Disney World!
To Infinity and Beyond (2018)
The statues in Disneyland are top notch, they look exactly like their subjects.
Going over my photos of these statues I only cleaned up the image using the Sharpen and Noise Reduction sliders on Lightroom to give them an almost cartoon feel.
Hollywood Studios was the first park on our Disney speed run. At first I was surprised at how outdated everything looked, like Universal Studios Hollywood Studious was lined with art deco buildings with facades that imitate famous Hollywood buildings. The old rides like the Hollywood Tower Hotel in its burned out husk dominated the Sunset Boulevard section. I moved on quickly, in this case I only had one day and lining up for rides wasn’t an option. More on that later.
The most interesting area (and most nostalgic) was Toy Story Land. The statues were brilliantly done and the presence of characters walking around interacting with everyone made for the uniquely Disney experience I had come for. The Plastic Soldiers were a particularly nice touch marching up and down in rank and file.
The newer addition of Star Wars to the Disney family was very present in the Echo Lake region with a towering AT-AT and a Cantina merch store. Kylo Ren walked around challenging children to lightsaber duels which culminated in a choregraphed show in the main square. The music, the lights and the air canons made for a good break. As I was on my way out Storm Troopers led by Captain Phasma cleared the way. Even though Star Wars was new to the park it was a much needed upgrade.
Next was Animal Kingdom. Buses run between parks and if timed correctly can get you to any park without any hassle. Animal Kingdom was a literal jungle, separated by region you can find yourself in Africa, Asia or even Dinoland. The geographic regions had accompanying zoo’s that held some of the iconic animals from classic Disney, Gorilla’s for Tarzan, Meercats for The Lion King, and Gibbons from… something. I was however extremely disappointed that Dinoland did not house a single Dinosaur! Who knows, maybe they are waiting to acquire the Jurassic Park rights before genettically engineering them, we can only hope.
What didn’t disappoint (surprisingly) was Pandora. No not the soap store the one based on Avatar (no the other Avatar, without air-bending). This area was a surprise because I didn’t know it existed, like the movie I enjoyed the visual spectacle of the floating mountains, huge mechs and tall blue warriors, but also like the movie I forgot it existed not long after it’s release. Pandora also boasted the biggest line for a ride I saw all day, the line was so big that the line attendant was selling the experience as “four hours of much needed family time“. Funny but it put me off even attempting lines for anything other than food. Animal kingdom was fun but if your going for the animals go to an actual Zoo (the animals seem happier there), if your going for the rides be prepared for a wait, but if your going for the experience like me the environment was still enjoyable.
The third park on our tour was Epcot. What can I say about Epcot? It was Disney’s attempt at a worlds fair, before the days of cheap international travel it was the only way most Americans would get to see even a little of the outside world. Each cultural region surrounded a man made lake on no small diameter. This park was the biggest of the four and it wore me out. Visually Epcot looks impressive with the iconic dome at its entrance, the monorail gliding through in interval’s and the lake reflecting the sunlight. Unfortunately the beauty doesn’t really last when you get up close to the cultural areas. Each building is an imitation of different cities and cant compare to the real thing. Not bad if you want to see the world without leaving America but for foreigners with any travel experience it just feels plastic. Luckily the monorail takes you without hesitation to the most Disney of Disney Parks, The Magic Kingdom.
The Magic Kingdom is just that, magic. As you walk through the gates you are met with that iconic view of the Disney Castle in all it’s glory and a very well placed statue of Walt Disney and Micky Mouse. All the Golden Age movies are represented here, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and more. There are also other not so Golden Age movies too like Dumbo. The best area really does depend on what movie you enjoy the most. I really enjoyed Gaston’s Tavern and the Beauty and the Beast castle that also acted as a restaurant. Aladdin’s market was also a highlight as was the iconic Disney Castle itself. The Magic Kingdom also offers the best opportunity to shop having the biggest stores with the most variety of merch, including a whole wall of mouse ears. The night-time fireworks are also worth staying for. (At this point my camera battery ran out so no photos of the fireworks).
Attempting to see all of Disney World Orlando in one day was ambitious but worth the extra walking. If you don’t attempt to ride any of the attractions you can experience each area of all four parks in turn. Standouts were Hollywood Studios and The Magic Kingdom, if you can only see two, these offer the most ‘Disney’ experience out of the four. Animal Kingdom and Epcot both have their upsides, Animal Kingdom have the rides and the Zoo, Epcot has the global experience and the dome. Hollywood and Epcot are both in dire need of an update but with the way things are turning, Star Wars will take over Hollywood soon. I don’t hold the same hope with Epcot. Finally Disney World delivers on that unique Disney experience. For the true Disney fan take two days, for the enthusiastic time poor tourist strap on your running shoes and take the four parks in one day challenge.
*All photos were taken by me unless otherwise stated.
Australian Travelling Photographer and History teacher based in London.
Each picture has a story to tell and if not then I’ll invent one.