I’ve been busting to tell you about the rest of our trip to Disney World last month (part 1). For me, Epcot Center is just the prettiest of all the parks. I love the layout, leaving you with the feeling as if you were literally traveling around the world. Our day there began with breakfast at the Akershus Royal Banquet, located in the Norway section. Coincidentally, we ate there on our November Disney trip, but somehow, the experience was just as magical and the girls couldn’t have been more excited to see these Ana and Elsa topiaries added to the front of the castle-like building.
This castle-esque dining hall offers buffet items with a Scandinavian twist. Before we were seated, the girls met and posed for photos with Princess Belle. Throughout the breakfast, Princesses: Ariel, Jasmine, Snow White, Princess Aurora, and Cinderella shuffled through the room, visiting each table individually. Greeting each princess with hugs, the girls had plenty of questions for them as they posed for photo ops and signed their autograph books. All the pint sized guests were invited participate in a princess precession, parading around the room too. Most of the little girls wore princess dresses of their favorite Disney character, so it was quite adorable.
Once the girls had their fill of the princesses, it was time for some rides, and Epcot has something for everyone. Some of our favorites included The Seas With Nemo and Friends, Turtle Talk with Crush, and Journey into the Imagination with Figment. Ryder loves the faster rides, so he and Jason hit the Test Track and Mission: Space.
We spent lots of time inside the Seabase, enamored by the huge aquarium filled with all kinds of fish, even sharks.
The weather was gorgeous, so we took our time walking around the entire park, visiting every country, enjoying their beauty. Siella and Gemma traded some pins, and we bought a few more to add to their collection.
I love strolling the park, and bumping into the characters, because these are the moments I actually remember from my Disney trips as a kid. During our loop, the kids met with Daisy Duck, Tiana, and Mulan. The Disney smartphone app makes it super easy to determine the times and locations of each character throughout the day.
Next, it was back to our hotel to freshen up, before going to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. This was the park that I was the most excited to visit, because we missed it on our last trip.
Upon entering Animal Kingdom, we jumped right on the Kilimanjaro Safari Tour. An open air 4×4 truck drove us, offering glimpses of real African animals, in their close to natural habitats. Featuring picturesque open plains, shady forest landscapes and rocky wetlands, the 110-acre Harambe Wildlife Reserve is a spectacular sanctuary dedicated to the protection of African animals, with over 34 different species of exotic African wildlife seemingly roaming free. It was incredible to get so close to these animals.
After our Safari Tour, we walked to the theater for The Festival Of The Lion King, which is a must see at the park. The kids sat in awe throughout the entire performance, singing along with tunes from the Lion King movie, with larger than life size puppets, acrobats flying in the air, and a super cool fire show.
Some of the other great rides at Animal Kingdom for the littles are Tricertop Spin, Tree Of Life, and Dino Sue.
After hanging with all the animals, we took a short bus ride to Disney Springs, formally known as Downtown Disney. This was our first trip to the Springs, so it was overwhelming just how much there was to do there. Visitors can dine at upscale restaurants such as Wolfgang Puck or the Boathouse. Our meal at the Boathouse was phenominal. Along the promenade, there was a huge Star Wars shop called the Galactic Outpost, that Ryder (and Jason!) went absolutely nuts over. I would definitely carve out more time here, next time in town.
And one of my favorite memories was a tour in an Amphicar. The Boathouse is the only place in the world offering the unforgettable and thrilling experience of a Captain’s Guided Tour in a vintage Amphicar. The kids were flipping as our car literally drove right into the water. These rare cars drive on land and enter the water with a splash, taking you on a fun-filled, 20-minute tour of the landmarks of Disney Springs. It was an unforgettable experience to say the least.
We capped our final day on vacation swimming in the pool at Disney’s Art of Animation Hotel. The hotel is divided into four different sections, each themed around Disney classics like Cars, Finding Nemo, Little Mermaid and The Lion King. Ryder, Siella, and Gemma choose the Finding Nemo Pool.
Leaving Disney World, we felt the magic not to mention, we were shocked with everything we had accomplished in just four days! Ryder, Siella, and Gemma are still talking about their favorites experiences, and I know our Disney journey is just getting started.