EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

I didn’t realize until fairly close to the beginning of our trip that we were going to be at EPCOT for the tail end of the International Flower and Garden Festival…I’m so glad we were there! In addition to beautiful flowers, there were topiaries everywhere in the park. Most of them were of Disney characters, but there were a few others, as well.

The festival takes place EPCOT, but the Magic Kingdom had topiaries of the world’s most famous mouse couple out front, as well!

EPCOT has festivals of different types running pretty much year-round, and I think this was a particularly fun one to attend!

50 Years of Disney World

The sliver lining in the cloud that was us having to postpone our Disney World vacation for a year is that we were there for the park’s 50th anniversary, the “World’s Most Magical Celebration.” The celebratory atmosphere was everywhere at the parks, but especially with the golden statues of Disney characters scattered throughout the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and the Animal Kingdom. We didn’t see all of them, but we also didn’t do too badly!

There were other hints of a celebration, including cakes with “50” toppers:

There were other 50s here and there, as well, including on the castle, in the landscaping, and on the lamppost signs:

And the main characters have special anniversary costumes…I got pretty close to Donald Duck in his!

I love being part of a celebration, and no one knows how to celebrate like Disney!

Markels Making Magical Memories–Day Eleven

Animal Kingdom; 28,465 steps

Our final day at Disney included visiting all four of the parks, starting with our first trip to Animal Kingdom:

Every Disney park has a central, iconic location…at Animal Kingdom, it’s the Tree of Life:

We headed straight for the Kilimanjaro Safaris upon our arrival.

We got to see a lot of animals in fairly realistic habitats.

After the safari, we walked the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail (and saw an adorable baby gorilla!), and then walked around the park a bit:

We got to listen and talk to a talented musician who played the kora:

There was a cool kite show on the water:

We didn’t forget to take a family photo!

We only went on one other ride (we had talked about the Kali River Rapids, but at that point, I was just over being wet and wearing a plastic poncho, and the Expedition Everest roller coaster, which some of us thought about riding was closed)…the TriceraTop Spin, which I thought was fun.

We only spent a few hours at Animal Kingdom, because we had some other things we wanted to do. We drove over to EPCOT so we could hop on the monorail to visit a few of the resorts that had anniversary pressed pennies we wanted to add to our collection.

One of those resorts was the Contemporary, which is home to a fantastic Mary Blair mural (details to come later).

While we were riding the monorail, we passed by Donald Duck in his 50th anniversary finery:

Once park hopper hours began, we stopped by the Magic Kingdom to collect a few more pressed pennies…and see Eeyore, who waved his ears at me (I was really good at frantically waving at characters by this point!):

We then headed into EPCOT, where we finally found Goofy:

At this point, we split up so we could maximize our penny finding. Bunny and I headed off in one direction, and I’m pretty sure we had the best time, starting with the views on our route:

And then I finally met my favorite Disney character, Daisy Duck!!!

Bunny and I decided we would take the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios while everyone else drove. I feel bad that they missed out, because it was a really fun ride, and we even got to make a transfer at one of the hotels!

At Hollywood Studios, we found Donald and Daisy (again). I told you I had the waving thing figured out, because they definitely noticed me!

Since Bunny and I had a little extra time, we shared yet another Mickey-shaped treat:

And took a look at The Hollywood Tower Hotel. I had no interest in riding The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, but I did want to see it.

Once we regrouped, we got in what I think was our longest line of the trip, to ride Rise of the Resistance, which was really, really cool.

We also rode Star Tours twice, and Darth Vader showed up both times, which was very exciting. A few members of our family actually managed to ride all three Star Wars rides that day, which was quite an accomplishment given their popularity! Plus, those who were interested also managed to squeeze in a ride on the previously-mentioned Tower of Terror, and they had a great time, especially since they got to ride it as the sun was setting!

It was really had to leave, because we knew that even though we still had a few days of vacation left, our time at Disney was over.

Up next: Kennedy Space Center!

Markels Making Magical Memories–Day Nine

Magic Kingdom; 22,219 steps

Epcot is (I think) my favorite of the Disney theme parks, and we all had an amazing time at Hollywood Studios, but there’s something special about driving up to the Magic Kingdom:

And that first view of the Castle looking down Main Street USA is breathtaking!

While we were still near the entrance on Main Street, we saw some of our favorite storybook friends in a horse-drawn trolley:

We finally found ears at the Emporium Shop:

Our first stop (after buying ears) was at the Mad Tea Party. Bunny, in particular, was very excited about this classic ride!

While we were in the area, we also stopped for a snack at the Cheshire Cafe:

We tried the Cheshire Cat Tail (an amazing donut) and the All Mixed Up Slushy, which was wonderfully cold and refreshing:

As much as Bunny wanted to ride the teacups, that’s how much Chickadee wanted to ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant. I have to admit I was also really looking forward to this ride, because when I went to Disney World as a child, it was shut down due to storms right before it was my turn to get on, and I never got back to it.

We also saw some of the big parade on Main Street, but since we were planning on seeing it later in the day, I didn’t take any pictures of the floats (spoilers…we never saw it again). The reason we were back near the entrance? Ryan had scheduled a session with a Disney photographer, and we got a lot of great pictures!

We also caught a bit of the Dapper Dans act, which I really enjoyed!

At this point, we split up for a bit. There was no way I was going to go on Space Mountain again (my bad memory from my childhood trip to Disney), so I took those who weren’t interested in the roller coaster to instead ride the People Mover (which is a low-key favorite of mine) and the Astro Orbiter:

After we found each other again, we set out for the other side of the park, which meant we got to catch some of the show outside the castle along the way. I was especially excited to see Daisy Duck in her 50th anniversary outfit. (Chickadee was excited that characters from both Tangled and Frozen appeared in the show!)

We didn’t go on any rides in Adventureland, but we did have one Very Important Stop to make there, because I wasn’t leaving Disney without trying a Dole Whip. We also got a Dole Whip float, complete with Tiki sipper, for good measure!

While we waited for the parade that never took place (thank you afternoon storms) we tried a lobster roll from Columbia Harbour House in Liberty Square

And then we headed to the Haunted Mansion. I wasn’t too interested in this one, so I was really surprised by how much I liked it! It wasn’t scary at all…just silly and fun!

Following the Haunted Mansion, we split up again for a bit…I took a jaunt to Disney’s First Aid (which is a really nice facility!) with a child who had irritated eyes due to the copious amounts of sunscreen we were wearing, while everyone else who wanted to took a ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This also gave me a chance to admire the castle from different angles!

We might have missed the big parade, but we did catch the Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade, and we learned that we were there for a very exciting event…Mirabel made her debut that day! (And did I mention that 6/26 is also “Stitch Day”? We were very excited to see Stitch join in the parade!)

I finally got to ride It’s a Small World, which was designed in part by Mary Blair!

After attending Mickey’s PhilharMagic, we of course had to ride the carousel:

We’ve had Mickey Bars at home, but our trip to Disney wouldn’t have been complete without sharing one at the park, too!

I think Fantasyland was my favorite, probably because it felt like what I imagine Europe feels like.

Even the back of the castle is pretty!

We took another walk down Main Street as the lights were starting to come on:

And Ladybug bought a “Banana Boom” at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, which she kindly shared with all of us (it was huge!).

We then claimed a spot to watch the fireworks…there’s something so special about seeing them over the castle!

The Magic Kingdom is open later than the other parks, so we didn’t have to leave right away. Instead, we rode the teacups again, and then took a ride on the Tomorrowland Speedway, which gave us a great view of Space Mountain all lit up:

One last look at the castle…I’m so glad we got to see it all dressed up for Disney World’s 50th anniversary!

Up next: Our “rest day” at Disney Springs.

Chickadee Thursday

Here are a few more pictures from our trip to Disney World, including one of Chickadee on the ride she was most excited about…Dumbo the Flying Elephant!

Quote of the Day

“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” Walt Disney