Orlando: The Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom

img_5984As I mentioned yesterday, I am visiting Orlando to give a keynote speech at the Federal Bar Association on the Supreme Court. I have brought my youngest with me for the trip. Madie and I have had a ball visiting the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on the first two days. The Association was generous enough to put us at the Waldorf-Astoria near the parks, which I will describe later for those interested in Orlando hotels.

After arriving on Thursday, we decided to go to Disney World for “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.” It is a special ticket, which means that Disney has found a way to actually clip you for more money on top of general admission. Everyone else is supposed to leave the park at 7 pm. However, if you buy the ticket for $100 you can enter at 4 and stay until 12. You can do the rides, which have shorter lines after 7. There is also free hot chocolate and cookies for you are various sites around the park.

My two complaints about Disney remains the lines and the prices. It is ridiculous to pay hundreds of dollars and be able to only get on a couple rides. However, I still greatly admire Disney and what they do at these parks. It is a really fun place for kids and Disney remains a brilliant corporation in handling massive crowds and supplying wonderful entertainment. The Christmas ticket was worth it. The parade was a huge amount of fun, though you have to stake out a spot on the curve at least 40 minutes in advance. Likewise, the shows in front of the castle were very entertaining but Madie could not see due to the huge crowds until we sat down in front 30 minutes in advance to get a better spot. It was then an awesome performance. While there are a few jerks in a crowd, I was happy (and surprised) that most adults remained very kind and considerate to each other. We all want our kids to have a great time but most tried to help the kids move to the front and tried to help other parents. We met some wonderful families and Madie watched the parade with a little girl named Bella who comes to the park twice a week.

For me, the highlight is always the fireworks. No one does firework shows like Disney. The music and lighting was spectacular and, when we left the park around 11), the main street glowed in Christmas colors and Disney blew pretend snow into the air.

One tip: I rented a car and, while it cost $20 for general parking, it was worth it. It cuts down your time a lot. You take a shuttle from the parking areas (which are massive). You are either in the “Hero” or “Villain” lots. We got the “Scar” section of the Villain lot, which we loved. You then take the monorail to the front gate. It is all well organized and relatively efficient. It is a lot better than waiting for shuttles back to hotels. Also, be careful. Some hotels do not have shuttles for special events like the Christmas parade/show.

On the second day, after my speech, we went to Animal Kingdom. We arrived around four and it gave us plenty of time to experience the park. I have always loved this park. We went on the Safari ride, which is much improved with some truly incredible animals. The live music in Asia and Africa was great and they have a Carnival dance which is a lot of fun. The lines are shorter except for the top rollercoaster ride. We did four or so rides and did the Kali River Rapid ride twice. We did the rapid ride at the end because you get soaked. We did it at night, which is more edgy because you do not see the drops etc. Be sure to use the free lockers to put away your phone and any extra clothes. The first time Madie got through dry but the second time she was soaked from head to toe. I was nailed both times. Fortunately, there is a hot chocolate stand nearby to revive the coldest child in the cool evening temperatures. We then finished with watching the “Tree of Life” light show which is only 10 minutes or so but fun. It plays everything 15 minutes after dusk. Animal Kingdom is less crowded than the Magic Kingdom and it has some really fun rides and attractions.

We are now into our third day and today is the highlight of the trip for Madie: Harry Potter park!

Here are a few pictures of the park:


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27 thoughts on “Orlando: The Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom”

  1. I love reading about Professor Turley’s normal outings and visits away from home.

    When my children were younger, Disney World was great. Living in the Tampa, Disney World was only an hour and a half away. At one point in time, my wife’s sister worked for Disney and supplied us with a steady stream of free passes. Free Disney is not to be missed. Although the accommodations at the Contemporary Hotel there were not luxurious, it became our go-to hotel because of the monorail passing right through it. We liked the pool slides and bottom floor game room as well. However, fireworks were best while soaking in the large pool at the Grand Floridian.

    When Disney started the Fastpass option, I thought that was a great idea. It allowed for fast access to the rides you haven’t tried yet. As my children became older and my wife’s sister stopped working for Disney, we seemed to switch to visiting Busch Gardens in Tampa. It was much less expensive for an annual pass and less crowded with less walking. Zoo was great and the roller coasters were better too. My children are older now, so I don’t think about theme parks too much anymore. Thanks for bringing back the memories Professor Turley.

    I would like to hear about the Waldorf Astoria Orlando. I just stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Panama a few months ago and enjoyed it very much. I have not stayed at the one in Orlando yet. We have diamond status with Hilton right now, so we tend to gravitate that direction lately.

  2. RE DIsneyworld- If public transportation worked as well where I live as it does inside this resort…most families where we live (suburbs) would only have one car.
    Buses, monorail, ferries…and rarely a long wait. You want to stay at a Disney owned resort for the best results though.

    Sounds like you are having a great time. Well done and happy holidays to all.

  3. I can see how people love Disney – especially children. And I think Epcot does a great job introducing people who don’t (can’t) travel — at least superficially – to other cultures. However, after reading Carl Hiassen’s book “Team Rodent” I have never been able to see that corporation in the same light.

  4. I never liked crowds and came of age during a time of cynicism regarding stuff like Disney and the like. However, when we took our son, when he was seven, to Disneyland in LA it all made sense. We were all seven years old and the boy was in charge. If you have the money, and you do have to simply spend and forget, and can enjoy the in-between moments by gawking at everybody and everything, it is worth doing at the very least once and more than once with kids.

  5. Not sure about cause and effect but…
    Notice the similarity between the serpentine lines and controls at Disney parks and TSA?
    And, both have to do with rides.

    Buy a Global Entry card (which we did) and get around the line. Buy first class and get the lounge then the quick early loading.

    Complaining?? Nope, not now. We paid our dues and enjoy the opportunities for the few remaining years left.

    A side thought: serpentine….serpent…commonly thought to be a snake in Eden.

  6. The last time I was at Disney Land, I found they had one policy that made it extremely frustrating. They set up a program that allowed you to sign up ahead of time and be given an appointment time for a particular ride. You were only allowed to do this on a limited basis (could only be on list at a time), but that meant that those already in line had to stand there and watch a steady stream of people be shown to the front. On one popular ride this turned a 45 minute wait in line to over 2 hours. It was extremely frustrating. I don’t know if they continued the policy or not, but it had severe consequences for our enjoyment of the day. We did not have any children with us on that trip, but watching the small children around us have to stand still for so long in an un-moving line was not just frustrating, it was an acute source of anger.

    1. SierraRose – they were doing that the last time I was there, but we got there later than expected, to the ride we got special tickets on wasn’t until 7pm. However, after the Electric Light Parade the place starts to clear and you can actually get on the rides without standing in line.

  7. I have been to Disneyland at Christmas time and it is both pack and fun. This was a couple of years ago before the rate changes so everyone was in the park if the wanted until 12pm. Their final parade is on the water and it is hard finding a spot for the kids to get a place to see, but most adults were nice and pushed them through to the front were they had a view. I pooped out before the kids did, so they saw a lot more of the park than I did.

  8. I can’t believe Turley did not denounce Trump in this post about the experience he shared with his young daughter at Disneyworld. Trump is a pooh-pooh head. Long live Raul.

    P.S. Voters are ignorant rubes and Republicans are traitors.

    1. “I can’t believe Turley did not denounce Trump in this post about the experience he shared with his young daughter at Disneyworld.”

      Tread carefully Issac; A growing number of young progressives would consider your utter lack of self-awareness grounds for you to be post-birth aborted. Which reminds me: now back to “the happiest place on earth”.

    2. Isaac,
      Next presidential election, please call your Democratic god-candidate to explain US presidential election policy: registered voters cast ballot instructing their State’s Electoral College members to elect the voter’s preferred candidate. Registered voters do not directly select US president.

      I realize Democratic candidates like the last loser are slow, but really, this has only been US election policy for two and a half C.

      1. No need for a lesson. However, it is interesting that the electoral college has put a dolt in the White House from which the country has yet to recover and then followed that up with a buffoon. In both instances the Republican President has entered a vastly improved condition. Bush managed to destroy that momentum and leave the US in tatters. Let’s see what Carnival Don will do. In both instances the real culprits are the idiots that voted for them.

  9. We took our kids to Disneyworld during the Lillehammer Olympics in 1994. Epcot had a Norway exhibit. Epcot was enjoyable for all of us, but mostly the adults. We had a very good meal[Mexican]. The Magic Kingdom was fun simply because the kids loved it. We sprung for the early admission and staying in one of their properties made it easy. We also sprung for the character breakfast. I have video of Goofy goofing w/ my daughters pigtails. We did it once. Enjoyed it. But the kids never clamored to go again.

  10. I visited Disneyland on a business trip on a misty cool school day. No lines. Nice visit. I visited Disneyworld on a Florida trip during the winter when kids were in school. No lines, Nice visit. If I remember correctly, the tickets were about $30. I took my nephew to FL with me about 25 years ago. I debated with myself about spending the money on Disneyworld. Miniature golf won out. Turns out all my nephew wanted was my undivided attention, not a bunch of attractions. Today, I don’t even have the debate.

  11. I was 55 years old the first time I visited Disneyland in California. I enjoyed myself as if I were 5 years old . My favorite was the Star Wars Ride and the side area Touring California Ride and don’t both twice. It helped my current GF at the time brought her Mom who used to work for Disney himself. She had a magic button on her collar that automatically sent us the front of all the lines even if they had to open up a new one and she along with people behind us were shunted. It made them happy too. We started at first opening and left at closing.

    Since then my home residence has been Florida. My sister related her trip with her daughter and grandaughter. She found a package deal for hotel in the park that featured a form of the magic button. Those staying in the Park got to start an hour or two early and had ride preference buttons and cards which got them meals without standing in line as well. Cost extra but it saved being like Olly described.

    My Aunt and Uncle lived with Five miles we visited there several as in four to seven times. Never thought to go near Disney World.

    Like much of the USA it has priced it’self out of existence, or for those willing to take out a loan with their whole working life ahead of them.

    But I wouldn’t have missed that first experience at age 55 for anything. The Magic Kingdom is truly magical

    1. I grew up in Minnesota and we didn’t have the money to make such a trip. It wasn’t until I was an adult with my children back in the 80’s that I went to Disneyland for the first time. Being in the Navy, I didn’t have a lot of extra cash to buy special tickets nor did I know about the advantages those tickets could buy. Nevertheless, watching the joy the park brought to my children was priceless. I have an 8 year old now and as much as I loathe crowds, lines and overpriced food, there is still value in experiencing the park till closing time. As much as I will grumble when my wife insists I go, the memories of watching my son at “the happiest place on earth” is why I will make the pilgrimage.

    2. Olly: You retained the wrong divorce attorney and paid much too much. Why pay up front when you can have the comfort of knowing you can pay later? Call 1-800-LIENHOME for a free 10-minute telephone consultation to see what we can do for you. Call now!

      1. LOL! Thanks Steve. My first mistake was in marrying the wrong woman. My second….oh never mind, there’s way too many to list. I was a late bloomer to critical-thinking. I’m torn between the “if only knew then what I know now” and the joy of youthful ignorance. Perhaps I take solace in staying one step ahead of a Darwin award. Now where did I put my phone.

  12. My wish is that every politician in the world can visit a Disney property to see how incredibly efficient, well-planned, clean and profitable a Kingdom can be!

  13. “My two complaints about Disney remains the lines and the prices. It is ridiculous to pay hundreds of dollars and be able to only get on a couple rides.”

    We live in San Diego and my wife will take my son to Disneyland a couple of times a year. I for one would prefer to work than go, and I believe they have a better time for it. As far as what you get for what you pay, it reminds me of my divorce attorney. He was Disney and I was the unhappiest person on earth. Billable hours. It is ridiculous to pay hundreds of dollars for only talking to my lawyer for 5 minutes.

  14. I lived in Sebring, Florida from 1982-1986. I met my husband there so Florida has special meaning to me. When we lived there an adult ticket for one day at Disney world was $17. A biography about Walt Disney quoted him saying that his parks were intentionally built to “lose money”. Walt built his parks for children to be able to go and forget their troubles for a day with smiles and joy. His ideas died with him and I am scandalized by what Disney has turned into. During the time we lived in Florida, we visited the park 3-4 times a year. I would boycott it now.

  15. We went to the Animal Fair.
    The birds and beasts were there.
    The old baboon by the light of the moon was combing his auburn hair.

    The monkey he got drunk.
    And fell on the elephant’s trunk.
    The elepant sneezed .. and fell on his knees.
    And that was the end of the monk, the monk, the monk.

  16. Solo trips w/ one child are a great way to really get to know each other. Thanks for writing about this nice trip. We’re all happy there was no ‘gator story.

  17. Thanks. Disneyworld is amazing. The people who make it happen are amazing. Or in Presidential language, it’s fantastic, really fantastic, fantastic people. It’s Big League or bigly fantastic.

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