04/20/2018 to 04/26/2018
Bill Frederick Park, Disney World
Friday 4/20/2018 We left Ocean Pond National Forest Campground around 10:30 this morning. We had 167 miles to drive to Orlando and are staying at Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake for seven nights. This is a beautiful Orlando city park. We stayed here last June when we visited Universal Studios and really enjoyed it. For the Orlando area, this is a relatively inexpensive place to stay. The Fort Wilderness campground at Disney World charges anywhere from $82.00 to $100.00 per night. This place is $19.00 a night. It's not as convenient as staying inside the park at Disney World, but we can live with that, and it's only a 30-minute drive from this campground to Disney World. The campground has 36 sites and is located on the end of the city park near the lake. It's also quite peaceful.
Saturday & Sunday 4/21/2018 & 4/22/2018 We didn't have any plans for these two days so we just relaxed in the park. Bill Frederick Park has many recreational options for Orlando residents and it's a very busy place on the weekends. We rode our bikes on their blacktopped bike trail that circles the park. There were many activities going on during the weekend. Parties, picnics, disc golf, car clubs, bounce houses, cookouts, and meetings. Saturday there was a Honda Civic Type R owners club get together. They had over 30 cars lined up that I just had to check out.
Monday 4/23/2018 Today we went to Disney World. We are picking up the kids (Leila & Liam) on Tuesday night and taking them to Disney World on Wednesday and Thursday but because of the way the ticket prices work we can go a third day for a very low price. We can only go to one park each day so we chose Disney Hollywood Studios. We had planned on getting there as soon as they opened but it didn't work out that way. For some reason, our GPS would not take the address that I had for Hollywood Studios. It kept saying no such address found. So I Googled the coordinates and made a mistake when I entered the numbers. We ended up about 15 miles south of Hollywood Studios. So instead of 9:00 AM it was around 10:00 AM when we arrived.
The weather was perfect and at first, the crowds didn't look too awful. We were here five years ago and not much has changed. Today we got to see and ride just about everything in the park. We rode The Hollywood Tower Hotel three times and The Rock n Roller Coaster two times. We originally wanted to eat at the Drive-In Diner but we didn't have reservations and the wait was 90 minutes. We ended up at one of their cafeterias, not really very good. I was a little disappointed in the park this visit. The first time you see Hollywood Studios is wonderful because everything is so new and exciting. I believe this was our third trip here and to me, it now seems a little out-dated. For example, some of the shows haven't changed since we first saw them over 20 years ago. Most of the attractions were exactly the same. Disney Studios now owns the rights to Star Wars, so there were some additional attractions related to that theme. They had a character meet and greet, Jedi training for the children, a live Star Wars character show and an evening light and firework show with Star Wars themed music.
Tuesday 4/24/2018 Today was the day we picked up Leila and Liam. It's about a three-hour drive from Fort Myers to Orlando so we decided to meet Michael halfway, then both of us would only have to drive an hour and a half. Every time Michael and family have driven to Disney World, they passed a quaint barbeque restaurant called Smokin' Joe's BBQ. They've never had time to stop and Michael really wanted to give it a try. It was actually very good food and reasonably priced. After dinner, we drove with Leila and Liam back to Bill Frederick city park in Orlando and Michael drove home to Fort Myers.
Wednesday 4/25/2018 Today was our adventure to Animal Kingdom in Disney World. We were unable to obtain any Fast Passes or reservations in any of the restaurants that we wanted to try. I guess most people plan their Disney vacations many months in advance and we were only planning this a couple days beforehand. We arrived shortly after opening but it takes quite a while from the time you park, take a tram, get searched and actually enter the park. Leila and Liam immediately wanted to ride the roller coaster called Expedition Everest, it was a 45-minute wait. The first time around, we waited. After that, we learned that you could ride as a single rider and not have a very long wait. We did that a few times until we had our fill of that ride. We tried to fit in as many attractions as we could but decided if the wait was over 30 minutes we would skip that ride. We didn't hold firm to that rule on some of the more popular rides. We were excited to visit the World of Avatar but as the fates would have it, the two major rides in the world were closed. 🙁 Leila loves to visit with the Disney characters and wanted to meet and greet every character she could. In the good ole' days, the characters were gleefully roaming the park, now you have to wait in line to meet them inside a building. People were even using their Fast Passes on the meet and greets. Leila was thrilled to meet with Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto. We were very tired at the end of the day and left the park shortly before closing.
Thursday 4/26/2018 Today we ventured into the Magic Kingdom. And when I say venture, I mean it's an adventure just getting inside the gates. We tried to arrive earlier than yesterday and we did, but at the Magic Kingdom after you park, wait for the tram ride to take us to either the Monorail or the ferry boat (we decided on the ferry boat), go through the bag search and then wait in line to scan our tickets, it was close to an hour and a half later. For whatever reason, the Magic Kingdom is the most popular theme park and although we were technically there off-season, it was tremendously crowded. I mean it was reach out and touch a stranger crowded. The kids were super excited to ride Space Mountain and that's the first thing we did even though it was a 50 minute wait. They absolutely love that ride so it was worth the wait. Again, we were unable to obtain any good Fast Passes so everything would be a wait. We rode on various rides and then we had a meet and greet with Goofy and Donald Duck. Gotta love that Goofy. Leila and Liam enjoyed driving the cars on the Tomorrowland Speedway though they couldn't reach the gas pedal so their passengers had to help them out. (that's us) We managed to ride every ride and see every show that didn't have an extremely long wait time. Near the end of the day, the kids discovered the People Mover ride in Tomorrowland and convinced us to go on at least four times. We think they enjoyed it because it travels straight through Space Mountain. We went to the House of Presidents and were amazed at how much Leila seemed to really take an interest in the presidents and their stories. We ended the day by taking another ride on the People Mover as the end of the day fireworks were being set off. The kids noticed during the People Mover ride that Space Mountain didn't have a wait so after a few more agonizing minutes on the People Mover we got off and raced to Space Mountain for a final thrilling, late night ride. Now very tired, we began the long trek back to the gates, wait for the ferry boat, wait for the tram and then finally walk back to our truck and begin the drive back to the campsite.
A footnote: Although Disney World is a fun-filled experience, we are pretty sure this will be our last visit. We first visited Disney World way back in 1976 on our honeymoon and it was amazing. We took our kids there in 1993 and 1997. Yes, it was expensive and it was crowded but it was nothing, and I repeat nothing like it was this trip. Now, it seems like after you pay an enormous amount for the tickets, parking, food, etc. - all you do is wait, wait and wait some more. The amount of people visiting these parks is overwhelming. We took the advice of the travel guides that this was one of the better times to visit the parks, technically the "off-season". If this is the off-season, we just can't imagine what in-season would be. Also, the Fast Passes are great for the people lucky enough to obtain them (probably months in advance), but not for the people that didn't plan months in advance. We feel the Fast Passes add a huge amount of wait time to the popular rides for the people without them. We have to mention that the ticket prices and everything else has skyrocketed over the years. It's amazing that so many people are able to pay these high costs. A one day pass at Magic Kingdom is about $120.00 per person. If you wish to visit more than one park in the same day it goes up to $174.00 per person. Parking is $22.00 per day. We noticed many large families and groups of people and wondered how they afford everything.
Taking all of this into account, and although we will never say never, we highly doubt we'll be returning to Disney World. The crowds were just unbearable, the prices are out of this world, and it felt as if all we did was wait in lines. The girls even had to wait in line to visit the restroom. Sorry, Mickey.
A final note: To Leila and Liam - thank you so very much for allowing us to join you on this visit to Disney World. We really did have a magical time with the two of you.
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