Being a Kid Again at Disney World

Monday – May 19, 2008 –

After yesterday’s lronman race, I slept well. I was sore this morning, but I felt pretty good.

After eating some breakfast, we drove to Walt Disney World and decided to tour part of the Magic Kingdom. I hadn’t been to Disney World in more than 20 years, so I was wondering what this would be like visiting as an adult.

One thing that really blew me away is how big the Disney complex is in this part of Central Florida. They have a ridiculous number of theme parks, hotels, shops, restaurants, convention areas, golf courses and water parks. They are the kings of making tourism money. It’s almost inconceivable just how much their real estate is worth. They certainly have some magic in everything they touch, whether is the Magic Kingdom or their other parks!

Thunder Mountain

Thunder Mountain

We took the ferry boat across Lake Kissimmee to the park entrance of The Magic Kingdom. First stop: Thunder Mountain. It was still the great western roller coaster that I enjoyed as a child. The we took the train around the park before walkingdown Main Street. It’s certainly touristy, but Main Street does have a cool vibe to it. The smell of popcorn and cotton candy permeated the air and nostalgia almost made we want to buy a pair of Mickey ears to wear to remember the good old days of walking down this street.

Of course, we felt obliged to ride the classic ride, “It’s a Small World.” It definitely was hokier than I imagined, but it was certainly innocent fun and a kumbaya moment. Then we took the cable cars before exiting and touring the Haunted House. And of course, we had to tour the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride. After all these years, it’s still my favorite ride. There is just something timeless about “yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.” And I am not even a big fan of the Johnny Depp movies!

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean

We decided to take the monorail to EPCOT Center for the afternoon. We visited several of the country pavilions. I still think Mexico and Norway are the best, but it might be because I am partial to water rides. We enjoyed the maelstrom ride through the maelstrom and the rush of the wind and water after the trolls warned us to staff of his fjord. Cliche I know, but pure fun! The Mexico boat ride was relaxing round the lagoon and back through Old Mexico. Then we watched films at Canada and the U.K. Pavilions before going to some of the other attractions.

EPCOT Sphere with monorail

EPCOT Sphere with monorail

First on our list was the Time Travel ride inside the EPCOT sphere, better known as Spaceship Earth. Judie Dench narrated as we rode through audio-animatronics ride back in time. We saw the history of mankind from cavemen, to the Egyptians, to the Phoenician’s first alphabet, to the Renaissance, to the industrial age to the Space Age.

Afterwards we visited the “Land” pavilion and water ride. I could still remember the “Listen to the Land” song from my childhood as we rode the water ride through the exhibit. It was as amazing today as it was then seeing the hydroponically grown vegetables and fruits. Then we we grabbed some lunch at the food court inside.

That after we enjoyed the timeless Space Mountain. I think Dad and I got a little sick on it, but we really enjoyed it. However, we enjoyed another ride better. It was our first time experiencing the GM-sponsored Motion ride, Test Track. It took us on simulated test track of a new vehicle. I don’t want to spoil it, but what a rush!

EPCOT's Test Track

EPCOT’s Test Track

Probably my favorite was the “Flight” ride. It simulates a hang glider flying over different parts of the United States. This was the first time I had ever been on this ride and it’s well done. After buckling into our seats, we lifted off the floor as we stared at a large screen in front of us. We could even feel air blown on our faces to simulate the wind and smell oranges as we flew over orange groves and places like Yosemite. Very cool experience!

We finished the evening by eating Mexican food at the Mexico Pavilion. We took the ride around the pavilion and took a trip back into Old Mexico. It really is a fantastic way to wind down for the evening. Then we watched the fireworks that evening over the lake while we ate our Mexican churros … another favorite memory from my childhood. That fireworks show is definitely a highlight and one of the best you will ever see — especially in such a spectacular setting.

Is Disney World touristy? Yes, you better believe. However, it is still a rip-roaring good time regardless of your age. Tomorrow I had to go back home to work and being adult. However, it was great feeling like a kid again!

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