Theme park paradise Orlando

This was almost a week-long journey to Orlando, Florida.Disney World Map

You see, the entire family was going on vacation. Yes! And Suan had joined Mel on this one with his family in the US. During the course of six days, we immersed deeply into all the fun that one can have at the theme parks. In this essay, we will recount the times we spent at where we coin the “happiest town in the world”.

  • Sea World (r all water no photos LOL)
  • Universal Studios (a spent a full day here)
  • Magic Kingdom (a spent two days here)
  • MGM studios (a spent a full day here)
  • Epcot center (a spent a full day here)
  • Shopping in Disney village (r too busy shopping no photos)

Heheh. We are family! We got our cousins with me….anyone remember Sister Sledge?

Seaworld 1
Slides. We did all of them

Never mind. Our first day at Florida was spent at Sea-World. As we were there in the afternoon, we ended up till late wallowing in the waves till the lifeguard told us we had to be careful… In the afternoon, there seemed like a storm in the background but that obviously did not stop us from doing all the slides. Yes – ALL of them.

Seaworld 2
It was a tiring day

However with all that energy spent, we had to retire for the day. Because we are headed for another 6 days of parks and rides starting with,

Universal and MGM Studios

We bought a 3-day pass which allowed multiple access to any of the parks within Orlando. This was clearly the best deal we could have at that time, since it was an easy drive or so we thought. The only downside was the traffic and the parking!

Universal Studios1
Comfortable wear recommended

When we went to Universal Studios, it was barely 7 years old having opened only in 1990. So relatively spanking new… as standard fare the rides at that time were modeled after the movies that the studio had produced. Guess this formula has not changed over the last 20 years. But the highlight for the kid in us (well specifically Suan) was the field day she had having pictures taken with her favorite cartoon characters.

Seriously we cannot imagine these folks walking about in the hot and humid summer that was the time we visited. But queue Suan did along with lots of children jostling for attention from the cartoon characters. But it seems that it pays to be a little more assertive or you will never be able to get a photo shot – queuing up was just an illusion!

It was here that we were introduced to the concept of the fastpass. You know – book a future time slot and be there on time to take the ride. Saves time. Used to be free. Now you pay for it. The last we looked at the Universal Studio’s website there are no less than 11 combinations of “skip the queue” passes. Good luck.

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MGM-Studios (renamed these days as Hollywood studios) was originally also a film studio, but we cannot seem to detect such activity at all…perhaps it was not time. But there were stunt shows where fire and water were used extensively. Watch Indiana Jones battle the Nazis and win the day.

Disney World, indeed World!

Magic Kingdom 12
A cake castle!

If you had been to other Disneyland parks around the world, you might consider them to be “bleh” after your time here in Orlando. Because it is huge. Unlike the ones in France (here), Japan or Hong Kong, the sheer scale of the park here confirms that you need to buy the 3-day pass. Perhaps that might be cutting it a little close too…yes we do know some of those parks have expanded but nothing as colossal as in Orlando.

Magic Kingdom 11
Did we vote for Captain Hook?

Please remember that this is a reminisce article. Because at that time the park only comprised of the Magical Kingdom, Epcot and MGM studios. To be honest we spent a lot of time at the magical kingdom because Disney Orlando was celebrating its 25th anniversary. Now the castle was decorated into the form of a large cake. While the anniversary was actually in 1996, but they had not removed the decorations (for whatever reasons).

Just a little fun during the week we were there, an “election” contest between Captain Hook and Winnie the Pooh was taking place… oh it was so difficult to decide whom to vote for: Captain Hook or Winnie the Pooh…who did you think we voted for?

Every day, the marching band kicks off the main parade at 3pm along Main street. Mickey and Minney mouse would of course be the VIPs that will officiate the parade. There are also performances of various Disney classics and cartoons such as Beauty and the Beast. In the late evening, a similar main street parade takes place followed by the fireworks display. When that takes place, it signals that the park is about to close. We managed to see the parade on two of the nights!

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Epcot characters3
Anyone know who this is?

As was with Universal Studios, there were yet more cartoon characters to pose pictures with. Strategically plan how to “stalk” them heheh and check the timing when these characters are roaming about in the park. For example, we found Winnie the Pooh in a quiet corner of the park, possibly in the process of preparing to come out to the main street. Aha! Gotcha. Suan ever the opportunist did not pass up having a photo with this “duck” too. Don’t know what it was. There are so many of them that it is impossible to recall all their names now.

With 6 themed “lands”, we moved in a clockwise direction through them taking one ride after another At fantasyland we visited the pirate islands of the Caribbean. Bear in mind this was before the movies were made! LOL. All wonderful memories.

Epcot and the world

Epcot center 2
The 25th anniversary still evident

Now Epcot is an acronym : “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” and was the brainchild of Walt Disney to build an integrated city that will be a test bed of new ideas for living.

Epcot center 1
A clear shot without the anniversary decor

But that did not take place and today it is an intended showcase of technology and the future. Noble idea indeed!

The international theme is also evident at Epcot, as it tries reconstructs 11 pavilions themed to represent a specific country. Iconic structures of these different countries and cultures are replicated, such as temples of Aztec and Mayan step pyramids found in Mexico. In each “country”, there are shops selling the “goods” typical of that nation. We guess this is quite typical of the US, the commercial interests are always intertwined.

Germany being recreated here with sausages and sauerkraut! And Italian towns and cities (Venice etc) are real enough for you to postpone making a trip to the country itself. And it is only here one can pose with a Sombrero in the Mexico pavilion without looking ridiculous. Suan posing in front of the Japanese pavilion. Never are to know that this country would become one of our most visited later on in our journeys. They did not have a replica of the Great wall though at the China Pavilion. We later had lunch ourselves at a Chinese restaurant. It was quite pricey, but hey we are in Disneyland, everything’s more expensive… Our model had to pose with every country pavilions and we are sure you will too.

Even though we had a week, there was so much to see and do. Being a large group we had to split up so that everyone can do what they would like to do instead of being tied to a group. The agreement was to meet up at the certain time to get back for dinner. How did you do you Disney trip with family? Stick together all the time?

A full week is what will required to do some justice to the parks. And this was way back! Imagine there is now so much more to do with the additional parks added over the years. How can one not stay in Disney World while you are there? There are now so many accommodation options! Will we go back? Sure why not! If only to re-live it all over again as children in the happiest place on the planet.

This journey to the happiest place on the planet was made in July of 1997

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