Growing up, one of my fondest memories were the family trips to Walt Disney World. I can honestly say there is not another place on earth that can reignite your passion of imagination, creativity and dreams more than here. I love having my moments where my inner child and youthfulness come out to play!
Over the holiday season, I was able to sneak in a quick trip down to Orlando to unleash my inner child by visiting Disney and Universal from a totally different perspective than previous trips. The ADULT version. And low and behold, it did not disappoint. Taking my time to really explore was pure bliss. I was able to see a different side of the theme parks that I appreciated on a whole new level different than past trips.
It's mind boggling to me just how much time and effort go into all of the details in the window displays, buildings and gardens and how they replicate the era, culture, and country or area of the world they portray. Such a great example of creative talent at work!
Going during a non-peak time is so important if you want to avoid the long wait times for rides and attractions. By doing this, I was able to visit two parks with no feeling of being rushed. I managed to ride and visit all of my favorite attractions and explore all the areas I wanted. I suggest visiting during the Holiday Season. You are able to really enjoy all the sights and sounds the parks have to offer. The decorations and lighting displays are truly works of art.
With my time being very limited in the parks (only one day), I decided to park hop and visit Hollywood Studios and Epcot this go around focusing most of my time at Epcot.
Hollywood Studios was designed and inspired by the show business and the movie making industry in the 30s and 40s.
I'm a thrill ride junkie. My quick morning visit to Hollywood Studios was pretty much one to catch a couple of turns on Aerosmith's Rockin' Roller Coaster, The Tower of Terror and to seek some inspiration from some of my all time favorite movies on the Great Movie Ride. One of my favorites featured on this attraction is The Wizard of Oz. Below are several scenes from the ride along with some of my favorite movie quotes.
The rest of the time I got to spend strolling down the streets enjoying the architecture, window displays and the details of the park.
Imaginative spark ignited! Was sad to have to cut the visit short but it was time to head on to Epcot. Growing up, Epcot was the theme park I enjoyed the very least. NOT this go around! In fact it was quite the opposite.
Epcot was designed with international and futuristic worlds in mind. There are two very distinct parks within: the World Showcase and the Future World. I did not spend much time in the Future World but had just enough time to get my thrill ride fix. Mission in Space and Test Track did the trick!
At Epcot there are so many different events and celebrations throughout the year to enjoy.
Popular Events and Festivals
I've never been able to spend any big portion of time in the World Showcase. With my current obsession with different cultures, my objective was to really explore all it had to offer and write about my favorite areas that made the most impact on me personally.
And the 7 winners of my favorite inspirational World Showcase countries are:
I decided to eat, drink, stroll and be merry, starting in Mexico. I began inside the Mexican Pre-Columbian pyramid replica. Inside is a vibrant colored marketplace. In the back drop is the San Angel Inn Restaurant along with a volcano and a Mayan pyramid. I highly recommend this restaurant. The food and drinks are good and the scenery is captivating. It's always a great choice when the temps are scorching outside. The dim lights and the cool temps are refreshing to say the least. Make sure you make a reservation! There is always a long wait! Right beside the restaurant is La Cava Del Tequilla de San Angel Inn. Their margaritas, with so many amazing choices, are a great way to start off seeing the sights.
The Yong Feng Shongdian is one of the largest shopping districts in the World Showcase. I really enjoyed the open air market there. The market has a great collection of meditation and mindfulness pieces that are perfect for a thought provoking moment or two.
A visit with Disney's Princess Snow White in the courtyard and caramel at Karamelle-Kuche put me in the perfect mood to stroll through Kunstarbelt one of Germany's stores. Who cannot resist feeling as if you are a princess as you day dream while admiring the crystal and tiara collection on display there? Such beautiful craftsmanship and elegance shown in these pieces.
The mood will surely grab you for a glass of Italian wine while walking through the Venetian inspired streets and stores. There is a fabulous wine selection at Tutto Gusto's Wine Cellar with over 200 choices. The cellar is filled with wall murals, rich dark wood and dim lighting to mimic a wine cellar's ambience. My favorite store hands down in this country was La Gemma Elegante. It contains exquisite Venetian hand painted paper-mâché masks. Each are such a work of art and the attention to detail in each is amazing.
Masks like these, The Le Maschere Di Venezia, the Masks of Venice, are used in a carnival that dates back over 550 years ago and lasts from Februaury to March each year. The masks are worn and used to hide the identities of the persons so the social status of all are the same. Hmmm..... I find that concept very thought provoking.
Morocco by far is my favorite country and market at Epcot for inspiration. This country has the most craftsmanship of the Epcot countries. It is seen throughout in the beautiful stucco archways, colorful terracotta tile work and beautiful glass lighting designs.
Winding your way through the bazaar is truly a jaw dropping experience for the five senses. The ambience is one of romance and intrigue as you make your way through this marketplace.
If you look closely you will notice you can see the Tower of Terror in the background here. Most people miss this because the back of the tower is painted to blend in with Morocco, known as a "visual intrusion" by Disney's Imagineers.
One can not leave out the Parisian inspired influences in Epcot's version of France. The Eiffel Tower replica that can be seen in the distance, cannot be reached by the public and was constructed using Gustave's original blueprints of the tower. With it not being to scale, to keep the illusion from being spoiled, Disney coated the tower with a substance so the birds won't perch on it.
While exploring the bistro inspired cobblestone passageways, I enjoyed sampling French wines by ordering a flight of 3, 3-4oz pours from La Maison du Vin which also has a champagne flight. Make sure you stop by Les Hailes Boulangerie Patisserie, a bakery that has amazing pastries.
Don't miss great entertainment by catching the "Serveur Amusant" acrobats that perform an amazing balancing act on top of a tower of chairs at various times throughout the day.
After a day of touring the countries, Canada is a great place to end the day with a relaxing sit down dinner at the Le Cellier Steakhouse which is famous for their steaks, prime rib and salmon. It is one of the most popular throughout Epcot, so make sure you grab a reservation.
Canada's grounds are picturesque and seem to capture all of the country's landscapes from Canadian Rockies with massive boulders and a stream that includes a 30 foot waterfall and to the beautiful gardens seen in Victoria. The Hotel du Canada, which is modeled after the Chateau Laurier hotel in Ottawa, looks so massive when viewing. However it is only 3 stories tall. The Imagineers added 5 stories of windows to get the effect. Also check out the totem poles display. Interesting fact: There is one that is not like the other two. See if you figure it out. HINT: Knock, knock.
An AMAZING day in an AMAZING place. No matter your age, Disney gets it right and will entertain and inspire you.
For more inspiration you might like The Secret Garden, Through A Child's Eyes, and Your Biggest Cheerleader.
What are your favorite places in Hollywood Studios and Epcot? Would love to hear from you!
Like an image?
Just click on it for more info.
You can find my images from some of my travels available for purchase at:
iStock by Getty Images
Fotolia by Adobe: us.fotolia.com/p/206433466
They are also available for purchase as prints and on many great products at:
at Balboa Press