It’s time for part two in the series on my Walt Disney World honeymoon! We explore the other Disney parks, take part in one of the nerdiest experiences you can buy, and do something that you might not know you could do in Disney World….
If you haven’t read part one in the series, make sure to do that to get a full understanding of this post. Let’s go!
Day Three – EPCOT
You’ll notice a trend of this honeymoon – ridiculous early mornings. Doing a Disney World holiday properly doesn’t bode well for those who like lie-ins. We had an alarm set for 6.30am to book a boarding group for one of the newest rides in the parks – Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. After hitting ‘book’ at 7am sharp, and landing with a boarding group at 9.30am, we got ready and made our way to the buses for our first day at EPCOT.
We started with a slow moving boat ride through the greenhouses of Living with the Land, a personal favourite as I am the self-appointed queen of houseplants. Before we knew it, our boarding group was being called and we rushed over to Guardians. It’s a brand new style of roller coaster, with a reverse launch, and the ride vehicle spin a full 360 degrees on the track to follow the story. Simply put, the story follows you, the humans, as you explore some alien technology. But, of course, it all goes wrong and the Guardians of the Galaxy have to intervene. My favourite aspect? Each ride experience is set to one of seven songs. We lucked out and got my song of choice, One Way or Another by Blondie. If you are a roller coaster lover or a thrill seeker, you better get this ride on your bucket list. The future of coasters is here and they are Marvel themed.
After letting our brains settle and stop rattling about, we headed over to Test Track to design and test drive a car, before moving onto the best area of EPCOT, in my humble opinion – World Showcase. Surrounding a 40 acre lake, World Showcase comprises eleven areas called pavilions, themed to different countries such as Morocco, Japan, and Italy. Instead of walking around the lake and taking it all in, we chose to take a boat across the lake to the America pavilion to get the lunch of dreams. Hot funnel cake, topped with vanilla ice-cream, and Oreos. Look, I aim to only honeymoon once so the plan was to eat whatever we wanted.
We then walked over to the France pavilion to go on another new ride – Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. For any Disney Parks fans here, you already know that this ride originated in Disneyland Paris and made its way over the pond in 2021. Across the whole trip, we rode this ride at least five times and it became an absolute favourite of Rory’s. It’s a trackless ride meets 4D adventure, where you shrink to the size of a rat and explore Gusteau’s restaurant with Remy. The smells and sights really do make you feel like you are immersed in the film, and is a true example of Disney magic.
After Remy’s, I put my rather sciatic foot down, and we went back to the hotel for the afternoon. But, that’s the joy of staying at a Disney World hotel – you can always come back later, and that’s exactly what we did. When darkness hit, we returned to EPCOT, albeit a little more dressed up.
That’s right, it’s not just theme park fare – it’s five star dining, baby. Coral Reef is set within EPCOT’s aquarium, one of the world’s biggest man-made ocean environments, so you can see fish and mammals of the coral reef pass you by. We were sat at the back of the restaurant on this trip, but even then, we had the most beautiful view. It’s worth noting that even the sit-down dinners in Disney World were huge. Thank goodness we chose to share a starter and a dessert, otherwise we would not have been able to eat our mains. If seafood is your thing, Coral Reef is the dining experience for you.
Day Four – Animal Kingdom
After leaving Coral Reef sleepy and full, we fell into bed, ready for another early start in the morning. We made use of Extra Magic Hours and got into the Animal Kingdom park before the crowds. The first stop was Kilimanjaro Safaris – a truck ride through the 110 acre wildlife sanctuary where you can spot rescued and rehabilitated animals from across the globe. It is worth noting that today was an unseasonably ‘cold’ day (aka not humid and sunny) which served us well on the safari, as many of the animals tend to hide away in the hot weather! On this 8am trip, we saw white rhinos, elephants, flamingos, hippos, ostriches and so many more. I did wish I brought a cardigan though…
After a quick breakfast stop, we made our way over to the most beautiful area of the park, arguably in any theme park – Pandora. This is a land inspired by the world of the Avatar, the ground-breaking James Cameron film. There are mountains that seem to float, alien-esque plants, the calls of banshees, and bioluminescence that glimmers in every dark corner.
As you walk into the land, you can hear the sounds change as well as the plants and theming around you. It’s truly immersion at its finest. Thanks to the Disability Access Service, we managed to ride both rides in Pandora within an hour, something that is normally impossible with the queues. First up, we rode the Na’vi River Journey – a dark boat ride through the waters of the Pandoran rainforest, full of bioluminescent plants and twenty-first century technology. The second ride was Flight of Passage, where through flying simulation and 3D technology, you really do feel you are riding on the back of a banshee. You can even feel it breathing against you as you ride. You can’t help but feel full of wonder when you step off that ride.
We moved onto a Rory bucket list item – pulled pork mac and cheese. He has simple priorities and I love that. Then we rode the thrilling fan favourite roller coaster that is Expedition Everest, and walked the Gorilla Falls Animal Sanctuary. With our big rides out of the way and the crowds beginning to swell, we chose to make our way back to the hotel. We explored one of the hotel’s sit down food options, Rik’s Sports Bar. Foolish British people that we are, we ordered individual meals from the light lunch sections and ended up with plates bigger than our heads. After sleeping off the carbohydrate coma, we didn’t let the ‘cold’ weather stop us, and visited the pool. Eighteen degrees is nothing for a Welsh woman and a Scot.
After a few hours relaxing in the hotel and getting our fill of American TV, we managed to get a reservation for Three Bridges Bar and Grill at Villa Del Lago. This was one of my bucket list places for our honeymoon and it just so happened to be at our hotel. This lake-side, casual dining restaurant is themed to match the hotel, and serves the most beautiful Spanish-American fare. I treated myself to a tower of sangria and Rory learnt the ways of American whiskey. We had tacos and steak frites, and ended the night with the world’s most decadent chocolate covered churros.
Day Five – Boating
The fifth day of our trip was meant to be a water park day. But it seems Florida can’t handle eighteen degrees Celsius (or sixty-four degree Fahrenheit) and the water parks were shut. So, we turned back to the old reliable mini golf. We walked over to Winter Summerland Mini Golf and played the Summer side of the course – beach themed mini golf but make it Christmas. In our opinion, it didn’t have a scratch on Fantasia Mini Golf, but we still had a lot of fun.
I do have to say thank you to Disney choosing to keep the water parks closed on this day, because we ended up having one of my favourite moments of the entire honeymoon. And that is – we rented a boat. Not the first thing you think of when you think of Disney World…
First we walked back to the hotel, caught a bus to the Magic Kingdom, and took the Monorail over to the Grand Floridian Resort. After admiring it for some time (one day we’ll stay there, one day), we headed over to the marina and hired a boat. It cost around $75 for an hour’s rental and was the best experience.
We sailed around Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon, looking across at the skyline of Magic Kingdom, and admiring other lake-side resorts. We boated around the old Discovery Island, a long forgotten Disney park. It was intriguing to see the old ports and docks, some still in use. I think I may have peaked in life on that boat. I was sitting in the sun, being driven around via boat by my husband, drinking pink lemonade and wildlife spotting. Perfection.
Of course, we couldn’t be that close to the Magic Kingdom without paying a visit. After a quick loop of our favourite rides, we travelled back to the hotel for some in-room dinner and a Duck Tales marathon. Yeah, we know how to live.
Day Six – Building and lightsaber and Drinking Around the World
Surprise surprise, our day started with another early start – but oh aren’t they worth it! If renting a boat was my favourite experience, then this day contained my second favourite experience – also the most expensive experience. Friends, we built a lightsaber. Well, Rory built it, I gave input. The early start found us at Hollywood Studios, where we were ushered into a secretive location to build the saber. We got to choose the materials, the kyber crystal, the works. For a pair of Star Wars nerds, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, full of magic and wonder. We currently have the lightsaber above our television and delight in showing everyone who walks through the door.
Whilst we were in the Batuu area of Hollywood Studios, we rode the Star Wars rides again and I had the most delicious coffee – the Coco-Puff Topped Cold Brew Black Caf. Coffee with a cream cheese topping? Better than you think. The early morning was starting to creep up on us, so once again, we returned to the hotel for a nap. All this napping makes us sound blimmin’ boring, but no matter your age, naps are essential if you are getting the most out of your Disney holiday. This nap proved vital as we had a big task ahead of us later that evening. That’s right, it was Drink Around the World time! Remember the EPCOT World Showcase with eleven different countries? Well, there is an unofficial drinking challenge where you get an alcoholic drink in each county. Simple!
First things first, I was twenty-six when I did this challenge, well over the legal drinking age in America. Secondly, Rory and I shared the task at hand, and split the drink in each country.
We started at Mexico with a margarita, going clockwise around the Showcase, and moved on to Norway where we had Troll Kreme – a cranberry slush topped off with Dragon Berry Rum. Then we stopped off at China, one of the most beautiful pavilions, for egg rolls and a Pilsner made with Orange Blossom and Green Tea. Now that was one of the best drinks I’ve ever had.
It was at this point that things went downhill and not because of the alcohol. I started to feel a stabbing pain in my stomach and brain fog drawing over me like a cloak. Thinking this was just a period pain that would leave, we stopped off at Germany for a beer and to Italy for a sparkling wine.
By the time we got to the American pavilion, the halfway point, I was not well. I was hospitalised with some sort of hormone or IBS problem earlier in the year and it seems like a flare-up decided to appear. We grabbed an orange cider and funnel cake for the road, and decided to get me back to bed. I was gutted that we had to split the challenge up, but if there is one thing this trip has taught me, resting when I need to is absolutely vital. But not to worry, the challenge would get finished on another day…
And with that, we come to the end of the first week of our Walt Disney World honeymoon. Writing about it is filling me with nostalgia and the urge to book a holiday somewhere! In the next honeymoon post, we are moving away from the Disney bubble, just for a few days, to explore Universal Studios and ride arguably the world’s best roller coaster…
Let me know in the comments below, what Disney World Resort would be your dream place to stay? For me, it would be the Contemporary, Grand Floridian, or Fort Wilderness Resort. Maybe one day, eh?
Thanks for reading,