My Orlando break from reality

Here’s a fun way to lose weight and tone up those legs: walk 72 kilometers in 5 days. That’s what I did this past week, on my trip to Disney World and Universal Studios.


This was me a few times on the trip, but with less awesome hair.

I’m going to just come out and say it: we have taken the kids on lots of trips, and this was by far the best one for everyone. We had so much fun, and to be honest, I didn’t really expect to. I mean, I thought I would just sort of enjoy the trip by osmosis, since my husband and kids were so over-the-moon excited, but I honestly loved the whole experience so much.

I have a lot to say about it, and plane travel in general, and tips like “Never take the Magic Express Bus at 12:30 pm because that is when all the small children are going back to their hotel for a nap. If you do, prepare for much crying.” But for now, I will leave you with the highlights.

Christmas Everywhere

Since we were there after the US Thanksgiving, everything was decorated for Christmas. This included the Blues Brothers’ vehicle. At Universal, my husband and I watched them perform Christmas-themed versions of their songs – “I’m a SNOWMAN” – while the kids rode on the Transformers ride for the twelfth time.




I wish we’d gotten a photo of them decorating a small Christmas tree with packages of Marlboroughs and Pabst Blue Ribbon cans.


There are Christmas trees everywhere!



“And they’re hanging their stockings!” he snarled with a sneer.


Universal has a “Macy’s Parade” every night at 5 pm, and it’s very fun to watch. Those are random people in the photo.

The famous Sleeping Beauty castle was all lit up with Christmas lights, and it was pretty special. The one downside? I actually got a bit tired of Christmas music. I know! But when you hear “It’s the MOST wonderful TIME of the YEARRRRRRRRRR” over and over, you weary of it. A bit.

Nostalgia for Cars

For many years, my house was vehicle-crazy. The boys had pretty much every Cars movie character in miniature form, we had books about Cars characters, and a large percentage of every day was devoted to “playing Cars.” We stayed in the Art of Animation resort, which was separated into four different themes: Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, Lion King, and Cars. This is where we stayed:

Wheel Well

There were life-sized climbable Cars characters all along the pathway (Route 66) to the different buildings.

Doc Hudson


If we had gone when the kids were small, we would have never made it out of the resort. They would have just wanted to play around Doc Hudson and the rest of the gang all day long.

The Art of Animation was a great hotel, with lots of vegetarian choices at the cafeteria, so I was happy. We had a suite, which meant TWO bathrooms. This really made the trip go from great to amazing. They also have some fun looking pools – the kids only swam one night, since we were so busy at the parks – and there is even a pool bar, which made me even more happy.

Roller Coasters

I don’t love all rides – anything that spins makes me feel ill – but I love roller coasters. Disney has some really fun ones, like Everest and the Rock and Roller Coaster, but Universal had the ultimate crazy ride: the Rip Ride Rockit. I didn’t get a photo but the description is here. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever been on, truly. My heart was pounding when I boarded it, and I asked the guy beside me if he’d ever been on it. He replied that he didn’t speak English, but he screamed “HOLY SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT” through the whole ride. Holy shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit indeed.


My hair in a neat bun pre-Rip Ride Rockit.


Universal has a whole section devoted to The Simpsons, and it has piqued my children’s interest in watching the show. I haven’t watched it for probably fifteen years, but I’m hoping to find some reruns of the classics, like Duff Gardens – if only to explain this to the kids:


Me and Surly.


The Duff Man. Note my hair, straining to be released from its bun. That was after Rip Ride Rockit.

Harry Potter

I have not seen the movies, nor read the books, but we have Harry Potter fans in the house. The train alone that goes between parks is worthwhile, even if you don’t know Harry Potter from a hole in the ground.


Snow in Orlando!


The dragon actually roars.

The Muppets

My love for the Muppets is well known. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, there is a Muppet 3D attraction, and it’s fabulous.

Muppet Theatre

A little excited, I guess.



Star Wars

I have saved the best for last. Unless you are disconnected from any kind of media – in which case, you are probably not reading this – the new Star Wars movie is coming out in EIGHT DAYS. The countdown has been on at my house for a while, and we were all pretty excited to hear that Disney was opening its new Star Wars Launch Bay on December 1. We were there December 4! It was pretty much impossible not to get caught up in it. We all enjoyed Star Tours SEVERAL times, went to see a “Path of the Jedi” short film, and we looked at the many artifacts at the Launch Bay. We even stood in line to meet a celebrity. Now, my kids couldn’t care less about meeting Mickey, or a princess, or any other character at Disney. But we did want to meet this guy:


He loves me!

Now it’s back to reality – tomorrow I’m chaperoning a field trip! Although it was a short vacation, it felt like longer, like a real break from reality. Which, I guess, it really is.


  1. How fun! N went through a Cars-obsessed phase, too. He still likes the soundtrack, but it’s a pretty good one.

  2. It sounds like an excellent trip! If–and I do mean IF–we ever go to Disneyworld again, I’d be more excited about Harry Potter (and so would my daughter). Maybe we will just visit our relatives in California and go to the new one.

  3. Totes jelly! I cannot wait to go back to Disney, and we’ve never been to Universal. I am super impressed with how much you were able to see in just five days. I want to know all the tips! All the details! What were your favourite parts? What were the can’t miss parts? How much time did you spend in each Disney section? TELL ALL.

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