I am now less than 30 days away from my Disney vacation! Since it gets closer every day, I'm going to fill you in on a couple of things I've planned so far.
I fly out on a weekday evening and return on weekend night. I'm doing both flights direct, with no layovers. (Just the way I like to travel!) I'm flying with Frontier, which has decided lately to add on a gazillion surcharges, including the carry-on bag. I will check my yellow Disney suitcase, which I have taken on all my Disney trips lately and I love to death.
I have rarely rented a car (considering I'm only a few years past the rental-car-privilege-age of 25), but I've had pretty good experiences in Denver and Tampa. This will be my first time renting in Orlando, which has been known to be a very good rental car destination, considering the millions of tourists that go through MCO.
The one problem is that my flight gets in on Tuesday at 11:30pm, and I'm worried that if I come in later, Dollar Rental's counter (where I have my reservation) will already be closed. I picked Dollar because I get a mid-size sedan for twenty bucks a day, plus some extra charges added on. I've heard from Disney people that Dollar is a good place to go. Hopefully I can say the same!
This was my one sticking point when I was planning initially. I really wanted to stay on-site at Universal for one night, and Disney for the other three. But the rates for these on-property hotels is staggering, and since I'm going solo, I don't have anyone with which to share the charge.
Instead, I'm staying at an off-site motel that I have stayed at in the past, and had a good experience. It only takes ten minutes to get to the Magic Kingdom's Ticket and Transportation Center.
Two things are confirmed: I will be visiting Universal Orlando for the first time ever on my first day, and on my second day I will be attending my first ever Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. (Yup - that's what it's called.) I am very excited for both things.
To prepare for Universal, I have been re-reading the Harry Potter novels. While the first two are okay, I always get into it a lot more during Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which is debatably my favorite of the series. (It changes every now and again.) The ending itself is enchanting to read, and I always enjoy the twists. Now I'm racing through Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
This will help me get in the mood when I first enter Diagon Alley for the first time. I haven't looked in-depth at any photos or videos of that area, because I want to discover things for myself when I walk up and down the streets. I also look forward to getting on the Hogwarts Express and going to Hogsmeade village, which is in Islands of Adventure, and going into Hogwarts. Just typing that makes me giddy!
Day Two, Three, and Four are Disney days. Since I have recently spent two days at the Magic Kingdom, and really got to experience it in-depth, I'm not going to spend too much time there. I'll enjoy the new things that have appeared since 2012 (New Fantasyland, mostly) and try to experience as much as I can during the Halloween Party. You can dress up for that, and I have a fantastic costume picked out!
I can get into the party around 4pm, but I will spend the first part of the day in Epcot, enjoying the Food and Wine Festival for the first time. I know I will have some very jealous friends when I post pictures of the amazing foods I will be eating!
Day Three is a toss-up day, but I will probably spend the first part of the day in the Animal Kingdom, and the late afternoon and evening in Hollywood Studios. My favorite nighttime spectacular of all time is "Fantasmic!" and I can't pass up the opportunity to see it for the twelfth-ish (maybe more?) time.
On Day Four I hope to finish up at Hollywood Studios and Epcot again, doing things I didn't have time to do earlier. I need to have the rental car back at the airport around suppertime, but there's plenty I can do before then.
The main goal for this trip is to record as much audio as possible at Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. I've already done an entire series on the background music of the Magic Kingdom, and I want to be prepared when I start the other parks. So much of my time writing about Magic Kindgom music was spent researching and wondering if this information I was finding on the Internet was really genuine, and it took a long time to confirm. But now that I'll be in the parks, I can know it for myself!
Another goal is to enjoy the parks at a leisurely pace. It hasn't been terribly long since I've been to Orlando, so I don't feel that pressure to do EVERYTHING I can. Sure, I will be there at park opening to enjoy as much of the parks as possible, but instead of running down Hollywood Boulevard I might take it at a stroll.
The final goal is to figure out Fastpass+ and the My Disney Experience. Both of these have rolled out in 2014, and I've tried to stay current with all the information. Fastpass+ replaces the old Fastpass system that my family discovered (and loved) back in 2000. Instead of racing around and getting paper tickets, you use your phone to reserve times at favorite attractions. You can only reserve three attractions at a time, though. Even though I said I wouldn't race around doing everything, I'm still going to try this out so I can better inform people of what to expect.
I am very excited for this trip to happen! I am looking forward to doing research for my TouringPlans.com posts, and I will likely post other information here on the Blurb. Stay tuned - it's going to get very magical around here!