top of page
Grayscale on Transparent.png

The Happiest (and Sometimes Crankiest) Place on Earth--Disney World, January 2018

Updated: Feb 9, 2018

On our most recent trip, my husband and I made a stop to Orlando, Florida to visit Disney World. Back in 2016, when we were planning our upcoming winter wedding, we had already made a promise to ourselves that we would spend our first anniversary in Disney World. We are fortunate enough to have been able to keep this promise and save for this portion of our trip: Disney World is not cheap.

We stayed in one of Disney's moderate-style resorts, Port Orleans Riverside, with immediate access to food, laundry services (which we used), gift shops, and transportation. I was impressed by Disney's incredibly streamlined complimentary bus transportation system. We never had to rent a car or hail a taxi between the parks, nor to and from the airport; all we needed to focus on was having fun.

The last time I went to Disney World, I was 18 and had just graduated high school. It was 2005 and I had gone with my family. Nearly 13 years later, there were plenty of new things I had never before experienced, such as Epcot's Frozen Ever After ride in the Norway Pavilion, or the Soar! simulated experience around the world (also at Epcot). The culmination of our experience with Disney's various attractions, however, was in Animal Kingdom, in the newly opened World of Pandora. Designed to look like the Nav'i world from James Cameron's epic fantasy film Avatar, Animal Kingdom's World of Pandora includes two attractions, A Nav'i River Journey (for which we had a FastPass+), and the incredible Avatar Flight of the Passage flight simulator. Because these two rides are so popular, Disney only lets you reserve a FastPass+ for one of the two, so we waited the entire 180 minute queue to get on Avatar Flight of the Passage. But boy, let me tell you, it was worth every minute of waiting on that line because this attraction wasn't like anything I've every experienced before. It is a one-of-a-kind experience in which you simulate riding on the back of a banshee in front of a large 3-D screen, as the wind blows through your hair, the smells of Pandora fill your nose, and the dramatic landscapes take your breath away. So much does it feel like a thrilling ride through Pandora's skies, that it is not recommended that you ride if you have a fear of heights or flying. I actually needed to close my eyes for about 20 seconds in the beginning, because my Generalized Anxiety Disorder was put to the test by this experience. Yet, it truly was one of the most incredible things I've ever experienced, despite it bringing me out of my comfort zone. I very much look forward to going back on this ride when we return to Disney this December.

All in all, Disney World really does know how to create and sustain a sense of whimsy, and our anniversary was indeed well spent. It does, at times, feel like the crankiest place on Earth, when you are surrounded by thousands of small children who are experts at throwing tantrums (I get it, I was very tired, myself, at the end of each day). I also ended up catching a cold on my last full day, presumably from the aforementioned children who are also often ridden with germs. And yes, going to a large theme park like those that comprise Disney World can be a challenge when you have an anxiety disorder. But it is quite okay; I haven't had that much fun in quite a bit of time. From meeting princesses, to traveling the world at Epcot, to animal safaris in Harambe, to banshee-riding in a mythical world, Disney World is quite appropriately the Happiest Place on Earth.

Magic Kingdom

Festival of Fantasy parade, Ariel

Festival of Fantasy parade, Queen Elsa

Festival of Fantasy parade, Belle and Beast

Festival of Fantasy parade, Merida

Festival of Fantasy parade, Rapunzel

Festival of Fantasy parade, Rapunzel

Festival of Fantasy parade, Ariel

Festival of Fantasy parade, Elsa and Ana

Festival of Fantasy parade, Belle and Beast

Festival of Fantasy parade, Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen

Festival of Fantasy parade, Maleficent's fire breathing dragon

Festival of Fantasy parade, the Lost Boys

Wind gust along Main Street