The Most Magical Place on Earth

A Reflection on My Trip to Disney World

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The Most Magical Place on Earth

Cinderella's Castle at Disney World's Magic Kingdom park. The firework show here after dark was absolutely spectacular.

Cinderella's Castle at Disney World's Magic Kingdom park. The firework show here after dark was absolutely spectacular.

Colleen Starkey

Cinderella's Castle at Disney World's Magic Kingdom park. The firework show here after dark was absolutely spectacular.

Colleen Starkey

Colleen Starkey

Cinderella's Castle at Disney World's Magic Kingdom park. The firework show here after dark was absolutely spectacular.

Colleen Starkey, Assistant Editor

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We have all seen the commercials – the beauty and splendor of Disney. Disney World is somewhere that most kids dream of visiting at least once in their life. I had a chance to go this past summer with the band, so I took the opportunity and went to Disney World. If you’ve ever talked to anyone who has been there, they probably told you that it is an awesome place to visit, but the magic of Disney is even better when you can experience it for yourself.

Hollywood Studios

The first day, I was at Hollywood Studios, which is easily the smallest of the four major parks at Disney World. Despite its size, it has some of the most spectacular shows and gift shops out of all the parks. There are very few rides – I think I only counted one or two throughout the park – but I quickly learned that the shows make up for that easily. For my fellow Star Wars fans, Hollywood Studios has the best and the most Star Wars attractions.

The Star Tours ride is in a setting as if you’re actually in the Star Wars universe, flying with C3PO as your pilot and R2-D2 on board as well. There are three different versions of the ride, so each time riders get on, they may have a different experience. The virtual reality is so realistic that it makes people forget it’s just a ride. Furthermore, the Launch Bay is a great Star Wars themed attraction to visit. While it is neither a ride nor a show, stop by to meet Kylo Ren, Chewbacca and BB-8, as well as to view props that were actually used in the various movies. The Launch Bay Cargo is a gift shop that has a large variety of Star Wars merch available, so make sure to check it out, too. I found some nifty little key chains, and there is even a way to design a couple of things for yourself.

When it comes to the shows, the Voyage of the Little Mermaid is one of the best. It is a 15 minute version of the Disney film that includes three of the songs. There is also an Indiana Jones stunt show. I didn’t have enough time to watch it while I was there, but I’ve heard that it is extremely good as well. When I go back, I hope to be able to go see it.

Hollywood Studios is an awesome park for everyone, and just a couple weeks after I left, Disney opened a Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios. Disney also plans to open a new Star Wars: Galaxy Edge attraction at Hollywood Studios sometime in late 2019. This attraction is rumored to have a Star Wars themed hotel as well as many Star Wars themed rides inside it. Though it is the smallest park, it is still a fun place to visit, especially for Star Wars and Toy Story fans. I had so much fun at Hollywood Studios. I’m not one for rides for the most part, so I enjoyed having a lot of shows to enjoy. However, the rides that are at Hollywood Studios are also really good.

Epcot

Epcot, which I visited the second day, is perhaps the best park for those who love traveling and/or science. There are a lot of cool rides and places to visit, and there is something for everyone. Be sure to check out Mission Space; it simulates taking a trip to space. Thrill-seekers and scaredy-cats alike can both enjoy this ride because it has two different sides, a simpler one, and a more turbulent one. I didn’t do the more turbulent one, but I did enjoy the simpler one. I was able to fly around the earth and received the experience to push some buttons to control the ship during the ride.

Another great ride is Soarin’ Around the World, affectionately called Soarin’. This ride simulates flying in the pilot’s seat of an airplane to various tourist attractions across the globe. The ride is smooth, easy and enjoyable for people of any age. In my opinion, Soarin’ is the best ride at Epcot, and the virtual reality is even more realistic than that of Star Tours back at Hollywood Studios. If you can, get a fastpass for Soarin’. People in the line typically have to wait up to 90 minutes to get in without a fastpass as opposed to between 15-30 minutes with one. Even without a fastpass though, Soarin’ is well worth the wait.

Epcot has a large lake behind the giant golf ball. The World Showcase around the lake provides guests with a glimpse of multiple countries from around the world, including, but not limited to, Morocco, India, Germany and Mexico. Each country has examples of traditional architecture and authentic food to try, as well as souvenirs that can be found throughout that particular country. It’s like being a tourist to that country without ever leaving the United States.

Each night, there is a massive firework show at Epcot after the park closes. It is absolutely spectacular. As long as you’re already inside the park when it closes, you can stay there to watch the show. People gathered all around the lake as the fireworks erupted in the air. The colors were vibrant, and it is a lengthy show. It is phenomenal, and I highly recommend staying for it.

Epcot was probably my favorite park of all. When I return to Disney World, I will certainly be going back to take in the wonders of Epcot again.

Magic Kingdom

On the third day of my trip, I went to Magic Kingdom, the biggest of the four parks. Because of its massive size, it is divided into four “mini parks” that are all connected by Main Street U.S.A. My favorite places were Tomorrowland Speedway, a place to race go-karts and Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, an Incredibles-themed restaurant. Tomorrowland Speedway should be fairly self-explanatory. It is a great place to race your friends and family. I wish I had gotten a fastpass for it, but it was still pretty fun.

Each day, there is a parade that travels through the longest part of the park, from Frontierland all the way down Main Street U.S.A to the park entrance. High school bands from across the eastern and central U.S. perform in this parade along with the usual Disney floats. It is a spectacular parade that no one wants to miss.

It might be good to plan to be at Magic Kingdom for several days because there is so attractions there. I wish I could’ve had another day there because I didn’t get to see and do a lot of the things I hoped to do. Despite just having the one day though, I still had so much fun and I really enjoyed it.

Like Epcot, Magic Kingdom has a firework show after the park closes. People gather around Cinderella’s Castle in the center of the park to watch it. It is even better than the show at Epcot, and in addition to the fireworks, Cinderella’s Castle lights up and changes colors every minute or so. Magic Kingdom is one of the most magical places to visit, but I do wish I had longer to explore and have fun while I was there.

Animal Kingdom

I ended my trip to Disney World at Animal Kingdom, which is about the same size as Epcot. Like Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom is divided into a few smaller areas, none of which are remotely similar. In Dinoland, be sure to ride the Primeval Whirl, especially if you like roller coasters. The Primeval Whirl is similar to a a roller coaster, but it has more sudden turns and drops. Dinoland also has good restaurants and great gift shops to visit.

In the African section, listen to traditional African music and shop in stores selling traditional African items. Also be sure to travel out to Rafiki’s Planet Watch to meet Rafiki from The Lion King and see a miniature zoo with various sorts of primates, as well as learn about the necessities of environmental conservation.

To cool off, ride on the Kali River Rapids, a tire boat that takes you through a splashing water course. Finally, be sure to ride the Avatar Flight of Passage ride in Pandora: The World of Avatar. The VR is incredible, and it simulates riding across Pandora on a banshee after bonding with an avatar to be able to take the trip. It’s based on the movie Avatar, but if you haven’t seen the movie don’t worry. I have not seen it and I still enjoyed the ride a lot. It is by far the best ride in all of Disney World. It is fairly new compared to other rides, so the wait times and lines can be rather long – sometimes over 2 hours – but whether you fastpass it or not, make sure to ride it. It is well worth the wait.

Each park is my favorite in some way. Hollywood Studios is my favorite for gift shops. Epcot is my favorite overall because of the World Showcase and the many science fiction rides, as well as the fantastic food. Magic Kingdom is by far the biggest, and I absolutely love Cinderella’s Castle that is right in the center of the park. Animal Kingdom has the best ride in all of Disney World with Avatar Flight of Passage, but even if you can’t visit all the main parks, going to Disney World is still a spectacular experience. Disney really is the Most Magical Place on Earth, and I certainly plan to go back again as soon as I can!

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