So, I guess it is confession time.
Sometimes I get up in the morning, and I do not feel like going to work my pixie dust is running a little low.
You know those days, the ones where your costume does not fit quite right, and you accidentally lock yourself out twice before remembering to grab your key? Yeah, those days happen to Disney employees too.
But it is okay.
Because, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. And for me, it is the knowledge that if I can put in five solid days of work (even if they are the worst days ever), I get two days to do whatever I want.
Usually that involves visiting the parks. Actually, it pretty much always involves going to the parks. So today, we are going to talk about the parks.
Before we talk about the parks, here is a little trivia:
Walt Disney World sprawls out over 40 sq. mi. of land, and contains four parks and 34 resorts.
To scale this, the entire City of Clarksville is 95.52 sq. mi.
Therefore, Walt Disney World is barely less than half the size of Clarksville.
Of the 40 sq. mi. of land, 25 percent of it is set aside as nature preserve, so that leaves the vacation destination with approximately 30 sq. mi. of land to operate on.
Walt Disney World’s four parks are:
If you have ever seen a photo of Walt Disney World, chances are it was taken in Magic Kingdom. This is not because any of the other parks are less important, it is just that over at Magic they have this lovely little landmark that is fairly recognizable.
It looks something like this.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is Cinderella’s Castle, at night.
Honestly though, if you only have one day to spend at Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom probably is the place for you.
Comprised of six different areas, Magic Kingdom has just a little bit of everything.
There are six areas in Magic Kingdom, each tailored to a specific concept such as exotic places (Adventureland), the past (Frontierland, Main Street U.S.A., Liberty Square), the future (Tomorrowland) and fairytales (Fantasyland).
In total, there are 41 attractions and approximately 30 character meets at Magic Kingdom.
My favorite Magic Kingdom memory is definitely the time my roommates and I rode Big Thunder Mountain, and just as our car went over the first hill on the coaster, the very first fireworks for the nighttime show Wishes went off. It was so magical, coming over the top of the track to the castle illuminated by these bright lights in the sky.
For starters, EPCOT is actually an acronym for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.
Much like how Magic Kingdom has Cinderella’s Castle, EPCOT is home to the “EPCOT ball”, properly named Spaceship: Earth. This is another landmark of Walt Disney World, and may also be found in the background of many photos.
EPCOT is the place to be if you love learning about culture, or if you like good empanadas, according to my coworker Becky.
Future World comprises one-half of the park, and it features plenty of space-themed rides and shows. The other half is the World Showcase Pavilion, which features areas for 11 different countries. Those countries are Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States of America, Japan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom and Canada.
And, right now EPCOT is hosting the 20th annual Food and Wine festival, which gives guests the opportunity to sample food and beverages from over 30 different cultures (most of which are not typically represented in the park).
I had a blast visiting EPCOT for the first time with my roommate two weeks ago; we explored all of Future World, and rode all of the rides before settling in for dinner at the Biergarten in the Germany pavilion. At the Biergarten, it is always Oktoberfest, and if your party is not large enough to fill a table, they will seat you with strangers (as is the Oktoberfest custom). We had the opportunity to eat dinner with total strangers, and to really get to know some of the guests that visit our parks, without them knowing we were cast members. I took a personal interest in the couple seated across from us who were celebrating the wife’s acceptance into medical school by taking a trip to Disney World.
Oh, Hollywood Studios.
I could literally talk for hours about this park.
Mostly because it is where I work, but also because it is hands down my favorite place to be on my days off.
But, I promise to keep it brief.
Hollywood Studios pays homage to the early to mid-1900s, as they would appear on film. When guests first enter the park, the scene plays out to look like the 1920s, but as they progress further into Hollywood Studios, the decades change through the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Beyond the 1950s, the atmosphere of the park changes entirely. It begins to reflect what the back lot of a movie studio.
This is because, for a period, Hollywood Studios (then known as Disney-MGM Studios) was an operating movie/animation studio.
There are not tons of rides at Hollywood Studios, but the park is home to one of the most famous rides on Disney property: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
Being my home park, I definitely have many fun memories here, but my favorite happened just as few hours ago (as of the time I am writing this), when a coworker and I attended Dapper Day. Dapper Day is this huge event where hundreds of park guests dress as if they are from the decades represented in the park to really bring the magic to life. I will get more into it at the end of this post.
Calling all Wilderness Explorers, if you still need to earn badges to become a Senior Wilderness Explorer, this is the place to go. There are plenty of live animals around to help you work on your animal calls, and a large area of the park dedicated to dinosaur excavation.
That’s right, Animal Kingdom has dinosaurs.
There’s even a ride dedicated to it.
I have only been to Animal Kingdom once, but the day I spent there was filled with exciting shows (like Festival of the Lion King), interesting adventures (we got to see at yeti at Mount Everest) and riding through the safari to see all of the different kinds of animals that live there.
It was pretty cool.
We saws lions and tigers (but no bears, sorry)!
Animal Kingdom is also home to a few cultural gems as each part of the park focuses on the habitats of different areas in the world (Asia and Africa specifically). There are cultural representatives within these areas, and I highly recommend speaking with them. From talking with just two people, I learned how to spell my name in Thai and that Simba is the Swahili word for lion.
Which means Simba the Lion is actually just named Lion.
So that is a pretty quick summary of each park, but we are not done yet, because I have a special treat this week.
As I mentioned earlier, I attended Dapper Day, which is a huge event that travels between all of the Disney properties and gives Disney lovers of all ages the opportunity to pretend that they have been transported back to the 1900s.
My coworkers, Becky and Christine, and I made plans to get as soon as we were all able to get the time off and then we set out to assembling costumes.
Being the indecisive individual that I am, I picked out a cute vintage dress and ran with it, not really aiming for a particular decade. This landed with me with a look that borders between 1950s and 1960s.
We met at Hollywood Studios at 10 a.m. and immediately set out to have a fantastic day. We rode the Tower of Terror and Star Tours, and spent a significant amount of time walking around, just chatting and looking dapper. And we were definitely not alone in that.
The park was filled with two kinds of people today: the ones who knew what was going on and dressed accordingly, and the ones who may or may not have known, but were obviously enjoying the show.
There were several hundred guests dressed up for Dapper Day.
I even saw two women dressed like dapper versions of Cinderella’s stepsisters.
And there was a group of several people dressed as classy versions of Disney villains.
Most of the Dapper Day looks that I saw looked nothing like Disney characters, but were just as incredible as those who did.
And with the storefronts designed to match the many decades that were present today, Hollywood Studios really began to tell its story. There was laughter all around the parks, and excited cheers as someone found a costume they really enjoyed.
It was a very cool experience, and I have definitely started looking for my costume for the spring meet-up.
(For pictures of Dapper Day, there is an official Instagram page @dapperday)
(For more pictures of my adventures, make sure to follow @theallstate_apsu on Instagram)