Thursday, March 27, 2014

Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World: Definitely a Dream Come True
As told by Arlanda James (to Shandra Hill Smith)

A trip to Walt Disney World always has been a dream of mine. My family and I got that opportunity in 2013.

My husband and I with our now 12-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son were delighted to stay at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & SpaA beautiful place! You could see the Disney characters everywhere throughout the resort. When we arrived in front of the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the guard at the gate said, “welcome home.” Those words alone left me feeling like we really were at home.

Watching the excitement of my children brought tears to my eyes as we were being escorted to our room by a bellman. We all were just filled with joy by the warm hospitality offered to us by the resort workers, and how cozy our room was. We were excited to find the different characters displayed in the room’s carpet and on its walls. After settling in, I began to prepare for my trip to Senses Spa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort.

The Senses nail technician who served me with a manicure and pedicure was so courteous. I was amazed how she openly shared her testimony on how working for Disney helped her to succeed in her life. It was very motivating to hear, and I just loved the pampering plus the spa experience.

I was given a full tour around the spa. Again, I was amazed by the hospitality of the staff. I was offered a sample of a zucchini and carrot cake that was very tasty, plus nail polish of my choice. Once I left the spa, I was escorted back to the Grand Floridian Spa & Resort, and there I was met by my family. Our assigned tour guide Mark waited patiently as we loaded up for our trip to the theme parks.

Our first stop was Magic Kingdom. For my children this park was truly magical. Our first ride was Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. The children had lots of fun firing lasers to Evil Emperor ZurgOur next ride was a monorail ride, giving us an aerial view of Magic KingdomAfter we left the train ride, Mark took us to ride Space Mountain. He warned us ahead of time that this ride can be a little more challenging than the other rides we’d been onBoy was he right! Mr. James loved the ride, but the children and I were screaming to get off! After this, it was lunchtime. 
We were honored to have Annette Gibbs (Disney’s media relations) join us for lunch at a Be Our Guest restaurant, designed after the enchanted castle of beast from Beauty & the Beast.” The food was delicious. I like the way that we pre-ordered then we sat and were served our food. Three of us ordered Pork Roast dinner with vegetables; my son ordered Disney meatloaf. The meatloaf was in the shape of Mickey Mouse. After the restaurant, our next stop was Magic Kingdom's new Fantasyland. 

Annette Gibbs was the best host ever; she was so polite and friendly, and it felt as if she made it her mission to make sure my family and I enjoyed ourselves. At Fantasyland, we went inside Maurice’s Cottage where we found the beast’s library. Here, the children were given the opportunity to participate in the storytelling. My son volunteered to be the beast. He actually got a chance to dance with Belle. I cried tears of joy like a baby because I knew this was truly a dream come true for my children, to meet the Disney characters in person. When we left the beast castle we visited Meet Ariel at Her Grotto. We saw Ariel and her dad, Ursula, Sebastian and all of our favorites from “The Little Mermaid. We enjoyed the music, and the overall Disney entertainment underwater.

Next up: We found the Dumbo, the Flying Elephant ride just right — not too fast, not too slow. On the other hand,the Haunted Mansion proved a bit creepy with its ghosts, goblins and graveyards. The ride truly made us feel like we were in a haunted mansion, and all the doors closed on us and we were no longer in control. 

For a brief stop at Epcot Center, we got a chance to ride Soarin’, a flight simulator attraction that allowed us to soar over sights around California. On Sunday we visited Animal Kingdom. I love animals so much, so I was a little disappointed there weren’t a lot of them to see at the time we took the Safari ride (Kilimanjaro Safaris). We did see an elephant from afar and hippos that were underwater. I loved the safari ride, which made us feel transported as if we were in Africa. 

My family and I enjoyed the 3D movie, “It’s Tough tbBug! This was the best 3D movie that we have ever seen; we felt the water, and even the odor from the stink bug from the film.

One Animal Kingdom ride in particular that was so exciting and daring that it had Mr. James scared was Expedition Everest — Legend of the Forbidden Mountain. My husband, son and son-in-law were nervous when they saw that the track was broken, and they ended up on a backwards ride. They were shaken up at the fact the ride dead ended to a broken track that led them backwards! 

was amazed by the Tree of Life and would love to have that attraction in front of my yard. This tree really looks like the real thing from a distance. It was carved with hundreds of animal images, and it was such a beautiful attraction.

My children loved their experience at Magic Kingdom so much that we decided to return the next day. We rode the same rides again before being treated to a Disney parade (there’s nothing like it). What a way to end a vacation at Disney. The parade was bright and colorfuwith its many floats and characters. After the parade the park closed and we took a boat back to the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. The boat ride was soothing; we even saw a view of our hotel room. When we arrived back to the resort, we stood on the balcony and watched a Disney World fireworks display from our room. It was truly magical!

The only thing that I can say that I regret about this two-day trip is that it was too short, and we didn’t get a chance to enjoy the fullness of all four theme parks because we ran out of time! We’re definitely looking forward to going back! 
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