Something a little different from me today. I regularly listen to several podcasts on The After Dark Podcast Network including Disney Parks & Beyond, Discover DLP, Mickey Waffles and Disney Dream Girls – got to get my Disney fix somehow in these strange times! Recently several shows on the network had episodes where the hosts discussed their answers to a list of 10 Disney parks questions. I really enjoyed hearing the different answers and discussions, so since listeners were encouraged to think about their own answers, I thought I would use the questions as the basis for a post.
- How many times have you visited “the parks” (any Disney parks)?
For the purposes of this question, a visit was taken to be a trip which incorporated one of the Disney resorts (since counting up visits to individual parks could be pretty tricky!). I’ve been lucky enough to visit Walt Disney World in Florida, Disneyland in California and Disneyland Paris. I needed a little help from my photo albums, but I think my numbers look like this:
WDW = 17 (1992-1995 with my family; 1999, 2003, 2004, 2006 with my ex; 2008 solo but joining my family once I arrived; 2010 for our honeymoon; 2012-19 with Steve, except 2015. We did visit Florida in 2015 but had a super relaxing trip where we did next to nothing other than hang out by the pool and run, so no park visits). And as a result, a lot of great memories of special moments and things that were only around for a short time/have since been removed:
Disneyland = 1 (1996, before Disney’s California Adventure existed).
DLP = 5 (2005 with my ex; 2018&2019 for RunDisney; 2019 with the school, 2020 with my sister).
Ooft, that’s a lot of Disney park visits!
- First time you visited each of the parks?
WDW 1992. This was supposed to be a “once in a lifetime” trip, one and done. But we had such a good time that no sooner were we back than my parents were booking again for the following year, and the rest is history. Eventually they bought property in the area, hence the frequency of trips.
Disneyland 1996. I’m not sure what prompted the trip to California after several Florida trips, but I suspect a key driver was the fact that my mum has family out there and wanted to visit. She could remember her grandmother making the trip many many years ago and she wanted to see some of the places she had talked about. My memories of this trip are a little dim now, but I hope one day to visit again.
DLP 2005. At this point in my life a trip to Florida just wasn’t a possibility, so instead a trip to DLP was on the cards. I remember it was July and the weather was super hot. I really enjoyed my visit but it was a good few years before I visited again as I was going to Florida so often.
- Last time you visited a Disney park?
2020. An absolute miracle! I don’t think any of the podcast hosts had a 2020 visit in their discussion since the parks closed so early in the year and we have been unable to travel to the US for over a year now. Although a number of my Disney plans for 2020 were cancelled, my sister and I did have a long weekend at DLP booked in August which slipped nicely into a brief period of time when we could travel without having to quarantine, so I was able to get my Disney parks fix.
- Favourite resort you’ve stayed at, or if you haven’t stayed on property where would you like to stay?
I’ve only stayed in some of the “budget” resorts. As a family we stayed in the All-Star Music resort at WDW for a few nights some time back in the 90s.
And for my two RunDisney experiences at DLP we stayed at the Hotel Cheyenne and Hotel Santa Fe respectively.
I also stayed at the Santa Fe on my very first visit in 2005, but this was before it was Cars-themed.
I don’t remember much about the WDW resort other than the theming around it and we spent little time at our DLP resorts, so I don’t think I can really choose one of those. Instead, I’m going to tell you about some of the resorts I would like to stay at:
At WDW I’d love to stay in one of the monorail resorts to have easy access to the Magic Kingdom and ever since my first trip I’ve been fascinated by the Contemporary Resort because of the monorail going right through the middle. I know it wouldn’t be everyone’s first choice and there are certainly “better” resorts, but one day I’d love to have the chance to stay there.
It’s definitely a dream of mine to return to Disneyland one day – I mean, there’s a whole other theme park I’ve not visited – and while there are fewer hotels there, I think the Grand Californian looks AMAZING!
Finally, although I’m leaning towards off-site hotels to make DLP trips accessible and budget-friendly, I’d love to stay at the Disneyland Hotel. I would have picked Sequoia Lodge, but I think it’s probably fairly similar to the Grand Californian, so I went with something different to mix things up. I’d never afford a park view room, but being right at the entrance would be a real advantage.
- Favourite ride at EACH PARK you’ve visited?
Oh, this one is hard but at least I’m allowed to break it down to each individual park to make it a tiny bit easier!
Magic Kingdom: I think I’m going to go for the Haunted Mansion. It’s one of my absolute favourites and I’ll never forgive myself if I don’t pick it somewhere on my list!
Epcot: Here it’s a toss up between Frozen Ever After and Soarin’ Around the World but I think I’m going to pick Frozen. I love the themed queue line with Wandering Oaken, ride elements such as Sven with his tongue stuck to the ice and, of course, having a boat full of complete strangers all belting out Let it Go!
Hollywood Studios: I’ve not yet had the opportunity to experience Smugglers Run, Rise of the Resistance or Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and one of these will almost certainly be my favourite just as soon as I do. In the meantime, I’ll pick the Tower of Terror. It’s a ride that always gives me the fear whilst waiting in the queue, but as soon as I’m on there the adrenalin rush makes me want to go right back around again!
Animal Kingdom: Flight of Passage. Hands down one of the best rides there is. I didn’t know what to expect given I’ve only seen Avatar once and didn’t know a great deal about it, but it’s an amazing experience not to be missed.
Disneyland (California): I considered picking Pirates of the Caribbean here (I love Pirates and this is the OG version) but one of my strongest memories from our mid-90s Disneyland visit is my sister and I LOVING the Matterhorn Bobsleds. I know we rode several times and squealed with glee as we rode those sleds down the mountain. For that reason, and the fact it’s unique to this park, it’s going to be my pick here.
Disneyland Park (Paris): It could easily have been Pirates of the Caribbean or Phantom Manor, but I think my pick here is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I love Big Thunder and the DLP version is by far the best.
Walt Disney Studios: Not so many to choose from here so it absolutely has to be Ratatouille. A version of this is opening at Epcot later this year, but until now this one has been unique to DLP and is a fantastic ride.
- Last ride you actually rode at a Disney park?
Phew, finally a reasonably easy one to work out. For our August 2020 Disneyland Paris trip my sister and I were on a mission to go on as many rides/attractions as we possibly could since there was limited park capacity. To keep track, I took a picture at each attraction so that it would be easier to remember later on. Looking back at those pictures the last ride I went on in DLP was Star Tours. I like Star Tours so I’m happy with that. Imagine if it had been something really silly like the Flying Carpets of Agrabah!
- Guilty pleasure snack?
This question is rather open to interpretation. “Guilty pleasure” is a little different to “favourite” and rather suggests something that isn’t one of the more popular Disney snack foods. If I was picking my favourite then I’d probably opt for a Mickey pretzel (let’s face it, any food shaped like Mickey Mouse is automatically better!) but often when I buy a Mickey pretzel I also buy a pickle in a bag. As in, one of those ginormous dill pickles that’s about the circumference of a cucumber and fairly sizeable. They are individually packaged (which I’m less keen on because of all that packaging) and there’s always lots of pickle juice in the bag as well. They can normally be picked up at snack locations that have big ice chests with drink bottles and fruit buried in them. It’s not a Disney trip until I get one (and the salt is a good way to replace the salts lost in all the Florida sweating!), so this is my guilty pleasure.
- Favourite country at Epcot?
Hmmm. This one I found hard to narrow down. Mexico is good for a frozen maragarita, the character meet & greet with Mexican Donald Duck and that amazing pyramid where it’s always twilight (and cool!) inside. Norway has the fantastic Akershus restaurant (the “taste of Norway” buffet is totally worth it), meet & greet with Anna and Elsa and, of course, the Frozen ride. And France is, well, France! Attractions there are expanding to include Ratatouille and further dining locations so I suspect the next time I visit Epcot the France pavilion will easily take my number one spot, but what about right now? I think on balance I’m going to go with Norway. I have so many wonderful memories from there and look forward to more in future.
- Favourite sit down restaurant at a park?
We don’t often go for sit-down dining on park days as this kind of meal can take up quite a lot of time. I think for this I’m going to choose Bistrot Chez Remy at the Walt Disney Studios in Paris. My sister and I were able to get a booking there back in August (we had both been keen to visit after watching a vlog of the experience) and it was a really good meal. The theming in the restaurant is so detailed – I love that diners are “shrunk” to the size of a rat – and the food was delicious. I’d love to go again with Steve as I think he would really like it.
- Favourite character meet & greet
I’ve had so many character meet & greets across the years, going right back to when they were a real free-for-all rather than an orderly queue, but one in particular springs to mind when I think about my answer to this question. When we went to Florida in 2019 we spent a few days visiting WDW thanks to a bargain ticket offer, and I bought Steve a pair of “ears” colloquially known as “duck butts”. Basically the rear end of Donald Duck, this particular headgear tended to attract attention, most memorably when we visited Mickey and Minnie in the Magic Kingdom. The celebrations for Mickey’s 90th birthday were continuing and we popped in to see them towards the end of the day when it was quiet. Steve’s “duck butts” led to much hilarity and we have so many pictures of all of us (including Mickey and Minnie) doubled up with laughter with all the larking about. It was such a good meet & greet as there was no rush to get through so the characters had time to create a really fun experience. For similar reasons, meeting Donald Duck in the Mexico pavilion at Epcot was also great fun, but this one was in the middle of the day so there was less time for the interaction.
So there you have it. I was definitely thinking about some of my answers as I listened to the various podcast discussions, and it was such fun to reminisce about my Disney park adventures. I know I’m really lucky to have had so many opportunities to visit the parks and hopefully it won’t be too long until I can go again.
Have you visited any Disney parks? I’d love to know your answers to these questions…