Walt Disney World 4 Parks in 2 Days: Pre-Trip & Animal Kingdom

"Justin! If I use fast pass for Spaceship Earth, we won't be able to fast pass for Test Track! What should I do?"

These are the quandrums you face when you aren't familiar with how Walt Disney World's fast pass system works AND you only have two days to visit four of Florida's best-known theme parks.

Having visited Walt Disney World as a kid, I already knew some of the best rides: Splash Mountain, It's A Small World, Carousel of Progress… (Yeah, I know my favorite rides from childhood may not have been yours… so? 😛) I also knew that Florida was blazingly hot during the summer and lines were extremely long. What I didn't know was how much Walt Disney World had changed in the fifteen years since I had last visited, how hot it would be in November, and whether or not the rides that thrilled me as a child would still thrill me as an adult.

Over the next few Tuesdays, I will share exactly what my return trip to Orlando entailed and how exactly the husband and myself saw #4ParksIn2Days! :)



Shortly after my engagement in late 2011, an old friend from my early college days also announced his engagement; he was to get married after his girlfriend of five years graduated college. Time passed rapidly with no wedding in sight (or planned). Would they actually follow through? Was a wedding truly on the horizon?

The answer: 2015. November.

So, shortly after learning of the date, I booked a hotel and started planning a Disney extravaganza. No way was I going to miss introducing my husband to the happiest place on earth! :)

Justin and I both worked full days the Thursday we were set to leave for Florida; then we had my parents drop us off at the airport shortly after 8PM to board our late night Delta flight to Orlando. With an arrival time set to just after midnight, to say that we were tired would be an understatement. 😴 Luckily, we didn't have any driving to do once our plane touched down. Instead, we scanned our Magic bands and boarded the Disney bus feeling minimal excitement as the bus driver showed us a video describing in detail just what was in store for us at the Walt Disney World theme parks. Honestly, no one onboard the bus that late at night cared or even paid attention to the video. We were all ready to get to our hotel. The hour long ride could not have taken any longer than it did…

One of the only people to disboard at the Port Orleans Riverside, Justin and I made our way to the front desk where we were given our room key. The room looked lovely, but I only spent the minimal amount of time admiring it before making sure the alarm clock was set and we were ready to go for the next day, a day that would be filled to the brim with activity. (And, of course, Justin was like "do we really have to set an alarm?")


Animal Kingdom –

When the alarm went off six hours later, I jumped out of bed and scurried to the suitcase. With or without my husband, I was going to the parks! Light and minimal was my thought process – eighty degrees and having to carry whatever I took meant that I did not want to take much. One camera, one husband, an umbrella … and GO!

** Pro-tip: Weather in Florida can be unpredictable. ALWAYS carry an umbrella. Even if it looks beautiful and no rain is forecast!

Justin and I ate breakfast at the Boatwright's Dining Hall (terrible food, expensive price) before jumping aboard a waiting bus to the Animal Kingdom. Our goal was to be at the park at it's 8AM opening time (for Disney Resort guests; other AK visitors would have to wait until the public opening at 9AM). The goal: see as much of the park as possible before the crowds came.

We walked all the way to the back of the park passing by the Tree of Life to go to the Kilimanjaro Safari in "Africa". With very few people in line, we were excited to see what kind of animals would be out so early in the morning. Then it was the Wildlife Express Train, the Conservation Station  grabbing some delicious chicken marsala in the Harambe Village to snack on before heading to "Asia" where the screams coming from Expedition Everest enticed us to continue on. (Seeing lions, giraffes, and apes was fun and all, but we were ready for some action!)

If you aren't familiar with it, in my opinion, Expedition Everest is the best ride available in Animal Kingdom. It is a roller coaster that takes you through Mount Everest where you spot … dundunDUN! Yeti! And those Yeti? …are after you! So you have to get away! But how? … You go on twists and turns, ups and downs … forwards and … backwards(!!!) until you have escaped what you had deemed your fate! While there are plenty of animals at Animal Kingdom making the park, in my humble opinion, a glorified zoo, there aren't too many rides for the thrill-seeker, but Expedition Everest is definitely one of them.

As a non-roller coaster-er, I was a little anxious as we waited in line. Yes, the drop that was causing the screams was very similar to Magic Kingdom's Splash Mountain, but what I didn't realize was that the roller coaster goes backwards in a dark tunnel! What?!?! I'd done roller coasters, but none in the dark! And certainly none that went backward! BUT we had already waited in line for soooo long. I couldn't turn back now

And I'm glad I didn't turn back. Expedition Everest was one of the most fun rides I did while in the Disney theme parks. The storyline was cute, I loved exploring the beautiful mountains of "China", and the backwards in the dark part of the roller coaster ride wasn't quite as scary with my husband by my side. (Plus, you can't help but laugh at all of the people screaming! … It's like seriously?!? 😛)

Other highlights of the Animal Kingdom:
The Oasis Exhibit (Oasis): tropical garden pathways
Discovery Island Trails (Discovery Island): more animals
Maharajah Walking Trail (Asia): guess what? more animals. 😀
Kali River Rapids (Africa): We had a camera, so this one was a no-go for us. Be prepared to get wet!
DINOSAUR (originally known as Countdown to Extinction in DinoLand): This is one I wish I had taken the hubby on. It's a lot of fun, but a bit scary for young kids. Not quite a rollercoaster, but feels like it. Very jerky.
Primeval Whirl (DinoLand): Never been on this ride, but it looks a bit like a spinning roller coaster…
It's Tough to Be A Bug (a show in the Tree of Life): Put on 3D glasses and learn what it's like to be a bug. As suggested on Disney's site, this show may be a bit scary for young children.

The husband and I left the park shortly after completing Expedition Everest. My goal was to be at EPCOT for the Food and Wine Festival for lunch and I couldn't think of any other worthwhile rides or things to do at Animal Kingdom to keep us there past noon. So we moved on…

(To Be Continued…)


What do you think? Have you ever been to any of the Disney theme parks? And if so, what are/were some of your favorite rides? If you've been to Florida's Walt Disney World, have you had the chance to visit Animal Kingdom? Did I miss out on anything particularly good?

** Linking up to City Trippers Mummytravels.com and Wandermum.co.uk

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