Disney World (For Free!)

PictureI planned to go to Orlando with my mom during Super Bowl weekend, but she ditched me at the last minute to go to Houston with her bae. #trifling Instead, I booked an Airbnb and car rental a few days before my flight departed, and just planned to wing it. I usually relied on public transportation and Uber when I traveled, but the cost of a round trip from the airport to the Disney area exceeded the cost of a rental. So I used the benefits in my Chase Sapphire Reserve card to get a rental car, and made my way to Lake Buena Vista.

My Airbnb was in a quiet gated community where most of the residents were Disney World employees. I had never been to Disney as a child, and had no true interest as an adult. I imagined it would be this crowded place filled with privileged kids screaming and running everywhere. That wasn’t my idea of a good time, and I certainly didn’t think it would be the most magical place on earth.

My hostess and her boyfriend both worked at Disney as singers, and they were both so warm and welcoming. The boyfriend had a complimentary ticket to Disney World and offered it to me. Of course, I accepted his offer. How could I turn down a free ticket to Disney World? Sure, I didn’t think I would enjoy myself, but I didn’t know that for sure! This was the perfect opportunity to discover if it was as magical as everyone said it was. The complimentary ticket was a Park Hopper pass, meaning I could go to all of the Disney parks that day if I chose. The retail value of this ticket? $165! It felt like I beat the system by getting it for free.

I began making a plan for the day, and decided to only visit two parks – Epcot during the day and Magic Kingdom in the evening. I arrived at Epcot just a bit after 10 AM. Parking was $20 for the day and allowed access to parking lots of all parks. The entrance gates were already crowded at Epcot when I arrived, but I had mentally prepared for the long lines the night before. I glanced around at the crowd of people, and was surprised to see mostly adult couples and only a few strollers here and there.

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Although the lines at the entrance were long, the crowd thinned once inside. I didn’t know it, but it was Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts, so I visited during the right time as an art lover! There were various exhibits throughout the park, and a few live art showcases.

PictureThe World Showcase was were I spent the majority of my time at Epcot, strolling from country to country and taking in the experience. I stumbled upon Mickey Mouse and his homies right around 11 AM, and snapped a few photos. While in Morocco, I met Princess Jasmine. She complimented my romper, and started telling me about how she met Aladdin at the spice market. Shit, I didn’t know that! Aladdin was released when I was four. I haven’t watched it since then, so I have no idea what the premise of that movie is.

I am ashamed to say that I am not familiar with the Disney princesses. Who is Elena?! I haven’t watched the classic Disney movies since I was a child, so I don’t recall the details.  Rapunzel was talking to me about making a dress, and I don’t know what that has to do with anything. I should have researched before I brought my ass there – even Wikipedia would have saved me because those three year olds knew more about the princesses than me. One of them was asking Princess Tiana all her business about her husband. I was standing there low key ashamed that I had no idea what she was talking about since I had only seen a small part of that movie while waiting to get my oil changed several years ago.

The weather was wonderful, and I don’t think I could have visited the park on a better day. The liquor was flowing, and I didn’t hear a single kid screaming. Certainly, Epcot was the more adult-friendly park of the four options, and I was happy that I visited it first.

I departed Epcot and arrived at Magic Kingdom after 5 pm. I didn’t know that getting there was such an ordeal. I had to park, take a shuttle to a monorail station, then take the monorail to the Magic Kingdom entrance. I was overwhelmed as soon as I entered the gates. The park was heavily crowded with kids and strollers. Wait times for everything was long, and I didn’t bother with a FastPass since I was winging it without a plan. When I tried to go to a restaurant for dinner, the wait time was an hour. I got an expensive burger instead, and proceeded to find Princess Tiana. I would have been disappointed if I had left without meeting my Louisiana sister.

I was very impressed with the Disney princesses. The love each of the princesses received from the children was indescribable. I understood why this could be someone’s dream job – just not mine. They were all fabulously made up, had the mannerisms of their character, and remained in character the entire time. Tiana had a southern accent, invited me to her restaurant, and squealed with joy when she learned that I was from Louisiana. “A southern belle like myself!” she exclaimed while gently placing her hand on her heart.

By the time I rode a few rides and snapped photos with Princesses Tiana and Rapunzel, it was time for the fireworks show. Disney prefers to call it a nighttime spectacular. Indeed it was. Once the fireworks ended, I decided to leave the crowded park. It had gotten dark, and I was surprised to see that it wasn’t well lit.

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Overall, I enjoyed my day at Disney World. I was there from opening to closing and I was wore out by the end of night. Epcot was my preference over Magic Kingdom just because it was less crowded, had less children, and had liquor in abundance. The area of Epcot seemed to be a bit larger than Magic Kingdom also, giving it a bit more room for visitors to move freely.

I will admit that I would have been disappointed if I had paid the full price of the Park Hopper Pass because I don’t think the experience was worth the cost. Certainly, I enjoyed snapping photos with Disney characters and hopping from country to country at Epcot, but I would have valued it at $75 based solely on my novice experience. I don’t know what I missed because I didn’t plan in advance.

This brings up an interesting question. Why do moms make such a big deal about a Disney vacation as if it is stressful? Book it and show up! It’s not like there are major travel logistics to consider. This isn’t a multi-country European excursion, but what do I know? Again, I am looking at it from the perspective of someone who went for free on one day without a plan. Had I paid, perhaps I would have stressed more about seeing as much as possible in order to get my money’s worth.

The following evening, after a relaxing day on Cocoa Beach, I headed to Disney Springs. There were several retail stores and restaurants, but I sat and listened as a band sang covers of Bruno Mars for a while. This was another area where crowds were abundant, but it was nowhere in comparison to Magic Kingdom. It began to get a bit too breezy at some point, so I left, but not before considering that Disney really is a great place for sex work. Obviously, my mind didn’t know how to be clean. I could imagine some miserable dad eagerly escaping from his family after a long day at Magic Kingdom just to meet up with someone who could rock his socks. I bet it has happened, but that’s another story for another day.

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