Disney, Fall 2019: Traveling to a Galaxy Far, Far Away

In November this past year, I booked a last minute trip to Florida to go to Walt Disney World with my sister and her friends! We spent four days in Orlando the weekend before Thanksgiving and it was a ton of fun! Despite the personal struggles I was going through, it was nice to forget about it all for a few days and just enjoy being in my happy place with my best friend. I also got to finally see Galaxy’s Edge (hence the title) and I LOVED it.

Friday, November 22, 2019

On Friday, I skipped class and caught an early flight to Orlando. Brenna and her friends Jessie, Rob, and Jack were driving up from South Carolina. Once I finally got to Florida (after a two+ hour delay in Springfield) I didn’t have to wait long for them to pick me up!

We got settled in our Airbnb, and then our first Disney to-do was head to Disney Springs for dinner and a movie! I got to drive in Orlando for the first time in almost two years (I do not miss it, but it felt sweetly nostalgic in a way) and in no time we had parked in one of Springs’ beautifully designed parking garages (I literally love them). We walked around until we found Blaze pizza, where we hopped in the long line and got our food.

We were running short on time, so we ate our pizza as we trekked through crowds of people to the other side of Springs. It was time for the Christmas Tree Trail! It’s definitely more fun to go through when there aren’t a thousand people around you, but it was still fun to dance in the sno-ap and look at the trees! I especially loved the Star Wars and Tangled ones.

Then we walked all the way across Disney Springs AGAIN (we probably could have planned it better) to get to the AMC theater! It was time for Frozen II! I was so glad it had come out just in time for Brenna and I to see it together. It was such a good movie, and “The Next Right Thing” almost made me sob.

After the movie, we headed back to our car (after stopping in a couple shops) so that we could get a solid night of rest before our full park day the next day!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

EPCOT was our main plan for Saturday, but because Jessie had never been to Disney World, we had to go to Magic Kingdom first. We were some of the first guests to the park and got a beautiful glimpse of the Christmas decorations right inside the gate.

The park had just opened when we got there, so we were able to get some great pictures in front of the Castle without people everywhere!

After our photoshoot, we headed to our first ride of the trip: Big Thunder Mountain! Afterwards, we went into Fantasyland for some breakfast at Gaston’s Tavern, and then to meet Gaston himself, of course.

Afterwards, we walked right underneath the new Tomorrowland sign (which I actually like a lot more after seeing in person) straight to the People Mover. After a breezy ride around one of my favorite lands, we took some pictures in front of the new Purple Wall.

Then we headed to Main Street so Brenna and Jessie could do some shopping. We ran into the Main Street Mayor, then caught the new Move it Shake it Mousekedance it Street Party! Jessie actually knew one of the performers, which was super cool! We danced with Chip in front of the Castle and had a great time.

Then it was time for my favorite park, EPCOT! We took the Monorail over and took my tradition picture as soon as we got inside the park. Next up was the Bubblegum Wall, of course. Then we headed straight for the World Showcase to enjoy the last day of the Food and Wine Festival for the decade.

Everyone was feeling snacky, so while they stopped at the UK pavilion for some fish and chips, I ran over to France to get some sorbet. I decided to get a mango cone, and it was delicious. I met everybody back in the UK where a crane was very interested in joining our group.

After eating everyone’s leftover fries (I mean chips?) I led us through the crowd back to France. We hopped in line to meet Belle right before they closed her line for the day. While waiting, Rob got a little sleepy gazing at the new Disney Skyliner that we sadly never got around to riding. Everyone enjoyed meeting Belle and she was super sweet!

Then we explored the rest of the World Showcase, including one of my favorites (Japan). After walking around, we finally found Earth Eats, the all vegan Food and Wine stand. I got an Impossible cottage pie, which was honestly SO GOOD I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Next we had Mission: Space Fastpasses! Doing that after I ate was not my best idea. I always feel a little lightheaded after that ride, which was a good reminder to drink more water.

Then we headed to the EPCOT Experience! There is a big room in the middle with a continual 360 degree video and a model in the middle showcasing the future of EPCOT. I literally cannot wait for everything they have planned, my favorite park is going to be even better.

Before the sun started to set, we had to take some pictures with my favorite golf ball. Let me tell you, I was stressed and anxious and really sad with everything going on that week, and Epcot still put a smile on my face. True love.

After taking some photos, we took a ride on a grand and miraculous spaceship- Spaceship Earth. This was my last time riding it before its big refurb in the next couple years, and I’m very emotional about it. Afterwards, everyone was starting to feel snacky. I decided I was pretty hungry (I was finally getting my appetite back after not eating for a week) so we headed to the Land Pavilion for some vegan food. I got vegan korma with Gardein® meatless chik’n and had a seat to eat while everyone else rode Soarin! It was nice resting and letting my emotions settle down a little.

Then it was time for our next Fastpass for Frozen! I had only ridden it once before, so I was pretty excited. It was super cute and everyone else loved it too!

The rest of the gang was starting to get hungry, so we went to China for dinner. We ate at the Nine Dragons Restaurant, but I had just eaten so I played around with Snapchat filters while they ate.

By the time we got out of the restaurant, it was about an hour until fireworks. We walked to the UK and found a pretty solid place to sit and wait, and it felt SO GOOD to rest our feet. While waiting I ended up getting hungry again so I got some “chips” from the fish and chips quick service.

At 9:00, we all got our first ever viewing of EPCOT Forever! It was a nice show, but I have to be honest, I didn’t fall in love with it. With as much as I adore the park, their night shows always let me down.

After the show, it was time to head back to our Airbnb. Our first full day in the parks was a success, and it was time to get some sleep before another full day!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sunday was super exciting because it was my first time back at Animal Kingdom in almost two years!

As soon as we got through the gates, we went straight to the back of the park. We got on Expedition Everest after waiting in line for two minutes, and it was a great ride! Then, heading out of Asia, we ran into a familiar bird. I was SO excited to see Kevin in person for the first time!

Next was what I was most excited for: my favorite ride at Walt Disney World, Dinosaur! I honestly missed that ride so much, I was quoting it and smiling the entire time.

After the ride, it was time to meet some characters. We met the ADORABLE dino Chip and Dale, who I had been waiting to meet for so long. They were so cute and playful! We also met Dug and Russel! Dug especially loved seeing so many new friends.

We walked around the Tree of Life for a little bit, exploring the animals carved all along the tree. We also stopped for some pictures.

After a Starbucks run, we headed out of Animal Kingdom and drove to Hollywood Studios.

The very first thing we did at DHS was go to Galaxy’s Edge. As soon as we stepped inside, everyone was blown away. It was so incredible, and I wish I had more time to explore every single little detail.

The line for Smuggler’s Run (the Millennium Falcon ride) was *only* about two hours, so we decided to wait it out. Once we got closer to the front, we got to actually go INSIDE the ship. It looked so real, I was fangirling hard. We got our assignments for our flight, and I was a gunner! The ride experience was INCREDIBLE, we were literally flying the Millennium Falcon. We crashed (Brenna and Jessie were our pilots, they’ll do better next time), but I can’t wait to ride it again.

After the ride, I was ready for a treat. The blue and green milk are all vegan, and I decided to try the blue! It tasted like blue Scooby snacks from my childhood. It was very sweet, and I couldn’t quite finish it, but I would definitely get it again.

We walked through Toy Story Land, then walked around the park to find some lunch. We stopped at ABC Commissary where I got a delicious vegan burger (which had been my favorite during my last trip). The vegan mayo definitely adds flavor.

After lunch, we got some of the last seats in the theater for the Frozen sing-along. They had added the Christmas overlay, so it was super fun!

Then we had Fast Passes for Tower of Terror, which was wonderfully terrifying as always. Then we had a little photoshoot on Hollywood Boulevard.

It was starting to get dark, so we decided to see what the lines were like in Toy Story Land. Before we got there, however, we saw the line to meet Edna Mode was short, so we had to meet the Queen.

All the rides had long lines, so we decided to wait a little over an hour for Toy Story Mania. I had the best shot in my car (I was alone) and it was a lot of fun!

Our countdown to Fantasmic was getting lower, so after Toy Story, we left the back of the park. Brenna and I wanted to take a few pictures in front of the Christmas decorations, so we did that while everyone else did something else (I actually can’t remember, part of this trip is a blur). Our pictures turned out super cute!

After our photoshoot, we walked back toward Fantasmic for a great show! It was getting very cold, but we distracted ourselves by eating delicious Disney popcorn and looking through our pictures from the day. The entire stadium did the wave and it even started lighting up. Then the show started, and we got even more cold, but it was wonderfully magnificent (like always).

After the show, we did the Disney Shuffle out of the park, excited to return in less than 12 hours!

Monday, November 25, 2019

Monday morning, we got up bright and early and headed back to Hollywood Studios for our reservation at Oga’s Cantina! Who doesn’t love a little morning drinking at Galaxy’s Edge?

The park was so packed first thing in the morning and it took us a while to get through security, but as soon as the gates opened, we were in and headed to the back of the park.

Once we got to Galaxy’s Edge, we hopped in line outside the restaurant and were given paper menus to look over. We were led inside right at the time of our reservation and were instantly blown away by how incredible the restaurant looks from inside. Galaxy’s Edge is super immersive as it is, but Oga’s Cantina just added to the incredibleness.

I’m not a big alcohol person, but I could not not try something at Oga’s. I ordered the Fuzzy Tauntaun. The people who were standing at the table next to us watched me closely as I put the drink to my mouth for the first time. I did the same thing to the people next to us twenty minutes later, because you have to see peoples’ reactions to their mouth going NUMB from the fuzz on top of the drink. I had barely put it to my lips before the tingling started. It was so odd.

The whole vibe of the place was amazing, I can’t wait to go back again. Also, yes, I did get buzzed from the equivalent of one shot of vodka at 10:00 in the morning. 10/10 would recommend.

As we left Galaxy’s Edge, we had to stop and get some pictures in front of the Millennium Falcon. The large crowds made it difficult but I was feeling myself after my singular drink so I had fun with it.

We were stopped by Chewbacca himself so that Jessie and Jack could be in a contest to see who could make the best… growl sound? The noise Chewie makes doesn’t really have a name, does it?

Brenna drove us to Magic Kingdom because we are responsible. As we were entering the park, I realized that it was my last time entering a Disney park of the decade. We caught the Christmas Trolly Show on Main Street right on time.

After a few more pictures in front of the Castle, we ate lunch in Fantasyland at Pinocchio Village Haus. Their vegan cheese pizza was surprisingly really good!

Next we had to visit my favorite family at Carousel of Progress. Afterwards, the crew wanted Starbucks, so Brenna and I sat in a hidden corner on Main Street while they waited in line. We watched the Dapper Dans sing some Christmas songs, then headed to Adventureland for our first Fastpass of the day! Pirates of the Caribbean was great, the smell oddly comforts me.

I’m gonna be honest, because of some personal things (I was no longer buzzed, so don’t blame the alcohol), the order of events for this day are a little blurred in my head. I know we spent some time in Fantaslyand visiting my old stomping grounds, but I can’t entirely remember what we did.

Eventually we went to Tomorrowland to do the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor. While we were waiting, I realized that out of our group, I was the only person who had ever done the attraction before. I mentioned that I really hoped Rob was “that guy”, but no one knew what that meant. Once we went inside, to my delight, HE WAS. Rob was “that guy” which he found embarrassing, but it made me so happy XD

As we left Monsters Inc, the most beautiful sunset was appearing around the Magic Kingdom. The castle was blue and the sky was pink and it made my heart smile despite everything.

Once the sun set, it was time for Elsa to light up the castle! I managed to get a picture of Rob laughing at his “That Guy” sticker (made the entire trip) and then we all oo-ed and aww-ed at Elsa’s ice magic powers. The castle looked stunning.

We had a little bit of time before fireworks, but we were getting cold, so I suggested another one of my favorite attractions, Mickey’s Philharmagic. A classic. Next, we had a Fastpass for Space Mountain, which was more fun this time than the last time I rode it!

We went shopping at the Emporium, then got spots for Happily Ever After about an hour before it started. I didn’t take any pictures during the fireworks because I was trying too hard not to cry. So beautiful, so emotional, like always.

We stuck around a little later, then eventually headed out of the Magic Kingdom for the last time of 2019. Brenna and I took a blurry selfie to document the moment.

The timing of this trip could not have been more perfect. I’ll be honest, writing this post was difficult, knowing what I now know about what happened while I was in Orlando. The magic and happiness that comes from Disney comforted me when nothing else could. I’m so grateful for this place.

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