I had my first real introduction to all things Disney when my entire family (and my sister’s boyfriend) piled into a rented Ford Aerostar minivan and headed south to Florida. We arrived at our destination at around 2am and began our weeklong vacation of a lifetime in the blazing hot month of August. Despite heat, humidity, and a few family members stricken with the flu, it was a memorable time.
Once my own family took shape, we planned a last minute February vacation in 2010 just after my son turned three. The weather was cool and a little rainy but it was pleasant and unbelievably uncrowded. I swore I’d never visit Disney in the summer as long as I could help it.
But my husband had a business trip to Orlando, actually at Epcot. So we dusted off our annual passes, cashed in some frequent flyer miles and flew down to join him.
Although the calendar technically says fall, I forgot that the end of September can feel a lot like August. Hot. Sticky. Rainy. It’s okay. We were ready for it. We packed umbrellas, rain ponchos, and sunscreen and headed for…
The Water Parks
In September, it’s hot enough to enjoy the water but empty enough that there’s no real waiting for the rides (even on the weekends). And even if it rains, it doesn’t matter because you’re already wet. The real question is which water park do you hit? On Facebook, my friends were squarely divided. Half recommended Blizzard Beach while the other half insisted on Typhoon Lagoon. So, we decided to try out both!
My favorite was Blizzard Beach. I like the layout and theme and the rides seemed a little more polished. I only wish we had more time. The park had to shut down early due to inclement weather.
The boys definitely enjoyed Typhoon Lagoon a bit more. Because of the giant wave (i.e., typhoon) pool. We also had the chance to swim with sharks and enjoy a water roller coaster.
Water Park Tips
- Bring your own towels or rent them for $2 a piece. And plan to rent a large locker for $15.
- Water parks will close when lightning is detected within 6 miles of the park and will reopen 30 minutes after the last lightning detection.
In addition to being a water lover, I’m also a food lover. So, in addition to enjoying the water parks, I happened to travel just in time for the…
Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
We love Epcot anyway and we’re happy to eat and drink our way around the world normally. Being there during the festival was simply the icing on the cake, or rather, the powdered sugar on the apricot-filled donut (courtesy of Germany).
If you’re like me and have heard of the festival but really have no idea what it’s about, here’s the lowdown.
Small, temporary buildings are set up all around the World Showcase featuring small plates of food and samples of drinks from all over the globe. Pricing for each dish ranges from about $3.50 to $7.00 making it fairly affordable to fill up at many countries.
My favorite was from Brazil, where I attempted to order mocequa de pescado (tilapia with coconut lime sauce) and pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread). I tried to order the dishes by their Brazilian names but gave up when the cast members couldn’t understand me. Fine, I said. I’ll take the fish and the cheese bread.
Evan and I stopped by Germany where we had Schinkennudeln (pasta gratin with ham and cheese), bratwurst in a pretzel roll, and a Berliner, a yeast doughnut filled with apricot jam. And no, I didn’t attempt the pronounce Schinkennudeln. I did, however, order the Riesling without a problem.
And in case you were worried that I wasn’t giving equal opportunity to all countries, here’s a list of the other things I tried:
- Potato and leek waffle with beer-braised beef
- Belgian waffle with warm chocolate ganache and whipped cream
- Belgian waffle with berry compote and whipped cream
- Teriyaki gyoza bun — Steamed-bun filled with chicken, vegetables and sweet teriyaki
- Sweet corn cheese cake – ZOMG
- Puerto Rico
- Carne guisada con arroz blanco — Slow-braised beef with Puerto Rican-grown rice
- Tostones (fried green plantains with mayo ketchup)
- Lemongrass chicken curry with coconut and jasmine rice
I’m not sure I’d make a special trip just for the Food and Wine Festival (unless I was traveling sans kids) but it was a nice bonus for us to stumble across it. Just like the other event we didn’t plan on but certainly took advantage of…
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
If you’re “in the know,” you simply refer to this as MNSSHP (I learned this because I once had to ask). This is a special event at the Magic Kingdom and requires a separate admission ticket. So I put it out there, once again, to my Disney friends. Is it worth it?
The answer was a resounding YES. People told me this is one of their very favorite events so I bit the bullet, bought the tickets, and made plans for the Sunday night event (it occurs several nights in September and October). And then decided if it was going to be party, it needed to be a party. So I planned some family costumes and surprisingly everyone was on board with dressing up as three characters from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
I’m so glad we did because that’s what really made us feel part of the festive atmosphere. I hate to overuse this word when talking about Disney, but seeing the Magic Kingdom decorated for Halloween was just a wee bit magical.
In addition to the decor, we were all handed Halloween bags and could trick-or-treat throughout the Magic Kingdom (yes, it was real candy – and plenty of it!). While we were treating around, we spied some of the more unusual Disney characters that aren’t seen that frequently, like Jafar from “Aladdin”
and all Seven Dwarfs from “Snow White.”
One of the best advantages, though, is the fact that the park closes at 7pm except for those with tickets to the Halloween party. This means shorter lines! While they don’t issue fast passes during the party, we were able to walk right on some of our favorite rides, like Pirates of the Caribbean and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. And finally, I had the chance to ride the one ride I’d come to Florida for: the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. While fast passes have been gone for months, we were able to wait only 30 minutes while enjoying the special Halloween Spooktacular fireworks.
The downside to traveling in September is that it’s still the rainy season, or as I like to call it, the monsoon season. Even some of the cast members admitted that there had been more rain than normal. As a result, we slowed our pace, enjoyed more shows (we even got to stay for a special training session with one of the Flights of Wonder birds), and browsed in all the fun shops.
And we walked away with more family memories that keep us coming back.
P.S. A lot of these pictures are blurry and subpar in terms of photographic quality but for once, I was taking pictures for me and NOT for a blog post. And then I decided to write anyway.