My Perfect Disney Day – Immersed in the Commando Magic

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Kilimanjaro Safaris, Disney's Animal Kingdom. © Disney.

Chip, dreamer that he is, has challenged us at Chip and Company to indulge in planning our own perfect Disney Day. A daunting task at first, with so many options – even which Disney resort to visit. I flipped a coin, and where am I going next? Walt Disney World!

In my Disney daydream – which includes low crowds, moderate weather and an unlimited budget – I enjoy a touch of both old and new. Like most of my trips, it includes a touch Disney history, E-ticket attractions I can’t see anywhere else, favorite Disney cult foods, and a lot of interaction with Disney Cast Members.  I call it being “immersed in the magic.”

And with four parks in one day, plus BoardWalk, my touring partner calls it “crazy commando style.” My daydreams, like my Disney itineraries, tend to be quite detailed, so you can just read the header for the highlights.

Animal Kingdom Lodge and Sunrise Safari

To start the day out, we wake up early at Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL), concierge level. We enjoy some coffee on my balcony while watching the savannah. We know we’ll need the caffeine for this day. Then we head out for “Sunrise Safari,” available only to AKL concierge level guests.

We’ve yet to do this tour – the something “new” in my day – so the opportunity to see the animals on the Kilimanjaro Safaris in a more relaxed viewing seems a great way to start the day.

Plus, at $65 per adult, $32.50 per child (plus theme-park admission), it’s a Disney tour bargain. The safari starts at lasts a couple of hours (and includes a breakfast which I nibble at) and starts before Disney’s Animal Kingdom opens. We’ve got just enough time for one quick trip on Expedition Everest before we’re off to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (In my perfect park Day, I have a great deal of control over timing of transportation.)

Grapefruit Cake, Hollywood Brown Derby. © Disney.

Dine with an Imagineer at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Although I’m not particularly hungry, I’m off to my next extra-special experience: Dine with an Imagineer at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It starts at 11:30 a.m.

Before lunch, we hang out for a while at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS). We take a quick drop on Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, then watch the Citizens of Hollywood perform.Then it’s over to MuppetVision 3D (wocka, wocka) for some more laughs and pop into Writer’s Stop on the way out for a take-away carrot cake cookie. I’m too full to eat it, but in my daydream I have an empty tummy. Or at the very least I split the cookie with my partner, who absorbs all the calories.

Early lunchtime! I always enjoy the Hollywood Brown Derby (HDB). The opportunity to have a conversation with an Imagineer (who attends varies) and other Disney geeks such as myself is the icing on the HBD grapefruit cake.

I’d love to tell you that I had a list of questions I could ask and answer. I do, but I’m probably tongue-tied…again. My partner asks smart questions on my behalf, and I learn a lot during the 2 hour or so meal. I also love the pictures and souvenir. I consider its price tag, $60.99 adults, $34.99 children, (plus tax, gratuity, and theme-park admission) well worth the price.

After a leisurely lunch, we head over to Magic Kingdom for a whirlwind stop at some favorites to walk off the lunch.

Pirates of the Caribbean, Magic Kingdom. © Disney.

Enjoying the E-Ticket Attractions at Magic Kingdom

At the Magic Kingdom I stop and say hi to Mayor Weaver on Main Street, then visit a couple of Magic Kingdom favorites. My plans include playing with the new interactive queue at Haunted Mansion; trading groaners with the Cast Members corny-yet-irresistible Jungle Cruise; “Yo Ho-ing” with Pirates of the Caribbean, and beating my high score (and everyone else’s) on Buzz Lightyear. All during the parade, which means lines are shorter.

I skip Stitch’s Great Escape, as I do every trip. I’m much more interested in finding Push, the Talking Trash Can.

While we’re tempted to stay and enjoy an extensive tour of Magic Kingdom, Epcot beckons.


Off Kilter, Canada pavillion at Epcot. © D.K. Peterson

Soarin’ toward Epcot’s World Showcase

My first stop at Epcot, as it is every trip, is Soarin’. In my perfect Disney park day, there’s a very short line or Disney FASTPASS is still available. (Hah!) We follow it up with a quick hello to Figment at Journey into Imagination.

Then my touring partner and I head for World Showcase, where we indulge in a very abbreviated Drink Around World Showcase (DAWS) of a drink or two. We start with the Canada side of the World Showcase. To keep us moving, and hopefully more or less sober, we combine DAWS with the Kim Possible interactive game. Oh, we are super secret agents, we are. No one suspects the guests with the slushies,

While touring the World Showcase, we have a great time chatting with Cast Members and watching the live entertainment. Since we like to be as spontaneous as possible at Epcot, we don’t know quite who we’ll see, but we especially enjoy Miyuki, the candy artist at Japan and Off Kilter at Canada.

Although our focus is on touring with tasty adult beverages as we enjoy the people and sights, I can’t resist a sweet treat at Karamell-Küche or the Kaki Gori. Neither ones goes well with my drink, but I’ve only got one day!

By the time we get to the United Kingdom and the Rose & Crown, we’re ready for dinner. Generally, we enjoy the restaurant for lunch rather than a dinner experience, but it offers a great view of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. Of course, we get seated in the perfect spot, lingering over our toffee sticky pudding dessert and a good whiskey. IllumiNations is, of course, is the highlight to a full Epcot day.

Jellyrolls for Dueling Pianos

By the time the nighttime spectacular ends, my partner is ready to head back to the comfortable beds at AKL for a good night’s sleep. But we’re not done quite yet. And in my Disney daydream we both have unlimited energy.

In the past, we would have headed to Pleasure Island for an evening at Adventurers Club (AC) for one of the most innovative, immersive, creative experiences between Cast Members and guests. Kungaloosh! But Disney made the mistake of closing the club – I’m not still bitter – and I’m left longing for another form of nighttime entertainment for adults.

So we head over to the BoardWalk for an evening of Dueling Pianos at Jellyrolls. Now, no one ever wants to hear me sing, not even my fellow adventurers at the AC. But the atmosphere and guests are friendly, the energy high, and it’s a rollicking way to end the evening.

After a couple of hours, and maybe another drink or tour, my touring partner and I head “home” to AKL. We’re tired and quite possibly exhausted, but happy to have spent another perfect day in Walt Disney World. We’ve immersed in the magic made possible by Imagineering, talented Cast Members, and friendly guests. Together, they make the magic happen for us.

And we’re very, very happy to hang out at AKL the next day. It will also be perfect. Because it’s at Disney.

Chip and Co Past Writers and Friends
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