This is the first of several posts on our days in the parks at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I'll do a recap of each day, the park we visited, where and what we ate and drank, the very best parts of each, and what we'd do differently or skip altogether for next time.
Here's where you can find the overview of this trip to Orlando, which includes 3 of the 4 Disney parks and Universal Studios. Here's where you can find a Decoding Disney Guide to help you understand the many Disney created terms and features.
If you're visiting Figs and Flights for the first time, please stay a while and take a look around. Start here if you're looking for all things Disney.
Our very first day in Orlando was nearly perfect. We checked into our Disney hotel, had a great dinner, then spent the night in the Magic Kingdom.
Early Hotel Check-In
We were scheduled to check in to our hotel, Saratoga Springs, at 4 pm. Our hope was to swing by the hotel at 7 am, when we arrived via overnight flight, to store our bags and see about getting into our room earlier than 4 pm. We'd imagined taking naps on pool chairs until a 2 or 3 pm check in.
The first bit of Disney magic occurred when we were able to check-in immediately at 7 am. That's NINE hours early and it made all of the difference in our day. We were able to nap in our hotel bed (twice!!), shower, unpack, and accept and refrigerate our groceries from Amazon Prime Now prior to heading out for our evening in the Magic Kingdom. The early check in made such a wonderful difference in our day and how our Disney vacation began.
Lunch at the Artist's Palette
We grabbed a quick lunch at the Artist's Palette restaurant which is just next to the hotel check-in area at Saratoga Springs. The food was good but the convenience and location of the restaurant was the best part. There's a little convenience store inside, too, which would be super handy if we hadn't ordered groceries.
Dinner at Trail's End
The Trail's End restaurant is located outside of the Disney parks. It's located in the Fort Wilderness Resort area, the closest park being the Magic Kingdom,. Eating at the Trail's End was logistically perfect for our group of six on this particular night since half of our family didn't have park tickets. We could get the Disney party started together before going our separate ways for the night without entering a park.
The theme at Trail's End is country and the buffet is hearty. Sometimes country can translate to all-meat but my pescatarian appetite was never lacking for anything. We took multiple trips to the buffet fill our plates and enjoyed everything from shrimp to salmon, pesto pasta to macaroni and cheese, pork ribs, beef ribs, beans, breadsticks and at least six types of salads. Children, adults, and picky eaters alike were all happy with our dinner. Since it's a buffet you can eat to your heart's desire then enjoy the parks for hours before you're hungry again. Strategy, folks.
I'd been to Trail's End a few years ago and the primary thing I returned for was the dessert station, most specifically the peppermint grasshopper bar. The bright green minty chocolatey confection was even better than I remembered. If mint and chocolate isn't for you, don't fret, there are at least a dozen other desserts, plus and ice cream station.
I highly recommend visiting the Trail's End for a meal. If all of that talk about food wasn't enough there's something for all ages in the neighborhood. There is a bar next door (Crockett's Tavern) that serves drinks at the table at Trail's End while you're eating, The Disney horse barn is on the opposite side of the building, and there's a playground just outside. You're welcome!
After dinner at the Trail's End, us the three gals hopped on a boat to the Magic Kingdom! Yep, a boat to the park. Disney has seriously thought of everything.
The boat trek can be time consuming if you're taking the boat both to and from the park which is what we'd done the last time I came to WDW. This time I got smart and we took the boat just one way, from the Wilderness Resort area to the Magic Kindgdom. I knew this would be a better choice than leaving the park mid-day for a round trip boat ride, which is it was.
What I didn't expect was the MAGIC (get used to that word already!) of approaching the Magic Kingdom at night via water. The moon was shining brightly overhead and my sister in law and niece both squealed when they saw Cinderella's castle for the very first time. It was drenched in sparkling lights and a beautiful sight to be seen while cruising across the water! AMAZING. Do it.
Magic Kingdom at Night
I'd never before done a half-day in the park in the later part of the day. Our first day wasn't supposed to be a park day, but once we saw that there were Magic Hours in the Magic Kingdom, we changed the plans. Magic Kingdom was set to close at 8:00 pm but the Magic Hours allowed us to stay in the park until 10:00 pm. We arrived just before 7:00 pm and left at about 9:30 pm.
The three of us ladies have been going to Disneyland together for years. It was so sweet for the three of us to have a girls night in the Magic Kingdom, free of husbands and bothers.
Watching Renee, my sister in law, come around the corner on Main Street to see Cinderella's Castle for the first time was an amazing moment. I'd be lying if I said we both didn't cry!
We ran around the park like mad women, giggling all the while. We rode our favorites: It's a Small World, the Haunted Mansion, and the Tea Cups. We may have gotten lost a time or two.
We got to walk though the castle, which is really something special. Cinderella's Castle is the largest and grandest of them all and the detail inside is so gorgeous. [In terms of castle functionality, though, Disneyland Paris WINS.]
We hopped through the stores on Main Street on our way out and I picked up my first pair of ears in 18+ years!
Thanks for running through the Magic Kingdom at night with us, get ready for a big day at Universal Studios!
Hello, I'm Angela.
Figs and Flights is all about traveling near and far & eating great food both at home and away.