Ok woah–when did Peoria get a Disney World?
I realize that this post is going to be a little bit of a stretch, but I wanted to share with you the ease of traveling out of our local airport and the fun that can ensue! So bare with me as I write a novel and share photos with you!
About a month or so ago, I got in touch with my friend, Heather, who lives in Orlando and works for Disney. I told her that I wanted to come see her for a few days and visit Disney World. I knew Allegiant Air flew direct from Peoria to Orlando, but I was always kind of annoyed with Allegiant since they charge you FOR EVERYTHING and your “cheap” airfare ends up costing about as much as it would if you were to just fly American. I checked flight prices anyway and got a STEAL–flying out of Peoria in Friday and back Monday afternoon. It was the PERFECT little getaway for me and the price was incredibly reasonable. I decided to pay to select my seat and bring a carry-on. The flight itself cost me $86. All of the other fees cost me $130… meaning I went to Florida (round trip) for $216.
This trip was a no-brainer for me because I thought that a flight plus a free place to stay and 2 days for free at Disney were TOTALLY worth $216.
So I packed up my shorts and took the warm weather with me to Florida. (Sorry, I heard you guys had a really cold weekend 🙂
Flying out of PIA is a breeze. Free parking, one terminal, 20 minutes from my apartment. However, this particular day at the airport was a zoo. I used to be quite the frequent flyer and would arrive at the airport 20 minutes (literally) before my flight was about to take off. This time, however, I got there about an hour before my flight left and I’m so glad I did because Friday’s are apparently always crazy. I actually had to wait in the security line for at least 30 minutes (that never happens in Peoria). I made my way to the gate and waited..
I don’t mean to be a travel snob (although I totally am), people do not understand airport etiquette. Please feel free to read my guide to airports that I wrote 5 years ago.
A fun a little part of boarding the aircraft included walking onto the tarmac. I am only kidding myself when I say “fun” because it’s actually not fun to me at all and more horrifying. I don’t trust those orange cones to corral all of the passengers into a neat little line. I won’t go into my weird thoughts about unauthorized people trying to crawl into the belly of the plane.
I was assigned to 4F… the other person in my row was 4D… you know what that means? 4E was an empty seat. This is a gift to all those who travel. Why yes, I will put my book, iPhone, iPad and banana peel in this spot that I will deem no-mans-land.
My rowmate and I had an unspoken agreement–he gets the extra tray table for his snacks (he had MOUNTAINS OF SNACKS), I get the seat for all of the things that help keep me occupied on this 2 hour flight.
I haven’t flown by myself in a few months (I used to be one of those badass business travelers) so when we hit some rough air while climbing to our cruising altitude all I wanted was my mommy or someone to explain to me the physics of how and why planes fly. Instead “DEAR GOD!” and “Hail Mary, full of grace” were on repeat in my head.
I’m happy to report that I did land safely in Orlando. Heather was right on time picking me up and we headed back to her pad to hang with her husband and eat dinner… we had to rest up because the next day was DISNEY DAY!
So let’s talk Disney! Heather and I made a little plan for the weekend–Saturday we would visit Animal Kingdom and Epcot and Sunday we would visit Hollywood Studios. We left her house around 8:30 on Saturday, grabbed Panera for fuel and headed to Kilimanjaro.
So before you get all cranky about me stealing your warm weather, let’s take a look at what we were driving into on our way into Walt Disney World. Uh.. yikes. Also I left my umbrella and raincoat at home in IL (and my apartment key too).. double–no triple yikes.
Luckily it started raining right as we were parking. THANKS ORLANDO!! It was only sprinkling a smidge, so we braved the weather, waited for the tram and then RIGHT as I sat down BAM… torrential downpour. I guess I was covered by the roof of the tram, but I was also sitting on the outside edge and in a puddle. Things were really looking up for us.
Once we got into the park, our first stop was an obvious one:
Yeah, we needed ponchos.
Ok, THEN we went to Kilimanjaro for our safari!!
How authentic is this rig!?
Haley was our tour guide and she was the shit. Totally hilarious and super informative.
I really liked the last photo just for the kid in the side mirror.
After our safari, we went to ride Expedition Everest. This was a really fun rollercoaster in Asia. At one point, a yeti tears up the track of the rollercoaster and you fly backward in your little cart… I was literally panicked for a second, but since Heather wasn’t freaking out, I assumed that it was part of the ride. Turns out I was right… and I’m an idiot.
Anyway, we walked around Animal Kingdom for quite awhile. I stopped at a shop to get a hat to cover up the damage the rain did to my poor hair. There is SO much to see… but the main focal point is the Tree of Life. It’s incredible! So here is a photo of me in my new hat in front of the Tree of Life!
Before I continue, I need to inform you all of a challenge my friend, Melissa (from the first ice cream post), put me up to… that was getting photos of me doing handstands all around Disney. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, CONTE!
Heather suggested that we check out the Lion King show in the middle of the day… they do one performance every hour and it was unreal… basically the greatest hits of the Lion King.
After the show, the weather began to clear up for the rest of the day… yay! On to Epcot!
Heather and I spent the rest of the day at Epcot.. she got us Fast Passes to help us bipass 60+ minute wait times for some of the best rides. But first things first:
As we were leaving our lunch spot, we walked past this thing called Character Spot.. we did this on a whim. Mostly I just wanted to get my photo with Minnie so my niece Ivy would think I’m awesome. Character Spot was totally worth the 10 minute wait–I got the opportunity to get my photo with 3 different characters!
(The selfie I took with Minnie ended up on Snapchat… so I hope you saw that amazingness…)
We used our Fast Passes for Spaceship Earth, Soarin and Mission: SPACE before we traveled through the World Showcase… which is when I got my handstand on. (I’ll try to remember where I was for each photo)
I guess I missed China… and the United States. Woops. Bye Epcot!!
After we made our way across the world, we headed over to the Polynesian Resort to meet up with Heather’s husband for Dole whip and fireworks! I was so tired at the end of the day, that I could barely get my handstand in… also I was kind of drunk.
Obviously I slept well that night… only to wake up early the next morning and do it again at Hollywood Studios! Heather suggested getting to the park right as it opened and going straight to Toy Story Mania–apparently the line gets incredibly long as the day progresses AND you can’t get a Fast Pass. Luckily we only had to wait in line for about 45 minutes… definitely worth the wait! So fun… although Heather totally kicked my ass.
We had Fast Passes for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (one of my faves–plus it’s different from the one at Disneyland in California!) and Star Tours, plus saw a few other shows–Beauty and the Beast, Indiana Jones, and Lights, Motors, Action. We were in the midst of Star Wars weekend, so Hollywood Studios was crazy busy and had the best people watching on the planet… our motto for the day was “I’m not judging you, but I definitely notice you.”
We left Hollywood Studios just in time as a huge rainstorm came… we drove to Downtown Disney in a monsoon so I could pick up a gift for my niece. Then we ended up sitting in Heather’s car for 30 minutes to let the rain pass… it was actually nice to sit in air conditioning for an extended period of time.
I wanted to go to Downtown Disney specifically for a Minnie hoody and a build-your-own Mr. Potato Head.
One of my favorite things to do when in a Disney park is to get the build-your-own Mr. Potato Head. It’s the best gift (for yourself or a friend) because you get all kinds of interesting accessories for Mr. Potato Head that you wouldn’t find at your local Toys-R-Us. So of course I got one for Ivy and myself.
And this Minnie hoody… omg.
So that’s a really quick version of my trip to Orlando. I realize that not everyone has a friend who works at Disney who can get you into all of the parks and be your personal tour guide… but the idea behind this post is to get you to think outside of Peoria! go visit your friends! take an Allegiant flight somewhere for the weekend!
Thanks for stopping by!!