Once again, this year I made my pilgrimage to Walt Disney World during the Lunar New Year holiday break. I went at this time last year with my fiancé. She had never been to WDW before and had an incredible time. This year, we decided to up the ante, inviting my parents and brother along for the ride.

Living close to the Asian Disney parks, I frequent them a lot. That means it’s easy to associate those parks with the “Disney” way and forget that things might be different over in “The World.” So, I thought it would be interesting (hopefully?) to summarize my trip and the five main things I took away from this vacation.

Before I do, I want to give a slight PSA. Maybe this is the sixth thing I took away from my trip, but I wouldn’t be writing for WDW Radio if I didn’t add more things into a list then previously stated. This is definitively aimed at the minority, and I’m pretty confident that those who read this, already practice what I’m about to preach, but I think we should all be a little nicer to Cast Members.

Cast Members are incredible. They really are. They put up with hectic work conditions, for very little reward and almost all of them do it incredibly well. During this trip, I noticed a few Guests being rude to the CMs. I also saw a few more Guests talking to CMs like they were there to answer their every beck and call. Not exactly big things, but not thanking CM’s after they answered their questions, handing CM’s lost items without any explanation or just a general disregard of any pleasantries for these people who are usually nothing but helpful.

I know Disney days can be a little stressful sometimes, but I hope we can all try not to take that out on the people who are going out of their way to make our holiday special. Also, if you do see someone else act a little rude, try and go out of your way to thank that CM when you interact with them. As I say, I’m pretty confident everyone reading this really respects and appreciates CM’s, it’s just something I wanted to get off my chest.

Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox and move onto my takeaways.

 

February is a great time to go

In front of Cinderella Castle

This is the second year in a row that I have been to WDW during February, and now I am certain that it is my new favorite time of the year to go. Last year, Lunar New Year was around mid-February during President’s Day weekend; the weather was great, but it was a little busy. This year, LNY fell during early February, and it was fantastic.

The weather was generally great. One day it was a little cool, and we had quite a bit of rain another day, but aside from that, the weather was fantastic. Not too hot, not too cold, very Baby Bear (just right).

What’s more, the crowds were also pretty great. Yes, it was a little busy (it’s WDW),but generally speaking I didn’t feel like it was too bad. I was able to secure all the FastPass+ reservations I needed, and as long as we rope dropped or went early, we were able to tick off a lot of the attractions in the morning and just mopped up what we had left to experience in the afternoon.

Festival of the Arts photo opFestival of the Arts photo op

Finally, Festival of the Arts is rapidly becoming my favorite Epcot festival. The park is beautifully themed, the food is great, Disney on Broadway is an incredible show and Epcot isn’t as crammed as it is during the Food and Wine Festival or the Flower and GardenFestival. If you haven’t visited during FOTA, I implore you to go.

 

Kilimanjaro Safari’s gets more and more special each time I experience it

Riding Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom

I’ve ridden Kilimanjaro Safaris many times since my first trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2000, and it has always been a great attraction. I really enjoyed it when it had the full story with Warden Wilson and Little Red, so much so that I was a little disheartened when I heard about the changes.

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Not anymore. Each time I experience this attraction, I fall more and more in love with it. In fact, it’s creeping up and up my list of all-time favorite Disney attractions. Every tour guide we have had in recent years has been perfect. Plus, no matter what time of the day, we have seen something special, making the attraction truly unique.

Giraffe on Kilimanjaro Safaris

I know there are similar attractions elsewhere, I just think Kilimanjaro Safari’s is the perfect blend of Disney magic and true wonders of nature. It is one of the greatest experiences that the whole family can witness in a Disney park.

 

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort might be my new favorite resort

Disney's Art of Animation Resort

I’m not afraid to admit it, I am a fan of the All-Star Resorts. I’ve stayed at other resorts, but I like the theming of the All Stars and for how little I am in the room, its facilities are completely adequate for me. I have stayed in some of the moderate resorts and deluxe resorts across the globe. The deluxe resorts are beautiful and breathe-taking, but some of them don’t feel as “Disney” to me. It’s probably just what I grew up with, but it’s true.

Disney's Art of Animation Cars Wing

Well this year we were unable to stay at Disney’s All Star Movies resort, forcing us to look somewhere else. We decided on the Art of Animation resort, and boy, I’m glad we did.

Lightning McQueen at Disney's Art of Animation Resort

Art of Animation is really the best of both worlds. It feels like a step above the All Star Resorts in terms of quality and comfort, but still contains all that Disney magic that I so desperately need. It has a great quick-service location, a beautiful pool area and the theming is honestly breathtaking in parts, I love it, I really do.

 

The Characters are at an all-time high

Joy and Sadness character meet and greet

Hong Kong Disneyland has a plethora of character interactions, and a lot of them are good. However, it really doesn’t compare to the character interactions we experienced throughout our trip to WDW. Each character we met, from Ralph to Joy to Jasmine to Mickey and the gang, took the time with us and gave us a truly unforgettable experience.

Edna Mode at Walt Disney World

Joy and Sadness had a fight over my fiancé and I regarding who was got to be our best-friends, Jasmine and Aladdin covered my Aladdin themed t-shirt in stickers, blocking every image of Jafar they could find. Edna Mode realized that my Mum looked similar (something we have said for years) and decided to let her do the Meet and Greet instead. All of these interactions were perfect and are memories we most certainly will not forget.

 

I’m not sold on Pandora

Pandora - The World of Avatar

Before we went to WDW in 2018, I was skeptical about Pandora – The World of Avatar, but when we visited it, I was blown away. So this year, I went in with a high opinion of the land…that was until we visited it. The more times I visit Pandora, the more the magic wears off.

Satu’li Canteen will always be great and one of my favorite quick-service restaurants at WDW, and Na’Vi River Journey always charms and amuses me. However, that’s where the magic ends for me right now.

I feel like one of the major problems of Pandora, is the lay out. I understand the idea about the windy paths, but I don’t think they work in execution. Partly due to traffic flow, partly due to layout, I feel there are very few sections in Pandora where you can stand and soak in the ambiance without being in someone’s way. Animal Kingdom is full of beautifully themed and well-crafted lands, from Harambe to Anandapur. Animal Kingdom has many areas for magic. Sadly, I don’t think Pandora is currently one of those. I hope that changes.

 

What do you think? Are my takeaways useful? Do you think I’ve still got major jetlag, and I’m talking nonsense? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments below or on Facebook.

 

(All photos are from the personal collection of Daniel Morris)

 

To learn more about Daniel and read his recent posts for the WDW Radio Blog, visit his author page by clicking the link on his name at the top of this post. 

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