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Why Am I Returning To Florida?

Yes, that’s correct. I’m going back to Florida despite only having gone in September last year. Repeated visits every year used to be a thing. Hell, repeated visits twice a year used to be a thing. That was way back in 2007 and earlier. If I learned anything from my solo visit, based on how little had changed in my ten years of not going, repeatedly doing the same thing year after year was not going to be on the agenda.

So, why go again so soon?

It’s Not Because It’s My Home

Unlike a lot of people, if Twitter and YouTube are to be believed, I don’t believe Disney World or Orlando is my home. I don’t see the place I actually live in as my temporary accommodation. I don’t want to live in the US or Orlando. I certainly don’t think Disney World is the only place I am happy.

I’ll admit to thinking all those views are slightly odd. After about two weeks in Orlando I’m perfectly happy to go home.

The main reason is my nephew and I had agreed we’d go together and this has come off six months to a year earlier than we thought it might. There is also a few things I want to do this trip that that are new and different.

Halloween Horror Nights

I’ve not been to Halloween Horror Nights in all the times I’ve been to Florida.

People find that hard to believe. I find that hard to believe. It makes no sense and now I look back at all our visits I find it very hard to explain. This is possibly one of those things that has been influenced by being married. It’s not that my wife was against Halloween Horror Nights, but possibly she wasn’t an equal partner in the enthusiasm so it was easy just to let slide.

It’s strange because enjoyed similar events. We used to go to the Scarefest at Alton Towers, which was always pretty good. They’d essentially do ‘houses’ like Universal, the best one often being the one set in the actual castle and their Maize Maze. I don’t believe they do the Maize Maze any more but it was a brillaint idea. They’d literally grow a field of maize so they could set up a ‘horror house scenario’ in it allowing them to play on the various horror films that have had people pursued by things in corn fields.

We’d also been to the Halloween events at Port Aventura which had been putting more effort into Halloween with each passing year. This was especially true when they felt they had a franchise all of their own in the form of REC.

I think the reason we never went was the mechanics and nervousness of travelling late at night as we’d have had to find a way back to Disney World post 0100 hours. I was willing to give it a go if I’d had a willing to partner in crime but that never seemed to be a thing. This was before you could stay at a Universal property resort, not a value one anyway.

So, going to Halloween Horror Nights is one of the main reasons this holiday exists. I have such high hopes for it there is every risks I will be disappointed. This is the horror house concept done by a company that actually makes films and builds film sets. This has to be brilliant. If I get there and find it’s not orders of magnitude better than Alton Towers or Port Aventura there will be hell to pay.

If we’d been forced to book in November we’d have been extremely disappointed. We are down to go for five nights. We’ll need multiple visits just to get all the houses in, but I have no idea if five will prove to be too much. There are people who literally go for almost every night of their holiday.

Pandora, World of Avatar

I’m really looking forward to Pandora. I’ve always been looking forward to Pandora. After my solo 2016 trip it became obvious that Disney was way behind the curve. They have the advantage of size, scale and the overall brand power but the best ride and best example of a theme park area is at Universal. Universal has taken theme and immersive experience to a whole new level with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Disney needs to play catchup.

I liked the original film. It’s still one of the best 3D films made. It’s not a film I’m a fan of in terms of repeat viewings. This was never problem because something was obvious from the start: Pandora has nothing to do with liking the film. It’s all about the environment and the theme, the fact it’s based on a film you might ambivalent about is irrelevant. This is the advantage of Pandora, it’s ‘alien jungle’ is a theme that can transcend the actual film.

It’s going to be all about seeing Pandora at night for me. I’ve managed to avoid Pandora spoilers other than the odd, basic image, but even from those you can see things that make it obvious it’s best seen at night. I’ve seen no footage of Pandora at night or any footage, so it’ll all be new. You can spot what will light up and what will glow. It’s going to be amazing. I’m really looking forward to just walking around and no doubt taking really bad photos.

Then we have Flights of Passage, we have four fast passes for this ride. I know very little about it other than everyone who rides it puts it in their top 5 lists, quite often there at the top of that list. I’m hoping I’m not disappointed as I’m expecting it to be spectacular. I’m hoping it beats The Forbidden Journey as the best ride in Orlando, not because it’s a Disney ride, but just because the perpetual competition is good.

The Snacks, All of Them

I’ve been terrible on the Disney snacks front. I’ve had one Dole Whip and that is it in all my times visiting Disney World. This is pretty crazy when you think about it. We had the dining plan for free in 2007 and despite using those snack credits I still don’t remember having that any snacks. They must have been spent on the strangest of things or the experience has been oddly wiped from my memory.

I certainly don’t remember eating all these fantastic treats people talk about.

Now I have a list. It’s not a perfect list as I’m sure there are always more treats but I’m really looking forward to it. I’m not sure how practical some of it is going to be as you can only eat so much food and you have to start managing the whole experience to get them all in. It’s a whole cornucopia of ice creams, cakes and drinks of various types and it’s going to be awesome.

Future of Disney Holidays

This is going to be the last trip to Disney World until Star Wars goes live and then some. This means at least until 2019 or even 2020. The reason for this is I’m not sure I’m up for a repeated Disney holidays were 70% or more of the holiday is a repeat. I also want to do other things and there is an opportunity cost to going to Disney every year, basically the opportunity to go somewhere else.

This does not mean I may not go to Florida.

I believe there is a holiday in Florida that is different. I just don’t know whether I am going to do it. The idea would be to stay at Universal, specifically Cabana Bay, and then focus on Universal, Sea World, Discovery Cove, Busch Gardens and Aquatica. That’s quite a lot to do. If you assume a day per park that’s six days already.

I’d also like to experience International Drive. You’ll have heard of my International Drive is Blackpool theory, so this probably comes as a surprise. I don’t think so though, as a lot of it is new and different and it’s been at least 10 years since I’ve seen it. There is also some restaurants on International Drive that might be worth going to.

I also have some thoughts on mixing it up with a pop culture convention. As I’ve said on the odd vlog, I believe I get more value for my money by going to the US for such a convention rather than, say, travelling to London. There is one in Orlando in May.

The convention combined with the all the parks already listed would make for a very busy week. The trouble is this idea has competition, namely that I do a similar thing in California as there is a convention I could tie up with Las Vegas and Anaheim.

And, Finally…

I really don’t intent to become a serial visitor to Disney World again, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to kick Disney World into the long grass until 2020. This trip is going to be great though as it starts to address the things I’ve not done despite going to Disney World so many times. I’m even getting to go Beaches and Cream, a restaurant we didn’t go to when we had the dining plan in 2007.

In the future, going to Disney or Universal will be a side element to a holiday with a different focus, but it may also lose out to completely different destinations.

About Ian O'Rourke

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