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Disney World Part 2 | Hollywood Studios & Animal Kingdom

It’s time for part two of our Disney World vacation! In case you missed it, check out part one.

We kicked off Thursday with arriving at Hollywood Studios bright and early. Even though this is one of the older and smaller parks, it always has been my favorite (behind Magic Kingdom) for its focus on all things movies.

When I say bright and early, we were there before the park even officially opened

Replica of Graumann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, Calif.

Gotta love those Disney photographers and the poses they insist you do

After grabbing a couple photos and witnessing/listening to the anti-climactic park opening, we headed straight for Aerosmith’s Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster. I hadn’t been on this ride since I was in high school, and all I can say is that at 9 a.m., it definitely will wake you up. I’m thankful that the ride camera wasn’t on and/or wasn’t working to spare myself the hideous facial expression I’m sure I was making.

Then, it was off to my favorite ride of all time – The Great Movie Ride! I know, I know – this ride is ridiculously old, corny and cheesy, but I absolutely love it. I even got a little teary-eyed watching the movie montage at the end of the ride (thanks, Robin Williams), and I’m so happy that I finally got Ryan on it after telling him about it for years.

Minnie’s hand and footprints in front of the theater
Seeing his kids’ hand prints with his was so sweet

Since the temps had drastically cooled-off due to the previous day’s storms (and, we had the genius idea of still wearing shorts), we made a beeline for Starbucks and then headed over to Pixar Studios to kill time before our FastPass+ for the Toy Story Mania ride. 

I was enjoying the birthday love all week long!

Where there’s a cookie jar, I’m usually there
Ryan loved the army men!

The line wasn’t too long to meet Woody and Buzz, so we figured why not – we hadn’t met too many characters at this point, so we wanted to take advantage when we could. Well, this ended up being my favorite part and memory of the entire trip – this character meeting put all the rest to shame!

I may or may not have been up late the night before doing research on how to interact with Disney characters as adults (#nerdalert), and someone suggested asking Buzz if he was in Spanish mode. I thought I would give it a shot, and oh man, it did not disappoint!

He did the entire Buzz Spanish-mode dance, people – no joke. Woody stared on in disbelief for a few seconds before coming to shield my eyes from the horror.

Ryan then made the horrible mistake of saying we had to hurry before Andy got there, which prompted Woody to put Ryan in a timeout. In the corner. Facing the wall. I was dying, as was everybody else in line.

The pictures really don’t do all of this justice, but the memory of it still puts the biggest smile on my face. They spent a good five minutes, at least, with us, and really went along with our jokes and made it a personalized experience. It’s something neither of us will ever forget!

As we were leaving, Woody made the gesture that he was keeping his eyes on Ryan and Buzz and I high-fived about 40 times. Clearly, we bonded.

By the time we got out of there, it was time to hop onto the Toy Story ride, which was an absolute blast! I understand now why it’s so popular.

Before heading out for Animal Kingdom, I remembered that we needed to walk the back lot to see the Streets of America. Since I’ve now been on the real Hollywood studio lots, it was funny to compare how not realistic these sets are, but it still is fun to see nonetheless. I also found a temporary setup of Mr. Gold’s Pawn Shop from Once Upon a Time! I was more than just a little excited to see this since that is one of my all-time favorite shows.

We decided that we didn’t want to wait in line for Tower of Terror – neither one of us are big on the dropping feeling – so, it was off to Animal Kingdom.

Neither one of us had ever visited this park, so it was fun to experience it for the first time together. After paying our respects to the Tree of Life, we headed to Dinoland to grab some lunch from Restaurantosaurus. Like all the other quick-service places at Disney, you only had a limited menu to choose from, so I opted for a bacon chicken salad. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was.

After we finished eating, we noticed that the park was seriously crowded, but we did luck out with not having to wait long for the major attractions.

Dinosaur, our favorite ride at the park – very Jurassic Park

Everest – yeah, we had no idea that this went backward at one point …

Obviously, the whole reason to even visit Animal Kingdom is to go on the safari. Since we hadn’t decided until the day before if we even were going to go to this park, we weren’t able to get a FastPass+ reservation; however, we lucked out that the 55-minute wait time flew by and that we had lots of snacks in my trusty bag.

Both Ryan and I were blown away by this experience – we didn’t know what to expect, and it was such a unique experience to Disney (or anywhere, really). I love how close we were to the animals! The giraffes, of course, were my favorite.

I also find all the work that Disney is doing with the animals to study and protect them and educate the public about animal conservation fascinating – that’s really the whole point of this park. We need to love our planet, people! *cue Circle of Life from Lion King*

On that note, that wraps up part two of our trip! The third and final installment will be live next week, which Ryan so kindly dubbed “The Princess Parade.” Stay tuned!

In case you missed it …
Disney World Part 1 | Travel, Magic Kingdom & Epcot