Okay, yeah, I’m in Orlando right now.
(Yeah, I know.)
Look, this year has been unrepentant trash, so my best friend and I had a collective pixie dust-fueled anxiety attack and headed South. I am writing this from Universal’s Surfside Inn at the tail end of an epic three days. We are exhausted and sunburned and watching some Haunted Gingerbread show on the Food Network, and it has all been totally worth it. (I hope.)
So, if you’re also having a rough time and thinking that some sparkly theme park magic might be a balm to your heart these days, here are some of my thoughts/suggestions/general ramblings:
- Disney is enforcing social distancing protocols better than Universal is. I don’t mean that to be a harsh knock on Universal cast members themselves; everyone I encountered today was absolutely lovely. But I think there are fewer of them and I think their job is super hard to do. BUT: if you’re really worried and you only have space in your heart for one park, I think Disney is the way to go. (I visited Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios this trip.)
- SPEAKING OF HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS: I personally find the rules surrounding Rise of Resistance to be super baffling and elusive and frustrating, so let me tell you what’s up. Disney won’t let you into Hollywood Studios in a car before 8:45 am (for a 10 am opening). If you try to take a Lyft or something because you’re worried about the bus or the Skyliner, here’s your move: get yourself to the Boardwalk and then walk over to Studios. It’s not a bad walk and you can avoid the bus frenzy. They started letting us in just after 9 am.
- MORE STUDIOS THOUGHTS: Hey, are you also super crazy nervous about Star Wars-related joy? Don’t go directly to Galaxy’s Edge. We walked straight to Tower of Terror and tucked ourselves into a cozy, pretty, faraway-from-other-humans corner to do our boarding group mad dash. I actually felt like a person instead of the hyperventilating mess I was back in February. Yeah, I waited for a really long time for Runaway Railway later in the day, but I think it was super worth it.
- MORE RISE OF RESISTANCE THOUGHTS: So, we got into BOARDING GROUP 2, because my bestie Kirstin is a CREDIT TO THE RESISTANCE. She credits her app success to have a watch that counts time down to the second. So, if possible, have someone in your group be the Super Timekeeper. Again, y’all: BOARDING GROUP 2.
- I finally got to try food in Galaxy’s Edge!! I had a Ronto Wrap at Ronto Roaster’s (delicious) and fried Endorian Yip Tip (Star Wars is hilarious, may it never change) at Docking Bay 7. Fried Endorian Yip Tip with mashed potatoes and a Takodana Quencher? Maybe my favorite theme park dinner ever. Just sitting inside Docking Bay 7 was one of the best parts of the day.
- (Breathe, younglings. Rise of Resistance is still super worth the stress. Get there early. Take calming breaths. You got this. The Resistance needs you. Stay strong.)
- So, there aren’t FastPasses right now. Get with your buddy and come up with your Top Three Attraction Priorities. We didn’t do that at Animal Kingdom and ended up accidentally missing out on Expedition Everest due to some technical difficulties.
- Always scream your head off when the Carnosaur shows up in Dinosaur. It’s just more fun like that.
- Here’s a Kirstin tip: “If you think you’re not a roller coaster person, try it anyway! We only live once!” (Proud theme park-dad moment: Kirstin rode the Hulk TWICE.)
- Say “thank you” to all the cast members all the time. Some people are being total dicks and this situation sucks anyway and it’s still a million degrees in Orlando, and JUST BE SWEET. We only get to do nice things right now thanks to the crew that’s making it possible. And hell, that goes for everywhere you go right now. Say “thank you.” Be sweet, as my grandmother would have said.
So, there you go: Get there early. Always order the Yip Tip. Be sweet.
May the Force Be With You.