Yesterday, I told you everything you need to know about what a press trip is. Today, I’m taking you along on my most recent press trip, a week at Walt Disney World! They invited me out to share why Walt Disney World isn’t just for kids and to talk about all of the ways it’s my #HappyPlace. It was one of the best press trip experiences I’ve ever had, and I want to take you along with me! This way, you can see what press trips are like and take a peek behind the scenes of how I create some of my travel content during press trips.
#HappyPlace Content Creation Event with Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World, as everyone knows, is the happiest place on Earth, so it was very easy to have an incredible time and come up with a massive list of wonderful things to eat, see, and do in their parks, so get ready for a laundry list of ideas for planning your own visit! In March, we visited with our friends who got engaged, and when they invited me back in May, I was ecstatic to experience more of the parks. Even after 2 separate week-long visits this year, (this was my second week at Walt Disney World this year) I’ve STILL barely scratched the surface of all of the amazing things Disney offers at their Orlando area parks, so if I’ve left anything out, let me know in the comments. I’ll add it to my list of things to explore the next time I’m in the area.
Okay, now that you know what a press trip is, why I go on them, and why destinations host them, here’s what we did during this most recent press trip at Walt Disney World. I had such an incredible time here, so pack your bags and come along with me on a press trip to Walt Disney World!
Day 1: Sunday
On the first day of our week at Walt Disney World, my friend and I flew from Connecticut to Florida. Upon our arrival at the Orlando International Airport, we picked up our bags and got in line for the Magical Express. This shuttle service takes guests from the airport to their resort. This means there’s no need to rent a car or pay for a rideshare service. It was so convenient!
To get to the Magical Express from baggage claim, head over to the ground transportation area on Side B, on level 1, to check into the Magical Express service kiosk. You may have to go up to the 3rd level of the airport, walk across the airport, and then head back down to the ground level. When in doubt, ask an airport staff member. They’ll point you in the right direction!
Upon arrival at our resort, we checked in with the front desk, and they gave us our MagicBands, which we used to unlock our room doors. MagicBands also hold park reservations and tickets and can be connected to a credit card so guests can easily tap to pay at participating stores, stalls, restaurants, and more around the parks.
We headed up to our room, a three-bed suite, and found a sweet gift bag waiting for us. Inside was a pair of purple sequin Mickey Mouse ears, limited edition Disney x Ray-Ban sunglasses, an advance copy of a forthcoming book about a modern-day Cinderella, a Tigger NuiMO with an adorable outfit, a Lokai x Dinsey Beauty and the Beast bracelet, Disney Parks travel bags, a retro-style metal water bottle, a Cinderella Pop! figurine, a hat that coordinated with the water bottle, and a few other goodies. Head to my TikTok @AnnieFairfax to see more of the goodie bag!
The first day of our time at the parks was completed unscheduled. We could hang out around the resort or head to a park, so of course, we chose to go exploring! We headed to Epcot and tried a few amazing snacks around the parks. Read all about Epcot’s World Showcase in my post about this travel-themed park.
Day 2: Monday
We had to meet everyone downstairs early in the morning because we were heading to Epcot before the park opened! This meant we had to get up around 6:00 am, but I was wide awake and super excited to get going when my alarm went off. I had laid out my outfit and packed my camera bag the night before, so I was ready in time to do a little editing before we had to head out the door.
Epcot doesn’t open until 11:00 am, so we were there about 3 hours before anyone else. It was such an incredible experience and something I will always be grateful to have seen.
Above: Japan Pavillion
When Disney brings back their Extra Magic Hours (potentially being rebranded as Early Theme Park Entry), which is when resort guests can head into the parks before they open, ahead of non-resort guests, I can’t recommend that you take advantage of it enough. All of the details and magic put into the park are on full display when the parks aren’t full. It’s truly incredible.
Above: Morocco Pavillion
We started our day with a private group breakfast at Epcot that featured some phenomenal foods from Epcot, like their shrimp & grits, avocado toast, fruit loops smoothies, and so much more. Since I was so excited for our first day, and because I’m not much of a breakfast eater, I didn’t eat much at breakfast, but boy did I eat throughout the day. Everything I did have was amazing!
After breakfast, we went on a Taste of Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Horticulture Tour. Walt Disney World’s Horticulture team led us around the parks and showed us the spectacular topiaries of beloved Disney characters throughout Epcot.
During the tour, we had some free time to explore the park without anyone else around, and I took full advantage of this opportunity to photograph Japan, the United Kingdom, and France without anyone in the photos.
Above: United Kingdom Pavillion
We also had a chance to privately tour The Goodness Garden Butterfly House Presented by GoGo squeeZ®, which was just breathtaking. Inside the butterfly house, they raise and release hundreds of butterflies all spring and summer.
After the greenhouse tour, we had time to explore the parks on our own. I took as many photos as I could before the park filled up.
We went on the Frozen Ever After Ride in the Norway section of the park early in the afternoon when the lines were still extremely short. It was such a cute ride and something I hadn’t gone on before, so I loved having the chance to check it out for the first time.
We had free time to explore Epcot independently for the rest of the day, with no set schedule, so we took our time eating our way through the park. You can check out my guide to Epcot’s World Showcase for all of my favorite things we ate throughout the day.
We took a break from the park to enjoy lunch at The Boathouse Restaurant at Disney Springs. It was so easy to get to using Disney’s transportation system. We took the Skyliner back to our resort, and from there, we took a bus outside of our hotel directly to Disney Springs. All in all, it took us about half an hour to get there, and it was so fun to navigate the parks using Disney’s transportation system.
We dined outside along the water at The Boathouse and watched the amphibious vehicles come and go from the docks. I ordered a huge, delicious Classic Caesar Salad, and my friend ordered their Jumbo Lump Crab Cake and a jumbo Bloody Mary. We also each had an oyster and a large Sea of Cortez Shrimp, both of which were phenomenal. We loved our meal here so much; I’m planning to write about it in my fine dining archives, so stay tuned!
After lunch, we returned to Epcot via a bus and the Skyliner and walked around the entirety of it to photograph all the little details I may have missed on previous visits to the park. I think I could live in Epcot and not capture everything. We intentionally ate a light lunch so we could sample more of Epcot’s delights.
Next, we rode Soarin’, a ride that takes riders worldwide on a 3D hang glider tour of iconic landmarks like the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Wall of China, Sydney Harbour, and so many more. After canceling so many international and domestic travels in the past year and a half, this ride was such a joy to experience.
After walking around some more, we, of course, enjoyed more food around Epcot and watched a live music performance, a rock concert between Japan and the United States section. It was magical to watch live music again after such a long time! Several concerts and music festivals I had planned to attend were canceled, and this was a delightful surprise to make up for the disappointment of missing live music over the past year.
Once the sunset and the park closed, we headed back to our resort to rest and prepare for the next day!
Day 3: Tuesday
We woke up around 5:30 am to get ready to meet everyone down in the lobby bright and early. We were driven to Magic Kingdom, where we had a private breakfast at Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant, with an incredible view of the castle! They had lots of gluten-free options for me at breakfast, which was awesome. The entire team was incredibly thoughtful and careful with my food allergy during our visit, which I appreciated so much.
After breakfast, we had private access to a roped-off area of hub grass area on Main Street U.S.A, where I took the cover photo of this blog post. It was an incredible photo-op, and this time resulted in one of my favorite photos from this visit.
Once I was done taking photos from this area, we headed to ride a couple of rides before our next scheduled activity. We went on Pirates of the Caribbean, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Splash Mountain before meeting at Liberty Square Bridge for a private character cavalcade viewing.
It was an incredible opportunity to capture some portraits of Disney characters, which you can see below. We were each scheduled for one character cavalcade, but they were sweet enough to let me stay for the last two to get even more close-ups of the characters. Aren’t their outfits incredibly detailed? I couldn’t believe how much love and attention to detail went into each costume!
As the last character cavalcade finished up, we decided to head back to the resort for a bit of a break because it was H-O-T, and we needed a bit of a break from the sun. Your girl (aka me) is far too Scottish to handle midday sun for so long without a bit of a break, haha. Plus, our resort had delicious-looking gluten-free pizzas that I’d been eyeing since we arrived on Sunday, so I had to check that out too. We shared one along with a salad for lunch, and it was delicious. My friend Jamie grabbed an adorable cupcake with a mermaid tail on it to enjoy her lunch. After drinking lots of water and taking a quick midday dip in the resort’s pool, I felt 1,000x better and ready to head back to the parks by around 2:00 pm.
Upon returning to the parks, we took time to photograph every area of the park. To do this, we spent several hours meandering through the entirety of Magic Kingdom, hopping from shady spot to shady spot to grab lots of gorgeous photos of the park as the sun was going down.
Again, I could live in this park for an entire year and still not have enough time to eat, see, or do everything that’s here! I’m working on a travel guide to each Walt Disney World park, where you’ll see many more of these photos soon.
We rode (and photographed) a few more rides, like Space Mountain, The Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (twice!), the Mad Tea Party, and Seven Drawfs Mine Train (two more times!), and had a blast enjoying all of the rollercoasters. One of my favorite “rides” in the park is the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. It has amazing views of the park, and the castle, from the top of the treehouse, plus there’s never a line as it’s a self-guided walking tour.
The wait times for the rides were really short, so even though they’re not currently doing fast passes, the wait times were under 45 minutes for even the most popular rides. After our last round on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, we took a bus back to our resort as Magic Kingdom closed for the day and hit the hay.
Day 4: Wednesday
Today, we took the time to sleep in a bit more than we had been on our visit, although I was still up by 6:30 to get some editing done. The fourth day was a half-day of activities, and one I was the most looking forward to because it was all things I had never done before. We took the Skyliner to a couple of other resorts to check them out. It made me realize that every resort, like Disney’s Riviera Resort and the Caribbean Beach Resort, each had its own unique personality. I hope I get to stay at all of the Disney Resorts someday because they all look incredible!
At 2:00 pm, we met in the resort’s lobby for transportation to Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, yet another gorgeous resort operated by Disney. This time, we weren’t going to just explore a new hotel property. We were going to get schooled in the art of Sangria at Sangria University.
Sangria University leads students through the history and nuances of sangria, a drink I’d never tried before this class. We tasted a Sangria Sampler Flight and snacked on house-made tortilla chips and guacamole while listening to why Walt Disney World has such a special connection to the art of sangria making. Everything we needed to make our own sangria, including the wine, fruits, rosemary springs, and an assortment of berries, were brought out to us to try our hand at making our own sangria concoction. Check out what I made below!
Once we finished making and tasting our own sangria concoctions, we were each awarded our very own Sangria University diplomas, stating that we were now officially sangria sommeliers. I couldn’t have graduated without the love & support of my friends, family, and loved ones cheering me on along the way, haha!
After Sangria University, we boarded another chartered bus, and the team took us to Disney Springs for a special event and meal that was handpicked by the Disney team based on our interests. They arranged an amazing afternoon with the Vera Bradley team at Disney Springs for me, where I was able to customize my own bag through the help of their team, my new BFF Lisa in particular.
Lisa helped me pick my favorite item and pattern, and she took time out of her day to explain my favorite prints’ histories, along with what inspired each print. She even showed me the ins and outs of their in-house embroidery machine, all while we shared stories about growing up in the Midwest (she’s from Michigan, too!). With her help, I selected a large Campus Backpack in “Happy Blooms,” a gorgeous floral pattern on a navy blue background, which we monogrammed. I couldn’t be happier with my new travel backpack!
This backpack has plenty of zippers for all of my travel documents, it’s TSA compliant, all major airlines allow bags of its size as personal items, and it even has a compartment for my laptop, cables, and other things I can’t travel without. I’ll be writing an entire post about my wonderful time with the Vera Bradley team at Disney Springs, but in the meantime, give them a call, and they can help you design your own bag via Zoom or Facetime and ship it; directly to you!
After we said goodbye to our new friends at Vera Bradley, we headed over to Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant. This awesome Irish pub and restaurant had live music and dancing all night long, making it one of the most fun meals I’ve ever had. The entertainment alternated between Irish step dancing, including one mean dance-off mid-meal, and live musicians playing Irish songs from Irish bands like Flogging Molly and The Pogues.
In addition to amazing entertainment, the restaurant also had a massive gluten-free and vegan menu, which meant I could order almost anything I wanted and have it made to fit my dietary needs. I had their gluten-free fish and chips with a salad on the side, and it was out of this world! They couldn’t have picked a better place for our personalized dinner!
Once we finished our meals, we went shopping around Disney Springs. We stopped in stores like Coach, Lilly Pulitzer, Zara, Anthropologie, Ugg, and so many more until the time came to return to the resort and prepare for another amazing day.
Day 5: Thursday
We were up bright and early (around 5:00 am) today for a super special treat – a private tour of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios! I’m a huge Star Wars fan, so to say I was freaking out & geeking out would be an understatement.
We had just under an hour where we could take photos, videos and just enjoy Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge without anyone else, except for a rare cast member here and there. It was such a surreal experience to just wander about freely without anyone else around, and something I’ll always be thankful I was able to experience. There’s something so incredible about being able to see the parks in their full glory without the crowds that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
Don’t get me wrong, the other guests at the parks actually make the experience better, in my opinion, but some of the details aren’t readily apparent when there are groups of other guests around. I think this tour was one of the coolest things I’ve ever gotten to do on a press trip! If you want to see a video of Galaxy’s Edge completely empty, head to my TikTok @AnnieFairfax for a 60-second video!
After we finished exploring the park by ourselves, we had a private breakfast at Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo. I loved the overnight oats with fruit, tapioca pearls, and starfruit, as well as the hashbrowns they made for us. It was all delicious!
Once we finished breakfast, it was time to go join the Resistance in an epic battle against the First Order on the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride. This is one of the most technologically advanced, most mind-blowing rides I’ve ever been on. I won’t spoil what happens for you during the ride, but I will say that it’s unlike anything else I’ve ever been on and absolutely worth making a reservation (or two!) to ride it!
Next, we rode Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run and had a ton of fun trying to successfully smuggle our “borrowed” goods back to home base. Even the wait in line was an incredible experience, especially for fans of the movies who can appreciate the intricate details of this area.
We had time after these two rides to explore the parks by ourselves, so we, of course, went straight to another rollercoaster (my favorite type of ride!). First, we rode the Slinky Dog Dash rollercoaster, which doesn’t go upside or anything, but it is lots of fun. Then, while still in the Toy Story Land, we rode the Alien Swirling Saucers, Mickie & Minnie’s Runaway Railroad, and the Toy Story Mania ride. All of them were so cute and so much fun!
After these rides, we saw that the wait time for my favorite ride in all of the Disney Parks, Tower of Terror, was only about 25 minutes, so we rode that twice in a row, which was a total blast. I’ve always loved drop rides for some reason, and this one is amazing! Once we were perfectly terrorized, we headed to the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, which is an Aerosmith-themed rollercoaster in the dark that flips riders upside down in the dark. I had never been on this ride before, and it quickly became one of my new favorites.
Around 12:50 pm, we stopped back into the Toy Story Land to grab a bite to eat at Woody’s Lunch Box, where we shared the most delicious ‘Totchos.’ If you haven’t heard of these, I recommend taking a trip to Walt Disney World just for these (just kidding… sort of!). They give diners a massive bowl of potato tots covered in chili (we opted for the vegetarian chili), queso sauce, shredded cheese, sour cream, corn chips, and green onions. The two of us shared one of these, and we still couldn’t finish it. This was one of the things I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy, but I ended up loving it!
At 2:00 pm, Park Hopper Ticket Holders can switch parks, which is absolutely something I recommend purchasing ahead of your visit to Walt Disney World. It’s so great to go to any park; you don’t need a second reservation after 2:00 pm. This means if a park is full and you couldn’t reserve it in the morning, you can hop over to it in the afternoon! It’s also great because, between around 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm, the lines for rides drop a bit as people park hop.
With our Park Hopper Tickets, we headed over to Animal Kingdom for the afternoon. We rode the Expedition Everest Roller Coaster a couple of times with Griffin & Alyssa (check out their awesome YouTube channel where they focus on cruises and RV travel – their work is amazing!), who were also on the press trip with us. This is another one of my favorite rides, not only for the thrilling drops and turns but also because the top of the ride has one of the best views of Walt Disney World anywhere in the parks.
From Expedition Everest, we went on a Kilimanjaro Safari and then headed to a private farewell dinner for us at Harambe Market. We dined on fresh salads, delicious fish & plantains, and as much fresh fruit as we could eat. It was amazing! Jamie & I had been hanging out with Taralynn & Sierra (check out Taralynn’s incredible healthy living blog here) here and there throughout the trip, and this fantastic dinner was such a fun way to end our time at Disney together.
After dinner, we all went on a ride through Pandora’s glowing bioluminescent rainforest on Na’vi River Journey, which was such a peaceful and beautiful right. Next, we hopped aboard our very own winged mountain banshees on Avatar Flight of Passage, where we went on a 3D flight over Pandora’s incredible alien lands.
As if our last night with Disney couldn’t get any more magical, they allowed us to stay in Animal Kingdom after it had officially closed so we could get photos and create content. It was otherworldly to have the entire Pandora section to ourselves, without any of the crowds. Again, I was blown away by the insane amount of details Walt Disney World put into their parks. It’s truly an immersive experience that utilizes all 5 senses to create an incredible, unforgettable experience.
Wrapping Up Our Trip
Around the time the sun went down, we boarded our private bus back to our resort, but not before saying a bittersweet “See Ya Real Soon” to the incredible Disney team that made our press trip possible. From the first time they contacted me with an invitation until I touched down back home in Connecticut after the trip, their team was responsive, informative, enthusiastic, and so much fun to work with. I’m sincerely thankful to have the chance to work with them.
I’ll be forever grateful for this opportunity and for the chance to get to meet so many amazingly talented creators, like the triplets of Taylor Red Music , who are the nicest ladies you’ll ever meet, DanaStargazerTruitt, who has the most colorful outfits I’ve ever seen and is such a sweetheart , Sarah from TheHouseofSequins who was probably the most stylish person in our group, the prince of positivity @Philwaukee, and Cole & Charisma from Roll with Cole & Charisma, interabled & interracial YouTubers we ran into by chance the first day of our trip who are so unbelievably wonderful & fun! It was such a joy to meet these wonderful new friends and get to know them better throughout the trip. I hope you’ll check out their channels and their work because they all love what they do and put their whole hearts into every post they make, and it really shows through in the content they create.
Day 6: Friday
Friday was our last day. Our flight didn’t leave until around 7 pm, so we had nearly another full day to explore the parks. We ended up hopping from Hollywood Studios (you know I had to ride the Tower of Terror
one three more times) to Epcot. We spent our last day independently exploring these two parks, going back to our favorite spots, snapping some outfit photos, and saying goodbye to our new friends.
When it was time to head to the airport, we took the Magical Express from our resort, where we had stored our luggage since check-out. The ride from our resort to the airport was only about 20 minutes and so much more convenient than trying to rideshare. After a week at Walt Disney World, we were sad to go, because our #HappyPlace felt more like home, but hopefully we will get to visit again soon!
Final Thoughts on Our Week at Walt Disney World
We did SO much during our week at Walt Disney World! I still haven’t edited all of the photos I took during this trip. We were busy from the time we woke up until our heads hit our pillows each night, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
There wasn’t a single we saw, ate, or did, that I don’t think other adults would not absolutely love. I truly believe everything at Walt Disney World is meant to be appreciated by all ages, and this trip opened my eyes to so many things that are specifically for adults that I’d never done before. This was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on, and I’ll always remember what a magical time we had at Walt Disney World!
Keep an eye out for my travel guide to the parks, a gluten-free WDW food guide, and more about the happiest place on Earth coming soon. In the meantime, explore my Orlando Area & Amusement Park archives!