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Kennedy Space Center is an awesome place, I loved my visit there in 2014! The Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibition is amazing, that moment when the video end and the space shuttle is revealed gave me major goosebumps!

 

 

If you do not want to stay on property but very close, maybe the Hilton Bonnet Creek or the Waldorf Astoria are right for you

 

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I stayed at the Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort during my last visit in 2015. You can see it on the right side of this picture. Great location, very close to the parks, and at a very decent price as well.

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I stayed at the Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort during my last visit in 2015. [...] Great location, very close to the parks, and at a very decent price as well.

 

I live in Bonn for 7 years now. The city is surrounded by a web of motorways and I still get completely lost without a GPS. But I always find the shortest way back from any Disney Park to the hotels at Bonnet Creek. Home is where the heart is.

 

By the way ... I just dug up some hotel pictures I could not find yesterday. And I just remembered a story about how extraordinary service can be. Some time ago I stayed at the grand Floridian and they had just introduced Magic Bands for paying, opening the door to your room and getting into the park. At that time the system had some major hiccups. When I returned home I received an online survey, which I completed, writing about the problems that occurred. The same day I got an e-mail from a Disney representative who asked if he could call me. So we had a talk, I explained the problems and some days later I got a letter from Disney that basically said “The guy who shows this letter, will stay one night for free”. I kept the letter in my backpack and almost forgot about it. One day I was staying at a budget hotel and had some neighbors that really loved each other. Every night. Quite loudly. So after a day at the Magic Kingdom, I just took my chance and the boat to the Grand Floridian, showed up and showed the letter. And I got a room and a place at the bar at Cittricos within 5 minutes. Things that will never happen in Germany.

 

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This is the inside of the contemporary resort

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The resort monorail runs straight through it, but you also can "walk" to park

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This is the hotel shuttle boat for guests who stay at the Grand Floridian

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And this is the lobby

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You do not have to pay an awful lot of money for a decent stay. This is a room at the Comfort Suites next to Fun Spot in Kissimmee.

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“So where will you go on vacation this year, Tom?”

 

“I think it will be Theme Parks in Orlando again.”

 

“And what will you do besides Theme Parks?”

 

“Let me explain, why this question is nonsense: I’ll get up 6am in the morning – which is easy when you are jet lagged – I’ll have breakfast at 7am, so I’ll have enough time to drive to the park, take the tram to the ticket center, get my tickets, take the boat over the lake and will be at the park a quarter to nine to attend the opening show. I’ll stay there until midnight, so I can catch some rides after the fireworks when the lines are shorter. Then I take the monorail back to the parking lot, so I’ll be in the hotel again at 1am.”

 

I’ve had this conversation a dozen of times and while it is slightly different each time, one thing always remains the same: the puzzled faces of my friends when I tell them how long a day at a theme park in Orlando really can be.

 

And I absolutely love long days in a Theme Park. Isn’t it amazing when it finally gets cooler after a really hot day and all the lights come up? And the icing on the cake – of course – is the evening entertainment: shows and fireworks. They always make feel like a child. With aching feet.

 

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Even though Avatar is not open yet, Animal Kingdom is a magical place at night

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The tree of life show is really amazing

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Fantasmic! is the best way to end a day at Disney's Hollywood Studios

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And you can have a seat. That's a plus.

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When it comes to fireworks, nothing beats IllumiNations

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Especially the finale is absolutely amazing

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Even when seen from the parking lot

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Or from the pavillion in Japan

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But my show #1 is still the Fireworks display at the Magic Kingdom

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Nothing beats standing on Main Street U.S.A. and looking up to the castle

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Walt and Mickey would agree!

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HOLY CRAP those shots are AMAZING!!! Your pictures are making me miss this place more and more!

 

And the icing on the cake – of course – is the evening entertainment: shows and fireworks. They always make feel like a child.

 

To quote Walt Disney himself: "Adults are only kids grown up. anyway"

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"Adults are only kids grown up. anyway"

 

And all the shows at Walt Disney World are so incredibly well made that they appeal to kids of all ages. That's a huge difference to most parks in Europe: Over here we do have attractions for kids, but they are designed to be enjoyed by kids and their parents. They are "doing it for the kids". More so most grown-ups over here would never visit a theme park without kids, as this would be considered awkward.

 

By the way: I found some more nighttime shots:

 

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This is the Chinese pavillion at Epcot

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A panoramic shot of Fantasmic!

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And here is the show's host: Mickey Mouse

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Great report!

 

Also, this is kind of a random thing to pick out of the report but...

 

You do not have to pay an awful lot of money for a decent stay. This is a room at the Comfort Suites next to Fun Spot in Kissimmee.

 

Comfort Suites (the entire chain really) is my new "go-to" when I want a pretty great room for a reasonable price. We have a Choice Hotels rewards card and it's always a nice day when we can cash in some points for Comfort Suites.

 

Anyway, moving off of that I agree with everyone else that (aside from the amazing pictures) the cultural comparisons are definitely my favorite thing about this report.

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Love these pictures, that Fantasmic shot is awesome.

 

Orlando is a great town for "hotels" and there really is kinda something for absolutely everyone and every budget. Some of the best weekends I've had in Orlando have been from just buying a Groupon for 2 cheap nights in some random timeshare resort I've never heard of, and they always turn out to be fine if not way nicer than what you pay for them.

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I have a thing for Zoos. In Germany we call them “Tiergarten” (Garden of Animals). Yes, the word is related to “Kindergarten” (Garden of Children). My “Gymansium”, the school I attended from 5th to 13th grade was next to a “Tiergarten”, that was very old-school, which means more or less spacious cages with animals in it and a sign with the name of the Animal in German and Latin on it: “Reh (roe deer) - Capreolus capreolus”. These Zoos are in no way comparable to top American Zoos like San Diego or Busch Gardens. And of course they are no match for Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

 

There is quite a bunch of German visitors who say that Animal Kingdom is the most beautiful park in Florida and not few who call the park their favorite. I think this is because – even for a seasoned Theme Park fan – visiting the Orlando area for the first time can be quite a shock. The sheer amount of attractions is overwhelming, it’s packed, there is music everywhere and lots of invisible people who tell you what to do and what not. And then again en español. So some visitors enjoy the “serenity” and the shaded layout of Animal Kingdom and … let’s face it … that it used to close at 5pm.

 

My love for Animal Kingdom took some time to grow. Although the park displays its animals in an amazingly beautiful setting, watching them can be … challenging. That’s because the areas in front of the exhibits are packed with people and some of them are … challenging:

 

[Me, watching Okapis. Mom arriving from the distance]

 

Mom: “Come Carly; let’s look at the animals, shall we?”

 

Mom: “What Animal is that, Carly?”

 

Cast Member: “It’s an Okapi”

 

Mom: “Look Carly, it’s an Okapi. Isn’t that a beautiful animal? Dad? Come over here. They have Okapis!”

 

Mom (to me): “Sir, could you step aside please? The little ones can’t see the Okapi!”

 

[Me, stepping aside]

 

Mom (5 seconds later): “Dad, Carly, let’s move on, we have lunch reservations!”

 

Yes, the animal exhibits in Busch Gardens are way quieter. But nevertheless I love the park. Especially now, that it stays open late. The “dusk edition” of the Safari is amazing and while you need good eyes (or glasses) to spot the animals there are way more to see than during time of the day.

 

Overall the park has a pleasantly relaxed vibe to it after dark. That might change drastically when they open up Pandora some weeks from now (I could kick myself in the butt, that I missed getting an annual pass holder preview spot).

 

And they have some great restaurants over there. I love Yak & Yeti and also the new Tiffin’s is amazing with nice theming, great food and friendly and knowledgable Staff:

 

Waiter: “As a parting gift I have this special drawing for you. It was made by Joe Rohde, who …”

 

[Me, pulling on my earlobe]

 

Waiter: “Yeah … that guy”

 

Should we look at some pictures now?

 

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The Tree Of Life: Standard Question: "Is that a real tree?"

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One of the most beautiful themed roller coasters in the world: Expedition Everest

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The overall themeing is incredible

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This is my favorite photo spot in any Disney Park

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Gorgeous vegetation

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Let's go on a safari, shall we?

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There are lot of animals

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Gorillas in the Mist ... without the mist

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They grow suprisingly large and get angry at times

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I am 100% sure that bat #1 is cleaning bat #2. It's a family park after all, right?

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Hi there! I'm green.

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Cool. I'm brown.

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Bird doing things.

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Festival of the Lion King is one of the two park's shows

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Looks like "ouch"!

 

Finale of the Festival of the Lion King

 

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"Finding Nemo - The musical" is the other show.

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It's Dory. Found her!

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And Marlin the Clownfish.

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The Rivers of Light Theater with Expedition Everest in the back

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Looks even more amazing at night

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I've always thought Animal Kingdom was a bit underrated among the Disney parks. It is beautiful, as seen in your photos, and it's a nice place to hang out. Looking forward to seeing what Pandora has to offer.

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^Nice to see it get the attention it deserves. Though Dinosaur (my personal favorite ride at WDW) is still largely ignored (I know I know IJA and all). Between that, Everest, Safaris, and now Avatar, it might seriously become my favorite park soon.

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These are some awesome pics. The last time I was at AK was before Everest was built. I loved the park even back then. Can't wait to visit again.

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Die-hard german theme park enthusiasts visiting Florida tend to do the “full-circle”, which mean 8 parks in 8 to 10 days. Just doing the rides will keep you pretty busy, if not totally exhausted. But concentrating just on rides would not do justice to all the amazing things, the parks have to offer. There is great food, shows, nighttime entertainment and … parades.

 

If you grew up in the part of Germany I was born in, you grew up with parades. As the whole world knows, Germans have no sense of humor. But we make up for that on three days in February we call “Karneval”. That time we celebrate with parades featuring large floats, Marschmusik (oh yes, all Germans love Marschmusik) and lots and lots and lots of booze (to fight the cold). Oh, and we throw hard candy (“Kamelle”) at the kids.

 

So on my first visits to Orlando I always avoided the Parade in the Magic Kingdom. Little did I know how much fun it is. By now parades are a must on any trip. Today however, most of the parades have been shut down. They are not doing the Safari parade in Animal Kingdom anymore, the Hollywood Studios Parade is gone and there is no nighttime parade in the Magic Kingdom right now. But the "Festival of Fantasy” parade in the Magic Kingdom makes up for that, as it features an incredible cast of Disney Characters, a great soundtrack (maybe apart from the “Little Night Music” segment) and a fire breathing dragon. You have to arrive early to get a decent spot though, but that’s not too bad, as you do not have to wait in the freezing cold squeezed between drunk people listening to Marschmusik

 

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This has been the Safari parade in Animal Kingdom

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Goofy and the gang were part of the line up

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Minnie - safari style

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Mickey - safari style

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The Pixar parade in Hollywood Studios

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I am a little bit sad that they are not doing it anymore

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It's Mrs. Incredible

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And Mr. Incredible. That's incredible

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Mr. Fredricksen from Up!

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And Buzz Lightyear. Did you know they call him "Buzz l'Éclair" in France?

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Colorful dressed dancers

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It's a bug's life.

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And Sully from Monsters Inc.

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That's something I really miss: the Main Street Electrical Parade

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So many lights, so ... bizarre ... music

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It's Tinkerbell

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And princesses

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Pete with Pete's dragon

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The german name of the movie is "Elliot, das Schmunzelmonster"

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Finally! Marschmusik!

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When it's parade time, it's packed!

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Peter Pan and Wendy

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Merida

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I think I have a thing for Tinkerbell

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And it's Mickey again

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Time for some mermaids

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Again: Super colorful costumes

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And blue sky. No snow. No hail. No rain. No drunken Germans. No Marschmusik.

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Mickey and Minnie

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And - as promised - a fire breathing dragon

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Oh dear. Castle tower burned.

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The parks at Walt Disney World aren’t “your average theme parks” and Ecpot makes no difference. When you have not been to the park before, a glance at the map is sure to give you a “WTF?!?” moment: no roller coasters, no “standard” attractions, very few Disney Characters. Nevertheless I know a lot of people who call Epcot their favorite.

 

It’s always super fun to visit the park with first timers, as the selection of attractions does not look like it could keep you busy for a whole day until IllumiNations starts in the evening. And when your aching feet carry you back to your car after that spectacular fireworks show, you always ask yourself: “What on earth did I do for the last 12 hours?” It’s also fun to have that “pre Ellen conversation”: “Do you need to go to the bathroom? We’ll be doing a dark ride”“No thanks, I think I’ll go afterwards”“It’s a 36 minutes dark ride. Plus pre show.”

 

Mission: Space is one of the most immersive attractions I know. And Test Track is super fun and super unique. Soarin’ is the proof that you can take a rather old idea and make a state of the art ride out of it. And floating backwards away from Elsa singing “Let it go” in the new Frozen dark ride gives me goosebumps every time.

 

And then, there is World Showcase Lagoon. As an European I have to admit, that this part of the park gives you a quite good first impression of Italy, England, France and of course Germany. Having Cast Members from those countries adds to the authenticity. Yes, it’s stereotypical. No, we do not wear Lederhosen all day. But: the Biergarten restaurant looks exactly like some of the

running on federal German television (of course produced by tax Euros).

 

There are only two things I would like to correct: Toblerone chocolate is swiss, not German. And while we certainly have Christmas trees we do not hang cucumbers on them. That’s ridiculous.

 

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Mickey Mouse welcomes you to Epcot

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This is the iconic Spaceship Earth at the entrance of the park

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Visitors that only know Europa Park always search for the rollercoaster inside

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But there is none. Just Micheangelo painting the ceiling on the Sistine Chapel

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Gutenberg inventing the movable type

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And - more important - a hot girl in boots

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This is Test Track, one of my favorites

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It's like Autobahn without traffic jam.

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And you can buy a car after you ride.

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Mission:Space is one of my favorite attractions

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It's basically a centrifuge but so much more ...

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The American Adventure

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A grand scale animatronic show

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Journey into Imagination with Figment

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Ellen's Energy Adventure

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Elsa let's it go

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Fat german visitor with ugly shirt vs. soft friendly robot.

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During the Flower and Garden Festival the park is filled with topiaries

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Everyone who thinks that german is a nice language should consider that in germany we call those "Formschnittbüsche"

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Japan

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A monorail travelling through the park

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China

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And Japan again

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The most beautyful sight on earth.

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The park's magic awakens at night

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China again - this time at night

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The evening fireworks show "IllumiNations"

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The very best way to end a day at the park

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Seen from the parking lot.

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Mickey's Jammin Jungle Parade, wow that's a blast from the not so recent past. That was a fun parade but it was also kind of a nightmare, the paths in AK were way to small to accommodate a parade so it was always a huge cluster, but still fun parade.

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