Unlike any of my friends, I somehow managed to get Fourth of July weekend off so I’ve had a bit of time to immerse myself in all things USA. Saying that, I’ve only managed to do this within the capacity of the parks, as I’m not confident venturing out into Orlando alone.
On the third of July, a friend and I decided to take a trip to Magic Kingdom as we wanted to see the fireworks. As I was meeting Jemma after her shift at Epcot, I caught the ferry over to Magic Kingdom alone and it was packed. It seemed like everyone was trying to get into the park before the show started. After meeting Jemma inside and grabbing some food, we battled our way down Main Street and sat down on the tarmac in front of the castle to secure a good spot. Even though we were there about an hour early, we were no where near the first to camp out, as hundreds sat behind us down Main Street.
All we had to do next was wait. As we played a few games of eye-spy we were quickly surrounded by others trying to get the perfect place in front of the castle. We could hear cast members trying to direct guests who were attempting to navigate towards the exit. As we waited for the sun to set, the sky turned a lovely pink. It made everything even more magical!
Soon enough the fireworks started and the show was truly spectacular! Possibly the best fireworks I have ever seen. Jemma and I had no idea what to expect. I think I was waiting for the regular Celebrate the Magic and Wishes show, so when the voice over started it surprised me. I’ve often heard and seen on TV how patriotic Americans can be, but stood in front of the Cinderella Castle on the third of July was when I experienced it for myself. I don’t think I can describe it fully. In between the fireworks we had a voice over talking about how proud Americans should be, and how America was the land of the free. During these narrations, we had projections of red, white and blue on to the castle, sometimes including stars. Even the fireworks were American themed. Again, we saw bursts of red, white and blue above us, with some of the fireworks even being star-shaped. It was incredible! Disney pulled out all the stops, with fireworks going off behind us, and at some points all around us. It’s safe to say that there were a lot of oohs and ahhs from the crowd.
On the Fourth of July itself a couple of friends and I booked breakfast at Ohana in Disney’s Polynesian Resort. On the bus on the way to the resort, we were given free star-shaped cookies by the housing team, and got to ride on a fully decorated bus. The day was filled with similar displays of extravagant patriotism, as guests wore tops and hats with prints of the American flag. It was infectious. We couldn’t ignore the happiness that exuded from everyone, and soon found ourselves wishing people a happy Fourth of July.
Arriving at the resort, my excitement and hunger kicked in. Having never stayed at a Disney resort myself, going here was a completely new experience. We got to have an all you can eat breakfast as Mickey, Pluto, Lilo and Stitch walked round the restaurant greeting guests. We were given red, white and blue leis as we entered the hotel, so we truly got into the spirit of things.
After breakfast I ventured into Epcot with Jemma to watch IllumiNations for the first time. Once again we secured a spot on the World Showcase about an hour before the fireworks started. As we waited for the show to start, we got chatting to a few Americans around us about being Brits in America at this time of year. The man sat in front of us talked about how he had been to the Rose and Crown in England to get a pint before sitting down to watch the show, and that he wasn’t quite sure of its implications. I think I even overheard him ask a friend if Britain celebrated an independence day, which made Jemma and I smile. In the end he turned around and asked us if we had any public holidays involving fireworks, which prompted us to have a discussion about Bonfire Night. I have to say, it felt quite cool to be exchanging cultures as we sat there waiting for the show to start.
As it was the Fourth of July, we were treated to an additional show which Disney tagged on to the end of the regular firework display at Epcot. Although the show wasn’t as good as the night before at Magic Kingdom, the display was still stunning. The finale in particular was amazing, as Disney seemed to throw everything at it.
All in all, I had a great weekend celebrating a holiday that I’m not quite sure I was meant to be a part of. I hope all my new American friends had a great weekend too!