Hey Guys! I really cannot believe that the year is almost over. It’s literally almost 2020! Whew! Thank you again to each and every amazing person who likes, shares, or subscribes to my blog, the love and support is greatly appreciated. Anyone who knows me knows that I truly am a Disney fanatic and I’ve had several friends and loved ones reach out to me regarding planning their perfect and most memorable trip to Walt Disney World, that I decided to do a blog about it. I truly hope that this is both helpful and informative to any and every person that reads and can assist you in creating long lasting memories at the most magical and wonderful place on Earth! Let’s get started!
- Best time of year to go: The peak times of year with the highest amount of traffic is going to be during your summer months (May- mid September) Also, surprisingly I found out even on the holidays as some people after eating Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner or on New Years Day like to go with family members to have a little fun and get out the house. Magic Kingdom will always have the highest volume of visitors so if you’re planning on having a multiple day, multiple park visit get there as close to opening time as you can to maximize your time spent and be able to see more attractions. Epcot is traditionally the busiest during festival times (Food and Wine Fest, Flower and Garden Festival, Festival of the Arts, and Festival of the Holidays) Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios tend to have the more moderate traffic but with the addition of Pandora in Animal Kingdom, and Toy Story Land and the Star Wars theme in various areas around Hollywood Studios tends to collect larger traffic patterns so keep that in mind as well when you you make your visit accommodations.
- Should I stay on site or off site? : This all depends on whether you’re planning to rent a vehicle, your budget for planning the trip, and the proximity of your hotel/ lodging/resort locations to the parks. If your budget is slightly more liberal, and you want to maximize time and efficiency at the parks, often staying on site offers amenities/benefits such as access to Disney transportation or shuttles that will assist you in getting to the parks. In addition, during certain dates and times of the year the parks host Extra Magic Hours that are available to guest of Disney resorts to be able to enjoy the park for either one hour prior to opening or closing. Check https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/ for additional information regarding qualifying resorts and dates. If you elect to stay off site check with the hotel/resort you’re arranging your accommodations through, to see if they are a Good Neighbor hotel and offer complimentary shuttles to the parks or have scheduled pickups via Disney transportation. Also, factor in travel time to and from parks when planning your days out as well.
- Can I skip the line? What is a Fastpass?: Fastpasses enable you to skip the line for a desired attraction on a given day. You are able to get up to 3 Fastpasses per day and Fastpasses are available up to 30 days with the purchase and linking of your admission ticket and 60 days in advance if you elect to stay on a Disney property. You will definitely want to use these for the more popular attractions (more on this later) to help you save time and maximize your experience. Check out https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/fastpass-plus/ for more information on Fastpasses and how to link to your ticket and/or Magicband. Fastpasses are your friend and can save you anywhere from 45 min to up to 2 and 1/2 hours standing in line for more popular attractions.
THE GOOD STUFF
- Parks: People often ask me my favorite park and that’s a hard question because I love all of them for different reasons. Let’s start with where the MAGIC began, with Magic Kingdom.
- Magic Kingdom: Magic Kingdom is a place that will never get old because it transports you back to the time when you were a kid and saw your first favorite Disney movie. It also reminds you of when you were introduced to the world’s two most favorite and adorable mice: Mickey and Minnie of course! Many of your favorite storybook classics will be found here with the iconic Cinderella’s castle, opportunity to meet Cinderella herself, amongst other Disney princesses (Snow White, Rapunzel, Tiana, Jasmine, Belle, Ariel, just to name a few) ride the Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain and so much more! If you’re bringing your kiddos along, you also can take advantage of making your little prince or princess feel royal for a day by purchasing a package through the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique located in Magic Kingdom where there are turned into a literal prince or princess for a day! There is also an additional location located inside Disney Springs if you are not able to get a booking through Magic Kingdom. Top 5 fave attractions at Magic Kingdom? While I’m a huge fan of the parades and character picture spots my top 5 attractions that are my personal fave are: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train( definitely a must ride and recommended Fastpass option) It’s A Small World, Haunted Mansion, Mad Tea Party, and Space Mountain. I also love just strolling down Main Street USA getting lost in the luster of it all.. takes me to another land… Speaking of other lands…… lets head to….
- Epcot: To me, when Epcot was created it was created for adults with serious wanderlust and a desire to be like Peter Pan, and never grow old in mind. I love the festivals here, some of the best food is here, and it’s a great place to learn about different countries, cultures, and ways of living. In addition to being able to immerse yourself in the customs of various countries (Epcot is literally a big circle centered by Spaceship Earth) you become strongly entrenched in the idea of being a global citizen, as at the welcome gate you are able to grab passports and complete activities of tasting food and drinks from around the world as you journey through World Showcase. As a foodie, I literally flip every time just thinking of what new creations might be in store for me next. Top 5 Fave attractions at Epcot?: Spaceship Earth, Soarin Around the World, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Frozen Ever After, and Journey into Imagination with Figment. There are also character picture spots and well as great photo opps throughout Epcot (the landscape at Epcot is beautiful year round) and much more! Epcot is literally a place that is designed for exploring as I see something new every time I return so there’s a little something for every member of the family. Another park that features a little of everything for the family is….
- Hollywood Studios: Hollywood Studios is charming because it combines the idea of classic Hollywood with Disney’s best in box office and Pixar based films. From the very minute you walk through the gates up until you leave, you will feel like you are on the set of a movie or inside of a movie or show. Whether you’re strolling down Hollywood or Sunset Boulevard every moment feels showbiz worthy, including the iconic Hollywood Studios entrance sign, and the renowned Chinese Theater. Another park full of opportunities to have great photos for memories and my favorite part each time is watching The March of the Storm Troopers and Darth Vader. Literally the crowd clears the way for them and park guests are casted (invited) to participate in the march and it occurs multiple times throughout the day straight down Hollywood Boulevard towards The Chinese Theater. Top 5 Fave Attractions at Hollywood Studios?: Alien Swirling Saucers, Slinky Dog Dash, Rock N Roller Coaster, For The First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-A-Long Celebration, and Voyage of the Litttle Mermaid. At the time of this blog, I have not had a chance to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge but I am greatly anticipating some wild adventures there… speaking of wild adventures…
- Animal Kingdom: Animal Kingdom is part theme park, part zoo feeling but no less full of thrills and excitement. Journeying through the park entrance all the way up to The Tree of Life, you’ll feel as though you’ve been dropped into a rainforest or jungle of sorts. As you make your way through Asia, Africa, Pandora: The World of Avatar, Dinoland U.S.A., and Discovery Island much like Epcot, this park is centered on exploring, conservation of our world’s resources, and respect for creatures all over. While the African dancers are amongst my favorite joys when visiting Animal Kingdom, The Tree of Life and Rivers of Light are definite must sees for night shows when visiting the park. You can even get the kiddos involved as there are several check points through the Wilderness Explorers program throughout the park that will educate children on outdoor environments and various animal and plant life. Top 5 Fave Attractions at Hollywood Studios?: Avatar Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, Kilamanjaro Safaris, and Festival of the Lion King, and the Na’vi River Journey.
- Transportation: In addition to the Disney buses, other transportation to and from the park is available including The Minnie Van (cutest vans ever decorated like the world’s most fabulous female mouse) , water taxis available to guests at select Disney resorts, as well as water ferry, and the ever famous monorail. You definitely want to take advantage of the transportation between parks if you’re planning a multi-day multi-park stay as it is efficient and a great way to get around and save time.
- In my personal opinion you get the most bang for your buck in terms of quality and pricing for food at Epcot and Hollywood Studios although Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Swan and Dolphin Hotels have world class dining options from various renowned chefs, but I will list a few of my favorites from each park below. Don’t forget you can always bring your own snacks (small coolers are allowed) as well as backpacks but keep in mind all bags must be checked at security and time is of the essence. Throughout the parks there are various novelty snack items that are fun to try out as well as the classic Mickey ice cream bar, pretzel, popcorn (if you purchase a container you can it bring back to the park throughout your stay for refills under $4) turkey legs, as well as many other tasty treats.
- Hollywood Studios: Hollywood Brown Derby is great for a nice sit down dinner but lunch will be your most cost effective choice if you so choose. 50’s Prime Time Cafe and Hollywood and Vine (a diverse yet fresh buffet for breakfast and lunch) are going to be great choices for another option if you’re looking to get out of the heat and/or are tired and want a wholesome meal. The ABC Commissary has great options for a quick sit down meal that goes beyond a lot of the traditional kiosk or quick grab options throughout the park of a burger or chicken tenders. Fairfax Fare also is a great quick grab option.
- Epcot: Sunshine Seasons offers a variety of quick options for various tastebuds and is largely based off things that have been grown and locally sourced from the property. Most of my experience eating at Epcot has come from trying the various food offerings throughout each country based off the festival that is going on at that time, so if you’re able to plan your visit around the time of a festival, it is there that you will really get a chance to taste the best of what each country has to offer.
- Animal Kingdom: Rainforest Cafe offers a casual sit down experience with a variety of product offerings and the restaurants inside Pandora offer flavorful yet fun offerings closely based on the movie Avatar.
- Magic Kingdom: Crystal Palace also offers a beautifully designed backdrop to a diverse yet fresh buffet for lunch and breakfast that is great for meeting characters if you’re bringing your kiddos with you. Pinocchio Village Haus is great for a tasty quick bite for pizza, flatbreads, salads, pasta, and chicken tenders. Most restaurants in Magic Kingdom are geared towards quick grab and eat. Be Our Guest is still on my personal list of must see and try but I’ve heard great things about the lunch menu and once you get reservations you’re allowed to venture throughout Beast’s Castle.
Disney is known for their ability to produce some of the most beautiful and awe inspiring pyrotechnic shows, so make sure that you take advantage at any of the four parks. My favorite is Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom and what will soon be going away to be replaced by Epcot Forever is Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. Honestly as long as you get a good view from any of the parks the fireworks are the best and most beautiful way to close out your day.
Character and Photo Spots
Keep your eyes peeled for characters that pop up throughout the parks that are not housed in specific buildings for meeting characters, as well as cast members that will take pictures of your magical moments for you to scan, and download to your mobile device via either a picture card given by the photographer or linked to your Magic band.
Disney is a place that will forever be special to my family and I as the Florida girl that I am, and I hope that this blog helps you share in and create some special and magical moments of your own! If you have comments, questions or even just want to share, please feel free and as always I love you guys and TRULY appreciate the support! I’d love to hear from you so drop me a note in the comments!