Did you catch part 1 of the trip? I shared it in this post along with 3 free or low cost things to do in Orlando, FL. Orlando is a hotspot for vacations. But it can cost a ton if you don’t do a bit of research to find the savings. Today’s post is not so much about the savings, but I thought I would link to part 1 just in-case anyone was interested in reading.
In the beginning of July, just before Independence Day, we took a small family trip to Orlando, FL for a week’s vacation. We’ve gone a few times in the past. Disney World was one of the places my hubby wanted to take the kids on this trip. I got to admit, at first, I was not super thrilled about the idea. Between Disney World Orlando and Disney Land California, we’ve visited around 4 times and all I could think about was the long lines, hot sun, and sleepy kids we had to carry around, every time. Personally, I did not find that much desirable. I know what you are thinking: “Isn’t Disney supposed to be the most magical place ever?” Why yes. But keep in mind the thousands upon thousands of people who visit in one single day. It means lines are long and wait time for activities takes a while. If you have tiny babies or tiny kids when you visit, you’ll have to plan it with the needs of the kids in mind. So while there are lots to enjoy, at first I was not up to it. But then I thought that the kids have gotten a tad older, is able to move around more, and might love it (by older I mean, 6 and 4 and one is still 2). In any event, once we started talking and planning, I welcomed the idea some more.
Disney has four (4) Themed parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, & Animal Kingdom. When ever we’ve visited in the past, we only did one theme park, the Magic Kingdom. This time around, we were able to visit three (3 parks) all in one day. Thanks to Disney World Orlando who provided us with tickets and for making this possible.
We were actually shooting for all four parks, but did not have the time to do so. We were already cutting it close by visiting three parks in one day but not getting there until noon, left no time to visit the fourth. I’ll share more about the ones we visited down below. But first, I’d like to add a few tips about Disney. I’m not a Disney pro by any means but because we’ve gone a few times, I’ve learned a few things I think would be helpful to anyone who’s never been and is planning a trip there.
The do’s and don’ts when planning a trip to Disney
- Do research about it and when might be the best time to go: We’ve gone both during the summer and Fall and I can tell you that we prefer the Fall best. We have not gone during the Winter. But in the Fall, we loved that the sun was not too hot as compared to the summertime; we loved the gorgeous Fall decorations all around Disney; and most of all, we loved that the lines were not long. People crowd Disney on the daily so imagine how long lines could be waiting to go on a ride, to go see a show, or to go visit one of the princesses and other famous characters, etc. It could take all the way up to an hour, yes 1 hour’s wait! During the Fall, we were flying through the lines like nothing (5 to 20 minutes wait max). We loved that because we had small children in tow and they could get very restless standing in long lines.
- Do plan to go earlier rather than later during the day. It’s best if you go earlier in the morning and take your time exploring rather than going in the evening and find yourself rushing through the park and not getting to do all the things you wanted to do. I mean, it’s OK to go in the afternoon (we did this time) but it’s just way too much to take in while in a rush.
- Do wear comfortable clothing and shoes. It gets hot and the walks are long. This is not the time to be all dress-y dress-y. You want to be the most comfortable that you can. You’ll get a hint of how people dress from what we wore and from what others are wearing throughout this post.
- Do use the Fast Past option as much as you can. You’ll avoid standing in long lines. A Fast Pass is connected to your Disney ticket (the ticket is a small card) if you choose to use this option for any Disney event. There are usually two lines, one regular time and the other fast-er. You’ll scan your ticket (card) when you get to the Fast Pass line. The lines may be long either way but your wait time will be shorter than others if you have a Fast Pass. Fast passes will get you in sometimes between 5 to 20 minutes while without them, the wait will be 40 minutes to an hour. There is no additional cost to get it. But they do sometimes run out of it if too many people already have them. Or else what will be the use of it if you still have to wait behind a ton of people who already have them? If you go to Disney, inquire about the Fast Pass option.
- Do bring a stroller(s) if you have young children. You can rent a stroller from Disney but if you want to save money, just bring your won. You can park the stroller outside of the buildings when you stop to go in for shows, etc.
- Do plan lunch – It’s OK to bring quick fixes for lunch such as sandwiches, fruit, finger foods, etc. You can buy lunch from the Disney shops if you prefer. We’ve bought lunch in the past but I’m all about saving a penny. Whether you buy lunch or bring your own, be sure to include it in your day. You’ll need the energy to help you get through. Also, if you plan to stay through the evening, be sure to plan dinner sometime. The key is to eat and stay energized. Cranky and tired people don’t need the additional stress by walking around hungry. LOL!
- Do bring lots of additional snacks and plenty of water – Walking around Disney can cause one to be quickly de-hydrated. Fuel up with water and take a break to enjoy a snack here and there.
- Do bring a camera (actual camera, phone, or whatever else takes photos) and take plenty photos all around the park. Don’t forget to pose with your favorite Disney characters for a photo or two. After all, you’ll want to have photos from Disney right?
- Do leave before closing. On a given day, thousands and thousands of people visit Disney world. The exit from the parks at the hour of closing is crowded. Let’s repeat that. The exit from the parks at the hour of closing is crowded. Everyone’s trying to get out of the parks and trying to take Disney shuttles and trains to various parking lots. The wait to get a transport is long because they can only hold so many people at once. This trip was the first time we waited just until before closing. It was not by intention – I guess we did not get to Disney until afternoon and probably was trying to get the best out of it and time just caught up with us. Not sure. But either way, do plan to leave before closing. We were at the Magic Kingdom Park which was closing at 10:00 pm and although we left around 9:15 ish – the exit lines were already packed with thousands of people trying to get out. If you want to stay as long as you can, it might be best to leave 2 hours before they close.
- Do NOT plan to visit all the parks in one day – Each park is huge and has it’s own unique set of fun and amusements and requires it’s own tickets. Although tickets can be combined and bought to visit all four parks in one day (more money, of course). But like as I mentioned, it’s best to buy separate for different days. The span of Disney itself is 40 square miles and although a small percentage of this size is undeveloped, four themed parks in one day is just too much. It’s so big that you cannot walk from one park to the next. You have to take a Disney shuttle (bus), or a Disney train, or a thing that looks like a train, or even a boat. Yes, a boat!!!! We’ve taken a boat to the Magic Kingdom twice before. Some people take a week to tour Disney. Note: If you plan them all for one day, you’ll find yourself rushing, you’ll miss out on a lot, you’ll tire yourself and your family out, and you may not even get to do a few of them (you cannot save the ticket if you already bought it and used some of it for that day). That’s why I find it best to do one park in only one day.
- Don’t let the negatives of Disney scare you. I mean, I mentioned above how the sun gets hot and the lines get long, but that does not mean that you cannot enjoy Disney. It just gets a little too much sometimes with very small kids. I have heard many people ask about going to Disney with small kids. We gone with small kids all the time. They may not always remember it but if you want to go and think you could handle it, then why not? Just try to use some of the tips and prep. It is a big event for sure.
- Don’t panic – plan well and try not to panic. Overall, Disney World is just one big magical type of amusement park that you really can’t find any place else. So if you go, try to make the most of it.
There are so many more dos and don’ts when planning a big trip to Disney World but I think I have covered some basics.
And now, check out some of the fun things you can do at Disney from our photos from the themed parks below. We did not get to do the Hollywood Studios (all things movies,TV, music and theater). Hope you enjoy.
Epcot – Our first stop on the trip
This is the park where you’ll find global world attractions, under the sea attractions, outer space attractions and things of that nature. You can also meet certain princess in different “parts” of the world (meaning that they are in scenes that look like different parts of the world). We didn’t spend a lot of time at Epcot because we were hurrying to get to the Animal Kingdom and of course, the Magic Kingdom for the sake of the kiddos. We barely got to see anything and I don’t have much photos of it from inside of it at all – probably one:(( Most of the photos following were taken outside of it except the one with the fish.
Animal Kingdom – Our second stop on the trip
We spent a bit more time exploring the Animal Kingdom than we did Epcot. This is the place to view so many beautiful and unique safari animals, scenes of nature (cool rocks, trees, waterfalls), and entertainment such as those of African musicians and dancers. Can you feel the Lion King coming on? Further down below, you’ll see what I’m talking about. We got on an opened vehicle (pictured further down) that took us around the Kilimanjaro Safari. It was like driving through a kind of fairy savanna viewing all of the beautiful animals and wonderful scenery. The kids were in awe. And us parents too (see the cool scenery down below).
This is the park that is probably mostly associated with Disney World since it was the very first one created. It’s where the “magic’ begins with all things enchanting! Meet your favorite Disney princess or prince or favorite cartoon characters. Go on rides, view 3-D Disney movies, experience live shows and parades, etc. In short, it really is a magical place to explore.
Every time we’ve gone to Disney, we’ve always only visited this park with most of the time taken to visit all the princesses (kids in tow) and Disney characters such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse and the other cast members of the show. My husband would sneak away for an amusement ride at one point but mostly, we’ll walk around take meeting and taking photos with the characters. And then in the evening, we’ll catch a parade. Overall, those were fun things but eventually, we’ve come to the point where we felt like we’ve always done the princesses so we wanted to do other things there. And that is what we did this time around. So on this trip, we did not see visit much princesses and characters since we got to this park late in the evening. I think we even forgot to go see the Mickey Mouse characters once we got to the Magic Kingdom because we were hurrying. We did see a couple of the princesses – the girls mainly wanted to see Cinderella and Belle. How is it we missed so many of them this time? What happened to Anna and Elsa? Ha!! Check out the photos we got below!!
The famous Cinderella’s Castle in all it’s magic
I’ve got to add, that the Disney characters are always so welcoming to the kids. They would talk to them and take photos as if they already knew them. So fun to watch the interaction. Princess Belle here was actually putting on a small show where the kids got to put on costumes on act out with her. I thought I had photos somewhere but cannot find them.
Late at night, we were able to catch the holiday (July 4th week) fireworks. I’m telling you, it really was a site to see. I got a few photos and videos (where are my videos) but they do not do the fireworks justice. We did not see parades this time but the evening parades and fireworks are really something to see!!
Here is a 3-D show with Frozen from Cinderella’s castle. It came on night when we were on the way out so we did not see much. People stood in the streets to view it.
My overall thoughts of Disney is way more than I could write. What I wrote is truly nothing compared to what you can truly experience if you plan well and spend a few days exploring. But I hope that it gave some insight of that Magical place if you’ve never been there and would like to go. I sort of wish I had all clear photos but evenings views are gorgeous too, right?
Have you ever been to Disney World before? What would you add to the dos and don’ts list? Please share in the comments.