Walt Disney World. When you first get there it truly does seem like the most magical place on earth. The sun is shining, Cinderella is within six feet of you, and every ride sounds better than the last. Then reality sets in. Boy, oh boy, does it set in. Lines for characters are long, lines for rides are longer, you realize that not all Disney World parks are created equal, and there are so many strollers. But have no fear, after several trips to hang with Mickey and crew, I can help you out.
Before we get into park specifics I’m going to give a few general tips. The first, and most important, is get those fast passes. Seriously. Get. Those. Fast. Passes. You can book them in advance through the MyDisneyApp or you can get them the day at the terminals that are placed all over the park. Secondly, fireworks are great, but they are also a great time to get on rides because the lines are basically non-existent. Finally, go to the parks in the morning when they first open, and at night. The afternoons are the busiest times for families so it’s a good time for you to go have a nap. Parks also have extended hours when they stay open late and there tends to be way less people during those times as well.
Alright, now that that’s out of the way let’s get to the good part; the parks themselves!*
*I’m not going to touch on Disney Springs, Blizzard Beach, or Typhoon Lagoon since those are their own beasts and need a blog post all to themselves.
The biggest and most popular of Disney World is Magic Kingdom. Do you like parades? Breathtaking firework displays? A wide selection of rides? If you answered yes to any/all of these questions, and I’m assuming you did because all of those things sound great, then Magic Kingdom is the place for you. Remember those fast passes I talked about?
Rides – This is the park you need them in the most. The lines are going to be crazy but especially for the three mountains; Splash, Thunder, and Space. Get them the night before or go early and head straight to the terminals to book them. Other great rides include Pirate’s of the Caribbean, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and The Haunted Mansion.
Other Attractions – Parades happen throughout the day but the best, in my opinion, is the Electrical Light parade. This only happens in the evening after dark and it’s stunning. To get the best spot head to Liberty Village about 45min before the parade and camp out next to the road. Once that’s done head across the bridge towards the castle to get a good place for the Wishes The Nighttime Spectacular, also known as the best fireworks show you will ever see. It’s so good it will probably make you cry. I’m not even kidding, it’s that beautiful. Watch it. Watch it twice. I won’t judge.
Epcot Disney World allows you to travel the world without ever leaving the park. It has pavilions from all over the world and if you love food it’s a great park to eat in. Disney employees will tell you that the Canadian pavilion has the best restaurant in Disney World; Le Cellier Steakhouse. Personally I love to eat my way through epcot but if that’s not your style it also has few amazing rides, a great fireworks show, and cool attractions for the science orientated mind.
Rides – The best ride in Epcot is easily Soarin’. The 3D ride takes you through the state of California and even allows you to smell the orange trees. Lines can feel endless so get fast passes. Other rides to check out are Mission Space and Test Track.
Other Attractions – Epcot can be a good place to meet characters since they tend to hang out in their country of origin. There will still be lines but people aren’t expecting to see characters so sometimes you can catch them alone. The fireworks show, Illuminations:Reflections of Earth, is beautiful and you can check them out from the International Gateway Island.
This is my favourite park of Disney World. While there aren’t as many rides the park is beautifully designed and it does have a safari that is totally bomb. The rides it does have are high quality and there is tons to see. I also find shopping to be the best at Animal Kingdom because it tends to be a little different than the generic Disney fare you typically find at Disney parks.
Rides – The two best rides hands down are Everest and Kili River Rapids. Everest will satisfy the thrill seekers and Kali will satisfy anyone who likes fun. Do you like fun? If you do you’ll like Kali. There is a possibility of getting soaked to the bone though so bring a poncho if that doesn’t appeal to you.
Other Attractions – Go to It’s Tough to Be a Bug if you need a break from the sun. Other fantastic shows include The Lion King and Finding Nemo. The best part though is the Safari. Disney has set up a beautiful animal refuge that allows you to get up close and personal with all of your favourite animals. As of right now there aren’t any nighttime shows but light shows will be premiering in May and June of this year.
This is the park for Star Wars fans. It is absolutely everywhere. There is still the old Hollywood glamour that Hollywood Studios is known for but it definitely has upped the Star Wars factor. Overall this park is one of the smallest and a full day here has the potential to feel long but it’s worth checking out nonetheless.
Rides – Tower of Terror and Rock n’ Roller Coaster are probably two of the best rides in Disney period. The lines are going to be real long so get to the park for opening and head straight over. Star-Tours is the also popular Star Wars ride that you should head to early. This park also has the Great Movie ride which is weird, like It’s a Small World level weird, but it provides a nice break from the sun on hot days and is strangely enjoyable.
Other Attractions – The Muppet Show lives here and if you don’t go see that then you’re missing out. There are also Star Wars themed shows playing all throughout the day so if you came to Disney with the hopes of seeing Storm Troopers then have no fear, your wish is going to come true.
That is the basics on Disney World. It’s a great place and with a little planning and forethought it can be an amazing adventure for people of all ages. There is literally something for everyone and each park will provide you with memories that will last a lifetime. Remember to get those fast passes, get to the parks early, and please pack the sunscreen.