Hubby & I went to Walt Disney World with my parents and 5 yr old nephew. It was a great trip. I visited several websites prior to our trip and almost got information overload. So, to save you some time, I thought I would put together some tips and hints to make your trip better.
1. Stay in a Disney Resort. They will pick you up for free at the airport and take you to your resort. And if you plan so ahead of time, you can skip baggage claim. They will send you yellow tags ahead of time to put on your luggage and will claim your bags for you. They will arrive at your resort a couple of hours later so pack essentials (including swimsuits) in your carry on.
Another advantage of staying in a Disney Resort is the free shuttles to the Disney parks. Also, each member of your party gets a keepsake Disney mug that you can refill for free at the resort food court as much as you want. Soft drinks, lemonade, coffee, tea etc.
Yet another perk is being able to charge things to your room and having your purchases sent to your room instead of wagging them all over the park.
2. Take advantage of the Magic Your Way packages and get the meal plan! We did the Quick service dining where each person got 2 snacks and 2 quick service meals for every night we booked. They are all pooled together so you can get them in any order and use anyone's card to get them. And let me tell you, they are worth it! The first night there we ate in Downtown Disney at Wolfgang Puck Cafe and if we had paid for it, it would have cost $95. The counter service meals include an entree, a drink, and a dessert (you can't get refills in most of these places so order the large drink). You get more than enough food. I printed out a list of eligible restaurants found here and took with us so it would be easier to decide. I was afraid that we would be stuck eating hamburgers & hot dogs all week, but there is so much variety and everything we got was delicious. We had two meals left over the last night bc Mark & I got stuck longer at Universal than we intended but we were able to trade them in for three snacks each. We also had snacks left over so we went to the resort food court and stocked up for the trip home. Snack options are listed here. So much to choose from!
3. Take advantage of the Extra Magical hours at several of the parks. If you stay in a Disney resort you can get to some parks earlier or stay later than the general public. Keep in mind that not all rides and attractions are open during the extended hours (you can find which ones are here ). I planned our park visits according to which days they had extended hours. The first day we got almost right on Space Mountain first thing. You can check the calendar here
for the hours. Also, look for which rides utilize the Fast Pass system and go there first. If the wait is not too long, hop in line. If the wait is long, get a Fast Pass ticket. Fast pass info is here. Everyone who plans to ride will need to use their park ticket to get a Fast Pass ticket.
4. Get the Park Hopper pass. This is one thing that I wish we had done. For us, Hollywood studios was not an all day park and I would have loved to have gone back over to Magic Kingdom or Epcot later that day. Without it, you are free to leave and come back to the same park on the same day but being able to hop parks would have been nice.
5. Take a water bottle to refill at the water fountains. And take some drink powder to mix in with it (like the powerade or crystal lite powders). Some of the fountains are filtered but most taste like tap water so the powder helps. And it's a way to save your snack credits for food and not use them up on bottled water.
6. Take a part of one day to visit Universal's Islands of Adventure, especially if you are a Harry Potter fan. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter section will be open June 18 and is a must for any Potter fan (my thoughts about that are here.) Admission to that section is included with your Islands of Adventure park ticket (around $78). If you do go, call ahead to schedule your transport (usually the night before) We used Mears. It was $18 each for round trip. One thing to keep in mind, though, their first pick up time from the park is 3:15 and you have to call at least 2 hours before to schedule your return trip. Had I known that ahead of time I might have done things differently since we didn't really want to stay until 3:15. There is a movie theater right outside the park in the City Walk area, so Mark & I watched a movie until pick up time.
7. Make sure to pick up a TIMES GUIDE when you pick up your park map. This will tell you when shows and character greetings are scheduled so you can plan your day accordingly.
Everyone has their favorites but here is a quick list of some must dos that we enjoyed:
Splash Mountain- my 5yr old nephew wanted to ride this from the moment he saw it. It was a lot of fun. We got a little wet which helped cool us off since it was so hot in the park (just got splashed a little, not soaking)
Pirates of the Caribbean Capt Jack has been added!
Space Mountain-This is a dark and wild roller coaster ride. I think Austin might have been scared at first but he said he liked it when we got off.
Walt Disney World Railroad is a must if, like us, you have a kid who is a railroad fan. It's a nice, cool ride around the park.
Haunted Mansion ghosts sit in your lap!
It's a Small World really cool dolls of the world sing to you as you take an indoor boat ride (but once you read Kingdom Keepers you'll never look at them the same way!)
Mad Tea Party fast spinning cups. The 5 yr old loved it.
Parade They have different parades at different times of the year. We saw the Spectral Magic parade. Very nice.
The Great Movie Ride you journey through many old movies and become part of the show
Indian Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular a 30 minute show featuring really cool stunts and how they are done
Muppet Vision 3D a 3D show featuring your favorite muppets
Star Tours a Star Wars flight simulator (unfortunately you don't end up in Endor, much to the disappointment of a kid who was on it when we were)
Toy Story Midway Mania A fast pass is recommended but this was a lot of fun. As you move around in your buggy you have to shoot at different things and try to beat your buggy mate (I won over Mark though he had better hit rate than I did)
Disappointments at Hollywood:
Studio Backlot Tour the special effects with the tanker didn't go off and the rest of the tour, for me, just wasn't as interesting.
Journey into Narnia:Prince Caspian I was expecting more. It was a 15 min retelling of the movie with a few costumes and props thrown in. I hope they add more to this.
Spaceship Earth you travel through the big Epcot ball and at the end a little video is shown of your future using your picture. It's hilarious. Once you finish the ride stop by and have it emailed to you.
World Showcase visit several countries in one day. You can buy a "passport" and have it stamped at the different countries and you can have the kids make a mask and get something added to it at different stations as well
Soarin I didn't ride this one, but my parents and nephew did. They really liked it. They said it was like you were hang gliding
Festival of the Lion King It is not the Lion King Broadway show but it has some of the music and characters in a fun and high energy show.
Kilimanjaro Safaris a safari vehicle takes you through the savanna so you can catch a glimpse of elephants, giraffes, lions and much more
Conservation station take the Wildlife express train over to see some animals up close. Go early and you might get to see an animal being treated.
I wanted to ride Expedition Everest but no one would ride with me.
Finding Nemo the Musical a stage show retelling of Finding Nemo. The costumes and puppets are great!
Skip Primeval Whirl I thought it was going to be like the Tea cups but in roller coaster form. This ride slings you around way too much, way more than a coaster should. Austin & I both had headaches when we got off.
These are just a few of the tips and highlights from our trip. I hope you found some useful info here that will help you plan your trip
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