Welcome to another Disney post! In case you missed it, my last post was all about things to consider when planning your Walt Disney World vacation. This post will be all about my time spent in each of Disney’s four parks! Keep reading!
On the drive into Walt Disney World, I was telling my mom Disney World secrets I read on Disney blogs when she said, “Oh god, you’re not turning into one of those Disney World fanatics are you?” I insisted I wasn’t. Yet, here I am, weeks later and still reading Disney blogs. Disney World hooked me.
It tends to do that to people. Disney World has an amazing way of turning the most serious of adults into giddy little children. No matter how old you are, somehow you still get a rush while waiting in line for a picture with your favorite character, before the big drop on Splash Mountain, or when fireworks explode over the castle. Disney is a magical place, and I’m going to tell you what to do at each park.
Early Bird Gets the Worm
My best piece of advice for Hollywood Studios is to go early. As you can see, nobody was around when I snapped this photo a little after park opening.
There are four rides with long waits–Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Star Tours, and Toy Story Mania–and you’re only allowed three FastPasses a day. Go straight to whichever ride for which you didn’t secure a FastPass. For us, that’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, where our wait time was only 20 minutes, but it was up to 50 after we got off. It’s easily one of the best roller coasters at Disney World, though. After, I recommend The Great Movie Ride. The line will still be short in the morning.
Schedule your FastPasses in the morning and try to get them all done before lunch. We (stupidly) had ours spread out over the course of the day. With time to kill after Tower of Terror, we headed toward Backlot Express, where you’ll find a bunch of character meet and greets. Olaf’s line was only 10 minutes! Chip and Dale went fast as well, and Chip blew a kiss at me. Swoon. Minnie and Mickey took about a half an hour, but this line is the shortest compared to where you can meet them at other parks.
The Best Quick Service
We never made reservations to eat in any of the parks. It was nothing but quick service for us (major regret). However, my family collectively agrees that Backlot Express is the best quick service we tried. Get the chicken and waffles! My mom was insistent on trying the Darth Vader cupcake, which was way too rich and a waste.
If you’ve seen Toy Story as many times as I have, then spend some time in the area near Toy Story Mania. In my opinion, that ride is the best in the park. But, I don’t recommend waiting to meet Buzz and Woody. I’m glad I did, but it really isn’t worth the 40-minute wait. Woody looks strange and cross-eyed while Buzz made me hold his hand, which is confusingly out of character.
Do’s and Don’ts
Our Star Tours FastPass wasn’t until evening, so we were able to see Hollywood Studios lit up at night. It was still decorated for Christmas, which is so pretty. If it hadn’t been for our FastPass, there really is no reason to stay so late. Here are my do’s and don’ts for this park.
Don’t Miss: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Star Tours, Toy Story Mania, March of the Storm Troopers
Skip: Meeting Woody and Buzz, The Great Movie Ride, MuppetVision
Early isn’t Early Enough
If I haven’t stressed getting to the parks early enough before, here it goes again. Get to the park early!!! We thought we were arriving early, but by the time you park, take the tram to the monorail, and then ride the monorail, a lot of time gets wasted. I wanted to see the Rope Drop Ceremony, but it was just ending as our monorail pulled up.
Magic Kingdom is the most congested of the four parks and certainly the largest. Because of this, one day is not nearly enough. So, here’s the run down of one day at Magic Kingdom, enough time to see half the park.
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is an insanely popular ride that always has a long wait. We couldn’t get a FastPass for this, so we went straight there after entering the park. We briefly stopped for castle pics, but didn’t get to experience any of Main Street. This strategy isn’t the best–the Mine Train line wrapped all the way to Dumbo! After an hour and a half in line, I can conclude that the ride is worth the wait, but once we were off, the wait time was only 50 minutes! Everyone had the same idea. Instead of doing this, ride the other rides in Fantasyland first. Winnie the Pooh had a 5 minute wait while we were in line for the Mine Train! Ride that, Teacups, and The Journey of the Little Mermaid, then Seven Dwarfs.
Best Snack in Town
It was time for a mid-morning snack after checking out a bit of Fantasyland. This nutella and fruit waffle from Sleepy Hallow in Liberty Square is so delicious I couldn’t resist a bite before snapping a pic. Three of us split this, but we definitely could have each ate our own.
The Rush to FastPass
Pay attention to where the rides for which you are planning FastPasses are located. We had Space Mountain followed by Splash Mountain–which is the complete other side of the park. Imagine our disappointment when we arrive at Splash Mountain and hear the ride is down. Luckily, our FastPass was replaced for a FastPass redeemable on any ride at any time.
Back to the other side of the park we go! My mom really wanted a picture with the evil step sisters. But, Disney does a constant rotation of the fairy godmother and the step sisters. By the time we were up, the fairy godmother was there instead. Skip this, the wait is long and you never know who you’ll get.
The Most Handsome Villain in All the Land
After hearing people gush about Gaston, we decided to see what all the fuss was about. The line was wrapped around to the bathrooms when we arrived, and a cast member already cut the line off until his next appearance in an hour. Deciding he was cute enough for the wait, we went into Gaston’s Tavern for a famous cinnamon roll. My stomach is growling looking at this picture. I’m a big fan of this dessert.
After meeting him, it’s easy to see why Gaston is so popular. If you hear he’s reappearing at a certain time, get there sooner than that. The line essentially has to be cut off at the start of his appearance, because it’s already so long by then. Meeting Gaston is not for introverts or anyone easily embarrassed. He really gets into character and can be both rude and extremely flirtatious. But, he’s easily the best character experience in the park. Feel free to grab his muscles–he loves it.
Disney at Night
After Peter Pan’s Flight (get a FastPass unless you want to wait an hour), it was dark and time for dinner. We crossed over to Pinocchio Village Haus for views of the Cinderella’s castle. The view made up for the crappy pizza (get chicken parmesan instead). While we should have secured a spot for the fireworks, we redeemed our FastPass for Splash Mountain instead. I don’t remember getting that soaked in the past, but let me tell you, if you get front row like I did, you’re getting wet. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad had at least an hour-long wait all day, so unfortunately I never got to experience that.
Our last stop of the night was Aloha Isle for the famous dole whip! I thought the float looked more appealing, but I could have done without all the pineapple juice. Next time, I’ll just get a cup. At this time of night, lines shorten up because everyone’s waiting for fireworks, so we rode the Magic Carpets with next to no wait time.
After the ride, we hustled to Wishes, getting a poor view of the castle. You really do need to arrive a minimum of an hour before if you want to enjoy this show. Now we know, it really is worth the time it takes to get a good view.
I really regret not experiencing all of the park. We hardly touched Tomorrowland, Frontierland, or Adventureland. Plan at least two days if you want to get the entire Magic Kingdom experience.
Don’t Miss: Gaston, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, Sleepy Hallow waffles, Peter Pan’s Flight, Wishes
Skip: Fairy Godmother/Stepsisters, Winnie the Pooh, The Haunted Mansion, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
Mission: SPACE Motion Sickness
Next up on our Walt Disney World excursion: Epcot! Big mistake right off the bat: starting our day with Mission: SPACE. We had no idea what this ride was about. I thought it was peculiar they had an orange and a green version of the ride. Thinking we could handle it, my brother and I chose team orange, while my mom went on green.
Oh man, this ride sucks. It was peculiar to me that there are so many warning signs and chances to exit before beginning the ride. It seemed strange that a ride needed to come with barf bags. Now I get it. I’ve never been so sick on a ride in my life. This simulator takes you on a ride to Mars, while spinning and subjecting you 2.5G, more than twice the gravity force on Earth. If the ride had to go back down to Earth, I’m not sure I would have made it. Seriously, look it up. People have died.
Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?
Highlight of Epcot by far is the Frozen ride! Unless you’re lucky enough to secure a FastPass, you’ll be waiting for a long time. Our wait was over an hour. It is worth it. After, we got in line to meet Elsa and Anna–the wait was only 30 minutes. We expected these to be some of the most popular characters, but the wait wasn’t bad at all! Don’t breeze past Norway while traveling through the World Showcase and miss these Frozen experiences.
Eating Around the World
We made a lofty goal of having a snack at every place in the World Showcase. Didn’t happen. But, we accomplished about half. The best snacks were in Mexico, China, Morocco, and France. (I forgot to take a picture in China!) We skipped America, Japan, UK, and Canada–mainly because we couldn’t fathom eating anymore. I’m bummed to have missed fish and chips and compare to the real thing. Italy only had quick service gelato–which was nothing like gelato in Italy–but Epcot’s Italy is so close to the real thing. I felt like I was back in Florence. Tips for the World Showcase: prioritize what you want to eat. Don’t just eat to eat. (Dammit, Norway berry cream puff).
Don’t Miss: Test Track, Soarin’, Frozen Ever After, Lotus Blossom Cafe, Tangerine Cafe, Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie
Skip: Mission: SPACE, Living with the Land, Sommerfest, Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe
Last and Least
I wish I could say last but not least, but Animal Kingdom is the worst park at Walt Disney World. Just like everything else, I’m glad to say I’ve been. There just isn’t much to see here. If you don’t want to take my word for it, get in and out. You can finish Animal Kingdom before noon.
Africa in the Morning
Starving, we headed straight to Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery for a Mickey-shaped cinnamon roll. Not as good as Gaston’s, but exactly what is needed first thing in the morning. The earliest we could get a FastPass for the Kilimanjaro Safaris was 1 PM, so we strolled through the Harambe Market on the way to Asia.
Asia Saves the Day
Since I’m very anti-zoo (or anything that takes animals from their home), Expedition Everest is the best part of Animal Kingdom for me. My mom watched from the lookout while my brother and I rode twice. I recommend getting a FastPass for this (what else are you gonna use it on) and then riding again as a single rider. We somehow scammed the system and were still seated next to each other. Definitely one of the top three rides of Walt Disney World.
Done with Disney
After a brief stop at DinoLand USA, it was time for lunch at Flame Tree BBQ. While one of the better quick service restaurants at Disney World, we wish we would have made a reservation at Yak & Yeti’s instead.
Although I am against the safari, I can’t act like it’s not cool. The animals are so close to you! I heard that unless you go in the morning, you have a hard time seeing animals. We went at 1 and had no problems! We also checked out the gorillas after getting off, which was my favorite part.
By 2 PM, we had explored all there was to see at Animal Kingdom.
Don’t Miss: Expedition Everest, Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, Harambe Village Acrobats
Skip: DinoLand USA, Giftshops
Did you make it to the end? If you did, thank you! I definitely have the post-Disney blues and this post didn’t help. Here’s hoping I make another Walt Disney World appearance before 2017 is up!