As you know, we’ve been to Walt Disney World a couple of times now, once many years ago before we had the kids and then more recently with the kids. We have another trip planned for next month, so it’s fair to say that we enjoy holidaying there.
Something that I’ve noticed since I’ve been visiting again, is how surprised people are about some of the great things that Disney World has to offer. Yes, they know there is a mouse and some rides and some sunshine, and then beyond that they imagine huge crowds, long queues, high spends and a holiday that’s only for the kids. Well, whilst I know that Disney World isn’t for everyone I thought it’d be useful to bust a few of those myths and share with you some information that might just tempt you to book a trip.
Disney World is HUGE!
Disney World is about the size of San Francisco. There are four theme parks, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, along with two water parks, several resorts and Disney Springs. Disney Springs is shopping, restaurants and entertainment. Then there are areas such as the Boardwalk and golf courses to explore. You cannot just walk around it all, from one park to the next, as they are not all attached to one another. There is a lot to see!
The rides are not like theme parks we have here in the UK
I don’t go on rides here in the UK, I am the bag holder! But in Disney World it’s a completely different ball game and I am not missing out on the fun. Even the queues can be an attraction, as they are often perfectly themed to the ride and have things to look at as you wait. There are a few rides that are like things you might ride here, but the vast majority are unique attractions and many of them have a story to tell. Whilst I do not feel that Disney World is just for kids (the Husband and I will still be visiting when the kids are grown up!) the rides are all suitable for children, with just a handful of rides that might be too scary for some. For example, my two will not go near Tower of Terror…yet.
Every Disney ticket includes three Fast Passes.. FREE!
In most cases, theme parks charge a premium to be able to bypass queues, but in Disney World everyone has the same with their ticket. Your ticket allows you to book three Fast Passes in advance of your visit, which means that you don’t need to queue for the ride, or maybe just a short wait for the very popular rides, attractions or character meets. After you have used your three Fast Passes for that day, you are welcome to keep on booking them all day long as long as they are available.
If you’re staying on site at Disney World you have the advantage of being able to book your Fast Passes 60 days ahead of your trip, and off site guests can book them 30 days ahead. You can move them around and amend them at any time and you will be using your My Disney Experience app to do this and as you are walking around the park.
Disney World is more than just rides
The Festival of Fantasy parade is magical, the fireworks in every park are spectacular, the character meets are so much fun, then there are the shows such as Beauty and the Beast Live, the delicious food and more – and that’s all just in the parks.
Elsewhere on property there is a horse riding ranch, there is mini golf, there’s plenty of shopping, there are cinemas, there are free activities to join in with such as a camp fire with Chip and Dale and then there is pin trading which my kids LOVE! There is plenty more, just explore to find out what else you might like to do.
The queues are manageable
Now, there are busier times of the year and there are then busy days within each park. Some attractions see bigger queues than others, some restaurants are more popular than others. But, I will say that when we went last time, the longest that we queued for a ride was twenty minutes and it was more than worth the wait. I have queued a lot longer than that in UK theme parks for rides that are not as good! Planning well, visiting parks at the right times and using the Fast Pass system effectively made this possible, as if you don’t plan then you will queue. You can also use mobile ordering at many of the quick service counters, so we ordered food on the My Disney Experience app as we were making our way over to the restaurant and then it was ready on our arrival, saving us the hassle of queuing.
The Resorts are places worth spending time in
The resorts are more than just a hotel room. They are complete resorts and all have different themes, atmospheres and amenities. They are a break from the hustle and bustle of the parks. You can stroll around the beautiful grounds and relax by the pool, or pools in some cases. Our resort is our time out from the parks and the kids love splashing around in the pool.
Disney World has its own transport system
This actually starts at Orlando Airport, as you can get the Disney Magical Express bus for free from there to your resort if you’re staying on site at Disney World.
Beyond that there are buses, the monorail, boats and the Skyliner (a gondola lift system) to get you around the parks and resorts. All are free to use so you don’t need to drive around if you’d rather not.
There are different events running throughout the year
You will find different things happening throughout the year at Disney World, so it can be worth visiting at different times. For example, everything will be decorated for Easter, Halloween and Christmas, there are Halloween and Christmas parties and Epcot holds several festivals throughout the year. We were there for the International Flower and Garden Festival last time we went whereas we will be there for the Festival of the Arts on our next visit.
Disney World is changing all the time!
Just since our last visit, there are loads of new rides, lands, snacks, shows, oh so much more!
Disney World will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year and there are plenty of plans in place to make the celebrations perfect. Amongst other things, there are several new rides being built and Epcot is seeing loads of construction and re-imagining.
There’s LOADS of help available to help you make the most of it
Along with guide books and tour operators, there is plenty of help to help you to make the most of your trip. I shared more in my planning for Disney World post.
You can get free Disney dining offers
Every year (though there’s never a guarantee it will be offered every year) Disney run a free dining promotion. This means that’ll if you’re staying on site and buy a Disney park ticket, you qualify for free dining during your stay. And I can assure you that you will not need more so all of your food is covered. It’s a bit like an all inclusive holiday then and it’s handy as the food in the parks can be expensive.
You can book dining ahead of time, at 180 days before your trip
With the Dining plan, you can book your restaurant reservations six months in advance of your trip. Now, you do not have to have book everything at this stage, but it is worth booking the more popular restaurants at this point and then you can be more relaxed about some of your options nearer to the time.
Planning is key
I’ve heard people say they don’t want to plan, they want to go with the flow as it’s a holiday. I get that, but really, you are giving yourself headaches that you don’t need to.
As mentioned, you each get three free Fast Passes per day of your ticket. Use them! I appreciate that this means you have to plan ahead, but it also means that you can skip those three queues. Planning will ensure that you can enjoy your holiday otherwise the chances are that you will get stuck in crowds and queues.
The reality of the holiday
Now I know it’s not all magic and pixie dust. Disney are geniuses at marketing and getting you to part with your cash. They are a money making machine and they know just how to make it. It is also one of the most popular theme parks in the world so there are crowds, lots of crowds. If you can embrace this and go with it and make those plans, you will have a blast.
Have you been to Disney World, how did you find it? If you are one of the ‘uninitiated’ has any of this surprised you?