My husband and I are HUGE Disney fans. When we used to live in Los Angeles, Disneyland was our favorite place to visit every time we needed a little pick-me-up. We’ve always talked about going on a trip to Walt Disney World someday, so when the opportunity presented itself, we just had to go for it. And let me tell you guys, spending four days in Walt Disney World was everything that I thought it would be – magical and exciting!
How to prepare for your trip
WHAT tO BRING:
Comfortable shoes – You’re going to be on your feet for 12+ hours a day so make sure you wear something comfortable and with good support!
Sunscreen – Always protect yourself from the sun even on a cloudy day.
Rain jacket or poncho – It rained sporadically throughout our four days at Disney World. I’m glad we brought our ponchos or we would’ve been drenched.
Handheld fan – Since Florida is so hot and humid, this will help you cool down while you wait in line. Make sure you get the rechargeable one.
Reusable water bottle – Drinking water in the parks is free. If you want to save some money, bring a reusable water bottle that you can fill up almost anywhere (drinking fountains, restaurants and food stands).
Portable charger – Your phones (+ handheld fan) are gonna be working overtime throughout the day. From checking FastPass times and wait times to taking your insta stories, you need your phone ready to go.
FastPass+ is an electronic system that allows you to reserve rides at Disney World. Unlike Disneyland’s MaxPass, FastPass+ is free and is included with the cost of your park admission.If you book a room at one of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels, you get to reserve rides or attractions 60 days in advance, which trust me helps a whole lot! Keep in mind that you can only make up to 3 reservations per park each day and the hours can’t overlap.
Another important thing to remember is that they divided the rides/attractions into “tiers”; from most popular to least popular rides. I will list down below the most popular rides that you need to use a FastPass on.
TIP: If you don’t see availability on some rides, just check everyday. Someone will eventually let go of their reservations and you can snatch them up for yourself. We actually didn’t have any FastPass reservations for Avatar until 15 days from our trip. We were prepared to rope drop and line up for 2+ hours.
MagicBands are collectible wristbands that you can use to enter the parks electronically, unlock your Disney Resort hotel room, gives you FastPass+ access and charge food/merchandise purchases to your hotel room. It’s waterproof and even customizable with your name and favorite color! Make sure you have it all set up before you arrive.
How to get around
Disney’s transportation system is reliable and easy. We only rented a car to get to Orlando from Ft. Lauderdale. From there, we dropped off our car at their very own rental car service station and took the shuttle to our hotel.
They have a wide array of complimentary transportations: bus, water taxis, monorail, aerial gondolas and motorcoach service to and from Orlando International airport and select Walt Disney World Resort hotels.
All Disney resorts have their own assigned shuttle bus outside each park. The lines do get long especially during peak hours but they try to get everyone back to their resorts as fast as they can.
GOOD TO KNOW: Complimentary Resort transportation begins 45 minutes prior to Disney theme park opening time and up to 1 hour after Disney theme park closing time.
Where to Stay
There are more than 25 Disney World hotels that you can choose from depending on your budget. We chose to stay at two hotels: Pop Century Resort and All-Star Movies Resort. Originally, we planned to stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge but after talking it over and realizing we won’t be spending most of our time inside the hotel, we opted to stay at the value resorts.
Just to give you guys an idea of how much you can save if you book at one of the value resort hotels, Animal Kingdom Lodge is usually around $386 per night as opposed to the Pop Century Resort at $158 per night and All-Star Movies Resort at $119 a night. If you plan on being inside the parks most of the time, then I highly recommend the value resorts. They’re clean and have great amenities for everyone. (prices as of 03/2020)
If I had to pick my favorite Disney World park, it would be a toss up between Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. I really enjoyed the whole vibe of Animal Kingdom. The design and creative team behind this park deserves an applause because their artistry and attention to detail is truly remarkable. They really spared no expense when they created this park! Right when you pass the turnstiles, you are immediately transported to a jungle like oasis in the middle of Africa – that is if that jungle had food stalls and souvenir shops.
MUST RIDE: My absolute favorite ride in Animal Kingdom is… surprise, surprise – Avatar Flight of Passage. I was very excited when we got a FastPass to this ride because wait times usually take more than 2 hours. The ride was very immersive and colorful. If I could, I probably would’ve done it twice!
Another park favorite is the Na’vi River Journey. Although it’s not as thrilling as Flight of Passage, the bioluminescent rainforest will definitely leave you in awe. We loved it so much that we ended up going on it twice!
BEFORE YOU GO: I did have some reservations about this park because I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t some glorified zoo. I try to be more conscious about places that I visit so I did try to do some research to see if it’s ethical or not. From what I read, they do have high standards of animal care and that animal welfare is a big priority. But on the other hand, they do have a mixture of captive animals and rescue/rehabs. It’s always hard for me to see animals in enclosures so the only thing we did that involved animals was the Kilimanjaro Safaris. Personally, I think the park attractions and rides itself are interesting enough to hold their own without the animals. There might be less stuff to do but maybe they could just add more rides instead?
Rides/Things to do:
- Avatar Flight of Passage (FastPass priority! usually a 100+ minute wait)
- Navi River Journey (FastPass priority! usually a 80+ minute wait)
- Expedition Everest
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Kali River Rapids
- Rafikis Planet Watch
- Festival of the Lion King
- UP! A Great Bird Adventure
- Rivers of Light: We Are One
- Finding Nemo – The Musical
- Flame Tree BBQ $ (ribs, chicken and pulled pork sampler w/ baked beans and coleslaw)
- Satu’li Canteen $ (combination bowl: grilled beef and chicken OR chili-garlic shrimp bowl)
- Yak & Yeti Local Food Cafe $ (american kobe beef hot dog)
- Eight Spoon Cafe $ (baked macaroni & cheese w/ pulled pork OR shrimp & sweet chili sauce)
- Harambe Market $ (chicken or beef and lamb gyro)
Magic Kingdom was such a nice surprise. I didn’t really expect to love it as much as I did. I thought it was going to be repetitive since most of the rides are pretty much the same as Disneyland’s but I couldn’t be more wrong. Although there are a lot of similarities between the two, Magic Kingdom has incredible shows you guys have to check out! One of my favorites was the Festival of Fantasy Parade. Not only did they have incredible floats and amazing performers, they also have a fire-breathing dragon! It was pretty cool to see it up close.
To end our night, we watched the Happily Ever After fireworks at Cinderella’s castle. It was so beautiful and magical that it nearly brought me to tears. It’s definitely one of my favorite moments during our time at Disney World.
MUST RIDE: Space Mountain will always be one of my favorite rides ever!
Rides/Things to do:
- Space Mountain (FastPass priority! usually 80+ min wait)
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (FastPass priority! usually 120+ min wait)
- Splash Mountain
- Big Thunder Railroad
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Jungle Cruise
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- Haunted Mansion
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Under the Sea
- Buzz Lightyear
- It’s a Small World
- Festival of Fantasy Parade
- Happily Ever After Fireworks Showcase
- Once Upon A Time
- Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party
- Aloha Isle $ (dole whip soft-serve OR pineapple float)
- Caseys Corner $ (chili cheese all beef foot long hot dog)
- Pecos Bill Tall $ (fajita platter OR pork carnitas nachos)
- The Friar’s Nook $ (loaded buffalo chicken tots)
- Plaza Ice Cream Parlor $ (brownie sundae)
- Sleepy Hollow $ (sweet and spicy chicken waffle sandwich
- The Diamond Horseshoe $$-$$$ (smoked beef brisket sandwich OR cowboy macaroni OR barbecued pulled pork)
- Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe $ (mickey cheeseburger)
- Columbia Harbour House $ (trio platter OR lobster roll)
Disney’s Hollywood Studios reminds me a lot of Disney California Adventure. If Magic Kingdom is for kids, Hollywood Studios is definitely for adults. With the addition of two Star Wars rides, they now have some of the best rides at Disney World. My favorites are: Slinky Dog Dash, Rock n Roller, Twilight Tower of Terror and Smugglers Run. Don’t forget to also check out some of the shows inside the park, such as Frozen Sing Along and Voyage of the Little Mermaid, both equally fun and entertaining!
MUST RIDE: If you love fun and thrilling rides, Slinky Dog Dash is the crown jewel of Hollywood Studios.
Rides/Things to do:
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Slinky Dog Dash (FastPass priority! usually 80+ min wait)
- Toy Story Mania
- Twilight Tower of Terror
- Aerosmith Rock n Roller
- Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run (FastPass priority! usually 120+ min wait)
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (FastPass priority! usually 120+ min wait)
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid
- Beauty and the Beast LIVE
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt
- Frozen Sing Along
- Wonderful World of Animation
- Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular
- Woody’s Lunch Box $ (bbq brisket melt and chocolate-hazelnut lunch box tart)
- Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo $$ (smoked kaadu pork ribs OR endorian fried chicken tip yip)
- Fairfax Fare $ (empanadas platter OR mojo pulled pork sandwich)
- Ronto Roasters $ (ronto wrap OR endorian chicken wrap)
- Neighborhood Bakery $ (num num cookie)
- PizzeRizzo $ (meat lover’s pizza)
- Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant $$ (sci-fi appetizer sampler, drive-in bbq burger OR pan-seared shrimp pasta)
We planned our trip to Epcot around the International Food and Wine Festival. We’ve been wanting to attend this event for years and we’re so happy it finally happened! It’s perfect for travelers and foodies alike because it showcases different cuisines from around the world. Food can get a little pricey especially if you end up going to every booth (we almost did) but in my opinion, it was totally worth it because almost every dish we tasted, highlighted the countries they represented.
In between bites, we ended up checking out the rest of the park. Although some of the rides are subpar and outdated compared to the other parks at Disney World, I did enjoy walking through the World Showcase. As a traveler, I loved that they incorporated different architectures and landscapes from around the world, transporting you from the streets of Paris to the temples of Japan. What Epcot lacks in exciting and thrilling rides, they certainly made up for it by celebrating community and culture through this innovative World Showcase attraction.
MUST RIDE: If there’s one ride that you guys have to do, it’s Test Track. You’ll get to design and test your own prototype vehicle. It’s very fun and immersive!
GOOD TO KNOW: Epcot is definitely due for an update! Not only are they adding a new and interactive pavilion, they are also getting two new rides: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
Rides/Things to do:
- Spaceship Earth
- Test Track
- Mission Space (not recommended if you’re claustrophobic or have motion sickness)
- Frozen Ever After
- Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
- The Seas with Nemo and Friends
- Livin with the land
- Journey into imagination
- Meet and Greet with Baymax
- Food and Wine Festival
- Katsura Grill
- Restaurant Marrakesh
- Biergarten Restaurant
- Coral Reef Restaurant
- La Hacienda de San Angel
- Monsieur Paul
- Teppan Edo
- Yorkshire County Fish Shop
Four days in Walt Disney World is a dream come true for any Disney fan like myself. I love that they cater not only to families but also to adults that are young at heart. Each park has something unique to offer and I highly recommend that you guys set aside some time to visit all four of them.