Disney World! Part 1

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Oh Disney World 😍 I love you so!! I don’t even know where to begin this post! But I’ve already titled it as “Disney World- Part 1” because I will probably have waaay too much to write for one post. There is just so much to say about this place! I will begin by saying that if you haven’t been here- GO. Just go. It’s everything. If you have young kids then ESPECIALLY GO. They will be grown before you know it. Taking them while they’re little, and the magic is alive within them, is something SO special I can’t even put it into words. Is it expensive? Yes. Of course. But there are deals to be found(I’ll be writing a follow-up post detailing the ways we’ve saved a bunch on our trips), and you can book your trip well in advance and make payments. And it will be worth it. The memories you make will be priceless. I’ve even turned my Disney hating husband into a fan- and if you know him, you know how stubborn he is. So if he likes Disney World most anyone will. Now if you are a negative, anti-commercialism, pessimist, crowd hating, type of person, you should probably skip this post. πŸ˜‚ For everyone else, read on!

To begin, I want to say that I am NOT a Disney World expert. I’ve only been twice. I grew up going to Disneyland, and we’ve taken Cooper to Disneyland once or twice a year for the past 4 years. So I’m familiar with the awesomeness of the park I’ve been going to far the last 30-something years. But I’ve wanted to go to Disney World my whole life- so I worked hard at convincing my husband that we should take a trip in 2017. I technically had already booked it before I’d convinced him πŸ˜‰ Eventually he agreed and we had the best time! In fact our trip was so awesome we decided to go again in 2018! We had even more fun on that trip since we had a better understanding of what a Disney World vacation entails.

I think the whole planning thing is overwhelming to a lot of people. I’m a planner by nature, so for me it’s fun. But if that’s not your thing, you can hire a Disney Travel Agent, and from what I understand there is no extra cost for you. I think the most helpful thing to know starting out is that there are 4 separate parks that make up Disney World:

  1. Magic Kingdom– this is the park that looks like Disneyland(on steroids!). Here you will find Main Street USA, the castle, Fanstasyland, Tommorowland, Adventureland, Frontierland, and Liberty Square. This park has the most rides, and this is probably where young children will have the most fun.
  2. Animal Kingdom– This is a sort of a zoo/amusement park mix. You can go on a safari and see animals, walk through animal exhibits, and go on some really awesome rides. The theming of this park is breathtaking. The Tree of Life is also found here.
  3. Hollywood Studios– This park has been under a lot of construction the two times we’ve visited. It’s sort of like an old Hollywood movie set meets amusement park setting. We love it for the Tower of Terror ride and the Indiana Jones stunt show. I’m sure we will love it more once the Toy Story Land opens(this summer) and Star Wars Galaxy’s edge opens(sometime in 2019).
  4. Epcot- This is the park where you will find what I consider to be the symbol of Disney World: The giant silver golf ball! Otherwise known as the ride Spaceship Earth. Epcot is divided into two parts: Future World(think rides and educational attractions) and World Showcase(11 mini countries featuring food, drinks, shopping, and landmarks native to each country).

Know that when planning your trip you will need at least 1 day for each park. I’d suggest 2 days for Magic Kingdom because there is so much to do and see.

Magic Kingdom

I think every trip should start out with a day at Magic Kingdom. This park really represents everything Disney, so starting your trip with a day here really sets the tone in my opinion. All the travel sites recommend arriving at “rope drop”(Disney Speak for 20 minutes or so before the park actually opens), but when you’re traveling from the west coast that’s not realistic. We just tried to focus on getting there at a reasonable time! As you enter through the gate you’ll see what looks a lot like Disneyland….just bigger.

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What really struck me on our first trip was how much bigger the Castle is here than at Disneyland! It’s so gorgeous!

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Our strategy was to begin our day in Fantasyland and use our first 3 FastPasses before lunch. For those of you that don’t know, each ticket gets you 3 FastPass+ selections that you get for any of the rides that have a FastPass line(basically any ride worth going on). This means minimal to no wait time. You get to book your FastPass up to 60 days before you even arrive for your trip, so you can kind of plan out your day and ensure you get to go on the best rides without spending hours in line. All of this is explained via the Disney World website . Obviously the best rides run out of FastPasses early so you definitely benefit from planning your trip in advance.

This year our morning FastPass+ selections were:

  • Peter Pan’s Flight– because the line for this one is always crazy and Cooper likes it. Although the theming in the line queue is really fun if you get stuck waiting without a FastPass.
  • Seven Dwarfes Mine Train– because this ride is FUN!! It’s a great little coaster that’s not scary(perfect for kids).
  • Haunted Mansion Ride– because this is a favorite! Cooper has been obsessed with all things relating to the Haunted Mansion since he was 3 years old.

After you use up your first 3 FastPass+ options, you just go into the Disney World app, check to see what is available for FastPass selections and pick what you want for your next FastPass! Then you just keep repeating that process and get to continue using FastPasses all day! It’s a really great system and it allows you to ride so many attractions. I secured us a FastPass for Big Thunder Mountain later in the day(since we had lunch reservations and wanted to see the 3:00pm parade).

We headed towards the rides that have shorter lines(usually) so we were able to squeeze in a ride on It’s a Small World, and the Mad Tea Party before we started working our way through Tomorrowland to hit the Peoplemover. Not bad considering we did all this before our 1:20pm lunch reservation.

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By the way my cute Minnie Mouse ears can be found in the Etsy shop here. I really love them and I got a ton of compliments on them throughout our trip.

For lunch we decided to book the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade Package . This means we ate lunch at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. We each got to pick an appetizer, entree, and dessert(from the full menu- not a prix fixe menu or anything like that). Then we were given a voucher to ensure us access to a roped-off area for parade viewing. Now to be clear, we aren’t really parade people…except for when we are here, or at Disneyland for the Halloween parade. I’m telling you, this Festival of Fantasy Parade is pretty awesome, and definitely worth watching! However, I don’t want to camp out on the concrete for an hour before the parade starts in order to get a good viewing spot! So this dining package is perfect. We were able to enjoy a sit down meal, the food was good(bonus points for pizza that my son actually ate), and then we just walked over to the viewing area 15 minutes before parade time and we had the best seats in the house. Just look at my pictures to see how amazing the view was:

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Cooper enjoyed coloring as we waited for our food.

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Our viewing spot

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Honestly I don’t think we could have had a better view. Cooper LOVED it. The cost for the dining package is $49 per adult (which was reasonable for the 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, beverages, and 2 desserts), and it was $19 for Cooper(he had a kids pizza, and dessert). I thought it was a great value and I highly recommend this dining option.

After the parade we just kind of went from FastPass to FastPass and rode more rides until it was time for dinner. We chose to dine in the Beast’s Castle at Be Our Guest Restaurant. We had lunch here on our first trip in 2017, so Cooper really wanted to eat here again. I was able to score a last minute reservation(seriously, I checked when we landed at the airport the night before and got lucky!), so we went to the bridge to check in.

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He was excited!
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Gargoyle statue
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At the entrance to the Beasts castle!

We asked if we could possibly sit in the West Wing room- and we scored! Cooper loves this room- it’s dark, and the curtains and walls look as though they’ve been scratched by the Beast. The Rose is also in this room with the petals slowly falling off of it. Then there’s the portrait hanging on the wall of the Beast in human form…until the thunder claps and the lightning flashes and suddenly the image of him in Beast form appears! It’s really neat and I highly recommend sitting in this room if your kids(or you!) like that kind of stuff.

The food was good- dessert was great! I wish I would have remembered to take pictures. I did try the “gray stuff” for dessert and it was delicious! My favorite part though, was when all of a sudden there was a trumpet sound, and then the Beast walked into the room! Cooper’s jaw dropped! They then announced that he would be accepting guests in his parlor if you’d like to meet him…so of course, we did!

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At first Cooper wasn’t so sure about his Mommy standing so close to the Beast…he had to keep an eye on him! #SideEye He quickly decided everything was fine…

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He even gave him a hug goodbye!

After dinner we hit up a couple more rides and had to take advantage of this photo spot right near Rapunzel’s tower:

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I really liked this idea- I LOVE the Tangled movie so I was really excited we stumbled upon this.

Side Note: book the Disney Photo Pass Memory Maker when you book your trip. It’s worth it!

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So that wraps up my review/recap of our Magic Kingdom day- we had so much fun! I’ll recap our Animal Kingdom day in my next Disney World post.

Hope you enjoyed reading this, and thanks for stopping by!

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3 thoughts on “Disney World! Part 1

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