I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m a huge fan of Walt Disney World (I mean, just take a look at my Instagram page). Recently, a bunch of people have asked me for advice on going to Disney World, so, I thought to put it all together in a blog post! In this post, I’ll be sharing everything I think you should know about planning a trip to Walt Disney World!
WDW has 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, 1 shopping area, and a bunch of other unique locations. If you’ve never been, it can be a little confusing to plan your trip, especially if you’re not only going to Disney. I’m going to break down each of the major destinations to make it a little easier!
Magic Kingdom is the original Florida park, and by far the most well-known. Its centerpiece is Cinderella Castle, and the park features several different themed lands. Main Street is the first land you see when you walk in the park, and it features several gift shops and treat stores, and the Trolley Show. Fantasyland is a very famous section of the park, featuring classic rides like Peter Pan’s Flight, It’s a Small World, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Mad Tea Cups, and Phillarmagic. You can meet princesses at Princess Fairytale Hall, as well as several other characters just wandering around the land. New Fantasyland is the latest expansion to the the park, and features the Seven Dwarves Mine Train, Storybook Circus featuring Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Be Our Guest Restaurant, The Adventure of the Little Mermaid, and Enchanted Tales with Belle. Liberty Square holds The Haunted Mansion, The Hall of Presidents, and Great Moments in History with the Muppets. Frontierland has The Country Bear Jamboree, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Tom Sawyer Island. The most popular attractions in Adventureland are Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean. The final land in Magic Kingdom is Tomorrowland, featuring Space Mountain, the Peoplemover, and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
Magic Kingdom has the most character meet and greets of the parks, including the classic characters, princesses, and more modern characters. Some characters, like Mickey, Minnie, and friends, are dressed in special outfits that you can find only in the park. Magic Kingdom also hosts most of the special holiday parties, and is home to the famous purple wall.
Epcot has been one of my favorite parks since I was little. It’s centerpiece is Spaceship Earth (aka the giant golf ball). The first half of the park is known as Future World, and has rides like Soarin, Test Track, Living with the Land, and Mission:SPACE. You can also meet the classic characters, as well as Baymax and a rotating meet and greet at the Epcot Character Spot. The other part of the park is called World Showcase, and contains several themed pavilions inspired by different countries around the world. World Showcase is an incredibly immersive experience, featuring food and traditions from each respective country. Many of the cast members in each pavilion originate from the country of the pavilion they work in, and also speak the native language of that country.
Epcot holds several rotating festivals throughout the year, like the Festival of the Arts, Flower and Garden Festival, Festival of the Holidays, and Food & Wine Festival! Each of these events has unique experiences and treats at each country around the world. In addition, Epcot has the Bubblegum wall, Toothpaste wall, Mosaic wall, and Rose Gold Wall.
Animal Kingdom is currently my favorite park at WDW. The park is themed to Africa, Asia, and the mythical world of Pandora. My favorite rides here are Dinosaur, Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest, and Kilimanjaro Safaris. Animal Kingdom also has two amazing daytime shows- Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Musical- and Rivers of Light, a nighttime show. Animal Kingdom also has a variety of daytime entertainment inspired by the different lands of the park. The park also has a few animal trails to look at the hundreds of animals that live at the park.
Animal Kingdom does not have that many character meet and greets, however the characters who meet are either in outfits only seen there, or are characters who can only be met there. Animal Kingdom is famous for the You are Most Beautiful wall and Fichwa wall, but there are countless other beautiful photo opportunities throughout the park.
Hollywood Studios is the final theme park I’ll be talking about today, and it is getting ready to celebrate its 25th anniversary! Toy Story Land had opened at the park last year, and Star Wars Land will be opening later this year. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad is also scheduled to open soon, in the place of the The Great Movie Ride. Some of the more popular attractions at this park are The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Toy Story Midway Mania, Rock n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, Star Tours, and Muppet Vision 3D. The park also has live shows- Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, and Disney Junior Dance Party.
Hollywood Studios has undergone a lot of construction lately, and is still continuing to undergo changes. There are quite a few special photo destinations, including those with Star Wars Characters, but the only wall I currently know of is the Popsicle Wall in Toy Story Land.
Disney Springs, formerly known as Downtown Disney, is Disney’s shopping district. It has Disney exclusive stores, like the World of Disney and Disney Style, as well as big name brands, like Sephora, Lilly Pulitzer, and Kate Spade. There are also a bunch of different restaurants and places to grab a bite to eat, my favorite being Chicken Guy. Disney Springs, although a shopping destination, has plenty of picture opportunities everywhere.
Blizzard Beach & Typhoon Lagoon
Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are Disney’s two waterparks. Blizzard Beach is themed to a summer-y ski resort, and Typhoon Lagoon is themed to an island that was hit by a hurricane. Both parks are very pretty and well themed, and have a bunch of fun water rides. Although there are spots to take pictures, it is still a waterpark set up.
Planning Your Trip
A Disney vacation is not hard to plan, but there are a few things you should know before you go.
Planning your Fastpasses is easily the most important. All guests get to book 3 Fastpasses per day before their arrival. The system continues to see some minor changes, but to my knowledge, there is a possibility to get more Fastpasses once you have used yours for the day, but only at the single park you booked your passes for that day. Many of the rides at Walt Disney World, especially the more popular ones, can get extremely long waits, so Fastpasses can save you a lot of time!
It’s also important to note the new ticket purchasing system. Now, you have to buy your ticket for a specific day, and you can only use it on that specific day for that specific park. This requires a bit more specific planning for guests, and is important to know as you’re working on planning your trip.
Finally, the last thing to consider is whether or not you’ll want to stay on property or off property. If you stay on property, you can get access to the parks through Extra Magic Hours, and start booking your fast passes earlier. However, off property resorts can be cheaper and easier to access, especially if you plan on visiting other destinations.
Once you’re ready to start planning your trip, be sure to download the official Walt Disney World app! The app has all the information you’ll need for your trip, including PhotoPass, dining options, and special experiences that you can book. The app also has wait times and show times listed, which is perfect for your park days!
I hope this post was able to help clear up the basics of what you need to know for planning a Walt Disney World vacation! I’m certainly not an expert, but if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me! Be sure to head over to @pinkdaysblog on Instagram to see lots of magical posts from the most magical place on Earth! I also have an entire board on Pinterest dedicated solely to Disney pictures (you can find my Pinterest at the little link symbol on your right).
See ya real soon,