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Planning a Trip to Walt Disney World

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Love Laugh Caribbean
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I’ve always loved Disney! As a child, my family would frequently make the trek from Louisiana to Disney World. However, as a mother, my love for Disney grew leaps and bounds.

Three years ago, after the hardest year of my life, we took our daughter to Disneyland on a complete whim. I remember the exact moment my broken heart started to mend. We were on Main Street U.S.A. and bubbles were floating all around us while our daughter (only 3 at the time), danced to the music. It was one of those moments that make you realize just how wonderful and happy life is meant to be! It’s moments like this that make every penny spent on a family vacation well worth it! Flash forward three years and our Disney “punch-card” looks like this:

  • Disneyland: 3 trips
  • Disney Cruise: 1 cruise
  • Disney World: 1 trip (only 1 park and for a very limited time)

In October, we are going back to Disney World and on another Disney Cruise. While we did visit Magic Kingdom in 2015, we didn’t get to spend a lot of quality time at the park. It was a poorly planned visit that was added on at the last minute before our cruise. As such, I’ve reached out to my wonderful blogging friends who have visited Disney World in the last few years for some pointers! Sadly, on this trip, we aren’t going to make it to Hollywood Studios – we simply ran out of time prior to our cruise.

{Featured photo of Magic Kingdom by Love Laugh Caribbean}

Animal Kingdom

This park opened after I graduated from high school. My trip in October will be the first trip for my entire family. We are excited to all experience someplace new. I have a few questions to help me plan my trip.

Question 1:  Outside of Pandora, what are the must ride events of this park?

  • Love Laugh Caribbean: We loved Expedition Everest! It’s a moderate sized roller coaster, with a twist…it goes backward at the end. Good for adventure loving kids probably as young as 4-5. Our 5-year-old loved it.

 

  • Love Laughter and Luggage: We really love Kilimanjaro Safari.  It’s a fun way to see the animals.  My husband and I like to ride Expedition Everest, but my daughter doesn’t like thrill rides, so she skips it. We either get a FastPass or do single-rider.  My family also loves the Festival of the Lion King show.

Question 2:  I’d love to do a safari! What time is the best time to do this adventure?

  • Love Laughter and Luggage: We’ve done it right at park opening and right before dusk.  I really liked doing it close to dusk.  I’ve heard that if you choose morning or dusk, the animals are more active.  There is a sunset safari now, but I’ve heard it can be too dark to see well, even with the extra lighting.

 

  • Love Laugh Caribbean: Our safari was probably our favorite ‘event’ at the park. We got to the park and immediately FastPassed it. I think we went around 11, which was perfect. We saw tons of animals. I loved how well they made it feel like you were actually on a safari. They hid the ride aspect of things very well.

Question 3:  Because I am always hungry and want to use my time and calories for worthwhile eats, What eating areas should I seek out?

  • Love Laughter and Luggage: We haven’t eaten a lot at Animal Kingdom since weird things have happened to us like the torrential rainfall.  We’ve eaten at Rainforest Café near the entrance, but that was only because we a Landry’s Club members and we had dollars to use.  We like the food there, though.  We plan to eat at Yak and Yeti on our next trip.

 

  • Love Laugh Caribbean:  YAK AND YETI! They offer both counter and table service. We used a table service credit here and weren’t disappointed. The atmosphere is great. They have tons of artifacts from all over Asia. Did I mention food? We were licking our plates when we were done. Great food!

Other Tips:

During heavy rain, all the attractions were closed except for some indoor things. If the weather forecast calls for rain, maybe select a different park for that day.

www.lovelaughcaribbean.com
Love Laugh Caribbean’s family enjoying Animal Kingdom!

Epcot

Most of my childhood memories are of this park. In fact, I’m not entirely sure if my family took me to the other parks. They claim they did, but I have no memory nor photo evidence. I am suspicious…. Regardless, I know this park has experienced changes since the late 80s and I’m anxious to see what looks the same vs. what has changed.

Question 1:  What are your top rides for this park?

 

  • Love Laughter and Luggage: Tie between Frozen and Figment (we have a soft spot in our hearts for that purple dragon.  We frequently sing the song for the ride, and my daughter was Figment for Halloween last year. Did I mention we like Figment?) But honestly, we love so much about this park. We even ride Spaceship Earth at least two times per trip.

Question 2: Are there any “hidden gems” of Epcot? Places not frequently traveled, but worth seeing?

  • Love Laughter and Luggage: We really love to just explore the countries. The garden in the UK is a nice quiet spot to relax.  We love the store in Japan. We like the clocks in Germany, and we can spend hours in China and Mexico.  We love entering the park at the International Gateway when we stayed at the Beach Club Villas last year. The crowds are low, and it was a nice walk from our room to this entrance. At opening, we walked straight to Soarin’ and walked right on.

 

  • Love Laugh Caribbean: I’ve been to Disney and Epcot many times. The last time I was there, I noticed that there was a ride in every ‘country’. I had never known this before. Each one is unique to the country. The rides here are fun and educational!

Question 3:  Where is the best place to get a sweet treat? Because, you know… food!

  • Love Laughter and Luggage: The caramel place in Germany is really yummy!  There are some delicious pastries and sandwiches in France, too!

 

Other Tips:

Consensus on Illuminations is that this firework show is totally “skippable.” If you chose to watch it, don’t stress about finding the perfect viewing spot. If you have another ride or area of Epcot you’d rather explore, do that instead of watching Illuminations; or if you have a cranky tired child, then go back to your hotel, guilt free, for some extra sleep!

www.lovelaughterandluggage.com
Love Laughter and Luggage’s daughter coloring a Duffy Bear at Epcot

 

Magic Kingdom

I LOVE Magic Kingdom! I only spent 5 hours visiting it as an adult, but I could tell – this is where the magic is centralized! I am super excited to be visiting this park while it is decked out for Halloween.

Question 1:  There is so much to do and see at this park, how do you avoid park fatigue? What are your best tips?

  • Love Laugh Caribbean: Do not use the extra magic hours. I can’t stress this enough. The park is so much more crowded these days and all you will do is wait in line. Get there when the park opens, or schedule breakfast for 1 hour before opening. You get there before everyone else and get some great pictures in an empty park. Drink water all day long! Take refillable bottles, some of the counter service places will take pity and fill your water bottle. Even if you’re getting counter service, find a spot to sit and rest while eating. Alternate fast paced rides with calmer ones. Grab a show in the afternoon out of the sun. Do not try to tackle the entire park in one day. You definitely need two. Break it up sticking to specific sections of the park on certain days.

 

  • Love Laughter and Luggage: We go in summer, so fatigue and surviving the heat during that time is certainly on our minds!  We get there at rope drop, and we stay until about 1:00 pm. Then we take a break to go back to the resort to swim or nap. Then we head back to the parks at about 5:00 or so, depending if we have eaten in our room, have reservations at a resort, or we plan to eat in the park. We then stay until nearly closing. I know the hours in the fall may not permit this strategy. We also plan to do things in the air conditioning when it gets warm. Carousel of Progress anyone?  You also get to sit on that one for a while. A lunch reservation at a table service restaurant can help with rest, or eat lunch at an indoor counter service place. Taking some moments just to sit down and enjoy your surroundings can help rejuvenate you. We also like to rest on the People Mover!

Question 2:  What are your thoughts about the MemoryMaker? Or, what are your tips on capturing the best photos?

  • Love Laughter and Luggage: We’ve never pre-purchased MemoryMaker. I have purchased two pictures once we got home once because I liked them so much, but the cost of doing that was well below the package.  We would rather spend our money on other things, like Dole Whips and villas. We just let them take their photos and add them to our bands. The PhotoPass people will use your camera if you ask, too. If I like a couple of pictures enough, I will buy them. We just take a lot of pictures when it occurs to us that something would make a great picture. I try to take some pictures without my family knowing, so they are just kind of in the moment. I also try to take pictures from many different levels, or I try to think how a different perspective would look. Most of the time, I just get lucky. My advice–take a lot of pictures. But don’t take so many that you lose the moment you’re experiencing. There’s a happy balance.

 

  • Love Laugh Caribbean: This was something I stressed about as well. We did it. In the end, I decided when spending $10K on a trip, $150 for pictures was a drop in the bucket. I knew I’d be getting great pictures so it was worth it. I got amazing pictures and didn’t regret it.

Question 3:  What are your tips for viewing the firework show? Where to stand? What to bring to make it more comfortable? Snacks to eat during the show?

  • Love Laughter and Luggage: We often have popcorn during this time of day. My daughter loves popcorn. We really don’t stake out a place to view the fireworks.  We’ve seen them from Adventureland, behind the cars in Tomorrowland, and even from our room at Bay Lake Tower. I suppose the view is best in front of the castle, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it from there. The time we saw them from Adventureland, we just grabbed some chairs from what was the Citrus Swirl place, and then we moved them over a little so we could see the fireworks. Last year, we saw them from behind the castle near the Tangled restrooms!  I’ve only staked out places for parades in the past. Maybe I should try to experience the fireworks in front of the castle on my next trip!

 

  • Love Laugh Caribbean: Get to the front of the castle early. At least an hour before, if not sooner. This is a great time to grab a snack and sit and eat while waiting. Make sure you use the bathroom before settling in. If you leave someone holding your spot and you leave, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to get back to them.

 

Other Tips:

Unless you have booked a character breakfast, there is no big draw to eating breakfast in the park. Either eat at the hotel or eat, while in motion, to the park. This is the one park you want to get to early!

www.lovelaughterandluggage.com
Love Laughter and Luggage’s daughter making a wish at Magic Kingdom

 

Final WDW Question

Okay, I have one final interview question for you ladies, a Walt Disney World trip isn’t complete without….?

  • Love Laugh Caribbean: Downtown Disney!! A lot of people skip this but it’s so much fun! There is Goofy’s candy shop, a Ghirardelli chocolate shop, a Lego store, a HUGE gift shop and so much more. There are great restaurants and so much going on everywhere. I recommend going here in the evening if Animal Kingdom since it closes early!

 

  • Love Laughter and Luggage: That’s a good question. For us, Walt Disney World is so much more than a theme park with rides. We like to stay in the resorts and eat in the restaurants. So, I guess I would say it isn’t complete without being immersed in the magic. We only go about every other year. We could go every year, I suppose, but we would miss out on some of the things we love, so we save up for two years instead of one to do Disney the way we want. For us, that means staying at least seven days, renting points for a studio villa, and eating several table service meals including character meals. But is also means that we make time to meet the characters, watch shows, and maybe do a dessert party. We just like to be in the magic all day long. For us, a trip wouldn’t be complete without those extra experiences that make Walt Disney World so special.

Meet my Blogging Friends (and my WDW Knowledge Sources)

A huge thanks to Michele at Love Laugh Caribbean and Stacey at Love Laughter and Luggage for answering my questions. These two ladies are both fantastic and inspiring travel bloggers, please show their websites some love.

Love Laugh Caribbean

Michele at Love Laugh Caribbean has a passion for family friendly travel with a goal of instilling a love for our planet and the various culture within her three children. Her favorite destinations have sandy beaches, tropical waters, and amazing underwater adventures. Join Michele and her family as they explore and appreciate the Caribbean and beyond.

Here are Michele’s Disney related blog posts:

Love, Laughter, and Luggage

Stacey at Love, Laughter, and Luggage is a travel-loving teacher. Stacey, her husband, and her daughter love to travel; therefore, they make it a priority by saving and planning for vacations. They love to visit touristy places, but also like to what the locals do. Join Stacy and her family on some of their fabulous adventures!

Here are Stacey’s Disney related blog posts:

Planning for Walt Disney World - My favorite bloggers answer my burning questions about planning a WDW Trip (with lots of links!)

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15 Comments

  1. Everyone “does Disney” a little differently, and it’s a great idea to share different perspectives. There are so many great things here, like the Ghirardelli shop and Kilimanjaro safari. I’d throw in Tiffins for a great meal at Animal Kingdom as well!

  2. I do want to bring my kids to Disney some day, it is overwhelming to think about and plan since I’ve only been there once. Thanks for the info I pinned it for later.

  3. I love Disney world!! I use to go alot with my older daughters since I live in Orlando. Can’t wait to take the babies! I hope that you have the best time!
    Sweetsbykarla.com

  4. wow this is really great info. ive been to Disneyland and Magic Kingdom/Epcot. NEver to Animal Kindgom though. it was hot this past Sept 1 in Cali so I hear ya on the taking AC breaks and maybe going back to the resort would be a good idea

  5. It’s really nice to get different perspectives! I haven’t been to any of them – I have tried Paris and HK though – but ahhh doesn’t really count does it! I’d love to take the kids while they are still on the smaller side. Maybe we should try to plan a trip to the US 😀

  6. Hey there! Great article, but I have a question! Is it complete or are you accepting new responses to your questions? My family are Disney World fanatics and I personally have been to Disney World 16 times to date. (Yes I know a little obsessive). I would love to provide some answers to your questions if you’re still seeking different opinions! Let me know! 🙂

    1. You are in good company – we also love Disney! We just don’t have too many WDW trips under our belt yet. I will contact you the next time I do a Disney collaborative post!

  7. What a great input for me who have never been there and not sure where we will go there. My son doesn’t show interest at all and my husband doesn’t like crowds and waiting in line. Maybe I will go there in the next 20 years or so to bring my grandkid/s. Haha…

  8. What helpful information! We haven’t taken our children to Disney World yet. (I feel like a bad mom when I tell people that!) So we will definitely be scheduling a trip there sometime in the next couple of years. I’m pinning this article to refer back to because I will need all the help I can get to plan that trip!

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