After a two month hiatus, I think a post all about my holiday will be a welcome instalment on the Positiff Blog! The first part of my Florida posts is a guide to Disney. It was as magical as people say, even for two 25 year olds! However, the sheer size of the parks, number of rides, attractions and places to eat, as well as planning your transport can be a bit of a headache, so hopefully this guide will give you an idea of what a holiday to the ‘most magical place on earth’ will mean.
Me and Dan flew to Florida for an action packed 2 weeks full of Disney magic, birthday fun and what seemed like a never ending supply of fast food (more on that later). Our first 10 days were to be spent in Orlando, staying at the Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando, on the famous International Drive. This hotel has everything you’d need, comfortable beds, clean rooms and a great location with a bus stop right outside to catch the green iTrolley up and down iDrive, as well as the transport to all the Disney and Universal parks. I’d definitely recommend staying here as a base if you can’t afford to stay (or just don’t fancy staying) at one of the Disney resorts.
So… here’s the lowdown on each Disney park, including some quickfire tips to get the most out of your trip!
Disney’s Magic Kingdom
The big one. The castle. The ‘most magical place on earth’. Well I can confirm it’s true! I lit up when I saw the castle as I walked along main street, dancing to the performers singing a song at one of the shop fronts, wearing my ‘1st visit’ badge with pride (geek alert).
This is one of the larger Disney parks with 5 different lands – Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Liberty Square, each one with it’s own unique style. Try and catch a show at the front of the castle if you can and don’t miss out on Pirates of the Caribbean ride, it may have been slow paced but I was pleasantly surprised.
Best ride: Space Mountain in Tomorrowland
Best character meet: Too many to choose!
TIP: Download the official Disney World app to link your fast passes, memory maker picture pass and more together. It has park maps and live ride wait times – so handy for on the day!
This actually ended up being one of my top 2 Disney parks (Animal Kingdom being the other) because it was simply beautiful. The American’s really go to town on the details and nothing was missed at EPCOT.
This park is all about space, earth and beyond, taking you on different journeys around the globe depending on the ride. Your start off in Futureland and can then go onto the world showcase of 11 different countries situated around the large lake. This was really cool to wander around and explore. I had lunch in Japan, Dan ate in America then we walked through the streets of the UK, Norway, Morocco and more! France, the home of Beauty and the Beast was particularly pretty. The gardens are amazingly colourful all around, especially because it was the International Flower & Garden Festival.
Best ride: Test Track (for speeds of up to 70 mph!)
Best character meet: Joy & Sadness
TIP: Avoid eating from the stalls placed throughout the parks, sitting down in one of the restaurants actually works out cheaper and you get larger portions.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Confession. We bailed on Hollywood Studios after a couple of hours because… a lot of the rides broke down and were closed! 🙁 The queue times were ridiculous in Toy Story land and after watching the storm troopers and meeting Mike and Sully, we were spent. The old school Hollywood vibe is very infectious though and the store fronts are really charming.
It was just a shame we couldn’t go on the rides as we’d hoped. It’s a lot smaller than the other parks and is more for those wanting to learn about the history of Disney and the film industry, with a few token rides thrown in.
Best ride: who bloody knows
Best character meet: Lol we only met Mike and Sully here and it’s weird hugging a hard green ball!
TIP: Take a big bottle of water into the parks each day to avoid the sky high prices inside. It’s $3.50 minimum for a bottle of water! If you’re staying at a Disney resort, it’s a no-brainer to get the refillable drinks bottles that can be used around all the parks. Me and Dan just stared those guests down with envy.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
This park had the wow factor for me. Especially the world of Avatar and the floating rocks of Pandora. It’s amazing to look up at as you’re queuing for Flight of Passage (impossible to get a Fastpass for so yes, we queued for an hour and 40 minutes lord help us).
The tree of life as you enter the park is the perfect photo spot – unless you’re drowned rats in a pair of bright yellow ponchos…
We managed to get on all the rides bar the rapids and Expedition Everest coaster due to the thunderstorms that plagued us all afternoon. The Kilimanjaro Safari was excellent and our driver was really informative.
Best ride: Flight of Passage in Pandora
Best character meet: We didn’t see any characters here 🙁
TIP: If you’ve paid for bus transport to and from your hotel if staying out of the Disney resort area, sometimes the pick up times are a bit restrictive (ours were 6.30, 7.30 or 11pm – late!!) so we ended up getting an uber from some of the resorts. The 20 minute drive cost us between £12-15 which was nothing for the convenience of being back at our hotel at a decent time and saved us waiting in the heat (or thunderstorms!) for our bus. Download the Uber or Lyft app before you go.
Water parks – Blizzard Beach & Typhoon Lagoon
We went to Blizzard Beach out of the two and it was so fun! There were no queues, the rides were fun and the park wasn’t too big so walking around barefoot isn’t a problem. We ditched Typhoon Lagoon as we were soooo tired (averaging 20k steps a day walking around the theme parks!) but hey, always a reason to go back…
This is one of those holidays where you can’t really scrimp and save when you’re there. Disney is expensive, it is what it is. Which is why we budgeted accordingly and had the money to spend if we needed. I didn’t buy Minnie ears for $28 + tax (!) but didn’t stress about eating out every day and enjoying my time on park. If you want to buy merchandise, cheaper alternatives can be found at the Disney outlet stores at the Orlando Premium Outlets, there’s one at each end of International Drive which you can get to on the green iTrolley bus. I got my new phone case from there for $8 rather than the original park price of $25!
I struggled to find fresh food whilst we were away. I enjoyed some sushi at EPCOT and a salad and some fajitas on iDrive, but the majority of restaurants are serving up deep fried food! Also portions are ridiculous.. you’ve been warned! I also couldn’t believe the monumental plastic usage here. Straws, cups, bottles EVERYWHERE.
Seeing children meeting the characters was magical in itself (me and Dan witnessed a lot of cute moment when queuing!) and it makes me so happy how people across the globe still celebrate Disney whatever age, it’s definitely not just for kids! I enjoyed being swept up in the magic all over again and on this scale for a few days.
But most of all, this holiday wouldn’t have been half as fun if it wasn’t for Dan. Go away with someone on your level, who’s prepared to get stuck in and embrace it all with you. After all, memories are all we have.
With lots of love and Disney magic,