September 23, 2015

10 Tips for Walt Disney World

It can be very overwhelming when you are planning a Walt Disney World vacation. I thought I would make it a little easier on you to put together some things that are important to know when heading to the Happiest Place on Earth!

Monorail

  1. Wear running shoes.
    Trust me on this one. I have done Disney World in flip flops, and my back was KILLING me after one day. Wear comfortable running shoes (or sandals) that have support and are broken in. You don’t want to waste time during your vacation stopping to apply bandaids and with your feet hurting the whole time!
  2. Bring a water bottle.
    It gets hot in Florida, and you are going to be walking a ton, and need to stay hydrated! I always like to bring a water bottle with me because I don’t like the taste of Dasani water, and to save time. There are water fountains all around the parks, which makes it really easy. As I have said before here, I like to carry a backpack around the parks with a water bottle and other extras.
  3. Take a break.
    Going to the parks all day every day is exhausting. Make sure to take it easy at some point. I like to take a break during the busiest part of the day, or sleep in one morning. If you are travelling with kids, they are definitely going to need to take a break. While they are napping, you could take a nap yourself, or even just relax for a few hours. When you head back to the parks you will feel refreshed and ready to go!
  4. Take Advantage of Fastpass +
    No one likes to wait in line! Take advantage of the Fastpass+ service and skip the long lines! I will be doing a post very soon that goes into detail about this service, so make sure to keep an eye out for it!

    Rock n' Rollercoaster

    You’ll want a Fastpass+ for this one!

  5. Plan ahead.
    One does not simply walk into the Magic Kingdom without a plan. If you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World, you need to be organized. I like to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours (hours where the park opens early or stays open late for guests staying at Disney Resort Hotels) and plan my trip around these hours. I will generally go to the park that has Extra Magic Hours. Some people don’t like to do this because they think the parks are busier during these times and on these days, but I haven’t found that to be true.
  6. Know what you want to do, and what you could skip.
    It’s important to set expectations when travelling somewhere where there are so many things to do. I exaggerated that on my last trip by making a list, but as long as you know the things that you really want to do and make sure you do them, you should be happy. Especially if you are travelling with a larger party, if everyone picks a couple things that they would like to do, no one will be disappointed.
  7. Download the App.
    Yes, there’s an app for that! The My Disney Experience App is pretty awesome, so I did a whole post about it! You can check that out here. I found it to be a really helpful tool in the parks, and would highly recommend it!Harper's Mill
  8. Get to the parks early!
    I absolutely cannot stress this point enough! The first few hours of the park are the least busy and the most valuable! You can get more done in the first few hours than in the rest of the day. If you can do it, you really should. If you make it to the park early, make sure to take a break! (See point #3).
  9. Make dining reservations in advance.
    Nothing is more annoying than waiting to be seated at a restaurant while other parties are seated before you. If you are having a meal at a sit down restaurant, make your reservations in advance. You will be seated faster and it really won’t take that much time out of your day! I like to have one sit down meal a day just to slow down a little, and I love looking forward to eating at certain restaurants that I know I have a reservation for.
  10. Remember that it’s a vacation, and have fun!
    At the end of the day, this trip is a vacation, so don’t let the number of things to see stress you out! Don’t forget to take your breaks and relax a little. Walt Disney World isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so you can always go back! (Trust me, after you go once, you’ll NEED to go back).Animal Kingdom Waterfall

I hope these 10 tips have been helpful and can make your Disney trip better!

Have you been to Disney World before? Do you have any tips for someone heading to Walt Disney World for the first time? Let me know in the comments! (Bonus points to anyone who knows where the last two pictures are from! Hint: there is one picture from every park in this post!)

Thanks for reading!

Kelsey
September 9, 2015

They Have Water Parks Too?!

Yes, yes they do. Believe me, Walt Disney World has thought of everything. Walt Disney World is home to two wonderful water parks: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. How do you get tickets? Is it worth it to visit them? I will answer those questions and more! Both have a lazy river, and it can be quite relaxing (you know, what you should be doing on a vacation!) First, let’s breakdown the two parks.

From the Walt Disney World websiet

From the Walt Disney World website

Blizzard Beach

Blizzard Beach opened in 1995, and is located near Animal Kingdom. It’s themed as a Florida Ski resort… that melted. All “attractions” are sorted by coloured slopes. Blizzard Beach is open from March to January, and while it is not open it is refurbished.  There are also separate areas for small children and teenagers. The main attraction of Blizzard Beach is Summit Plummet (pictured above). That slide goes straight down, and it burns a little. You are travelling as fast as Rock n’ Rollercoaster, and much faster than the water! It was something fun to do once, but I don’t know if I’d do it again. Other fun attractions include Teamboat Springs (the longest family raft slide in the United States). There are lots of other fun water slides, and I loved the Toboggan Racers when I was 5!

From the Walt Disney World website

From the Walt Disney World website

Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon opened in 1989, and is located near Downtown Disney (they also share a bus route). Typhoon Lagoon was supposedly hit by a Typhoon, leaving the water park with a little less “picture perfect paradise”. Typhoon Lagoon operates from January to October, and undergoes refurbishments while closed. The attractions aren’t divided like at Blizzard Beach, so get a guide map when you enter the park to see which members of your party can go on what attractions. The main attraction of Typhoon Lagoon is the wave pool, pictured below. It’s fun for everyone because you can go in as far as you are comfortable. Again, Typhoon Lagoon also has areas for younger tots and teens, and also has a shark reef. One slide to check out is Crush n’ Gusher, a slide that doesn’t just go down, it goes up too!

This wonderful moment was captured by a Photopass Photographer

This wonderful moment was captured by a Photopass Photographer

How do you get tickets?

When purchasing your Walt Disney World tickets, you should consider whether or not you would like to visit the water parks. It is the easiest time to make this decision. If you decide yes, you are going to want to add the Water Parks & More option to your basic Magic Your Way Tickets. Prices can be found on the Walt Disney World website. If you decide when you are in the parks that you want to visit a water park, you can visit the ticket booths at any park and add this option.

 

Is it worth it?

In my opinion, the answer can be yes and no.

In the middle of the summer, it can definitely seem like a good option, especially if your resort pool isn’t doing it for you. If you have visited Walt Disney World before, the answer could also be yes. You’ve seen the parks before, and you want to try something new. So visit the water parks! Also, if you are visiting WDW for the first time but are going on a longer trip (longer than 5 days), the water parks could be a good option. It can be a nice break from the other parks, and can be fun just for a few hours. My boyfriend and I have never been to the water parks together, so on a future trip we are definitely going to spend some time there.

If you haven’t visited the parks before, I would say no, don’t waste your time visiting the water parks.  Walt Disney World is a once in a lifetime trip for many people, and with that pressure on your vacation and the small amount of time you have with the number of things there are to see, I wouldn’t suggest visiting water parks­. If you want to have some water fun but don’t want to go to the water parks, take a break during the day and use the pool at your resort! It can always be nice to cool off, change, and head back to the parks refreshed!

It’s a completely personal decision, but I hope my insight can help you make the right decision for your party.

And a picture of Br'er Rabbit because you always get wet when you visit the Laughing Place!

And a picture of Br’er Rabbit because you always get wet when you visit the Laughing Place!

I hope this post has given you an idea of what the water parks have to offer, and when to take advantage of it. Both water parks are very detailed and have great themes, so I hope some day you will have a chance to experience them!

Disclaimer: during the creation of this post I realized two things. 1) I have not been to the water parks since 2009 (Blizzard Beach since 2007). 2) When you do go the water parks, you generally don’t bring a camera. Therefore, most of these pictures are not mine, and are from the Walt Disney World Website.

Do you like the water parks? Which is your favourite? Do you usually visit the water parks on your vacation? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Kelsey
September 2, 2015

What I Love About Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is the park that I have visited the least. Not that I don’t like it, just that some of the trips that I have been on were shorter and time wouldn’t allow it. The first time I ever visited Walt Disney World, Animal Kingdom was still being built. It opened one year after my first visit, on Earth Day 1998. Even though it is the newest park (it’s still 18 years old), there are so many things that I love about it, and some things that make it different than any of the other Disney Parks. It’s a park that grows on you, and once you stop and look around, I think you will love it too.

Now onto the things I love:

Welcome to Animal Kingdom

The Details

The details in Animal Kingdom rival those of Magic Kingdom. I have watched documentaries on YouTube that take an in depth look at how Animal Kingdom was built, and they are all amazing. If you are interested in the details, I urge you to find the Expedition Everest documentary on YouTube. I had a whole new appreciation for that ride after watching it. I even looked for a certain something when you reach a dead end (watch it and you’ll know what I’m talking about!). The distressed look of the park is quite impressive considering it’s age! In terms of theme, I think Animal Kingdom is the party that cohesively fits the theme. (We will just ignore Dino-rama on this okay? Okay.) There was so much research done for this part, and I really think Imagineers pulled it off.

The Tree of Life

This park centrepiece deserves it’s own category, because of the detail alone. Every time I visit Animal Kingdom I see something new on that tree. When you learn how the tree was made, it’s even more impressive. I recommend going to see “It’s tough to be a bug!” so you can get an even closer look at The Tree of Life. It’s crazy to think that there are over 100 animals carved into that masterpiece. Want your picture with the Tree in the background? Don’t wait to get one when you first walk into the park, wait until you are in other areas where it isn’t as busy! Keep an eye out for Disney Photopass photographers, as most likely they are standing close to a picture perfect spot!

The Tree of Life

The Food

I always enjoy eating at Animal Kingdom! There are some more exotic food choices, and it’s always fun to try something new. During my trip in February, Ethan and I tried a falafel wrap and an asian noodle salad. Both were really good! It’s always nice to find good vegetarian options while on vacation so you don’t feel like you are having the same thing over and over. I’ve heard really good things about meat options at Animal Kingdom (like Flame Tree Barbecue) but unfortunately I can’t talk from experience! On your next trip to Walt Disney World, I encourage you to try the food at Animal Kingdom! Also Pizzafari has something other restaurants in WDW don’t- watch the episode of “Unwrapped” to find out.

On a side note, I feel like I have watched more YouTube videos focusing on Animal Kingdom than any other park. It really makes you want to spend more time there!

A Little Friend

The Atmosphere

Animal Kingdom is unlike any other Disney theme park. You have to explore a little. When you first walk in, you are surrounded by lush greenery. You know you are supposed to see a big tree or something when you enter, but you have to wait a while! There are so many nooks and crannies, it’s a park to really explore. It just has a different feel to it.  A lot of people find Animal Kingdom to be a half-day park (and I have definitely felt that way before) but recently my impression has changed. It’s a park that you can definitely spend the whole day at. There is so much to see, and it’s not just “a zoo”. The animal exhibits are beautifully detailed and really transport you to Africa and Asia. Kiliminjaros Safari is always fun, and there are a lot of shows to enjoy! If you are a fan of The Lion King, make sure to check out “Festival of The Lion King”! I haven’t seen it since it moved to its new home, but I hope to see it on my next trip!

The Trails

There are many different trails to explore at Animal Kingdom. It’s fun to head in one direction not necessarily knowing what you are going to see! The details in the trails are amazing, and really transport you. You feel as if you are in the animals’ natural habitats, not at a theme park in Florida! I think everyone should take it slow when visiting Animal Kingdom, because you never know where you can wander! Hint: there are even some trails that aren’t listed on the maps! And you can sometimes find some characters along the trails! You know, just around the riverbed? Can you tell I saw Pocahontas last time?

The Future

There are so many exciting things coming to Animal Kingdom that I can’t wait to see! Avatar-land is coming soon, and so is a nighttime show! There was a lot of construction happening in February so when I (hopefully) visit next year I hope a lot has changed! It will be interesting to see a nighttime show at a park many people deem a half day park, and especially one centred around wildlife. I really can’t wait to see “Rivers of Light”.

Elephant

 

What do you love about Animal Kingdom? Make sure to let me know in the comments!

Have you seen what else I love? Check out what I love about Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Walt Disney World!

Thanks again for reading!

Kelsey