Disney World: Travel Guide

We are so excited about today’s post!  It involves two things we love: Disney World and traveling.  We went to Disney World the end of February this year for the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend.  Although that was our main reason for going, we still made the most of our free time by hitting up multiple parks.  We’ve been going to Disney World since we were little and still love it as adults.  We thought it would be fun to create a Disney World travel guide for you based on all of our favorite things and recommendations.  We’re giving you the low down on where to stay, recommendations for each park and Disney Springs, as well as general tips and tricks.

Where to Stay

We highly recommend staying at a Disney resort!  It makes your stay and Disney experience so much easier!  You have access to bus transportation that takes you to and from any of the parks and Disney Springs, which makes it worth it right there.  You also get Disney Magic Bands, which provide you with so much: your dining plan (if you have one), room key, entry to the parks, linked credit card, etc.  Basically, everything you need at Disney can be used/accessed with your magic band.  If you stay at Disney Resort hotel, you have access to the parks’ Extra Magic Hours.  With Extra Magic Hours, you’ll get extra time to experience select attractions each day.  Every day  one of the theme parks opens early or stays open after regular park closing for Extra Magic Hours.  Only people staying at Disney Resort hotel have access to the park during the Extra Magic Hours, so there are less crowds!  We’ve done the Extra Magic Hours a few times and it’s definitely worth it!  We like going on more popular rides during this time since the lines are much shorter.

Disney’s Beach Club Resort

We’ve stayed at Beach Club the last two times we’ve gone to Disney and love it!  It’s only a five minute walk to Epcot and only a 5-10 minute boat ride to Hollywood Studios.  It also has great amenities.  One of our favorite things about Beach Club is the pool area.  One of the pools even has a sand bottom.

Food options:

  • Cape May Cafe– We did a character breakfast here in October 2016 when we went with our whole family, including our niece and nephew.  It’s buffet style and the food was excellent.  It had a good atmosphere as well!
  • Beaches and Cream Soda Shop– We ate here when we went in February and loved it!  It’s a 50’s themed dinner with a fun atmosphere.  We ate lunch here and the food was really good.  Plus it has great ice cream options, which was one of the big draws for us!
  • Beach Club Marketplace– This is a great place to stock up on snacks, as well as get a made to order meal.  We really like the flatbread pizza here.

There are other food options at Beach Club.  We just haven’t had a chance to try them yet!

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The Parks

Magic Kingdom

This is definitely the theme park you think of when you hear Disney World!  It’s one of our favorite parks too!  When you see Cinderella’s castle it instantly makes you happy!  Magic Kingdom is very easy to navigate and pretty small.  There’s just so much to see and do though.

Here are some of our favorite rides (*= recommended fast passes):

  • *Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • *Haunted Mansion
  • *Jungle Cruise
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Splash Mountain
  • *Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • *Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

Other Must-Do’s at Magic Kingdom:

  • Meet some characters– There are character designated areas, but sometimes they just pop at places around the park too!
  • See the fireworks
  • Go to a parade- We’ve been to a few different types of parades over the years at Magic Kingdom and they’re always fun
  • Eat a Dole Whip– Trust us, they’re delicious and so refreshing on a warm day!
  • Mickey’s-Not-So-Scary Halloween Party– If you’re traveling to Disney August-October, this is a fun, special event to go to!  There are special Halloween parades, fireworks, and other attractions and events.

Animal Kingdom

We love Animal Kingdom so much!  It’s one of the bigger parks so you can definitely spend more time here.  There’s a little bit of something for everyone at Animal Kingdom: rides, entertainment, and animals!

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Our Favorite Rides and Attractions (*= recommended fast passes):

  • Expedition Everest-Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
  • Kali River Rapids
  • *Kilimanjaro Safaris- You HAVE to do this!  It’s like you’re on a real African safari!
  • *Na’vi River Journey- This is one of the new Avatar rides
  • *Festival of the Lion King-  This is a great show and also a nice little break from being on the go!

Other Must-Do’s at Animal Kingdom:

  • The Tree of Life– Obviously you have to check out the tree of life and get some pictures with it!
  • Seeing all of the animals in general– There are so many amazing animals to see at Animal Kingdom!
  • The World of Avatar– This area of the park looks so cool!  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was blown away!  We weren’t able to go on the most popular Avatar ride, Avatar Flight of Passage, because the line was always way too long, but we would love to go on this ride next time!  We’ve heard amazing things about it!
  • Get a Mickey pretzel and a Mickey ice cream treat– These are available at the other parks too, but we thought we would mention them here!

Epcot

We also really like Epcot too.  Honestly, we didn’t go to Epcot for the first time until we were both adults so this park is a bit newer to us!  At Epcot, you can travel around the world, under the sea, into space and more.

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Our Favorite Rides & Attractions (*= recommended fast passes):

  • Frozen Ever After
  • *Soarin’ Around the World- This ride is such an amazing experience!

Other Must-Do’s at Epcot:

  • Fireworks
  • World Showcase– This probably the best part about Epcot in our opinion!  There are 11 total countries that you can visit, each with various attractions, entertainment, and food offerings.  It’s so much fun walking around the different countries and trying out different foods and drinks.  Make sure you get the caramel corn in Germany!!! It’s seriously amazing!
  • International Food & Wine Festival–  This is a definite must-do if you’re at Epcot September-November.  We went to this in 2016 and had so much fun.  There are so many different foods and drinks to try from around the world, plus other entertainment.
  • International Flower & Garden Festival–  Unfortunately, we haven’t had a chance to go to this yet.  They were getting ready for it when we were there though so we got to see a lot of the amazing garden sculptures!  They were so cool.  We would love to go to this springtime event sometime.

Hollywood Studios

If we’re being honest, this is our least favorite park out of the four.  However, it has one of our absolute favorite rides at it and there are things we enjoy doing at it! Hollywood Studios is all about movies, television, music, and theater.  We just find that there’s not as much to do at this park, that we’re interested in, as the other parks.  Toy Story Land is opening June 30, 2018 and there will be a couple new rides with this addition that we’re excited about!

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Our Favorite Rides (*=recommended fast passes):

  • *Toy Story Mania!- This is our absolute favorite! It is so much fun!!!
  • *The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring AeroSmith

Other Must-Do’s at Hollywood Studios:

  • Disney Magic- classic projections are shown of favorite movie moments on the front of a theater
  • Fireworks– There are a couple different fireworks options

Disney Springs

Disney Springs is another fun place to go to when visiting Disney World.  It offers shopping, dining, entertainment, and other activities.  We really like going to Disney Springs in the evening to walk around, eat, and shop.  There’s plenty to do for both kids and adults.

Some of Our Favorite Stores/ Shops:

  • Anthropologie
  • Disney’s Day of Christmas
  • Kate Spade New York
  • Lilly Pultizer
  • Sephora
  • World of Disney

There are so many great stores and shops at Disney Springs.  The above list is just a few of our favorites!

Dining Recommendations:

  • Amorette’s Patisserie– This is such a cute pastry shop!
  • The Boathouse– This is a upscale, waterfront restaurant.  It offers both American and Seafood.  The food is fantastic here with great service!
  • The Daily Poutine–  Poutine is a classic, Canadian dish consisting of fries, cheese curds, gravy, and other various toppings.  At the Daily Poutine you just order at a window.
  • Earl of Sandwich–  If you have to choose one place to eat at, you have to choose Earl of Sandwich.  It’s quick serve.  We highly recommend you get the Holiday Turkey sandwich.  It’s so yummy!  You’ll thank us later!
  • Wolfgang Puck Express– Michelle got the mac n’ cheese here and it was delicious!  It had great customer service too!

Obviously there are plenty of other dining options.  These are just the places that we’ve tried and enjoy!  We’ll definitely have to try out more places when we go back in the future!

Tips & Tricks

Below you’ll find some helpful tips and tricks when going to Disney World.  We’re sharing things that we think are important that we’ve learned over time.

  • Bring a backpack- In the past, we’ve always brought purses.  On our most recent trip we decided to take smaller backpacks and we are so happy we did!  It’s so nice to be completely hands-free and have the weight of your bag evenly distributed on your back.  You can also store everything you need in a backpack.
  • Have a portable charger–  This is ESSENTIAL when going to the theme parks.  Your phone batter will drain much faster at the parks with so many people, especially if you’re using the Disney app to look up stuff.
  • Wear good walking shoes–  You’ll do a lot of walking at the parks, so it’s important that you wear comfortable shoes.  We recommend tennis shoes, slip on sneakers, Sperry’s, or even a comfortable pair of sandals.
  • Make a plan– You don’t need to plan every detail of your time at each park, but it’s good to have a general plan.  With a general plan, you won’t waste time walking aimlessly around.  It’s also good to make a plan so everyone in your group gets to do what’s most important to them and doesn’t miss out.
  • Use the My Disney Experience app- This is a lifesaver!  You can book your fast passes, make reservations, check wait times for attractions, look up dining, see park hours, etc.

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That’s a wrap on our Disney World travel guide!  This post was kind of long, but we hope you find it helpful when planning your next Disney vacation!  If you have any questions at all about Disney, please ask us in the comments and we’ll be happy to answer them!

Now that you’ve read about our favorite things and recommendations at Disney, we would love to hear yours!  What are your favorite rides and attractions?  What is your favorite park?  Do you have dining recommendations?  Please share any of your answers to these questions in the comments below!  Not only will these help us, but they may help others with their Disney planning as well!

-Michelle & Rachel

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