OK HERE comes my MEGA everything Disney! If you don’t want to tediously read all my disney stories and favorite ride stuff just skip to the end for my budget and top tips.
Starting off how we started off with
Disney Springs. We got in and met up with my family at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside where we parked our car and took the resort bus down to Disney Springs for dinner. Heads up: There’s no McDonalds so we were in for something pricey but settled on The COOKS OF DUBLIN for tasty fish and chips at lower cost for money but paid the price with wet seats as their limited seating was filled inside so we were left to sit OUTSIDE in the light sprinkle. HOWEVER have to say their service was awesome and one of the manager’s so kindly gave us 2 (huge) cookies from their dessert menu as a “sorry” for not having enough seating. NOT necessary but totally awesome!
Luckily the Rain did not hold out long and while our backsides may have gotten a tad wet at dinner, we weren’t drenched and those fish and chips really were GOOD! Next up we wandered by the Lego Store over to The Giradelli place for dessert: a free chocolate sample and into World Of Disney for the madness that is PIN TRADING.
Then we wandered over to the new Star Wars and Marvel stores for more pin trading and to say our goodbyes to Disney Quest which closed its doors for the last time that weekend. Sadly we didn’t have time to visit the park one more time but for those of you who were not aware this place even existed.. it was AWESOME! A fun MEGA ARCADE with killer games, bumper cars, a simulator ride where you design your own roller coaster and then RIDE IT, and also a cool Pirate game that simulates being a crew with your family on a ship. We’d always spend an evening or 2 wandering from game to game and I was pretty devastated to learn of its closing.
BUT BASKETBALL FANS BE JOYOUS for the NBA Experience is what’s replacing it. 🙁
Then we took the boat back to our amazing hotel at Riverside. Wish we’d gotten some photos a bit earlier in the day but here’s just a few from outside the resort.
My first time on Disney property. It was definitely magical!
The main lobby for the resort which was MASSIVE. 1000s of rooms spread out over multiple buildings. I only wish we had more time to enjoy it but sadly we had one night and one night only thus to get the following benefits:
A. Extra Magic hours which we NEEDED for Pandora in Animal Kingdom
B. Magic Bands that store your park passes as well as fast passes and are just SUPER Convenient and fun
C. You can select fast pass + 60 days in advance also for the days you stay on resort. (Sadly we botched this and got our day wrong so we didn’t use this to it’s upmost benefit)
D. Free parking anywhere on Disney property.
Which brings me to tips: The Boat ride was super fun and magical from Disney Springs to the resort however the bus ride to Disney Springs was a disaster. It Filled up at the FIRST STOP however we made the rounds and were standing room for 40 minutes to go like 3 miles… Take my advice here and just DRIVE it will save you so much time. Also Disney offers great military discounts on resort stays as well. If you have family members in the service, TAKE THEM WITH YOU! haha
So PARK 1: Animal Kingdom
Highlights: PANDORA, Dionsaur and Dinoland, Everest, Safari, and the rapids ride if you don’t mind getting soaked.
We were up and to the park at 7 AM for extra magic hours to ride on the newest ride: Flight of Passage. By the time we funneled there like everyone else with Extra Magic Hours the line was an HOUR! So ya we waited in it and took copious amounts of photos while we did. Enjoy. haha
The Floating Mountains over the line Queue for Flight of Passage is UNREAL. That one on the left actually has a waterfall on it!
But behind the floating mountains is even more fun! Waterfalls and pools, weird plants galore! We were obsessed.
Yay waterfalls! And big grins after getting off the ride: First Impressions, let’s just say Flight of Passage is my new FAVORITE RIDE of ALL TIME. It’s a 4D simulator done in the BEST POSSIBLE WAY. You Soarin lovers and Star Tours will really get a kick out of this. But it’s even better. They don’t let you video or photograph once you’re actually on the ride… but I loved the Pre-ride queue information and you CAN see what that’s like here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eM8f47Igtu8
Once you’re on the ride, you straddle something like a bike that then locks you in with back and leg pieces. Then A LOT like soarin a giant screen opens up before you and you soar, smell, explore so much in a very generously long ride. I had the biggest Grin on my face the whole time. But the best part: Is how real they make it, the piece you sit on has pads that move and make it feel like you’re actually ON A Ikran or Bansheeas they call it. It blew my mind and I would happily ride this ride over and over.
Closer up of the waterfalls and pools.
Then we went right to the new Pandora river ride and waited about 30 minutes to be DISAPPOINTED. Sure the inside had magical Pandora atmosphere but the only cool animatronic (pictured above) was at the tail end. 🙁 It was like Pirates but with no drops and no nostalgia. So basically Lamer. than lame. Luckily Dinosaur is
terrifying thrilling as ever but UNluckily, it broke down and had us stuck on the ride for 45 minutes.
By this time the park was filling up and we were ready for breakfast.. and also ready to meet up with the fools we left sleeping in at the Hotel. So instead of going back to Animal Kingdom, we went to EPCOT.
Epcot Points of Interest: Soarin, Spaceship Earth, The World Tour of countries, (and maybe you could add Test Track, Mission to Mars, and the little kid rides to that) but really… this park is NOT about rides. It’s about CULTURE, Eating, Drinking, and being merry. We used our fastpasses to hop right on the Living with the Land boat ride and then Soarin, and lastly Spaceship Earth. Some of you who have been to Epcot may balk at Spaceship Earth being a highlight, but you must not have ridden it before it was narrated by Judi Dench and had cool Futuristic planning stuff to entertain you at the beginning and end. You’ve also LIKELY not ridden it with a significant other. Think about that…
Another highlight we hit is called Energy (which rumors have said will not be around much longer) It’s a hilarious 45 minute ride/show conducted by Ellen DeGeneres (failing at Jeopardy) and assisted by Bill Nye the Science guy you learn about… well ENERGY
After that the (not so early birds) left us again so it was just Braden, my mom, and I left to wander the countries. We started with Mexico and it’s adorable boat ride in the pyramid that NEVER has a line and is the equivalent of let’s say.. It’s a small World. Then we headed over to Norway to try some delicious pastries before heading onto China. (where this lovely photo was taken) Unfortunately, due to the rain the acrobats weren’t performing so we missed out on their show.
Then we wandered onto The American Pavilion to hear the Liberty Singers (an A Capella group that sings patriotic songs) watch the American Adventure (highly recommend as the music is great and it’s a fun recap of American history) and the the Music Machine (another A Capella group that sings music from today.. they were ok) And then on we went to Great Britain to listen to (my favorite of the day) British Revolution. Even though we huddled under a roof overhang as it poured down rain, there’s nothing like British music goodies and I loved it! Last but no least we hit up Canada for some covers of Canadian musicians. They were also very good.
So for those of you haven’t been to Epcot, things to note: Both Mexico and Norway have rides though Norway’s ride used to be WAY cooler before Frozen took over. Each country also has some sort of short movie they play on like the 15 minute mark that goes over the beautiful sites in the country and culture aspects of it. Lastly as you may have guessed, a lot (if not all) the countries have some sort of mini show/ concert they do repeatedly through the day whether it be music, acrobats, drummers, etc… There are restaurants and bars everywhere so just enjoy some time away from the craziness that is MAGIC Kingdom and explore the world.
(I love France, side note we’re going to the REAL place next month!!! AHH)
And because our day had NOT been long enough to this point we grabbed some dinner and headed BACK To Animal Kingdom for our extra EXTRA magic hours from 11 – 1 (yes… 1 AM) we just HAD to check out Pandora at night and it was AMAZING. I couldn’t get any good shots on my phone so here’s one of my parents haha. If you can picture Pandora as it was in the movie at night, this was exactly it. Well plus 344328487 people wandering around but that crowd thinned out after midnight. haha!
We went and walked on Everest which if you go during the new show that’s right there, Rivers of Light, you can walk on most of the rides multiple times. (We caught snippets of the show. If you’ve seen the World of Color show and California Adventure, don’t waste your time here… it looked pretty lame) and we also headed back over to Dinoland to ride their mini coaster which was a lot of fun.
Looking a bit frazzled from the day here but it wasn’t over yet. We got right back in line for Flight of Passage at 11 and it took 2 hours but we rode it again. I loved it just as much the 2nd time but even still 2 hours is pushing it. Don’t wait for any ride longer than 2 hours guys. It’s not worth it with so many other rides to do.
So thus concludes my longest day of Disney in the history of my many trips there. While I have been in a Disney park well past midnight MULTIPLE times, I’ve never opened the park on the same day. Grand total was 18 hours with only 2 hour breaks from the parks to eat. CRAZY. It was fun but we were definitely ready to take it easy the next day with Hollywood Studios.
Hollywood Studios highlights: The Great Movie Ride, Star Tours, The Rockin Rollercoaster, and Tower of Terror plus many fantastic shows like the Indiana Jones Stunt show, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and The Beast, oh and my fav Fantasmic.
Fun fact about Hollywood studios is that it used to have what’s called the Backlot which included a touring ride through awesome Movie memorabilia and 2 cool stunt shows where they showed you the ins and outs of filming high intensity action movies. Thankfully there’s still the Indiana Jones show which is DEF worth seeing but I missed the backlot. They just need to hurry up with Star Wars land so this park has more going on for it!
The Rockin Rollercoaster is definitely up there in my top 5 Disney rides. I love the overall theming and as far as coasters go, it’s FANTASTIC. You walk into a “recording studio” where you meet Aerosmith but soon they have to get to a show and since they have to leave hanging out with you they offer you backstage passes and a SUPEERRR stretch limo to get to the concert on time! Then you go into the final line portion a back alley and get into your limo. The ride shoots you off immediately into a loop and the coaster has 2 loops plus a barrel roll all rolled up in a dark coaster with Aerosmith rocking out in your ears and at the end you pull up to the concert. Just a super fun ride!
The entrance to the Rockin Roller coaster area. If you collect pins, they have a drum pin board in their gift shop.
The Fam on the Rockin Rollercoaster. It takes your picture just as it’s shooting you off at the BEGINNING.
Luckily the Tower of Terror is located just next door so you get your thrills all in one place. NOTE: If you have ridden the Disneyland version of this ride, please know that the Florida version is BETTER and a more complete ride. You actually leave the elevator shaft and go through this short track of “twilight zone” area and then into the drop zone. I LOVE IT. Although I remember one time as a small child (terrified of the dark) I rode this ride COMPLETELY ALONE and the picture that came out was pretty hilarious.
Next up: Magic Kingdom. Basically your classic Disneyland done better. It has about the same layout of the 5 lands Adventure, Frontier, Fantasy, and Tomorrow with the exception of NEW Fantasy Land replacing Toontown and it’s Liberty Square instead of New Orleans Square. But essentially the same. We visited this park roughly 3 times so only missing it on the first day and we hit it one night with my older sister Tiff (thanks to her having a season pass), once with my parents and the little sisters, and again by ourselves.
Highlights: EVERYTHING. But my favorites (about in order) Splash Mountain, the new coaster The seven dwarfs mine train, The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Carribbean, The Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain, The Little Mermaid, and then everything else. We rode just about everything except It’s a small world (WHAT!?!) at least once.
Food enjoyed: Amazingly enough we didn’t eat much in the parks but we definitely got our Dole Whip and also ate dinner at the Columbia Harbor House in Liberty Square (on the 4th of July, fitting right?!)
Braden, Tiff, and I enjoying the new Seven Dwarf’s mine train. It’s basically a lot smooth and comfortable of a ride than Big Thunder with cool technology and fun story pieces thrown into the ride making it more complete.
Unfortunately my dad lost a really nice hat on Splash mountain as he was trying to make a peace sign (for Lauri to have a “cool” picture) so we Braden and I did a tribute photo to Dad’s lost hat when we went the next day.
The last ride we rode and Braden slaughtered me at the Buzz Lightyear ride. There’s a reason I hate these rides… can’t even enjoy them.
Tip: Having a fabulous family member with a season pass that includes the Memory maker is THE BEST EVER! She was gracious enough to lend us her pass each day to get free parking and also downloaded all the photos we took with the professional photographers there so we came away with some fun shots! Thanks Tiff!
One of those great photo ops.
And another one! haha Note: I love Cinderella’s Castle. ONE DAY I will eat a meal there but it was not this day. I just think it is spectacular and better than Disneyland. sorry Californians. Also note: Disneyworld has added a little Beauty and the Beast castle (which you can dine in also, or well under) and the Littler Mermaid’s castle which is the cutest! and where the Little Mermaid ride resides. Love the New Fantasyland addition!
Lauri got Braden and I these shirts for our birthdays. They were super cute but insanely hot. They didn’t last the full day as the second we broke for lunch we took a swim at the house and changed out of them haha.
The little Beauty and the Beast castle haha. I’ve heard good things about Be out Guest. One day I’ll try it and the grey stuff. We somehow always end up at Gaston’s Tavern for Lefou’s brew ( a delicious frozen apple beverage topped with this java marshmellow topping stuff) and GIANT cinnamon rolls.
Cheersing with our brew! Gaston is usually outside as well and it’s hilarious to watch him “charm” the ladies for a few minutes. Seriously you don’t have to wait in line for a photo, just hang out and enjoy. haha
oh ya and my favorite part of New Fantasyland? The Tangled restroom area. LOVE this photo we got again with the Magic Maker. Tangled is probably my favorite disney movie to date so we waited about 20 minutes for this picture. Totally worth it… though I do wish I’d brought my Rapunzel dress cause there was a little girl that posed with the lantern ahead of us and it was PRECIOUS!
Oh ya did we mention we were at Magic Kingdom for the madness that was the 4th of July. They had areas roped off for people to crowd and stand in over AN HOUR before the fireworks. I was like WHERES THE PARADE. cause seriously.. who stands in one spot over an hour to wait for fireworks. NOT I amigos. We got dinner lol.
The insane crowd that welcomed us when we got to Magic Kingdom around 6 PM. We had fastpasses for the Jungle Cruise and still waited at least 30 minutes. The standby line FOR EVERY RIDE was over an hour with 2 hour waits on everything I listed above as my favorites… IT SUCKED. So after the Jungle Cruise we went up the Swiss Family Robinson Tree (not Tarzan like in Disneyland) and watched the Tikki Room show (no wait for that?! hmmmm) then got fastpasses for Winnie The Pooh (nostalgia guys… I wasn’t a very gutsy little kid ok) which we then had dinner, sort of watched the fireworks while wading threw mobs of people. I’VE NEVER SEEN IT SO CROWDED. It took 15 minutes to walk from the Haunted Mansion to Splash Mountain which is ordinarily.. under 5 minutes. Luckily we got to Splash Mountain just as the fireworks ended so we got right in line and only waited about 20 minutes. Then used fastpasses for Aladdin’s magic carpet and fastpasses for Buzz Lightyear finishing around 11 PM and it was still a zoo so we said peace out!
The view from the ferry going from the parking lot to Magic Kingdom.
So all the the crowd complaining aside, the FIREWORKS WERE OUT OF THIS WORLD AMAZING. NOW I love the normal every night fireworks Disney World does. (THEY DO IT BETTER THAN ANYONE) but while the music wasn’t as fun they did fireworks 360 degrees around the park. It didn’t matter which direction you faced, walked, etc there were fireworks completely around you anywhere in the park. Don’t believe me? Here’s a video of it from one of the resorts:
Also disney highlight: our incredible souvenir from the new(er) Haunted Mansion shop Memento Mori which is a photo of us that turns us into ghouls as you walk by. Probably the coolest picture of me I’ve ever had.
Alright so budget:
- 4 day park hopper pass (military discount, thanks parents!) $200 pp so $400 for us
- Rental car: We paid about $15 per day so if you apply it to the 4 disney days: $40
- 1st night at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort (medium tier of resort levels) normally $250 per night but we only paid around $150 thanks to my parents getting us in on the Military Discount deal.
- 1 week at a vacation rental house that we paid for 1 room of only $300 (so $128) if you apply it to our 3 disney nights
- Parking/ photos: Free, thanks again Tiffany! (ya’ll need to make friends/ get family with season passes)
- Food between dole whip and the Columbia house where we split an entree: $23
- Other food OUTSIDE the park: Well we mostly ate a ton of fast food but we only ate about 2 meals a day so it was around $100 for the disney days total
- Souvenirs: Our amazing photos cost $20 each to make so $40 which luckily we had a gift card from Tiff for our birthdays which we used to purchase those
Total: Around $900 for 4 days of Disney goodness including food, passes, lodging, and souvenirs for 2 adults.
- If you stay on Disney Property, DON’T TAKE THE BUSES. They are overcrowded and take forever to go a mile. The only time this may be worth it is going to Magic Kingdom because that parking lot is a bear. The other 3 parks… just drive and park. So much faster and easier
- If you know anyone in the military or with season passes, GO WITH THEM and check for discounts… Could save you A LOT.
- The lower tier resorts cost 100-150 per night and I think are worth doing at least once in order to get your magic bands included, FAST PASS+ for the day of and day after your reservation to get a selection of 60 days out! This is THE ONLY way you will get fast passes for Frozen in Epcot, Seven Dwarfs mine train in Magic Kingdom, and most importantly: Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom, and of course Magic Hours.
- Make sure if you DON’T Stay at a resort that you still select your Fast Pass + options 30 days in advance. This way you can get all your rides done in the morning and select more fast passes for the afternoon and evening.
- When deciding a night to stay in a resort, check the calendar for which parks will have magic hours when and maximize your benefit by staying a night you get the most magic hours at the park YOU WANT TO GO TO.
- Some of the night time spectacular shows are worth skipping and riding rides because you can seriously walk on multiple rides multiple times during these shows. Ones I suggest watching? FANTASMIC at Hollywood Studios which doesn’t actually start until the park closes anyways. Also I admit watch Magic Kingdom’s Fireworks at least once. Anywhere is a good spot but I prefer New Fantasyland since it’s way less crowded than main street and really a good view.
- If you’re into collecting things, my family is HUGE into trading pins. Check Ebay for bulk buys of Disney pins that you can trade with park employees for upgrades. Finding the really unique pins or new collections is so fun!
- YOU NEED AT LEAST 4 DAYS! 1 for each park if you’re going first time. I always recommend park hoppers since some parks are open a lot later than others and you can maximize your time in the park this way.
- Disney also have 2 waterparks: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Blizzard Beach is the better one.
- When leaving Magic Kingdom, the ferry is actually your quickest route back to the parking lot (verified by park employee) The capacity of the ferry to monorail is like 5-1 and it is actually a shorter ride so even though the line may look longer, it is the faster route.
- Also when leaving any park at closing, if there’s a long line for the tram JUST WALK. Guarantee the walk will be faster than waiting for a tram since Disney follows a million safety protocols (which is great!) just slow.
- Give yourself breaks so you don’t burn out. Recommend opening and closing the park as this is when it’s going to be emptiest, but take a mid day break to swim at your hotel pool, take a nap, eat lunch, enjoy some AC… The parks are super crowded and it’s the hottest part of the day. You aren’t missing anything.
- Snacks we like to get at least once: Mickey Ear Ice cream, Dole Whip, Turkey Legs, LeFou’s brew, and churros.
- Photographers at photography spots will use your phone or camera to take a picture for you if you ask them. Some, especially night time photos, probably won’t turn out as nice but if you’re pinching pennies but still want some photos, this is the way.
- And LAST BUT NOT LEAST: Download the MYDISNEYEXPERIENCE App. Seriously it has a map of the park with guided GPS to get you where you need to go, showtimes, wait times, and most importantly once you use your first 3 fast passes for the day you can keep selecting more on the app instead of having to find a kiosk location in the park. Much faster and easier!
Shoot me a message if you have any questions OR if you have tips you think I should add to this post!