Exploring Walt Disney World
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During our stay in Orlando, we bought ourselves two weeks of Disney tickets. I mean who wouldn’t. It is literally the best thing to do in Florida.
Therefore, we spent 14 days visiting the variety of parks and other entertainment that was included with our park tickets.
Disney Springs is free to visit and free to park at. It is essentially a shopping and entertainment complex, with lots of restaurants, shops, a cinema and bowling alley.
It’s not your average entertainment complex though. It is beautiful! Situated around a lake, where you can get boat rides and even a hot air balloon ride.
We visited Disney Springs in the evening of our first full day in Florida. We watched the sunset on the lake as we explored the shops. It was a great start to our Disney World experience.
Magic Kingdom was the first park we visit, and unfortunately, I was a little disappointed on our first visit. But I realised that was mostly because I was not prepared.
After spending $25 to park, we then jumped on a tram in the car park which travelled about 200 yards. I found this frustrating because we had to unload and reload the pushchair for this.
After being in the park for about half an hour, everyone was hungry so we bought some food. Another $25 later, the kids were fed but I was grumpy. Luckily, everything improved after that so I wasn’t grumpy for long.
Royal Friendship Faire
This cute little show is presented in front of Cinderella’s castle and was just starting when we first arrived at Magic Kingdom.
Lots of well-known characters appear on stage to sing and dance. It had my girls hooked on the magic instantly.
Festival of Fantasy Parade
No trip to Disney is complete without watching the parade. Like the good tourists that we are, we made sure to schedule in a watch.
It is pretty spectacular. The music, the characters, the performers and the floats that go by are truly magical. From waving princesses to a mechanical fire-breathing dragon, the whole thing will have you gripped.
We ended up watching it twice, because once is not enough. Be warned though, the song will be stuck in your head for many days afterwards.
Happily Ever After Fireworks
Again, you can’t visit Magic Kingdom and not stay late one night to see the fireworks. We joked afterwards that we may have ruined any future fireworks display for the children because these are the best I have ever seen.
With a light show projected on to Cinderella’s castle with synchronised fireworks, the whole things practically had me in tears. It was stunning.
You need to make sure you get a good spot though as this will have a big impact on enjoyment. We were fortunate and got a great spot. Emily was able to see the whole thing from Dan’s shoulders.
There are several areas in the Magic Kingdom park: Main Street U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Tomorrowland, Liberty Square and Fantasy Land.
Fantasy Land was by far by favourite. This is where they keep all the Disney princess magic. It also has some of the best rides for smaller kids, including teacups, carousel and the Little Mermaid ride which I thought was incredible.
A walk around Fantasy Land will have you pointing out all the castles of your favourite princesses in the distance. You’ll see Rapunzel’s tower and Beast’s castle.
Enchanted Tales with Belle
If you are heading to Disney World in the hope of seeing all the princesses then make sure you get a Fastpass for this. This literally brought me to tears at the magic.
You arrive and are ushered into a room where the children are encouraged to stand at the front. You are told that we are going to recreate the story of how Belle and the Beast met.
The children are then given roles in the storytelling. There’s everything from the Beast to Philippe, and our two ended up being salt and pepper shakers.
You then move through into a new room where you get to meet Lumiere and Belle. The children then act out the story with some encouragement from the cast members. Then there is a meet and greet with Belle at the end.
The bit that made me cry was the gift that Belle gives to all of the children. It is a sweet little bookmark that says “you’ll always be part of my fabourite story.” A great gift from Belle that encourages kids to read.
More princess meet and greets
Magic Kingdom is awesome if you are on the hunt for princesses. We got to see some of our real favourites here without too much difficulty.
The first princess we saw was Merida from Brave. She was excellent and talked about how she had some cheeky brothers. She asked Alice if she was a cheeky sister and Alice said she was. She’s cheeky, but she’s not a liar.
On our second visit, I made a point to schedule a day of princess meets. That day we started with a trip to see Ariel in her underwater grotto.
We all had a good chat about what colour our tails would be if we were mermaids. Alice wanted a rainbow one and Emily (completely overwhelmed to be sat next to a real mermaid) said she wanted one the same as Ariel’s. Green.
We then had a couple of joint meets, where you get to see two princesses in one go. First up was Cinderella who has the best dress by far, accompanied by Elena of Avalor. We don’t really know Elena, but she was super sassy and the kids loved her.
Next door, you get to meet Tiana and Rapunzel. Alice was super cute when we were chatting to Tiana that they agreed to a double princess photo. Something that never usually happens apparently.
Epcot was our least favourite of the Disney World parks, but still had some of our best memories. We only visited once, as we felt we had achieved everything that we wanted to in one day.
The main reason to go to Epcot is for the Frozen ride. You have to get Fastpasses for this otherwise you are waiting for hours. Even getting Fastpasses is hard work.
The ride is awesome though. At its basic level, it is a little boat ride, but in reality it is so much more than that. With all your favourite characters and blasts of icy air, it is one of the best rides for small children in the whole of Disney World.
Around the corner from the ride, we were able to meet two of our favourite princesses, Elsa and Anna. Both were super lovely and friendly and Emily was in awe of them.
The official name of this attraction is Living with the Land. It is in the Future Land area of Epcot and is a slow-moving boat ride through some greenhouses.
It’s pretty rubbish. It is really not what you expect from Disney, but I get why they include it. They want to show that they aren’t just some commercial powerhouse destroying the planet.
The point when I thought this ride couldn’t get any worse/funnier was when we were floating past some cucumbers, and I was trying to get the kids interested in them. I gave up after that and let them go on my phone.
The best thing about Epcot is that it is a giant character fest. You can see so many princesses and other characters here and that is pretty much what we spent the whole day doing.
When we first arrived we were able to see Mickey, Minnie and Goofy pretty quickly. After that we popped around the corner to see Baymax from Big Hero 6 and Inside Out’s Joy and Sadness.
The World Showcase area of Epcot is full of princesses. Here you can see Belle, Jasmine, Aurora, Elsa, Anna, Mulan and Snow White.
We missed a couple but managed to see most of the ones that we wanted to see. It was great to be able to pop from one to the other quickly.
Hollywood studios is not what you traditionally expect from Disney, but I loved it. What it lacks in magic, it makes up for in great experiences and characters.
Indiana Jones Show
Dan, who had been to Disney World before, said that we had to go and see this. I agreed, assuming that he knew what he was talking about.
Anyway, the kids found it a bit intense as there was lots of loud bangs, fire and tense moments that when you are 4 years old you don’t understand are fake.
I, on the other hand, loved it! It was a spectacular show with lots of exciting moments and great effects. There is good humour and crowd interaction too. Definitely worth a visit but be careful with smaller children.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Ok, I’m not a big Star Wars fan! Don’t hate me! Dan is more into it, but I am several films behind understand what the hell is going on there.
That did not mean that I couldn’t appreciate the new Star Wars area at Hollywood Studios. It is brilliant!
The whole area has been landscaped beautifully and the details are incredible. Disney have lived up to their reputation and even the Coke bottles are specifically designed.
We also saw a parade of Star Wars character perform a “show”. I recognised most of the characters so was able to appreciate it. I think it is great that young (and old) Star Wars fan can go and meet their favourite heros.
Toy Story Land
The best bit of Hollywood Studios hands down. The whole area has be created to make you feel like one of Andy’s toys and it works perfectly.
There are toy soldiers that wander through the area throughout the day causing mischief and interacting with the crowds. Such good fun to watch.
The rides in this area are awesome too. Our favourite, that we did twice, was Toy Story Mania! It is an arcade style 3D ride, where you must shoot virtual targets.
Dan and I were getting rather competitive and wanted to beat each other at the game. It was great fun though and I totally recommend it.
Naturally, all your favourite Toy Story characters hang out here. We were able to meet Woody, Buzz, Jessie and Bo Peep.
Other Pixar characters
Hollywood Studios is fabulous for seeing Pixar characters. And we came to realise how much we love some of these films.
There is an area of the park dedicated to the Incredibles, where you can meet Edna Mode and watch a show containing Mr Incredible, Elastigirl and Frozone. You get to do lots of dancing and can even appear on the big screen news report.
Mike and Sulley from Monsters Inc. can also be found here. I’m a big fan of Monsters Inc. so was excited to see these characters and they did not disappoint. It was hugs and hi-fives all round.
There is also a “Cars” area where you can meet some of the characters from that series. I totally recommend seeing the Lightning McQueen Racing Academy if your little one is a fan of these films. We were impressed.
I have decided to write an entirely separate post about Animal Kingdom because it was my favourite. You can check it out here.
It had animals, rides, lots of fun characters to meet and beautiful landscaping around the entire park. Hence why it needs a few hundred words of its own.
I loved exploring Walt Disney World
Looking back on our time there now, it feels so long ago. But it was completely magical. I will never forget some of the reactions from the kids when they met their favourite characters or felt the rush of excitement on a ride.
Surprisingly, it is not all about the kids too. I loved seeing some of my childhood memories come to life and the whole is truly magical.
I’d love to go back again one day when the kids are older. They are always changing things. For example, I heard today that they are making a Mary Poppins ride. Wow!
Disclaimer: Remember the information you read here does not represent advice. Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you. Read the full disclaimer here.