After sharing how we got there, I can’t wait to tell you all about our recent trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida! I am very lucky. I’ve been there several times throughout my life and I expect that I will be back. Knowing that, we never try to “do it all.” We focus on having a great time without worrying about scheduling every ride and show. We want to experience as much as possible, but not come home more tired than we left! I know that multiple visits may not be possible for everyone, and you should definitely plan the trip that works best for your family.
If you’ve never been to Disney and have questions about anything I mention here, drop a comment and I will be happy to answer!
Want to hear more about the food, specifically? Be sure to follow me on Instagram, where I will be posting some of the delicious treats to my stories!
Day 1 – Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom
The Christmas party at Magic Kingdom is really beautiful. If you have tickets for the party, you can enter the park at 4pm ( the party starts at 7pm.) This means a full 8 hours of park time, making tickets to another park that day unnecessary for us. We were able to get two fast passes between 4pm and 6pm (there are no fast passes during the party) and reservations at Be Our Guest for 8:25pm. During the party, there are gorgeous photo ops – a lantern from Tangled, a lantern with Tinkerbell in it, characters that aren’t always around, and, of course, the castle lit up with thousands of lights! This event alone makes purchasing the Memory Maker worth the price.
Even without fast passes, rides are no problem. We walked onto The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, It’s a Small World, The Pirates of the Caribbean, Monsters Inc., Laugh Floor, and Under the Sea: The Voyage of the Little Mermaid. We waited about 15 minutes for the Jingle Cruise (the Jungle Cruise gets a holiday makeover this time of year.) Now, we didn’t try for several of the more popular rides like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and I suspect the wait would be longer for those, but we were very happy with what we did.
There are also shows, fireworks, and parades. Unfortunately, we missed the fireworks because we were still eating dinner and our youngest son was asleep on his feet before the parade started. I would love to go back in a few years to experience those. We weren’t upset though; it’s all part of our “do what we can” mentality. It was not worth sacrificing everyone’s good mood for a parade.
In addition to activities, complimentary treats are all over the place. Stop and get them all. The cookies are wrapped so you can easily take them with you if you don’t eat them. The pretzels are not wrapped, but I had taken a food storage bag with me and we saved two of our pretzels for other days.
Day 2 – Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom is my favorite of the parks. The animals are fantastic; do not skip them! All the rides are spectacular. If you enjoy roller coasters, Expedition Everest is really terrific. The new Avatar-themed area, Pandora, is gorgeous and everything you’ve come to expect from the Disney Imagineers. We went on the Nav’i River Journey ride. It’s a slow boat ride through Pandora and is really beautiful. We did not get on the more thrilling Flight of Passage because wait times were crazy. We’ll get there next time.
Our favorite shows are The Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Musical. Both are incredible and will be enjoyed by everyone in your family. The real highlight, though, was the Rivers of Light nighttime show. This was our first time experiencing this presentation and we were blown away! We had purchased a dining package which allowed us prime seating and it was worth every penny as we were located in the central part of the amphitheater and had a perfect vantage point.
Day 3 – Hollywood Studios
To be honest, Hollywood Studios is my least favorite park. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it, and the new Toy Story Land is amazing, but the park is small and crowded. On a hot day it was a bit much for me. Hopefully, Galaxy’s Edge will help expand the footprint when it opens. All that said, we enjoyed the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and Muppet Vision 3D. The updated Star Tours is really fun, as well, but, without question, the hit of the day was Toy Story Land. Toy Story Mania, Slinky Dog Dash, and Alien Swirling Saucers are all great rides! The theming is amazing and the extra holiday touches were terrific!
We also stuck around to watch Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam that evening. It’s a fun holiday show with a Prep and Landing theme. Wayne and Lanny are two of our favorites, so we really enjoyed the show. The show ends with Hollywood snow falling down throughout the main stage and street area.
Day 4 – Epcot and Starlight Safari at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Epcot was a bit of a bonus for us. We hadn’t originally planned on going this trip, but we felt like we had done enough at Magic Kingdom during the Christmas party to skip a second day. Epcot is having their Festival of Holidays right now and, in World Showcase, there are tons of traditional decorations and programs. There are special holiday food options in every country which we really enjoyed.
In Future World, Mission Space and The Living Seas with Nemo and Friends are favorites. We had a Fast Pass for Test Track but, unfortunately, technical problems had it shut down for a large chunk of the day. We got a bonus Fast Pass for the inconvenience, and used it for Spaceship Earth.
Since we had reservations for the Starlight Safari at Animal Kingdom Lodge that night, so we left Epcot around 4:30pm to get a bit of rest before our 8:20pm dinner reservations and 10pm safari. The safari costs extra (~$74 per person) and kids must be 8 years old to go. It was so worth it! We were a group of 9 plus a guide and driver. The animals came right over to the truck! With the night vision viewers we were loaned we could see everything. At the end of the trip everyone received an exclusive Starlight Safari collectible pin. If you like animals and have the extra money, I highly recommend the safari!
We also spent a few hours at Disney Springs. It’s fun to look into the shops and there are some incredible restaurants, but I don’t need a ton of time there. If you like shopping and are looking for some unique Disney items, you should definitely check it out.
As you can probably tell, we had a really amazing time at Disney in 2018! We will head back in a few years to hit some things we missed and check out the new things that will open during that time (Galaxy’s Edge, anyone?)
Do you have any can’t miss Disney spots? Let us know in the comments!