Ry and I are a little bit of Disney fanatics. Not in a like Disney is the theme of our apartment kind of way but when he and I want to go away for a weekend, 9 times out of 10, we choose Disney World.
I got a lot of questions (especially from my mom friends) about how to do Disney so I thought this would be a good time to do a Q&A. I tried to address everything but if there's something missing, feel free to comment below and I'm happy to answer any questions you have!
I separated them into four categories: parks, hotels, kid-friendly (these are truly specific kid questions) and then other because sometimes you just need an other category.
Before I start, I will say that clearly Ry and I are not in the parents boat just yet but feel like I know Disney World well enough that can give you guys some pretty good insight. Thanks for stopping by!
- Best rides/parks for non-roller coaster people?
- So I actually started out as a non-roller coaster person. Literally I wouldn't get on one whatsoever, and then I met Ryan and now I love (the smallish ones- you still will never get me on the true roller coasters). Anyway, one of the reasons Disney is so great is because they give you a little bit of everything at each park so here's the breakdown:
- Magic Kingdom- definitely gives you the "true" Disney feeling if that's what you're looking for. If you've never been to Disney World, you 100% have to do magic kingdom. It also has the least adventurous rides. There's a ton of storybook rides for small kiddies (be prepared to wait) but the only bigger rides are Splash Mountain (just one big drop) and Space Mountain (indoor roller coaster but again, not a big deal- no upside down or anything like that)- Thunder mountain is one of my favorites too (I rode this one even when I wouldn't ride roller coasters) and it's outdoors and super fun. The Seven Dwarves ride is also outside even less of a roller coast than thunder.
- Animal Kingdom- To me animal kingdom is like visiting a Disney zoo. They have so many opportunities to see wild animals- which is always cool- and the only coaster is Mount Everest- which I'm now obsessed with- who have I become? I would definitely recommend this one for the older ones. It's not nearly as prince/princess centered and cheesy (I love cheesy though) but if you have teens who are too cool for school- animal kingdom is where it's at.
- Disclaimer: we have not been since they opened the Avatar portion- I hear it's amazing but the wait lines are suuuuper long
- Epcot- this is by far Ry's favorite park. It's definitely more adult centered because it does have the "drink around the world" aspect and a culture element that it shares. I personally don't love the rides at Epcot besides Soarin- which they just redid and it's AMAZING- so we always have this be the last park of our day, fast pass Soarin and then start roaming the world :)
- Hollywood Studios- or is it MGM? I can't keep up. Whatever they are calling it these days, this park is super fun. This- I feel- has the biggest coaster and that's Rockin' Rollercoaster (where Ry proposed in front of!). This has about 3 upside down loops and goes suuuuper fast. I love it- can still only do it once- but if you're a coaster fan and you're going to Disney, this is a must do! I do feel like maybe this is the most underrated park- they have super fun exhibits with Toy Story and Star Wars and even though you feel like there aren't a lot of physical rides, we always end up passing time soooo quickly.
- Best fast pass rides
- This is another one that is probably easier to break down by park but I will say, do it early! The Disney World website is unbelievable!! It's so super friendly and keeps everything connected (don't worry I'll get to that too) and you can plan everything so definitely do your fast passes online! Disclaimer: rumor is that if you're doing the meet and greet with characters, you should incorporate that with your fast passes. We've never done them but the lines for the meet and greats get sooooo long so plan accordingly.
- Magic Kingdom
- If you're doing coasters: Splash mountain, space mountain, thunder mountain,
- If you're with kiddos or not a coaster person: Seven Dwarves, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Pirates of the Caribbean
- Animal Kingdom: Mount Everest, Kilimanjaro Safari, Kali River Rapids (we walked right on to this but you WILL get wet)
- **Disclaimer, we literally went RIGHT before Avatar opened so I've never been but it looks amazing and I feel like everyone should go
- Epcot: Soarin' (test track is kinda fun too)
- Hollywood Studios: Rock 'n' Rollercoaster, Star Wars (if you're into that thing), Toy Story (guys it was so fun!!!!)
- **Also another disclaimer, I believe they're working on revamping Star Wars so you will definitely need a fastpass for that once they finish it
- If you had to put the parks in order, what would it be?
- This is difficult, but probably Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and then Epcot (sorry Ry)
- What's the best way to use a park hopper? 4-parks/1 day, 2 parks/2 days?
- It honestly depends on 1) how energetic you are 2) how economical you want to be and 3) if you have kids with you. Living in Florida, anytime Ry and I get tickets we always get the 3-day park hopper. This to me makes the most sense but they have different options here.
- The very first time Ry and I went we were in college so one night at the hotel was all we could afford and we wanted to make the most of it so we did ALL 4 PARKS in one day. It was definitely tiring and I felt like I ran a marathon the next day but I was so proud of us because we proved it could be done. The trick is the magic hours- when you book a Disney hotel there is a park that you can get to an hour early and one you get an extra hour later (it depends the day of the week). So we went to Hollywood Studios first, then Animal Kingdom (did fast passes here), Epcot (did fast passes here) and then Magic Kingdom to end with the firework show :)
- Sooo that's pretty unrealistic and we've only done it the one time. Now we do two parks the first day (whatever the early park hours are) and then Epcot. Then usually do the other park and Magic Kingdom last.
- What's the deal with Disney Springs (formerly, Downtown Disney)?
- To me, Disney Springs has turned into an outdoor mall. They literally have a ton of shops- like true shopping not just Disney-themed stores, though they have lots of those as well. Honestly, Ry and I have done it a couple of times and they have pretty good restaurants and have had fun, but don't feel like we're missing anything if we don't go. P.S. I am OBSESSED with their Christmas store there if you're into that :)
- Best time to go to the parks?
- Ry and I have had amazing luck with March and April. This past time we went the last weekend in April and it was busier than usual but March is perfect because it's not too swamped (watch for spring breaks though) and the weather is beautiful. Summer for me would be waaay too hot and waaay to crowded.
- They talk about pins?
- The cast members will have certain pins- they have birthday, first visit, engaged, etc and if you go up to a cast member, you can get one.
- Is it worth it to spend the money and stay on property?
- 100% yes. My own father calls Mickey Mouse a thief for how expensive things are but guys, I'm telling you, it's expensive for a reason. They literally have everything set up- you check-in and they should*** (I'll go into that in bookings) have your magic band ready to go, which is linked to your credit card (with a pin) and your ticket (kids now can't lose their tickets) and the bus system between the parks is unreal. Parking is an absolutely nightmare at the parks so just make it easy on yourself and stay on Disney property
- Most kid-friendly hotel?
- The good thing about Disney is that there are things for kids at every one. Honestly, Ry and I have only ever stayed at the All-Star resorts when we're together, but he used to go to the Swan & Dolphin with his family and we did the contemporary resort when I was little and thought it was amazing.
- Are there places to breast-feed?
- Yes! Disney has thought of everything- you can see all the locations and quiet spaces and such here.
- Character Breakfasts - yes or no? Honestly, yes! I know it's expensive but I still remember the ones we did when I was little! We did one for breakfast at the hotel and then again at Magic Kingdom and I still have the photo of my sister and I with goofy in my childhood room. Truly worth it- promise.
- What's the best way to meet characters? The character breakfasts are of course a guarantee but otherwise, they are at the meet and great sections of the parks which should come up as an attraction when you search the Disney website.
- Is there anyone to save money when going to Disney? It can get so expensive!
- The answer is yes and the answer is no. Disney is always going to be expensive- especially if you're doing it with kids. But 1) it is worth it! and 2) there are little tricks of the trade that you can do to help cut some costs.
- Hotel: Like I mentioned above, the All-Star Resorts are always the least expensive. They are farther but you get on the bus and it doesn't matter. The rooms are a little bit older but nothing you can't handle- it is still Disney after all. They have great pools for the kiddies to play in and while you won't walk up talking about how magnificent the hotel is, it's definitely worth it when you're trying to save some $$$
- They have bands now?
- Yes! So now when you go to disney, they connect a band with your credit card, hotel room key, and you can personalize them with colors! Here's the trick though that Ry and I ran into.
- Major Booking Detail!!
- *** (Starring this because it's important***) This is what happened to us: Ry already had a ticket. Not on my reservation. I went in and bought my ticket and the hotel on the SAME reservation. And we got to the hotel and despite that our Disney accounts were LINKED, they couldn't do anything for him! Like no band, no room access, no magic hours. We had never had that happen to us before. So here's the trick! If someone in your part already has a Disney ticket, they need to create an account and get a band and such. Have THEM get the hotel room. Then you go into your account and buy YOUR ticket, and then link the two. They kept telling us that the problem was that because the ticket and the hotel were on the same reservation, he had to purchase the same ticket! This is truly the only negative experience I've ever had with Disney but it was so frustrating and made zero sense to me.
- The good news? If nobody has any tickets, you can't screw it up. So if you, your husband, your two kids, all need tickets? You go in and buy 4 3-day-park hoppers, your hotel room and it's done in one fell swoop.
Hope this helps! Comment below if you have any other questions or need anything clarified!