Wednesday, 24 August 2016

21 Tips for a Magical Disney World Holiday

21 Tips for a Magical DisneyWorld Holiday
This post has been a long time coming. The force of Disney has me hook, line and sinker. It's been almost a year since my partner and I made a our epic holiday to Disney World in Orlando. We spent just over 2 weeks, spending our time across 8 parks - 6 at Disney and 2 at Universal. Whilst I was there, I started to think of all the things I would advise someone to do, if they were to make the same trip. 

Sooooo, here's my list...hope some of it is useful to someone...

Choosing your accommodation. Resort or Private:
1) There are a couple of ways to do accommodation at Disney World. You can either get a private villa or hotel, or stay in one of Disney's many resorts. We stayed in the Art of Animation resort (obvs), and would 100% recommend to stay in one of their resorts. Not only is the service industry in America waaaay better than here in the UK, but the quality of Disney resorts and hotels are excellent. But, moreover, one of the biggest benefits of staying with Disney is their transportation! Outside every resort hotel, are buses that run every 10 minutes that take you to whichever part you need to go to. Super easy, right? An alternative for transport at non-Disney resort hotels would be hire cars, taxis or other random bus services...go with a Disney resort...every time!

Nom noms. Better ways to eat at the Disney parks:
2) The Disney parks host many, many amazing restaurants...from fine dining and gorgeous themed restaurants, to quick fast food. However, you should know that if you want a reservation at one of the top themed restaurants, they can fill up super quick, so you should book your table as soon as you have booked your holiday. The restaurants that we loved the best were:

Sci Fi Dine In Theatre
The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre
Be Our Guest - the dining room at the Beast's palace. We couldn't get a dinner reservation, only lunch. Personally, I'd go for an evening reservation, where you have proper table service. At lunchtime, it's more of a canteen set up - still beautiful, although perhaps slightly less magical.
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre - super cute themed restaurant, where you eat in the back of a car and watch a movie.
Boma, Flavours of Africa - African themed (at the beautiful Disney lodge, its worth going and visiting the hotel anyway) all you can eat buffet.

3) Buy an all you can drink cup. If I remember rightly, these cost about $20, but you can get unlimited fountain and hot drinks from the hotels. You can save a lot this way.

4) Take water bottles with you into the park. Florida can get super hot, but there are water fountains everywhere in the park. So instead of buying loads of drinks on site, just fill up your water bottle every time you pass a water fountain.

5) Try to go in October/November for the Epcot food festival. When we went we caught the tail end of the food festival at Epcot, and I wish we could have spent longer there. There were even more countries represented with their national dishes, and all sorts of beers and wines available to sample. A really fun addition to the Disney experience - and lots of super cute souvenirs to collect too.

6) Take Berocca. Disney isn't really the place for optimal health. There's a lot of fast food and treats that you should indulge in, but with all the walking you'll do, you'll probably get tired out at some point during your holiday. Take some berocca with you in your luggage, and take them every day, to help boost your immune system a bit.

7) Make sure you get some dollar bills to leave for tips, whenever it's appropriate. The tipping culture is completely different in the States, than over here, and tipping is expected - usually around the 20% mark - we always found it handy to keep some dollar bills spare, so we'd always have cash left over to tip with.

Coping with the weather at Disney:
8) Get a poncho. The weather in Disney can be interchangable. But generally, you want to travel light and not take an umbrella around with you. If it starts to rain, you can buy a poncho from many outlets within the park, but they are pretty pricey - just take your own from home...why pay through the nose, when you pick one up really cheaply next time you're at a big supermarket?

9) Take sunscreen. Again, you can buy this at Disney, but just take your own, it's cheaper and means you don't need to bother hunting some down when you get there.

More tips for when you're in a Disney Park:
10) Take flipflops for the water rides. Although the weather is pretty great in Orlando, there's nothing worse than getting soaked on a water ride, and not being able to dry off properly. Even more so, if you've got soggy socks and shoes. More water rides ask you to leave shoes on, but I noticed lots of people getting on in flipflops - which I thought was genius. Stow your shoes and socks away in a plastic bag somewhere, and pop on the flipflops, then when you come off the ride completely drenched, it doesn't you're perfectly dry shoes and socks are ready to put back on.

11) Fast Passes. It can be tricky getting your fast passes planned properly - there might not being any left for the rides you want. It's always a good idea to check the online Disney Experience (which you should have access to, along with your booking) and see which rides are the most popular, and choose those ones first. Then you can top up the rest of your Fast Pass spaces with whatever you fancy.

12) Take comfy shoes. You will do a lot of walking, so make sure you have shoes that are kind to your feet, and that you can do a lot of walking in! 

13) Hire a patio. If you go to one of the Water Parks (Blizzard Beach, or Typhoon Lagoon), and you're in a group (or can afford it otherwise) consider hiring a "patio". They work out about $240 for the day, and can hold about 10 people. It's just a really cool way to make sure you have a base for the day - you don't need to worry about finding a free lounger, they're all there for you, and you only. The hire also includes a waiter, so you can really chill out whilst someone fetches you whatever refreshment you want. Fab, right?

Shopping at Disney World:
14) Get a hire car. Undoubtably, you'll want to buy loads of souvenirs, gifts and everything Disney. I wanted to buy everything in the parks! But I was in for a pleasant surprise when we got a hire car and went out to the local mall...there was a Disney outlet shop! Disney + Outlet = Bargains! They were selling things that you could get from the park at less than half the price. If you're looking for souvenirs, then I recommend, 100% having a look at what you can get there, before you start paying through the nose at the parks. 

Getting around Orlando whilst you're at Disney:
15) Again, get a hire car! Not only are they super useful to get you to a Disney Outlet, but you'll probably want some down time, away from the parks...and especially all the kids. Some evenings, we drove outside of resort to a regular restaurant, and it really hits you how few kids there are "in the outside world" and it's bliss!

16) In your hire car, hit the "regular" shops too. The funny thing about the surrounding areas of the Disney resorts, is there are a lot of the big shops at the mall, that also sell Disney souvenirs too. Get along a Target Superstore and enjoy the cheaper sweets, treats and Disney merch!

17) Universal! Consider getting tickets to the Universal theme park. For me, the ticket price was worth it alone for getting to go to Harry Potter world. Although, I enjoy the Disney parks more, Universal has some excellent rides. Disney seems friendlier all round, both the staff and the park visitors, but it's still worth checking out!

Fun things to consider before you leave the UK:
18) Group t-shirts! On my trips to Disney, I noticed a lot of groups wearing personalised t-shirts. Not only is it a really cute way to celebrate your big holiday and create lovely memories - but it can be much easier to spot each other, if you get separated.

19) Buy and take a Hidden Mickeys book. I'm a bit obsessed with the Hidden Mickey's in Disney movies (check out Clauhauser's right cheek). You can buy books that give you clues where ot find the Hidden Mickeys throughout the parks, as well as how many they are on each ride, or area. A lot of fun, especially as a way to keep younger ones engaged and not bored in queues!

 20) The Sorceror's Challenge! A bit like Hidden Mickeys, in the Magic Kingdom, you can embark on a quest called the Sorceror's Challenge. We didn't get round to doing it, but I wish we did. You have to find clues around the park, to help you on a mission to help Mickey. It's bit like a cross between Pokemon Go and Mystery challenge. A lot of fun, and adds a really cool new dimension to being in the park.

...And Lastly, Go and Spoil Yourself!!
21) Go to the Disney Spa, Senses. It's located at the Grand Floridian hotel, in beautiful surroundings. After all the walking, fun and adventure seeking, you are going to want to unwind. Find a little bit of tranquility and ultimate indulgence, and book yourself in for a massage treatment. There are no kids, no loud noises...just peace and quiet, whilst you get pampered. You can thank me later. Oh, and by the way, treat yourself to a Champagne Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian once you're done! Ultimate bliss! Mmm!

Soooo, that's it. Hope some of these have come in handy when planning your epic trip to Disney World. Please share this page with any of your friends who might be planning their adventure too!

Marc x

P.S. If you're an Animation enthusiast, go and check out the artwork on display at the Art of Animation resort...some really awesome pieces there...especially the Animator's Chandelier ;)

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