Where to stay? Our trip was off season in September.We stayed at Parkway Resorts. It was like $595 for 5 days. Beautiful 2 bedroom suite, master bath with spa tub and large shower. 2nd bathroom. Living room which pull out bed. Kitchen….where we cooked the catfish we caught in the parking lot after a big rain. Extremely clean and luxurious. And not much more than a standard hotel…cheaper than most actually.
Highly recommend checking their rates out for your trip.
- Tickets are tied to fingerprints. And limited to one individual.
- Parkhopper can be beneficial if you want to see a park that closes early, such as Animal Kingdom and then hop over to a late night park
- Waterpark tickets let you visit either of Disney’s two waterparks. Note, that if you buy a 4 Day Ticket + Waterpark. You receive 4 waterpark days. So this makes for a rather economical deal. 3 Day Ticket + Waterpark = 6 days of activity.
- Military promotions require a military member or their spouse to attend the first day. After that you can continue to use your tickets regularly. This is nice, because it can be very difficult for servicemen to get a week off for Disney. But it’s nice to attend with family the first couple days and continue your stay for the rest of your tickets. The discount is fantastic. Thank you Disney. We had 4 day + waterpark. So 4 park days + 4 days at waterpark. 8 day + waterpark = 8 park days + 8 days at waterpark for 16 days.
Parking is $15/day. Magic Kingdom is kind of crazy. You park. Take a tram, which gets you to the monorail. Then you take the monorail. I didn’t try it. But I was almost thinking that parking at Animal Kingdom or Epcot, then taking the monorail/busses (free) might be easier.
Another thought….I noticed that the waterparks had free parking. But I also saw some busses. It made me wonder if one could in fact park at the water parks for free, and take the bus to Disney parks – downside risk. Waterparks close at 5pm, so I expect bus service to stop by 6pm-7pm (I think they said 2 hours). Your hotel may have shuttle service. Good to find out. But this might be a way to save $15 on parking for a park that closes early like Animal Kingdom.
FASTPASS: All tickets can get fastpasses, they do run out. It’s good to hit up the ones you want early. There might be a limit to how many you can get.
NOTE: Disney allowed you to bring in outside food. The container/cooler has to be within a maximum size. So we usually had some snacks and drinks with us. That said, my understanding is that all of the eateries must provide you with a cup of ice water if you ask. And we did that a few times.
Download the phone app, it will show you times and waits. Most of the time, the waits were estimated higher than actual. 5 minute = time to walk through corridors. 10 minute = 5
Buy ponchos at the dollar store. It rains A LOT in Florida. And they’re like $5-$12 for ponchos in Orlando.
I really enjoyed Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Blizzard beach. We hit the Magic Kingdom on a Tuesday….very low crowds. I would suggest trying to do Magic Kingdom on an off day like
that. I’ll list rides and attractions that most appealed to me – and which didn’t.
First thing first…summary: Amazingly, when I arrived earlyish (about 1/2 hour after opening). the second time Magic Kingdom was fairly empty. Wait times for almost every ride was 5-10 minutes (or less). That said, by 11pm, all those struggling to get the kids out the door arrived and boom…it became crowded. Do a Tuesday or non-weekend and you’ll probably be able to do the whole park in a single day.
Oh, Starbucks on Main St. is expensive, but only in the fact its Starbucks. In fact most drinks were priced the same or about 50 cents more.
Haunted Mansion – still amazingly fun with all the optical illusions. This is one of the few rides from my childhood that remained and was still as fun.
Pirates of the Caribbean – still fun, not quite as awe inspiring as when I was a kid. But worth going. Short wait.
Space Mountain – big disappointment. I remember going on this in Disneyland, CA. It had floating moons, etc. This was really just a roller coaster in the dark. And not even the greatest. Go on it if not busy, but really, if it’s crowded….skip it. Probably the ride I was most disappointed in.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – decent fun, typical train coaster.
It’s a small world – okay, worth doing for the history. Not too bad of a wait.
Peter Pan’s flight – this is pretty neat, it’s a gentle ride but they have like a miniature Peter Pan world and it’s kind of cool.
Splash Mountain – okay, this is a freakishly cute weird surreal world. And well, it as about as close to being in Toontown as one gets.
Monsters Inc Laugh Floor – moderately entertaining, worth going but not super.
Stitch’s Great Escape – Ok, it’s an experience not a ride. But it’s kind of like a 4D show with smellivision.
Tomorrowland Speedway – Basically go carts. Not much different than the game, except you’re locked in a path. I’d skip. You can’t even really race a friend. Only go if zero wait.
Under the Sea/Little Mermaid – rather fun, especially if you’re a Little Mermaid fan. I am not, but everyone seemed to enjoy (even me). (Epcot’s Finding Nemo is similar and way cooler IMHO.) But if you like Ariel, this is a must.
Railroad – I didn’t go on, but my 2 year old daughter loved it.
Swiss Family Treehouse – a walkthrough but I thought it was cool.
Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin – Okay….but line can be long.
People Mover in Tomorrowland – Nifty tram ride, go on this first and you’ll get a whole overview of Tomorrowland. Then see if you spot it while in other rides. Then you’ll have a better idea what you want to do.
Light Parade/Light show: They had a really cool lightshow on the castle itself. These are worth seeing once.
DID NOT DOs:
Hall of Presidents – Didn’t do, but would of liked too. Kids were a little small I think.
Riverboat – Could of been fun, and I think romantic.
Jungle Cruise – Closed
Tom Sawyer Island – Didn’t make it.
I’m skipping the kiddy rides btw.
FOOD: Magic Kingdom food was so so. Burgers were eh. A number of the more ethnic restauraunts were closed already. (Consider using your park hopper to head over to Epcot or Animal Kingdom for better food selection. It’s just a short bus or monorail ride away.)
In a lot of ways, Epcot was one of our family’s favorites. Ironically, because most said the kids would be bored. And yet it was where my daughter wanted to go a second time.
First off, the villages…these are pretty cool. Will highlight.
China – MUST SEE when the gymnasts are there, this is like a mini-circ de solei. Ever seen women drumming with their feet and passing the drums around in the air? VERY COOL
Viking Village – Really fun little Viking Ship ride (Maelstrom). Looks like Jim Henson built it.
Canada – Nifty presentation on a 360 degree screen for Canada. Was pretty fun I think. And somewhat humorous. Worth doing IMHO.
Ellen’s Energy Adventure – Kind of hokey, but the dinosaur section made it worth it.
Soarin’ – I did not go, but wife and daughter did. They said it’s fairly cool. It’s one of those TV screen/motion rides I believe.
Mission Space – DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT go on the “orange” path. Green only. Took 3 hours to recover. This is a ride with a screen that makes you feel like you’re moving on a spaceship. In fact, it is a giant spinning ride that while kind of cool in the green. Is totally torturous in the orange, and really has zero added fun factor. Orange will make you sick, feel like your blood pressure shot up. And is the only ride I came away going “I DO NOT LIKE THIS SAM I AM”.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends – AWESOME!!! One of my favorites in all of Disney. So it starts of “Nemo” but then you realize there are real fish. There is an entire aquarium, dolphins, and more. So I’d give yourself an hour for all this.
Spaceship Earth (Big Ball) – This was actually really cool. Has some of the most amazing Animatronics I’ve ever seen. Subtle hand movements of some were amazing. It’s a tour of human history from caveman to modern day. Some really cool light effects. Night sky and a grid of LEDs that feels like an endless expanse.
Test Track – Cool coaster ride, but you can go into the group line and you get to “design”your own car and see how they compete. Plus tons of GM cars you can check out afterwards. Sit in a Camaro, Silverado, etc. This is a must do, and can be a bit of a line.
There were other rides we did not get too. Some of which I think would be worth doing. We did Epcot on a Sunday as our first park because we had a late start. 1pm – night. We came back on another day when Magic Kingdom surprisingly closed at 7pm for Trick Or Treatin ($60 per person ticket).
FOOD: First off, Epcot has some of the best food for reasonable prices. There is a lot of ethnic food in the villages. There is a middle-eastern restauraunt with reasonable prices for souvlaki, falafel, etc. And fancier dining with shish kabobs.
They do have a food and wine around the world for a few weeks. Not sure if that will still be going on when you arrive.
FREE DRINKS, that’s right. Coca-cola has a mini “world of coca-cola” with soda fountains that distribute samples of sodas they sell elsewhere in the world (France, Italy, China, India, Africa, etc). Some are really really good. And it’s free.
Magic Kingdom food was mostly sucky, since you have park hopper. Consider hopping on the monorail to Epcot for lunch/dinner, then returning back to Magic Kingdom. You might be able to take a boat across as well. Your stomachs (and tastebuds) will thank you.
Cool fireworks display and a nice light show. Be near the lake to really enjoy this.
We did a bit of character seeing at this. Hit like 4-5 characters. You can mostly avoid this.
Honey I shrunk the Kids – Closed…😐
The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow – Stand up show. But actually a lot of fun. The guy had Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow down to a T. Better than the one in Magic Kingdom show.
Muppet Vision 3D: Loved it, except for one thing. Some stupid 3D animated creature that was the plot. But ALL the Muppet stuff was great. Especially Waldorf and Statler. But if you remember the old Muppet studio/theater. This is a really cool recreation.
Rock N Roller Coaster: Fun, one of the better coasters. This is way better than Space Mountain. And far closer to my memories of Space Mountain in Disney World. It is an indoor coaster in the dark. I think you’ll want to do this ride at least twice.
HUGE HUGE HUGE TIP HERE: I had a fastpass, and it took me forever to get one. This is a “two by two” ride. So I went into the “single” vs “group” lane thinking it would be faster. I watched 300+ people in the group lane go by. I realized, the “single” lane is not fasterif it is a narrow seat ride. Basically, no matter what size group. They almost always filled it in. So us singles waited for 20 minutes longer. It was funny, I saw one guy who when reached the group line and was asked, how many….”Oh just one, then he looked at us, smiled and basically winked”. This probably stands true for ANY ride in which the rows are only 2 people wide.
Star (Wars) Tours – Okay, it’s just a screen and tilting seat ride. But its worth doing.
Studio Backlot Tour – Kind of fun, especially if you like Indiana Jones. Go early and talk, and perhaps you can get selected as one of the volunteers. They bring a group of like 8 out.
Toy Story Midway Mania – Think carnival shoot the duckies but on a ride, then multiply by 100x. This was fun, very competitive. Trick to it is that you yank the ball on the rope back and forth like a pop-gun. I blew away my family. By extending, and then just wiggling my hand back and forth really quickly. Aim for the higher point targets. It is a 3D ride too.
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – Really nifty, it is a haunting experience with a sci-fi “Twilight Zone” twist. We now want to see this episode. Followed by a very large bounce ride. My 6 year old daughter was terrified of the Haunted Mansion ride but loved this one enough to go on 6 times.
There are a few more exhibits and activites. We didn’t get to do all. But did most we wanted too.
FOOD: Okay, here I am going to do something shocking. I am going to recommend you book a lunch at “Hollywood and Vine” restauraunt. We did a “character lunch” with a bunch of kids characters like Handy Manny, Jake the Neverland Pirate, etc. Which the kids enjoyed. But mywife loved the food. It’s a cafeteria arrangement. But man, the food was rather decent. (No Texas de Brazil, but…it was good). My wife loved the lobster mac and cheese, they had a lot of seafood. A lot of meat. ) She was still raving about it like three days later.
There is also a 50’s Prime Time Cafe – we didn’t go here but it looked nifty, the entire decor is a 1950’s style cafe. So maybe hit this for lunch and the Hollywood and Vine fordinner.
Okay, this was cooler than I thought. And also has Disney World’s best coaster. We were only here for a half day due to a late start…argh.
The Everest Ride – Is an amazing roller coaster. I put it in the top 10 I’ve been on, along with Superman, Shockwave (first stand up loop de loop coaster). Fun story too. Walkway is almost a museum
Dinosaur – Cool fun, bumpy coaster ride. Much cooler dinosaurs than Epcots Energy ride.
Kali River Rapids – Fun typical big tube ride, but I’d go on it just for the fake fire/smoke scene.
Maharajah Jungle Trek – We did this, really cool. I think this is where we saw the bats. Seriously, take like 5-10 minutes and just watch the beautiful fox bats.
Did not see….
The Boneyard – Sadly, didn’t get to make it to this.
World Tree – looked really cool
Kilimanjaro Safaris – Didn’t make this
I feel there was more to see. We did see a weird parade. But I think if we go again we’ll plan for a bit more time here.
Note this park closes earlier. So consider going here and hopping back to Epcot or such with your park hopper pass.
FOOD: There were a few ethnic choices, both for quick and sit down. There was a Thai restaurant and an African one (that sadly we had missed for lunch).
Also, there is a Rainforest Cafe that is pretty cool And has a lot lot lot shorter wait than the Volcano Rainforest Cafe in “Downtown Disney”.
Can we sell you something? anything? everything?
Okay, this had some cool stuff though. Definitely catch the Volcano Rainforest Cafe (it literally erupts).
Lego Store was AWESOME!!!!!
There are a few other rides, activities, etc. We didn’t get to stay here long due to kids melting down. But I definitely think you could spend an evening or afternoon or two.
Best of all, it’s FREE!!!! Just a mall really.
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon – fun park, we did this one as our first waterpark but got rained out. We re-visited it. Excepting two items, I must preferred Blizzard Beach.
Castaway Creek – This is a nice lazy river, I love these things. But it can be hot on the tubes. Get some of the noodles. Put one or two under your legs. And one or two under your neck. And you get to drift AND be cool
Crusn N Gusher – Three tubes each named after fruit (Pineapple, Coconut, Banana as I recall), but here is the deal. There are single, double and triple tubes. And they’re only allowed in certain pipes for weight reasons. The one on the right (as I recall) is the only one that allows “single”, it is also like twice the wait or no better experience. So go in the middle and left ones. I tried to tell a couple, they didn’t listen. Boy did they regret it. Had about 100 people in front of them – we had none.
Gangplank Falls – Really long wait. Only ride we skipped.
Humunga Kowabunga – Fast drop water slide, much preferred the neighboring Storm Slides
Storm Slides – Twisty, turny, fun…
Surf/Wave Pool – Okay this is one area that is far cooler than Blizzard Beach. This is a huge wave pool with like 6ft waves. Intense. Fun.
Shark Reef – Bring a waterproof camera/corder. And swim with the Sharks and rays. Yes, real sharks. There is just something very cool about being in a pool with a hammerhead shark. Downsides, the water is much cooler (for the animals) and well they loan you snorkels, and clean them with a chemical solvent. Which doesn’t taste so great. So first wash it out in the showers near the exit. But seriously, when else are you going to swim with sharks?
Oh, and you can buy an oyster with a pearl.
There are a couple of other water slides with tubes. Mayday and Keelhaul. These are okay…
And there was one other I forget the name that was pretty cool. It too was a one or two person ride. Different tubes could only go down different channels. We were nice, when we went up, we brought extra tubes.
Blizzard Beach – Okay, as for the two waterparks. This was by far my favorite fun wise. If not for the shark tank and the giant wave pool. I’d go here all the time.
Chairlift – As long as the line isn’t too long. This is a nice way to get up to the top. Leave your water shoes behind for most of these you can’t take them with you. You can still walk up to the top of the mountain btw. But it gives your legs a break from climbing all those steps.
Creek/Lazy River – Not as big as Typhoon. But still fun. These are a great way to get around the park.
Downhill Double Dipper – short, fun, shows you your time. Did it once. There were more interesting rides IMHO.
Bay – Smaller, kind of more relaxing wavepool.
Summit Plummit – Imagine a Nazi swedish masseuse, uh ya, this drop beat my back up. But that was probably because I was cruising at 40mph at the end. Thing bouncing on water when waterskiing. It’s cool to do once, and to see your “MPH”.
Slush Gusher – Fun, but scared the crap out of me. My mass seems to be faster down these type of slides than average. This is slightly small than the free fall slide but with a couple big bumps. The first go me an or two in the air. The second? I was probably close to a foot in the air. I could see the trough below me. Oh my…. it was fun/scary.
Steamboat Springs – round raft, 6 people, big pipe…this was fun and we did it a couple of times.
Toboggan Racers & Snow Stormers – Okay, these were simple, but actually my favorites. They used these foam toboggan like things. The twisty turny ones were fun. But the Toboggan Racers were my absolute favorite. For whatever reason, my dense body mass just thrust me down. Even when I let everyone have a bump or two head start, I would beat EVERYONE at the end. The downside? I believe it was like 87 steps to get back to the top.
TIP: If you want to go REALLY fast down a tube, press your heels and head down, and raise your back/butt off the ground. It’s like hydrofoiling. Only your heels and head are making contact so far less friction.
WATERPARK TIPs: These parks close at 5pm. While you could burn one of your 8 day park tickets after a waterpark to return to Epcot or Magic Kingdom. Consider one of these a good day to explore Downtown Disney.
Or if you want to re-visit one of the Disney parks, with 8 days. You may find you decide to use a ticket on a late night. (Some parks have late nights). So if you time a water park (close at 5pm) with a Magic Kingdom close at 9pm/11pm. You can still get 4-6 hours in.
Also, I recommend alternating “amusement park” … “water park”…”amusement park”. You use very different walking muscles.
Bring your own food and snacks. There is much fancy. But you can bring a backpack and leave in one of the sitting areas. No one bothered our stroller.
Kabob Express on Rt 192 (I forget, the route number, but it’s one of the main ones in Orlando/Kissime). But extremely tasty food. Got Lamb/Goat curry. They have kabob sandwiches on Naan bread for like $5.
LASTLY….super big favor. If you pass by the Emporium on Main St in Magic Kingdom in the evening. Ask if Enrique is working? Tell him Jason and Jericho say thank you for the Tinkerbell Doll. (On the off chance you find him, it’ll probably floor him with surprise.)
PS – If you’re driving, and pass the “South of the Border” weird Mexican shopping / amusement center. One of the novelty shops had whips for $3.😉
But I presume since it is just the two of you that you are flying?
Also there is a really good cup cake place in Orlando http://www.sweetbyholly.com/
If you have any questions, and haven’t fallen asleep yet. Feel free to ask. And yes it has been known to rain catfish and dogfish in Florida.
And please read about our amazing “Magical Moment” at Disney.