Category: Tips & Tricks

Top 10 Attractions in Walt Disney World That the Whole Family Can Enjoy (according to my kids)


After multiple trips with my kids splitting up into smaller groups to make sure everyone was able to ride their favorite rides, and no one had to ride anything they didn’t like, my husband and I issued a challenge.  Among yourselves (a 7 year old and a 4 year old), find 10 attractions that you both like that we can ride together as a family.  The conversations in my car on the rides to and from school were truly hilarious and full of bargaining and bickering, but eventually they came up with a list that they could both agree on.

Magic Kingdom

Tomorrowland Speedway – while this is definitely NOT on my top 10 list, the kids absolutely love it.  My daughter loves to drive, and my son loves anything to do with cars, so they’re definitely into it.  As a parent…I suffer through for the kids.  As it turns out, my daughter is NOT a good driver, and I almost always come out of this attraction with a headache thanks to her driving, the heat and the smell of the cars.

Barnstormer – the cutest little family coaster!  My kids call this one the “goofy ride”.  It’s just a good little coaster, fun for all ages.  I have a wonderful memory from our first Halloween party where my son rode 6 times in a row, to the point where the cast members didn’t even make us go through the line again!

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – Currently the most popular ride in Magic Kingdom, Seven Dwarfs is another family coaster with impressive animatronics.

Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid – Indoor, which is always a plus, this attraction very rarely has a long line.

Dumbo – a classic!  Fly high above Fantasyland and get great views of the castle and Tomorrowland.  Another plus to this attraction is the queue.  Instead of waiting in a long line, there is a children’s play area indoors with a pager system letting you know when it’s your time to ride.

Jungle Cruise – Excuse the quality of the picture, it’s from a looooooong time ago that I happened to find during my first night-time ride on this attractions.  If corny jokes are your thing, it’s a must-do.

Magic Carpets of Aladdin – Similar to Dumbo except Aladdin themed, this attraction rarely has a long line.  Watch out for the camels though – they spit!

Epcot

Living with the Land – an easy ride through the Land Pavilion in Future World, get behind the scenes looks at a variety of gardens with foods and plants.  Many of the foods are used in Garden Grill, the table service location in this same pavilion.

Animal Kingdom

Navi River Journey – one of the newest attractions in Animal Kingdom (along with Flight of Passage), it’s also quite beautiful.  A slow, dark boat ride that shows off the land’s famous bioluminescence and one of the most amazing animatronics I’ve ever seen.

Kilimajaro Safaris – take a jeep ride through Africa with lots of wildlife!

Honorable Mentions 

It’s a Small World – another Disney classic, the song will get stuck in your head, but it’s a must-do at least once!

Peter Pan’s Flight – a classic Disney dark ride, this one often has a long line, so grab a Fastpass+ for it if you can!

 

The Seas with Nemo and Friends – I love this attraction, it’s easy going, indoors and relaxing.  Take a clamshell trip through the Aquarium while on the search for Nemo.

Gran Fiesta Tour – located in the Mexico Pavilion in the World Showcase, take a boat ride to find Donald and follow his friends through an adventure in Mexico.  I’ve never waited more than 5 minutes for this attraction, which is always a plus!

Triceratop Spin – another Dumbo-style attraction, this one Dinosaur themed.  If your kid likes one of these, it’s a good chance they’ll like them all!

Money-Saver Tip: Renting Disney Vacation Club Points

We’ve already covered the ins-and-outs of renting Disney Vacation Club points in a previous post but I wanted to take the time to really highlight the pros (there are some majorly frugal pros!) and the cons of renting Disney Vacation Club points.

First of all, I want to make a shout-out to DVCRequest.com for always making our DVC rental process easy and stress-free.  We’ve used DVCRequest.com for the last half-a-dozen trips we’ve made in the last couple years, and have not had one hiccup or issue with our reservations.  I have to give the disclaimer that obviously your results may very, as I can only speak for my personal experiences, but so far we have been pleasantly surprised with how easy and stress free our experiences have been.

As with most people, the idea of renting DVC points initially made me nervous.  What if they screw up your reservations?  What if they get your name wrong??  We just drove 10 hours, what if we can’t get into ourroom?!  All these fears were quelled as we took a leap of faith and decided to try it out in 2016 when we rented DVC points to stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Since then, we have chosen this option on multiple trips, giving us the opportunity to stay at AKL and various other deluxe resorts for the fraction of the price you would pay if you booked directly through Disney.

With any good thing, there’s always a down-side to consider.  What I’ve tried to do with this post is to break down the pros and cons of renting DVC points, that way you can determine whether or not it’s a good option for your next family vacation.

Here we go!

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When Perfect Plans Don’t Turn Out The Way You Want

Yep, another Fastness+ post.  Sunday October 15th was officially 60 days until my December trip and it was, you guessed it, time to make my Fastpass+ reservations.  I woke up early (6:45) and got breakfast going so I could get my brain in some sort of working order before logging into My Disney Experience at exactly 6:58 and continuously refreshing until my dates showed up.

Priority #1 was Flight of Passage.  I was already at a bit of a disadvantage as our Animal Kingdom day was towards the beginning of our trip (this is exactly what I have warned against in previous posts), but it couldn’t be avoided as when we were planning this trip (months and months ago), I didn’t anticipate the absolute insanity it would be trying to get one of those Fastpasses.  In times past, the hot ticket attraction Fastpasses were still possible.   I might not have gotten the exact times that I wanted, but the actual fastpasses have always been available to me.  Flight of Passage, though, has been a different beast.  I wasn’t able to get one for our June trip, granted that was less than two weeks after Pandora had officially opened, or for our September trip.  Well, initially, in the craziness that was replanning following Hurricane Irma, I did manage to snag one, but no one was more shocked than me.

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Behind the Scenes Tours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

My husband and I are planning an adult-only visit to Walt Disney World sometime in 2018.  While there is nothing I love more than planning any Disney World trip, I really love incorporating special requests from my family.  Because I tend to be so type-A, research-mama, crazy planning chick, my husband often leaves the bulk (read 99%) of the planning and scheduling to me.  For this trip, however, he made a special request.  Since Animal Kingdom has started staying open into the late hours of the night, it has quickly become one of our favorite parks.  My husband requested that I look into the special tours and opportunities available because he really wanted to know what was going on in that lookout you can just see jutting out from the Kilamanjaro Safaris path.

So, being who I am, I dove right into the world wide web to find out all I could about the special tours offered in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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Childcare Options in Walt Disney World

Ready for a confession?  Even on a family vacation, sometimes I need a break from my children.  There are times when my husband and I want to spend some child-free time together in the parks or go to a restaurant that’s less than kid-friendly.  When these times come up, I am grateful that Disney offers childcare centers and baby-sitters.
 When I mention using Disney childcare, I’m often met with disbelief from family and friends that I’m allowing a stranger to watch my children.  However, all childcare cast members for the in-room baby-sitting are rigorously vetted and have an impressive list of qualifications, including:

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The Best and Worst Times to Visit Walt Disney World in 2018

Time and experience have made making this yearly crowd calendar a bit easier each year.  I’ve compiled information based on Walt Disney World events, marathons, holidays and many of the major school district calendars from around the country to put together estimated crowd levels for the entirety of 2018.

I will note, I have, for the most part, marked each weekend as “yellow” or medium crowd levels because you will see an influx of locals during the weekend most of the time.  I’ve noticed over the years there are fewer and fewer “green” or low crowd level times of the year as Disney introduces more events, discounts and other enticements to fill their resorts and parks.  You can expect an influx of crowds in Animal Kingdom in particular, as Pandora: The World of Avatar will have just opened in 2017.  I expect, if Disney stays on track with the summer 2018 opening of Toy Story Land, that crowds will surge even more in the summer months.

Here is the projected crowd calendar for 2018:

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What to do in Disney World when it rains

Have I mentioned before that it rains a lot in Florida?  Especially during the summer and fall months.  Truly, no matter when you visit, you are more likely than not to have at least one shower during your vacation.  Does that mean you should hit the bus and head back to your resort?  No!  That’s what everyone else will be doing, meaning you have a chance to visit your favorite attractions with shorter lines if you’re willing to wait out the rain.  Today, I’ve made a list of attractions that can keep you dry during a short rain shower and keep you entertained all the while.

It goes without saying that indoor shops and dining options are perfectly acceptable options to add to this list.  I will warn you, this is everyone’s first choice as well, so expect long waits if you don’t already have an advanced dining reservation (as I found out first hand while waiting in 50’s Prime Time Cafe one particularly wet afternoon).

Let’s break it down by park.

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My Top 5 Disney World Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Over the years, I’ve made many errors in planning my Walt Disney World trips.  I learn something new on every single trip that makes planning the next one just a little bit easier.  Today, I wanted to share with you all the biggest mistakes I’ve made, so that maybe you can learn a little bit and avoid them in the future.

1.  Not bringing a stroller for an older child

When my daughter turned 4, I thought we would be fine without a stroller.  Certainly she was too big for that, right?  Wrong.  I forgot to factor in exactly how much walking is involved for a day in the parks.  She was tired by mid-morning and getting whiny.  She was definitely too big to carry for long periods of time, and ended up spending a lot of time on my husband’s shoulders, which made for a happy daughter but a not-so-happy husband.  When we returned a few months later, I was sure to pack a light umbrella stroller for her.  We parked it in stroller parking somewhere in the park early in the day, and went back to get it later when she was tired.

2. Not researching park hours before planning my park days

A few years ago, I planned a large family trip for myself, my sister and our parents.  Knowing that Animal Kingdom was not their favorite of the parks, we decided to make it a half day only.  Unfortunately for them, I chose to make it the second park of the day instead of the first, not realizing that Animal Kingdom closed at 5pm on our chosen day.  We arrived at 3pm, and had time for approximately 3 attractions before having to leave for the day.  Thankfully, there was also a giant downpour of rain at about the same time, so no one really blamed me all that much when we had to leave.  It definitely pays to take a quick look at park hours (which are planned up to 6 months in advance typically) before committing to a park

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When to Visit Walt Disney World 2017 – Updated

New festivals in Epcot and the announcement of other events required an updated crowd calendar for 2017.  I hope you find this helpful.  Check below for important dates.

 

 Important dates to remember:

January:

Marathon Weekend 4-8

Epcot International Festival of the Arts, weekends from Jan 13-Feb 20

February:

Epcot International Festival of the Arts, weekends from Jan 13-Feb 20

Princess Half Marathon Weekend 23-26

March:

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, March 2 – May 30

April:

Flower and Garden Festival continues

Many Spring Breaks center around Easter on April 16th

May: 

Flower and Garden Festival continues

Star Wars Marathon Weekend, 20-23

Memorial Day Weekend, 27-28

June/July:

Summer crowds

August:

Summer crowds continue

Epcot Food and Wine Festival begins August 31

September:

Epcot Food and Wine continues

Labor Day Weekend 1-4

October:

Epcot Food and Wine continues

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween parties begin, with crowds peaking around Halloween

November:

Epcot Food and Wine continues until the 13th

Food and Wine marathon weekend 2-5

Crowds peak around Thanksgiving

December:

Largest crowds of the year beginning just before Christmas and continue through New Year’s