Welcome to my Ultimate Walt Disney World Guide! Despite working in DisneyLAND for five years, I used to consider myself relatively unfamiliar with Disney WORLD. They really are SO different but I have compiled all of my must-do and can’t-miss tips and tricks for each of the four parks below. These are just my personal favorites and to each their own, but I hope this provides some helpful insight from one Disney fan to another!
We were there 3.5 days and did a park per day with Hollywood Studios being our half day. In the past, I had always done Animal Kingdom as a half day but with Pandora (aka Avatar land) being added, I switched it up and it worked out perfectly.
Coming up on the heels of this post is my “everything we ate” post that will document literally everything we ate and what I do and do not recommend for your next Disney World trip!
But my two generic tips for any Disney World trip are:
- Getting from park to park or park to Disney Springs or hotel to park usually takes a realllllly long time. Literally give yourself an hour to travel from location to location unless it is walkable or it is a short monorail away. Thankfully we unknowingly planned accordingly but this could really mess up your dining or fastpass plans if you don’t take long travel time into account!
- Get there before the park opens. Even if the crowds seem huge at the time, I PROMISE the lowest crowds are first thing in the morning. The parks will let you in before the actual listed opening time and will hold you in front of a rope further into the park until the park officially opens. Then you can dart over to your #1 ride with the shortest line you will most likely see all day. 100% worth getting up early in my opinion.
Transportation & Hotels
This past trip in January, we stayed at the Dolphin hotel which was updated, clean, and conveniently located. It definitely had much more of a convention feel to it and while the price was right for this property, it is actually a Sheraton-owned resort on the Walt Disney property. The two biggest downsides to this for us was that you don’t get magic bands sent to you for free and therefore you can’t use it as your room key (we bought ours online) and you can’t take advantage of the Magical Express, the free shuttle transportation service that Disney offers to and from the Orlando airport to the Disney resort properties. We just Ubered to and from the airport, it cost about $35 each way and it was honestly much quicker than the shuttle would have been anyways.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Disney World now implements a tiered fastpass system where you can choose 1 tier-one ride and 2 tier-two rides ahead of time per day. This keeps the *really good* rides from overcrowding but is a bit of a pain for some parks (cough cough Hollywood Studios) where it seems like every good ride in the park is a tier-one ride.
So for our 3 Magic Kingdom fastpasses, we chose:
- Space Mountain 10:10am
- Peter Pan 1:00pm
- Snow White Mine Ride 5:00pm
These three tend to have some of the longest lines consistently and are definitely worth using your fast pass for. Another hot tip is to try to get all three fastpasses scheduled as early in the day as possible because once you use all three, you can select more, one at a time, on the app for the remainder of the day. However, this isn’t as easy as it sounds because a ride like Snow White Mine Ride is one of the most difficult fastpasses to get in all of Magic Kingdom. Sometimes you just have to take what you can get and it might be later in the day. So here are my tips for getting those tough fastpasses:
- Be as on top of it as possible. I literally set my alarm for 4am (7am EST) the day I was able to sign up for our fastpasses and while that might seem craaaazy, I was able to get just about every one I wanted.
- Keep checking! There was only one (Animal Kingdom’s Avatar Flight of Passage) that I wasn’t able to get but every day I would check on it and eventually, I got lucky and was able to snag one!
- Still get three. Even if the one you really want isn’t available, still sign up for three fast passes per day. You can always go in and modify the times or the ride itself but at least secure what you can.
But if you are going in right at rope drop, we recommend heading straight to Snow White Mine Ride since that is most popular or one of the mountains like Space or Big Thunder (we did big thunder and it was about a 30 minute wait from rope drop).
A few other fun attractions are Mickey’s PhilharMagic Show, Haunted Mansion, and Splash Mountain (Alec’s least favorite).
Obviously, one of the most popular ride in all of Disney World at this time is the new Avatar Flight of Passage and honestly, for good reason. It was like nothing I had ever expereinced. Extremely immersive, realistic, and breathtakingly beautiful. I’ll say that Star Wars Rise of the Resistance did take the cake for me in Hollywood Studios but this was just barely second and is truly NOT to be missed.
However…THANKFULLY we were able to snag a fastpass for this as you read above because at one point during our day in Animal Kingdom, this line grew to over 4 hours long!! FOUR HOURS! That is miserable. While it was VERY good, I’d be hard pressed to admit that it was “four hours good”.
Here’s what we got fastpasses for:
- Expedition Everest 10:10am
- Kilimanjaro Safari 11:20am (they say the animals are more active in the morning)
- Flight of Passage 2:30pm
At rope drop, I would head right over to Pandora and get on the Na’vi River Journey. We waited maybe 5 minutes and a few hours later, it was over a two hour wait. Then we headed to DINOsaur (Disney World’s version of Indian Jones) and went to both the Finding Nemo show (definitely geared way more towards small children) and the Festival of the Lion King.
Epcot is by far my favorite park. I just LOVE walking through all 11 countries and trying their foods and drinks. I feel like most people know this but just in case you don’t, everyone who works in each country is actually from that specific country so it is v authentic!
Also, I am still so shook that I got to meet Paige O’Hara, THE voice of Belle in Beauty and the Beast. The night before we went to Epcot, we were in the Animal Kingdom Lodge waiting to eat at Jiko, and Alec was scrolling through instagram doing Epcot research. He saw that Paige was in the park that day meeting people and I literally had a PIT in my stomach that I missed her and couldn’t believe I was so close yet so far. But with a little more digging, he discovered that she would be there the following day for the Festival of Art going on in Epcot (which we only just learned about a week before our trip as well) and I could barely sleep that night I was so excited to meet her. I literally can’t watch that clip in the vlog of me meeting her because my “hiiii” is SO cringe but I was so star struck and everything I planned to say went completely out the door when I walked up to her. C’est la vie!
While Epcot is really known for its country experiences, they still have some really fun rides! Here’s what we got fastpasses for:
- Frozen 10:20am
- Mission Space 11:20am
- Finding Nemo 12:20pm
Okay I will say that regardless of your age or gender, if you are familiar with Frozen at all (even if you hate it) you should go on the Frozen ride. It was SO cute and the animatronics were really well done. This one is really popular so definitely jump on those fastpasses! We also didn’t get to go on Fast Track because it was closed for refurbishment but I think that one is way more fun than Mission Space. Honestly, Mission Space felt outdated to me this time and I also got really claustrophobic and panicky in it. And I didn’t even do the G-force version! What is happening to me?!
I feel like so much of Epcot is eating and it will definitely dominate my “what we ate” blog but I will just say LOUD and clear, France is where it is AT food wise at Epcot for me. Nothing I ate came close to the deliciousness that was every single thing I tasted in France. But also, do NOT miss the famous School Bread in Norway. I regret not eating more of them. Amazing. More to come on that soon…
CLEARLY we were done with posing and photos by the fourth day 😂 But that’s ok because it was our quick-paced half-day AND we were up at 5am to get ready, get our bags packed and down to bell check and get ourselves over, through the crazy Star Wars crowds to get in by 7am so we could get a Rise of the Resistance boarding pass. If you are planning a trip and wanting to get on Rise of the Resistance (WHICH YOU SHOULD because it was truly the best Disney ride I have been on and I am a tough critic), please watch my video above to hear my tips and tricks on getting a boarding pass…because it was honestly really stressful lol.
Here is what we got fastpasses for:
- Star Tours 10:00am
- Rockin’ Rollercoaster 12:00pm (btw, they usually have a pretty quick single rider line for this ride if you don’t mind splitting up)
So we only had two fastpasses for the day because honestly nothing else sounded appealing….as of when we went in January, basically every single ride in the park was a tier-one ride so you could only choose one for a fastpass. Lammmmme. I did see that they are going to make Star Wars Smuggler’s Run a fastpass ride starting in February so definitely jump on that!
But here is the rope drop strategy– get into the park before it opens (by the time we were outside the park to the time we got in, it was about 20 minutes. Also, PRO TIP, stay to the far right side, it moves the fastest by far. Once you are in, head straight to Toy Story Land to get in line for the Slinky Coaster (unless you are able to get a fastpass for Slinky Dog Dash Rollercoaster in which case head towards Star Wars land to get on Smuggler’s Run). Once you are in line for either land, they will have you wait until the park officially opens to let you in but you can stand in line and prepare to get your Rise of the Resistance boarding pass.
Now I am not going to give away all my secrets and am going to make you watch the video to get my boarding pass tips but I will give you the timeline. We got our boarding pass at 7:01 and we got boarding group 82. By the time we got called it was 12:30pm (you have a 1-2 hour window to enter the ride once your group is called) and we went straight in. By the time we got out, it was 1:15. Keep that in mind when planning your day!
Okay guys I hope this was as helpful as possible! Please comment below or DM me on Insta if you have any more questions! I am going to be posting my “everything we ate” blog and video on Friday so stay tuned for that!