It is widely known that we as a family absolutely adore Disney World. We would holiday there every year if there wasn’t a whole other world to explore! My husband blogged daily during our trip, but I have put together these recap posts, with lots of photos of our amazing vacation, plus some tips for anyone planning a Disney holiday!
We travelled at the end of February, direct to Orlando. Travelling long haul with children doesn’t really phase us, and the girls were brilliant on the flight. As we arrived in Orlando we headed to Disney’s Magical Express, the free transportation provided by Disney when staying on-site. We love the magical feeling this gives you at the start of your holiday!
We checked into Disney’s Old Key West resort, and collected our magic bands (plus some celebration badges for the girls for their birthdays). Magic bands make the holiday so easy. They can be personalised, and are your room key, your park tickets, they store your fast passes and your dining reservations, and they act as a charge card to your room. The ease that they provide is just one of the many things that Disney do right. Oh, and all of the above can be viewed and altered from an app on your phone!
Even in the dark we could see how beautiful the resort was. After a lovely sleep, but an early start due to jet lag, we got up to explore the rest on our first day. We were just wowed by the beauty of where we were staying, it was one of those ‘we are so lucky’ moments.
We grabbed some breakfast from the quick service counter at the resort, and relaxed before having a wander to explore what else the resort had to offer. We always book during the period that Disney offer UK visitors a free dining plan. The dining plan is always available to purchase as an extra, however getting it free is a bonus. You get a quick service credit, a table service credit, and 2 snack credits, per night of your stay (plus a refillable cup to use in your resort). You can use the credits in any frequency, combination or order that you wish. You could have 10 snacks in one day, or go 5 days without using any credits! You never go hungry in Disney, that’s for sure!
We were the first ones in the pool that morning, and it was perfect. Most people head straight to the parks on their first day but we prefer to relax and get our bearings a bit. After our play in the pool, we got on the boat from our resort over to Disney Springs. The last time we were here it was under a lot of construction and modification, this was our first time seeing it all complete, and it did not disappoint. We made some purchases in World of Disney, had the worlds biggest ice-cream from Ghirardelli’s, walked around the water, and finished off the day with a quick dinner.
Day 2 marked our first trip into the parks, and of course we went straight to Magic Kingdom (via the free bus transportation from the resort). There were tears when I saw Lyla’s reaction at seeing the castle, it was just magical. It has become tradition for us to have a character breakfast at Crystal Palace on our first day. The buffet is delicious, plus you get to meet and interact with Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore. The girls adored it and it gave us great hope for the rest of the trip!
We explored the park, ate dole whips (best.snack.ever – from Aloha Isle FYI), and had fast passes for Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Splash Mountain. We also rode the People Mover, Carousel and Magic Carpets of Aladdin; met Buzz Lightyear; and watched the castle show twice.
A busy first day, which we ended with an all-you-can-eat table service meal at Liberty Tree Tavern. This was our first proper introduction to American portion sizes, it was so delicious, and we were full to bursting! The dining plan now includes alcoholic drinks too, so it would have been rude not to sample a beer after an amazing first park day.
The next morning we were craving a cupcake from the Boardwalk Bakery so we hopped on a bus over to Hollywood Studios and then caught the boat that takes you to the Swan & Dolphin, Yacht & Beach Club, and Disney’s Boardwalk resorts. We just love the feel of this area, it is so beautiful and relaxed. It is home to the 3 resorts, plus lots of recreational activities, restaurants and shops.
We had a wander around the Yacht Club resort before hiring a Surrey Bike. There is a full circle route around the lake which can be done twice (maybe 3 times if you cycle fast..) in the 30 minute hire period. It only costs around $25 and is a great activity away from the parks.
By this time it was lunch and we could get our hands on the long-awaited for cupcake. These are seriously good and so pretty! We also had a meatball sub and slushies, such a good quick service meal option, a definite favourite and tradition of ours.
We then hopped on a bus over to Magic Kingdom to do some more rides, and caught the Dapper Dans performing as we went in, one of the many parts of Disney to give me goosebumps. A quick cuddle with Pluto and the girls settled down for their nap whilst mummy and daddy had a quick go on Splash Mountain using the rider switch system (if you are travelling as two adults with children this means only one person queues for the ride, collecting a fast pass for the other parent to follow on after). We managed to catch the Festival of Fantasy parade before riding Jungle Cruise, one of Callum’s favourites.
A couple more rides later, Dumbo the Flying Elephant and the Mad Hatters Tea Party, and we headed for our reservation at Be Our Guest – a Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant. The food was lovely, and the grey stuff is, in fact, delicious. Lyla wasn’t a great fan of meeting the Beast so we made a swift exit and managed a quick ride on The Little Mermaid before getting our spot for the fireworks display. Happily Ever After is just a stunning show, the music, projections and fireworks gave us all the feels, a magical end to the day.
Day 4 was Animal Kingdom day, a very close favourite for me behind Magic Kingdom. We grabbed a couple of Colossal cinnamon rolls (yes, they are actually called this, and are definitely colossal), for breakfast whilst taking in the surroundings and amazing theming of this park. We managed the catch the Harambe dancers who never fail to get my hips wiggling and hands clapping, and then went for a wander around the Gorilla Falls trek.
Whilst in ‘Africa’ we used our fast pass for the Kilimanjaro Safaris, and also watched the ‘Festival of the Lion King’ show, a must for any lover of the film.
Then it was time to visit ‘Asia’ for one of the best rides in Disney – Expedition Everest. We used our fast pass in conjunction with the rider switch so managed to bank an extra fast pass for when we came back later in the trip.
Then it was finally time to visit Pandora, something we had been waiting for, and it was even more amazing than we anticipated. The attention to detail just blows my mind, plus the famous Night Blossom drink is soooo good! Flight of Passage was next on the agenda, and it really is the most incredible ride I have ever been on, I genuinely can’t wait to go back and ride it again one day (soon, hopefully).
To sum up the rest of the day – a meeting with Russell from Up!, the Tree of Life bird show, ‘Zumba’ dancing, Triceratops Spin in Dinoland, another Pluto and Goofy meet and greet, and a dinner reservation at Rainforest Cafe – phew! A jam-packed day but amazing nonetheless.
Lots more to come in Part 2, which will follow in the next few days…