This September, James and I were lucky enough to visit Disney World Orlando – the place where you never grow up. We have both been as children, but that was a rather depressing amount of years ago now. We were excited, but part of me was anxious that being the ripe old age of 25, it wouldn’t be quite as magical as I remembered it…

Boy was I wrong.

Out of the 7 days we spent in Orlando, we went to the parks every. single. day. As you can imagine, this made for a huge amount of highlights – here are just a few of them along with some tips and recommendations to help you make the most of your visit.

 

WHEN TO GO TO DISNEY

We flew out on the 23rd September. We were warned that due to this being hurricane season, the weather was likely to be a little temperamental – and it was.

But you don’t go to Disney for a suntan.

If it’s short queues and magical experience you’re after – the end of September is the perfect time to go. Although the weather can be humid and rainy, the queues are short – and if you’re strategic with your fast passes, you can avoid them all together!

However, if you’re hoping for a little more sunshine and are happy to endure a few more queues, Orlando is beautiful over Easter. A lovely dry heat means you won’t be uncomfortable trekking around the parks but is perfectly sunny for those down days by the pool.

DOWNLOAD THE ‘DISNEY WORLD’ APP

On the run up to our visit, I was slightly sceptical about how the app would enhance our experience – but it did. You download it for free and in return you have all of the rides, maps, queue times, restaurants, fastpass options at your fingertips. You can also store all information about your ticket and your families tickets on the app, adding Fast passes and restaurant reservations with just a few swipes of your finger.

A QUICK GUIDE TO FASTPASS

If you’re strategic about your Fastpass management – you could hugely limit your queueing time at Disney (leaving you more time to take in the magic – who wouldn’t want that?!) Here’s my super quick guide to which are the busiest rides in each of the Disney Parks. If you can nab FastPasses for these – you’ll be onto a winner.

Magic Kingdom

  • The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Space Mountain
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

Hollywood Studios

  • Toy Story Midway Mania!
  • Rock n’ Roller Coaster
  • Tower of Terror

Epcot

  • Soarin’
  • Test Track
  • Mission: SPACE

Animal Kingdom

  • Kali River Rapids
  • Expedition Everest
  • DINOSAUR
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris

Pick and choose your favourites amongst these and book your FastPass. You’ll be assigned an hour long timeslot for each FastPass (with 15 minutes grace, just incase you get waylayed!)

THINGS TO BOOK AHEAD OF TIME

I am all for spontaneity – which is perhaps why I took a little while to warm to the idea of a Disney app. However, there are certain experiences that it would be hugely beneficial to plan and book in advance.

  • Dine in Cinderella’s Castle
  • Experience the ‘Be our Guest Restaurant’
  • A character breakfast with Mickey and all the gang (Chef Mickey at the Contemporary Resort was fantastic for this!)
MEET MICKEY MOUSE

When we met Mickey

You can’t visit Disney World Orlando without meeting Mickey Mouse. That would be sacrilege. And we did have my 1 year old nephew in tow which made us look slightly less ridiculous as we queued up alongside the child swamped families.

 

Worryingly, I’m not sure any of them were as excitable as we were.

You meet Mickey inside the Theatre in Main Square. The queue for this can get fairly long so best to aim to get there early or use one of your 3 FastPass’s for it – it’s worth it.

We were excited, but we weren’t quite expecting what happened next. Mickey doesn’t only greet you with open arms – now, he speaks. And not just generic automatic twaddle – real interaction.

It’s magic.

Perhaps the most memorable moment of our trip, a moment that brought tears to my eyes, was when Mickey knelt down in front of my little nephew, held his hands and said:

“Don’t grow up too fast now.”

For anyone planning to visit Disney World in the future, I highly recommend you ensure this is high up your list – proper goosebump making stuff.

 

meeting his hero

 

DISNEY WITH LITTLEUNS

Don’t panic if you’re going to Disney with a young-un. This shouldn’t hinder your thrill-seeking experience. If you do it right, it could even enhance it.

Disney have a great Child Swap system in place that means parents don’t have to miss out on a single thing (or stand in a queue with a crying child – because that’s no fun for anyone).

  • You ask the ‘Disney Crew’ members at the start of the ride for a child swap pass.
  • After they see you have a kid, they give you a card.
  • Those of you who will ride first, go ahead and queue up for the ride while the child minder goes and grabs a churro, eats an ice-cream etc.. etc..
  • Once the party is reunited, the current child minder takes the card and 2 other people to join them (meaning 2 people are able to experience the ride twice) to the queue.
  • They are then directed down the FastPass lane, meaning no queue, extra rides for 2 of the party and no one misses out. BINGO.

What’s more… if you have all have a FastPass for the ride and ensure you are ready to go on long before the hour is up, the child minder can go on using their unused FastPass and take THREE of their party back on with them. Absolute result.

This little trick meant that I was able to ride Tower of Terror and Rock’n Rollercoaster twice each – in a row. I was like a pig in shit.

MICKEY’S PHILAR-MAGIC

Now this was something that none of us had done before and we very nearly missed. But it was rainy and there was no queue so we ambled over the check it out.

This is not a thrill ride, it’s not a simulator, it’s a film screening – and a brilliant one at that. I would recommend this be one of the first things you do when you arrive at the Magic Kingdom.

Donald Duck guides you through the best bits of your favourite Disney films in fantastic 3D. It’s the perfect way to submerge yourself in the magic of Disney within 10 short minutes. You’ll come out smiling from ear to ear – I guarantee it.

I got a little bit emotional. Total Disney freak. Embarrassing.

So there you have it, a very quick whistle stop tour to the most magical place on earth – Disney World. I’m sure there will be many more detailed posts to follow so keep your eyes pealed.

Have you been to Disney recently? Any tips/pointers/corrections would be hugely appreciated. Please do pop them in the comment box below :).