I’ve just returned from my 16th(?) trip to Walt Disney World. Things have changed a lot since my last trip 4 years ago, so here’s my 2017 itinerary and tips.
We stayed at the All Star Movies Resort. The whole purpose of this trip was to see Disney World without spending a fortune. We’ve been here over a dozen times, we aren’t little kids anymore and there’s no need to mess around. The All Star Resorts are the “cheaper” hotels in Disney, but for the amount of time we actually spend in the room- they work just fine.
Day 1: EPCOT
After catching an early flight, we landed in Orlando, met our town car driver and were on our way. We had pre checked-in to our room, so we dropped our bags at the lobby door and grabbed the next bus to EPCOT. By the time we reached the park, it was lunch time. We ate at the Electric Umbrella and headed to the Land. In the Land pavilion, we waited nearly an hour for Soarin’, which now rides over world landscapes/destinations instead of just California ones. We had a fastpass for Living with the Land, a dare I say ~lame~ boat ride. We took a quick nap in the The Circle of Life, a movie about ways to help the environment. Next, a family favorite, the Coca-Cola Cool Stop. The stop features pop from around the world. However, in years past, it featured over 20 different countries and it now only serves 7ish. Our fast passes for Test Track we’re next. They’ve updated this one as well to allow riders to design their own cars and see how they fare in the test drives. After test track, it was time to head to the World Showcase to drink around the world. That’s a whole different story you can find here.
Fastpass Suggestions: Test Track, Soarin’, Mission Space (currently closed), Frozen Ever After
Day 2: Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom has some great new additions, i.e. the world of Pandora. We headed to the park during extra magic hours and went STRAIGHT to Avatar: Flight of Passage. This is the most popular ride in Disney right now and people are willing to wait hours for it. Get there as soon as possible and greatly shorten your wait. Oh, and this ride is worth the wait. The Na’vi River ride is also in Pandora and gathers lines 80 minutes long. This one isn’t worth it, reserve a fastpass or skip it, just don’t wait. In Africa, Kilimanjaro Safaris is a classic you can’t miss. We were so up close to so many animals, you can’t get this at your local zoo! If you need an air conditioned break, hit up Festival of the Lion King, which runs every hour. In Asia, Expedition Everest is the main attraction. But if you’re too hot, take a ride on Kali River Rapids. Warning: you will get wet. Next, head over to Dinoland, U.S.A. where you have to ride DINOSAUR. It’s one of my favorites and a Disney World classic. Primeval Whirl is also a good time, if the line is short. Last but kind of least, Discovery Island. This is the main hub to the hub and spokes design of the park. You know it as the place with the Tree of Life, but it also has a bunch of restaurants and gift shops. One last air-conditioned saviour- It’s Tough to be a Bug!, located inside the Tree of Life.
Fastpass Suggestions: Avatar: Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest, DINOSAUR
Day 3: Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs
The day everyone wants to skip ahead to: Magic Kingdom day! Disney World is always changing and adding things to Magic Kingdom, but keeps around the old favorites for us kids at heart. When we arrived to the park, we headed straight for Tomorrowland. Space Mountain usually gathers quite the line and since we hadn’t reserved a fastpass for this one, it made sense to go there first. It was actually a bit scarier than I remember, but still as fun as the first time I rode it years ago! Before leaving Tomorrowland, we stopped by Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, a family favorite. Don’t worry, I had the high score. Our fastpass for Splash Mountain was up next. We walked all the way over to Frontierland, which is quite the walk, to find the ride was shut down. With time left before our next fastpass, we went to the Liberty Square Riverboat and that wasn’t running that day….. Our unlucky streak led us to the Liberty Tree Tavern in Liberty Square for a beer and time to regroup. Having no trouble finding alcohol in EPCOT and Animal Kingdom, we were quite disappointed that you can only find beer and wine in SELECT locations in Magic Kingdom. Next rides: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Haunted Mansion. The latter two are less fun and exciting, but when it’s 95 degrees and humid- you look for air conditioning. Oh, and the Haunted Mansion shut down with us on it. Magic Kingdom was not going as planned! We went to Pinocchio Village Haus for lunch, which didn’t have the best selection. By this point, we were tired, hot, and sick of striking out. We weren’t able to reserve fastpasses for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (our biggest mistake yet) and couldn’t bare to stand in the heat for 2 hours to wait for it. In Fantasyland, we did ride the Barnstormer, which is way too short of a ride to wait any longer than 20 minutes. We hopped on the train and rode it to Main Street, USA, grabbed Mickey Ears ice cream, snagged a cute picture, and headed home for a nap. While my family swam in the pool, I napped #noshame. Once we had recuperated, it was time for Disney Springs. Disney Springs is the new name for Downtown Disney, but also features SO MANY CHANGES. While the old stores are still there, the area has been completely redone. They have added a bunch of new restaurants and high end stores. This place literally looks like an upscale outdoor mall, which I guess it is? I could have done some serious credit card damage had the rain not interrupted. In Disney Springs, we grabbed dinner at Wolfgang Puck Express. This is one of my favorite restaurants and somewhere we have gone to each Disney trip. They have incredible food for the best prices in Disney (and large portions). The best part is that they are considered a “counter service” restaurant on the Disney Meal plan.
Fastpass Suggestions: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain
Day 4: Hollywood Studios
On our last day, we went to Hollywood Studios. We started the day by heading straight to Tower of Terror. That ride terrorizes me more each time I ride it, but I keep coming back. Next, we headed to Star Tours: the Adventure Continues. I’m 100% not a Star Wars fan, in fact, I’ve never seen any of the movies, but this ride was a lot of fun! The full Star Wars themed ‘land’ edition to Hollywood Studios will be open in 2019! After Star Tours, we considered riding the Great Movie Ride, because none of us have actually been on it. The line was 2 hours long, so that killed that idea. I was shocked to discover that the Great Movie Ride is in the location of where the old Sorcerer’s hat used to be. Disney: I am quite disappointed in you for taking down that landmark. For an air conditioned break, we went to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid. The show is great and well done, but I was so confused when they jammed a 2 hour movie into 15 minutes. We shopped around a bit and grabbed lunch. We debated where to eat between ABC Commissary and the Backlot Express. To be honest, they both had poor menu selections. I recommend going to literally any restaurant that isn’t counter service in this park in order to pick from a real menu. Last stop was Rock ‘n Rollercoaster, which we luckily had fastpasses for. I love this ride, but boy does it make my head hurt from being thrown around so much. Unfortunately, our 5:00 pm flight meant we missed out of Fantasmic this time. It’s an incredible show, so don’t miss it like I had to.
Fastpass Suggestions: Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n Rollercoaster, Star Tours: the Adventure Continues