Calling all Disney fans! If you’re considering booking a lifetime trip for the whole family, check out Leonora’s family guide to Disney World. Leo answers all the important questions from where to stay, how many days to spend, the best rides worth queueing for, and why it’s so important to schedule in some downtime within your stay.
How many days should I spend at Disney World?
I can’t believe I only had three days at Disney World! Most people can spend three days in just one park, and although we managed to squeeze most of it in, we could have easily spent an extra week. I would suggest a minimum of one week to give yourself enough time to do each park properly, whilst still being able to have downtime by the swimming pool.
We ran out of time to do the Waterparks and Disney Springs so next time I will definitely try them out! There are two main waterparks:
• Typhoon Lagoon
• Blizzard Beach
What are the best parks and rides at Disney World?
Hollywood Studios is one of my favourite parks and it is great for all ages. My youngest absolutely loved Toy Story Land and could have ridden on Slinky Dog Dash all day long.
My other favourites Hollywood Studios rides are:
- Alien Swirling Sauces
- Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaters
- Star Tours – The Adventure Continues
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
- Lightning McQueens Racing Academy
- Toy Story Midway Mania
For little ones, there is a Playhouse Disney.
My absolute favourite ride at Epcot was Guardians of the Galaxy, it was worth any wait time. My second favourite would have to be Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
Other EPCOT rides not to miss are:
- Canada in Circle Vision 360
- Coral Reefs
- Journey into Imagination with Figment
- Living with the Land
- Mission: Space
- Reflections of China
- Soarin (still everyone’s favourite!)
- Spaceship Earth
- Test Track
- Kidcot Fun Stops
- Advanced Training LAB
- Frozen Ever After
This is the park we spent the most time at as it has so many rides that everyone wants to go on, however, it is definitely a better park for younger members of the family.
My suggested list of rides would be:
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Haunted Mansion
- It’s a Small World
- Jungle Cruise
- Mad Tea Party
- Many Adventures of Winnie
- Mickey’s Philharmagic
- Monster’s Inc
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- People Mover
- Enchanted Tiki Room
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Journey of the Little Mermaid
This was the one park that I didn’t fall in love with although it did have two incredible rides, Avatar Flight of Passage and Expedition Everest.
Other good rides at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are:
- Feathered Friends in Flight
- Festival of the Lion king
- Finding Nemo
- It’s Tough to be a Bug
- Kali Riber Rapids
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Na’v’i River Journey
- Conservation Station
- The Boneyard (a dinosaur dig site and play area for kids)
How do you get around Disney World? Is it hard to navigate?
Getting around Disney World is an absolute mind field! Lots of people have asked me about fast passes because Disney’s rules have changed so much.
I would suggest you get a Genie pass which gives you access to Lightening Lanes. These are available to purchase each day which you can do from 7am, they cost up to $20 per person per day (but this is all dependent on the time of year and the park). It is all managed through the My Disney Experience app.
You start by getting your first fast pass – many of which are included in the Genie package (the really busy attractions cost extra). You are automatically registered when you tap into a ride at the beginning of the line, which means you can apply for your next lightning lane, which is a fast pass! And the story goes on… Many of the ride times have around a four-hour wait but with lightning lanes it’s more like 15 minutes!
There are lots of tips and tricks to navigating the parks and if you stay at a Disney resort you can get early and late access to the parks making queuing a bit easier.
What are the best restaurants at Disney World?
- Woody’s Lunch Box in Toy Story Land – American food, old-fashioned soda floats and Toy Story themed specialties
- Oga’s Cantina located in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – they have some really fun themed drinks
- Mama Melrose – Italian with a Californian twist
- Tappen Edo – the kids watching the food being cooked teppanyaki style in front of us. There is also the most incredible Japanese shop underneath it, so if you arrive early, check it out!
- Tony’s Restaurant – Lady and The Tramp vibes, Italian food. The meatballs are a must and they have a vegan option too.
- Aloha has some awesome snacks and you will find the Pineapple Float Dole Whips here and in some of the other vendors
- Casey’s Corner – located on Main Street – you can get typical American hot dogs and chilli fries
- Yak & Yeti Restaurant – American Asian seafood-themed dining.
Vegan & Dairy Free options at Disney World
My son doesn’t do well with dairy, so most naughty treats are out! We managed to find lots of vegan options across the parks, some of these were:
- Dole Whips in various parks
- Popcorn in all parks
- Erin McKenna’s Bakery in Disney Springs is allergy-friendly heaven with everything on the bakery’s menu being vegan and gluten-free
- Eveglazed in Disney Springs have an uber donut
- Blue and Green Milk randomly these are all plant-based and I can find them at the milk stand at Hollywood Studios.
Where are the best places to stay at Disney World?
There are so many places to stay at Disney World. The Resorts Collection includes deluxe villas and three ranges of resort hotels, from value to moderate and deluxe! They also have camp grounds options. The most famous are probably Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s Contemporary resort and of course Disney’s Grand Floridian resort and spa. They have also opened a new two-night immersive experience called Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser which looks pretty insane.
We stayed at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando which was very close to the resort and had a shuttle service going every hour. They had the most incredible swimming pool with a lazy river – I just wished we had been there longer! The breakfast there was also pretty epic and they also did an amazing character breakfast. The rooms were absolutely incredible and we looked after so well.
Are there VIP Services at Disney World?
Disney does organise private VIP tours where you can skip waiting in line for any attraction. They create customised itineraries based on your needs and take the stress out. The downside here is they are eye-wateringly expensive!
Although it isn’t an official Disney partner, we had the pleasure of hitting the parks with Katie @ VIP Family Tours, who was totally brilliant. She’s worked with Disney for over 15 years, making our whole trip hassle-free and filling it full of rides! I don’t think there was one ride that we wanted to go on that we missed out on!
What are the things you can’t miss at Disney World?
- Downtown Disney
- Shopping on Main Street
- There is the most incredible walk around the lake at EPCOT where you get to visit many countries of the world. There are lots of food kiosks and dining experiences here that relate to each country and they are all so delicious!
- If your hotel offers a character experience dining – snap it up! Otherwise, look out for the character experiences throughout the parks which happen during the day.
- Pin Trading – my children really got into pin trading this time. If you buy a lanyard at any Disney store you will find Pins almost everywhere. Then if you spot someone else wearing a lanyard the chances are they will be up for swapping pins.
- Don’t forget to build in the unforgettable sights & sounds of the famous Disney fireworks and brilliant light shows! They happen every night (unless the park is closed).
- Also, the Disney Parade is a must in any park!
- If you have a birthday check out Amorette’s Patisserie which is located in Town Centre at Disney Springs, which even have gluten-free macaroons and you can pre-order Speciality cakes. You can also organise a call from Mickey Mouse!