We finally made it to the place where dreams come true back in December 2018! All four parks had something special to offer, so I highly recommend spending at least one full-day at each. This post does not follow our conventional blog setup and it’s not really a city; however, there is still plenty to cover here. Anyway, one big lesson we learned from the trip was that we will stay at a Disney resort next time we go. We did not do that thinking it would save us in the long run, but after parking fees, time in traffic, missed discount opportunities for things like tickets, earlier fast-pass options, and entry times into the park, we realize now, that it would have been a better move. Overall though, the trip was AWESOME and we have broken-down each park below.
Magic Kingdom was adorable, and we were able to see it during the day and at night, which is definitely a must. Now, if you can avoid the New Year’s Eve rush, but still see it with the holiday décor, make a trip during Christmas-time for sure. It was beautifully decorated as were the other parks. We’ve both been to the parks on non-holiday times, and it is still pretty cool; however, the holiday décor takes it to another level. In regards to the attractions, you must ride Space Mountain, the Teacups, It’s a Small World, the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and go to the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.
Animal Kingdom was new to both of us, and we will definitely be making a trip back. The Tree of Life had detailed carvings of animals to go along with the real animals found on the Safari ride, which we would also highly recommend. Yet, our number one ride was Avatar, and that was a favorite overall for all parks. Avatar was out of this world. You will definitely need a Fast Pass for this ride, so don’t even try it without that. We waited in line for Avatar’s Flight of Passage for 3 hours, and I wouldn’t say that it was worth that long of wait, but again, it was the coolest ride overall. We also really enjoyed the Expedition Everest ride, but make sure you take motion sickness pills beforehand if you are prone to that…Andre can attest. Another ride that was fun but not at the top of the list was the Dinosaur ride, and it is a little more friendly for you motion-sick folk. At the end of the night, finish up by watching the light show at the River of Lights for quite a spectacular showing.
Hollywood Studios was the park we spent the least amount of time at, but it is still a great park to check out. When the Star Wars section opens up, I’m sure it will become the hot spot down there. There is a Disney history museum within the park that was surprisingly sweet, and it includes a film at the end about Walt’s life, which we really enjoyed. Our top three attractions would be the Star Tours ride, the Indiana Jones show, and of course Tower of Terror. Thankfully we were able to score a Fast Pass for Tower, but the line can get pretty long there, so make sure you book that one quick. If you’re not aware, you can book three Fast Pass selections 30 days before your trip online (60 days before if you stay at a Disney Resort), and you can add more on site once you complete your first three. Lastly, there are characters scattered throughout the park and parades on the main street during the day, so try to catch those while you’re there.
Epcot was one of the highlights of our trip because we were able to celebrate New Year’s Day in each country at their respective times. There are 11 countries represented in the park, and we celebrated the 2019 countdown for each at the following Eastern Standard Times: 10am Japan, 11am China, 6pm France, Germany, Italy, Morocco, and Norway, 7pm United Kingdom, 11pm Canada, 12am USA, and 1am Mexico. While you’re waiting for the light show at night (they do an extra show on New Year’s Eve), you can spend the day there exploring each country’s beverages, foods, and culture. A lot of the locations have 360 degree films where you get to see the country from a variety of angles. There are also air conditioned places with charging stations in the park, which can be extremely valuable when spending an entire day there. The Pixar Short Films were some of our favorites in the Future World section, but you have to ride and get a Fast Pass for Test Trak where you can design your own car and then ride around the track in a different vehicle. As mentioned earlier there is a light show at night, so make sure you stick around to see each country represented there.
In regard to food, you must get Mickey Mouse ice cream bars, and visit the Beauty and the Beast restaurant in Magic Kingdom. There are plenty of places you can book in advance when you’re doing your Fast Pass selections online as well, but again, they book up really fast. Epcot is one of the best food places because of their variety, and we would highly recommend a stop at the Italian Gelato Kiosk for some creamy goodness. The park does allow you to bring food and beverages in so that is a good way to save as well if you’re willing to carry around a bag. Check their site for updated rules and restrictions for that.
As Florida residents, our prices are lower than out-of-towners now, but the ticket prices for non-residents definitely decreases the longer you visit; therefore, if you can figure out some good accommodation deals, try to expand your trip to at least 5 days. We did four park days with one per day, which was pretty grueling, so I would recommend breaking it up with at least one break day in the middle. Also, the park hopper option doesn’t really seem worth it for the extra expense if you have enough days to get to all four parks. On another note, if you are planning to return, get the Disney band to use for your Fast Pass because it is valid for 7 years. Lastly, if you can avoid holidays unlike us, that has to be a better time to go in regards to traffic and crowds. We obviously knew what we were getting into for the sake of New Year’s Eve celebrations, but we will be avoiding those hot spot timeframes down the road. Let us know about your tips for Disney so we have them for our next trip!